...Picnics are symbolic of shared good times, casual but special. While generally held outdoors, they need not be. A quick look at the dictionary tells us that the word picnic means an informal good time. With that definition as a guide, we can come up with our own variations.
...Deep inside their gut, they harbor the outdated image of an "old folk's home." They consider a move from the family home one more step away from independence and one step closer toward death. They think a move to assisted living signifies to the world that they now have the proverbial "one foot on a banana peel and one foot in the grave."
According to an AARP survey, the vast majority of boomers have stated that they want to stay in their current homes rather than move to another setting for their later years. This attitude has been the springboard for many aging in place advocates as well as businesses like contractors and high tech companies. It’s not hard to understand why 60-year-olds would say that they want to remain in their home for life rather than move to assisted living or a nursing home. These are generally people who are relatively healthy and feel that they can hire help for whatever they need down the road.
Twenty-five years ago, my aunt and uncle moved from the Washington, D.C. area to be with my family here on the Great Plains. One of the few complaints that I heard from my aunt about the move was that when she went to their new bank, the tellers called her by her first name. To someone of her generation, a younger person should have been calling her “Mrs. Kelly.” Yes, she understood their intent and she now lived in a more open, friendlier community than before, but she felt that first names lacked dignity. Additionally, while she was obviously aging, her mind was quick and her memory accurate. All she wanted was a little respect.
Dear Carol: With reluctance, I’m looking for a good nursing home for my wife who has had multiple sclerosis for decades. I’ve cared for her all along but my own body is breaking down. I’ve checked Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare and that’s helpful. However, I feel that is too removed from the everyday life of most nursing homes. Some care homes look good in ratings and but in reality they seem lifeless and institutional. One that I like the feel of doesn’t have the highest rating, though the rating isn’t low. What are the best tools for choosing? Mike
While Alzheimer’s specific drugs may help slow symptoms for some people, they also may increase the risk of hip fractures, fainting, urinary problems and other health issues. Most researchers now think that a time comes when many medications for the elderly are no longer beneficial and may be harmful. According to an article in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester looked at 5,406 nursing home residents who had late-stage Alzheimer’s or dementia with more than half of them being older than 85. The scientists found that 2,911 of the patients – nearly 54 percent - were taking at least one medication of questionable benefit.
...Why would we be surprised? People with dementia are not less intelligent after they develop the disease than they were before. They aren’t less talented. They aren’t less in any way except that portions of their brains are being damaged so that they can’t always function well in the world as we know it. Anything that can level the playing field for people with dementia is bound to give them joy and renewed confidence.
Have you ever entered someone's home and felt good things about it even if it's cluttered or decorated in a way you find tacky? We find that a home can have an aura of happiness or lightness about it and we feel comfortable. Conversely, other homes feel as if the air is heavy and burdensome. The same can be said for senior housing. While, by definition, senior housing facilities will be handling death situations on a fairly regular basis, the atmosphere itself should be one of lightness most of the time. Much of this atmosphere comes from the staff member's interaction with colleagues, the families and residents and their overall contentment with their jobs.
For most of my parents' marriage, Mom was the social butterfly, while Dad was more quiet and self-contained. He was fine in social situations, but attended group events mainly to please Mom. Then, overnight, our family's world turned up-side-down. Dad needed surgery to correct effects from a World War II brain injury. The surgery backfired, sending him into the world of dementia. He needed to be moved into a nearby nursing home. Three years later, Mom's own health problems led to her moving into the same facility.
Dear Carol: My 73-year-old dad was widowed five years ago. He lives alone and considering all that he’s been through, he seems quite happy. He putters around the house doing projects he enjoys, watches TV, reads and has friends that he enjoys seeing occasionally. He’s included in all family gatherings and I stop by to see him a couple of times a week. I’ve noticed, lately though, that when he’s alone in a room he’ll talk to himself. Not just an occasional mumble, but really quite a bit of talking. I’m wondering if he’s lonely or even if this is a sign of dementia. T.M.