Consider what your life would be like without vision. Consider, also, that many eye diseases sneak up on us without warning. If these diseases, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, can be caught and treated early, the chance of preserving your sight vastly improves. One would think that our understanding our eye doctor can detect trends toward changes in our eye health, would could indicate problems with our overall health, would be enough to get us to our regular eye exams. However being human, we often wait until our eye glasses break or are no longer doing their job before we schedule an appointment (guilty as charged - Arrgh! I need to make that appointment).
September is, among many things, National Suicide Prevention Month. The numbers of young people who commit suicide are extremely disturbing and task forces are looking into preventative measures. The high rate of suicide among our military is also being studied in an attempt to stem these premature deaths. There is another age, however, where suicide is quietly occurring for any number of reasons. These suicides are among elders.
Dear Carol: My mother has Alzheimer’s disease. She lives with us in our home, but there isn’t someone available during the day. So far she is doing okay, but I’m worried about the fact that she wants to go outside, and then she just takes off muttering things I don’t understand. I know wandering is a part of Alzheimer’s. What can we do? Francie
Dear Francie: You are right that wandering is a common factor with Alzheimer’s. It’s one of the most frightening changes for caregivers, especially since people with Alzheimer’s, mostly elders, can be physically frail. They are most certainly vulnerable.
One of the most frequently asked questions that I receive from caregivers is how can I get help with my parent or spouse who has Alzheimer's disease. Science has yet to find a cure for this mine-robbing disease, and most of the drugs available only delay or calm symptoms for a time. With or without the medications that can make Alzheimer's easier to manage, at least at some stages, the care needed is still delivered by human hands.
My mother was a wonderful, caring person. She was the default caregiver for her parents and for her mother-in-law. In fact, my paternal grandmother lived with our family during her last years and Mom handled her caregiving role admirably.
It's a day I won't forget. My mother, the last of my seven elders, had died approximately two years earlier. During her last months, I'd written a book on caregiving. I'd begun writing a newspaper column on elder care. I'd also begun writing on caregiving for Web sites. Even though nearly everyone I knew, from casual friends to medical professionals, predicted that I'd feel a huge vacuum when the last of my elders died, I didn't. Not then.
When the review copy of 100 Simple Things You can do to Prevent Alzheimer’s and Age-Related Memory Loss arrived, I did what I do with most review copies offered. I opened the package, made a mental note to get to it, and added it to my stack of books to read. Along with most boomers, however, I am painfully aware of time slipping by. I second guess every lost word, every glitch in my routine due to inattention to detail.
Alzheimer's is affecting many of those we love. It's also hovering over the heads of many boomers who wonder, "What are my risks?"
Caring.com has an interesting approach to this that they are launching in honor of World Alzheimer's Day. Check our Alzheimer's by the Numbers and get updates all year long.
Other great sites to check:
A number of years back, my dad, who had developed dementia after a surgery to correct problems from a World War II brain injury, was seized by sudden, horrendous pain. While Dad had to cope with considerable pain from arthritis and some back issues, this was different.
Dear Readers: Part one of this two-part series addressed my personal experience of signing up for Medicare Parts A and B as one of the “working aged.” That means I’m not retired. Yeah, I figured that out without help. This continuation takes you through the rest of my Medicare sign-up process.
For months, I’d been receiving a deluge of mail from insurance companies telling me that I was turning 65 (oh, I’d forgotten!).