Tag Archives: Alzheimers

Pets and Senior Health

Do pets actually help improve ‘health’?

Experts say YES…Pet ownership can be good for your health both physically and psychologically…

Research indicates owning a pet helps reduce stress and blood pressure in owners, they increase longevity in those who’ve had heart attacks, and even relax and improve the appetites of Alzheimer’s patients…according to many psychologists owning a pet provides attention to something other than the patient themselves…

And we all know how difficult it can be to get some seniors (and others) exercising during the day…problem solved if you have a pet. Dogs insist on getting out and about, hence they have a strong tendency to get their owners moving…VOILA, instant daily exercise. In turn, studies continue to show that exercise helps improve your spirits…so instead of a vicious cycle of prompting your loved one to get up and moving without the slightest result…the pet has helped to create a positive one…and that’s a win win solution!

Pets have also been known to stave off loneliness.  Some seniors (and others) may actually consider their pets their “companion of choice”.

However, please remember, if you are considering introducing a live animal to a senior household to make sure you do plenty of research…choose a pet whose personality, size and requirements fit your senior’s needs, abilities and living situation…and don’t opt for more than ONE…more animals do not mean more health, just more responsibilities.

Lastly, even though pets bring many psychological benefits it’s important not to let your loved ones become too dependent on those animal companions…in the end pets should NOT be a substitute for human friends and family.

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The Differences Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

As soon as we notice memory problems, especially with our aging parents, we fearfully wonder: “Could it be Alzheimer’s?”

Let’s get clear on what Alzheimer’s is and isn’t.

Dementia is  the deterioration of our cognitive abilities. There are many causes for  dementia, and it can be progressive or stable. It targets the mental  functions of the brain, like memory, orientation, problem solving and  attention. Unlike Alzheimer’s, dementia is not a disease and it has a  variety of causes.

Dementia is caused by various diseases or  conditions with symptoms that may include changes in personality, mood  and behavior. In some cases, the dementia can be treated and cured  because the cause is treatable, as in dementia caused by substance  abuse, the improper mixing of prescription medications and hormone or vitamin imbalances.

For more of this article see the Foxboro PATCH

Caring For Loved Ones With Alzheimer’s

http://www.thetakeaway.org/2011/jun/21/caring-loved-ones-alzheimers/.

Never an easy task, the above link offers support and help from Julie Noonan-Lawson. Julie talks openly about her families struggles and how they have handled the illness in her family.  The interview was conducted by Sean Corcoran, the lead reporter for WCAI radio on Cape Cod.

What Is Home Health Care?

Simply stated it is the physical and mental supportive system and care services provided to those persons wishing to remain in their homes or assisted living apartments by a caregiver, caregiving agency, and/or assisted living environment when they can no longer perform (without help) the day-to-day activities of everyday living.

Today, many persons are opting for home care, and or home care assistance in assisted living environments as outpatient care has become the ‘norm’ for hospitals and insurance companies. Home care is appealing to many of us as we most often feel that our home is an extension of ourselves.  Receiving ‘in-home-health-care’ can be a great benefit to those recovering from surgery or other medical procedures that can limit their ability to easily take care of themselves, or maybe they just require a little extra help managing things as they grow older or maybe they are learning to live with a medical condition or disability. Whatever the scenario, I urge you to review and consider the questions below as this ‘issue’ nears closer to you and yours.

Read More Here

 

 

 

Time To Stay Hydrated!

Heat waves are upon us and summer has yet to be officially announced so be sure to alert the seniors around you (as well as others) to stay hydrated! Dehydration is dangerous and specifically more so in the summer months when seniors are most vulnerable. Seniors often forget to drink enough fluids and now when the temperatures are soaring it is even more crucial to their good health to be well hydrated…

Dehydration impacts our senior population frequently because
· Those with dementia often ignore the body’s cue for thirst
· Chronic illness, such as diabetes, and taking certain medications are risk factors.
· Even those seniors in good health tend to underestimate how much water they need
· Seniors may be weak and/or tired and may not have the energy to get up and get a glass of water.
· Seniors many times suffer from incontinence and hence limit their water intake to prevent ‘accidents’

Dehydration may cause:
· Confusion, fatigue, fainting, and unconsciousness.
· Kidney, bladder and bowel problems
· Muscle cramping
· (Depending on illnesses and medications being taken) toxin build up

To stay hydrated in it is best to:
· Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption
· Encourage seniors (and others) to keep a glass or bottle of water handy
· Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, as they are high in water content.

Elder Mediation: Helping Adult Familes Resolve Conflict

The disputes may start quietly, but they can and do brew into hot and heated arguments and believe it or not they have split families apart.

Take for example:

Mom left a pot boiling on the stove again…you are fearful she’ll burn the house down.

Dad is getting forgetful and isn’t paying his monthly bills. You, and your siblings live far away and through neighbors find out that the heat and electricity were turned off.

Dad’s got more scrapes and scratches on his car than the grandkids do on their knees…you want him to STOP driving.

As adult children you are concerned and decide amongst yourselves to take-over…One of you wants to get Dad declared mentally incompetent, so the family can take control of his finances. One of you threatens to take Dad’s car keys. He threatens to write you out of his will. Another one of your siblings wants the house to be sold and Mom to enter assisted living.

Dad is now very angry…Mom thinks you’re over-reacting. Both parents are mortified…Dad because his kids are looking into how much money he has and how his finances are organized and Mom because she feels as though the children are trying to control her life.

For More:

Living with Alzheimer’s: Who Decides?

It’s imperative that we take responsibility for our senior ‘living situation’. If you don’t want others making this decision for you…be pro-active. With a little advanced planning it is possible to stay in your home even with Alzheimer’s as there are many additional support services available.

Having been regarded as competent, intelligent and able throughout my life I would hate to be relegated to only being allowed to make decisions as to what color to wear, where to place my furniture or where to keep photos and mementos…wouldn’t you?

Adult children should not have to shoulder the burden of ‘a decision’ their parents should have made or at the very least should have acknowledge as the ‘elephant’ in the room. They have lots on their minds these days and may forget to take into consideration that you (who might have some diminished capacity) may want to continue living at home. Although it is true that a balance must be found as to the family’s ability (financially, emotionally and physically) to accommodate ‘aging’ at home the problem is whether you or your family know what ‘aging at home’ means and have you given any consideration (even marginally) to the factors involved.

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Subtle Signs and Signals

During my kids hectic teenage years I often loss site of my parents ‘aging needs.’ I wish I had been more available, more observant, more everything, but it just wasn’t possible since they lived a fair distance from me. ‘Beating’ yourself up over a lack of parental oversight isn’t productive so I would like to share some ‘aging signs and tips’ that might be of help.

Some of these ‘signals’ may be noticeable to you, however if your parents do not live close it might be important to contact a friend or two of theirs so that you stay abreast of a possible problem before a crises ensues. Being aware of any changes in the way your parents handle day-to-day chores can provide ‘health’clues.

Read the full article here

Helping Mom and Dad Regain Their Mobility

It’s not unusual for us here at Home Instead Senior Care to hear stories of elderly parents having fallen or having been laid up for several weeks…Many times we are asked about seniors regaining their strength and suggestions on how best to assist that recovery by family caregivers…

In a nutshell, help get your parents moving. A study has shown that hospitalized elderly patients who work to get back on their feet even by taking short walks around a hospital unit tend to leave the hospital sooner than their more sedentary peers.

The research, conducted at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, draws on data collected from 162 hospitalized patients over age 65. Each patient was fitted with a pager-sized “step activity monitor” attached to his or her ankle – an electronic device capable of counting every step the patient took.

“Using these monitors, we were able to see a correlation between even relatively small amounts of increased mobility and shorter lengths of stay in the hospital,” said Steve Fisher, a UTMB Health assistant professor and lead author on the paper. “We still found this effect after we used a statistical model to adjust for the differing severities of the patients’ illnesses.”

Talk to your parents doctor or health care team about ways that you can get your mom or dad up and around. Most hospitals are eager to help their patients recover and will assist them in daily walks. If you want to supplement that care by assisting your parent, I am fairly certain they would welcome that encouragement. Or, if you are unavailable, consider hiring a caregiver companion who could help your parent in the hospital and/or after they return home as a way to keep your loved one motivated to move as well as to lend a helping hand with household chores such as meal preparation, light housekeeping and medication reminders.

Home Instead CAREGiversSM are screened, trained, bonded and insured, and capable of assisting your parents with several activities of daily living until they regain their strength. Home Instead Senior Care® also makes every effort to match CAREGivers with seniors of similar interests, which is a bonus for many older adults.

For more tips on how you can help your parents realize the important benefits of exercise, click here

Community Living Assistance Services and Supports

In February 2011 Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius provided an update on the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program, created under the Affordable Care Act. The CLASS Act establishes a voluntary insurance program for people who are unable to perform two or more “functional activities of daily living,” such as the ability to feed or dress one’s self without assistance. Unfortunately, such impairments typically accompany the progression of Alzheimer’s and other diseases such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis (MS).

The program will help eligible individuals pay for non-medical services and supports to enable them to remain as long as possible in their homes and communities. Those who choose to participate in this voluntary program pay premiums while they are working and become eligible should they become functionally impaired, regardless of age. Adults who meet the eligibility requirements will receive a cash benefit of no less than $50 a day to purchase services such as adult day care and transportation services.

The Secretary is working on several key CLASS program benefits and enrollment issues before the program becomes officially available in October 2012. During her remarks, Secretary Sebelius emphasized the agency’s continued efforts – ranging from increasing public awareness about long term care services, to ensuring benefit flexibility for eligible individuals. The Alzheimer’s Association supported the CLASS program and its passage as it specifically includes within the eligibility requirements people who develop substantial cognitive impairment. This new voluntary insurance program will help individuals with Alzheimer’s disease remain as independent as possible – living in their homes and communities for as long as possible.

While we continue to work toward the day when we will have treatments that stop Alzheimer’s in its tracks, in the meantime CLASS can serve as an important part of an individual’s overall plan to be as prepared as possible to cope with Alzheimer’s impact. For more information