How vital is fitness to aging well? Very. A recent study of participants in the 2015 National Senior Games, also known as the Senior Olympics, revealed that the typical participant had a fitness age of more than 20 years younger than his or her chronological age. According to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, fitness age is determined by a measure of cardiovascular endurance and is a better predictor of longevity than chronological age.
Caregivers often find that many of their superficial friends drift away over time because the caregiver is too busy to have fun. These friends are not bad people. They simply don't know what to do to help the caregiver and they find it easier to share their time with people whose lives are less complicated. Are you this kind of friend?
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.
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.
Dear Carol: I grew up with my grandparents because my parents were killed in a car accident and they both loved me a lot. My grandmother died seven years ago when I was 23. I’d been on my own for a few years, but I moved back in with grandpa after he had a stroke. Things have gone fairly well with me working part time jobs and spending a lot of time with him. Lately, though, his memory has gotten very bad and he’s become stubborn about taking his medication, which he was always good about before. He’s also having more trouble getting around. I’ve finally started a good job with prospects for a future, but I can’t leave grandpa alone for long. My friends, as well as grandpa’s friends, tell me that he needs to go to a nursing home. They think it’s better for both of us but I feel like I should stay and take care of him like he took care of me. If I stay, I can’t take the full time job which I really want. I’m so confused. What do you think I should do? TK
It seems shocking to hear people ask whether dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s since it’s the best known, is as hard on the caregiver as it is on the person with the disease. After all, developing dementia of any kind is one of our greatest fears, even overtaking cancer. A caregiver who asks this question must be incredibly heartless and selfish, right? Yet, people who've never been a caregiver for someone with dementia need to think this through. When a loved one develops dementia, both the care receiver and the caregiver have entered an incredibly challenging time of their lives.
After decades of caregiving I’ve experienced some negative effects as noted in 5 Negative Effects of Long-term Caregiving. However, I've also experienced positive effects that continue to give me pleasure and enhance my life. I saved the positive aspects of caregiving for the second article because, having recently written about the ill effects on our health caused by negative thinking, it seemed more authentic to me as a writer. Also, as a person, when possible I like to concentrate on the positive. Below are a few of the many things that I feel I have gained, and still am gaining, from long-term caregiving.
There are a number of clinical issues involved in treating seniors with new and lifelong mental illnesses. A loved one may develop one of these conditions as they age, or they may have received a diagnosis long ago and remained stable on the same psychiatric medication for decades. In the latter case, however, their treatment plan may need to be adjusted as their body processes these drugs differently, new conditions develop and other medications are added to the mix.
Dear Carol: My dad, who is 84, has lived on the same farm and in the same house that his parents owned all of his life. He and Mom rented out the land ten years ago, but kept a few animals and a large garden. After Mom died, Dad sold the animals except for his house dog. He no longer gardens but he finds simple chores to do that keep him occupied. I know that he feels like he has to look after the home but that leaves him alone out in the country, essentially isolated. He’s in good health but the family worries about him. We want him to move to town and live with one of his adult children or rent an apartment but he resists the idea saying that he wants to stay independent. He’s mentally fine so we don’t feel that we can press too hard. We’re also afraid that if he is forced to move he may just give up on life. Either way we feel guilty. TR
Much like an adult who realizes that he or she has a "wounded child" living inside – a child who suffers from unearned self-blame or low self-esteem because of life events – many adult caregivers carry the guilt from their "infant" caregiving years to their grave. They spend precious time thinking about how they should have understood someone's needs better, could have been more patient, would have done any number of things better, if only they knew then what they know now.