Posts Tagged ‘senior wellness’

Alone at Home: Aging in Place

November 5th, 2016 by Doris Bersing

Aging in Place

The senior age comes with its own challenges and concerns. Being alone and aging in place at this stage is difficult especially when you have no one from the family there to offer you at least emotional if not physical support. However, we must always see the good side of every living experience and find the way in which to ensure a joyful road through life. Being self-aware of your current conditions and always keen on ensuring proper health for yourself is the best thing that you can do when you are alone at home and may not receive any help. Knowledge is power and the more you know about your challenges and assets, the more planning you can do and hope for safety and wellness in your golden years. Knowledge is power and hope is everything.

Also, turning to professionals to offer you advice and proper care in your own home is another solution that you can consider when the situation requires it. Older people should never be ashamed or scared to ask for professional support from those who can help them do what they cannot do anymore or simply help them keep their health and overall lifestyle in good conditions.

Living Alone at Home: Receiving Support from Specialists or Friends

Certain seniors decide on their own to live alone at home whereas others do not have the possibly to receive care in specialized centers. However, they also have the possibility to receive support in the comfort of their own home when the situation requires it. They may have someone visiting them every day to check their health status and offer support and advice for a healthy life.

Also, they can also have someone check on them less often when their conditions do not require daily support to ensure a proper life. It is all according to their needs and requirements. However, constant support is usually recommended for seniors living alone in their home. Sometimes, even a good word can mean a lot for them.

When specialized help is not possible, such support can also be offered by senior friends. They have the same age, a similar perspective on life and they can offer each other what they need in terms of emotional and physical support. It is always better to share life with someone else than to be always alone. Intimacy and privacy are also important in their life because they still want to be independent and feel free every day.

However, as much as we all need friends and support from time to time, seniors should also rely on their friends and spend time together as often as they can so that they might not feel the lack of human contact and emotions in their life.

Survival at the Senior Age: Relying on Yourself and Others

The elderly stage of life does not necessarily have to mean lack of independence or the inability of taking care of yourself. If you have adopted a healthy lifestyle up until now you are probably more than capable of taking care of yourself. However, certain health issues or concerns are inevitable at every age. It is then that you must go to specialists and make sure you follow their recommendations in terms of medical treatments and general activities that might keep you in shape.

Moreover, sharing your current living conditions and experiences with other people going through the same stage is essential. You may be able to help your friends with something they cannot do and they might offer you support in what you need as well. Sharing is caring at every age. Just because you are older now and may not have family members there for you should never mean that you must be alone. Reach to those who understand you as well as to professionals who work with passion in the senior care industry to get what you need in life at this stage.

The Joy of Living Decently when You Are Older

Joy should never be left out of the equation of life no matter what age we are. The same way we enjoy life when we are young when pure joy and happiness are all we know, we can also include this feeling in our senior stage of life. Our colleague Francis Edward from Forest Health Care, recommends: “…Make the best of what you have available now and make sure you live a decent life no matter what the numbers show in terms of age…”  and we add to that, do not hesitate to ask help from experts in your area as needed.

 

Depression among seniors is often overlooked and untreated

October 20th, 2015 by Doris Bersing

depression elderSadly to say but depression among seniors is a far more common problem than one might expect, but that doesn’t mean it’s a ‘normal’ part of growing old.

In fact, seniors suffering from depression are often overlooked and go untreated, thanks to it being seen as ‘just part of aging’. But what about depression among seniors make it so hard to notice?

Most people have a certain idea of depression, one that involves ‘feeling sad’ as the main aspect. But this is far from the only, or even, the main, symptom of depression. In seniors especially, other symptoms may be more prominent, but harder to notice. Whilst being aware of sadness is important, it’s vital these other aspects don’t get overlooked. So what should you be looking out for?

Difficulty Sleeping

It’s common as we age for us to need less sleep – it’s why there’s the stereotype as elderly people going to be earlier and getting up at the crack of dawn. But this change in sleep patterns should feel natural, not challenging. If a senior person is complaining about having trouble getting to sleep, waking up frequently throughout the night or other such disturbances, it’s likely not just age, but a symptom of an underlying problem. There are a few things it could be, but one thing is may be is a sign of depression.

Loss of Appetite

Again, losing appetite is common among seniors – taste-buds grow less effective, and we need to eat less food as we age. By itself, this may not be cause for concern, but when appearing alongside other common traits, it’s worth considering. The fact these aspects of depression are also common for other reasons in seniors is part of what makes spotting depression so tricky.

Social Withdrawal

Elderly people often feel like their social circles are shrinking, but this shouldn’t mean that they withdraw. After a dramatic event – a death or illness in a friend – then it’s understandable that one may shrink from socializing, but if this continues and becomes the norm then it may well be another sign that there’s something bigger at play.

Tiredness/listlessness

If a person is complaining about having little to no energy, feeling listless, fatigued and worn out, then there are a few things it could be. Whilst age does put extra pressure on our systems, it alone doesn’t necessarily lead to this state – so it’s worth exploring what it could be. Whether it’s not eating enough, feeling at a loss since retirement or something like depression, it’s worth taking seriously – even if they don’t think it is.

The second part of the problem is when considering the prevalence of depression in seniors is how often it goes untreated. One of the biggest issues here is persuading a senior person that they don’t have to feel this way, and to seek treatment. Many seniors won’t open up about issues because they don’t want to burden their families – and will outright deny feeling that way even if you confront them on it. So how can you help them get the treatment they need?

Firstly, don’t normalize the things they describe. Try to avoid writing off comments about listlessness or sleep disturbances as ‘just getting old’, but instead validate them as negative things that don’t have to be the case.

Secondly, don’t force the topic – even if you suspect they have depression, you don’t have to confront them using such terms. Many senior people will reject the term and even the possibility of attending psychotherapy. They are more of the generation of “minding-your-own-business for cultural and other variety of reasons. Some of them will associate it with sadness, some won’t understand it, and some will simply feel as though it makes them weak. Instead, talk about the things they will admit to – if they talk about losing appetite; discuss addressing this issue with a doctor, rather than suggesting they go straight to therapy. Taking your time and following their lead can often lead to them actually getting help (even if it starts with just one symptom!) rather than writing the whole thing off.

Edward Francis from Foresth reccomends “…make sure you’re working with professionals who actually understand senior depression. If they’re in a care home, or getting home visits, chat to them about your concerns – and, if they write it off as ‘just getting old’, don’t be afraid to look elsewhere…”

Depression in people of any age is often misunderstood, and this is extra difficult for the elderly, so try to support them and prevent them being overlooked in every way you can. Organizations like Living Well specializes in working with elders who suffer from mental illnesses, often called gero-psychiatric patients. The most common diagnoses in gero-psychiatric patients include depression, dementia, psychosis and anxiety. Seniors with mental illness find it more difficult dealing with adjustments in lifestyle, such as isolation or loss of independence. Medical conditions or physical diseases complicate the challenges they face.

There are not enough mental health facilities nationwide to accommodate elders, or assisted living facilities with specialized services to meet their needs. By providing gero-psychology training for companions and in-home caregivers and promoting the values of dignity, choice, self-determination and individuality, specialized and compassionate professionals close the gap. Every encounter with an elder can be therapeutic, and in reality it takes a village to care for our elders, depressed or not.

 

How being a caregiver for aging parents can be one of the most challenging realities in life

July 1st, 2015 by Doris Bersing

The Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC)  states that more than 34 million unpaid caregivers provide care to someone age 18 and older who is ill or has a disability; an estimated 21% of households in the United States are impacted by caregiving responsibilities; and unpaid caregivers provide an estimated 90% of the long-term care (IOM, 2008).

It is estimated that one in eight people are now official caring for an aging parent. Edward Francis, a Living Well collaborator, at Forest Health Care estimates that this is a result of the baby boom years combining with improved healthcare and an increase in the average life expectancy. This responsibility may come to these caregivers suddenly or it may become a gradual, progressive path of commitment. It requires a change to your mindset, no longer are you the child, you now need to take care of your parents as they have always done for you.

 

It can be a challenging experience to be a caregiver for a parent dealing with memory loss that eventually materializes in dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Role change

Illness can cause a gentle shift in roles but it is a lot moiré difficult when an accident changes the situation dramatically in moments. This is often the case as elder people are more prone to injury and a broken hip can have a serious impact on their ability to care for themselves. The role reversal can be exceptionally difficult for those who were never that close to their parents but do feel the need to care for them.

It can be very difficult to make the right decision in either your own eyes or your parent’s eyes and you may bear the brunt of a parent’s frustration. For your role as caregiver to work you need to accept that you are now responsible for the decisions and care of your parent.

Balance

It can be tempting to visit your parent every day or even multiple times during the day. In reality this will make the process far more difficult. You will end up physically and emotionally exhausted whilst emphasizing your parent’s dependence on you. It can be very difficult to find the right balance between being there and making the best decisions whilst providing them some space to be as independent as possible. It is essential for your own survival to maintain a balance between caring, time for yourself and your own family commitments.

Planning ahead

From the moment you start caring for your parent you will have to start thinking about the future. If their condition deteriorates will they need additional caregivers, professional homecare, or perhaps assisted living facilities are the way to go; after all one size does not fit all.

The harsh reality of knowing your parents have a finite amount of time left will combine with concerns over the future, this can become a serious burden and it is essential you share the responsibility as much as possible.

Strengths and weaknesses

Like anyone you have areas of expertise and areas which you are not so knowledgeable or good at. You may be more sympathetic than your siblings or more financially orientated and it is important to utilize the skills you have. Knowing your areas of weakness and accepting that someone else can do that part better is a better way of caring for your parent and yourself than attempting to do it all on your own.

Dealing with a parent experiencing memory loss

One of the most challenging and draining aspects of being a caregiver is when your parent starts to lose their memory. It can feel that day by day they are drifting away from you and you are losing one of the people who have always inspired you and have always been there for you. It is essential to focus on the positives; a memory problem is probably more of an issue to you than to them. Encourage them to visualize their past by using photographs and talking to them, cherish the moments you have and the experience will be rewarding instead of challenging.

Network

Both the caregiver and the parent need to have a good network of support. You need to be able to vent your frustrations and gain advice from others to ensure you know you are doing the best possible for your parent. Your parent needs to remain in contact with as many people as possible to avoid loneliness and frustration building up and making the situation worse.

Every situation will be slightly different but it will always be a challenging time and a difficult journey. Your feelings and emotions will be tested to the limit but the ultimate reward will be worth it; knowing that you were there for your parents when needed and did the best you could, after exploring all the alternatives you could have. Look for consultation with the experts in the field, even if it is a long journey, you are not alone.

Aging in Place: Assistive Technology and Human Touch to Solve the Caregiving Issue

May 4th, 2015 by Doris Bersing

Aging in PlaceWe all know those smart and dynamic elders, who used to be professionals, hard workers, homemakers, very engaged in their communities, who slowly but surely, are aging with aches and pains and diminishing faculties, with some times chronic and debilitating diseases rising in the horizon. We all try to help them to little (or no) avail, since the response is: “I do not need help …I am not moving from my home…I am not going to one of those places full of old people”… Does it sound familiar? If you have an elderly parent or loved one in need of care and help, I am sure you have.

Many studies since 2007 have focused on Aging in Place and what seniors and baby boomers want. Besides being in denial of needing help, elders fear moving into a nursing home and losing their independence more than they fear death, according to a study, “Aging in Place in America,” commissioned by Clarity and The EAR Foundation, which also found that the Baby Boomer children of seniors also fear for their parents. Boomers express particular concern about their parents’ emotional and physical well being should they have to enter a nursing home, finds the study, which examines the attitudes and anxieties of the nation’s elderly population. Although since 1997 AARP survey, we know (89%) of the interviewees answer they wanted to stay at home, and age in place – or live independently, but more than half of those surveyed (53%) are concerned with their ability to do so.

Some of the issues that force older adults out of their homes is not only illness and frailty but houses that do not accommodate their needs, isolation, and lack of support –we know our communities, sad to say, are not equipped with volunteerism enough to help some of these seniors or systems that protect not only the low income ones but the middle class, as well.

Projects like Capable in Baltimore, where volunteers come helping seniors run errands and reach the next community even that day while retrofitting their houses has proven to keep seniors at home longer. The project started as a major research effort in the Baltimore area called the CAPABLE project – it stands for Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders – is sending handymen, nurses and occupational therapists into the homes of hundreds of low-income seniors aging in place to see how far $4,000 can go in preserving people’s independence. The project’s initial success has captured nationwide media attention and piqued the interest of federal officials straining to hold down Medicaid costs. If it can be scaled up and tried nationwide, it could potentially save U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars. The average cost of nursing home care in the U.S. is $6,700 a month, much of it paid through Medicaid, so even postponing a move to a nursing facility by just a few months can have a major impact.

Another well known solution but difficult to implement, on one hand because seniors resistance to technology, and on another because of baby boomers not turning their parents into it, is Gero-technology that can lower the cost of home care when needed and/or help keep seniors independently but safely at home. Aging in a high tech world is not easy for these seniors but there are agencies and resources in the community to help them and their families navigate through the maze of options and what is really needed.

These technologies go from the safety ones to guarantee people are safe at home, and monitor their comes-and-goes, as needed without invasion, to the tablets to communicate with loved ones, receive medication reminders, or access services in the community. Organizations like Living Well use leading-edge technologies to evaluate their members’ health and mental status, reduce the cost of care, communicate medical and other information to physicians and relatives, provide cognitive vitality programming and monitor personal safety. When needed, they will evaluate the layout of the home and undertake modifications to ensure mobility, access, and security. In addition, our professional housekeeping and maintenance staff keep our members’ homes updated, clean, and impeccably maintained.

Just today, May 4, 2015 California Health launched a report discussing the caregiving issue and if really this technology involving social networking and technology will “…save the day for one of America’s most intractable social problems — caring for the country’s aging population? The article proposes a different way of hiring caregivers but still posits the issue of just having a caregiver. One size does not fit all and for some of our loved ones just low-tech or high tech intervention can save the day. Now if in need of home care, options are there with agencies as the article states charging more than what a privately hired caregiver could cost but no- back up, or services that will monitor the process for you, and more. Read the article.

In reality, the high tech and high touch is a better answer. It is not only technology but the human connection what makes a real answer: personal services and advanced assistive technology can add a strong measure of comfort, convenience and control to those that desire to remain at home but have conditions that may limit their ability to move freely, communicate effectively or otherwise navigate their environment. Together they can ensure and encourage those that desire to age in place the opportunity to do so with safety and choices for the seniors and peace of mind for family members and friends. Check all the options and remember one size-does-not-fit all.

An Age-Segregated Dream

August 4th, 2012 by Doris Bersing

Paula Span, in the New York Times “The New Old Age” section brings our attention to the phenomena of retirees leaving home to go to sunny Florida.  A new film about a Florida retirement complex poses some difficult questions. The film is playing at the Jewish Film festival in San Francisco this week. The filmmaker, Sari Gilman, the granddaughter of a New Yorker couple of retirees, who shot the film in Kings Point, Florida, says: “The benefits of the age-segregated community seemed, in the end, to be a liability,” . As she spent time shooting at Kings Point, she learned that “there was a bit of a Darwinian bent to social life there. If you had your health, you were popular. If your health started to fail, there were whispers around the pool: ‘Ida’s going down.’ ” Read the article

Ten Medications Older Adults Should Avoid or Use with Caution

March 8th, 2012 by Doris Bersing

pills-14550_640Because older adults often experience chronic health conditions that require treatment with multiple medications, there is a greater likelihood of experiencing unwanted drug side effects. Older people can also be more sensitive to certain medications. To help you make better informed decisions about your medications, and to lower your chances of overmedication and serious drug reactions, the American Geriatrics Society Foundation for Health in Aging recommends that older people be cautious about using the following types of medications, including some that can be purchased without a prescription (over-the-counter). See List of Medicines

Playing softball despite Parkinson’s disease

December 15th, 2010 by Doris Bersing

Despite having Parkinson’s disease for the past 10 years, Bob Soulen, 69, continues to play in the Montgomery County Senior Softball League.

The Washington Post published a story and a video about Bob Soulen a well known athlete with Parkinson’s disease :”….The big first baseman trudges across the pristine infield, his walker leaving a crooked trail in the dirt. He has bandages on his knees, a bald spot where he hit his head against a door frame and an old shoulder dislocation from a spill at home… But it’s game time. The hot afternoon is giving way to the shadows of evening. And Bob Soulen, 69, who has Parkinson’s disease, is going to play some ball.

Twenty miles away, 30,000 people have streamed into Nationals Park to see Washington’s young pitching sensation, Stephen Strasburg. Here on Field No. 5 in Montgomery County’s Wheaton Regional Park, a lone fan – the wife of an opposing player – sits in the bleachers to witness a different phenomenon: an aging physicist’s determination to cling to the game of his youth.

As Soulen shuffles across the dirt, the other Mustangs are arriving, limbering up and playing catch, and Soulen is careful to lift his walker over the fresh white streak of the foul line. Like the diamond, the evening seems perfect, and in a few minutes there will be a pale moon rising over center field.

Robert J. Soulen Jr. of North Bethesda is a retired award-winning scientist who worked at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Naval Research Laboratory. His area of expertise is superconductivity as it relates to temperature measurement and ship propulsion.

He also plays softball in Montgomery’s senior leagues and can wax about the laws of physics as they relate to bat vs. ball…” Read the story