Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregivers Blog

Older Americans Month

Older Americans Month 2016: “Blaze a Trail”

Older adults are a growing and increasingly vital part of our country. The contributions they make to our communities are varied, deeply rooted, and include influential roles in the nation’s economy, politics, and the arts. From 69-year-old NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Jr. to 84-year-old actress Rita Moreno to 83-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who took her seat as a Supreme Court Justice at age 60, older adults are blazing trails in all aspects of American life.  

In 1963, we began to acknowledge the contributions of older people by using the month of May to celebrate Older Americans Month or “OAM”, Led by the Administration for Community Living, the annual observance offers the opportunity to learn about, support, and celebrate our nation’s older citizens. This year’s theme, “Blaze a Trail,” emphasizes the ways older adults are reinventing themselves through new work and new passions, engaging their communities, and blazing a trail of positive impact on the lives of people of all ages.  

While Solutions For Seniors, Inc.  provides services to older adults year-round, we try to focus on how older adults in our community are leading and inspiring others, how we can support and learn from them, and how we might follow their examples to blaze trails of our own. Throughout the month, Solutions For Seniors, Inc. will participate in activities and share information designed to highlight local programs, and resources. We encourage you to get involved by sharing stories, volunteering in the local area, or attending a senior organization event.

You are never too old to "Blaze a Trail!"  

 

Discover OAM: Visit http://acl.gov/olderamericansmonth

The Perfect Gift

This is the time of year when people start thinking about giving gifts.  I am certain that the “perfect” gift depends on what age you are!  It is amazing how long children’s lists may be for Santa Claus every year, but as we grow older our list becomes smaller and smaller.   

A lady living in a Nursing Home was recently asked what she would like most for Christmas.  Her answer came as a surprise.  She said “I would give anything to have a visit from my son!”  

My eight year old grandson told his dad recently that he doesn’t take time to play with him anymore!  Children must spend time with their parents, and marriages fall apart when couples don’t make time for each other.  I know how busy people have become, but once the moments are gone you can never get them back. The gift of time is always the most important gift anyone can give.    

The Wall Street Journal recently printed information about giving the “Perfect Gift,” and I thought I would share it in my December Newsletter.  

 

  1. Give Your True Self – Gifts should reflect your taste and the recipient will feel closer to you.

  2. Don’t Give Charity – Only close friends and parents enjoy receiving a charitable gift made in their honor.

  3. Avoid Stocking Stuffers – Don’t bundle a big present with extra add-on small items that with detract from the true gift.

  4. Be wary When Giving to Men – Men are tricky to buy for.  They feel badly about a relationship when they receive a disappointing gift.  Women’s views of a relationship are less affected.

  5. Give Well, But Above All Give – Just give!  Giving to others makes even toddlers feel happier than receiving treats themselves. 

Last but not least:  No material gift can replace you being present for those you love. Say no to any distractions and do not be afraid to spend time alone with your friends and family.  Turn off your cell phone and any other electronic device and enjoy your time without any interruptions. 

Christmas is just around the corner and then it will be the New Year.  I challenge everyone to give the gift of time this year, because it really is the “perfect gift!”

 

 

End Of Life Discussions

One of the most difficult discussions for anyone, is a discussion about death.  Especially when we are talking about what we want to have happen when we are at end of life.  The discussion must come early before we are faced with a crisis.  End of life conversations are actually continuing conversations about preferences and priorities.  

Some interesting statistics were recently published about how people who have managed their own impending death.   

A greater percentage of people have accepted their diagnosis of a terminal illness when they have had counseling.  However counseling was not as helpful to people who want to know their life expectancy.  

A large majority of people are concerned more about their comfort than their life being extended.  The report reveals that people generally do not want to die in an intensive care unit.  

A large segment of the population has completed a DNR or Do Not Resuscitate order.  This is a form that states a person’s wishes not receive CPR if you stop breathing or their heart stops.  

An even larger segment of the population have completed a living will, durable power of attorney or heath care proxy.  This is an important form that will allow health care professionals and family members to honor your wishes when you can no longer make decisions for yourself.  

Outpatient Hospice services are often preferred by most people who are end of life.  Hospice does not hasten death or prolonging life.  Hospice helps the person have comfort through end of life.  Inpatient Hospice units are another option for someone to not die at home.  

The use of life sustaining measures like a feeding tube are used less when people have counseling about end of life.  A younger person who has every opportunity to recover from health crisis may only need nutrition by the use of a feeding tube for a short period of time.  Older adults who can no longer have quality of life due to a degenerative disease, must consider not using a feeding tube to sustain or prolong their life.   

When the body is end of life and shutting down, it is a very natural process for the body to not feel hunger.  Many people fear that they are “starving the person to death!”  I remind family members that the body cannot metabolize food and using a feeding tube would actually be more painful for the dying person. 

Dehydration and the lack of water is also not a painful process because the human body generally becomes so sleepy until the person is unconscious. When IV fluids are given while the body is shutting down, the additional fluid begins to work against the person because their kidneys have shut down and cannot eliminate the fluid from the body.

Cremation is certainly a more affordable option, but some people feel strongly about traditional burial.  Some people do not want a funeral and others want a large celebration of their life.  It is important that your wishes are carried out as you wish.   

Every person should talk with their family about their wishes before they are faced with end of life decisions.   A wonderful gift for any family is to plan out your traditional burial or cremation, so it is a telephone call for a family who is grief stricken with the loss of someone that they love.

 

Happiness is a Bubble Bath

As early as 2,000 B.C., Egyptians used hot baths to ease pain and promote relaxation by placing hot rocks into water. In Ancient Greece, elaborate buildings were built around natural hot springs and used as hospitals and also provided a place for people to meet. 

Hippocrates, prescribed hot soaks as a treatment for many conditions like arthritis and hypertension. The Latin words sanus per aquam mean health through water.


Medical research continues to confirm the health benefits from regular traditional hot water tub baths. Physicians recommend the water temperature to be about 100 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit to relieve minor aches and pains, as well as therapy to protect and improve your health.

Researcher, Joel M. Stager, Ph.D., a professor of Kinesiology at the University of Indiana studied the therapeutic effects of water for 30 years.  He suggests that regular swimming can slow aging as much as 20 percent in some people by maintaining or improving respiration, muscle mass and cardiovascular function. While Dr. Stager, has focused much of his study on competitive swimmers; Bruce E. Becker, M.D., clinical professor of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington adds even more reasoning to the use of regular tub baths of at least twenty minutes but he prefers forty minutes versus people taking showers.

Dr. Becker states, "Immediately after a person is immersed, water begins to exert pressure on the body. The heart gets a cardiovascular workout just from sitting in a hot tub. Even the most basic water workoutcan strengthen the heart and muscles better than a similar routine on land.” Dr. Becker also states that exercising in the water also helps prevent overheating and does not impact joints.  Dr. Becker also reminds people to not start any new therapy without consulting their doctor.

Arthritis relief: "The soothing warmth and buoyancy of warm water makes it a safe, ideal environment for relieving arthritis pain and stiffness," notes the Arthritis Foundation. "Immersing in warm water raises your body temperature, causing your blood vessels to dilate while increasing circulation." This results in less swelling and pain, and increases mobility, a clear benefit for the one in five Americans with arthritis.

Cancer Patients: Although hot tubs aren't going to replace chemotherapy, radiation or surgery, they are increasingly being used as a complementary therapy for some cancer patients.  The cancer patient may at least enjoy the ease of the emotional burden of their disease.

Pain control:  A hot tub bath can reduce inflammation, helping muscle and nerve function while helping to prevent blockages from forming in our arteries. Epson Salts Baths or Sulfates help improve the absorption of nutrients, flush toxins and help ease migraine headaches.

Diabetes improvement and weight loss: After tracking patients with Type 2 diabetes, researcher Phillip L. Hooper, M.D., of McKee Medical Center in Loveland, Colorado, found that participants who soaked in a spa for 30 minutes a day, six days a week, lost nearly four pounds after three weeks, without making any changes to their diet, exercise habits or other lifestyle factors.  Patients also experienced reduced blood sugar levels; their blood glucose levels dropped, and their A1c levels dipped as well.

General Sense of Well Being: Patients reported improved sleep and an increased general sense of well-being. Their improved blood flow from hot water tub baths appears to be the reason, theorizes Dr. Hooper.
There is good reason why hot tub baths are routinely used by physical therapists and pain management experts for everything from minor aches to the recovery from serious injury.  The hot water stimulates the release of endorphins, naturally occurring chemicals in the brain that kill pain and improve mood.

This information about tub baths has reminded me that all of the older adults who have had difficulty getting in and out of the tub as they grow older and have been advised to stop for safety reasons.  The investment into a walk-in bathtub may be one of the best investments anyone can make to help with aging process. This research was so important to me because of so many older adults using tub baths through all of their adult life over the fast shower. 

 

Our DVDs combine images
with high quality music that will engage those with cognitive decline. They are currently utilized by caregivers at multiple dementia units, nursing homes and home care environments.

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