Tag Archives: seniors

What She Has To Offer

I’m in the kitchen starting the coffee when Mom comes in. “What can I do to help?” she asks before she even clears the door.

It is very important to Mom to feel useful. She doesn’t like others doing things for her. I try to make sure there is always a job she is able to do. Sometimes that is difficult, but this morning I am prepared.

“There’s Windex and paper towels on the table there,” I say. “Can you just wipe the table off for me?” She cleaned it last night, but she won’t remember that.

“K.O., I’ll do it!” she says, tearing off several paper towels with alacrity. “Is this the Windex?” She motions toward the blue spray bottle.

I turn from the coffeemaker. “Yep, that’s it.”

But before she can start, Mom sits abruptly in the large kitchen armchair, wincing. “Oooh,” she murmurs, rubbing her legs, the paper towels still in one hand.

Mom does not show pain often, so I’m alarmed. “What?”

“Well, it’s just …” She pulls both soft cotton pant legs up to her thighs. Her lower legs are puffy above her tight ankle socks and around her knees.

For the full article

Thanks to the NY Post Blog for this article!

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Home Instead Senior Care Is On Cable!

Finally, we are ON AIR! Just wanted to let our BLOG, TWITTER and FACEBOOK friends and readers know that the Home Instead Senior Care cable show is on! Hope you enjoy watching and hearing from those business’ and people who offer additional support and help to the growing population of seniors. It is my hope that the cable show will offer insight into better managing our families as we all enter into the ‘golden years.’ Here’s the cable station internet, AACS link where you may view the shows that have previously aired. Each week additional shows will be added. Lots more to come…guests are already booked through August. Any ideas for what you may want to know more about, your comments and/or input is always appreciated!

Boomers Turn 65!

In 2011, the baby boomer generation turns 65. So what can the Boomers expect in their retirement years? This week CNN will bring you special coverage of this generation.

What plagues baby boomers?

Sex, drugs and a rocky road, said Jim Bacon, author of “Boomergeddon.”

Boomers are less healthy and heavier than their parents were at their age. And they pop far more pills than the previous generation; an average 50-year-old man takes four prescription medications daily, according to AARP.

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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.

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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

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

Tackling Care as Chronic Ailments Pile Up

No one said it was going to be easy and with the most recent figures coming to light, all will have to agree that it isn’t going to be an easy task…but clearly our older seniors are requiring care that ‘someone’ is going to have to pay for; ‘looking away’ is not an option.

Anyone seriously interested in improving the health of Americans and reducing the costs of health care must be willing to tackle a growing and under-appreciated problem: the vast number of patients with more than one chronic illness.

The problem is actually two problems: delivering more efficient care to these patients and helping them not to get sick in the first place.

Both tasks require the cooperation of patients and caregivers, as well as the providers of health care and the agencies that pay for it — and, at least as important, a public willing to take proven steps to reduce the risk of chronic disease.

The statistics, as reported in December in a strategy report from the Department of Health and Human Services, say it all. More than 25 percent of Americans have two or more chronic conditions — which, by definition, require continuing medical care, and often limit their ability to perform activities of daily living. (The conditions include heart disease, diabetes, obstructive lung disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, asthma, H.I.V., mental illness and dementia, among others.)

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Hearing Loss Linked To Dementia

Adults with hearing loss are significantly more likely than adults with normal hearing to develop dementia, according to a new study out today from researchers at Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging. The study, which finds that the greater the hearing loss, the higher the risk, may open a new avenue of research into dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Men and women in the study who experienced severe hearing loss were five times more likely to develop dementia than those with normal hearing. But even mild hearing loss doubled the risk of dementia.

The study followed 639 people ages 36 to 90 who initially did not have dementia, the insidious loss of memory, logic and language that interferes with daily living. The volunteers were tested for hearing loss and dementia every two years for nearly two decades.

Researchers found that those with hearing loss at the beginning of the study were much more likely to develop dementia by the end, even after taking into account age and other risk factors. The risk of dementia only began to rise once hearing loss began to interfere with the ability to communicate for example, in a noisy restaurant. The study also found that hearing loss increased the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but the two were not as strongly linked as hearing loss and dementia.

Frank Lin, M.D., assistant professor in the Division of Otology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and an author of the study, says this is the first large study to connect hearing loss to the development of dementia and should spur more research into this intriguing new relationship.

Lin says it may be that whatever causes dementia also causes hearing loss, but there’s no clear evidence. He thinks it’s more likely that the neurological stress of dealing with hearing loss contributes to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. “If you are out to dinner with friends at a busy restaurant and it’s very, very loud, by the time you get home you’re exhausted, because you spend so much time trying to think about the words people are saying, to decipher everything,” he says. Then, too, it may be that the social isolation that comes with hearing loss contributes to the development of dementia.

People who have a hard time hearing can’t follow conversations or respond to questions. They feel frustrated and embarrassed and tend to avoid socializing. And previous research has linked isolation with a higher risk of dementia. Or, Lin says, it may be a combination of the neurological stress and social isolation.

Either way, this study may prompt men and women to pay more attention to hearing loss, a condition that affects more than 9 million Americans over the age of 65, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Lin says people don’t tend to give hearing loss the same kind of attention they give high blood pressure or heart disease. Instead, they accept hearing loss as an inevitable part of aging. But, says Lin, it may be time to take a more serious look at the condition.

Luigi Ferrucci, M.D., chief of the Longitudinal Studies Section at the National Institutes on Aging and another of the study authors, says it’s not yet time to recommend widespread action, but researchers have important questions to answer, including: If we cure hearing loss, are we going to prevent dementia? And can hearing aids make a difference?

Even if treating hearing loss only delayed dementia, that alone could have enormous consequences, researchers say. This study didn’t find that hearing aids decreased the risk of dementia, but volunteers in the study only reported whether or not they had hearing aids, not how often they used them or how effective they were.

Thanks to Elizabeth Agnvall, a contributing editor at the AARP Bulletin.

Medical Power of Attorney and Living Wills

A Medical Power of Attorney gives an individual the ability to make medical decisions for another person when they become unable to do so. This is an extremely important document to have as a parent ages, since their ability to make decisions about complex medical matters may change quickly.

Note that both a Living Will and a Medical Power of Attorney must be in the format of the state in which the parent lives to be accepted. Most attorneys advise that both documents are not necessarily needed and that there is a possibility they could conflict with each other. A Living Will can be interpreted by any member of the family and remember that most siblings and family members can rarely agree to a single decision, let alone multiple ones.

In Massachusetts the state has no provisions for a Living Will, but does have a Health Care Proxy, which is a simple document, legally valid in Massachusetts, which allows you to name someone (an “agent”) to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make or communicate those decisions. This Health Care Proxy document, provided free of charge, gives a clear explanation of the responsibilities of a health care agent, and simple directions on how fill out and sign the form. There are also instructions on how to revoke or cancel the document at a later date, if you choose to do so.

In the case of my Dad, he was mentally competent prior to being sent to the hospital one Sunday morning. But he would not sign any documents without at least one of his children present, and he was in Florida and we were all in Massachusetts. Since not one of us had the medical ‘surogate power’ (Florida standards), it was impossible for us to do anything until we arrived in Florida.

I could cite multiple horror stories from people who delayed too long in obtaining this document. The best advice is to find out how your parent’s state of residence treats this document and to talk about it with your parent before it is actually needed and then speak with a trusted attorney about exactly what is needed in your parent’s state of residence.

Mental Exercise!

Remember the good old days when your mind was as sharp as a tack and you could remember the phone numbers of multiple people with no effort at all… when an important date never slipped by you?
Don’t fret … Health experts suggest that the mere fact that we notice our forgetfulness is probably a good indication that we aren’t really in serious trouble. The problem comes not when we misplace a library book, but when we can’t remember how to find the library to return it!

Knowing that occasional lapses in memory are not usually serious, doesn’t help us feel better when we experience them, so what can we do? Just as our bodies need physical exercise to keep us limber, our mental faculties also need exercise to remain sharp. There are countless ways to give your mind a workout; most of them costing nothing but a small investment of time each day. Select several…practice for a few weeks, and see if your ability to remember things, as well as your enthusiasm for life, doesn’t improve dramatically.

1. Get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, and eat well.

2. If you are depressed, talk to your doctor. People who maintain a positive outlook on life are less likely to suffer from lapses of memory.

3. If you smoke, stop. If you drink, do so in moderation.

4. Join a club or organization where you interact with other people. Discussion groups do wonders to stimulate even the most sluggish minds.

5. Get curious. Choose a subject each week and find out everything you can about that subject.

6. Every day…start by writing a short story…just a few paragraphs or so about something interesting you did…or want to do.

7. When someone calls on the telephone, try to guess who it is before they identify themselves.

8. Read the daily newspaper, and try to share information from one or two of the articles with a friend.

9. After a visit with someone, review the conversation in your head.

10. When you finish a chapter in a book, write a one or two sentence summary of it.

11. Do crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, cards.

12. Memorize a short poem

13. Pick up an old math book and try doing the problems in it. Work your way up to more and more difficult examples.

14. Pick up a book of simple riddles or word games from your bookstore.

15. Read, read, and read some more