Saturday, September 27, 2008

New Reason for Seniors to Avoid Fruit Juices

A recent article on highlights a new reason why seniors need to avoid not only grapefruit juice, but other kinds of juice as well.

Certain drug prescription bottles have contained a warning about grapefruit and grapefruit juice for quite some time. Apparently grapefruit can substantially increase the absorption of certain drugs possibly turning normal doses into toxic overdoses.

Now, researchers are reporting new evidence indicates grapefruit juice and other fruit juices substantially decrease the oral absorption of certain drugs. According to the article, "the concern is loss of benefit of medications essential for treatment of serious medical conditions."

Be sure to check with your pharmacist and read the information included with your prescriptions to make sure you are not under or overdosing yourself.

Researchers have already found over 50 drugs that are affected and more are likely to be added to the list as further studies are performed.

Have you checked your prescriptions for potential problems with what you eat or drink? Please do so today? And, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion of these findings.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

For Better or For Worse

This post was written by a dear friend of mine who knows all about caregiving from personal experience. For this post we will call her NJJ. Please welcome her to the Cafe.

"For better or for worse..."

Although I remember hearing those words fifty-five years ago and have every intention of keeping that promise---I will readily admit that I did not have the slightest clue as to what that commitment might entail.

I first noticed a troubling sign when my husband asked which way to turn to go to a restaurant we visited frequently. That was several years ago and I managed to brush off any real concern by convincing myself that he was just preoccupied.

Over the next few years, many similar occurrences cropped up---not recognizing friends he had known for years, not remembering how to use household appliances, trips we had taken, and even when and where our children were born.

When he began to lose his balance, as well as thirty pounds of weight, we made trips to specialists for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s tests that proved those diseases were not the cause.

Then when anxiety attacks became a daily ritual, his doctor prescribed an antidepressant that has made a difference in his attitude.

Although MRI’s and CAT scans have provided no proof, the “professionals” believe he has suffered several mini strokes and, therefore, suffers from a “mild” dementia. He has been prescribed medications that are purely speculative, which concerns me.

He is no longer allowed to drive and has fallen a total of 25 times down stairs, off porches, and in the middle of the room. Fortunately, he has thus far been able to pick himself up; however, I constantly worry that his ability to do so will change. These happenings are sporadic.

Some days are almost “normal” and he even reminds me to do the things that I have on my calendar.

While stress as a caregiver has taken its toll, I have absolutely no doubt that he would be far more miserable if he were forced to stay in an unfamiliar environment.

With the support of many friends, I plan to continue to “carry the load” and help him through a very difficult, frustrating time in our lives.


Friday, September 19, 2008

How Powerful Are Seniors?

According to AARP, the Magazine, seniors are very powerful. Here are a few stats from the September/October 2008 issue:

41 percent of American adults are over 50, the highest percentage in U.S. history.

80 percent of Congress is over 50.

Half of the Americans who voted in the 2006 elections were 50+.

People over 55 own 77 percent of all financial assets in the United States.

50+ adults account for 45 percent of U.S. consumer spending, or $2.1 trillion per year.

By 2011 the American 50+ population will surpass the 100 million mark.

Yes, we are a powerful group. Now, let us wisely use our power to make this world a better place.

What can you do today to make this a better world? What have you done in the past?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cries of Passion From the Forums

As some of you may know, I have linked up with other caregivers on various forums. I found several interesting points along the way:

1. Almost everyone's situation is worse than mine. I am shocked at the conditions and situations going on in the home's of the elderly and infirm. Many of the people who are incapacitated to any degree are still in their 30's, 40's and 50's. They were in accidents that caused brain damage or other severe injuries, or developed Parkinson's Disease, MS, had a stroke, or were incapacitated for a myriad number of other reasons.

2. There are husbands and wives who were barely married long enough to settle down when life situations overtook them and they became caregivers to their spouse. That was not what they intended life to be like when they got married, but that's what was handed to them. Married life is difficult enough without having a devastating development like that. I have all the respect in the world for those who have cared for a spouse for many years, staying faithful to their marriage vows.

3. The compassion and support those caregivers provide others is remarkable considering what they live with on a daily basis. They are lonely, weary to the point of exhaustion, frustrated at the lack of help from other family members, struggling financially and physically, and yet they are able to lend a loving ear and caring heart to others on the forums.

Many of the caregivers are in dire need of care themselves. They are crying out for help as they are also providing aid, to their loved one and to those on the Internet. A theme on every thread is that they are so glad they found a place where they can pour out their heart to someone who understands.

That seems to be the greatest need of caregivers - to find someone else who understands.

Care giving takes more patience and understanding than any one of us has on our own. Whether we pull from a higher power, each other, or our own inner strength, we do the best we can under the circumstances. No wonder we are exhausted.

I wonder if people realize how much is going on in the lives of people all over the world. There are so many stories out there of struggles and hardship and pain and suffering, it is heartbreaking. All I can do is wonder why?

Maybe that's what life is all about - helping others. When we were younger, we kind of floated along living life, usually focused on ourselves, but then we came up against a season of time where either we had great needs or somebody needed us, and there was a huge paradigm shift in our lives and our way of thinking.

If you know a caregiver, reach out today with a word of encouragement, a hug, or even better, lend a hand to give them a time of respite. Many caregivers are also working part or full time and still carrying out their duties. Please do what you can to ease their burden.

Just think - someday you may be on the receiving end and needing care or respite. What would you want others to do for you?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Caregiving and the Campaign Trail

In today's newsletter, Suzanne Mintz wrote an important article about the lack of conversation on the campaign trail regarding caregivers. And why is that, you ask?

Because, although health care reform will be a huge issue for the next president, care giving will not. The problem is not that care giving is not important, it is that the reason there are caregivers is because there is disease that so devastates the person who is ill, they require a caregiver.

It is the disease that must be addressed, researched, and a cure found. When we find ways to improve care and cut costs, we will have found a way to take care of the family caregivers.

Suzanne ends her message by stating, "There are so many things that need to change in our health care system, but if we can turn the tide and help patients with chronic conditions get the kind of care they need, we'd be well on our way to creating a truly positive change in how America provides and pays for health care."

Amen, sister!

Click on the title to this post and read Suzanne's important statement about the unfortunate state of health care and how it affects today's caregivers.

What do you think about today's health care programs? Are you a caregiver? How does the state of health care in America affect you?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Dad and His Pals

Dad has belonged to the Masonic Lodge for many years. Although I do not agree with their beliefs, Dad has formed a number of strong friendships through the organization. Their fall season has arrived and Dad's meeting schedule has increased.

Because of his eyesight, he is dependent on others for rides. Although I am willing to give Dad rides to his meetings, he has a friend named Roger, who since last year has taken Dad to numerous meetings in our small town and to neighboring towns. This week Dad was at two meetings, one locally and the other out of town.

The reason I am writing about this on a site devoted to elder care is that I think it is important for Dad to get out of the house. He needs to interact with friends even though his eyesight and hearing loss prevent him from being as active as he would like.

Several of the guys at the temple quite often give him a ride home after meetings, but Roger has taken a greater step. He picks Dad up and takes him all over the place as they visit other lodges. By doing so, he has given Dad something to look forward to in an otherwise dull lifestyle since the loss of his wife.

This blog today is a thank you for all those who are willing to go out of their way to help someone who cannot do for themselves. Dad would love to be able to drive, to travel when and where he wants, but circumstances prevent him from doing so.

Because Roger is willing to drive out of his way to make sure Dad can visit others from around the area, Dad has something to look forward to. When he returns home he can think about the guys he talked to and the topics they discussed rather than sitting around feeling depressed because of his health situation.

That is a good thing! Thank you, Roger, and all others who are willing to take a step up and help an aging senior stay actively involved in his community.

The photo above is the Masonic Temple in Detroit.

What are you doing to help seniors stay active? What would you like to do to help out?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Does Exercise Improve Memory for the Elderly?

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study conducted on 170 participants age 50 and older, showing the positive effects of exercising on memory.

JAMA reported, "Regular, moderate exercise may help improve memory in older people and delay the onset of dementia, a study in Australia shows."

We have read many articles regarding the health benefits of regular exercise. This is one more study that confirms what we all know, but many fail to do - exercise.

For those of us who have a family history of Alzheimer's and dementia-related memory loss, this should be a swift kick in the incentive portion of our anatomy, to get up and get going!

Click on the title above to read the rest of the article.

What would help you get up and get going? If you regularly exercise, what motivates you to continue?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Seniors Working in Their Seventies

Several years ago, I worked in a hospital. One of my co-workers had reached 70 while I was still there. The last time I spoke with someone from our department, he was still working, although he had cut down on the number of hours.

Does he need the money? No. He is in a high paying job, and I know he has great investments and savings.

Does he need the benefits? Quite possibly that is why he stays.

Would he miss his co-workers? Absolutely! He is a very outgoing individual and loves the interaction with those around him.

He and his wife are able to travel to foreign countries, take at least one or two cruises a year, visit his daughter and her family in another state, and generally go wherever he wants. Luckily he is in a job where he has an understanding supervisor and enough co-workers, that he was able to pretty much come and go as he pleases with a little planning.

Am I jealous? No, he works hard and deserves every moment of his time off. In his late sixties, he overcame a potentially terminal disease, one requiring hours of chemo, numerous drugs, and the hyper-addictive positive attitude he had about life.

I don't know anyone who has ever overcome the challenges he had during the two years he fought the disease. When is he going to retire? If he has the same supervisor that was there when I was, he will retire whenever he wants.

Why? He earned the right to leave on his own accord. Even at his age, he works hard, brings a positive attitude to the workplace, and is an inspiration to all.

Today I read an article in the newspaper regarding a woman who is still working at 93. More seniors are working well into their 70's, 80's, and even 90's. There are numerous reasons why - sluggish economy, financial need, benefit packages, desire to stay active and around people, love of job, just to name a few.

I think we are going to hear more on this subject, especially with the many baby boomers heading toward retirement age.

What do you think? Should people work as long as they want? Should there be a mandatory retirement age in America?