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Severe Winter Weather

Tips for Keeping Seniors Safe During Severe Winter Weather

As winter weather descends on the United States, many people are being confronted by cold weather they have never experienced before.  All of this greatly impacts the safety and well-being of the elderly, especially when weather events strike unexpectedly or with speed. Here are some tips from the experts in aging well® to help aging adults get ready for winter weather.

Before a Storm
  • Stay informed and sign up for severe weather alerts through your local city or state resource
  • Refill prescriptions and have an extra supply of other medical necessities
  • Buy extra food, including non-perishables, and bottled water (and don’t forget pet food or supplies if needed)
  • Keep vehicles filled with gas and have tires checked for safety
  • Clear debris from downspouts and gutters
  • Have trees inspected and remove any dead limbs
  • Have evacuation routes planned with identified medical centers
  • Identify an individual or company to shovel snow from driveways, stairs
  • Make sure outside furnace vents are clear and carbon monoxide alarms are working
  • Inspect outside plumbing, insulating any exposed pipes
  • Know the locations of emergency warming stations in your city
Prepare for Power Outages
  • If using oxygen, bi-pap, c-pap or other equipment, you will need a generator
  • Purchase battery operated, plug-in lights that automatically turn on when the power goes out
  • Make sure you have working flashlights within reach and extra batteries
  • Keep cell phones charging so you have a full charge at power loss
Plan for Caregivers

If you rely on caregivers, consider the following:

  • Arrange for a live-in caregiver
  • Build a relationship with neighbors that may be able to temporarily fill-in
  • Plan temporary or respite stay with a nursing home, assisted living community, or hospice
Safety
  • Keep areas around space heaters clear
  • Use space heaters with automatic shut-off
  • Gas stoves or ovens should never be used as a heating source
  • Do not attempt to climb ladders
  • Do not walk on frozen stairs, sidewalks, or driveways

For more winter weather tips and planning, visit the Winter Safety section of the National Weather Service.

With knowledge of local resources, An Aging Life Care Professional® can  build an emergency weather plan for your aging loved one. Find one to consult at aginglifecare.org.

bladder health month

Urinary Incontinence in Older Adults & Seniors

Urinary Incontinence in Older Adults & Seniors

By Vicki Wolpoff of NorthShore Care Supply  –  an Aging Life Care Association Corporate Partner 

November is Bladder Health Month — a  month is designed to encourage you to stay informed about different bladder issues, so you can proactively take care of your bladder health or help someone who you are caring for.

One of the most common bladder conditions that affect millions of individuals each year is urinary incontinence. It is characterized by poor bladder control, which is when an individual cannot prevent urine from leaking out.

Aging is a factor that can cause urinary function to decline due to bladder and/or bowel changes as people get older. That’s why urinary incontinence is more prevalent in older adults.

Here’s what you need to know about urinary incontinence and aging as well as how you can help someone managing incontinence live life to the fullest without worrying about leaks.


What is the Connection Between Urinary Incontinence and Aging?

In older adults, incontinence may be caused by the following reasons:

  • Reduced Mobility: If seniors are suffering from a specific condition, like arthritis, they may have difficulty reaching the bathroom in time. This urge incontinence increases their risk of falls and accidents. It is also considered a major contributing factor to hip fractures among older women.
  • Impaired Cognition: Psychological disorders, like delirium, depression and dementia, can cause changes in the cognitive functioning of older adults. Once severely impaired, these conditions can limit their ability to go to the toilet and worsen their incontinence.
  • Urinary Infection: Urinary tract infections (UTI) in seniors may be characterized by pain, burning and the frequent urge to urinate. It can also cause urinary incontinence.
  • Side Effects of Medications: Certain medications can affect urinary incontinence, including diuretics, opioids, sedatives, antihistamines or decongestants, benzodiazepines and some antidepressants.Diuretics are known to increase the frequency of urination. Alcohol and caffeine can cause bladder irritation. Drowsiness is another side effect of medications, increasing one’s risk of falls.
What Can You Do to Help Manage Incontinence?

Managing incontinence among older adults is crucial to preventing the occurrence of bladder infections or ulcers. It can also be beneficial for their overall health and well-being, resulting in enhanced quality of life. Below are some tips to keep in mind.

  • Do Pelvic Strengthening Exercises. Doing pelvic floor exercises every day can strengthen the muscles around the bladder. This helps stop urination and reduce incontinence.
  • Make Lifestyle Changes. People experiencing issues with urinary incontinence should consider making the following lifestyle changes:
    • Eat a balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight.
    • Avoid drinking bladder irritants, such as alcohol or caffeinated beverages.
    • Stop smoking tobacco products.
    • Control the amount of fluids consumed.
    • Schedule regular bathroom breaks during the day and night.
  • Consider Incontinence Products. Even after getting treatments or making lifestyle changes, urine leakage may still occur occasionally. Consider using absorbent incontinence supplies to help manage this issue.Incontinence products are designed to support bladder (some also address bowel incontinence) leakage while offering comfort and protection. They come in the form of tab-style briefs/adult diapers, protective underwear/pull-up style, liners, pads, underpads and more. Absorbency levels can vary so pick the one with the most capacity needed to stay dry. At NorthShore Care Supply, we specialize in higher-absorbency products designed for individuals managing moderate and heavy to total incontinence.
  • Seek Professional Help. Whether you’re an older adult or a concerned family caregiver, the decisions you need to make surrounding aging safely, comfortably and healthily can be overwhelming, according to Care.com. If you are caring for an older relative or disabled adult, consider seeking professional help from an Aging Life Care Professional®. Sometimes referred to as geriatric care managers, these professionals have the expertise to address elderly care-related concerns, answer questions and help improve the quality of life for both you and your loved ones.

To locate an Aging Life Care Professional near you, visit aginglifecare.org.

About the author: Vicki Wolpoff is the Director of Marketing and Communications for NorthShore Care Supply, the company behind NorthShore® high-absorbency incontinence products such as tab-style briefs, protective underwear, pads, liners, bed pads and more. She has over 20 years of healthcare experience and currently serves as chair of the Adult Incontinence Committee for the Center for Baby and Adult Hygiene Products(BAHP), helping develop communications regarding adult incontinence, providing information on treatment and management options as well as increasing the accessibility of absorbent incontinence products.

image credit: National Association for Continence

Last Minute Thanksgiving Tips for Hosting Aging Adults

If your Thanksgiving holiday is fortunate enough to include multiple generations at the dinner table, here are some simple tips for keeping aging loved ones engaged, comfortable and safe during holiday celebrations.

Last Minute Thanksgiving Tips for Hosting Aging Adults

By Lisa Mayfield, MA, LMHC, GMHS, CMC – Aging Life Care Association® President

When planning a multi-generational Thanksgiving holiday consider these ideas to help navigate a few common issues that might pop up with your aging family members:

Making Conversation

• For those with hearing challenges or memory changes, navigating multiple conversations can be tough. Strategically sitting aging family members at the end of the table next to one or two family members who will be intentional about including them in conversations can often be the best way to ensure they feel engaged and included. Shouting across a room or even the dinner table, is rarely effective. More important than speaking loudly, is speaking clearly and sitting close.

• Don’t be shy about sharing stories and taking initiative with conversation. As memory declines, initiating conversations can be tough. It’s okay to take the lead with starting conversations.

• Focusing conversations on the present or sharing favorite memories is a great way to keep the conversation going.

• If aging family members have low vision or memory challenges, having family members introduce themselves can be helpful, “Hi Great Aunt Jane, it’s John. It’s so nice to see you.”

Feeling Comfortable

• Keeping rooms well-lit and bright is the best way to help those with low vision. To reduce the chance of falls, keep the house well-lit and clear any pathways.

• Offering a friendly escort to navigate the house can also be helpful for those with low vision, poor mobility, or memory challenges.

• Aging family members appreciate a warm house. Encourage dressing in layers and be intentional about seating. Save the “hot seats” for those who prefer being cozy.

Taking it Easy

• Less is often more.  Families tend to over plan their time together, so schedule plenty of down time. The best memories are often made while simply catching up and taking time to be together. “Being” vs “doing” might be the best approach.

• If your planning on an evening gathering, encourage taking an afternoon nap before the Thanksgiving meal. Later afternoons or early evening can be a time that people with memory changes become even more confused. Having an early dinner can help ensure aging family members are more engaged.

• Integrating family traditions with new family activities can be an effective way to bridge the generations.

For more ideas, consider engaging an Aging Life Care Professional® to be your guide for navigating the changes with aging family members. Aging Life Care Professionals are experts in aging well and can help your family successfully strategize solutions to challenges of aging. You can find an Aging Life Care Professional at aginglifecare.org.

Lisa Mayfield is the founder and co-Principal of Aging Wisdom®, an Aging Life Care™ practice in Seattle. Trained and licensed as a Mental Health Counselor, Geriatric Mental Health Specialist, and a Certified Care Manager, Lisa brings over two decades of experience working with older adults and their families. She is currently serving as the President of the Aging Life Care Association board of directors.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association® and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Evacuation tips for aging seniors

Planning for Disaster: Evacuation Tips for Aging Adults

No matter how much planning one does before a natural disaster—be it a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, fire, or flood—its arrival can often feel like a complete surprise. And for aging seniors, evacuating often comes with its own set of difficulties. With hurricane season still in effect and early winter storms blanketing parts of the country in snow, Aging Life Care Professionals® are urging all aging adults to make sure they are prepared with a plan.

“Whether it’s a hurricane, snowstorm, fire, or earthquake, having a disaster plan can be the difference between a safe evacuation and a more dangerous situation,” says Liz Barlowe, an Aging Life Care Manager from Florida who has been through several hurricanes and evacuations. “It doesn’t matter if the senior lives at home independently or in a facility, each individual needs both a proactive plan and reactive plan.”

Proactive planning includes having important documents and insurance cards in order as well as an emergency kit of medications, money, first-aid items, batteries, water, and food. This plan should be in writing, updated every six months to a year, and be shared with all responsible care parties.

Reactive planning plans for the “what-ifs” after a disaster. “Knowing where you can stay if your home is uninhabitable after a storm; or knowing where you can go for medical care in another city brings an aging senior some peace of mind,” says Barlowe. “When I develop a plan for my clients, my goal is to get them back to their normal daily routine as soon as possible.”

Aging Life Care Professionals offer these evacuation tips for aging adults:

  • Prepare, plan, practice!
  • Gather all important documents (e.g. Banking information, Trusts/wills, POAs, Deeds, Insurance Information-property and health, an emergency only credit card, and a small amount of petty cash). Place these items in a fireproof and/or carry-friendly box.  Make sure to place the box in an easily accessible location.
  • Gather all medications (or pictures of labels), medication lists, and important health information. Place these items in a separate fireproof and/or carry-friendly box, if possible for ease in carrying. Make sure to place the box in the same easily accessible location.
  • If there are pets, research animal boarding ahead of time and create a plan for boarding.  Make sure all pets have vaccinations and papers required for boarding (place these documents in the medication information box along with your loved one’s information).
  • Research temporary housing options–hotels, respite care in assisted living, family or friends, in nearby communities.
  • Register for weather alerts with the local authorities.

Long-distance caregiving comes with a separate set of challenges. Barlowe recommends finding an Aging Life Care Professional in the local area to serve as an emergency contact and activate the disaster plan when you can’t be there. Someone local will also have a better knowledge of the resources and support systems available. A national directory of professionals is available at aginglifecare.org.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association® and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Observe, Recognize, Prevent: 7 Common Myths About Elder Abuse

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched in 2006 on June 15th by the World Health Organization. Elder abuse is one of the most overlooked public health problems in the United States. Victims of abuse are three times more likely than those who weren’t mistreated to die prematurely. Learn how to identify those at risk and what to do if you are concerned about a vulnerable adult.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

By Jullie Gray, MSW, LICSW, CMC – Aging Life Care Association™ Member and Fellow of the Leadership Academy

Perceptions people have about elder abuse are usually wrong. That’s disheartening because the way we think about elder mistreatment affects our ability to recognize the signs of abuse and our sense of urgency and commitment about stopping it.

Let’s take a look at the most common myths and learn the facts.

Myth #1 – Elder abuse occurs mostly in nursing homes.

Even though elder abuse does occur in nursing homes, it most often happens at home, behind closed doors in every community, regardless of socioeconomic status.[1]

Myth #2 – Strangers and paid caregivers are the ones preying on older people.

It’s heartbreaking, but most vulnerable adults are abused by a known, trusted person – usually a family member.  Abuse is frequently cloaked in a shroud of family secrecy that sometimes makes detection very difficult.

Myth #3 – The bad guys always get caught.

Criminal prosecutions of abusers are actually the exception rather than the rule because most victims don’t tell. They’re afraid, embarrassed or simply unable to report any wrongdoing to authorities.

Myth #4 – If there are no bruises or physical signs of abuse, there is nothing to worry about.

When thinking about abuse, nearly everyone immediately pictures bruises, broken bones and other types of physical cruelty. However, neglect and self-neglect are the most common types of abuse. Emotional abuse and financial exploitation happen frequently too. None of the typical forms of abuse result in obvious outward signs such as black eyes, welts or broken limbs.  If you are only looking for the physical signs of abuse you will inadvertently overlook the vast majority of cases.

Myth #5 – Caregiver stress causes elder abuse.

Caregiving by its very nature can be stressful – but stress doesn’t cause elder abuse. Most stressed caregivers do not harm the person they care for. By focusing on caregiver stress as an explanation, we tacitly excuse inexcusable behavior. Using “stress” as a rationale also shifts the focus to the abuser and away from the victim by evoking a perception that if the older person was just easier to care for, not sick, and not so demanding, the abuse would never occur.[2]

Myth #6 – Elder abuse happens to men and women equally.

Elder abuse happens most often to women, but plenty of men fall victim too. Regardless of gender, those with some type of cognitive impairment are at greatest risk of being abused.

Myth #7 – It’s not that big of a deal.

Elder abuse is one of the most overlooked public health hazards in the United States. Victims of abuse are three times more likely than those who weren’t mistreated to die prematurely. The National Center on Elder Abuse[3] estimates that between two to five million elderly Americans experience some form of abuse each year. It is believed that for every one case of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation, or self-neglect reported to authorities, about five more go unreported.

Observing signs of abuse

Since a victim may not be able to report abuse, it’s up to others to observe the signs and intervene.types and definitions of abuse

Physical indicators can suggest abuse is occurring

  • Injuries that are inconsistent with the explanation for their cause
  • Bruises, welts, cuts, burns
  • Dehydration or malnutrition without illness-related cause

Behavioral signs shown by the victim indicating possible abuse

  • Fear, anxiety, agitation, anger, depression
  • Contradictory statements, implausible explanations for injuries
  • Hesitation to talk openly

Patterns seen in caretakers who abuse

  • History of substance abuse, mental illness, criminal behavior or family violence
  • Anger, indifference, aggressive behavior toward the victim
  • Prevents victim from speaking to or seeing visitors
  • Flirtation or coyness as possible indicator of inappropriate sexual relationships
  • Conflicting accounts of incidents

Signs a vulnerable person is being financially exploited

  • Frequent expensive gifts from victim to a caretaker or “new best friend”
  • Drafting a new will or power of attorney when the victim seems incapable of drafting legal documents
  • Caretaker’s name (or the name of the victim’s “new best friend”) is added to the bank account
  • Frequent checks made out to “cash”
  • Unusual activity in bank account
  • Sudden changes in spending patterns

What to do if you identify someone at risk

We all need to vigilantly look for abuse around every corner of our neighborhood and in the care facilities we visit. One problem, though, is that our culture has taught us to avert our eyes, cover our ears, and mind our own business.

If you are concerned about a vulnerable adult, call 911 or your local adult protective services agency.

Many families also contact Aging Life Care Professionals™ who can provide an unbiased look at the situation, facilitate family meetings to discuss concerns and provide information about care options or ways to approach the situation.

These dedicated professionals understand the laws concerning elder abuse in the state where they practice and can help navigate complicated bureaucracies, act as an advocate for the older person and help develop a safe plan of care.  They work hand in hand with adult protective service caseworkers, police departments and elder law attorneys to ensure the safety of the older person and to coordinate appropriate services.

It is human nature to want to put our heads in the sand and change the subject to something more pleasant. But if we identify and report abuse when it occurs, we can stop the cycle and protect our most vulnerable elders.

About the author: A Fellow of the Leadership Academy, Jullie Gray has over 30 years of experience in healthcare and aging. She is a Principal at Aging Wisdom in Seattle, WA. Jullie is the President of the National Academy of Certified Care Managers and the Past President of ALCA. Jullie Serves on the King County Elder Abuse Council in Washington State. Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter @agingwisdom, or email her at jgray@agingwisdom.com. Aging Wisdom has a presence on Facebook – we invite you to like our page.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

[1] https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice/research/

[2] Brandl, B. & Raymond, JA. Generations. American Society on Aging. Fall 2012. Vol 36. No. 3. http://www.ncall.us/sites/ncall.us/files/resources/32_39_Gene_36_3_Brandl_Raymond.pdf

[3] http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/

Retirement Checklist

Ten Things Everyone Should Do At Retirement

When asked for their best piece of advice, Aging Life Care Professionals are quick to respond: “Be prepared,” “Make a plan for aging,” “Don’t wait for a crisis to strike,” “Build a team of trusted friends, family and professionals.” So when you head into retirement, be sure to take the necessary steps to plan for the next phase of life. Thanks to our guest Aging Life Care™ Month blogger for sharing this useful ten-step checklist to help you prepare and plan for aging.   To find a professional to help pull together or manage your Aging Life Care plan, visit the Aging Life Care Association’s “Find an Aging Life Care Expert” search at aginglifecare.org.  

 

By Carolyn L. Rosenblatt, RN, Elder law attorney, AgingParents.com – National Aging Life Care™ Month Guest Blogger

 

Let’s face it: no one likes to think of one’s self as “old”. We have an unfortunately negative culture about aging itself and this can cause a lot of problems. But some of these issues can be resolved by taking a few smart steps at age 65 or sooner. I see unnecessary heartache, grief and expense caused by forgetting to do these things or just never considering them.  Here is a ten-step checklist to follow for every smart retiree. If you are an Aging Life Care Manager®, you can remind your clients and help them to carry out these basic essentials we all need. And be sure to do it for yourself too!

Step One

First, identify a trusted person or persons you want to use as the receiver of all of your essential information and documents.  We’ll call this person the Information Keeper. This may be an adult child, a long time friend, or someone who can be counted on as absolutely trustworthy.  Ask the Information Keeper if they’d like to have this assignment. Set a date with this person and sit down with them to go over this checklist.

Step Two

Have a signed and notarized durable power of attorney.  Any competent estate planning attorney will include this in the estate plan documents. But it is surprising how many families don’t have one when they need it. If a generic form DPOA is all right it can be downloaded free from the internet in your state. You do not have to have a lawyer do it, but if you want a special form, you should have a lawyer do it for you.

Step Three

Have a signed advanced healthcare directive Competent estate planning attorneys should also include this document in the estate plan but not all attorneys do so. The document can be gotten from the doctor’s office or free from the internet.  Don’t leave your family in the lurch not knowing what you would want in the way of care or end of life wishes should you be unable to communicate at any time in the future. Yes, you have to think about end of life to fill it out but it’s only fair to make your own choices rather than push this off on anyone else.

Step Four

Make a list of all bank accounts, passwords, hard drive backup location, investment records and financial planning.  The professionals to contact should be on the list. And you should give permission in writing to each of them, such as accountant, estate planning lawyer, and financial advisor to communicate with your appointed trusted person.

Step Five

List every insurance policy you have and provide the location of where it is stored.  This includes life, disability, health, property, earthquake, and anything else you own that will protect your heirs.  Millions of dollars of life insurance proceeds go uncollected each year because the beneficiaries do not know that the policies exist or that they are the beneficiaries.

Step Six

Make a copy of the mortgage statement, any other loans, and debts, financial statements, and bank statement. These should be updated quarterly as these change as loans are paid or made and amounts available fluctuate. If you became suddenly incapacitated someone would need to step in and handle your affairs and pay bills. No one can do this unless they know some basic financial information.

Step Seven

Make a list of all physicians, care providers, and medications you take and give the list to the Information Keeper along with written permission for loved ones to speak with the doctors.  What if you got in an accident and got knocked out for awhile? If anyone wanted to know your medical status, and you have no Information Keeper, it could mean a great deal of danger for you.  This one is simple and won’t take much time.

Step Eight

This might be the hardest one to do but do it anyway. No one gets out of here alive. Create or have on hand information about your wishes for burial or disposition of your remains. The Information Keeper should have that too.

Step Nine

Update your will and/or trust with a local attorney. Laws vary state to state and these need to be current in the state where you live now in retirement. If you’ve never gotten around to doing this make a date and see a lawyer. It’s not that expensive. It can prevent a lot of fighting and heartache after you’re gone.

Step Ten

Call a family meeting to discuss the items on this checklist. Transparency is critical to avoid conflicts down the road.  Do you care about how your loved ones would manage if you couldn’t communicate or if you died unexpectedly? If you love them, sit down and talk it all over. Everyone should know who the Information Keeper is and what that person has on hand.

You can download a copy of this checklist by clicking here. Or you can hear a 5 minute verbal recap of the checklist there too.

Enjoy your retirement, but don’t get caught off-guard. An Aging Life Care Professional can assist with every step on this list. To find one near you, visit the Find an Aging Life Care Expert search at aginglifecare.org.

About the author: Carolyn Rosenblatt has over 45 years of experience in her combined professions of nursing and legal practice. Together with her husband, geriatric psychologist Dr. Mikol Davis, she founded AgingParents.com, a resource for families, and AgingInvestor.com offering educational training and products, both live and online, about aging issues for financial professionals.  These focus on diminished capacity, elder abuse and financial decision-making.  She is the author of The Family Guide to Aging Parents: Answers to Your Legal, Financial and Healthcare Questions.   She also authored Working With Aging Clients: A Guide for Legal, Business and Financial Professionals published by the American Bar Association, and co-authored Succeed With Senior Clients: A Financial Advisor’s Guide to Best Practices.

alcohol and dementia

Alcohol and Dementia: Critical Lessons from USA and South Africa

As the experts in aging well, Aging Life Care Professionals® help families cope with and manage a variety of age-related challenges such as alcohol use and dementia.  To find a professional, visit the Aging Life Care Association’s “Find an Aging Life Care Expert” search at aginglifecare.org.  As part of National Aging Life Care Month, the following is a featured post from a guest expert in aging. 

 

By Sophie Okolo, Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging – National Aging Life Care™ Month Guest Blogger

 

Studies have shown that excessive alcohol use can lead to many health problems such as dementia and cognitive decline, particularly among older people. While researchers are still learning about the link between drinking and dementia, it is important to act now to raise awareness of alcohol consumption as a risk factor. In recognition of National Aging Life Care Month, this post will explore the link between heavy drinking and dementia, as well compare and contrast alcohol consumption in the United States and South Africa, two countries that rank high among heavier-drinking nations. The goal is for aging professionals to explore how different cultures can prevent cognitive decline.

Alcohol-related dementia (ARD), a form of dementia caused by long-term, heavy drinking, leads to neurological damage and impaired cognitive function. Binge drinking typically occurs after four drinks for women and five drinks for men-in about two hours, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Despite steps to address dementia in South Africa, there is still no national plan that deals with the risks associated with alcohol use. The U.S. has several organizations, such as the Alzheimer’s Association, which provide interventions to reduce alcohol-related cognitive decline.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), South Africa has the highest level of alcohol consumption in Africa per capita. This is most alarming since South Africa has been highlighted as the worst country in the world for drunk driving, where about 58 percent of road deaths are related to alcohol consumption. WHO also places the U.S. and South Africa both among the top countries in terms of per capita alcohol consumption.

In 2015, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence released recommendations for preventing or delaying the onset of health problems, including dementia. High on the list was the recommendation that people between the ages of 40 and 64 to “reduce the amount they drink as much as possible.” As dementia rates continue to increase in the U.S. and South Africa, it is important that aging professionals raise awareness of the causal relationship between heavy drinking and dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia and may contribute to 60 percent to 70 percent of cases. It is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and an estimated 5.5 million Americans currently suffer from AD. If current population trends continue, the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease will increase significantly, unless the disease can be effectively treated or prevented. Due to increases in longevity, dementia is one of the most common diseases among older people. It is also a leading cause of frailty, institutionalization and death; therefore it has a great impact on both the individual and society.

More than 2.2 million South Africans have Alzheimer’s, and many live with the stigma attached to the condition. The problem is especially acute in rural areas, where communities often think people with Alzheimer’s are ‘bewitched’ or are simply ‘acting out’. While there is no proven effective treatment nor much intervention, the consensus is that a lack of exercise, obesity and binge drinking all can increase the chance of getting Alzheimer’s.

Despite the incidence of dementia, physical activity and brain exercises have positive effects on the aging brain. Physical activity, such as brisk walking, increases the flow of oxygen to the brain. Brain exercises, such as learning a new sport or a foreign language, can set the brain cells into action and increase mental power. With studies now showing the link between heavy drinking and dementia, aging professionals in South Africa and the U.S. can discuss ways of raising awareness of aging and alcohol.

Increases in alcohol-related deaths and accidents have led to recent discussions to ban alcohol in countries and regions including Malawi and India.  Globally, about 3.3 million deaths were connected with alcohol consumption in 2012. Drinking accounted for 7.6 percent of deaths among males and 4.0 percent of deaths among females. Other statistics for South Africa and the U.S. only include:

  • South Africa’s average alcohol consumption is almost double the WHO African region average of six liters, and is expected to increase to 12.1 in 2025.
  • More than a quarter of the drinking population in South Africa are deemed binge drinkers, consuming at least 60 grams or more of pure alcohol in one sitting within a 30-day period.
  • Americans over age 60 are drinking more than they were 20 years ago.
  • Alcoholism is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the U.S., with 79,000 deaths per year traced to excessive drinking.

While there is plenty of evidence that chronic alcoholism can cause serious damage to the brain, it would be wise to also emphasize and encourage the benefits of other healthy habits. Many studies state that regular exercise, no smoking, healthy diets, and little or moderate alcohol intake can help reduce the risk of dementia and other cognitive decline. These lessons, including further exploration of the causal relationship between heavy drinking and dementia, call for both nations to invest more in health and wellness.

About the author: Sophie Okolo is an associate with the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging, where she focuses on enhancing the center’s healthy aging portfolio through producing research, writing editorials, convening experts, and partnering with national organizations. She works to increase awareness and support for scientific and social advancements in prevention and wellness and to spread innovative health solutions to diverse communities. Her professional interests include improving the quality of life for older people around the world and increasing awareness of preventive health care. Okolo holds a B.S. in bioinformatics from Ramapo College and an M.P.H. with a focus in community health and gerontology from Armstrong Atlantic State University.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association® and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Aging Life Care Month

May is National Aging Life Care Month

Aging Life Care Professionals Kick-Off Aging Life Care Month During 33rd Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas

The Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) – the nonprofit association representing nearly 2,000 leaders in Aging Life Care™ management – will celebrate the profession during the month of May. Aging Life Care Month kicks off with the 33rd Annual Aging Life Care Association Conference in San Antonio, TX May 3 – 6, 2017 where leaders in aging will tackle the toughest issues related to aging today.

The three-day conference features leading research scholar Nancy Berlinger of The Hastings Center discussing how we look at our aging society, how we handle end-of-life discussions, and the role Aging Life Care Professionals play in improving care and strengthening communities. Other topics to be addressed are providing engaging dementia care, cultural sensitivity, incorporating technology thoughtfully into care, as well as the delicate issues of love and sexuality in aging.

“With a spotlight shining on the caregiving challenges faced by families, more attention is being paid to the impact our aging population has on our communities and resources,” says ALCA President Amy O’Rourke, MPH, NHA, CMC. “Aging Life Care Professionals are responding to the needs of families and helping adults plan for and face age-related challenges.”

Aging Life Care is a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults or others facing health challenges. The Aging Life Care Professional is a health and human services specialist who is a guide, advocate, and resource for families caring for an older relative or disabled adult. Working with families, the expertise of Aging Life Care Professionals provides answers during a time of uncertainty. Their guidance leads families to the actions and decisions that ensure quality care and an optimal life for those they love, thus reducing worry, stress, and time off work for family caregivers. housing, crisis, advocacy, legal, communication, financial, health and disability

They have extensive knowledge about the costs, quality, and availability of resources in their communities. Aging Life Care Professionals are members of the Aging Life Care Association® (ALCA) who have met stringent education, experience, and certification requirements of the organization, and all members are required to adhere to a strict code of ethics and standards of practice.

Aging Life Care Professionals throughout the country will celebrate National Aging Life Care Month by providing seminars, webinars, special events, open houses, and other educational activities for the public. For more information, and locations of Aging Life Care Professionals, visit ALCA’s website aginglifecare.org.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association® and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Retirement Checklist

Aging Life Care Association’s Amy O’Rourke Featured in #ElderCareChat Discussion on How Families Can Prepare for Aging as Guest Expe

amy-cameron-orourke-ALCA #ElderCareChat 4/12/17Don’t Wait for a Crisis to Strike – Top Tips to Prepare for Aging

Aging Life Care Association® was honored to join last week’s #ElderCareChat, with our current president Amy Cameron O’Rourke serving as an expert panelist. O’Rourke engaged 40 participants in a lively Twitter conversation about how families can prepare for aging versus reacting to a crisis.

The one-hour #ElderCareChat illuminated the Aging Life Care Association’s vision of a world where adults and their families live well as they face the challenges of aging proactively rather than reactively.

The Twitter session, which generated more than 3 million impressions, underscored the fact that many seniors and their families fail to consider the realities of aging until there’s a ElderCareChat analytics 4/12/17crisis. As O’Rourke shared, death can be an uncomfortable topic, and families would rather not talk about losing someone they love. Plus, adult children want to honor their parents’ independence and avoid stepping on toes.

But, as O’Rourke and other participants pointed out, the consequences of waiting for an emergency to make plans for aging can be dire—fewer choices, higher costs, less input from the senior loved one, increased family tension, and even unintended or aggressive medical treatments.

Instead, O’Rourke recommended families proactively prepare for aging by building a team of professionals, including a financial planner, elder law attorney, and an Aging Life Care Professional. Such professionals can explain options for senior housing and care, and help families determine what suits their particular needs and resources.

Though it may cost money upfront, O’Rourke noted that preparation can save money in the long run. What’s more, preparing for aging saves families from having to make difficult decisions without the input of their senior loved one. Here are some highlights of the thoughtful discussion that took place over the #ElderCareChat hour (scroll through to view all):

#ElderCareChat is presented by OurParents.com and sister sites SeniorAdvisor.com and VeteranAid.org as a forum to share resources, experiences, and expertise in eldercare. #ElderCareChat meets mid-month; the next chat will be Wednesday, May 17, 2017, at 1pm ET.

To find an Aging Life Care Professional®, visit aginglifecare.org to search for an expert by zip code, city or state.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association® and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

sibling rivalry, aging parents

Sibling Rivalry and Aging Parents: 5 Tips to Keep the Peace

Often when adult siblings receive a crisis alert that elderly Mom or Dad is sick, it is common for old roles and competitiveness to flare. How quickly an adult child can revert into acting like a kid when siblings get together. There is just something about being with brothers and sisters that can send you into time travel, from age 45 to age 5 in a snap, and subsequently, from mature to immature.  

Sibling Rivalry, Aging Parents, and Running the Emotional Gauntlet

by Vivian McLaurin, BA – Aging Life Care Association® Member

 

Sibling rivalry, also known as competition between sisters and brothers for a parent’s attention, may change over time. Unique relationships can strengthen or weaken on the road from childhood to adulthood. Physical and emotional distances offer adult siblings new opportunities to develop respectful, loving, caring relationships. Sometimes though, a few embers of competitiveness or jealousy burn low.

Birth order can create lifelong labels that defy age, education, and experience. With that status often come a pre-defined set of roles. As Jane Mersky Leder wrote: “our siblings push buttons that cast us in roles we felt sure we had let go of long ago — the baby, the peacekeeper, the caretaker, the avoider. It doesn’t seem to matter how much time has elapsed or how far we’ve traveled.”  

Family dynamics are a powerful force, and when combined with the stress and fear of losing a parent, can launch (or re-ignite) sibling feuds and hurt. How adult children navigate the stormy times with older or younger sibling depends on many factors including his or her own support system, self-awareness, dedication to a greater good, and emotional maturity — easy to say, hard to implement, and perhaps challenging to stay the course.

Aging parents play a leading role in sibling dynamics. However, it is neither wise nor fair to count on Mom or Dad to mediate their grown-up children’s feuds. Adult children need to acknowledge that they may not have had the perfect childhood or the perfect parents. Be aware of the possibility of pitting one child against another, manipulation, and the age-old comparison game.

How can siblings work together during their parent’s aging journey?

1. Hope for the best and expect less – less in terms of personal recognition, equity, fame, glory, money, family heirlooms, etc. Aim for selflessness; it is a good look on everyone.

2. Respect legal and fiduciary assignments that parents have executed via power of attorney documents, wills, trusts, HIPAA release authorizations, etc. whether you personally agree or not. Decision-making authority and money are two topics that can stir conflict in the best of families. If your parent has not made his wishes clear by executing written advance directives, consult an attorney so your parent can put these essential documents in place.

3. Jobs for everyone! Help your siblings and yourself by looking at the tasks that must be accomplished. Match those tasks with individual strengths. Instead of forcing your brother to stay at the hospital with Mom when everyone knows that he is squeamish, ask him to mow the grass or hire a housekeeper.

If you and your siblings cannot reach consensus quickly, phone a friend or a pastor or a family elder or an Aging Life Care Professional® – someone that can help you make assignments without starting a family squabble.

4. Practice self-care. It is hard to drink from an empty glass. Stress, anxiety, fear are ingredients for a perfect sibling storm. If you are a long-distance adult child or if parental love is not the common denominator in your family, send a proxy. Professional care managers are trained to facilitate during a crisis. Aging Life Care Professionals often serve as a “surrogate” sibling and can become the glue that holds the family together through the crisis.

5. Now is not the time. An aging parent emergency is not necessarily the time to give in to family dysfunction. Even if a parent or sibling is on your last nerve, walk (or run) away from that scene.

The common ground may be love for your parent. Meet there. Even if it’s true that your brother always received more attention, gifts, love, etc., it is bad form to expect your parent to balance the scales during a health crisis.

“The principle needs to be this: Whatever the reasons for your feelings you will have to find civilized solutions.” – Selma Fraiburg

About the author: Vivian McLaurin is a care manager with Preferred Living Solutions in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area. Quality care for older adults, support for family caregivers and aging in America are personal passions for Vivian. She has worked with the aging population since 2013 and as a family caregiver most of her adult life. Vivian serves as a facilitator for an Alzheimer’s and other dementia caregivers support group in Cary, NC. She can be reached at vivian@preferredlivingsolutions.com or on Facebook.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association® and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.