Mission Impossible—The Fight to Stop Aging

Today, I saw a movie trailer for the new Mission Impossible movie starring Tom Cruise. The publicity agents have been toting the fact that Cruise did his own stunts—some of them are quite jaw-dropping and spectacular. He is obviously in excellent physical condition for a man over 50—53 to be exact. 

Even though Hollywood actors and models may be able to disguise their age with botox, hair color—or Photoshop—be assured, the passage of time effects them as well.

Normal physical changes that occur with age are inevitable. Despite diet, exercise, and mega-dose vitamins, an aging human body will experience a progressive physical decline. These changes become more noticeable and evident with each decade. [Read more…]

Women more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s

It is a well-known fact that a woman’s life expectancy is longer than a male’s but evidence points to the fact that a longer life may not necessary mean a better quality of life for a female—especially when it comes to cognition and memory.

At the recent Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington, research was presented that women tend to run a higher risk than men of developing Alzheimer’s disease and once that happens, deterioration comes at a faster rate.

To read more about the findings presented at the Alzheimer Conference, and a woman’s risk, check out this article

Fran and Caregiver Stress Syndrome

accidental caregiver book coverMy father-in-law, Fran, was my mother-in-law’s caregiver for eight long years. Julie suffered from MS and was bedridden the last eight years of her life. Fran suffered from macular degeneration but was in overall good health for a man in his late seventies. But those years of care and stress did a job on his health and sadly, he passed away from a cardiac event five weeks before Julie died.

Despite the revolving door of caregivers who assisted them, Fran was determined to provide Julie with the bulk of her care. Even though his vision was limited, he still woke at 6:00AM every day to make Julie’s breakfast. Her first caregiver for the day would arrive at 7:00AM—ready to assist Fran as he helped Julia with her bathing and dressing routine.

According to him, he was the only one who knew how Julie liked her toast, the location of her plate on the bed tray, and the comfortable and supportive position of pillows and blankets. After 57 years of marriage, Julie trusted only her husband with her care—and Fran didn’t trust anyone else to help his wife.

Often, the sidelined caregivers—both professional and family members—would watch with a triple combination of awe, admiration and exasperation as Fran fussed over Julie’s care needs. As time passed the family sadly witnessed the inevitable consequence: Julie’s health issues began to impact Fran’s health and anxiety levels. [Read more…]

Does your loved one need supportive care?

Often our loved ones try to mask the need for help, and will not reveal that they need assistance with daily activities. Certainly many seniors are fearful that their independence will be jeopardized if they admit that they can’t perform their routine activities. Limitations may be evident with someone with a physical disability but for someone with a memory disorder or cognitive decline, limitations may not be that noticeable. The following Independent Living Test can help you determine if your loved one is having difficulty performing daily activities:

 Daily Habits

  • Do you notice a lack of personal hygiene? Is your normally well-dressed loved one wearing the same clothes day-in and day-out? Make-up or hair in disarray? Are clothes appropriate for the season?  
  • Toileting problems are embarrassing, so frequently you need to be a detective to determine if this is an issue. Soiled and hidden undergarments, a wet chair, or a noticeable odor can indicate toileting difficulties. Urgent and frequent trips to the bathroom can indicate a health concern that needs to be addressed.  
  • Look closely at the housekeeping. Is unusual clutter or hording evident?  
  • Are pets being ignored?  
  • Is excessive alcohol usage evident? Empty bottles littering the table or garbage can?

[Read more…]

Can We Afford Eldercare? How Family Can Influence the Discussion—and Decision

Money issues are always of paramount concern when an eldercare discussion begins. The presumed cost of eldercare can frequently frighten a family from any type of action—even when action is necessary for the safety and well-being of their aging loved one. In addition, poor communication, rumor and assumptions, and a generalized lack of eldercare knowledge frequently undermines the process—well before an effective eldercare solution can be formulated. Add in a heavy dose of family conflict, and solutions can be stalled, fought over, or avoided. Avoidance of the topic can prove to be even more costly, as delays in quality care often compromise the safety and well-being of the senior.

The topics of money and the cost of eldercare need to be addressed—and often the discussion starts around the parent’s kitchen table. However, a generalized uneasiness is often present when an adult child is forced to discuss money issues with a parent. Children, regardless of age, are often not privy to their parent’s financial balance sheet. Parents frequently do not share their income or financial portfolio with their adult children, so assumptions are often made that may not be accurate. Mom and Dad could have lived a modest life and now have substantial savings and a comfortable retirement income; whereas, a more extravagant couple could have spent every penny they earned. [Read more…]