Tag Archives: seniors

Protect your loved one with dementia from becoming a victim of a scam

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It’s heartbreaking to hear stories where elder loved ones are scammed out of thousands of dollars. These criminals can be found all over the world, only needing a list of phone numbers or email addresses to find their next victim.

A new study has found that those who are more prone to becoming scam victims may be at greater risk of dementia. In today’s world, it’s not just phone scams that one has to worry about, but online scams as well.

My father was not a phone person, but he did send money to a variety of religious organizations. They were supposed to be representing Catholic churches or charities, and he would get a small token or prayer request in exchange for whatever he sent. It may have been totally legitimate, but after he was gone, I found hundreds of pieces of correspondence from these groups. I wonder if he gave more as his dementia progressed.

My mother was the phone person in our family. She didn’t have dementia but she did have a quality that made her potentially susceptible to scammers: loneliness. She loved to talk on the phone to people, whether she knew them or not! They would be her friend by the end of the conversation. I remember getting upset with my mother when she told a telemarketer that she had won the lottery. Why would you share personal financial information with a stranger? My mom’s response was that the telemarketer had said she was a “nice lady.” Sigh. Fortunately, nothing came of the incident, and to be fair to my mother, she was aware of the scams that were going around targeting seniors.

Credit.com has a nice resource which breaks down the  most common online scams and offers tips to help seniors avoid becoming a victim. Monitoring your elder loved one’s financial statements is key. If your older relatives enjoy going online, there are a set of simple steps you can take to provide them a secure experience. Staying vigilant is the best way to combat such criminal activity.

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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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Rethinking treatment for seniors with depression

Mom is depressed. I know this. She knows this. Admitted it to the doctor when he asked.

But she remains very resistant to the idea of talk therapy.

This, from the woman who can, and does, talk to everyone! She’s never met a stranger, and she’s collected the life stories from hundreds of strangers while riding the bus or waiting in line at the grocery store. Mom is not shy at all about discussing depressing personal subjects, like Dad’s Alzheimer’s or her own battle with cancer.

The woman who admits she is lonely and just wants someone to talk to, still refuses to go talk to a therapist once or twice a week. There is a special program in her town designed to deal with geriatric mental health issues.

Mom says it’s because they won’t come to the house. The doctor wants to encourage my mom to stay active and get out of the house. The personal care service can and does drive her to any appointments.

Perhaps it is more of a generational issue. Mom comes from a generation that quietly bore their burdens, versus jumping on the therapist’s couch. Psychoanalysis was more of an upper-class pastime than something the average person engaged in. Now, therapy is recommended for just about anyone, even children.

But maybe we need to rethink senior therapy to encourage more people like my mom to participate. Perhaps an initial home visit/assessment, then subsequent office visits. When you physically feel lousy, you are going to feel even more depressed but may not feel like getting dressed and leaving the house.

Once my mom connects with someone, it lifts her spirits and she is willing to be more flexible with her routine. For example, sometimes the personal care attendant can only come at 10am, which is early for my mom. Guess what? Mom has adjusted just fine.

This is probably a short-term issue, as I have a feeling baby boomers will have no problem with therapy, but it does make me feel for all of those lonely, depressed seniors isolated in their homes right now. I wish we could reach out to them effectively. (Mom refuses to go to the Senior Center as well!)

Are there programs in your community that are designed to help seniors battle depression or loneliness?

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Caregiving tip: Change isn’t easy for seniors

I’m sure we’ve all heard of the saying, “She is set in her ways.” This tends to become more true as one ages. Our elderly loved ones have a certain schedule, or a certain way of doing things, and a disruption of that schedule can cause them great stress.

I’m a little like this already and I’m only 40!

But what made this clear to me was spending time with Mom this past week. We still have not figured out what is wrong with her, but we finally were able to see the specialist. He wants to rule out the return of cancer, so he has ordered a colonoscopy (ugh) and an EGD. Mom wasn’t thrilled with the idea of more testing and the preparation involved for it but knows it is necessary.

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If there is no cancer, her abdomen muscles can be surgically repaired so her stomach doesn’t protrude, which seems to cause her constant discomfort. But first, we have to increase Mom’s weight and strength. She is down to 100 pounds (has lost a shocking 30 pounds in 8 months.)

The specialist is a young guy that is into natural supplements in addition to medicine. While I truly embrace this approach, when he recommend my 77-year-old Mom start juicing, I had to force myself not to laugh. While I don’t doubt the benefits of fresh juice (though I do think the benefits are overstated and the high sugar and low fiber in juice is a concern), the doctor clearly needs to consider a patient’s age and situation when making care recommendations.

He knows Mom lives alone, and to ask a frail old lady to go buy a bunch of produce, wash it and process it through a juicer, and then go through the tedious clean up progress is totally overwhelming. I purchased her some pricey but convenient organic juice mixes instead.

The doctor also recommended spirulina supplements. After researching I’m on the fence about the benefits, but at least this is an easy step for Mom to take (comes in capsule form.)

He also recommended upping her daily Ensure drinks. I found a Boost very high calorie variety that has 530 calories. Also I got her a flavorlees calorie supplement that you mix into food. These are small steps that Mom can handle on her own.

Still, when I called her after returning home, she was overwhelmed by the new medications ordered by the doctor and the supplements I had sent. She said she knows everyone is trying to help her, but it is a lot to process.

And so it is. Just something to keep in mind when we introduce change to our loved one’s routine. Try to make it as simple and smooth as possible, and take time to explain why the change has to occur. Change can be hard for anyone, but as caregivers we can try to soften the blow.

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Guest article: Dealing with geriatric depression

By Jesse Waugh

It is normal to experience grief when facing major life changes.

However, for older adults, drastic events can lead to extreme sadness and, ultimately, clinical depression.

Approximately 15% of the elderly suffer from this condition.

If left untreated, depression can last for months and take a toll on the immune system, making the afflicted person mentally and physically weaker.

A geriatric psychiatrist can tell if a person is depressed or experiencing bouts of loneliness and helplessness.

sad senior man

What are the warning signs of clinical depression?

If you think an elderly friend or relative suffers from depression, look for warning signs. There are several health indicators that suggest persistent feelings of sadness.

Withdrawal from society – It is common for elders who experience depression to avoid social situations, even with close friends and relatives.

Loss of self-regard – Putting off personal grooming and proper hygiene may suggest a feeling of detachment and could be a sign of the early stages of depression.

Increased irritability – Sudden drastic changes in an older adult’s mood may suggest the outset of depression.

Amplified physical pain – Contrary to popular belief, depression affects both the mind and the body. Since it weakens the immune system, it can increase physical pain.

Older adults who have suffered from a serious disease or are recovering from a surgery may also be susceptible to depression.

Studies show that around 15% of older patients experience episodes of sadness after they are discharged from the hospital.

What can you do to help?

Keep in mind that depression is an illness. It is much more serious and damaging than grief or sadness. If you suspect that someone suffers from it, keep an eye out for the symptoms or warning signs mentioned above.

Do not attempt to control their lives. If you do things for them that they can do by themselves, you might strengthen their perception that they are helpless or incapable. In fact, many aged care homes do their best to make their guests feel at home and in control of every important aspect of their lives.

Talk to them. This is a good way to alleviate depressive episodes. Just be indirect when you open up the topic of depression. Instead of saying it outright, ask them how they feel. Even if they tell you that they’re fine, they may unknowingly drop hints about how they truly feel.

Basically, you must understand the situation they’re in, and do your best to help them cope with the bouts of extreme sadness. Perhaps one of the most helpful things you can do is keep them company. Loneliness may also be connected to Alzheimer’s, so be there for them when they need you.

Many older adults have successfully recovered from depression without intervention. However, it is best for friends and family of the afflicted person to look into professional help and build a support network. Compassion, empathy and sensitivity can go a long way in the treatment of elderly depression.

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Tests and more tests

Dad refused to have most of the medical tests that were ordered for him before his dementia set in. I remember begging him to go have the prostate exam done, as he showed multiple symptoms and at the time I thought for sure he had prostate cancer.

I sent cards, I begged him on the phone, all to no avail.

Of course, my diagnosis turned out to be wrong. Cancer would not kill my dad, despite his almost lifelong smoking habit.

The last test I ever saw performed on him was the swallow test at the hospital in Albuquerque. It was about a month before his death. He failed the test miserably. Then came the dreaded feeding tube question. We declined. He was hand fed instead, but I don’t think he actually ate much that last month of his life.

Now Mom is the one that faces test after test after test, to keep track of her cancer. It is daunting, keeping all of the doctor’s appointments straight. There are people out there, too many poor souls no doubt, that have to manage all of this on their own. No one should have to do that, while trying to recover from surgery and get stronger.

The trepidation behind the tests are two-fold. Not only is there fear and anxiety of taking so many tests, but there is the fear of the results of the tests.

All a caregiver can do is to try to be a supportive secretary, by setting the appointments, helping to navigate the logistics and offering moral support.

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