As adults age, an important consideration to take into account for optimal health is the amount of nutritional value that is in the things we consume. A logical solution to ensuring that one is consistently consuming enough nutrients is by taking a nutritional supplement. However, given the range of choices available and health risks inherent in some supplements, deciding when and when not to take a nutritional supplement can be a daunting task. Taking supplements can help bolster a person’s nutritional needs, however, there are other times when it’s best to skip them and search for food sources. The best decisions about this matter come from doing proper research on nutritional supplements, and considering one’s own personal health needs and goals.
When You Should Definitely Take Nutritional Supplements
There are some groups who benefit at certain times of their lives by taking supplements. These include pregnant women, children and teens, vegans, or dieters. For these groups, a daily supplement can help to add nutrients when they’re lacking.
A good quality supplement is often derived from plant materials and many have to be refrigerated. Liquid vitamins and minerals can help the body absorb the nutrients more efficiently at times, although there are some good vitamins in the tab form as well. For people who find large vitamins difficult to swallow or for children who have special requirements, a modification may be in order. In these cases, it’s best to buy tabs specifically formulated for the age group or to use a pill splitter, such as an Apex Deluxe Pill Splitter, in the case of people who find swallowing vitamins difficult.
When You Should Definitely Not Take Nutritional Supplements
Some people who are on medication believe that they can take an herbal supplement in place of their medication. While this may or may not be the case, these people should never substitute one for the other without getting the OK from their doctors. Supplements are not regulated by the FDA in the same way that pharmaceuticals are, which means that people buying these products don’t know the quality of the supplement or the proper dose in relation to their condition
Additionally, according to HelpGuide.Org, some supplements like vitamin K, St. John’s Wort, or calcium affect the way that prescription drugs work. This means, they may make birth control pills less effective, mix in an adverse way with blood thinners, or interact poorly with heart medications. When in doubt, a person should always ask.
When It Depends
This is a gray area for many people. On the one hand, common wisdom suggests that most of the nutrients that people get should come from the food they eat. On the other hand, sometimes work schedules, special health issues like anemia, or other challenges get in the way of a person’s body getting all the nutrition it needs each day. In this case a supplement will help them maintain their body’s nutritional requirements. A visit to the doctor or a nutritionist can help people determine what their bodies need everyday. Once a daily dosage is suggested, people can keep track of each day’s supplements using a pill container, such as an Ezy Dose Travel Pill Container, for the pills they’re going take throughout the week.
Vitamin supplements can give the body some much needed nutritional support when it needs it the most. However, knowing when to take supplements and when not to can often mean the difference between optimal health or having problems brought on by taking too many supplements or the wrong kind. Finally, it’s important to note that some vitamins like vitamin A can be toxic if taken large quantities. Therefore, one should always consult with a professional before embarking on a supplement regimen.
About 12 percent of the U.S. population have what is considered significant hearing loss. This amounts to about 38 million people. This number is higher when you consider the number of people who have any form of hearing loss. So, what exactly is hearing loss? By definition, hearing loss refers to any impairment in the hearing process. Hearing loss can range from mild to severe, and there are many forms of hearing loss, some of which can be treated medically or with amplification devices such as hearing aids, and others are more serious. To understand exactly what hearing loss is and why it happens, it helps to have a basic understanding of how we hear.
How Hearing Works
Our ears are made up of many parts that must work together to process the sounds we hear. The human ear is made up of three basic sections. The outer ear is the part you can see. This part of the ear picks up sound waves. These sound waves move to the middle ear. The eardrum, located in the middle ear, vibrates when these sound waves pass. These vibrations are passed onto three tiny bones. These bones, the hammer, anvil and stirrup, help move sound along so that sound can be further processed. These vibrations travel to the cochlea, found in the inner ear. This part of the ear is lined with cells and filled with liquid. The vibrations from sound make tiny hairs on these cells move. Some of these cells amplify sound and others fine tune it. The inner cells send the information along to the brain, completing the hearing process.
Types of Hearing Loss
There are four basic types of hearing loss: neural, conductive, sensory and a mix of conductive and sensory.
• Neural – This is the least common type of hearing problem. This type of hearing loss results from damage to the nerve that carries sound from the inner ear to the brain. If you have this type of hearing loss, you have trouble distinguishing one sound from another, making it difficult to understand a full conversation. Testing is required to pinpoint the exact cause of this type of hearing loss to determine a possible treatment. This is the most serious form of hearing loss since it may be caused by other conditions.
• Conductive – This type of hearing loss occurs when there is a problem with the middle or outer ear. This type of hearing loss is usually temporary and can be treated with medical treatment.
• Sensory – This type of hearing loss occurs when the cochlea is not functioning properly or the tiny hairs are damaged. Sound may be muffled or you may be able to hear in quiet situations, but not so well in crowds. This type of hearing loss tends to be permanent.
• Conductive and Sensory – This type of hearing loss is the most common. It is a combination of middle, outer ear and inner ear problems with the cochlea. Medical treatment or use of a hearing aid, such as a Silver Sonic Personal Sound Amplifier, may help aid this type of hearing loss.
Causes of Hearing Loss
There are many causes of hearing loss. You may be born with some form of hearing loss or impairment or it may develop later in life due to a degenerative condition or illness. Certain injuries may result in sudden hearing loss. Additional causes of hearing loss may include:
• Head injury
• Infections such as meningitis
• Middle ear fluid
• Prolonged exposure to loud music, especially while using headphones
• Prolonged or repeated exposure to loud sounds such as machinery or loud environments
Preventing Hearing Loss
Studies show that hearing loss is affecting young people just as much as it does older people. This is due to exposure to loud environments or music through headphones. While some forms of hearing loss cannot be prevented due to how they are caused, hearing loss caused by exposure can be prevented. Some ways to prevent hearing loss:
• Limit exposure to loud noises or use protective ear wear if exposure is unavoidable.
• Use earplugs when exposed to fireworks, firearms, jet skies, lawn mowers and other loud noises.
• If using headphones, reduce the volume or use a volume control feature to limit exposure to full sound.
• Don’t use cotton swabs to clean your ear canal. Even swabs with heavy cotton may be dangerous. You may push earwax further down the ear canal. This earwax can accumulate and result in hearing loss. It is best to have your doctor clean your ears during your regular doctor’s visits.
There is no single cause of hearing loss. Some forms of hearing loss may be permanent, while others may respond to medical treatments. Avoid exposure to loud sounds, use earplugs and avoid using cotton swabs. Proper care of your ears is a big part of keeping your ears healthy and your hearing at peak performance.
As we get older, small annoyances in our daily life start to get more difficult. It can be harder to grip things, and vision and hearing may deteriorate. Fortunately, there are plenty of products and inventions that can be conveniently used as daily living aids, that can help make your life much easier.
Reachers With Magnetic Tips
If you have a hard time reaching things overhead, either because you’re short or because of pain in your joints, a smart, simple way to make this part of your life easier is by using a reacher with a magnetic tip, such as an Ez2care Alumium 30 Inch Reacher with Magnetic Tip and Ergo Handle.
This type of reacher makes life a lot easier because you can use it to pull things towards you that you are having trouble reaching. Simply grab items by squeezing the reacher’s trigger. The magnetic tips make it easier for objects to adhere to the reacher once you grab them.
People who have vision problems as well as people who have memory and concentration issues might enjoy oversized wall clocks. These large clocks fit across an entire wall and they give both the time and the date using large numbers. These clocks work well in conjunction with a large wall calendar, as seeing the date can help you recall what appointments you have scheduled for that date.
Pill Crushers and Organizers
If you have to take a lot of different medications, you might want to take advantage of many of the pill organizers that are on the market, such as a Fit & Healthy 7 Day Am/pm Pill Organizer. Organizers allow you to place the pills you need each day into different compartments so that you take your medications at the right time. If you have trouble swallowing pills, a pill crusher can help your pulverize them so that you can put them into liquid and drink them. Check with your doctor before crushing pills to make sure doing so won’t interfere with the pills’ effectiveness.
If you are a light sleeper or have trouble getting to sleep, you may want to consider using a white noise machine or other sound conditioners. These machines block out background noise and provide a soft, steady noise that helps you relax and fall asleep.
Do you have trouble reading small text? If you forget your glasses when going out to eat or menu text is too small for you to read even with your glasses on, try carrying around a pocket magnifier. This type of magnifying glass is indistinguishable from a cell phone, so you should be able to use it discreetly.
The tiny clasps on bracelets are hard to open and close, especially if your hands shake or you have arthritis. A great way to make your life easier is by using a bracelet opener, such as an Aids for Arthritis Bracelet Opener, to grab that clasp and hold it open so that you can close the bracelet properly. You can also use the opener to help release the clasp when you are ready to put the bracelet away.
Adjustable Bed Rails
Whether you have a small child who has just graduated from the crib to a bed or you are an older adult who has trouble with coordination and balance, adjustable bed rails can help tremendously. Attach the rails to the bed and raise or lower them to the height you want so that you can sleep comfortably without fear of falling out of bed.
If you can’t reach down to pull up your socks because of arthritis or other health issues, try a sock aid. Sock aids come with handles so that you can control where the aid is going; the aid itself can then be directed to grab socks, put them on your feet and pull them up.
If you have a hard time hearing while on the phone, consider getting an amplified phone. Amplified phones make the sound louder so that you can more easily hear the person on the other end. These phones are indistinguishable from regular landlines.
Hair Dryer Stand
If you have a hard time holding your hair dryer to dry your hair, try a hair dryer stand. You can mount almost any hair dryer onto a stand, which you then place on your sink or countertop. This frees you to style your hair while drying it.
Personal Sound Amplifiers
Rather than wearing a hearing aid, you can get an amplifier that looks just like a Bluetooth headset. It is less obvious that you are using a hearing aid, and you will be able to hear better.
Personal Alarm Clocks
If you have a hard time waking up to a standard alarm clock, see if waking up to the sound of your own voice is any easier. You can record up to six personal messages on these alarm clocks. You may also want to consider using this type of alarm clock to remind you to go to appointments or take out the trash.
Ergonomics is the study of how objects interact with the body, and how to make those objects interact in a more comfortable way. This is a very important study, especially as people use computers, phones and other devices more and more frequently in their daily lives. Without proper ergonomics, these devices could cause injury after long and repetitive use. Proper ergonomics, therefore, is a topic of concern for aging adults as well, because the body does not work as well in later years.
Types of Ergonomics
There are three main branches of ergonomics. The most popular is physical ergonomics. This takes physiological movement into account. Physical ergonomics are concerned with making devices that fit the body. They must work with the muscles and the angles of the human body to properly work.
Cognitive ergonomics are about how cognitive processes work in the human brain. There are few items that are made for cognitive ergonomics. Rather, this is commonly about making schedules, charts and processes that can easily fit within the human brain. For example, the common human can remember seven items at once. Cognitive ergonomic structures will utilize this when making graphs and charts.
Organizational ergonomics are concerned with how people are organized. This is commonly used by managers when they need employees to work in teams. Managers will commonly organize people based on skills and how they work together. This formation creates a team that is best suited for productivity.
The study of ergonomics is all about making items easier for people to use. A common example of an often used item that may be ergonomic in design is an ergonomic keyboard, such as a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 (pictured below), which is made in a way that directly works with natural hand movements. Ergonomists who design products like these must understand how the human body works, and know the limitations and capabilities of the body or mind. There are dozens of other kinds of ergonomic items that one can easily integrate into one’s life to reduce the long term stress and wear on the body.
While the above-mentioned ergonomic keyboard and other computer devices are common in ergonomic items, another thriving market is the daily living niche for seniors. In fact, seniors often benefit the most from ergonomic items. This is because they are more prone to muscular injury, and normal items dramatically increase the risk of injury. Not only that, but ergonomic daily living items make normal tasks much easier because they are sized to fit the human hand, and they cause less strain to the eyes.
Aside from making objects easier and more comfortable to use, ergonomists are also concerned with preventing injuries. When someone uses an uncomfortable device for a long time, such as an uncomfortable keyboard or phone, this causes the muscles to tense unnaturally.
Normally users will just feel momentary discomfort that alleviates after use. However, long and repetitive use causes permanent damage to the unnaturally tensed muscles. This can make it difficult to move the muscle, and it can cause chronic pain.
An ergonomic device is designed to prevent injury. The chance of injury occurring is drastically reduced when the device emulates or fits in with natural human movements. Ergonomic devices are often made at different angles and sizes than normal devices, making them uniquely suited for natural movement.
Ergonomic items are designed to help people function. While most items are made to accommodate the human body, there are also strategies for helping the human brain within ergonomics. If you are having a hard time seeing small letters, working with your hands or doing anything else in daily life, then consider getting an ergonomic device.
Most items are relatively cheap, and they can really improve your daily life by reducing the strain needed to complete the activity. Just try one out, and you will see how much they can improve your life.
Dementia is a syndrome that affects the elderly more than any other group. It can cause a greater degree of memory loss than is common with normal aging, even causing elderly people to become moody or hostile. Dementia causes a host of problems for both the sufferer and the friends and family, and because of this, dementia support groups are available to provide a way for everyone affected by this condition to communicate openly and find support in knowing that they are not alone.
Dementia’s Effect On the Family
Dementia can cause anger, resentment and confusion within a family. The person with dementia may feel ostracized or mistrusted, confused and angry about what is going on with their own body and mind. Relatives can struggle with feelings of loss, seeing their loved one’s personality change or witnessing their parent or grandparent struggle with daily tasks. The sufferer may want to drive when he no longer has the eyesight, reflexes or physical abilities to do so. He may blame the caregiver unreasonably for anything from having to take medications to losing his hearing aids. An air of discomfort and distrust can develop between patient and caregiver, and tension can run high among family members and friends who are each grieving and trying to cope with this regression process in their own way.
Types of Dementia Support Groups
Dementia support groups are available for people who want help dealing with people who have dementia. Some of the groups are online groups, which can be accessed 24 hours a day, every day. Telephone counselors may work with such groups to help with specific and serious problems. Other dementia support groups are held in meeting rooms in hospitals, churches, restaurants or civic centers. Some of the groups are for more specific conditions contributing to dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, and some are generally for all dementias.
Who Joins Dementia Support Groups?
Caregivers go to support groups more than anyone else. The caregivers are often family members, but they can also be people outside the family who come in to take care of the elderly person. People in the medical community sometimes attend meetings, but it’s most common for those who are a part of the patient’s family or social circle who have not been medically trained and who are personally invested in the dementia sufferer’s life.
What Goes On In Dementia Support Groups?
Sometimes, medical professionals who visit discuss the physical aspects of dementias and are available to answer questions. Social workers may be there to help caregivers understand the social aspects of the syndrome. Even when there are no special guests, there is plenty of help. The leader will guide the group in discussing the problems they have with their elderly parents or relatives. The group will offer support and suggestions about how to deal with problems.
Why Participate in Dementia Support Groups?
Attending is helpful, but participating can help even more. When you get involved with the group, you discover new ways of looking at dilemmas that you face every day as the caregiver of an elderly person with dementia. You can make friends and develop a support system for yourself. Taking care of you, in fact, is one of the most important reasons to attend a dementia support group. If you cannot take care of yourself, you will be in no shape to take care of others.
It’s easy to take sleep for granted. It’s one of those things most people don’t think about that much, but recent studies suggest that sleep may be directly linked to your overall health. According to the National Sleep Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization, the average person needs about 6-7 hours of productive sleep each night. This refers to the deep or R.E.M. sleep. According to information compiled by the Journal of Sleep Research, if you are getting less than 6-7 hours of sleep each night you be at risk for certain medical conditions or diseases.
Sleep and Heart Health
According to the American Heart Association, most heart attacks occur in the early hours of the morning. Studies have linked a lack of sleep with high blood pressure and cholesterol. There is a greater risk for all heart-related disorders due to insufficient sleep, according to research reported by the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center. It has often been said that sleep replenishes the body. There appears to be some truth to this, especially in terms of the heart and other vital organs within your body. When you are in a deeper sleep, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard. It’s like a rest period for your heart.
Sleep and Cancer
According to the Cancer Research Institute, people working a late shift and catching up on sleep during the day have a higher risk of certain types of cancer. One study focusing on breast and colon cancer linked the exposure to a hormone called melatonin to the growth of tumors. Natural light during the day reduces the levels of this hormone. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for making us feel sleepy. It has also been shown to protect us from cancer by suppressing tumor growth. If you can’t change your work schedule, make your bedroom as dark as possible when sleeping during the day.
• Less Stress – Stress and anxiety can lead to all kind of health issues ranging from high blood pressure to headaches. When your body is well-rested, you tend to be able to handle stress better.
• Less Inflammation – A productive sleep has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body. This can be beneficial for those living with diabetes and circulation issues.
• Increased Alertness – Sleep increases alertness. This translates to better reflexes, more energy and an overall sense of being able to face the challenges of a typical day.
• Better Memory – Scientists don’t fully understand why we dream, but studies indicate we have several dreams each night. The only ones we recall are the ones occurring just before the sleep cycle is over, according to a study cited by the National Sleep Foundation. A link has been established between sleep, dreams and memory. Better sleep also has been linked to better short-term and long-term memory.
• Weight Loss – Production of the hormones ghrelin and leptin, related to controlling your appetite, is interrupted by uneven sleep patterns or lack of sleep. If you want a natural boost to your weight loss efforts, sleep just might play an important role.
What You Need for a Good Night’s Sleep
Use these tips to form good sleeping habits and make sure every night is a good night’s sleep. When in doubt, be sure to look into comfortable sleep and snoring aids to maximize the restfulness of your sleep.
1. Get Comfortable
When you’re young, it usually doesn’t take much to get to sleep or wake up on time. A big part of productive sleep is maintaining a schedule. Starting with the part about actually getting to sleep, proper support is important. This includes a firm, supportive pillow and comfortable room conditions. While it may be common to fall asleep with the TV on, you actually have a better chance of getting a good night’s sleep by eliminating as many distractions as possible.
2. Minimize Distractions
A nightlight isn’t just something for children. If you need some illumination at night, a carefully placed nightlight can do the trick. Just make sure it’s not in a place where it will distract you from getting to sleep. As for the waking up on time part, a good alarm clock can do the trick. Avoid sleep medication, if possible, due to the risk of dependence, and look into proper sleep and snoring aids (such as SnorePin or Breath Right Nasal Strips) to ensure a peaceful distraction-free sleep.
3. Set a Schedule
Our bodies, by nature, tend to like schedules. Make sure you’re comfortable before you go to sleep and take care of all basic needs such as brushing your teeth before hand. Light exercise before bed is fine, but you should avoid anything too strenuous. If you establish a regular routine, this should help you enjoy a better night’s sleep and better overall health.
4. Take a Nap
A study of 24,000 Greek adults found that those who took a nap several times a week had a reduced risk of heart disease. Less formal studies suggest that napping gives you a refreshed feeling and a burst of energy. Some companies have even set up areas where employees can take a nap on their lunch break.
There is something to be said for getting a good night’s sleep. Start by developing a regular routine. Avoid eating right before bed, although light exercise is just fine. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday, even on weekends and vacations. Catching a nap here and there won’t hurt either. Scientists still aren’t sure why we sleep. Clearly there are certain health benefits associated with enjoying a good night’s sleep.
For eleven years I pleaded with my obstinate elderly father to allow a caregiver to help him with my ailing mother, but after 55 years of loving each other he adamantly insisted on taking care of her himself. Every caregiver I hired to help him called in exasperation, “Jacqueline, I just can’t work with your father–his temper is impossible to handle. I don’t think he’ll accept help until he’s on his knees himself.”
My father had always been 90% great, but boy-oh-boy that temper was a doozy. He’d never turned it on me before, but I’d never gone against his wishes either. When my mother nearly died from his inability to continue to care for her, I flew from southern California to San Francisco determined to save her life–having no idea that it would nearly cost me my own.
EARLY SIGNS OF DEMENTIA? I spent three months in the hospital nursing my 82-pound mother back to relative health, while my father went from being loving one minute to calling me horrible nasty names and throwing me out of the house the next. I walked on egg shells trying not to upset him, even running the washing machine could cause a tizzy, and there was no way to reason with him. It was heart wrenching to have my once-adoring father turn against me.
I immediately took my father to his doctor, only to be flabbergasted he could act normal when he needed to. I could not believe it when the doctor looked at me as if I was lying. She didn’t even take me seriously when I reported that my father had nearly electrocuted my mother, but fortunately I walked into the bathroom just three seconds before he plugged in a power strip that was soaking in a tub of water–along with my mother’s feet! Much later, I was furious to find out my father had instructed his doctor (and everyone) not to listen to anything I said because I was just a (bleep) liar—and all I wanted was his money! (I wish he had some.)
Then things got serious. My father had never laid a hand on me my whole life, but one day nearly choked me to death for adding HBO to his television, even though he had eagerly consented to it a few days before. Terrified, I call the police for the first time in my life who took him to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation. I could not believe it when they released him right away, saying they couldn’t find anything wrong with him. What is even more astonishing is that similar incidents occurred three more times.
CAREGIVER CATCH22 After three months I was finally able to bring my frail mother home from the hospital, but furious to find myself trapped. I couldn’t fly home and leave her alone with my father–she’d surely die from his inability to care for her. I couldn’t get my father to accept a caregiver, and even when I did—no one would put up with his raging very long. I couldn’t get healthcare professionals to help–my father was always so darling in front of them. I couldn’t get medication to calm him, and even when I finally did—he refused to take it and flushed it down the toilet. I couldn’t place my mother in a nursing home–he’d take her out. I couldn’t put him in a home–he didn’t qualify. They both refused Assisted Living—legally I couldn’t force them. I became a prisoner in my parents’ home for nearly a year trying to solve crisis after crisis, begging for professional help—and infuriated with a medical system that wasn’t helping me appropriately.
GERIATRIC DEMENTIA SPECIALIST MAKES DIAGNOSIS You don’t need a medical degree to know something is wrong, but you do need the right doctor who can diagnose and treat dementia properly. Finally, a friend suggested I call the Alzheimer’s Association who directed me to the best neurologist in the area who specialized in dementia. He performed a battery of blood, neurological, memory tests and CT & P.E.T. scans. After reviewing my parents’ many medications and ruling out numerous reversible dementias such as a B-12 and thyroid deficiency, you should have seen my face drop when he diagnosed Stage One Alzheimer’s in both of my parents–something all their other healthcare professionals missed entirely.
TRAPPED IN OLD HABITS What I’d been coping with was the beginning of Alzheimer’s (just one type of dementia), which begins very intermittently and appears to come and go. I didn’t understand that my father was addicted and trapped in his own bad behavior of a lifetime and his habit of yelling to get his way was coming out over things that were illogical… at times. I also didn’t understand that demented does not mean dumb (a concept not widely appreciated) and that he was still socially adjusted never to show his ‘Hyde’ side to anyone outside the family. Even with the onset of dementia, it was astonishing he could still be so manipulative. On the other hand, my mother was as sweet and lovely as she’d always been.
KEY: BALANCE BRAIN CHEMISTRY! I learned that Alzheimer’s makes up 60-80% of all dementias and there’s no stopping the progression nor is there yet a cure. However, if identified EARLY there are four FDA approved medications that can mask/slow symptoms, keeping a person in the early independent stage longer, delaying the need for part to full-time care. The medications are Aricept, Exelon, Razadyne and Namenda, with many more in clinical trials. In combination with optimal lifestyle changes (proper nutrition, weight, exercise, socialization), a one month delay in nursing home placement of Alzheimer’s patients could save the U.S. $1 BILLION annually. A five year delay in the onset could save $50 BILLION in annual healthcare costs. Public awareness, education, and more research dollars are needed!
After the neurologist slowed/masked the symptoms of Alzheimer’s in my parents, and also treated their depression (often present in AD patients), he prescribed a small dose of an anti-aggression medication for my father, which helped smooth out is his volatile temper without making him sleep all day. (Ohhh, if we’d only had that fifty years ago!) It wasn’t easy to get the dosages right and it took a lot of time and patience (and no, he wasn’t suddenly turned into an angel), but at least we didn’t need police intervention any longer!
CREATIVE BEHAVIORAL TECHNIQUES Once my parents’ brain chemistries were better balanced, I was able to optimize nutrition, fluids, medication, treatments, and exercise with much less resistance. I was also able to implement techniques to cope with the intermittent bizarre behaviors. Instead of logic and reason–I used distraction and redirection to things they were interested in. I learned to use reminiscence and talk about the old days, capitalizing on their long-term memories which were still quite good. Instead of arguing the facts–I agreed, validated frustrated feelings, and lived in their realities of the moment. I finally learned to just ‘go with the flow’ and let any nasty comments roll off.
And if none of that worked, a bribe of ice cream worked the best to cajole my father into the shower, even as he swore a blue streak at me that he’d just taken one yesterday (over a week ago). I was also finally able to get my father to accept two caregivers (he’d only alienated 40 that year–most only there for about ten minutes), and then with the benefit of Adult Day Health Care five days a week for my parents and a support group for me, everything finally started to fall into place.
IF ONLY WE HAD LONG TERM CARE INSURANCE! Before long my parents’ life savings was gone and we were well into mine. I was advised to apply for Medicaid and after months of paperwork, aggravation, and evaluation they were approved for financial help from the government. I was so relieved, until I learned it would only pay to put my parents in a nursing home, not keep them at home with 24/7 care. And, since my mother needed much more skilled care than my father, they’d be separated, something they would never consent to—nor did I want to do after all this work to keep them together.
I could not believe it—I finally had everything figured out medically, behaviorally, socially, legally, emotionally, two wonderful caregivers in place, the house elder-proofed, and all I needed was financial help to keep them at home. If I’d only made sure my parents bought Long Term Care Insurance (or I bought it for them) years ago while they were healthy and before any diagnosis of dementia, it would have covered the cost of their care at home. Instead, I paid for it, which nearly wiped me out in every way. After five years of managing 24/7 care for my parents, I then survived invasive Brst. Cancer.
ALZHEIMER’S / DEMENTIA OFTEN OVERLOOKED
What is so unsettlingis that not one healthcare professional discussed the possibility of the beginning of Alzheimer’s Disease (or any type of dementia) in my parents with me that first year, which happens far too often to families. Alzheimer’s afflicts more than 5.4 million Americans, but millions go undiagnosed for many years because intermittent subtle warning signs are chalked up to stress and a ‘normal’ part of aging. Since one out of eight by age 65, and nearly half by age 85 get AD, healthcare professionals of every specialty should know the ‘Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s’ and educate their patients and families early on so everyone can save time, money—and a fortune in Kleenex!
TEN WARNING SIGNS OF ALZHEIMER’S
(Reprinted with permission of the Alzheimer’s Association)
1. Memory loss
2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks
3. Problems with language
4. Disorientation of time and place
5. Poor or decreased judgment
6. Problems with abstract thinking
7. Misplacing things
8. Changes in mood or behavior
9. Changes in personality
10. Loss of initiative www.ElderRage.com/Alzheimers.asp
This week’s spotlight is on Jacqueline Marcell who is an author, radio host, caregiver advocate, and Alzheimer’s speaker. Her personal story as caregiver to a challenging elderly father and sweet ailing mother, both with Alzheimer’s which went undiagnosed—and Jacqueline’s subsequent challenges as a breast cancer survivor, makes her a remarkable figure to watch and admire in the realm of caregiving and elder care.
Jacqueline’s book, Elder Rage: How To Survive Caring For Aging Parents, is a critically acclaimed non-fiction novel/self help book about Jacqueline’s family struggles caring for parents who are aging with disease. Elder Rage was chosen as a Book of the Month Club selection (a caregiving first) and has garnered over 50 professional endorsements, and hundreds of positive reviews. You may purchase Jacqueline’s book, Elder Rage, on Amazon.com: Elder Rage, or Take Father Please: How To Survive Caring For Aging Parents. Or, you may also purchase a signed copy directly from her website order form.
Besides authoring her book, Jacqueline also regularly hosts the COPING WITH CAREGIVING radio show, where she interviews guests on topics such as dealing with disease, stress, dementia, psychology, grief and coping. Over nine years, she has interviewed over 1500 guests on her radio show.
When Jacqueline is not hosting her radio show, she is also an International Speaker (CEU/CMEs), having presented at hundreds of events including the California Governor’s Conference, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, National Security Agency, and Florida House of Representatives. Jacqueline speaks about a range of subjects including self-publishing, overcoming adversity, inspiration, and most importantly, Alzheimer’s and elder care.
If you would like to learn more about Jacqueline, her speaking engagements and her inspiring endeavors, be sure to visit her website: http://www.ElderRage.com
Today’s featured senior care article is another great post originally published on the Ankota Home Care Blog and reprinted here with Ankota’s permission. Ankota provides home care software and blogs about home care best practices, entrepreneurship and technology.
A very interesting article entitled “Why one-third of hospitals will close by 2020,” by David Houle and Jonathan Fleece recently appeared on the website KevinMD.com. Some of the key points raised about why one-third of the hospitals will close are as follows:
Health-Care is too Expensive, and hospitals are among the most expensive part
Hospitals are dangerous: 100,000 preventable deaths each year (the equivalent of 200 747 airplane crashes)
Customer Service in Hospitals is Abysmal – averaging 4 hour waits in emergency rooms
Transparency is Coming – people will be able to see which hospitals are better than others and the losers will go out of business
Whether the above prediction is right or wrong, for me it begs the question of Where will the Hospital Be? My answer is that home care will be the new hospital. Here’s why:
Home Care is less expensive
Home Care is safer for two reasons: care at home avoids the dangerous travel to and from the hospital, and staying home avoids exposure to infection
Home Care customer service is personal and attentive
There’s a great future for home care, and we’re glad to be part of it!
Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital. Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota.
We had a chance to catch up with Tommy Whitelaw to learn more about his Website and his campaign to raise awareness for dementia and for the caregivers for those with dementia: Tommy on Tour.
Below you can find the full audio interview as well as the full transcript from the interview.
Interviewer: Hi Tommy! Can you do me a favor and just introduce yourself a little and tell us about your cause.
Tommy Whitelaw: Well, my name is Tommy Whitelaw, and I live in Glasgow in Scotland. I care sometimes for my mom Joy, who’s 72 and has vascular dementia. I’ve been touring for my mom for five years now, and for the last year, I’ve been raising awareness on caring for a loved one and dementia.
Interviewer: You’ve got Tommy on Tour which is a small movie, and also your blog. What has inspired you to embrace this mission to provide the awareness? Is it your mother? Are there other factors?
Tommy: I think it’s like anything. You don’t plan your life that you’re going have, [inaudible 01:01] the experience of someone at some point. We realized that my mom needed care, and I decided to take some time off work to care for her. That’s resulted in me being her long‑time carer. The result of that was I felt very isolated and lonely during that, and I wanted to find out how others managed. Sadly, I find that many people struggle to do that, if it was possible, invited help. I’m trying to raise awareness so that people could understand what it’s like, and the life changes. When the life of someone you love changes, and that changes your life. I’m trying to make people understand what all of that brings to people.
Interviewer: So tell me a little bit about the tour you’re on. It sounds like you’re going around Scotland trying to raise awareness. What have you done? Where have you been? How’s it been going?
Tommy: I used to, in my previous life on tour, I spent quite a lot of time in North America. I toured with bands, and this is my version of what I used to do. I’m doing a tour by foot. I did the “Rock On Scotland” last year, and that led to the… I get 22 hours free time a week from caring for my mom, and I go to tour groups, so residential care places or events. I speak about life caring for my mom, and I show the short film that I made. The reason is, my campaign, I’ve asked people to write to me and share their experiences. [indecipherable 02:50] Tell me how their life has changed, and what life is like caring for them.
At the end of my campaign last year, I took off. I went to [indecipherable 03:00] , handed them over to our Scottish government. My campaign has since continued to grow since then. People write me, they’re sending… I call it “Life Story”, Van calls them love stories, because that’s why you care for someone, you care for them because you love them.
Interviewer: So what have you learned through the caregivers that you’ve connected with?
Tommy: Sorry, pardon?
Interviewer: I said, “What have you learned through the caregivers you’ve connected with?”
Tommy: Many people do this, and they do it because they love someone, but many people became very lonely and isolated doing it. Once you become someone’s….you know in life has an illness like dementia, you begin to get isolated from your social life, from your friends, and it takes away confidence in many ways. Then in my life, for a couple of years, the only people I had contact with were nurses or hospitals, or doctors, discussing my mom’s care. I think you have to make people, the way that hospitals understand what it’s like if someone’s getting [indecipherable 04:21] , waiting for someone that… I want to encourage people to get involved, and give them a little bit of help.
Interviewer: You find that there’s comfort knowing that others are going through the same turmoil and struggles that you or other caregivers are going through?
Tommy: Well absolutely. I think other people who [indecipherable 04:42] vitamins quite often feel very lonely. I actually think I’ve got, this is new to me, am I the only person doing this? Am I the only person waiting for someone? Is this it? Then more and more, I’m making contact with people all across Scotland who are living a very similar “Life Beyond.” We’re feeling this is a moment of isolation. I’m trying to bring that to the forefront. I think that involves, in my case is dementia, but I feel that is for any form of care.
I think for the older generation, you have to celebrate them. You have to respect them, and you have to understand the life they’ve lived, and the life of the families that are trying to care for them.
Interviewer: What advice would you give for somebody who’s caring with a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, especially when they first start out care‑giving for them?
Tommy: Well, the best advice, and [inaudible 05:47] is try and find people. I understand [indecipherable 05:51] assistance here and over there. Find an organization who has set up and equipped. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I think many people think “If I ask questions, people think I can’t cope.” I find that what helps is to be able to join hands with groups, recognized groups or organizations who are connected to supplying group care and don’t be afraid to ask for help. I feel sometimes if you don’t ask, you end up reaching a point of crisis, when maybe if you had just asked for help beforehand, you might not have reached that.
Me being a Scottish man, I find it difficult to ask for help, but now I understand that I need help, and not just to care for my Mum. I need advice and I need help in order to do the best job of that.
Interviewer: What would you say… Is there a way for society as a whole to make a difference?
Tommy: Absolutely. I feel that in Scotland and the UK here, that in the case of dementia it’s quite severe sometimes. I think the numbers, across the world, of dementia are increasing. I think we have to bring it to the forefront, and all aspects of caring for older people. I think it has to be brought to the forefront. You have to discuss amongst each other the best ways of improving it.
Mostly, you have to ask the people who are in a caring position. You have to work with them and find out, “What would make your life easier? What can we do?”
I think some things you work through policies and decisions that are already put in place without asking the people affected, how they live and how they feel. If we can answer those questions in the best possible way, we will find the best answer for treating people.
Interviewer: You’ve been doing this for the last… The Tommy on Tour ended last year, correct? Your walk around Scotland?
Tommy: Yeah. I did the walk last June. I did the walk for a week. I just walked around Scotland for a week. Since then, I’ve had quite a bit coverage on television and newspaper articles here. Since then, people have continued to write to me. In fact, I go back to our Parliament, which is the equivalent of your government now. I go back on May the 9th to hand over the next set of life stories that people have sent me.
I’m encouraged by your government here. They’re actually taking these life stories and reading them. I believe if we can share our life stories. People who have cared or are caring, if we can share our life stories, that will direct people to a better way of caring in the future.
We can show where we never got help, or we didn’t understand how to get help. That will help government and local authorities put in place a better system of understanding.
Interviewer: Have you seen any changes start to take place, or just simply that it’s the beginning process of that?
Tommy: Dementia, you know, with dementia we have great organizations here. They’re working hard. I think, with all aspects of life, there’s many people vying to get their [indecipherable 09:33] . I think that, with dementia, that the numbers are increasing. People are living longer, and the number of people with dementia is on the increase in general. I think now is a really important time for us to put strategic things in place in order to be ready for the next 10, 15 years.
If we don’t watch it right now, I think we’ll see major, major problems over the next 10 or 15 years.
Interviewer: How is your Mom doing today?
Tommy: My Mum’s doing well. She’s out today, actually. It’s a sunny day here in Scotland, you don’t get very many of them, and we sat out in the garden. My Mum’s just sitting here. She’s just sitting having a look at me wondering what I’m up to on the phone, but she’s doing OK.
With dementia being long‑term, you have no cure for dementia, you take each day as it comes. Today’s been a good day. I’m thankful for today. Today’s been a peaceful and good day. The sun is shining and my Mum’s sitting here with a big smile at me, and I’m happy for that.
Interviewer: That’s great. How are you doing?
Tommy: I’m OK. I think like anything, I have my good days and bad days, and that’s all determined by how my Mum is. Dementia is a really difficult process of always segregating stuff, in my case, the greatness of my Mum, and dementia is fighting to take that away, to take away my Mum’s awareness and her abilities and her memories. My days depend on my Mum. If my Mum’s getting through the day the best she can, then I get through the day the best I can. We wake up every day, and you see what dementia brings, and we try and deal with it.
I’m still learning. I think caring for someone with something like dementia, just when you think you’re getting the hang of it, it always changes. It moves. It moves everything a little bit. Moves it to the right and you’ve got to readjust yourself. Then you think, “Well, it’s going to be like this from now on.” Just as you’ve got the hang of that, it changes again, so you’ve got to keep actively adjusting your life.
Interviewer: Since you’ve been doing this awareness campaign, are you finding support in that, in itself, or do you look to outside sources to build your support system?
Tommy: I’m learning as well. There’s one good thing about campaigners. I believe that we all would like, in all aspects of life, we would like better things in place to help us. There’s a great tragedy of good things that are there that people aren’t aware of. I think we have to be careful. What I’m trying to do is, if I find a good service or people doing good work, I try and make people aware of it, because I think the tragedy of help that’s not available, but perhaps the biggest tragedy is help that is available, but we don’t know about it.
I think we should promote the therapists, their practice, to encourage people to come and get that help, and get help they deserve.
Interviewer: Yeah, I absolutely agree. Tommy, thank you for sharing your story. Is there anything else that you want to add or feel that needs to be said?
Tommy: Well, there is one thing, and it’s in the case of dementia, but I would like to say this to anyone. Never look at someone as an illness. Never look at someone as a person with dementia, always look at the person under the illness. I’ve often said this and I’ll keep saying it, that my mother has been a [indecipherable 13:35] . She’s been a wife, she’s been a mother, she’s been a work mate, she’s been a friend, she’s been a good member of our community. All too often you don’t accept the person with dementia.
So if I were to say anything to any of you, always remember the person behind the illness, and respect them of that illness. Celebrate the person behind it, remember them for the person, and help them for the person they are.