Mission: To educate and improve the experience of aging for mature adults and their caregivers.

Caregiver Blog

Drowsy Driving Spells Danger

Tuck Sleep took on drowsy driving as a part of our larger initiative to increase sleep awareness worldwide. Our aim is to provide the most comprehensive sleep portal available online that covers everything from sleep disorders to sleep product information and we certainly had to cover this topic given the impact it has on society and the lack of quality coverage and information available online.
Some of the key takeaways from the piece include:
  • Young adults ages 18-29 have the highest likelihood of being involved in a drowsy driving accident but everyone is impacted
  • Driving with at least one other friend or occupant in the car dramatically reduces the risks of drowsy driving incidents
Check out the piece here and pay close attention to the drowsy driving prevention tips as well as the driver resources towards the bottom of the piece.

Agnes Green is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She holds two masters degrees in the social sciences from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. She sleeps most soundly after a kettlebell workout in Portland, Oregon.

PO Box 61293 | Seattle, WA 98141-6293

Tuck Sleep Foundation is a non-profit community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. Tuck has been featured on NPR, Lifehacker, Radiolab and is referenced by many colleges/universities and sleep organizations across the web.

Diane’s comment:  Older adults dealing with chronic conditions and taking multiple medications will want to be especially careful. Anyone with sleep apnea will be at risk. Sleep is the state that restores the body so a nap in the afternoons for even 15 minutes helps to reset the brain so it will be more efficient. Driving for long periods of time without stretch breaks is a bad idea for seniors as circulation is affected which impacts the brain and driving decisions.

Knowledge Is Power: Educating Yourself On Healthcare And Diagnosis

Knowledge Is Power: Educating Yourself On Healthcare And Diagnosis

Photo via Pixabay by Devanath

Written by: Patricia Sarmiento.

Educating yourself about your own health and any diagnosis you may receive is imperative these days, when there is so much information available and so many options. There must be some measure of trust between patient and doctor, but doing some research on your own and figuring out what’s right for you doesn’t mean you are undermining your healthcare provider; rather, you are taking the initiative to learn all you can about getting healthy and staying that way.

No two people are the same when it comes to a diagnosis; for instance, some are better equipped to treat a disease or disorder with rigorous exercise, while others may need to take time to let their body heal. Talk to your doctor about what you can do for yourself to speed up the healing process, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Being informed will help you make the right decisions. Some of the questions you may ask include:

  • Is there treatment available? If so, what type?
  • How can I expect my body to react to treatment?
  • Can I perform everyday functions with this diagnosis?
  • Will medication be involved? What are the side effects?
  • Will this require surgery?
  • What can I do to ensure recovery or to make myself comfortable?

Because there are many different treatment courses depending on a diagnosis, it’s important to become familiar with the ones your doctor recommends and learn all you can about them. Medication, therapy, surgery, or invasive treatment are just a few of the methods, and some of these may be combined. Find out what the side effects are and what sort of changes you can expect to see in your body, emotions, and daily activities; for instance, will it affect your sleeping or eating habits? Your ability to drive a car by yourself? If you will need surgery, how long is recovery time? Write down a list of questions and have them ready for your doctor so you’ll be prepared for a conversation at your next visit.

Many doctors have come to appreciate when a patient researches an illness or diagnosis online, but be careful; not all websites have accurate information.

“Whereas GPs (general practitioners) might have been sceptical in the past, many are increasingly using this as a way of opening up the discussion and engaging patients, which can lead to a more productive consultation for both patient and GP. It is very encouraging to see patients taking an interest in their health and the internet can be a useful means of finding out more about health concerns. It would be wrong to disregard the efforts patients are making to do this, but GPs will also advise caution because there are a lot of dubious sites providing information that is not based on evidence, which can be quite misleading when taken out of context,” says Professor Roger Jones.

Practicing self-care is necessary after any diagnosis. This includes getting enough rest, eating well, exercising every day, managing stress, learning healthy ways to cope with your diagnosis, and finding ways to stay in a positive mind frame.

 

Patricia Sarmiento loves swimming and running. She channels her love of fitness and wellness into blogging about health and health-related topics. She played sports in high school and college and continues to make living an active lifestyle a goal for her and her family. She lives with her husband, two children, and their shih tzu in Maryland.

 

Managing Chronic Disease for a Better Life!

Image result for healthy older adultsExperiencing A Higher Quality of Life Will Require Managing Chronic Conditions

How long do you want to live? Many people are living to 100 years old. What are the characteristics of those individuals who live longer?

1. They are often creative individuals who stay engaged in their craft and their life.
2. They are not loners; they stay socially connected and active.
3. They handle stress differently and are less likely to let every day stress affect them.
4. Research shows that the older you are, the healthier you have been.

Four out of 5 older persons have at least one chronic disease. One in three have physical limitations. This can increase pressure on families where individuals are still working and are raising children and have to manage care for ailing elder parents. Multiple chronic diseases create a financial burden too in paying for medical care.

Dr. Kenneth Cooper of the Cooper Institute advises patients to delay disability by:
• Exercising
• Not smoking
• Eating good nutrition

According to Dr. Cooper, this can delay disability by 10 years and reduce the financial cost of healthcare for multiple chronic illnesses.

Pain and chronic illness is often under treated and has an impact on overall mobility as well as psychological implications. Fear of addiction is one of the reasons individuals are often under treated for pain. Medical professionals will ask on a scale of 1-10 what the level of pain the patient is experiencing. With a terminal illness, pain is never an addiction. It must be managed.

Polypharmacy is a term relating to taking multiple medications. Any time 5 or more medications are prescribed, side effects are expected. They may appear as visual, cognitive or dexterity changes. Doctors will often prescribe more medications to cover the effects of side effects. Older adults do not process medications the way they once did when they were younger. As a result, dosages should start low and work up while monitoring the effects of the medication. Be sure to keep a record of any changes you notice and report back to the doctor. Everyone is not the same and react to medications differently.

Even health supplements can have an impact so be sure to report everything you are taking to the doctor. Research all your medications so you will know how they are to be taken and what the impacts may be. You cannot count on your doctor to educate you. If you are seeing many different doctors, make sure they are aware of all the medications you are taking. If you are concerned about interactions, take a list of your drugs to the pharmacist and ask them to tell you if there are any duplications or drugs that could be taken off the list. Vitamin D can interact with heart medications causing reduced ability to process the medications.

Image result for healthy older adultsHeart disease is the number one cause of death. From 65-74, 29% will die of the disease. After 85, it jumps to 39%. Hypertension and high blood pressure are the leading cause of heart problems. Blood pressure from 120/80 to 140/90 is considered pre-hypertensive. To decrease your odds of a heart attack:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Eat with less salt
  3. Get more exercise
  4. Take medications to control symptoms

Angina is chest pain that changes in pattern when not getting enough blood. Unstable angina is a heart attack waiting to happen. Symptoms include new angina, a change in the normal pattern; or pain at rest. In a heart attack, a piece of the heart muscle dies. It requires immediate medical attention. Those individuals who are seen within an hour of having an attack are often able to survive. Men often experience crushing pain in the chest, heaviness, profuse sweating, shortness of breath, nausea, weakness and loss of consciousness. Women experience breathlessness, unexplained fatigue and anxiety. Women often mistake their heart symptoms as indigestion and are more likely not to be taken seriously. Consequently, women die more often from their heart attacks. Treatment may consist of angioplasty, coronary by-pass surgery and drugs to dissolve the clots. Your doctor will advise a change of lifestyle to reduce chances of another heart attack.

The second leading cause of death is Cancer. Early detection is important. Prostate is the number one cancer among men. Support and information are important in treatment. Many cancers today are considered a chronic disease. Proper monitoring help to keep it under control with treatment. Lung cancer is critical and can affect all organs of the body. It is critical that individuals with lung cancer not break the connection with other people. They may feel isolated and not feel like getting out.

Those with vascular issues may suffer a stroke which results in lack of oxygen in the brain causing the tissue to die. A TIA is caused by a reduction of blood supply to the tissue. Anyone experiencing a TIA should be seen by a doctor because a stroke is eminent. Stroke is the 3rd leading cause of death. The conditions causing stroke can be modified: heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol. Smoking is particularly hard on brain arteries. If you are experiencing weakness on one side of the body, trouble seeing, walking or speaking, call 911. Treatment involves medications and rehabilitation depending on what part of the brain is affected. It can affect muscle weakness, pain and sensory responses, speaking ability, thinking, memory and emotional responses.
Diabetes results because the body has fewer insulin receptors. In Type I diabetes, individuals are dependent on taking insulin. In Type II diabetes, insulin is not operating as effectively and lifestyle changes are needed to reverse the situation. Individuals are advised to lose weight, control glucose levels through the foods they choose; exercise daily, and take medications that support their health. Some complications that occur with diabetes are heart attacks, strokes, disabling vision changes, kidney failure, poor healing (amputations result), neuropathy and chronic pain. Anyone with diabetes needs to pay close attention to their feet as neuropathy will cause them to not know when they have injured their feet and they are at increased risk for falls.

Arthritis causes inflammation of joints and is most frequently experienced by women. People with arthritis are also likely to experience lupus and gout. Rheumatoid arthritis leaves joints severely misshapen and painful. Osteoarthritis results from wear and tear on the cartilage. Treatment involves aspirin or Tylenol; maintaining joint mobility; weight loss and muscle strengthening and exercise. Gentle exercise is most effective and less likely to aggravate pain levels. Osteoporosis is a disease of the structure of the bone and is referred to as “the silent thief” because the bone becomes porous and breaks more easily causing hip fractures and more. Osteopenia is the precursor to Osteoporosis. Treatment involves taking increased doses of Vitamin D, calcium, participation in weight bearing exercise and avoiding smoking and alcohol.

To learn more about living healthy longer, read Live Long, Die Short by Roger Landry, MD. With 10,000 Boomers turning 65 every day for the next 15 years, we all bear a responsibility to make sure we do our part in taking care of ourselves and not being a burden on the healthcare system and our families. There are fewer people available to take care of individuals who need a lot of care than there were at the beginning of the 1900s. More people are working and fewer care workers are available. This will result in a lower quality of care for many individuals.

Heart Healthy Resources

Caring for Parents TogetherHeart Healthy Resources To Improve Heart Health

Our hearts are precious vessels and in order to protect our heart health, we must take care of our overall wellness by nourishing our bodies, getting plenty of rest each night, and steering clear of harmful substances.


We’re on a mission to remind people everywhere how vital — and easy! — it is to keep our hearts in tiptop shape by making smart lifestyle choices. Will you help us by sharing the resources that follow with your site visitors?



Submitted by:
Patricia Sarmiento


sarmiento@publichealthcorps.org | publichealthcorps.org
340 S. Lemon Ave. #5780 | Walnut, CA | 91789

Homebound Services Offered by the St. Louis Library

In home caregiverHomebound Services Offered by the St. Louis Library

The St. Louis Library offers many programs available to homebound seniors. If a person is unable to visit the library due to illness, age or disability or other extenuating circumstances, the library will mail materials. They might include the latest fiction, classics or cookbooks, music, movies and more. This service is also available to the caregivers of someone who is homebound. The items will arrive in a zippered bag with a label for returning materials to the library when finished.

The Homebound Service staff will call and discuss what interests you. You may choose your material or have them selected by the staff. Items must be returned after 4 weeks. There are no overdue fines for Homebound Service users.

To sign up, call the Outreach Dept. at 314-994-3300, ext. 2333 or fill out an online request form at www.slcl.org/outreach/homebound_service. You will receive an application to confirm eligibility. You will need a library card. If you don’t have a library card, the Outreach Dept. staff will be happy to assist you in obtaining one.

 

Other Services Offered to Seniors at the St. Louis Library System.

Book A Librarian – This program allows a senior to bring in their laptop or ipad and in a 30-60 session, the librarian will show them how to download e-media in the library. If the person is in a senior living facility, they can contact their Activities Coordinator to arrange a session. Otherwise, call 314-991-3300, ext 2050 to set an appointment.

Book Discussion Kit – For residents in a senior living community, the library will send book discussion kits to their facility. Each kit will contain books on CD, and large print books. Call Outreach at 314-994-3300, ext. 2333 for more information.

Bookmobile Service – Bookmobiles will visit senior living facilities. To schedule a visit, email at outreach@slcl.org or call 314-994-3300, ext. 2333.

Special Programs – A Senior Programming Specialist presents programs for resident of nursing facilities, independent and assisted living centers, adult day centers and other qualified organizations. They are designed to stimulate social interaction based on life experiences using audio, tactile and video materials. To schedule a visit from a Senior Programming Specialist, call 314-994-3300, ext. 2335.

Call the Outreach Department staff to learn more about senior programming.

Excessive Heat Symptoms with Metro Area Cooling Sites

Caring for Parents TogetherMETRO AREA COOLING SITES FOR PERSONS SUFFERING FROM EXCESSIVE HEAT

According to WebMD, persons whose core temperature has reached  104-106 degrees and are exhibiting the following symptoms should seek immediate medical attention:
  • red or flushed skin with no sweating
  • rapid pulse
  • slow or weakened heartbeat
  • difficulty breathing
  • strange behavior
  • hallucinations
  • confusion
  • agitation
  • seizures
  • disorientation
  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • headache
  • excessive thirst
  • muscle cramps and aches
  • fainting
  • convulsions

If the person does not get better immediately after getting into a cooler location, seek medical care ASAP. Heat Exhaustion is to be taken seriously as it can be fatal!

Click on the link below to see the 2016 cooling sites in the St. Louis Metro area (includes Illinois and Missouri):

2016-Cooling-Locations

The Most Important Quality in a Caregiver

In home caregiverWhat is the Most Important Quality in a Caregiver?

If you are a caregiver of an aging parent, the most important quality you can have is the ability to be observant. As a caregiver you observe subtle changes in condition, unmet needs and unexpressed wishes so that you can make changes to ensure a greater quality of life for the person for whom you are caring. Some caregivers will come and sit with their charge watching TV and getting meals. Others will anticipate activities that will stimulate memories, enhance brain function and keep the body active so that they are able to maintain their charges mental and physical well-being. That can only happen when the caregiver is observing and being proactive about the person’s needs. When they are observant, they can see changes in behavior or condition that may initiate a visit to the doctor and allows them to provide a verbal dialogue about changes they have seen.

Activities to Enhance Body and Spirit

What are some of the activities that enhance body and spirit? Enjoy nature together in a park or preserve even if it is only sitting on a bench watching squirrels, birds and other animals. Play board games or think of words starting with a particular letter; read the paper or a joke book. Review photo albums from earlier in the person’s life and ask them to tell you what it was like growing up at that time. Write a memoir for the person telling stories that they want to share about their life. Take a video of them telling a story. Sing songs or play music that they like. Dance or have them show you a dance that they did when they were younger. Do a project together like bake cookies or craft a poster with pictures taken from magazines about an ideal vacation. Then have them talk about their favorite vacation. Ask the person what they like to do. Plan to visit sites of interest in the town in which you live. Find out where free concerts are being given. Put together a picnic. These are just a few ideas of ways to increase reasons for enjoying life.

An older adult may require more down time so you will have to tailor activities to their abilities and energy levels. Listening, showing interest in what they have to say, and demonstrating they mean something to you will enhance your relationship, validating them and their purpose for being here. Encourage them to do as much as they can by themselves. Offer choices between several options so that they feel that they have some power over their own life. Ask for their preferences and opinions as often as possible.

Being observant and proactive will forge a trust and build a relationship that will more than pay back your efforts.

WHEN YOUR PARENTS WON’T COOPERATE/6 Reasons They Resist

WHEN YOUR PARENTS WON’T COOPERATE/ 6 Reasons They Resist

Many people around me are dealing with caring for parents. They express frustration when parents won’t move into a facility or follow their recommendations when it is obvious they need oversight and assistance. If you are a caregiver for aging parents, you may be facing these same frustrations.

Let me provide you with some insight into the issues many older adults are facing:

  • Ill health – When they are not feeling well, the thought of having to move or sort through a lifetime of belongings is overwhelming. It may be difficult for them to meet new people and get established in a new neighborhood. They are facing many losses of friends, social status, financial status and personal identity. They may not feel like they are of value to society.
  • Lifetime accumulation of memories and possessions – Older adults fear losing their memories. When they move to a senior housing apartment, they are downsizing. This means they have to determine what is most important to them and leave the rest. Many are afraid that as they let go of possessions, they are letting go of the experiences or relationships that those possessions represented.
  • Unfamiliar with the new housing options – This generation grew up when nursing homes were the last step before death. They are unaware of the many options open today in senior housing that assist older adults in continuing to live a higher quality of life in a protected, supportive environment.
  • Emotional Transition – A move to a senior facility usually happens when they are feeling the most vulnerable. Will their friends and family find them in their new digs? Will they visit? Does this mean they are losing their ability to direct their own life? Is this the end of the road for them? Will they make new friends?
  • Selling a Home –Older adults prefer to stay in their own home. However, depending on their health and the amount of care they require, it may become financially unsustainable to keep them at home. When they sell a home they have lived in for years, it is traumatic. They are daunted by having to de-clutter and prepare a home for sale. It contains the footprints of their life and is where children were raised. They are established in the neighborhood. Locate a realtor who specializes in working with seniors. They may be able to assist in fixing up the place so they can get a better price. This is important to your parents’ retirement and represents a lifetime investment for them.
  • Loss of autonomy – This is usually the time when the child becomes the parent to their parents. It is a new role for both and is especially difficult for the older adult who is losing their ability to direct their own life.

 

IMPORTANT TIPS:

  • Plan to move slowly.
  • Provide different options for them to choose.
  • Try out the food and ask your parents what type of environment they would feel most comfortable living in.
  • What area would they prefer to be located? Where would it be convenient for their family and friends to visit?
  • What types of services are offered? Is transportation available? What type of health services and therapy are offered?
  • Is there a resident group for resolving issues with staff and management?
  • What assistance can you get to make the move as pain-free as possible for them? Some facilities offer moving assistance or suggest professionals who specialize in moving seniors.

Keep asking questions until you are satisfied.

Contact the local senior housing advocacy group: VOYCE or the Long Term Care Advocacy Association. They have volunteers to provide advocacy with management when issues cannot be resolved alone. Visit their website in St. Louis at www.voycestl.org.

Senior Hunger Has Major Impacts

Caring for Parents TogetherFood Insecurity Has Major Impacts on Older Adults

According to the Missouri Foundation for Health, food insecurity more than doubled between 2001 and 2011. With individuals living longer than ever before, those who had low income had to make choices between eating and medications. The Area Agencies on Aging also concur that older adults often have to make difficult choices between eating, medications, healthcare and incontinent supplies. Those who were low income all their lives suffer the most during their later years. Women also are more likely to experience food insecurity as well as blacks and hispanics. Sometimes, although seniors had enough money, they lacked transportation, had health problems and a lack of physical mobility which prevented them from having access to a good food supply.

This can result in seniors having a lower nutritional intake. In addition, many seniors are eating alone and may no longer be cooking so they piecemeal their eating and end up not eating enough to provide the nutrients they need to stay healthy. The result?  Food insecure older adults face higher depression (60% more likely); are most likely to experience asthma (52%); heart attack (53% more likely) and congestive heart failure (40%). Also, seniors who are food insecure are 22 % more likely to be unable to perform activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and eating which results in earlier nursing home placement.

caring for parents togetherIf they are a disabled older adult, they are even more likely to be food insecure because of the high costs of care and healthcare associated with being disabled. Many times someone in the family stays out of the workforce in order to care for them increasing the economic impact. Food insecurity affects one third of households with an adult who is out of the workforce due to disability. A quarter of households with someone disabled and someone who is working still suffer from food insecurity.

Veterans also feel the impact of food insecurity, especially those who served during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. They have double the national average rates of food insecurity.

Programs to help address this problem include Food Stamps through SNAP, Meals on Wheels, and local food pantries. Many faith based programs serve meals as well like St. Patrick’s, Sunshine Missions and more. A senior who is living at home alone may need someone to help them with grocery shopping, meal preparation, socialization with family and friends and maintaining their faith. Some grocery stores and drug stores will deliver for a small fee. Many drugs can be delivered by mail order. This is helpful for older adults who are homebound. A senior with someone who comes in on a regular basis is more likely to get their needs met because caregivers will recognize what they need to maintain a quality of life and see that they get it. They advocate on behalf of the senior to let the family know what they are needing.

***This article based on the Health Equity Series: Food Insecurity – December 2015 by the Missouri Foundation for Health.

Government Resources for the 60 Plus

Great Resource for all Government Resources to Help Seniors Who Are 60 Plus.

http://www.aging.senate.gov/resources

This listing of resources addresses fraud, jobs, home health and nursing home ratings, retirement planning and much more. Check it out!

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READ Live Long, Die Short by Roger Landry, MD