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~ National Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month
~ Alcohol Awareness Month

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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.

    ParentYourParents.com ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

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    Tips For Caregivers of the Dying

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

    Caring for a dying loved one is often one of the most rewarding but exhausting jobs you will ever take on. Caregivers witness the life that is unfolding in front of them. Ultimately a caregiver is the observer of the loved one’s passing . Sometimes a fine line is walked between being able to give care and get in the way. The best way to serve anyone is simply to be full present with them. The dying loved one will share at whatever level they feel comfortable sharing. Allowing the dying person to express in an open way whatever feelings they are processing is a gift that the caregiver can be part of.

    National Family Caregiver MonthThe best thing that the family can do for the patient is to let go of the ego and learn to listen deeply, sometimes reading between the lines to what is not being said. As Maggie Callanan states in her book, Final Journeys, “Dying people do not ask us to analyze, diagnose or solve their problems. They ask us to share their anguish and be willing to listen and share their journey, good, bad, as far as we can.”

    However, constant exposure to death and dying can take its toll on the most compassionate of caregivers. It is of utmost importance that the caregiver be able to take care of him or herself. Eating healthy foods, taking some time to exercise, go on a short trip, have time with family and friends, go out to eat or to a movie, get enough rest are all integral parts of good self -care. Ask another family member of friend to help relieve you of the caregiving role for a few hours each week and make time for yourself. Hire a professional nurse’s aide or companion if your budget allows.

    If you are a professional caregiver, a nurse or physician, social worker or chaplain, there are some good tips on managing the stress of the job provided by the American Psychological Association:

    Tips for Balance in the Workplace

    • Assess and readjust your caseload.
    • Set healthy boundaries for yourself and the clients you serve.
    • Vary professional activities to prevent isolation and burnout.
    • Consider occasional self-assessments to gauge your own level of well-being.

    For further information and resources visit the APA website .

    Often there will be in a large hospital or hospice setting an employee assistance program. These should be utilized to access counselors who are trained to help reduce life stressors. One Atena insurance study proved that the employee group who received complementary care that offered yoga, guided meditation and breathing techniques had claims that were $2,000 less annually than those in the control group who received no stress reduction education. If your employer does not offer an employee assistance program ask them to consider sponsoring a workshop that will cover some of the information on how to reduce caregiver stress.

    Powerful life lessons come from those who are going through the dying process. Sometimes these lessons are profound and uplifting, and they can serve as examples of what we want to avoid in our own lives. It is impossible not to be altered by the experience. If often happens that people who have had family members in hospice end up becoming hospice volunteers later as they so appreciated the help they received and want to pay it forward.

    Caregiving can be one of the most rewarding experiences one can have. The sense of gratification and the knowledge that one was of service to the dying patient or loved one is its own best reward.

    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.


    ParentYourParents.com ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

    Posted in Caregiver Information, Caregiver Support, End of Life Planning, Health/Nutrition/Fitness, Hospice | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

    Surviving Caregiver Guilt

    Surviving Caregiver Guilt was graciously provided by published author, and advocate for the Alzheimer’s/Dementia Hospital Wristband Project Gary Joseph LeBlanc

    There’s not a caregiver out there who doesn’t experience bouts of guilt and self-doubt. Many of us find ourselves drowning in it! What’s important to know is that this is simply human nature. We all deal with insecurity when we take on the noble task of being responsible for other human beings. But it’s significant that we learn how to wade through this timidity and concentrate on what’s taking place right here in front of us, one day at a time.

    We’re all going to question ourselves over and over. Even after our loved ones are gone, we’re going to wonder, “Well, maybe if I had done this,” or, “Only if I had known about doing it that way.

    There is something called “survival guilt.” If you’re the only survivor of a car crash you might find yourself filled with sorrow, feeling guilty that you’re still alive. In like manner, when your loved one passes away, you might even feel selfish for still being here.

    Being overwhelmed by these powerful emotions is the last thing your loved one would wish upon you. In fact, I was amazed at how my father became so apologetic in the latter stage of his disease. He would endlessly thank me for caring for him, even if he didn’t truly realize who I was. I have often wondered where this man who was suddenly being so grateful had been hiding during the earlier years when I was pulling my hair out in frustration!

    Push through the guilt and concentrate on keeping your loved one safe and calm. Follow that innersole, that gut feeling is usually right.

    There’s a saying I often use when teaching dementia care, “If you meet a dementia patient, you’ve only met one dementia patient.” Not all dementia patients experience the same symptoms. As caregivers, we know our loved ones better than anyone else; even better than they know themselves. So when those instincts start kicking in, they’re probably correct.

    I don’t know of any sure way to block the guilt. You’ll just have to do your best and focus on what to do next. If what you’re doing is working, stick with it.

    And for heaven’s sake, don’t feel guilty about taking any respite for yourself! If anything, this will be good for both of you. Hopefully you’ll come back fully rested and ready to take on the world again.

    Learn more about author and advocate Gary Joseph LeBlanc.

    ParentYourParents.com ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

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    Get an Eye Exam to Save Your Vision from Glaucoma

    This article was provided by the National Eye Institute (NEI) website

    More than four million people in the United States have glaucoma, a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve and destroy eyesight. Unfortunately, nearly half of those with glaucoma are not even aware that they have it. Are you one of them? You owe it to yourself to find out by getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam that includes having drops put in your eye. With its painless and gradual loss of vision, glaucoma may have no early warning signs, but it can be detected during a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

    GlaucomaPaul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Eye Institute (NEI), one of the National Institutes of Health, said, “NEI-funded research has shown that treatment during the early stages of glaucoma can control the disease and prevent future vision loss and blindness. This is why NEI encourages people at higher risk for glaucoma to get a comprehensive dilated eye exam every one to two years.”


    Anyone can develop glaucoma, but those at higher risk for developing the disease include:

    • African Americans over age 40
    • Everyone over age 60, especially Mexican Americans
    • People with a family history of the disease

    During a comprehensive dilated eye exam, an eye care professional can see inside the eye to detect signs of glaucoma, such as subtle changes to the optic nerve, before any symptoms appear. This allows the eye care professional to determine if you have glaucoma or are at risk for it, to monitor your condition, to treat glaucoma as early as possible, and to look for other vision problems. Once symptoms appear, it may be too late to prevent vision loss and the progression to blindness.

    If glaucoma is detected early, treatments such as eye drops or surgery can slow or stop vision loss. High pressure inside the eye, which may be associated with glaucoma, does not by itself mean that you have glaucoma. Only a comprehensive dilated eye exam and evaluation of the optic nerve by an eye care professional can tell you that.

    If you know someone at risk for glaucoma, let them know you care – send them a glaucoma e-card. For more information, visit www.nei.nih.gov/glaucoma.

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    Medical Eye Exams for Eligible Seniors for No Out-of-Pocket Cost

    Don’t neglect your vision; read on to see if you are a candidate for free eye care from EyeCare America.

    By Gary Heiting, OD

    Who needs the most eye care / eye exams? Seniors.

    Why? Most people with serious eye diseases such as cataracts,glaucoma and macular degeneration (AMD) are seniors.

    So what’s the problem? The cost of eye care /eye exams.

    Many seniors neglect their eye care and vision problems because they have low or fixed incomes or inadequate vision insurance.

    There is a solution: EyeCare America — a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

    Don’t risk losing your vision! Get a medical eye exam right away.

    Under this program, if you are a U.S. citizen or legal resident age 65 or older, have not seen anophthalmologist in the last three years or more, and do not belong to an HMO or have veterans’ vision care, you may be eligible for free eye care services.

    If you are eligible for the program, you can schedule a free comprehensive eye exam with a participating ophthalmologist in your area.

    If eye problems such as glaucoma, cataracts, AMD or diabetic retinopathy are found, you also can receive free eye care for the condition for up to one year.

    The program does not cover the cost of eyeglasses, prescription drugs, hospital services or fees from other medical professionals.

    Volunteer ophthalmologists will accept Medicare or other insurance as full payment, with no additional payment from you. If you don’t have any insurance, the eye care is free.

    The greatest benefit of the EyeCare America program is that it encourages financially disadvantaged seniors to take care of vision problems before they worsen.

    Cataracts need to be monitored and eventually removed; glaucoma and ocular hypertension must be treated or monitored regularly. If not, these diseases often lead tolow vision or blindness.

    To find out more about the EyeCare America program and to see if you are eligible, visit www.EyeCareAmerica.org.

    The EyeCare America program (formerly known as the Seniors EyeCare Program and the National Eye Care Project) is a national non-profit organization that provides eye care services to medically underserved communities. The program was founded in 1985, and care is provided by approximately 7,000 volunteer ophthalmologists across the United States and Puerto Rico. EyeCare America is co-sponsored by the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, with additional support provided by Alcon.

    About the Author: Gary Heiting, OD, is senior editor of AllAboutVision.com. Dr. Heiting has more than 25 years of experience as an eye care provider, health educator and consultant to the eyewear industry. His special interests include contact lenses, nutrition and preventive vision care. Connect with Dr. Heiting via Google+.

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    National Eye Health Care Month

    Senior Eye HealthJanuary is Eye Health Care Month.  In observation, I have posted this valuable information from John Palsson‘s article posted on the Article Doctor.

    January is known as the National Eye Care Month. This month is mostly devoted by most eye care professionals across the globe to the advertising of healthy vision. Optometrists and ophthalmologists also recommend strongly that we get our eyes checked almost every year, and what better time to do so than in January when most hospitals provide all free checkups.

    It does not matter whether we wear corrective lenses or not, or even if we think our eyes are in perfect condition. Getting the regular eye exams is a necessary part of our overall health care, and vital to make sure our continued healthy vision.

    January is also the Glaucoma Awareness Month. Close to three million people actually have glaucoma, but half of them do not realize it because there are often no warning symptoms. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States of America and the first major leading cause of preventable blindness. Approximately 120,000 Americans are mostly blind because they suffer from glaucoma, accounting for 9% to 12% of all cases of blindness in the United States of America. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among the African-Americans as well. It is 6 to 8 times more common in African-Americans than the Caucasians. The most common form is the Open Angle Glaucoma which accounts for 19% of all blindness among African-Americans compared to the 6% in Caucasians.

    In order to promote healthy vision throughout the country the optometrists and ophthalmologists have declared that January would be the National Eye Care Month. With virtually every other month being dedicated to some cause or the other then why not a month dedicated to the preservation of healthy vision, as well.

    It is extremely important that our entire family undergoes an eye exam each year, if we want their vision to remain perfect. National Eye Care Month is the perfect time to schedule for such appointments. For the sake of us as well as our children, we should make proper eye care one of our new year’s resolutions, and will be giving the family the ultimate gift – the gift of sight.

    Another way you can help us to celebrate National Eye Care Month, is to donate your old eye glasses to the local charity places or take them to the optometrist to be given to someone who needs them more. Many charities across the globe take big donations of used eye glasses, which could be given to those who are financially unable to purchase their own. Many optometrists also donate their time in mobile eye clinics to provide eye care to those who are indigent. These people who have no home are in need of our help to ensure that their vision does not fail ever. Donating our used eye glasses to a charity or to the optometrist could possibly help a homeless person to see well enough in order to obtain employment and also become self reliant.

    Regardless of how you choose to celebrate the National Eye Care Month, the fact still remains that our eye health, and the health of our family’s eyes, should be the number one priority.

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    What is Hospice and How to Choose One

    The word “hospice” is common in our society. But sometimes there is confusion over what hospice is, as if it were a particular place where one goes to die. In reality, it is a type of care and a philosophy of care that is available almost everywhere a person lives. It focuses on comfort care, addressing the symptoms of those at the end of life. The hospice philosophy and care were designed to address not only the physical issues that one experiences at the end of life but recognizes many other things are going on as well, including physical, emotional, social, or spiritual symptoms. It can take place as an inpatient facility devoted to hospice care, in a nursing home, through visiting nurse programs in the patient’s home, or at an assisted living center.

    Hospice Article 14

    In order to qualify for entry into a hospice the patient must have received a terminal diagnosis of six months or less. There are two kinds of hospices, profit and nonprofit. The difference between these two types is the business model. They both depend on government and insurance reimbursement to keep their doors open. A for profit hospice has owners and stockholders, they are expecting a return on their money. A nonprofit hospice has a board of directors and must do fundraising to raise additional operating capital.

    In hospice, the longer the length of stay helps balance the more expensive patients only in hospice for a short time. The most expensive time in hospice care is at the beginning and at the end of care. Most of the high intensity care takes place in the first two weeks of hospice care and the last two weeks of hospice care.

    Most of those who work in the hospice area are dedicated individuals called to do the work they are performing. The goals of any good hospice are the same, to provide high quality patient care by employees who are highly trained and operate by offering heart centered service.

    When it comes to placing family members in hospice care, it is critical for families to ask questions to help make more informed decisions. Personal recommendations and your own feelings when visiting the hospice are the most important things to consider. When visiting the place you are considering, talk with the available staff. Look around you. How clean is it? How do the patients look? What is the ambiance?

    In addition, you need to be knowledgeable about the services you are entitled to receive. Be assertive when advocating for the needs of your loved one and your family.

    Things to Take into Account when Choosing Hospice

    • Find out how Medicare benefits work when someone is in hospice.
    • You may also wish to get referrals from friends and hospital or nursing facility nurses. They are the front line in dealing with families and hospice care and often have very good information.
    • Is the hospice for profit or nonprofit? Who owns it, and how is it run? Do they expect you to make a donation? Do they have any religious restrictions on the people it accepts?
    • If considering an inpatient facility, be aware of, for lack of a better term, the “energy” you feel when you are there. Sometimes this can come in terms of visual cues—how well the facility maintained, how clean it is, and so on. Sometimes you just get a sense of peace or of “coming home” when you enter one of these facilities. Find out what kind of accommodations are available for visitors. Can people stay overnight? Is there a playground or place for children? Are pets allowed?
    • When talking with the representative of the hospice, find out what services the hospice offers. See if you can talk to family members of patients who have gone through the program. Ask about their experience with the services.
    • Ask what happens after a patient is finished with the care at the hospice. What grief support do they provide or offer?

    Families should talk with several hospice organizations and not sign anything until they have had time to think about it.

    Christine Cowgill MS,CRC is the best- selling 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

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    Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!!!


    Wishing you and your family a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year ~ Happy 2014!

    Happy New Year

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    Laughter; Is it the Best Medicine?

    ‘Laughter: Is it the Best Medicine?’ was graciously provided by published author, and advocate for the Alzheimer’s/Dementia Hospital Wristband Project Gary Joseph LeBlanc

    Sadly, when caring for a loved one who is suffering from a form of dementia, one way or another depression is going to seep into your life. It’s even worse if you’re the primary caregiver; it may actually be sitting right in your lap!

    Dementia and depression go hand in hand. As soon as you begin to notice behavioral changes, be prepared to have a conversation with the doctor as soon as possible.

    Dementia alone can bring with it symptoms of depression. In this circumstance, the dementia from the depression and the dementia from the disease will stack themselves on top of each other. This may be why your loved one is a complete mess.  Soon, if nothing is done to stem the tide, you will be, too.

    You can’t control the dementia that is caused by the disease, but you can address the depression. This is when certain medications may become quite beneficial.

    I was one of those caregivers who emphatically swore, at first, that I was going to make it my goal to keep my father as medicine free as possible. However, I quickly learned that certain medications have their purpose in fighting the symptoms of diseases, in this case, Alzheimer’s disease, which was what my dad suffered from. The bottom line? What was good for him was good for me.

    There is no doubt that there’s heartbreak and despair in watching your loved one dissipate. I would suggest that you keep your environment as cheerful as possible. I know that some of you are shaking your heads and asking, “How?”  Well, take it from a veteran; throughout the decade I spent caring for my dad and searching for ways to cope, I discovered some do’s and don’ts. Here’s one:  If you hope to sit down and occasionally have some hard won time to yourself, don’t put on a tear jerker movie!

    If you plan on spending the only two hours of peace you have watching “Brain’s Song or “The Notebook,” think again for goodness sake! Yes, great movies, but do you really need all that sadness permeating your brain? Oh and don’t forget about “Old Yeller” (Those animal stories always get to me).

    Find something that’s going to make you laugh out loud. I guarantee you’ll feel better and when bed-time arrives, maybe you’ll get some real shut-eye for a change. (One of my personal favorites is “My Blue Heaven,” written by Nora Ephron and starring Steve Martin. That movie always makes me chuckle.)

    Do the same thing when it comes to books. This is your “me” time, so choose something uplifting.

    Unfortunately I’m a news junkie and, trust me, in today’s world, I don’t think there’s anything more depressing on television.

    My father gave me some advice many years ago. He said, “Son, always try to surround yourself with positive people.” This is very hard to accomplish when you’re caregiving 24/7, but use whatever options you have. I’m a firm believer in how laughter is the best medicine. There is a reason “Reader’s Digest” has had a regular section on this in their magazines for decades.

    If I’m going to hurt, I’d rather have the pain be caused by laughing too hard.  Throughout our caregiving journeys we deal with enough doom and gloom. Try to bring some sunshine and humor into your life. Never forget to laugh.

    Learn more about author and advocate Gary Joseph LeBlanc.

    ParentYourParents.com ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

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    Merry Christmas

    We at ParentYourParents.com wish you and your families all the blessing of the season and very Merry Christmas.

    Mary Joseph and Jesus

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