Flu isn't just an inconvenience, especially among the elderly population. For expert information on how caregivers can help their elders stay healthy and if possible avoid the flu, I reached out to Martie Moore, R.N., MAOM, CPHQ, who is Chief Nursing Officer, Medline Industries, Inc. for some answers.
Help Us Help Them: Those afflicted with Alzheimer's disease often require emergency care. However, the needs and dynamics of providing such care differs vastly from other care calls - what do YOU want them to know?
Please help provide feedback and let's develop recommendations - that perhaps progresses into protocol - for emergency workers to best help those with AD. - SurveyMonkey for Alzheimer's ER care
From Carol: I took the survey and it doesn't take long.
...One story that stands out in my memory was told to me while interviewing people for “Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories.” The woman’s whole family had gathered by her father’s bedside. It had been days for some, hours for others, but they had all arrived. Their father had been withdrawing into himself, and they knew that his time to leave would soon come. Then, he rallied. He was able to sit up and even talk a bit. There was a spark in his eye. He told his family to go and get something to eat. During the time it took the family to grab some fast food at a nearby restaurant, the father died.
As people age, surgery becomes a greater risk to their overall health than it is for younger people. Older people often have less robust immune systems so they are more at risk for general infections and they are more at risk for pneumonia. However, one of the most frightening risks for older people is post-surgical delirium.
You’ve had an advanced health directive, often called a living will, drawn up along with your other legal documents. This vital document tells medical people how you should be treated if you can’t speak for yourself. It also names a health proxy to speak for you. This advanced directive is also included in a Power Of Attorney for health. You congratulate yourself on getting this task done. You’re confident that your wishes will be followed no matter what happens to your health.
Dear Carol: My wife and I are on Medicare which allows us to go to any hospital we choose. We’re aware that people our age are more likely to be hospitalized for procedures than younger people. We’re also aware of the risk of infection in some hospitals as well as the lack of good care so we’d like to do some research. How do we go about getting an unbiased account? H.B.
Dear Carol: My 88-year-old mother recently had a mammogram and they’ve discovered a cancerous lump in her breast. I think she should have surgery and treatment but the doctor says that it should be left alone. He says that considering Mom’s age and general health, treating it could be harmful to her and it’s not guaranteed to cure her. He actually said that the treatment itself could kill her. I think it’s just that they don’t want to spend money on old people.
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.
The moment is frozen in time for me when, just hours after I left his house, my phone rang. It was the dispatch center telling me that Joe had punched the help button and wasn't answering his phone. I immediately ran across the yard and pushed through the door. Joe was lying on the floor, with one leg at an unnatural angle. In agony, he just said "help me."
Dear Carol: My dad has had heart disease for years. He recently had a stroke that left him weak on one side but otherwise he seems to have recovered physically. Mentally, he’s not doing so well. He seemed to go downhill fast while he was in the hospital. The neurologist thinks that Dad may have vascular dementia, but she also told me that he shows some signs of Alzheimer’s. We’re watching him closely now that he’s home, but my main concern is that he has times when he talks to people who aren’t there. What’s going on? - R.J.