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  • How Safe is Your Home for Seniors?

    This article was graciously provided by guest blogger Felicity Dryer

    The last thing you want when your senior relative or friend visits your home is for anyone to get hurt. It may only take a glance around to spy some signs of potential danger but there are many more subtle clues you may not notice.

    Determining how safe your home is for seniors often presents simple fixes. Senior visitors will not only feel more comfortable but will surely appreciate your efforts as well.

    Let There Be Light
    Some refer to it as ‘seniorizing’ and a well-lit home is number one on the list. This is essential for preventing falls in your home and is especially important around steps, particularly small ones going from one room to another.

    If you don’t have good light in and around your home then very few places will be safe for seniors.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that:

    • Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries.
    • In 2013, 2.5 million nonfatal falls among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 734,000 of these patients were hospitalized.
    • Twenty to thirty percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures, and head traumas. These injuries can make it hard to get around or live independently, and increase the risk of early death.
    • In 2011, about 22,900 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries.

    Look for plug-in, battery powered, or wireless footlights to illuminate shadowy inside and outside pathways. Also, an excellent investment is motion-sensor technology. This eliminates the need for a senior to grope for a wall switch which could lead to an accident.

    Railing
    Any loose or weak railing throughout your home has catastrophe written all over it. Falls can be prevented when secure hand railing is within reach.

    Secure or replace weak railing and look for areas where more can be installed. Many companies offer aesthetically pleasing wood designs as opposed to unsightly silver hospital type tubing.

    The Most Dangerous Room
    One room that needs special attention is the bathroom. For seniors this can be the most dangerous area in your home. Chance of injury here is high due to all the physical activities involved.

    Sitting and standing while struggling with constricting clothes makes for balance challenges. The hospital type tubing rail is best for a bathroom especially in the shower. Also in the shower, tub grips should be used to reduce slippage.

    A tub seat and/or a heightened toilet seat are very helpful if there are some physical conditions a senior may be struggling with.

    The Other Most Dangerous Room
    It is no surprise that the kitchen has so many hazards. When it comes to certain age related issues seniors may be experiencing, these hazards could get out of control.

    For instance, if you have gas knobs on your stove you may want to consider covering them with childproof devices. This eliminates anyone that may not see well or is a little off on their balance from brushing into them and inadvertently turning on the gas. By the way, knobs you need to push in to operate are not foolproof to this scenario.

    Peruse and Re-do
    After taking care of the heavy hitters you’ll want to take a look around your home to determine some minor adjustments that could also be helpful. This is always best done by putting yourself in the body and mind of your closest senior.

    Here are some concerns to consider:
    A Path – If your furniture is too difficult to maneuver open up the room by either storing some pieces or rearranging them.

    Skewers – Look for sharp corners that need to be covered.

    Suction Furniture – If some chairs sink very low your senior will struggle just to get to their feet. Place a flat, sturdy couch pillow on the seat for support.

    Broken Noses – Glass doors and floor to ceiling windows need a display, eye level decals, an embedded design or may want to be blocked so they don’t get walked into.

    Throw the Throws – You might as well put a few banana peels on the floor if you’re going to have throw rugs down when a senior visits. These get easily bunched up causing trips and unless they are secured underneath, can sometimes slip out from under you.

    Loose Cords – Now that every outlet has a phone or computer charger cord snaking out, make sure these and other electrical slithers stay out of tripping range.

    Keeping your home safe for seniors offers peace of mind all around. Stay on top of these and other dangerous scenarios to reduce any potential accidents.

    Originally born in Flagstaff, Arizona, Felicity Dryer was raised by her parents (more or less modern-day hippies) to always make her health a top priority. She moved to Los Angeles to pursue her career as a freelance health writer, and continues to help those seeking encouragement to keep moving forward to achieve their goals. @FelicityDryer

    ParentYourParents.com ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

    Posted in Caregiver Information, Fall Prevention, Home Care, Home Safety, Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Solutions for Nine Common Caregiving Challenges

    This article is published with the approval of the Arthritis Foundation.

    Being a good caregiver means you first must take good care of yourself and your arthritis.

    By Camille Noe Pagán

    Take care of yourself: It’s advice you’ve probably heard countless times from medical professionals, friends and family members who know you have arthritis. If you’re a caregiver to another adult who’s disabled or ill, however, meeting your own needs in addition to those of the person you’re caring for can be a challenge.

    In fact, a survey from Caring.com, a website that provides resources to caregivers, queried more than 1,000 caregivers and found that caregiving was their single biggest source of stress – even more so than their financial concerns and other family medical problems – and that their physical and emotional health often suffered as a result. “It’s all too common to attend to the needs of the person you’re caring for before your own, even if you have a chronic disease like arthritis, not realizing that you can’t be fully effective if you neglect your health,” says Marion Somers, PhD, who owned and directed a geriatric-care management service in Brooklyn, N.Y., for more than 30 years.

    Here, she and other authorities on caregiving offer practical solutions to nine common challenges – physical, emotional and even financial – so that you can keep up the good work without being worn down.

    1. Challenge: “I’m completely exhausted.” According to an AARP survey, the average caregiver is a woman in her late 40s who cares for an aging parent, as well as her own nuclear family – and works outside the home, too. Add to that hectic schedule a condition such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or fibromyalgia, which often causes physical fatigue, and it’s a miracle you’re not sleeping in your soup!

    Solution: Go for natural energy boosters. A good night’s sleep should top your list. To make it easier, skip the late-night TV, drop your bedroom temperature and make the room as dark as possible. Make healthy eating another priority; packaged, convenient foods often cause a blood sugar spike that ultimately depletes your energy. And set aside a few minutes each day for exercise. A University of Georgia study of nearly 7,000 people, published in Psychological Bulletin, revealed that just 10 to 15 minutes of daily exercise – even just low-intensity walking – significantly reduced fatigue in individuals with health problems, including arthritis. “If you’re [reluctant to] take time away from caregiving duties, realize that, as a person with arthritis, exercise should be a non-negotiable part of your Rx,” says Robinson.

    If feelings of exhaustion don’t ease up, see your doctor. “Fatigue can be a sign that your disease is not actively controlled,” says Chaim Putterman, MD, chief of the division of rheumatology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y.

    2. Challenge: “I’m overwhelmed by how much there is to do.” The Caring.com survey found that 58 percent of caregivers spend more than 10 hours a week providing services including shopping, talking with doctors and administering medications; 22 percent spend upwards of 40 hours weekly on those kinds of tasks. “When you’re a caregiver, your day-to-day duties are literally doubled, and that can feel overwhelming, no matter how organized and capable you may be,” says Somers.

    Solution: Focus on what’s truly important, and be up-front about your limitations. Talk to the person you are caring for about your disease and physical limitations so he understands what you can and can’t do, adds Dr. Putterman. And although it might be tempting to tackle the easiest tasks first, it’s smarter to identify and do what absolutely must get done before you run out of steam, he says. “When you have an autoimmune disease, you don’t have unlimited resources, so you shouldn’t try to accomplish every single thing,” he says. Having trouble prioritizing? Consider consulting a health advocate who specializes in caregiving. Many hospitals, community organizations and local government offices provide free advocacy services, or check the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants’ directory to find a professional.

    3. Challenge: “Seeing my loved one this way makes me sad.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 9 percent of Americans have depression, but that number skyrockets to 20 to 50 percent among caregivers. Arthritis may pose an additional risk: At least one study, published in Arthritis Care and Research, suggests that up to 42 percent of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) will experience depression at some point in their lives.

    Solution: Give yourself some downtime, and focus on the positive. It’s crucial to give your brain and body a chance to recharge. “Even stealing five minutes to put on music in the car or call a friend when you’re out getting groceries is better than nothing,” says Somers.

    It’s natural to be saddened by a difficult situation, but making a conscious choice to find the positive can do your heart and mind a world of good. “When I cared for my own mother, I found many wonderful aspects to the experience,” says Karen Robinson, PhD, executive director of the volunteer caregivers program at the University of Louisville School of Nursing in Kentucky. Among these wonderful aspects: the simple joy of knowing she was doing all she could for someone she loved.

    But even the most positive person may not be able to prevent a caregiving situation from taking a heavy mental toll. If you’ve been feeling blue for more than two weeks, talk to your doctor; you may have clinical depression, which should be treated.

    4. Challenge: “It’s hard to always be the bearer of bad news.” Many caregivers serve as the information pipeline to family and friends, as well as having to convey or re-state health information to the person for whom they’re caring. “Having to deliver bad news creates an unnecessary layer of stress,” says James Huysman, a licensed clinical social worker, editor of Today’s Caregiver magazine and founder of LeezasPlace.org, a network for caregivers.

    Solution: Pick another point person. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, you shouldn’t be the messenger. For example, if your father can’t drive anymore, the doctor or optometrist should tell him,” says Huysman. Rather than serving as the central information hub for your family, ask that another relative be the point person or hire a health advocate, eldercare mediator, social worker or geriatric care manager to help manage affairs and disseminate information.

    5. Challenge: “My joints and muscles hurt more now that I am a caregiver.” Caregiving can involve physically demanding tasks, such as helping a disabled person sit or stand, or supporting him as he walks. Even if you don’t do this kind of heavy lifting, you’re probably on your feet more – running up and down stairs more often or otherwise being more active. Plus, stress can increase inflammation, which worsens arthritis pain and stiffness.

    Solution: Get more help from the person you’re caring for. Have her do as much as she’s able, even if she can’t do it perfectly or it takes three times as long. “Many people think it’s best to do everything for the person they’re helping when in fact the opposite is true. Not allowing them to do for themselves creates what’s called ‘excess disability,’ because it decreases their abilities and self-esteem faster than normal,” explains Robinson.

    When you’re doing physical tasks, such as lifting or carrying, make sure to engage your large muscles (think biceps and quads) to help take the strain off your joints. Carrying a bucket of water from the kitchen sink to the living room floor? Hold the handle with one hand, and put your other arm beneath the bucket to support the weight.

    6. Challenge: “I take on tasks that probably aren’t safe for me.” Hospitals and other care facilities have able-bodied aides who handle heavy and difficult tasks, such as bathing an individual who can’t stand on her own. Yet, caregivers may attempt these and many other duties alone because they feel that if they don’t, no one will.

    Solutions: Get a reality check about your limits. Create a list of the caregiving tasks you do, and run them by your physician. “Many caregivers may not realize just how dangerous some of the things the they do really are,” says Huysman. Ask an able-bodied family member or hire a home health aide to help with these tasks.

    And remember, says Huysman, “Caregiving doesn’t have to be [only] about chores and tasks. If you’re hurting, stop what you’re doing, and sit and talk to the person you’re caring for, or read to them. Offering emotional support is just as important as physical help.”

    7. Challenge: “I spend a lot of money on the person I care for.” Nearly half of caregivers spend more than $5,000 of their own money each year caring for a loved one, according to the Caring.com survey. One-third see their work situation negatively affected – for example, having to retire early or work less. “You may have less money for healthful food, supplements, gym shoes or medications for yourself, and you may even be jeopardizing your future financial stability,” says Somers.

    Solution: Keep finances separate. If you can’t, document expenses. “Don’t use your own cash, [debit] card or credit card for caregiving errands, such as picking up prescriptions, thinking you’ll get reimbursed later. It’s too easy to lose track,” says Somers. Instead, if the person you’re caring for has a source of income, such as a pension or Social Security payment, use that money first. If you must use your own money, keep track by recording items and their costs. “A written record is also useful when asking other family members, such as siblings, to share the [financial] responsibilities you’ve taken on,” Somers says.

    8. Challenge: “I feel cut off from the rest of the world.” Taking care of someone with limited mobility can make it difficult for a caregiver to leave the house for anything more than work or errands – and that can undermine a caregiver’s well-being. “Social isolation is cancer of the caregiver’s soul,” says Huysman. It takes a physical toll, too. Studies from Harvard University, the University of Chicago and other institutions show that individuals who don’t maintain strong social networks are at a higher risk for health problems and mortality from all causes.

    Solution: Make social activities a priority. Get out of the house at least once a day – even if it’s just to walk to the corner store. “Ask friends, neighbors or family members, ‘Can you come over for 15 minutes while I get some fresh air?’ People want to help, and they’re more willing to do so when it’s a concrete task for a set amount of time,” says Somers.

    Seek out others in similar situations. Huysman recommends joining an in-person or online support group for caregivers: visit caregiver.com, caregiver.org or sharethecare.org. “Even if you’re not a joiner, you’ll be surprised by how uplifting it is to talk to people in a similar situation,” he says. A clergy member, psychologist or social worker might also help, says Robinson. Many counseling professionals work on a sliding scale, and some community organizations offer counseling services to caregivers for free.

    9. Challenge: “I feel burned out.” From the emotional stress of seeing a loved one in need of constant care to the additional chores and financial worries, caregiving brings major stressors.That may explain why one Dutch study, published in the journal Disability and Rehabilitation, found that more than 25 percent of caregivers feel an immense burden – akin to what experts describe as “burnout.”

    Solution: Share the load. “Arthritis or no arthritis, it is simply impossible for one person to do all the caregiving,” says Somers. Make a list of your caregiving duties. Then delegate as many as possible. “Can someone else help with bookkeeping or take grandma to church? Don’t feel guilty about doing less – you’ll be a better caregiver because of it,” she says.

    A caregiving journal also can help, she adds. “When you’re caring for another person with a disability or health issue, it’s almost impossible to remember everything, and that can be stressful,” says Somers. She advises keeping a small notebook with you at all times so you can jot down information on the go. “That way, you have a reference and you can share it with other family members who need to know what’s going on.”

    Copyright © 2015 Arthritis Foundation. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this topic visit www.Arthritis.org.

    ParentYourParents.com ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

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

    Massage for Arthritis

    This article was graciously provided by the Arthritis Foundation.

    Benefits of Massage:  Learn about the benefits of massage therapy for arthritis pain, how massage works, and if you can benefit from massage.Read More >>

    arthritis massageMaking Your Massage Appointment: What to Know Before You Go:  If you’re considering a massage to help ease arthritis pain, find answers your questions about your massage appointment, your therapist and more. Read More>>

    Self-Massage Relieves Arthritis Pain and Stress: Do-it-yourself massage therapy is an affordable a nd easy way to ease pain. Find out how self-massage can help provide arthritis pain relief. Read More >>

    Types of Massage: There are many types of massage that can benefit people with arthritis, including Swedish and Deep Tissue massages. Learn about different types and how they can help ease pain. Read More >>

    “It’s always a good idea to get the thumbs up or down from a doctor if you are having even the slightest worry about using massage for your condition,” says Chunco. “It’s also very important to tell the therapist if you are experiencing pain or if you are uncomfortable with the work that she is doing. A good therapist will want feedback on what you are feeling during the session.”

    Be sure to have a conversation with your massage therapist beforehand about your arthritis, and what parts of your body are most affected by the disease, advises Field.

    “Therapists should be very cognizant and careful, as they all have a list of contraindications for massage in their brains already,” she says. “They can usually tell if you have an area of inflammation” but it’s wise to discuss it first, she says. In addition, if you have any concerns about the therapist using scented oils or lotions that might cause a rash, speak up – these lubricants are commonly used but are probably not necessary.

    Your goals for massage may vary. You may be interested in relieving anxiety and stress caused by dealing with arthritis, or you may be seeking relief for pain and stiffness in a specific area of your body. Talk openly with your massage therapist about your goals for the session so she can adjust the technique accordingly. There is no set way to perform a massage; she should be flexible to your needs.

    Most importantly, massage should make your arthritis pain and stiffness feel better, not worse, says Veena Ranganath, MD, a rheumatologist at the University of California, Los Angeles Department of Medicine. “I do tell my patients that if it hurts, don’t do it,” says Dr. Ranganath. Your doctor also can refer you to a massage therapist, which may not only lead you to a qualified professional, but also help you qualify for reimbursement if your insurance policy covers massage treatments.

    Massage is not medicine. It’s a complement to your doctor-prescribed arthritis treatment. You should enjoy experiencing a massage, and it should not increase your pain or anxiety. Communication with your doctor and massage therapist beforehand can ensure that massage is right for you and help you achieve beneficial results.

    Be sure to visit the Arthritis Foundation should you have any questions or need further information.  It is a great resource for informationa about all aspects of arthritis. 

    ParentYourParents.com ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

    Posted in Arthritis, Caregiver Support, Health/Nutrition/Fitness | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

    Final Goodbyes ~ Scattering Ashes

    Today marks two years since my father died.  My relationship with my father over the years was sometimes tumultuous.  He was an alcoholic.  In my younger years, I realized he was different than other dads.   I knew he loved me, but after I left for college, and he left my mom, it finally hit me.  The one thing that was truly most important to him in life was alcohol. After that realization, I experienced a flood of emotions from anger to disappointment, from hurt to sadness.  And I was pretty vocal to him about those feelings, and what I thought about his relationship with alcohol.  It all fell on deaf ears.

    After a couple of years, I let it go.  He had moved away and his drinking didn’t effect me on a daily basis.  He was an adult, it was his choice and his life.  I would say our relationship was as normal as it could be, right up until I received a call from a caseworker at a hospital in California.  He had been admitted and due to the HIPPA laws, she couldn’t tell me what was wrong with him.  I finally asked, “If this was your dad, would you be on the next plane?”  She said, “Yes.” So I was.

    After arriving at the hospital, I had one doctor tell me he had a maximum of 6 weeks to live, if he didn’t have another drink.  Another doctor tell me he maybe had 6 months.  My dad told me his “number wasn’t up”, and he wasn’t going anywhere.  He was right.  He lived for another 6 years.

    That stay in the hospital was a huge wake-up call for him.  He didn’t drink, to my knowledge, for about a year and a half.  He lived in a small town, and some of his friends would check on him regularly.  When he fell off the wagon, I received a call from his friend.  I called him and tried to reason with him and remind him how important it was that he didn’t drink ~ for him it was life or death.  He seemed to get it and didn’t drink for another couple of years.

    He eventually fell off the wagon for good.  At one point he had moved to Denver and was close to me so I could take him to doctor’s appointments and have him over for holidays, etc…  After a little over a year, he ended up deciding to move to the warmer climate of Phoenix.

    He was drinking again, and now he was moving away.  I wouldn’t be able to get there quickly if something was to happen to him.  I went through all the emotions, again.  And, I voiced them all to him, again.  I could tell he didn’t want to hear it.  And, my biggest “ah-ha” moment was when he said, “you can’t tell me what to do or how to live my life.”  Wow!  He was so right!

    When it really sank in, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.  I couldn’t tell him how to live his life.  And if I couldn’t tell him how to live his life, I wasn’t responsible for how he lived his life or the choices he made.  The choices were his.  The decisions were his.  It really had nothing to do with me.  It was his relationship with alcohol and it had nothing to do with anyone else.

    After that moment, our relationship changed again.  This time, I think for the better.  He was making his decisions and when he wanted my input he would ask.  We talked about once a week, and I visited him in Phoenix a couple of times.

    The last time I saw him was January, 2013.  He died April 24,2013.  I think our relationship was at one of the best places it had been my whole life.  I didn’t agree with his choices, and it still hurt alcohol was so important to him, even more important than his own life.  But I learned to accept and love him for who he was and his good heart, regardless of the choices he made.

    When I got the call about his death I was not surprised.  I was sad because he died alone.  But I don’t think he would have been sad because he was living the life he wanted.

    Lowering Dad into the ocean

    His final wish was to have his ashes scattered at sea.  My husband and I were able to fulfill his final wish recently on a trip to San Diego.

    I did my research on transporting ashes on an airplane as well as what the California laws were with regards to scattering ashes.  According to California law, you can’t scatter ashes off a pier or at a beach.  You must scatter ashes 500 feet off the shore.  We had to charter a boat, there are plenty to choose from online, and the captain took us out for two hours. We had a fabulous experience on a perfect day.  We even saw a whale while we were at sea.

    We were able to play the songs Anchors Aweigh, for his service in the Navy, and I Did it My Way…because he did.  We put his ashes in a basket and laid flowers on top of the ashes and lowered them into the ocean.  It was simple and beautiful.  He would have loved it.

    Ashes in the Pacific

    My dad and I had our ups and downs throughout the years, but I feel in the end, we had come to an understanding that worked for us.  I will always love my dad, and I miss him everyday.

     

     

    ParentYourParents.com ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

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    Aging and Alcohol Use and Abuse

    The following article was provided by MedicineNet.com.

     

    Anyone at any age can have a drinking problem. Great Uncle George may have always liked his liquor, so his family may not see that his drinking behavior is getting worse as he gets older. Grandma Betty was a teetotaler all her life-she started having a drink each night to help her get to sleep after her husband died. Now no one realizes that she needs a couple of drinks to get through each day.

    These are common stories. The fact is that families, friends, and health care professionals often overlook their concerns about older people’s drinking. Sometimes trouble with alcohol in older people is mistaken for other conditions that happen with age. But alcohol use deserves special attention. Because the aging process affects how the body handles alcohol, the same amount of alcohol can have a greater effect as a person grows older. Over time, someone whose drinking habits haven’t changed may find she or he has a problem.

    whiskey and water

    Facts About Aging and Alcohol
    Some research has shown that as people age they become more sensitive to alcohol’s effects. In other words, the same amount of alcohol can have a greater effect on an older person than on someone who is younger.

    Some medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, ulcers, and diabetes, can worsen with alcohol use.

    Many medicines-prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal remedies-can be dangerous or even deadly when mixed with alcohol. This is a special worry for older people because the average person over age 65 takes at least two medicines a day. If you take any medicines, ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can safely drink alcohol. Here are some examples:

    • Aspirin can cause bleeding in the stomach and intestines; the risk of bleeding is higher if you take aspirin while drinking alcohol.
    • Cold and allergy medicines (antihistamines) often make people sleepy; when combined with alcohol this drowsiness can be worse.
    • Alcohol used with large doses of the pain killer acetaminophen can raise the risk of liver damage.
    • Some medicine, such as cough syrups and laxatives, have a high alcohol content.

    WineEffects of Alcohol
    Even drinking a small amount of alcohol can impair judgment, coordination, and reaction time. It can increase the risk of work and household accidents, including falls and hip fractures. It also adds to the risk of car crashes.

    Heavy drinking over time also can cause certain cancers, liver cirrhosis, immune system disorders, and brain damage. Alcohol can make some medical concerns hard for doctors to find and treat. For example, alcohol causes changes in the heart and blood vessels. These changes can dull pain that might be a warning sign of a heart attack. Drinking also can make older people forgetful and confused. These symptoms could be mistaken for signs of Alzheimer’s disease. For people with diabetes, drinking affects blood sugar levels.

    People who abuse alcohol also may be putting themselves at risk for serious conflicts with family, friends, and coworkers. The more heavily they drink, the greater the chance for trouble at home, at work, with friends, and even with strangers.

    How to Know if Someone Has a Drinking Problem
    There are two patterns of drinking: early and late onset. Some people have been heavy drinkers for many years. But, as with great Uncle George, over time the same amount of liquor packs a more powerful punch. Other people, like Grandma Betty, develop a drinking problem later in life. Sometimes this is due to major life changes like shifts in employment, failing health, or the death of friends or loved ones. Often these life changes can bring loneliness, boredom, anxiety, and depression. In fact, depression in older adults often goes along with alcohol misuse. At first, a drink seems to bring relief from stressful situations. Later on, drinking can start to cause trouble.

    Not everyone who drinks regularly has a drinking problem, and not all problem drinkers drink every day. You might want to get help if you or a loved one:

    • Drink to calm your nerves, forget your worries, or reduce depression.
    • Gulp down drinks.
    • Frequently have more than one drink a day. (A standard drink is one 12-ounce bottle or can of beer or a wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.)
    • Lie about or try to hide drinking habits.
    • Hurt yourself, or someone else, while drinking.
    • Need more alcohol to get high.
    • Feel irritable, resentful, or unreasonable when not drinking.
    • Have medical, social, or financial worries caused by drinking.

    Getting Help
    Studies show that older problem drinkers are as able to benefit from treatment as are younger alcohol abusers. To get help, talk to your doctor. He or she can give you advice about your health, drinking, and treatment options. Your local health department or social services agencies can also help.

    There are many types of treatments available. Some, such as 12-step help programs, have been around a long time. Others include getting alcohol out of the body (detoxification); taking prescription medicines to help prevent a return to drinking once you have stopped; and individual and/or group counseling. Newer programs teach people with drinking problems to learn which situations or feelings trigger the urge to drink as well as ways to cope without alcohol. Because the support of family members is important, many programs also counsel married couples and family members as part of the treatment process. Programs may also link individuals with important community resources.

    Scientists continue to study alcohol’s effects on people and to look for new ways to treat alcoholism. This research will increase the chance for recovery and improve the lives of problem drinkers.

    The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health, recommends that people over age 65 who choose to drink have no more than one drink a day. Drinking at this level usually is not associated with health risks.
    For More Information
    National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
    5635 Fishers Lane MSC 9304
    Bethesda, MD 20892-9304 301-443-3860
    www.niaaa.nih.gov
    For more information on health and aging, contact:
    National Institute on Aging Information Center
    P.O. Box 8057 Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057
    800-222-2225 (toll-free)
    800-222-4225 (TTY toll-free)

     

    ParentYourParents.com ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

    Posted in Addictions, Alcoholism, Depression, Health/Nutrition/Fitness, Healthy Aging, Rehabilitation Centers | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Caring in Parkinson’s Disease

    The article below was provided by the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation

    Caring in Parkinson’s

    Parkinson’s disease does not just affect the person living with it – it affects the entire family and an extended community of friends and loved ones.

    If you are the care partner, child, parent, grandparent or loved one to a person with Parkinson’s, you are familiar with the challenges that come with living with the disease. Your responsibilities may include helping a loved one with daily activities, managing medications and making financial decisions.

    As a care partner it may be difficult to let others help or to take time for yourself. Remember that it is as important for you, as it is for the person with Parkinson’s, to care for yourself and to begin understanding the disease. Taking care of yourself can benefit both you and your partner. Benefits include revitalized energy, renewed interest in creative endeavors, new subjects to talk about and the realization that you and your partner are not alone.

    Caring for Parkinson's Disease

     

     

     

     

    How can you get started?

    For additional information on Parkinson’s disease, research and help-line, or to get involved, visit the Parkinson’s disease foundation website.

    ParentYourParents.com ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

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    Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month

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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