We hold these truths: Caregiving and Life

Posted on July 3rd, 2014

Categories: Dementia,Grief,Medicare Part A,Prevention,Senior Care Management,Uncategorized

july4th1Happy 4th of July!  It is once again a celebration of the birth of this magnificent country, the United States of America!  While far from perfect, it is a blessing really to live in such a country as ours!

For some reason, this year I have chosen to read again important documents such as the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence with great care.  Not surprisingly, the words are far different in meaning now than when I first gazed at them through the eyes of a child.

The idea that we are endowed by our “Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness“.

I am a care giver as well as a care manager.  I think about “Life” all the time.

For the elderly, upholding the sanctity of life is wholly enmeshed with what we loosely refer to as the “health care system“.  This system is so very complex and unwieldy that families not familiar with it come to me for support to figure it out.  Their goals are:

  • “Life” for their loved one.
  • Care that supports the “life” of their loved one.
  • Services that support the “life” of their loved one.
  • Medicine that supports the “life” of their loved one.
  • Physicians that support the “life” of their loved one.
  • Hospitals that support the “life” of their loved one.

The one thing I have learned as a care manager that causes me anguish is that access to health care is not equal among all our citizens.  It is an ugly truth that is often batted away by politicians unwilling to look it square in the face.  But I see it day in and day out in the work that I do.

The right to life may sometimes mean the need for health care.  Life is an inalienable right.  Adequate health care is not available to all.  Why has the disconnect become politicized?

Yes the world is far more complex than in 1776.  But the message is not.

Do we really hold these truths as self evident?  Do we really?



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Secrets of the Oldest Old!

Posted on May 8th, 2014

Categories: Active Senior Living,Aging Advocacy,Caring For Elderly,Dementia,Gerontology,Healthcare Advocacy,Helping Seniors,Prevention,Resources,Senior Care Management

ninetyThe oldest old!  What an odd term.  What it really means is those seniors who are 90 years of age and older. Did you know that those folks age 90 and up are the fastest growing age group in the United States?  If you watched CBS 60 Minutes show on May 4th, you may have been as surprised as me to learn that fact.

The University of California Irvine is conducting groundbreaking research on “the oldest old” which they call  The 90+ Study. Their research question is simple:  “What allows people to live to age 90 and beyond?”

Some of the answers will not surprise you:

  • Exercise is important at all ages.  The goal should be 45 minutes per day, but doesn’t have to be all at once
  • Staying socially active bodes well for living a long life
  • Smoking and obesity can shorten your lifespan

But here are a few surprising (and happy!) results:

  • Drinking alcohol in moderation (up to 2 drinks per day) led to a 10 to 15% reduction in the risk of death as compared to non drinkers
  • Moderate amounts of caffeine (1-3 cups of coffee per day) contributed to a longer life expectancy
  • For people over 90, having higher blood pressure reduces the risk of dementia
  • Being a little overweight after age 70 increases you longevity (My favorite result!)
  • People who take vitamins had no advantage over those that didn’t

This remarkable study will continue as the National Institute on Aging has renewed funding for another five years.  Stayed tuned for more results to come.

If you have the chance to watch this particular 60 Minutes episode (you can find it online), I encourage you to do so.  The elderly participants they interviewed are beautiful, fascinating and generous people!  They participate in this research to make a difference for future generations of older Americans and their families!

“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art”  Eleanor Roosevelt.





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Epilepsy Aware

Posted on March 20th, 2014

Categories: Aging Advocacy,Caring For Elderly,Epilepsy,Helping Seniors,Medical,Planning,Resources

photo (35)March 26 is referred to as “Purple Day”, and is designed to raise awareness of epilepsy.  Epilepsy is an often misunderstood disorder.  As such, people who suffer from epilepsy are often maligned by society.  The elderly are greatly affected by epilepsy.  It is the most common neurological disorder in older people after stroke and dementia.  Epilepsy often mimics other neurological problems so it is often misdiagnosed.

What is epilepsy?:

  • Epilepsy is a medical condition that produces an electrical disturbance in the brain
  • This disturbance results in seizures that affect the body and behavior
  • Two or more unprovoked seizures are considered epilepsy
  • Seizures can occur in the entire brain or just part of it
  • Seizures can last from a few seconds to several minutes
  • Seizures range from staring spells to loss of consciousness and convulsions
  • Seizures are treated with medications and sometimes surgery
  • Many people continue to have seizures even with treatment

How many people are affected?

With the elderly, epilepsy is usually intertwined with another physical problem such as heart disease, dementia and tumors.  Therefore it can be difficult to diagnose.  But once it is diagnosed, epilepsy can be treated in the elderly through the use of medication.

If your elderly loved one develops epilepsy, it is important to learn about the disorder.  Awareness helps in the treatment and reduces the stigma associated with epilepsy.  The Epilepsy Foundation is an excellent resource with specific information for seniors with epilepsy.  There are many local chapters of the Epilepsy Foundation that provide face to face advocacy.  If your senior uses a computer, they even have an online discussion forum for seniors with epilepsy.

I hope this increases your awareness of epilepsy in general and within the senior citizen community.

Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences with epilepsy and aging!





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