Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregivers Blog

Driving While Aging

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What happens when you take the keys to automobile away from mom or dad?  Driving for some older adults  is their last hope of staying independent.  We are all social beings by nature and being homebound can lead to depression and poor health. When an older adult can no longer drive they become dependent on a kind friend who will offer them a ride to social activities or a family member or neighbor who will help them go to grocery store or pharmacy.

Many older people are too proud to ask for a ride from a friend or neighbor and they would rather stay home than imposing on someone else. 

More than 20 percent of Americans age 65 and older don’t drive, according to an analysis of the federal government’s National Household Travel Survey.  What if they don’t have access to public transportation? The real concern is the even larger percentage of people who should no longer be driving due to a diagnosis that impairs their driving.. 

Throughout the country driving is the single greatest problem for the older generation.  A few states have taken this problem very seriously, but we need even more solutions. 

California has a for profit company called “Silver Ride” in San Francisco. The average round trip costs $85.00, but this service will take older adults to lunch and then run errands or go to doctor's appointments. 

South Carolina in Lower Savannah has a resource call center for people to call in with their needs and the director of call center helps them by putting them in touch with the appropriate services. 

Maryland has a program called “Ride Partners” which is a nonprofit company with volunteers who covers rural, urban and suburban areas.  The drivers and passengers use a bank system to deposit volunteer hours if they are able and withdraw points when they need a ride. 

South Dakota uses a private nonprofit “River Cities Public Transit” organization to cover a mostly rural 11 county area providing rides for older adults.  The county uses shuttles and vans that run 24 hours each day, 7 days each week. This service has quadrupled the number of riders in ten years.  The cost is a nominal $3 to $9 dollars per round trip. 

In Georgia, in the Metro Atlanta area has many home care providers who offer a paid companion to drive older adults to their doctor’s appointments and social activities.  

A wonderful gift to an older adult would be to purchase time with a home care company who is bonded and insured to drive them wherever they want to go, before you take the key’s to automobile away!!



Ten Steps to Living Longer

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 1. Eat a Balanced Diet – You are what you eat!  Your diet has a direct effect on your health. Do not over eat, but do increase your fruits and vegetables, and reduce the amount of carbohydrates and sugar. Drink plenty of water, because water flushes out the toxins that build up in our bodies. Try to stop eating before you become completely full and give yourself a chance to digest your food. Great snacks are fresh fruit, vegetables, and nuts. Avoid highly processed foods which contain artificial sweeteners or colors, hidden sugars or excessive fat.  Drink alcohol in moderation – only two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.  

2.  Get Enough Sleep – The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends that adults get eight to eight and half hours of sleep each night for optimum health. Lack of sleep has been linked to heart attacks, high blood pressure, and other serious health problems. Sleep affects our physical and mental health tremendously. Lack of sleep adversely affects metabolism, mood, concentration, memory, motor skills, stress hormones and even our immune system. Sleep allows the body to heal, repair and rejuvenate itself in a way that it cannot do when a person is awake.

3. Exercise - The US Health Department recommends adults ages 18 to 64 perform at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous intense exercise each week. Watching your weight can help you live longer. Extra weight can allow diabetes, heart disease and cancer to take over without warning. If you want to live longer and reduce the possibility of sickness and disease, you must maintain your weight.

4. Wear Your Seat Belt and Helmet – Buckle up whenever you are driving or riding in a motor vehicle.  The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates seat belts saved over 75,000 lives between 2004 and 2008. Head injuries from serious falls or accidents can cause people to never walk again, and even being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. 

5. Use Sunscreen & Wear Sunglasses – Sun exposure can cause cancer and premature aging.  The American Cancer Society recommends adults and children use a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher and avoid being out in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. while the sun’s rays are most intense.  The harmful sun’s rays have also been reported to cause Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma.

6. Don’t Smoke – If you smoke – STOP! The Center for Disease Control and Prevention links smoking to the single most serious way to destroy good health. Smoking is responsible for most lung cancer deaths and greatly increases your chances of having a heart attack or stroke. 

7. Manage Your Stress - Learning to control your stress can help you feel better every day and decrease your chances of long-term health problems. The U.S. Health Department links stress as the cause of a myriad of health problems. Exercise, meditation, doing what you love, setting appropriate boundaries, taking time to increase your spirituality, spending time with nature, and enjoying a hobby, all can help alleviate the harmful effects of stress on the body. Do not overwork, and remember to take breaks, plan vacations, even long weekends, and surround yourself with people who support you.

8. Make Friends by Being a Friend - Australian researchers have found that having good friends in our lives can actually help us live longer. In fact, a good friend can do more for life expectancy than having family members around. There are many benefits to having good friendships, including an increased feeling of worth. Friends are also helpful during difficult times, they can help to reduce feelings of depression or anxiety, and they may also encourage you to be healthier.

9.  Remember to Laugh Often - As the Bible says in Proverbs, "Laughter works like a medicine". Be sure to get a good laugh in everyday to help you live longer. A study published in the American College of Cardiology found that laughing increased blood flow by more than 20%. A good laugh is like a mini-workout - 100 to 200 laughs are equivalent to ten minutes of jogging or rowing, according to a US cardiologist, Dr William Fry.  Dr. Fry also states “one way to live longer is to laugh often.”

10.  Get Regular Check-ups - Visiting your doctor regularly will monitor your health and help you stay healthy. Depending on your age and family history a doctor will decide which tests are needed to check your current health status.  Fasting blood work should be a part of your physical exam. Women should also have a breast and pelvic exam and men should undergo a prostate cancer exam. Women over age 40 need a mammogram every one to two years, and middle-aged men and women should have a Colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer. It is also important to visit your dentist regularly because he will watch for signs of gum disease and oral cancer as well as keeping your teeth clean and healthy.

Every day as I step on the treadmill and I think about everything that I put into my mouth, I wonder if this is all worth the trouble!  Then I go to work!  Throughout the day I encounter older adults who have either taken good care of themselves over the years and others who have aged more quickly and have multiple diseases now complicating their quality of life.  I remind myself that I want to be prepared to live a long time and I want to enjoy my older years with hopefully good health.  A great deal is depending on me right now and the choices that I make each day.  I hope you will join me! 

 

8th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 15

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This is such an important topic because older adults become very vulnerable as they age and caregivers often begin to take advantage of the elder by stealing from them, over medicating them, and not providing appropriate care.  This happens most often when families live at a distance and are unable to visit often. 

As a Geriatric Nurse Consultant I receive many calls regarding caregiver problems, but one call this week forced me to write about elder abuse in this blog.  The call came from a gentleman who had been charged with the care of his elderly aunt living at a distance.  He became suspicious about his aunts caregiver when the caregiver took his aunt to an attorney to draw up a new will naming the caregiver as the executor and she also placed her name on his aunt’s financial accounts giving her authority to access all of her funds. 

All of this information would have been reason enough to fire the caregiver, but instead the nephew was able to change everything to not allow the caregiver to have any control over his aunt’s finances, but he did not fire her.  He told me that his aunt had become so dependent on this caregiver that he feared the aunt would revoke his power of attorney over all of her affairs.  

My immediate response to the nephew was to fire this caregiver, but do it very carefully.  This caregiver was well known in this small town and she had the power to turn everyone against the nephew if he was not careful in how he handled letting her go.  I suggested that his aunt would not be safe if he left her anywhere near this caregiver because she had significant control over his aunt day to day.  I suggested that the nephew tell the caregiver that he was going to take his aunt to his home for a few days to visit and she could have a few well deserved days off.  Thank goodness the nephew lived far enough away that he could transition his aunt to live near him in assisted living so he could spend quality time with her and make certain no caregiver would ever take advantage of her again.  

The United Nations General Assembly, designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. It represents the one day in the year when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted to some of our older generations.

Elder abuse is a global social issue which affects the health and human rights of millions of older persons around the world. The global populations of people aged 60 years and older will more than double, from 542 million in 1995 to about 1.2 billion in 2025. 

Around 4 to 6% of elderly people have experienced some form of maltreatment at home. Elder maltreatment can lead to serious physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences. The incidence of abuse towards older people is predicted to increase as many countries are experiencing rapidly ageing populations.

Elder abuse, like domestic violence and child abuse, comes in many forms. It is recognized by experts as a public health crisis for which there are no socio-economic borders. Millions of older Americans are abused, neglected, or exploited each year, with an estimated 84% of cases going unreported. The 8th annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15th provides a great opportunity to shed light on the problem of elder abuse and generate support for your programs and services.  Please make the anonymous call to Adult Protective Services if you suspect any elder abuse. 


Aluminum and Alzheimer’s Disease

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The controversy over aluminum exposure and brain toxicity has not disappeared.  A recent study by the Immunologic Research online, April 2013 suggests that aluminum is linked to neurotoxicity and even dementia.  Aluminum is found in higher concentrations in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients according to the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.  All of this news certainly makes you wonder. 

The connection between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease has been questioned since the early 1970’s when a Canadian researcher published results of his analysis which indicated that Alzheimer’s patients had elevated amounts of aluminum in their brains. Over the year additional research has not always been able to substantiate those findings until recently. 

Consumers easily identify with aluminum products, such as cookware, beverage cans, antiperspirants and antacids. Aluminum is the third most abundant element in the earth’s crust and it is in the air that we breathe and the water we drink.

The Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institutes of Health, as well as numerous other reputable medical sources have issued statements that there is still insufficient evidence to establish any connection between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease.

The aluminum industry is concerned about the seriousness of Alzheimer’s disease and the allegations that aluminum products may somehow be connected to the disease. The industry, through the Aluminum Association, has sponsored research for more than 10 years, both into the causes of Alzheimer’s disease and possible connections between it and aluminum.

While many doctors and leading scientists, as well as Alzheimer’s researchers write about aluminum products being safe and the industry certainly believes that research.  They do continue to look at other possible causes of Alzheimer’s until a cure is found. 

Albert Einstein once said; A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be. 

 

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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