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  • February Is American Heart Month: Are You at Risk for Heart Disease?

    This informative article was provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention

    During the month of February, Americans see the human heart as the symbol of love. February is American Heart Month, a time to show yourself the love. Learn about your risks for heart disease and stroke and stay “heart healthy” for yourself and your loved ones.

    Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure—is the number 1 killer of women and men in the United States. It is a leading cause of disability, preventing Americans from working and enjoying family activities.1 CVD costs the United States over $300 billion each year, including the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.1

    Understanding the Burden of CVD

    CVD does not affect all groups of people in the same way. Although the number of preventable deaths has declined in people aged 65 to 74 years, it has remained unchanged in people under age 65. Men are more than twice as likely as women to die from preventable CVD.2

    Having a close relative who has heart disease puts you at higher risk for CVD. Health disparities based on geography also exist. During 2007–2009, death rates due to heart disease were the highest in the South and lowest in the West.

    Race and ethnicity also affect your risk. Nearly 44% of African American men and 48% of African American women have some form of CVD. And African Americans are more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to have high blood pressure and to develop the condition earlier in life. About 2 in 5 African American adults have high blood pressure, yet fewer than half of them have the condition under control.

    Many CVD deaths could have been prevented through healthier habits, healthier living spaces, and better management of conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.2

    ECG_heart_Clipart_Free

    Take It One Step at a Time

    You can control a number of risk factors for CVD, including:

    • Diet
    • Physical activity
    • Tobacco use
    • Obesity
    • High blood pressure
    • High blood cholesterol
    • Diabetes

    As you begin your journey to better heart health that can last a lifetime, keep these things in mind:

    • Try not to become overwhelmed. Every step brings you closer to a healthier heart, and every healthy choice makes a difference!
    • Partner up. The journey is more fun—and often more successful—when you have company. Ask friends and family to join you.
    • Don’t get discouraged. You may not be able to take all of the steps at one time. Get a good night’s sleep—also important for a healthy heart—and do what you can tomorrow.
    • Reward yourself. Find fun things to do to decrease your stress. Round up some colleagues for a lunchtime walk, join a singing group, or have a healthy dinner with your family or friends.

    Plan for Prevention

    Try out these strategies for better heart health. You’ll be surprised how many of them can become lifelong habits!

    Work with your health care team. Get a checkup at least once each year, even if you feel healthy. A doctor, nurse, or other health care professional can check for conditions that put you at risk for CVD, such as high blood pressure and diabetes—conditions that can go unnoticed for too long.

    Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis. You can check your blood pressure at home, at a pharmacy, or at a doctor’s office. Find more information at CDC’s High Blood Pressure Web site.

    Get your cholesterol checked. Your health care team should test your cholesterol levels at least once every 5 years. Talk with your health care professional about this simple blood test. You can find out more from CDC’s High Cholesterol Web site.

    Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid CVD and its complications. Limiting sodium in your diet can lower your blood pressure. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables—adults should have at least five servings each day. Eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber. For more information on eating a healthy diet, visit CDC’s Nutrition page and ChooseMyPlate.gov.

    Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for CVD. To determine whether your weight is in a healthy range, health care professionals often calculate a number called body mass index (BMI). Doctors sometimes also use waist and hip measurements to measure a person’s body fat. If you know your weight and height, you can calculate your BMI at CDC’s Assessing Your Weight Web site.

    Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate-intensity activity for at least 150 minutes per week. Remember to incorporate exercise into your day in different ways: take the stairs instead of the elevator, or rake the yard instead of using the leaf blower. Exercising with friends and family can be a great way to stay healthy and have fun. For more information, visit CDC’s page on physical activity.

    Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for CVD. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quit as soon as possible. Your health care team can suggest ways to help you quit. For more information about tobacco use and quitting, see CDC’s Smoking & Tobacco Use Web site andSmokefree.gov.

    Limit alcohol use. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can increase your blood pressure. Men should stick to no more than two drinks per day, and women to no more than one. For more information, visit CDC’s Alcohol and Public Health Web site.

    Manage your diabetes. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels closely, and talk with your health care team about treatment options. VisitCDC’s Diabetes Public Health Resource for more information.

    Take your medicine. If you’re taking medication to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or another condition, follow the instructions carefully. Always ask questions if you don’t understand something. If you have side effects, talk with your health care team about your options.
    Need more inspiration? The “28 Days to a Healthier Heart” tips can inspire you throughout February and all year long. Follow Million Hearts® onFacebook and Twitter for even more ways to protect your heart and live a longer, healthier life. Million Hearts® is a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

    Together, we all can prevent and manage heart disease, one step at a time.

    References

    1. Go AS, Mozaffarian D, Roger VL, Benjamin EJ, Berry JD, Blaha MJ, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2014 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2013 [Epub ahead of print].
    2. CDC. Vital Signs: avoidable deaths from heart disease, stroke, and hypertensive disease—United States, 2001–2010. MMWR. 2013;62(35);721–7.

     

    The above information was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The CDC website is a great resource for senior health related topics.

    ParentYourParents.com ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

    Posted in Cholesterol, Diabetes, Heart Attack, Heart Disease, Hypertension (High Blood Pressure), Stroke | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Holidays and Family

    christmas imageI hope this “most wonderful time of the year” finds you happy and healthy!  Here we are in the middle of the holidays and 2015 is right around the corner!  Where does the time go?!  It seems to go by faster and faster each year.

    This year was definitely a transitional year for my family.  Some big changes and big decisions were made with regards to my father-in-law.  My husband is the oldest of seven and also has two step-siblings.  So, needless to say, getting nine people, ten including my father-in-law, to agree on anything is a challenge.

    My father-in-law’s decline started with my mother-in-law’s passing about two and a half years ago.  They had been married for nearly 30 years and they had planned for him to die first.  My mother-in-law was the healthy one, the active one, and everyone was sure she would live to 100.  Unfortunately, God had another plan for her.

    She took care of my father-in-law and kept him somewhat active and social.  When she was gone, he sat in his chair.  He was depressed, especially around holidays.  We all tried to get him out, family came to visit in intervals, but he just didn’t seem to have the will to live.  Well, let me be really honest, he SAID he didn’t want to live.  He didn’t take care of himself, didn’t care to see anyone and wasn’t eating properly to keep up his strength.  He ended up in the hospital.

    He had been there before, but this time, he was really weak and everyone decided the best thing for him was to go into an assisted living community.  He was not thrilled about it, but interestingly enough, he understood that he had put himself in that situation and realized that he really couldn’t live by himself.  And we would later find out, he really didn’t want to take care of himself.

    He had options to stay in Colorado, or go back to Maryland where he is from.  His daughter and son live in Maryland, and so does his sister.  Amazingly enough, everyone agreed that Maryland was where he should go.  He was a little reluctant, but we gave him the option to come back if he really didn’t like it.  He was there for two months and decided to stay.  We have been back to visit and he is doing much better.

    He has had some ups and downs, but for the most part he is doing as good as can be expected.  He is fortunate enough to have a decent retirement income, and he also was able to take advantage of his VA Aid and Attendance benefits.  Which, every veteran should sign up for any and all benefits they have earned.

    A lot of the older generation don’t think they need it or don’t want the “help”, but anyone who knows me knows I am a huge proponent of Veterans using the benefits that they earned and deserve.  They served our country and gave of themselves as did their family.  They EARNED it and DESERVE every single benefit they are eligible for.  So please, please take advantage of those benefits.  Getting off my soapbox now….

    I share this experience because I know our family is not alone in this experience.  I went through this with my dad a few years ago and my mom and I have already talked about her wishes when she is no longer able to live alone.

    As the holidays are here and some of us are spending more time with family we haven’t seen in a while.  This is a good time to not only visit and enjoy time with your aging loved ones, be observant and look for the little, and big, signs there may be a problem developing.

    If you do notice a situation that you feel needs to be discussed.  Choose the appropriate time and broach the subject in a non-threatening way.  There are some great resources under our resources tab on ParentYourParents.com.

    Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.  Enjoy and embrace your loved one’s this holiday season, have have a Happy and Blessed New Year.

    ParentYourParents.com ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

     

     

    Posted in Assisted Living, Caregiver Information, Caregiver Support, Depression, End of Life Planning, Healthy Aging, Home Safety, Independent Living, Safety, Va Benefits, Wills and Trusts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Caregivers Take Care of Yourselves

    This article was graciously provided by Christine Cowgill MS, CRC

    Caregivers take care of yourselvesThere is nothing more rewarding and sometimes more frustrating than caring for your loved one who is sick or dying. Even the best and most patient caretakers need to make sure they take the time out for themselves. Some good suggestions on caretaking and resources for caregivers can be found on the Internet.

    In my Facebook page Tips For Caregivers I share the most up to date and relevant information on how to best care for your loved one and yourself. For instance there are tips on how to best handle the stress of being a caregiver, from caregivers.org.

    Your level of stress is influenced by many factors, including the following:

    •Whether your caregiving is voluntary. If you feel you had no choice in taking on the responsibilities, the chances are greater that you will experience strain, distress, and resentment.

    •Your relationship with the care recipient. Sometimes people care for another with the hope of healing a relationship. If healing does not occur, you may feel regret and discouragement.

    •Your coping abilities. How you coped with stress in the past predicts how you will cope now. Identify your current coping strengths so that you can build on them.

    •Your caregiving situation. Some caregiving situations are more stressful than others. For example, caring for a person with dementia is often more stressful than caring for someone with a physical limitation.

    •Whether or not support is available.

    Steps to Managing Stress

    1. Recognize warning signs early. These might include irritability, sleep problems, and forgetfulness. Know your own warning signs, and act to make changes. Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed.

    2. Identify sources of stress. Ask yourself, “What is causing stress for me?” Sources of stress might be that you have too much to do, family disagreements, feelings of inadequacy, or the inability to say no.

    3. Identify what you can and cannot change. Remember, we can only change ourselves; we cannot change another person. When you try to change things over which you have no control, you will only increase your sense of frustration. Ask yourself, “What do I have some control over? What can I change?” Even a small change can make a big difference. The challenge we face as caregivers is well expressed in the following words modified from the original Serenity Prayer (attributed to American Theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr):

    “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

    Courage to change the things I can, and (the) wisdom to know the difference.”

    With the proper information and resources to help you manage your caregiving situation as well and the support from family, friends and professionals, the care taking experience can go from burnout to quality care for you and your loved one.

     

    Christine Cowgill MS,CRC is the author of Soul Service: A Hospice Guide to the Emotional and Spiritual Care for the Dying (Balboa Press: 2013). Christine seeks to make a positive social change in the area of end-of-life care through raising awareness and increasing mandatory training for our upcoming physicians and nurses in the areas of palliative, emotional and spiritual care to the dying. For further information visit www.soulservice.info  and her Facebook page Tips For Caregivers for information on all aspects of care for yourself and loved one.

     

    ParentYourParents.com ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

     

    Posted in Caregiver Information, Caregiver Support, Health/Nutrition/Fitness, Healthy Aging, Safety | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Dementia Mentors is LIVE!

    Dementia Mentors Logo

     

    I am very excited to share the new Dementia Mentors website!  For all of us who have, or had, a family member or friend with dementia, this is a huge step in the right direction in helping people live with, and manage, this horrible disease.   What a fabulous concept to have people living with dementia, who understand what the disease is about and what it does to a person, offering newly diagnosed people and their families an insightful understanding and perspective.

    Below is a brief overview of what you will find on the Dementia Mentors website:

    Goals:
    —Provide supportive mentoring, motivation, social engagement and more for those living with dementia.

    —To be honest and tell it like it is. No sugar coating.

    —Show you how you can rule your dementia and not let dementia rule you! – See more at: http://dementiamentors.com/#sthash.bch3vZ4R.dpuf

    Mentoring:
    Through this website you will be able to converse one-on-one with a dementia mentor (Remember, all mentors are living with the symptoms of dementia themselves).

    This will be accomplished via video chat.

    By using a computer equipped with a webcam and microphone, you will be able to do this from the privacy and comfort of your own home. The tool we are using is as simple as the clicking on a link.

    This is a “safe place.” The sessions are strictly confidential. We want everyone to be comfortable asking their mentor anything!

    Motivational Videos:
    We have several short and empowering videos, created by our mentors, instructing how to rule your disease. We will add new videos weekly.

    Virtual Memory Café:
    We will be hosting live, virtual memory café’s. These social gatherings are only for those with dementia. A mentor will always be in attendance. If you wish to talk about your symptoms, that’s fine, or if you simply want to talk about the weather, that’s fine as well.

    We want to help you stay socially connected by providing you with an hour or so with real people that are walking in the same shoes that you are.

    We will be hosting other virtual special events, posting the dates and times on our Activity Page.

    Activity Page:
    “Use it or lose it.” To prevent “loss” we have created an activity page where the puzzles are designed with dementia in mind.

    These puzzles will be changed periodically in order to keep your mind working. This is one of the wisest things to do to possibly slow down the devastation dementia can leave in its wake.

    Brain Storming Sessions:
    Join our brain storming sessions and brain storm with us about the needs of people with Dementia. We brain storm on line via a simple to use video chat tool.

    Our brain storming sessions are fun and stimulating. There is no right or wrong — only great ideas and a free flowing discussion about what people living with Dementia and their families want and need — now and in the future.

    – See more at: http://dementiamentors.com/#sthash.bch3vZ4R.dpuf

    There are videos, activities, mentor and much more available with the click of a mouse.  I can’t thank Gary and his team enough for developing the Dementia Mentors website  I said it before, but it is truly a great resource and a God send for those living with dementia.  I absolutely love the tag line, “Helping you rule your Dementia.”  What an empowering statement.  No one wants to be ruled by a disease, and this website is a fabulous tool to help people remain in control of their lives for as long as possible.

    If you have a family member or friend affected by dementia, I hope you will visit Dementia Mentors if you haven’t already.  And after visiting the website, I encourage you to spread the word about this unique and wonderful tool.

    Best of luck in your journey and may God bless you and your loved ones.

    Amber

    ParentYourParents.com ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

    Posted in Alzheimer's and Dementia, Caregiver Information, Caregiver Support | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

    Dementia Mentors Website to Launch June 1st

     This post and information was graciously provided by Ann Napoletan.  The article originally appeared on The Long and Winding Road.

    Where there’s hope, there’s life. –Norman McNamara
    Dementia Mentors Logo

     

    Many of us have had a mentor at one time or another during our lives. They guide us, offer words of wisdom, and provide feedback on our ideas or problems. A teacher may serve as a student’s mentor, or someone in a more senior position at work may mentor a less experienced associate. The role might be formal or informal. There are no set rules, but generally the relationship involves trust, counsel, and mutual respect.

    No Longer Alone
    Imagine receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Few things would be as frightening; few things would elicit such a strong sense of being alone. But what if, upon diagnosis, you were introduced to a dementia mentor? How might that change things?

    Well, Gary LeBlanc, along with Norman McNamara (UK), Harry Urban (US), Barry Pankhurst (Indonesia), Chris Roberts (Wales), Richard Taylor (US), and others are preparing to launch a project that has been almost six months in the making. This collaboration between friends and advocates around the world is groundbreaking. Nothing like it has ever been done, but it promises to change the way people deal with the diagnosis and the fear, uncertainty, and loneliness that comes with it.

    On June 1st, the Dementia Mentors website will be unveiled. The site was designed and built by Harry Urban, founder of Forget-Me-Not. Harry is living with dementia so he knew exactly what was needed to make the site dementia friendly. The goal is simple: to provide newly diagnosed individuals with the tools they need to start this journey on the right track, from the moment the diagnosis is received.

    Those Dreaded Words – And Then What?
    No Longer Alone

    Those involved in this project know firsthand how frightening it is to hear the words, “You have dementia.” Imagine hearing those words, then being handed a prescription and told to “come back in six months.” In many cases, that’s exactly what happens. Chris Roberts of Wales describes being stunned and in shock, head spinning such that he didn’t know where to turn.

    My personal experience with Mom was similar. Although I absolutely loved the family physician we were seeing at the time, we essentially left the office after each visit knowing things had gotten a little worse but with no resources to help us understand what was happening or connect us with those who could. That was a while ago, and fortunately, I think things have begun to change a bit; at least people are talking about it more now. But, that being said, we have a long way to go.

    Renewed Hope
    Journey

    Dementia Mentors is about helping newly diagnosed patients understand their lives aren’t over. In fact, quite the contrary! When one looks at everything people like Norrms McNamara and Harry Urban have accomplished since their diagnosis, it’s nothing short of incredible. These men are true pioneers and are inspiring hope around the globe.

    Chris Roberts says, “It’s about what you can do, not what you can’t,” and that’s the message the founders of Dementia Mentors want to convey.

    Harry is quick to encourage people not to give up, assuring them they do have a meaningful life ahead of them. In this digital world where Google has become our best friend, it’s vital for folks to realize that when they hit the Internet for information, they will likely be bombarded with material about the later stages of the disease. The disease isn’t JUST the later stages! Yet, there tends to be very little information out there about the earlier stages. This is where Dementia Mentors comes in.

    • Imagine a website created by dementia patients, for dementia patients. That means simple navigation, pleasing to the eyes, clear, and concise presentation. Someone having problems reading the text can simply click a button to hear the passage read aloud.
    • Imagine being able to listen to people who are actually living with dementia discuss a wide variety of topics – all from their own unique point of view and based on real life experience. At launch, the site will have approximately 30 pre-recorded videos, no more than three minutes in length. Additional videos will be added in the coming months.
    • Imagine having a face-to-face video chat with someone who has walked/is walking in your shoes. Patients will be able to schedule an appointment to talk one-on-one with a mentor. Keeping to the dementia friendly theme, a simple mouse click is all it will take to be connected with a mentor via both audio and video. Of course, all discussions will be completely confidential.
    • Imagine one-stop access to over 70 puzzles and activities, all designed with dementia patients in mind. The activity page will be updated with new material regularly to keep it fresh and interesting.
    • Imagine quick, easy access to virtual memory cafés where patients can enjoy socializing with one another. People like Harry, Chris, and Norrms credit keeping busy, maintaining social connections, and staying engaged with helping them keep progression at bay. The beauty of social media – no one ever needs to feel alone.

    The Vision
    Gary and his team envision today’s mentees becoming tomorrow’s mentors. The value of helping others can’t be overstated. We all feel more energized, hopeful, and positive when we know we’ve made a difference to another person. That’s what Dementia Mentors is all about – people helping people. Everyone involved benefits from the program; each life is enriched along the way.

    This project is innovative and 100% grassroots-based. All participants are donating their time and the team is seeking additional mentors. They would like to have every corner of the world covered, so that people can be connected 24 hours per day, seven days per week. According to Gary, there are 15 mentors on board as of this writing, with many others expressing interest already.

    Friends Helping Friends
    Friends helping Friends

    The Dementia Mentors tagline says it best, “Mentoring, Motivation, and More. We Help You Rule Your Dementia.” I truly believe that is the key – rule it, don’t let it rule you. We didn’t do that with my mom. At that time, we didn’t even talk about it let alone think there might be a way to connect her with others who could understand her fears so much more than we could. What a blessing that would have been…

    You can help by spreading the word about the June 1st launch and directing people to http://www.dementiamentors.com. By doing so, you, too, will truly be making a difference! If you or someone you know would like more information about the project, please visit Gary at Common Sense Caregiving.

    ____

    Gary LeBlanc is an author, columnist with the Tampa Tribune, founder of theAlzheimer’s/Dementia Hospital Wristband Project, a Purple Angel Ambassador, and former caregiver to his father who lived with dementia. You can visit him at Common Sense Caregiving.

    On a personal note, my  grandmother had dementia.  It is truly heartbreaking disease to watch take over your loved one.  I thank Gary from the bottom of my heart for all his efforts to bring awareness and help to those families with loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia.

    Gary is a great friend and I wish him nothing but success with his endeavors to help others.  A huge congratulations on the Dementia Mentor website Gary.  Please visit the site and contact Gary with questions.  God bless!

     

    Posted in Alzheimer's and Dementia, Caregiver Information, Caregiver Support, Health/Nutrition/Fitness, Memory Care, Safety | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Quick Blood Pressure Facts

                                                          The following article about Blood Pressure Facts is from the                                                         Center for Disease Control and Prevention website

    Who Has High Blood Pressure

    • Women are about as likely as men to develop high blood pressure during their lifetimes. However, for people younger than 45 years, the condition affects more men than women. For people aged 65 years and older, it affects more women than men.
    • About 28% of American adults aged 18 years or older have prehypertension.
    • In the United States, high blood pressure is more common among blacks than whites. About 44% of black women have high blood pressure.
    • Mexican-Americans have the lowest level of hypertension compared to non-Hispanic whites and blacks.

    Health Impact of High Blood Pressure

    • High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease.
    • High blood pressure was a primary or contributing cause of death for 336,353 Americans in 2007.
    • There were more than 46 million visits to doctor’s offices for hypertension in 2007.

    High Blood Pressure and Salt

    • A diet high in sodium (salt) increases the risk for higher blood pressure.
    • Most people eat more than double the amount of salt than they should.
    • Current dietary guidelines for Americans recommend that adults in general should consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. At the same time, consume potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables. However, if you are in the following population groups, you should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day, and meet the potassium recommendation (4,700 mg/day) with food.

    You are 51 years of age or older.

    You are African American.

    You have high blood pressure.

    You have diabetes.

    You have chronic kidney disease.

    • About 77% of the sodium Americans consume comes from processed and restaurant foods.
    • Watch this engaging video: Salt Matters: Preserving Choice, Protecting Health, available at http://www.cdc.gov/CDCTV/Salt_Matters to learn more about how salt affects your health

     

    The above information was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The CDC website is a great resource for senior health related topics.

    ParentYourParents.com ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

    Posted in Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

    Veterans Benefits: Aid and Attendance

    eagle & flagDoug, my father-in-law, a veteran of the Korean War, will be 80 this year.  He and my mother-in-law, Darlene, were married for nearly 30 years.  She was active and took care of herself and took care of him.  Their “plan” was that he would die first.  Apparently, God had a different plan.  She died suddenly a little over two years ago.

    It was a total shock to Doug and the entire family.  Doug continued to live in their townhome and, in the beginning, he maintained his normal routine.  Over time, he started to go out less often and became more of a recluse.  He really missed Darlene and even talked about joining her.

    About a year ago he fell and was taken to the hospital because he was not eating…only drinking.  He was in the hospital for a few days and then transferred to a rehab facility to build up his strength.  He promised the family he would continue his “work-outs” with in home help.  When he got home and was feeling a little better he fired the in-home care workers and refused to have them in his house.

    Over the last few months, he has withdrawn even more and has chosen to spend most of his time in his chair.  Friends and family have come to visit and try to get him up and out, without much luck.

    Fast forward to today.  He is in a rehab facility again to build up his strength.  We are being told it will be a couple of months.  We have had the discussion with him that he cannot go back to the townhouse and live alone.  He has agreed…for now.

    In the meantime, my sister-in-law, Chris has been calling around to assisted living communities.  I told her about the aid and attendance benefit available to all Veterans, and surviving spouses, who served during wartime.  Doug qualifies for that benefit.

    Chris called the VA and talked with a lady on the phone who told her Doug does not qualify for any benefit because “he was not wounded/disabled while serving in the military”.  I asked Chris what questions she asked the VA.  She said she mentioned “long-term care”.  What frustrated me was the person at the VA did not offer any information about the Aid and Attendance benefit after learning Doug was a veteran and served in wartime.  It appears to me that if you do not ask the correct questions, not all people at the VA will offer up information, or ask questions to try to help find benefits your loved one may qualify for.  To me that is wrong.  Chris was not trying to do anything but get a benefit for her father that he earned with his service in the Korean War.

    After hearing that, I then contacted my friend Dave Bolser from Senior Veteran’s Inc.  I knew that Doug qualified for the benefits, but I am not an expert like Dave, when it comes to the Aid and Attendance benefit.  Chris and Dave spoke.  He walked her through what to do and confirmed the Doug does, in fact, qualify for the benefit.  He gave her some tips and advice on moving forward to get those benefits for Doug.

    I am sharing this personal experience because I’m sure a lot of people out there have had, or will have, a similar experience with the VA.  They were told their spouse, parent, brother or sister did not qualify for Aid and Attendance when, in fact they do.  After getting that information straight from the VA, they, like Chris, took them at their word and thought their loved one was not qualified.  That makes me angry.  I believe as a Veteran, you deserve every benefit you are entitled to.  It makes me angry because the VA should ask questions and help individuals get benefits for their loved ones they deserve.  They should not just answer the questions, they should offer help.  I don’t believe that happened with my sister-in-law, and I believe that she is not the only one who has experienced this.

    Luckily, I have this website and have contacts to call like Dave.  But the truth is everyone has this resource.  Senior Veteran’s Inc. is a non-profit and is there to help senior veterans and their families get the benefits they deserve, in particular, Aid and Attendance.  I encourage all of you who have a loved one who is a veteran to sign up for benefits, if they haven’t already.  And I encourage you to contact Senior Veteran’s Inc. for help in filing for those benefits and contact Dave if you have further questions or concerns.

    God Bless and best of luck with your journey.

    Amber

     

    ParentYourParents.com ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

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    May is High Blood Pressure Education Month

    The following article is from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.

    blood pressure imageIn the United States, nearly 68 million people have high blood pressure, which is also called hypertension. Hypertension increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death in the United States.

    Blood pressure that is slightly higher than normal is called prehypertension—28% of American adults have prehypertension (Internal analysis from NHANES 2005–2008). People with prehypertension are more likely to develop high blood pressure than are people with normal blood pressure levels.

    Blood pressure is written as two numbers. The first (systolic) number represents the pressure when the heart beats. The second (diastolic) number represents the pressure when the heart rests between beats. The following is a classification system for blood pressure—

    Normal blood pressure systolic: less than 120 mmHg and
    diastolic: less than 80 mmHg
    Prehypertension systolic: 120–139 mmHg or
    diastolic: 80–89 mmHg
    Hypertension systolic: 140 mmHg or higher or
    diastolic: 90 mmHg or higher
    ortaking antihypertensive medication

     

    The above information was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website is a great resource for senior health related topics.

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    Prayer With Your Doctor

    This article was graciously contributed by published author Christine Cowgill MS, CRC.

    Cowgill Prayer PostWhen should you mention to your doctor that you want prayer as part of the treatment? The Dallas Morning News reports that studies show a majority of patients want their spirituality recognized. Doctors are being asked to note their patients’ spiritual leanings and open doors to expression, especially when there is a life threatening or terminal diagnosis. An American Medical News article looked at the issue of doctors praying with patients. In 2003, 500 adults were surveyed and two-thirds thought their doctor should know about their spiritual beliefs. One in five said they would like to pray with their doctor during a routine office visit, and about 30 percent said they would like to so when in the hospital and when near death, over fifty percent wanted prayer with the treating physician.

    In an August 2013 news article in a Dallas Texas newspaper, Carl Smith found himself facing quadruple-bypass surgery and the real possibility that he might not survive. Dr. Mark Pool decide to help his patient confront the uncertainty, Pool did something unusual in his profession: He prayed with him. “A physician should be open to a patient’s spirituality but shouldn’t push religion on patients,” says Nathan Carlin, assistant professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. “That’s confusing personal and professional roles.” Often a doctor does not want to initiate prayer fearing an ethical breach. The medical profession can use their own judgment as to what feels comfortable to them. Some doctors prefer the patient or family members to initiate prayer.

    In a presentation at a conference, Richard Holt, MD spoke to the attendees of the concerns of doctor initiated prayer as being an ethical breach and said “Being there silently with the patient during prayer is, for the most part, a benign demonstration of validating the patient’s faith as being important to them.”

    Prayer does no harm to the doctor or patient and usually does them good. You might consider approaching your doctor’s office with a suggestion that they ask their patient’s if that is a need the patient has? If the physician does not feel comfortable joining in the prayer then perhaps he could be silent while the patient prays.

    In a CNN article entitled How to Talk to your Doctor About God , Dr. Harold Koenig, co-director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University says” Patients are scared to death to talk to their doctors about this issue,”             .

    Dr. Koenig and two other physicians who study faith and medicine suggest the following.

    It’s OK to ask for a doctor who also has strong religious convictions

    Koenig suggests this approach when talking to a physician: “I would say: ‘My religious beliefs are very important to me and influence my medical decisions and the way I cope with illness, and I want a doctor who has those same convictions. If you don’t come from that perspective, do you know a doctor you can refer me to?’ ”

    If you’re a Christian, you might find a like-minded doctor through the ZIP code search at the Christian Medical and Dental Associations.

    This can work even when doctor and patient don’t share the same faith. For example, Koenig, who’s Christian, has prayed with Jewish patients. “In most cases, a general prayer asking for God’s comfort, support and healing will be sufficient,” he said.

    If you believe in miracles, say so

    “Get that out in the open,” advised Dr. Robert Fine, an internist and head of clinical ethics and palliative care at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.

    Confusion may ensue if you don’t, he explains. For example, sometimes doctors think families are against removing life support at the end of life because they don’t understand the medical facts, when they do understand but are waiting for a miracle.

    “Once we know that, we can have a discussion about faith,” Remember that unless you are willing to speak up about an issue that is important to you your doctor may assume that he does not need to.

     

    Christine Cowgill, MS, CRC is the Author of Soul Service: A Hospice Guide to the Emotional and Spiritual Care for the Dying (Balboa Press, 2013) www.soulservice.info . Christine is a certified rehabilitation counselor with over ten years of experience in medical and vocational case management. She is also a licensed life and health insurance agent.

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    What is Kidney Disease?

    What the Kidneys Do…

    You have two kidneys. They are bean-shaped and about the size of a fist. They are located in the middle of your back, on the left and right of your spine, just below your rib cage.

    The kidneys filter your blood, removing wastes and extra water to make urine. They also help control blood pressure and make hormones that your body needs to stay healthy. When the kidneys are damaged, wastes can build up in the body.

      Click here to watch a short video, “What Do the Kidneys Do?”

    Kidney Function and Aging
    Kidney function may be reduced with aging. As the kidneys age, the number of filtering units in the kidney may decrease, the overall amount of kidney tissue may decrease, and the blood vessels that supply the kidney may harden, causing the kidneys to filter blood more slowly.

    If your kidneys begin to filter less well as you age, you may be more likely to have complications from certain medications. There may be an unsafe buildup of medicines that are removed from your blood by your kidneys. Also, your kidneys may be more sensitive to certain medications. For example, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and some antibiotics can cause acute kidney injury in some situations. The next time you pick up a prescription or buy an over-the-counter medicine or supplement, ask your pharmacist how the product may affect your kidneys and interact with your other medicines.

    How Kidney Disease Occurs
    Kidney disease means the kidneys are damaged and can no longer remove wastes and extra water from the blood as they should. Kidney disease is most often caused by diabetes or high blood pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 20 million Americans may have kidney disease.. Many more are at risk. The main risk factors for developing kidney disease are

    • diabetes
    • high blood pressure
    • cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease
    • a family history of kidney failure.

    Click here to watch a short video, “What Is Kidney Disease?

    Kidney 2

     

     

     

    Each kidney contains about one million tiny filtering units made up of blood vessels. These filters are called glomeruli. Diabetes and high blood pressure damage these blood vessels, so the kidneys are not able to filter the blood as well as they used to. Usually this damage happens slowly, over many years. This is called chronic kidney disease. As more and more filtering units are damaged, the kidneys eventually are unable to maintain health.

    Early kidney disease usually has no symptoms, which means you can’t feel if you have it. Blood and urine tests are the only way to check for kidney damage or measure kidney function. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or a family history of kidney failure, you should be tested for kidney disease.

    Kidney Failure
    Kidney disease can get worse over time, and may lead to kidney failure. Kidney failure means very advanced kidney damage with less than 15% normal function. End-stage renal disease (ESRD) is kidney failure treated by dialysis or kidney transplant.

    If the kidneys fail, treatment options such as dialysis or a kidney transplant can help replace kidney function. Some patients choose not to treat kidney failure with dialysis or a transplant. If your kidneys fail, talk with your health care provider about choosing a treatment that is right for you.

    The above information was provided by the NIH Senior Health.  The NIH Senior Health website is a great resource for senior health related topics.

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