Caregiving Issues...If you are a caregiver you know how important it is to stay fit. You can't provide care for someone if you yourself become ill. You have heard it again and again: "Exercise to stay healthy!" But what if your body just doesn't seem to want to cooperate anymore? You think: "I can't jog, I can't play tennis anymore, I can't stretch the way I used to anymore, why maybe I can't even walk anymore for long distances" or maybe you have never been one to exercise, so why start now???? Statistics prove it is never too late to start exercising; it keeps you in control, helps you burnup calories and energy which helps you sleep better, getting the rest your body needs to function and heal. So stop focusing on the "I can't" and look at what you can do...
A great way to exercise is with chair exercises. These exercises are available on video and audio tapes - so no excuses due to poor vision. A good exercise program includes light stretching, abdominal and lower spine exercises and meditation. It reinforces achieving flexibility in the spine, muscles and body joints along with time for relaxation. Videotapes are available at your local video store - a great way to preview a wide variety before purchasing your own copy. Your local library also carries a wide selection of videos as well as audio tapes; bookstores would be your next stop once ready to purchase.
Two videos I have previewed and would recommend for older adults are "More Alive Fitness Companionship for Mature Adults" (unable to remember the author's name) and "Positive Moves" narrated by Angela Lansbury.
What else can you do for exercise? How about playing Balloon Volleyball with your loved one. This is an excellent exercise to do at any age, young or old (even for adults with dementia). It is also a fun way to get the children and grandchildren involved. You can have fun for hours, just be sure not to over reach or exhaust yourself. Balloons can be found at party stores, grocery stores, or department store such as K-Mart. Get the 11 or 12 inch balloon size - anything bigger will wear out your lungs, anything smaller is awkward to play with. Turn on some fun background music and enjoy! Tossing a beachball back and forth is also good exercise and can be just as fun, again turn on some music to get you going. Do what you can do, start with a light stretch, and end with a light stretch and a minute of breathing and relaxation.
Age is a state of mind, don't let your body age before your mind!!! The cell theory presumes that the cells in our body are programmed to live up to 115 years of age, body and mind - after that death is estimated to occur within 6 months. But with modern technology, who knows? Looking at life from that perspective maybe you're not as old as you thought, so stay fit so you can enjoy the time God has blessed you with!
By Nicole E. Walsh
Long Term Care Issues...Anyone familiar with Long Term Care (Nursing Homes) should also be familiar with the term "CarePlans". What are they? State mandated review sessions evaluating a resident within the first 21 days of arrival. A team made up of Nursing, Dining Services, Social Services, Rehabilitation, and Activities evaluating residents on ADL's (activities of daily living), self care abilities, toileting ability, vision, hearing, comprehension, being able to make self understood and understanding others, ability to walk or use a wheelchair independently, current psychosocial state, when resident is awake, diet needs, etc., etc. When done correctly, it is a very thorough tool used to establish a plan of care for the resident which is in his/her best interest and in line with his/her community &"habits".
Families and residents (if able) are to be invited to these careplans and the resident is openly discussed with everyone's input being considered since nursing may have a different view of the resident than activities, the family, or maybe even the resident himself. It is important for the family to attend careplans which, after the initial meeting (after the first 21 days), are scheduled every 90 days thereafter, unless a significant change has occurred for the better or worse.
How can the family help? Ever hear the expression:" the squeaky wheel gets the grease"? It helps for the directors of the various department to get to know the family members and what they expect from the staff... sometimes family members expectations are unrealistic and it helps for the staff to explain why - so some education also comes about when you have a good careplan team. Some nursing facilities do not take the time to gather the whole team together for family consultations... so there are some variations. I will speak of my experience and the most idealistic careplan meeting. Back to what the family can do, they can help tell staff, especially all disciplines at once, what their loved one was like before becoming a resident. His/her likes and dislikes. Give reminders about vision, hearing, continence, allergies, hobbies, like or dislike of pets and children, favorite TV programs, favorite foods, whether they liked wearing jewelry or never left without their watch, were they late sleepers or early risers, do you think a shower/bath would be preferred in the morning or evening? Also give a short summary of previous occupation, hobbies and accomplishments.
All these factors will be taken into consideration when establishing a plan of care; good medical care is taken for granted but today's resident is viewed not just as a body but also one who needs mental, physical, spiritual and social stimulation - no matter how active or inactive, accommodations must be made to meet the needs of our residents! In light of this one can easily see how vital information from a longtime friend or loved one is!
By Nicole E. Walsh
This is a great way to start if you're doing residential shopping long-distance. The brochure includes a section of Programs &Services for the local area to include numbers such as local Area Agency on Aging offices, Aging and Adult Services, AARP office number, Elder Helpline/information
available, American Cancer Society, Alzheimer's Association, Heart and Lung Associations, Home Health Services, Meals on Wheels numbers, volunteer organizations, transportation services, community centers and available counseling. A worthwhile guide to have even if you live in the local area. Once you are on their mailing list they usually send you an updated copy with each republishing. Good Luck!
By Nicole E. Walsh
Questions & Answers:...... Q.My uncle is 84 and has withdrawn over the past three months. He at times yells out accusing the family of talking about him, plotting against him. I don't think it's dementia because when I talk to him he answers correctly, his long and short term memory seems to be OK. I'm afraid to take him to the doctor, afraid they'd just chalk it up to old age. Do you have any ideas?
A. The first thing that comes to mind, especially due to the recent onset, is hearing loss or a change of medication. Please evaluate them both closely. As authors M.J.Etten & S.V. Saxon state in Physical Change and Aging: "hearing loss is thought by many to be the most devastating handicap of all, frequently resulting in withdrawal from interactions with society and meaningful people such as family and friends. Paranoid ideas and behavior, suspicion, isolation, and loss of contact with reality can occur"
As we age, the ear changes - the hairs in the ear become stiffer and earwax thicker. Many older adults go to their doctors to have their ears cleaned properly on a regular basis which drastically improves their hearing. Hearing loss due to ear-wax buildup does not just occur in later life either. Many time people themselves are not as aware of their hearing loss as their friends or family members might be. Many adults also learn to compensate, watching body language and picking-up what parts of the conversation they can and answering as best they can - which usually works.
Besides earwax build-up however there certainly are also direct changes to the bones of the ear ('ossicles'), the hair, the muscles and the ear membrane. The ossicles can calcify, becoming stiff as joints in one's body might. The hairs in the ear which help transmit sound become stiffer and there is some hair loss. The membrane which vibrates to transmit the sound stiffens making transmission more difficult. The muscles attached to the bones in the ear also loosen their hold to some extent and of course there could always be some loss of nerve cells.
Bet you didn't know the ear was so intricate? It is known for a fact that when hearing loss occurs it is the higher frequencies which are lost first. Many times in a nursing home setting residents will respond better to a male's voice than a female's voice due to a male's voice being lower in tone. That is why when someone doesn't understand you it doesn't help to yell at them (increasing your pitch); the recommendation is to speak clearly, decrease background noise, face the resident, and lower your tone!
Make a long story short, start with the doctor and a hearing test. Have the doctor check for wax build-up (do not do it yourself, you could damage the membrane), then use the technique I've discussed above - if hearing damage is beyond these simple steps, I'd recommend a hearing aid. If the person has dementia, remember that in later stages a person will "get comfortable with themselves", and start taking off anything that is foreign - teeth, hearing aids, shoes, socks, clothing.
Give it some thought and good luck!
By Nicole E. Walsh
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Focus on Women &...Hormone Replacement Therapy. Synthetic Hormone Replacement Therapy is often suggested to women to combat normal age-related decreases in estrogen & progesterone that occur as menopause (the cessation of menstruation) develops. Medical practitioners often suggest that women begin synthetic HRT prior to the onset of menopause in order to forestall or prevent osteoporosis ('brittle bones"), and estimates suggest that one in five post-menopausal women in the United States is on a synthetic HRT regiment. HRT, however, is not without risks, and cannot be uniformly advised for each and every woman. In this article we will take a brief look at the benefits & risks of HRT, keeping in mind that medical decisions are best made individually.
Reported benefits include:
Reported risks include:
Synthetic HRT is not advised for women with (or history of):high blood pressure,diabetes, liver disease, blood clots / varicose veins, seizures, migraine headaches, gall-bladder disease, cancer, mothers who took DES during pregnancy, and / sickle cell disease. Side affects may include: vaginal bleeding, fluid retention (with weight gain and / or breast tenderness), nausea, hair loss, headaches, itching, increased vaginal discharge, corneal changes, and anxiety, irrritability, & depression.
At this point in time, there's still a lot to be learned about the long term benefits & risks of synthetic HRT, which is a little surprising since it's been prescribed to women for the last 40 years or so; then again, research has come a long way since the first estrogen clinical trials (with men!!!) were done. There are also other courses of action such as many alternative medicine options [acupuncture, aromatherapy, biofeedback, Chinese medicine, exercise programs, meditation, & / vegetarianism - to name just a few [check out our Links] which may be beneficial in dealing with age-related menopausal changes. And there is also the alternative to do nothing specific except to include the basics of a wellness program consisting of regular systematic exercise, proper nutrition, and stress management in one's daily life.
Engaging in a synthetic HRT program is always a woman's individual choice....and certainly not the only option available. Be aware & take care. by Louise Mabry
Just Curious:At what age is a woman 'too old' to bear a child? In recent news we've learned of women in their 50's and 60's who've - with the help of medical technology - carried a child to term. The public and private reactions that I've heard seem to emphasize the " how could she at her age" attitude rather than " men can father a child at older ages, why not women?". Yet, generally speaking, when one hears of a man of older years - be that the 60's, 70's, 80's, or older - fathering a child, there seems to be more favorable response? What's going on here, I wonder. Any thoughts?
by Louise Mabry
Midlife Woman - independent, international newsletter providing in-depth information on the challenges and opportunities of menopause and midlife [last visit: 6/97]
North American Menopause Society (NAMS) - - information, advice and more [last visit:6/97]
Power Surge - online network for women in menopause; live chats, active database, & monthly newsletters. [last visit:6/97]
by Louise Mabry
Commentary: Louise:"Nic & I bring diverse backgrounds and perspectives to this site, which is really rather apt, as the most common characterization of aging is that of "heterogeneity" (the increasing differences between people as they age, due to unique combinations of experiences) - as we age, we grow more different from each other. We also share a sense that 'age is a state of mind' and that chronological age is simply a number, no more, no less. Through the site & time we will be relating some of the increasing body of scientific knowledge confirming that aging does not - in and of itself - have a one-to-one positive correlation with disabilities, diminishments, and / or disease - and that more important to the quality of one's life with the passage of time are lifestyle and habits (particularly regular systematic exercise, stress management, and perceived opportunities for being needed and growth).
We'll also be providing information to deal with 'real life' matters that attend to the practicalities of daily living - there is truly a world of information available as to how to handle many situations that arise in mid-life and in older years. The amount of knowledge is growing almost daily, it seems, and this increase in knowledge no doubt reflects the increases in the 'older' percentages and numbers of populations world wide and in America - conservative estimations cite expectations that 1 in 4 persons in the year 2025 or so will be aged 65 or older.....the world is aging, roles are changing, and redefinitions of age-related expectations and functions are emerging.
We hope that our blends of attention to real life aspects, explorations of the realities of aging, and positive attitude will serve as agents for change as well as educational & informational resources."
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