Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Beyond Caregiving: Moving Through Grief to Gratitude

Beautiful old lady leaning on husbands shoulder in griefWhen a loved one dies, caregivers not only have to adjust to the loss of the person, but they also have to adjust to a life that is no longer centered on providing care. People sometimes have difficulty moving on because they feel like they have lost their purpose and identity. 

The grief process for caregivers is complicated, and it’s important to understand that each person’s journey through it is unique. No two people will ever have exactly the same experience. 

However, there are a few things that are true for every single person who loses someone they love: 

1.    There is no Richter Scale for grief. When someone you love dies, it doesn’t matter whether...Click to Read More

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Seniors & Afib: What Caregivers Should Know

Heart With Heart RhythmFor most people, a heartbeat happens without much thought. In fact, on average, your heart beats about 100,000 times per day. When everything is working properly, these beats go unnoticed; however, when an elderly person has an irregular heartbeat, he or she should certainly take note. This condition, atrial fibrillation, can lead to serious consequences. With this in mind, it is important to understand the symptoms and risks of afib. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, atrial fibrillation, also known as Afib or “heart flutters,” happens when a person's heartbeat is irregular and fast. Typically, the four chambers of the heart work in unison. An electrical signal will tell your heart when to pump blood and how much to pump at any given time. When these electrical impulses are irregular, then you will have an irregular...Click to Read More

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Dementia & Caregivers: Tips for Fighting Frustration & Helping Your Loved One

Giving HelpThe effects of mental illness can often be just as bad, if not worse than their physical counterparts, especially for the elderly and their respective caretakers. Whereas a bodily injury can render an individual incapable of performing everyday tasks, and thus make them increasingly more dependent on their loved ones, that person has a conscious awareness of their surroundings and can effectively communicate their needs.

For example, if he or she is experiencing pain or needs to use the restroom,telling a relative what they want is easy enough. On the other hand, disorders that affect the mind and thought processes -- such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, greatly complicate matters and make managing day-to-day living nearly impossible at times.

Dealing with Dementia In...Click to Read More

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Cholesterol Concerns and the Elderly

Clogged ArteryCholesterol is a concern for everyone, but for elderly adults, it needs to be a top priority. For folks from this age group, there are specific concerns that loved ones caring for them need to have on their radar. Regular monitoring for high cholesterol, understanding cholesterol ratios, and ultimately, treatment of the condition, all play a part in keeping your loved one as healthy as possible. 

If you think that cholesterol is only an issue for older men... think again. According to the American Heart Association, the number one killer of women in the United States is coronary heart disease, and many of these women have heart attacks later in life. This is in part due to changes in cholesterol after menopause. 

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Friday, August 29th, 2014

Building Caregiver Resilience: Physical Strategies

Instructor Taking Exercise Class At GymThough meaningful, caregiving is stressful and lasts an average of 4.6 years, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving. Caregivers who are looking after loved ones with an advanced disorder and providing them with round-the-clock home care, have a "daily grind" that can wear them down emotionally and physically. Despite the best of intentions, it takes a toll on caregivers’ health. 

Steven constantly runs from busy workdays, to high school ball games, to frequent visits with his aging parents; he hasn’t gone jogging in six months, and his weight and waistline show it.

Alice hasn’t had a full night’s sleep since her husband’s cancer surgery last month; trying to ease his discomfort and pain has left her exhausted.

Seven years of caring for her severely disabled parents has taken a toll on Nancy; she relies...Click to Read More

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Caregiver Support: How to Ask For It. How to Give It. Where to Find It.

caregiver supportWhen I finished writing my book, “Letters from Madelyn, Chronicles of a Caregiver” in 2006, I found a great agent, but she couldn’t find a publisher.  Everyone she talked to said, “Caregiving is depressing. People won’t buy a book on that topic.” 

I didn’t think they were right, so I self-published.  When the books were delivered and we stacked the cartons from floor to ceiling in our basement storage room, I realized I had better find a lot of people who were interested in caregiving, otherwise I might end up having a really big bonfire. As it turns out, there are 65.7 million caregivers in the U.S., which means that nearly one-third of all adults in this country are caring for someone who is ill, disabled or aged.* 

Over the course of the last seven years, I have had the...Click to Read More

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Celebrate National Senior Citizens Day

Asian FamilyWhen Tom Brokaw published a book in 1998 titled “The Greatest Generation,” he was referring to the population who grew up during the Great Depression, who went on to become the parents of Baby Boomers and the Grandparents of Millennials.  Brokaw coined this term for a reason; having survived the deprivation of the Great Depression, the battles of World War II and then returned home to help build America’s economy, there’s no denying that this generation certainly was great. 

And on August 21, we will honor them on National Senior Citizens Day.  

The Birth of National Senior Citizens Day

National Senior Citizens Day dates back to 1988 when President Ronald Reagan put forth a Presidential proclamation to set aside August 21 to recognize the contributions of older Americans to their country and communities.  In his proclamation,...Click to Read More

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

The Facts About Spinal Muscular Atrophy in Seniors

spinal muscular dystrophyFor many, spinal muscular atrophy beings in early childhood or even at birth; however, there are forms of the disease that begin in early to middle adulthood. The age of onset can play an important role when it comes to the severity of the disease, but regardless of when an older adult first sees symptoms, added care will be necessary in his or her later years. 

According to the National Institutes of Health Genetics Reference page, spinal muscular atrophy, also known as SMA or muscular dystrophy, is a genetic condition that affects the muscles and causes weakness and atrophy. This means that the size and mass of the patient's muscles is reduced. This leads to loss of control over certain muscle groups which in turn leads to loss of control over walking, swallowing, breathing,...Click to Read More

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

5 Items to Make a Bathroom Safe for Seniors

Adjustable Height Toilet SeatWhile no room in your home should lack protection from slips and falls (the leading cause of injury in the elderly), bathrooms understandably present a much greater risk for these types of accidents. Wet floors, tub bases, and shower stalls are akin to danger, which is why taking the proper preventative measure is essential for a safe living environment.

The market for bathroom safety products has grown immensely in the past decade, and this is perhaps in no small way a response to the startling statistics concerning senior in-home accidents. You can get everything you need to safety-proof your bathroom on the cheap, but of course no investment is too small when it comes to safeguarding the interests of your loved ones and yourself!

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Thursday, August 7th, 2014

When is the Right Time to Discuss Living Wills and Advance Directives?

living wills

If a loved one is in poor or failing health, discussions concerning their final wishes can often be uncomfortable for loved ones. However, it is very important that these wishes are carried with respect to the person’s desires.

The subject of living wills and advance directives can be a sensitive one for many families, and rightfully so. Advance directives are explicit written instructions that detail a person’s medical care preferences if they are no longer able to speak for themselves. These directives are prepared in advance of a major health event to ensure a person’s wishes are carried out.

By contrast to an advance directive, the concept of a living will concerns an individual’s ultimate decision when it comes to matters of their final care. It is a written, legal document that discusses what...Click to Read More