Dear Readers: Episcopal priest, author and former AARP columnist Malcolm Boyd has written a book aimed at sharing the wisdom he has accumulated during his long, active life. His newest book, “Wisdom for the Aging,” is one that can be enjoyed by anyone who is old enough to look back even a few years and wonder about choices they have made and are now making.
You see the ads everywhere these days—“Smart Drugs” for long life or “Arthritis Aches and Pains Disappear Like Magic!” or even statements claiming, “This treatment cured my cancer in 1 week.” It’s easy to understand the appeal of these promises. But there is still plenty of truth to the old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”
Health scams and the marketing of unproven cures have been around for many years. Today, there are more ways than ever to sell these untested products. In addition to TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, infomercials, mail, telemarketing, and even word-of-mouth, these products are now offered over the Internet—with websites describing miracle cures and emails telling stories of overnight magic. Sadly, older people are often the target of such scams.
Warman Home Care is honoring Grandparents Day, which is September 13, by hosting a “Warman Fuzzy” photo and video contest. The winner of the best photo will receive an iPOD Nano and the winner of the best video will win an iPOD Touch. This is a nice nod to grandparents everywhere, so I thought I'd give them a little publicity. You can find out more about the contest on www.warmanfuzzy.com.
So often, as caregivers, we bend over backward to help our loved ones. We anticipate their every need. Then, suddenly, there's an angry outburst from the very person or people we have given so much loving attention.
"Don't try to run my life!" Mom shouts.
"You think you know everything," Dad grumps.
"Well, since you're in charge, I suppose we'll do it your way," Mom says sarcastically.
You feel hurt and you wonder where you've gone wrong. You've only been trying to help. You've given up time your husband and children could use, to say nothing of your job. You've nearly eliminated any chance of "me" time for yourself, just so you could help your parents, and now they seem to be angry all the time.
Dear Carol: My parents live in a home they have had forever, and it’s become too much for them to keep up, inside and out. I try to help, but I live an hour’s drive away.
I’d like them to look at assisted living, but they refuse. One day, one of them will fall down the steep old stairs that lead to the only bathroom. How can we get them to stop being so stubborn? – Jean
Dear Jean: First, remember that at the bottom of most stubbornness is fear of change. You parents have had this home for a long time.
They may or may not know their neighbors. My guess is that most of their neighbors have moved on and younger families have replaced them.
Most of us would rather not have to live our last months or years in a nursing home. Certainly, almost no one would choose this option if all nursing homes were like the ones of past decades. Based on military and prison hospitals and run for the efficiency of staff, the old nursing home model was a horror. Are there still homes like this? Unfortunately, yes. However, an educated public and an aging boomer generation that has never taken orders meekly are two powerful forces pushing change.
Frequently, I talk with people who have gotten their elderly parent home from a hospital stay, expecting an improvement in health, and found that they have deteriorated mentally - sometimes significantly. They ask, "Will this go away?" Obviously, each case is different, but it's certainly an issue that needs to be addressed. Sometimes a hospital stay can be so disorienting that an elder will sink into a confused state, even though no sign of infection or other physical reason seems evident. Some recover, but some don't seem to ever get back to where they were prior to the hospital stay.
Dear Readers: Rarely have I come across information or a product that has as much potential for professionals in assisted living and nursing homes as it does for families caring for their elders. But a new series of books called “Memory Triggers” fits that description. Nadine Rudner Brechner’s mother had Alzheimer’s disease. Brechner tried to stimulate her mother’s mind with children’s books and other easy projects, but that didn’t work well. This doesn’t surprise me. People with Alzheimer’s disease are not children, and many recognize and resent being given children’s materials, even though that is sometimes the best a caregiver can find given the mental decline of the elder... A gift from the heart:Two Harbors Press has released “Hi, I’m Mary,” an inspiring journal written by Mary Wickmann, a volunteer for Hospice of the Red River Valley. Serene photos.
The Web site www.helpwithmyparents.com offers registered users a chance to add their own information. It's an interesting attempt to become a comprehensive site, offering tips on many medical and caregiving questions. Once you create an account, you can edit or add information. It reminds me a bit of a Wikipedia for elder care. I wish them the best with this new concept and encourage readers to take a look.
Dear Carol: My dad is getting forgetful. He’s intelligent and has always prized his memory. I’ve heard medication can slow dementia, so I’d like him to be evaluated, but he doesn’t think he has a problem. What do I do? – Guy
Dear Guy: First of all, make sure this memory issue that worries you isn’t just “retrieval time.” People’s ability to access stored memory tends to slow down with age, partially because the brain is so saturated with the information gathered over the years that sifting and retrieving information takes longer. This isn’t the same as dementia-related memory loss.
However, if your dad is having true memory problems, say he forgets what he just said to someone a hour before or can’t remember something about the grandchildren that was always tops in his brain, then there’s something to be concerned about.