Tag Archives: elderly

Being less active during pandemic may have health consequences

The pandemic’s impact on health goes beyond those who contracted the coronavirus. Even those who managed to avoid the infection may have suffered consequences to their health, and in an area that many take for granted.

In December, I fell while walking my dog. I slipped going down a moderate slope in the park and landed straight on my rump. The fall knocked the wind out of me for a minute, but I was fortunate not to break or sprain anything. My back was very sore and remained so for about a week. I treated it using over-the-counter pain medication and homeopathic balms. My mobility was limited and I was forced to slow down and take it easy, but fortunately I fully recovered and don’t have any lingering issues.

I’m in my late 40s and in decent health. This was a minor fall, but it reminds me that as I get older, recovery from such incidents takes longer. We often take our mobility for granted, but the pandemic may have a lingering impact on our physical conditioning, making us more prone to falls. Studies suggest that some older adults have experienced a decrease in mobility during the pandemic, The New York Times reported.

Those who now work from home full-time may be moving less than when they went into the office, even if they drove to work. Pandemic restrictions may have shut parks, gyms, malls, and other outlets that older people used to exercise. Depression and anxiety can dampen the desire to exercise. Those who did contract COVID-19 may have battled lingering symptoms that made exercise difficult. And those who received benefits from physical and occupational therapy may have not been able to receive those services during the pandemic.

What geriatric health experts are concerned about is that decreased activity levels may result in worse physical functioning, which is key to older adults’ ability to live independently. A fall can lead to a lengthy recovery and trigger a fear of falling again, creating a vicious cycle with significant health consequences. The good news is that we can engage in simple activities that will help us reverse the impacts of our sedentary lifestyle and regain our mobility. Walking, yoga, and tai chi are all great ways to get moving and improve physical functioning.

Take inventory of your mobility and your elder loved ones and make an action plan if you desire to increase your mobility. Taking small steps now can make all the difference in keeping ourselves and our elder loved ones living independently.

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Nursing home evictions: Understanding your rights

As difficult as it can be to find a good nursing home and secure space for your loved one, the challenge doesn’t end there. Dementia caregivers in particular must be aware and be prepared to take action if the nursing home tries to evict your loved one.

So many people are not aware of the amount of nursing home evictions that take place each year in the US and the chaos and stress it causes families. I experienced a form of this when the skilled nursing facility where my father was placed after being discharged by the hospital said it could no longer care for him because they didn’t have staff that could provide dementia care. My father was not able to return home because he could no longer walk and my parents’ condo had stairs. My father was stranded and eventually was placed over an hour-and-a-half away from my parents’ home in the closest facility with a memory care wing.

In some cases, residents are evicted with very little notice and without a legal reason. ‘I Want to Go Home’ published in The Progressive Magazine offers firsthand accounts of how nursing home evictions can throw families into chaos. One way to protect your loved ones is to be aware of the possibility of eviction and an action plan to implement if it occurs.

I hope this is an issue your loved one never has to face but Justice in Aging offers good resources to learn more.

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George Romero’s ‘The Amusement Park’ an unsettling, revealing look at ageism

A “lost” film from the late, great horror film director George Romero was released this month and has people talking about its contributions to ageism and how society treats its elders.

Romero is perhaps best known for the zombie classic, “Night of the Living Dead.” In the early 1970s he was commissioned by the Lutheran Society to create a PSA of sorts that would deal with ageism and society’s poor treatment of older people. The organization was displeased with Romero’s surreal yet gritty take on the subject matter, so the film was shelved until recently, where it is now streaming on Shudder.

I found the film to offer a more accurate take on what it feels like to grow old in this country than one might think at first glance. The film follows the main character as he navigates his way through a bureaucratic nightmare of an amusement park, where elders find themselves charged exorbitant prices, banned from certain rides and harassed as nuisances. There is a speech by the main character at the beginning of the film that offers this ominous line: “Remember as you watch the film, one day you will be old.”

It’s sad to say that in the decades since this film was made, we haven’t progressed that far in the way we care for our elder population. The release of this film now as we grapple with the fallout from the pandemic only reinforces the importance of elder care and how it reflects upon a society.

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Two new movies take fresh spin on eldercare, Alzheimer’s

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geralt/pixabay

I’m always on the lookout for films dealing with caregiving issues, Alzheimer’s and other dementias, as well as those that offer an honest look at growing older. I came across two interesting movies this week that I want to pass along to kick off your weekend. The first is Senior Love Triangle and the second one is Ice Cream in the Cupboard.

These films offer a unique perspective and won’t be to everyone’s liking. For those who prefer to keep their movies more in the PG range with no profanity, you may want to take a pass.  I found both films to be moving and thought-provoking, offering a raw yet empathetic look at the challenges that aging can present. More films are tackling topics such as aging, dementia, and family caregiving and I wholeheartedly support this trend.

Senior Love Triangle is based upon a photo book by Isadora Kosofsky. The story and moving images follow an 84-year-old man who is attempting to balance his relationships with 81-year-old Jeanie and 90-year-old Adina, with nursing homes serving as the backdrop. Dementia, other mental illness and how vulnerable seniors are preyed upon also are part of the storyline. Adult children often have a hard time with their elder loved ones finding romance in the care center environment, but this movie shows how important such affection and human connection is to older people.

Ice Cream in the Cupboard is about a middle-aged couple whose lives change forever after the wife is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in her mid-fifties. The movie is based upon a true story. I appreciated how realistically the film depicted the challenges in dementia caregiving. It never shied away from the more brutal, violent aspects and never sugarcoated what Alzheimer’s caregivers may face on their journeys. However, there is also much love and devotion on display.

Both of these movies are available on video on demand. If you’ve seen these films, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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Caregiver shortage expected to grow, must address issue now

 

Hope everyone had a good holiday and that your new year is off to a good start.

The fact that there is a caregiver shortage is not new; however  a Quartz article posted this week has put the issue back on the national radar. The article cites the slowing population growth, along with increased longevity and a decrease in immigration among the issues that will potentially trigger a caregiving crisis. By 2030, that shortage may grow to more than 100,000 caregivers for the elderly, according to Quartz.

Here are some ways we could address this major healthcare issue:

  • Pay caregivers a livable wage: In order to recruit new generations into a caregiving career, we’re going to have to revamp the woefully inadequate pay scale. Professional caregivers deserve to have decent pay, benefits, and access to training and educational opportunities to grow in their fields. Caregiving should no longer be a job of last resort; it should be a career choice one takes pride in.
  • Immigration policies: We need a fair immigration policy that offers those interested in becoming U.S. citizens an opportunity for a stable career in a field with severe shortages. Too often, immigrants who become caregivers, especially those with questionable legal status, are taken advantage of and paid below minimum wage without benefits.
  • Offer incentives: Just like with geriatric or rural medicine, caregiving is not a “sexy” career choice. Certainly it can be rewarding, but in order to fill the large care gap we may need to get innovative. I’m a fan of the Care Corps concept, and a student loan forgiveness program in exchange for serving as a caregiver could attract candidates.
  • Offer better support for family caregivers: Realistically, the bulk of caregiving duties will likely continue to fall on family members. We need to support them better, by employers offering flexible work schedules and the government embracing universal family care. A tax credit would help some with the financial hit family caregivers suffer.

There is no easy fix, but we definitely need to keep pushing this topic into the general conversation and advocate for common-sense actions and programs to alleviate the caregiving shortage and burden on family members.

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Looting the elderly via CRAIN’S COMMENTS

In my line of work I read about so many cases involving criminals preying upon the elder population. Those with dementia are particularly vulnerable. As family caregivers, be vigilant upon checking bills, bank statements, etc. There’s a fine line between allowing your elder loved one to maintain their independence and protecting them from criminals, but it’s important to be aware.


IN 2017, financial institutions filed 63,500 inquiries regarding suspected fraudulent activities involving senior clients. That’s up 400% over 2013, and may still represent 2% or less of actual crimes. Traditionally, the elderly have been victims of their own family and care-givers. Now there are concerns that they are being victimized by financial professionals they trust, […]

via Looting the elderly — CRAIN’S COMMENTS

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November 9, 2019 · 10:15 am

Falls are Game Changers for Older Adults

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This is such important information for family caregivers. To put it bluntly, a fall for a frail loved one can signal the beginning of the end. Both my mother and father experienced falls as their health situations declined. Learn more and tips on preventing falls from Kay Bransford.

via Falls are Game Changers for Older Adults

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August 9, 2019 · 8:50 pm

Top slip and fall risks for seniors

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Laurens Meurs/Freeimages

This past week, I stumbled on a stair and fell in my own home, where I’ve been living for over 10 years. I wasn’t rushing, nothing has changed recently as regards to the stairs or my health, and I am an active 40-something woman. Fortunately, I injured nothing but my pride.

To follow up on last week’s post, Bruce Millar of Millar & Mixon law firm put together this list of top slip and fall risks. A lot of it is common sense, but check your home (and the homes of your aging loved ones) to see if any modifications need to be made. –Joy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year millions of older people (those who are 65 and older) fall. Sight and balance problems, along with weakened limbs can make walking a challenge for some elderly people. Fortunately, after identifying the risks, simple measures can be implemented to ensure that their health is protected.

The slip and falls risks that the elderly face are many, according to AtlantaAdvocate.com. However, some are caused by the negligence of the government or business owners, who are expected to keep premises in a reasonably safe condition. If you or a loved one suffers a fall due to negligence, don’t be afraid to speak out, obtain legal advice and if appropriate, seek compensation. Seniors are more likely to be seriously hurt or even killed due to falling accidents. Let us examine the most common risk factors that may cause these slips and falls.

Slip and Fall Risks

  1. Inadequate Lighting

Inadequate lighting may occur in areas such as alleys footpaths or house corridors. Elderly people are likely to slip and fall in areas with inadequate lighting as they have problems with their sight. Lighting in public zones should be adequate to ensure that the they can see well whether they are in public or private areas. Report non-functioning streetlights to the appropriate city officials and make sure your own yard and home have adequate lighting.

  1. Cluttered Walkways

Some sidewalks, especially in big cities, may be cluttered with rubbish and other debris and and this poses a fall risk. Creating a narrow, tricky path for someone who may have sight and mobility problems may result in a fall with serious injuries.

  1. Slippery Floors

Wet floors are one of the leading causes of falls and slips among the elderly. Areas such as malls and supermarkets often have slick floors. Recently mopped and waxed floors are a major cause of falls and slips. Older adults are often the most affected because their balance may be impaired, thus increasing their risk of a fall in these situations.

  1. Appliance Cords in Walking Paths

These hazards mainly occur in homes or some stores where device cords pass through walking paths. A poorly-placed cord can trip up the elderly which can result in a potentially fatal fall. In a business, such cases should be reported because the appliance cords are not meant to be in areas where people are walking in the first place.

  1. Cracks On Sidewalks or Driveways

Cracks and uneven sidewalks and driveways are a major reason for falls, not just for the elderly but other individuals as well. Major cracks should be repaired promptly, or reported to authorities if on city property. A trip on cement can lead to serious injuries, especially for those who have osteoporosis or other conditions which weaken bone strength.

  1. Slick Bathroom Floors

Many fall accidents that occur in a home have reportedly happened in the bathroom. These injuries are often caused by wet floors, a slippery tub and lack of grab bars to hold onto and avoid falls. When renovating a bathroom with aging-in-place in mind, especially in nursing homes for the elderly or in-home care, measures should be taken to reduce the risk of bathroom falls. Safety measures can include non-slip rugs, non-slip bathtub treads and handrails.

  1. Changes in Surface Types or Levels

Changes in surface types or levels that are not well defined may cause falls and pose a significant risk to the elderly. Contractors should try to identify changes in such instances to ensure the safety of the elderly. Areas with such changes should have grab bars or a railing. That way, if an older person trips, they can support themselves and avoid falling.

Injuries Due To Falls

The following are injuries that can occur following a fall:

  • Brain injury
  • Broken bones
  • Hip fractures
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Cuts and bruises
  • Pain
  • Psychological trauma
  • Medical expenses
  • In some cases death

 

Author Bio:

Bruce Millar of Millar & Mixon law firm serves the victims of personal injury accidents all over the state of Georgia. Millar and the other attorneys at Millar & Mixon have over 20 years of experience of helping clients get their life back on track after a serious accident has occurred.

Photo credit: Laurens Meurs/Freeimages

 

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Don’t underestimate the power of a fall

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Admittedly, I used to laugh at those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” LifeAlert commercials. What can I say, I was young and the commercials were done in an over-the-top manner. But as my parents aged, I discovered that falling is no laughing matter.

My father’s love of walking made him a dangerous dementia patient. When he was at the memory care center, we got several calls over the course of a year that my father had fallen. The care center’s policy required them to inform us each time Dad took a spill, even if he was not injured or was not taken to the hospital. Sometimes he was taken to the hospital, and I can only imagine how an ambulance ride and an ER visit must seem to someone with dementia.

Even though Dad took multiple spills, he never ended up with more than bruises. My mother, on the other hand, took one bad fall and broke her shoulder. She lived with pain from the injury for the rest of her life. When she first became ill with cancer, her mental status changed and the home health staff suggested I get a monitoring system for her. I signed up for the one they offered, which was Philips Lifeline. Overall, I was satisfied with the service. There was a billing issue upon returning the equipment after her death, but the service while she was alive was good.

ReviewsBee rates the Top 10 Medical Alert Systems, placing Philips Lifeline at #5. I mainly agree with the review. My mother was skeptical of technology, but because Philips is such a well-known and trusted brand, she was more comfortable using the product. The fall-sensor technology was sometimes oversensitive, thinking my mother had fallen when she just turned over in bed, but it was still reassuring to know that a live person would check on my mom immediately via intercom if a fall was detected.

All systems have their pros and cons, and I only had experience with the one brand, so make sure to read reviews from different sources and think about the features that are most important to your family. Keep in mind that some monitoring systems require landlines and make sure to read your contract so that you don’t get stuck with fees when returning the equipment when it is no longer needed.

If you have tips on preventing falls, I would love to hear about them.

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A medicated Mother’s Day

So far, the hospice-provided “comfort kit” has not brought my mother as much comfort as she had hoped.

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My mom had a false impression about morphine, after experiencing the temporary euphoria of the IV morphine given sometimes during emergency medical situations. I think Mom was hanging on to the idea that morphine was going to be this miracle drug that was going to magically remove her pain and let her get things done and bring back her appetite.

Well, we all know what morphine does, especially to an elderly, frail person like my mother. It knocked her on her butt, once we adjusted her dosage to effectively relieve the pain. Then she ended up getting a bit too much (even though she was still self-reporting pain as a 7) and ended up getting sick twice.

That was Saturday night. She did manage to sleep through the night, a rarity.

Today the hospice nurse visited and recommended we try Haldol. I had read some things about it (often used for mental health conditions like schizophrenia) but also read that it is a proven anti-nausea medication.

So I tried Mom on the lowest dose and that really knocked her for a loop! I am a naturally cautious person around medications, but it is still surprising to see the effects they can have on an individual. Mom was hardly able to walk and she was very groggy, but still in pain so she couldn’t really sleep.

Figuring out the correct dosage and cocktail of drugs is really trial and error, and when done in the home environment, is quite stressful.

I just put her to bed, giving her a small dose of morphine along with an Ativan, the latter which she has taken for years and tolerates well. This worked for her overnight, so I’m hoping we have found the right combination to relieve her pain and help her sleep without making her sick.

I hope for another quiet overnight period. Ironically, I still slept poorly last night, because I kept waking up to make sure Mom was okay.

If you have any medication tips or experiences to share, please do so below in the comments section.

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