This holiday season, impress your guests with this easy appetizer! Chef Larry Carl of Trinity on Laurens provides instruction in this BeWell Educated video.
It is commonly assumed that as we grow older, our ability to make sound decisions declines. But new research by the MetLife Mature Market Institute and the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas at Dallas shows that previous studies on age-related decline of the ability to think logically and solve problems were flawed in key ways.
The Healthy Brain, Healthy Decisions study noted that earlier researchers lumped all seniors into one group, failing to separate out test subjects who were dealing with dementia and other health problems that caused cognitive impairment. The new study instead examined healthy seniors, and found that in many ways, people in their 70s surpass younger people when it comes to strategic learning capacity, conscientiousness and vigilance in decision-making.
“The study findings are a crucial first step to move beyond age as a demographic factor used to explain impaired decision-making,” said University of Texas researcher Sandra Chapman, Ph.D. “Policies and practices that focus exclusively on age-related declines in decision-making will unnecessarily curtail the autonomy of older adults with preserved cognitive function. Age is not a disease.”
Source: AgeWise reporting on MetLife Mature Market Institute study. Read the entire study here .
Take steps to lower the risk that you will receive the gift that no one wants: seasonal influenza.
During November and December, most of us spend time in crowds of people—at parties, while shopping, and as we make our way through crowded airports. This is also the time of year that seasonal influenza really takes off. Having the flu can ruin your holiday celebration! Entire families can end up sneezing and feverish…and then the dispersing guests take the bug back to their families and co-workers back home. Senior relatives are especially vulnerable to the sometimes dangerous complications from the flu.
Experts from Toronto’s Ryerson University offer ten tips for staying festively flu-free:
- Wash your hands. Always wash your hands before you start digging into the appetizers at a party. You should also wash your hands after you’ve finished to keep your hands as germ-free as possible.
- Don’t sneeze into your hand. If you feel a cough or sneeze coming on, be sure to cough into a tissue or into the inside of your sweater or jacket to avoid spreading any microbes to people standing near you at a party. A cough or sneeze can contaminate the air and surfaces with virus up to six feet away.
- Do the air kiss. Greet your family and friends by giving them a hug and kissing the air near their cheek. If there’s mistletoe dangling between you and a friend, replace the smack on the lips with a fake peck on the cheek instead.
- Don’t use your fingers. As a party guest, use serving spoons or forks to put food on your plate instead of just reaching for it. As a party host, be sure to put out plenty of serving utensils and provide people with alternatives to reaching into bowls, such as creating individual servings of your offerings.
- Get creative with your cups. When hosting a party, come up with fun ways of personalizing cups so there aren’t any mix-ups. Avoid serving beverages in their original containers for the same reason. Multiple identical cans or bottles can easily be mixed up.
- Carry hand sanitizer with you. Remember: the person who sneezes into their hands transfers viruses onto public doorknobs, handrails, products you purchase, or even the change the cashier gave you. Viruses can also survive hours to days on surfaces or your skin. If there isn’t a place to wash your hands nearby, use alcohol gel to sanitize your hands before you eat any food or even touch your face, particularly your nose or mouth. Keep a small bottle in your purse or pocket for those holiday shopping excursions.
- Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep weakens your immune system and makes you more susceptible to illness. Aim for a consistent six to eight hours of sleep every night, even during the busy season of shopping, planning and entertaining.
- Sick? Stay away. If you feel like you are coming down with a cold or flu, stay at home until you feel better. There is always next year’s round of holiday shindigs to host or attend. Stick to holiday specials on TV to give you a boost of merriment.
- Attending a religious service? Try to keep several feet away from other people and politely decline to share a communion wine goblet. Instead of shaking hands or hugging, greet others with a friendly wave.
- Cold or flu? A cold can strike any time, but October to March is flu season. If your symptoms include a headache and high temperature, contact your healthcare provider. And get your flu shot!
Source: Ryerson University is Canada’s leader in innovative, career-focused education. Located in downtown Toronto, Ryerson is a distinctly urban university with a mission to serve societal need and a long-standing commitment to engaging its community.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa … ’tis the season to enjoy time with family! No matter what our holiday traditions, most of us treasure this time to focus on loving relationships that span generations.
But the holidays can be stressful for anyone, and all the more so for those who are dealing with chronic health issues and disabilities. For people with Alzheimer’s disease and the family members who love them, the holidays can be a time of mixed feelings. Memories of holidays past are a reminder of the losses that come with the progression of the disease. And the challenge of providing care for their loved one leaves caregivers little extra time to deal with holiday tasks.
Tips for family caregivers. People with Alzheimer’s usually do best when a routine is maintained—and the holidays are anything but routine. If you are a family caregiver, you are the best judge of the limits you need to set. The Alzheimer’s Association points out that your situation is different now, and reminds you that you don’t have to live up to the expectations of others. Simplify the holidays, and ask for help from friends and other family members. If possible, encourage friends and family to spend time with your loved one, even if it is just for a short visit. Even though your loved one may not remember the visit, the emotional benefits will last.
Tips for friends. Alzheimer’s patients and families can feel abandoned when well-meaning or uncomfortable friends and relatives fail to include the person as they make their plans. Ask the caregiver what activities would work best for the person’s current condition. Ask for advice on the best time of day to visit. Plan to spend some quiet time with the person. Offer what might be the best gift of all: stay with the person so family caregivers can get out for shopping, personal time or attend holiday celebrations.
Copyright © AgeWise, 2013
November is National Family Caregivers Month. This recognition focuses on the challenges facing those who care for elderly and disabled relatives and friends. This year’s theme is “Family Caregivers—Now More Than Ever!” Says President Obama, “National Family Caregivers Month is a time to reflect on the compassion and dedication that family caregivers embody every day. As we offer our appreciation and admiration for their difficult work, let us also extend our own offers of support to them and their loved ones.”
Family caregivers provide a vast array of emotional, financial, nursing, social, homemaking and other services for their loved ones. Some family caregivers serve on a part-time basis, while others provide 24/7 care for people who require assistance for all daily living activities. Family caregiving can extend for a few years or a lifetime.
How much do you know about family caregivers today? Take this quiz to learn more about the millions of Americans who are caring for loved ones who are frail, chronically ill or disabled. (Find the answers at the end of this article.)
- How many people are currently caring for an elderly or disabled loved one?
a. 11 million
b. 27 million
c. 65 million
- Who said “There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers; those who are currently caregivers; those who will be caregivers; those who will need caregivers”?
a. Rosalynn Carter
b. Mother Teresa
c. Sandra Day O’Connor
- Serving as a family caregiver can have a negative impact on a person’s…
b. Emotional state
d. All of the above
- What is the term for the adults who are raising children under 18 while providing care for an elderly parent?
a. “The Sandwich Generation”
b. “Dual Responsibles”
c. “Double Duty Carers”
- Respite care, which provides a temporary break for caregivers…
a. Isn’t a good idea because it upsets the routine
b. Can be provided in the home
c. May be a short-term onsite program at a nursing home
d. Both B & C
- What percentage of family caregivers are women?
- The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 allows employees of larger companies to take a 12 week leave if they…
a. Experience an illness
b. Give birth to or adopt a baby
c. Provide care for an ill spouse or parent
d. All of the above
- The annual dollar value of the services provided by family caregivers is estimate to be…
a. $800 million
b. $25 billion
c. $450 billion
- The best way to be a good caregiver is…
a. To sacrifice everything for the loved one’s needs
b. To be sure the caregiver’s needs are also met
c. To graciously turn down offers of help
- Help for family caregivers is available through…
a. State and federal programs
b. Volunteer groups
c. Home care agencies
d. All of the above
Answers to “How Much Do You Know About Family Caregivers?” quiz:
1. C; 2. A; 3. D; 4.A; 5. D; 6. B; 7.D; 8.C; 9.B; 10. D
Copyright © AgeWise, 2013
Are you misplacing things more frequently? Do you have difficulty performing familiar tasks? Join Rice Estate, Lutheran Hospice, and BeWell Home Services for National Memory Screening Day for a FREE confidential memory screening.
But the medicines we take could have side effects that result in negative health effects. So it’s important to be educated about taking medicines safely.
Give your brain a workout with this month’s wordfind puzzle , which contains 20 terms that all have to do with taking medications safely. Can you find them all? Click here to download and print your copy.
For More Information
Download the free “Medicines and You: A Guide for Older Adults”http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/UCM163961.pdf from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Copyright © IlluminAge AgeWise, 2013
Most Americans have heard about hospice care. They know that hospices care for people at the end of life. Most people know a family or friend who was helped by hospice when faced with the serious illness and death of a loved one. But there’s so much more to know.
For example, did you know that hospice provides what the majority of Americans say they want at the end of life? Excellent pain management, comfort, and support for the patient and family caregivers.
Ten more things you should know about hospice:
1. Hospice is not a place but a special kind of care.
2. A hospice care team is made up of doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, spiritual care providers, trained volunteers and other skilled professionals who provide high-quality, compassionate care.
3. Hospice care is available to people of all ages with any kind of life-limiting illness, including cancer, advanced Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, HIV/AIDS and other life-limiting illnesses.
4. Hospice care is fully covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans and HMOs.
5. Hospice provides all medications and medical equipment needed to keep a person safe and comfortable.
6. There’s no limit to the amount of hospice care a person can receive; it’s available as long as a doctor believes a patient is eligible.
7. Most care is provided at home but hospice is also available in nursing homes, assisted living and long term care facilities and hospice inpatient units.
8. Hospice care can include complementary therapies, such as music and art, to bring additional comfort to patients and families.
9. Hospice programs offer grief support to the families they care for as well as to others in the community who are grieving.
10. More than 1.5 million people receive care every year.
One of the most common sentiments shared by families who have been helped by hospice care is, “We wish we had known about hospice sooner.”
To find out if hospice might be right for you or your family, or to learn more, visit Caring Connections at www.caringinfo.org or call the HelpLine at 1-800-658-8898.
Source: National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (www.nhpco.org)
Depression is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults. According to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, an estimated 15 percent of people older than 65 are dealing with depression, which affects the whole person: mind, body and emotions. Symptoms include a persistent feeling of sadness, lack of energy, changes in normal eating and sleeping, memory disturbances and impaired concentration, loss of interest in usual activities, and trouble keeping up with normal activities at home and work.
If you compare these symptoms to those of Alzheimer’s disease and related conditions, you will notice some striking similarities. Many of the symptoms of depression are known to mimic dementia, so closely that families and even healthcare providers may at first mistakenly suspect that a person with depression has Alzheimer’s disease. Ruling out depression is an important first step in diagnosing dementia.
Further complicating things, depression itself may be one early sign of dementia. But if depression is a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, could it also be a risk factor? For years, researchers have speculated that people with depression are more likely to later develop dementia. What is the connection? How could a history of depression make it more likely that a person will suffer cognitive losses later in life?
The American Academy of Neurology states that depression may nearly double a person’s risk of developing dementia. Researcher Jane Saczynzki, Ph.D., from the University of Massachusetts Medical School says, “While it’s unclear if depression causes dementia, there are a number of ways depression might impact the risk of dementia. Inflammation of the brain tissue that occurs when a person is depressed might impact the risk of dementia. Certain proteins found in the brain that increase with depression may also increase the risk of developing dementia.” Researchers from the University of Edinburgh also looked at brain shrinkage caused by high levels of certain stress hormones.
It is also possible that a particular factor—perhaps not yet known—underlies both depression and dementia. Research is underway to determine the precise nature of the connection between the two conditions.
Treating depression supports brain health
One thing researchers agree upon: Depression makes it much less likely that we will follow a healthy lifestyle that protects our memory health. It saps our will and motivation and our desire to be active. Says Saczynski, “Several lifestyle factors related to long-term depression, such as diet and the amount of exercise and social time a person engages in, could also affect whether they develop dementia.”
This is yet another reason to seek professional help if you or a loved one is showing signs of depression. Depression can become disabling if not properly treated. All too often, people are resistant to the idea that they might have a true depression, feeling that somehow they will “just snap out of it.” But depression is an illness that results from a chemical imbalance in the brain, and it can respond successfully to treatment.
The first step in reversing depression is to have it diagnosed by a physician or other qualified professional. After a thorough exam, the healthcare provider will first try to identify the cause of the depression, which might stem from:
- Distressing life events such as the death of a spouse, financial worries or illness
- Chronic pain
- Nutritional deficiencies such as lack of vitamin B-12 or folic acid, or poor nutrition in general
- Underlying medical conditions such as low thyroid or other hormone changes, diabetes, heart disease or Parkinson’s disease
- Side effects of specific medications, overmedication, or effects of polypharmacy—taking many drugs which might have a negative interaction.
Treatment for depression may include…
Lifestyle changes—Patients are advised to focus on better nutrition, spending more time with others, increasing physical activity, making more time for enjoyable activities, managing other health conditions, and confronting and dealing with negative thoughts.
Counseling—It’s not always possible for a person with depression to work through troubling thoughts on their own. Talking with a mental health professional may help identify the stressors that have led to depression, aid in developing strategies to lessen those stressors, and change negative thoughts as patients learn to take better care of themselves.
Medication—Antidepressant medications work by helping the brain make its normal chemicals again. These medications can help with sleep, improve energy and reduce anxiety and negative thoughts. There are several classes of these drugs; it is important to work closely with the healthcare provider during the process of finding the best medication for each patient. This may take several months.
Many older adults avoid seeking help for depression. They may have a generational attitude of self-sufficiency and keeping one’s problems to oneself. To help overcome that preconception, seniors should be encouraged to understand that treating depression is no different than treating any other illness. Professional help can let them get their lives back on track. And now we know it may very well also protect their brains!
Better treatment of depression and understanding of the connection between depression and dementia is not only important for senior patients; it is vital for our nation’s healthcare system as well. According to University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine professor Meryl Butters, Ph.D., “An understanding of how late-life depression increases the risk of dementia could lead to better prediction and prevention mechanisms. Early diagnosis and prevention of depression could have a major dual public health impact as they could also potentially prevent or delay cognitive decline and dementia in older adults.”
Copyright © AgeWise, 2013