Monday, November 30, 2015

“Sharing Holiday Cheer With Seniors” Word Find

The holidays are a time when many of us would like to do something for others. As you’re thinking of ways to make the season more meaningful, consider if you know of any older adults who could use help from you in order to take part in traditional holiday events. Mobility, sensory and cognitive challenges can stand in the way of participation in beloved spiritual and social opportunities. You can make all the difference! If none of your older family members or friends needs help, check with your local senior center, nursing home or senior services agency—volunteers are always needed this time of year.
To get you into the holiday helping spirit, try your hand at this month’s word find puzzle. Click here to download the puzzle.

Need a little help? Click here for the solution.
Source: IlluminAgeAgeWise, © IlluminAge 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Celebrating the Holidays When a Loved One Has Alzheimer’s Disease

The bright lights and big crowds make the holidays fun and exciting for many of us. But the season can present special challenges if you are a family caregiver of someone with Alzheimer’s or other form of cognitive impairment. A little planning can make the season less stressful for everyone in this situation. Geriatrics physician Dr. Cindy Carlsson, an Alzheimer’s disease researcher at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, explained that Alzheimer’s patients may feel a sense of loss during the holidays, while caregivers can become frantic trying to keep up with holiday traditions and caring for their loved ones at the same time.
Carlsson shared advice for making the holidays more enjoyable for everyone. Here are four easy suggestions as you plan this year’s holiday time with your friend or loved one:
Follow a routine. Sticking to a routine can reduce the stress on the person with dementia, as well as his or her caregiver and family. “Holidays are anything but routine, yet a routine is the best way to be kind to the patient,” Carlsson said. “Make sure the day is as normal as possible by providing meals at the same time they usually are.”
Help your loved one remember. People with Alzheimer’s can become frustrated when someone tries to challenge their memories with questions like, “Do you remember me?” and “Do you remember what we did last summer?” Advised Carlsson, “Regardless of how close you are to the person, introduce yourself. You could also update them on your activities so that they don’t have to ask questions.” Carlsson said reminiscent therapy can be effective. She suggests going through old family photos with your loved one. In addition, you might even ask guests to wear name tags.
Involve your loved one in activities. “We recommend that you involve an Alzheimer’s patient with straightforward activities like wrapping gifts, folding napkins or simple crafts,” said Carlsson. Activities can provide mental and physical stimulation.
Take care of the caregiver. The best gift for a caregiver can be the gift of time and respite. The typical stress of caring for a person with Alzheimer’s can become even more overwhelming during the holidays. Carlsson said you can help a caregiver by offering to give them some time off. Families can prepare a plan to share the caregiving. For caregivers who will be hosting the holiday get-together, Carlsson suggests smaller gatherings or even a potluck.
Source: University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, adapted by IlluminAge AgeWise.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

How Seniors Can Beat the Holiday Blues

[Medford, NJ] – [November 19, 2015] – With silver bells, bright lights and the anticipation of brighter days ahead, it’s sometimes hard to realize that the holidays, for many, bring on feelings of sadness and even depression.
“Feelings of loneliness among people who have lost a loved one, or those who are coping with a chronic health condition are just a couple of the reasons seniors are at a higher risk for depression,” says Brett Summerville of APFC Home Care. “Unfortunately, the holidays can often exacerbate these feelings because the loss is felt more acutely during a time of year when everyone else seems so happy.”
To help combat holiday depression, APFC Home Care is offering these tips for seniors and anyone feeling depressed.
  • Adjust your expectations
    Recognize that this holiday doesn’t have to be like ones in the past. Honor those traditions you can and be open to creating new ones. For example, if you can’t be with your loved ones in person, find new ways to celebrate together, such as Skyping, sending videos and emailing.
  • Acknowledge your feelings
    If you’ve recently lost a spouse or other loved one, recognize that feelings of sadness and grief are normal and appropriate. Don’t force yourself to be happy simply because you think it’s expected.
  • Reach out to someone
    If you’re feeling isolated and lonely, seek out friends and family. If they aren’t available, find out what community, religious or other social events are happening where you live. Volunteering is an excellent way to meet new people and lift your spirits.
  • Take care of yourself
    Don’t abandon exercise routines, eating well, a good night’s sleep, and finding time for friends and family. Maintain your healthy habits. This will help stave off depression.
“By making some adjustments and seeking help if you need it, the holidays can still be a time of renewal and joy,” says Summerville. “That is our hope for all of us this season.”

Friday, November 13, 2015

Infections Raise the Risk of Senior Falls

As we grow older, we are at higher risk of falling. Millions of seniors are hospitalized each year as a result of falling, often suffering a hip fracture, head injury or other serious injury. In fact, falls are a leading cause of accidental death among older adults. Many seniors and family caregivers take steps to reduce the risk of falling. But they may be unaware that common infections may be the true underlying cause for some of these falls.
At the recent annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital reported that urinary, respiratory and bloodstream infections can cause low blood pressure, dizziness and confusion that make it more likely that a senior will fall.
Said researcher Dr. Farrin A. Manian, “Over the years I’ve been struck by the fact that some of the more serious infections I treated were in people who came to the hospital because they fell.” Dr. Manian says that these patients often had no other noticeable symptoms of the infection, such as fever or abnormal white blood cell count. The fall itself was the first sign that something was amiss. Reports Dr. Manian, “Even though many of the patients had vague early signs of an infection, such as weakness or lethargy, it was the fall that brought them in.”
Dr. Manian suggests that family caregivers and healthcare providers should consider infection as a possible cause of any falls a senior experiences, and seek a diagnosis.
Not all falls are the result of infection, of course. Here is a quick overview of some of the other fall factors—and what seniors and families can do to reduce the risk:
Environmental causes—Throw rugs, electrical cords, wet and slippery floors, rough floor surfaces, slick walkways and steps, and poor lighting are all examples of things or conditions that can trip us up. Inspect your home for things that could trip you up, and remove hazards. While you’re at it, add safety improvements such as grab bars in the bath or shower, a second handrail on stairs, and improved lighting throughout the house.
Physical and mental changes—Most seniors, sooner or later, will experience problems with their eyesight, sense of balance, mobility, bone structure, and reflexes. Confusion, forgetfulness, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease are also important risk factors. Ask the doctor about a fall prevention exercise class. Keep your eyeglass prescription up to date. If you’re experiencing dizziness or balance problems, get that checked out.  If the doctor recommends additional testing, take their advice.
Medications—Most seniors take a variety of medications, both over-the-counter and prescription. These medications help us manage health conditions that raise the risk of falls—yet, ironically, many medications can cause dizziness, drowsiness, or other side effects that make it harder to keep one’s balance. At your next appointment, ask your doctor to review all your medications, and report any side effects that you’re experiencing.
Things we don’t expect—Often, a contributing cause in a fall is the circumstance we do not expect and have not prepared for. We lean against a door, thinking it is closed. We walk down a poorly lighted walkway, not prepared for the small pile of weeds and clippings someone has left there. Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t be tripped up by something you didn’t anticipate. Plan your motions a little more ahead than you used to. Give yourself time to react to your physical surroundings and the other people around you. Pay special attention any time you are in new or unfamiliar surroundings. Don’t let the fear of falling cause you to be less active—but be alert.
Source: IlluminAge AgeWise, with information from the Infectious Diseases Society of America

Monday, November 9, 2015

When Elderly Parents Resist Help

As Americans get ready to visit family and friends over the upcoming holidays, a survey reveals experts’ top tips for overcoming a common and difficult family problem—aging parents resisting the help they need. Experts surveyed by the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) say that emphasizing to aging parents that receiving assistance can help them maintain self-sufficiency and continue living independently is the best strategy.
This release came on the heels of related findings from ALCA (formerly the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers), finding that 80% of care managers reported regularly encountering cases where seniors are resisting needed help or declining assistance from their children or loved ones. ALCA also reported that the three types of help aging life care professionals most often find seniors resisting or declining are: decisions about whether to continue driving (cited by 67% of those surveyed), getting needed home health care (62%), and assistance with household chores like cooking, shopping and cleaning (60%).
Here are the top six tips for overcoming aging parents’ resistance to help, offered by aging life care professionals from around the country:
  1. Emphasize that receiving help can help aging parents maintain their self-sufficiency and allow them to continue to live independently.
  2. Acknowledge their fears/concerns and talk about what might ease their mind.
  3. Be sure to start slow with caregiving, even if you know they need many more hours of help. Prepare the caregiver with your parent’s likes and dislikes and prepare them for possible resistance.
  4. Tell your parents that nothing is written in stone, and that the help they will get is “a trial period.”
  5. Figure out which family member(s) should have the conversation with your parent. Which ones are they most likely to listen to on a matter like this?
  6. If a parent has dementia, it is best to consult with a professional care manager on strategies that might work.
“Getting help is often key to allowing aging loved ones to keep their independence and remain in their own homes,” said ALCA Past-President Emily Saltz. “Acknowledging your parents’ fears and emphasizing that help can keep them independent are good steps to overcome resistance to needed help.”
Source: The Aging Life Care Association (ALCA), formerly known as the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, was formed in 1985 to advance dignified care for older adults and their families in the United States. Aging Life Care Professionals have extensive training and experience working with older adults, people with disabilities, and families who need assistance with caregiving issues. They assist families in the search for a suitable nursing home placement or extended care if the need occurs. The practice of Aging Life Care and the role of care providers have captured a national spotlight, as generations of Baby Boomers age in the United States and abroad. For more information or to access a nationwide directory of Aging Life Care Professionals, please visit

Friday, November 6, 2015

“We Love Family Caregivers” Wordfind

November is National Family Caregivers Month
This is a great time to express our appreciation to friends and family who provide care for loved ones who are living with chronic illness and disabilities.
This month’s puzzle contains the names of 16 things we can offer the caregivers we know. Click here to print the puzzle.
Need a little help? Click here for the solution.
Practical Ways to Help
Telling our caregiver friends how much we respect what they do is only the beginning. They could also use our help! On top of the wish list for most caregivers is time! Could you offer a few hours, maybe even a few hours a week, to stay with their loved one to allow the caregiver some respite time? How about help with cooking, cleaning, yard work? Could you provide transportation so their loved one can go on outings? What about advocacy? Tell everyone you know—and your lawmakers—about the importance of services that support family caregivers as they provide the quality care that is worth upwards of $450 billion per year to our long-term care system.
The best way to find out what a caregiver needs? Ask!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Foot and Ankle Surgeons Warn of Diabetic Foot Condition That’s Often Misdiagnosed

For nearly 30 million Americans with diabetes, there is a debilitating and often preventable foot condition that is underdiagnosed and undertreated. A lack of awareness of Charcot foot (pronounced shar-koh) means that many patients undergo painful surgeries, and even amputations, to correct what can be a highly treatable condition.
Charcot foot is the result of peripheral neuropathy, a condition that results in the loss of feeling in the lower extremities, including the feet. An estimated one third of all diabetic patients develop peripheral neuropathy. This lack of feeling can lead to increased blood flow along with nerve problems in the feet, which can result in development of Charcot foot. Without proper care, Charcot foot can lead to permanent deformity, disability and even result in amputation of the leg and foot.
According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS), Charcot foot is highly treatable when caught early. Doctors and patients agree that early detection is the key. Unfortunately, the condition is often misdiagnosed because its symptoms can be attributed to other problems.
Annita Shaw, a retired school teacher and diabetic, knows this all too well.  Shaw visited the emergency room three times for foot pain over several years, before finding a foot and ankle surgeon who ultimately diagnosed her with Charcot foot.
“Several physicians suggested my foot pain was due to arthritis or that my shoes were too tight. No one x-rayed my feet. Finally I found a physician specializing in foot and ankle care, who determined that Charcot was the cause of my ongoing foot problems,” says Shaw.
In the early stages of Charcot foot, bones of the foot become weak and may fracture. With continued walking, the foot changes shape and, as the disorder progresses, joints collapse and the foot takes on an abnormal shape. Because they cannot feel pain, many people do not realize they have Charcot foot until this late stage, when severe complications have occurred.
“People think they don’t have a problem because they feel no pain, but that isn’t the case,” says Valerie L. Schade, DPM, FACFAS, FACFAOM, a foot and ankle surgeon in Tacoma, Washington and a Fellow Member of ACFAS, who now treats Shaw. “Anyone at risk for neuropathy, including diabetics, alcoholics and some chemotherapy patients, should see a foot and ankle surgeon early and at least once every year, even if they are considered low risk.”
ACFAS surgeons know that monitoring for changes in the foot is the single most important factor in prevention. Dr. Schade continues, “Anyone who notices a difference—discomfort, unexplained swelling or redness, or changes to the shape of the foot—should seek care right away.”
As for Shaw, who was able to avoid amputation, she now spends much of her time advocating for greater awareness of Charcot foot, informing and educating at-risk patients and the general public. “If I can save even one person from the pain of surgery or amputation by raising awareness of Charcot foot, I’ll have done my job,” Shaw continues. “People spend so much time and money worrying about aging and maintaining beauty, when really they should spend time caring and worrying about their feet!”
For more information on Charcot or other foot and ankle health information, visit the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons’ patient education website at
Source: The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, a professional society of over 7,000 foot and ankle surgeons. Founded in 1942, the College’s mission is to promote research and provide continuing education for the foot and ankle surgical specialty, and to educate the general public on foot health and conditions of the foot and ankle through its patient education website