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7 Ways for Non-physician Caregivers to Help Seniors With Their Cognitive Functions

A Healthy Mind Creates a Healthy Body

Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether a senior’s forgetfulness is something to worry about or not. You don’t want to make any assumptions, especially if you aren’t a doctor. You will want to get a second opinion, but it can be hard to get a senior to a doctor. There are some ways that non-physician care providers can help seniors with their cognitive functions.

7 Ways for Non-physician Caregivers to Help Seniors With Their Cognitive Functions

7 Ways for Non-physician Caregivers to Help Seniors With Their Cognitive Functions

These seven ways you can talk about a senior’s cognitive function and possible decline, notice any deterioration, and support the senior in your life.

1. Have All the Info Needed

Everyone needs to have all the necessary information. A caregiver should give information about the brain and cognitive decline to you and your senior. They will even refer you to a doctor if it’s needed.

2. Know the Signs and Symptoms

Everyone must know the signs and symptoms of cognitive impairment. Especially the people in charge of the senior. They should be trained to know that these signs may not be enough for a diagnosis, and a doctor needs to do an official evaluation.

3. Be Aware

It never hurts to be aware. Listen for concerns about cognition; look for any signs or any changes that happen slowly over time. This is something that both professional and family members can do.

It’s good for both the family and the professionals to talk to each other as well. Together you will be able to create the whole picture.

4. Create a List of Procedures and Referrals

It’s good for professional non-physician caregivers to develop a system to detect any changes in cognitive functions. It’s also good to have a list of doctors that can evaluate the brain if and when it’s needed.

5. Mental Status Test

Non-physician caregivers should use a test to detect cognitive impairment only if

  • this type of testing is within the scope of practice of the non-physician care provider
  • The non-physician care provider has been trained to use the test
  • Everyone consents to the test
  • There is a procedure for offering a referral for people who score poorly on the test to a doctor for an evaluation

6. Encourage Seniors to Listen to Their Doctor

If a doctor comes up with a game plan for a senior, it’s up to the non-physician care providers to work with the senior and their family to follow it. You can also encourage the family to get additional info from the doctor if it’s needed.

7. Be Supportive

Getting a dementia diagnosis can really shuffle up a person’s life. The senior and their family will be looking for support. Talk to them if they don’t understand the diagnosis and encourage them to talk to the doctor that gave the diagnosis.

Read more here.

“Rational” Suicide is on the Rise Among Seniors

"Rational" Suicide is on the Rise Among Seniors

Seniors across the country are thinking about “rational” suicide. These people aren’t depressed, or at least most aren’t. They don’t even want to end their lives soon, but they see it as a way to avoid declining health in their later years.

"Rational" Suicide is on the Rise Among Seniors

“Rational” Suicide is on the Rise Among Seniors

 

How can suicide be rational? Well, to some people, it can’t be. It’s easy to see why: it goes against societal norms and even the work of people who work in suicide prevention.

The idea of rational suicide is not to end your life because you are miserable, but to prevent yourself from slowing declining into misery due to age-related conditions.

The idea is particularly popular among the Baby Boomer generation because they value autonomy and self-determination. While modern medicine is keeping their bodies alive longer, it’s still struggling to keep the minds healthy longer.

A Kaiser Health News investigation found that at least a few hundred older Americans are killing themselves while living in or transitioning into long-term care. While many of the cases involved depression or mental illness, it’s unknown how many involved clear-minded people making a “rational” choice.

While a lot of people see suicide as a tragedy, these seniors interested in “rational” suicide see it as a way out.

Many people cared for their aging parents and watched them decline due to a variety of conditions. Many say that they would rather end their life than go through that or put their family through it. While they keep quiet about it, discussing this idea is rather popular among those in long term care.

One school of thought is this idea is similar to a person ending their dialysis care, which usually means they will pass away within weeks. The problem other people have with this thought is that if you don’t have a terminal illness, wouldn’t that person be throwing their life away?

Doctors Are Unsure How to Handle It

Doctors have little to no training on how to handle a talk like this. It’s important to acknowledge this as a possibility for seniors that are considering this path. This way they can talk to a professional. Dr. Yeates Conwell, who is a psychiatrist and leading expert in elderly suicide, wants to have these conversations with seniors. Conwell says,

“The balance between the wish to die and the wish to live is a dynamic one that shifts frequently, moment to moment, week to week.”

If you or someone you love are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or use the online Lifeline Crisis Chat. Both of these options are available 24/7.

Read more about this subject here.

Adult Day Center Opens in Center Conway

Adult Day Center Opens in Center Conway

It can be hard to get care in Northern New Hampshire, but the Mount Washington Valley Adult Day Center in Center Conway is changing that. It’s a safe haven for both seniors with memory loss or chronic health illnesses and their caregivers.

Adult Day Center Opens in Center Conway

Adult Day Center Opens in Center Conway

 

The Center has areas for social interactions and artistic endeavors. There’s also a cafe, a library, outdoor gardens, a spa, and a big-screen TV for watching. There will be different kinds of classes that people can take and even music and dance performances. There are indoor and outdoor walkways that are circular for easy walking. There are 1,400 plants of over 300 species throughout the garden.

The designers took bits and pieces from other similar centers around the country. The idea is the center gives a more relaxed vacation vibe instead of healthcare.

“The model is a hospitality model, not a hospital model. The folks who come here are the guests. We’re doing anything we can to break that institutional feel.”  Norman Cloutier

It can have up to sixty people for five-hour blocks. It’s open from 7:30 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday. It costs seventy-five dollars.

The Center is working on finalizing insurance coverage. People can pay through private pay, long term care insurance, VA benefits, and Medicaid options. Subsidies could be available through the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ Choices for Independence. The department gives respite grants for NH people who live at home and are eligible for nursing-home care.

Read more here.

Being a Paid Caregiver Can Change Family Dynamics

How NH Will Handle Healthcare Worker Shortage

Getting paid while caring for an aging parent sounds like the perfect solution to balance your life. After all, being a caregiver can get costly, as shown in our article Ways to Keep Long Term Care from Bankrupting You. Though being a paid caregiver can change family dynamics in frustrating ways.

Being a Paid Caregiver Can Change Family Dynamics

Being a Paid Caregiver Can Change Family Dynamics

 

Many states let people who need care hire people who are close to them to be their caregiver. This is to help family members who’ve had to either cut back or quit their job to support their family member.

Though no one is getting rich from this salary.

Spreading the responsibility of caring for a family member is hard on a good day. Siblings can feel like they are doing more work than someone else.

Adding money into the mix can raise the tension immensely. People can feel like someone is taking advantage of the situation to make some extra money.

The person getting paid can feel like all the work is put on them because it’s their “job.”

How You Can Stop Conflict Before It Starts

 

Is there a way that you and your family can avoid this type of conflict? In fact, there is, AARP has a few suggestions that can help you.

Demonstrate Transparency

You were taught to keep your finances private. You aren’t supposed to talk about what you make or how much you spend. You even keep this sort of stuff away from your family.

Throw that idea out the window.

Caregiving is a family matter, and you should disclose any financial transactions that involved your family member. This is especially important to whoever is earning money.

Let your family know they could also earn a wage being a caregiver. Share what you make if you are earning money.

If anyone has a problem, explain what you do and how it can offset other costs, like medication copays, the price of gas to take them out, and other things.

Try to Think About What Others Think is Fair

While you think it’s fair to earn money for all the things you do, there can be family members who think they are making sacrifices too, and want to be compensated as well. They probably are, but maybe not as many as you.

For them, it’s not fair that you get all the glory while they don’t.

You have to remember to not scoff at their feelings. You need to empathize with them instead. Make sure that they know you appreciate their help.

Don’t feel that you have to give them the money you earned. Sometimes appreciation is all they need.

Keep your Parent-Child Relationship

People who need care can become demanding over time. When there is money involved, there can be a tendency to treat anyone close to them like an employee.

They may have a shorter temper or bark orders at you.

You should do what you have to do, but let your family member know that you are there to help them, not make money. You want to be treated like the family you are, not like a stranger.

Money isn’t going to change your relationship.

Is it Worth it?

Sometimes earning money isn’t worth it. If it’s causing constant fighting and upset, is it worth it?

Decide for yourself whether you can handle that along with caregiving. If you can’t, then stop. If it is, keep trying to talk through the issues with your family.

10 Common Health Issues for Seniors

10 Common Health Issues for Seniors

There’s lots of different health issues that come with aging. Luckily, some of them are easy to manage with proper preparation. Here are 10 common health issues for seniors.

10 Common Health Issues for Seniors

10 Common Health Issues for Seniors

 

1. Chronic Illness

It’s very common for seniors to have at least one or more chronic illnesses. Heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes are the most common to have.

2. Cognitive Health

Alzheimer’s and dementia are pervasive diseases. They are so much more than simply forgetting, they can cause problems with motor skills, personality changes, and confusion are major symptoms of both of these diseases. Alzheimer’s is also fatal.

3. Mental Health

Many seniors suffer from depression because of so many life changes that happen later in life. As we’ve written about before, it’s hard to diagnose mental illness in seniors.

Older adults are around 18 percent of suicide deaths in America.

4. Falls

Falls are the number one cause for emergency visits. Falls cause all kinds of bone fractures due to bones weakening with age.

5. Sexually Transmitted Diseases

In 2013, the CDC found that 21 percent of AIDs cases were in people over 50 in the US. Seniors are less likely to use protection, and their weaker immune system makes them more vulnerable to HIV.

6. Malnutrition

It’s easy for seniors to develop malnutrition for a number of reasons. Cognitive impairments may cause them to forget to eat, dietary restrictions, limited income, and more can cause problems with getting proper nutrition.

7. Sensory Impairments

Vision and hearing loss are common in Americans over the age of 70.

8. Oral Health

Around 25 percent of people over 65 don’t have any natural teeth left. Cavities and tooth decay can lead to unhealthy diets, low self-esteem, and other health problems.

9. Substance Abuse

Addiction is more of a problem among seniors than most people realize. Older adults with substance abuse problems are expected to reach five million by 2020.

10. Bladder Control and Constipation

These symptoms can either be due to age or be symptoms of a poor diet or medication.

Read more here.

New Database Gives Stats on Aging in New Hampshire

New Database Gives Stats on Aging in NH

It’s no secret that New Hampshire is considered a gray state, meaning that there is a large aging population. A new database has been created to give stats on aging in New Hampshire. The Tufts Health Plan Foundation funds it.

New Database Gives Stats on Aging in NH

New Database Gives Stats on Aging in New Hampshire

 

The database has 244 Community Profiles, one for every city and town in NH. Each profile has 166 indicators of health and state averages.

People can look up stats on Alzheimers’s, different heart conditions, and how many people have more than one chronic illness. People can look at access to care and the cost of living too.

Having access to this database means that anyone from senior communities to the average person can access this information to help them know what’s best for their aging relatives. It may even point them in a direction when deciding what the next move should be, maybe moving to a new town is best for them. It’s also an excellent tool for creating policies to help our aging communities in those specific areas of need.

There are significant differences in health by zip code, gender, and type of town a person lives in.

The database is made of around 40,000 pieces of data. The top three sources include the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Federal Census Bureau, and the FBI.

UK Seniors Go a Whole Week Without Talking to Anyone

UK Seniors Go a Whole Week Without Talking to Anyone

Loneliness is a major problem for seniors. They slow down, and their social circles slowly diminish until they spend all their time alone. A new survey of UK seniors reveals that they usually go a week without talking to someone.

UK Seniors Go a Whole Week Without Talking to Anyone

UK Seniors Go a Whole Week Without Talking to Anyone

 

The survey of 1,896 seniors showed that twenty-two percent would have a conversation with three or fewer people each week. Why is this a big deal?

This means that 2.6 million seniors don’t have daily human contact and 225,000 don’t talk to people at all.

The survey also showed that thirty-eight percent of seniors feel lonely as they’ve gotten older. The loneliness has gotten so bad for some that twelve percent said loneliness kept them from leaving their home.

Forty percent of seniors would feel more confident in leaving the house if they knew their neighbors. Fifty-four percent of seniors said that even a short conversation with a neighbor or acquaintance would brighten their day.

Read more about how loneliness can affect your health in our article, Loneliness Can Be Deadly for Elders; Friends Are the Antidote.

Read more about the UK survey here.

Unbound has Helped 65,000 Seniors Around the World

Unbound has Helped 65,000 Seniors Around the World

You’re probably familiar with charity organizations asking to sponsor children around the world. Something along the lines of ten dollars a month can help improve their lives vastly. Did you know that there is an organization like that for seniors around the world? It’s called Unbound.

Unbound has Helped 65,000 Seniors Around the World

Unbound has Helped 65,000 Seniors Around the World

While helping children in the 80s, the organization realized that there were a lot of seniors around the world that needed help. Since they created their Elder Program, they, along with kind-hearted sponsors, have helped 65,000 seniors.

Unbound is the only organization in the US that offers sponsorships for people over sixty. Currently, 30,000 seniors are being sponsored by the program.

Not only does this program provide financial support but emotional as well. Many of the seniors that receive help are isolated and even abandoned in their communities. Many of the sponsors of 60 and above crowd are around the same age as well. Even though they are in a more developed nation, they feel that same loneliness.

Usually, the sponsor and sponsored will start writing to each other, eventually developing a friendship. They will talk to each other about significant life changes, both good and bad. It’s like having a shoulder to cry on across the globe.

Some are even lucky enough to meet in person.

Read more about this amazing organization here.

Women and Seniors are More Likely to Experience Dangerous Drug Interactions

Women and Seniors are More Likely to Experience Dangerous Drug Interactions

Researchers at Indiana University found that women and seniors who take multiple medications are more likely to experience dangerous drug interactions. For women, there was a sixty percent increase in the risk of drug interactions compared to men. With people over fifty-five, one in four people take drugs that can cause an adverse reaction. For people seventy through seventy-nine, that risk goes up to one in three people.

Women and Seniors are More Likely to Experience Dangerous Drug Interactions

Women and Seniors are More Likely to Experience Dangerous Drug Interactions

 

The project was done in the Brazillian health care system and published npj Digital Medicine. 181 drug combinations that were prescribed against recommendation was discovered. The drugs were all widely known to interact poorly with one another and given to 15,527 people in the study’s population. 5,000 people got drug combinations that would cause them to need medical attention if something were to go wrong.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about one out of three hospital visits in a year are due to side effects of drugs.

The medication that appeared to be most commonly prescribed in bad combinations were relatively normal medications. Familiar names like omeprazole—a heartburn medication also known as Prilosec, fluoxetine—an antidepressant also known as Prozac, and ibuprofen— a type of aspirin were the top drugs prescribed.

Researchers made sure to take in other factors that could result in dangerous drug interactions, like older people taking more prescription drugs. The study compared drugs actually prescribed to older patients against a random selection of medicines that are used among older adults. This would show that dangerous drug combos were more common in real life than in the random model.

Further research will be done to dive further into this subject.

Read more about the study here.

How Robotics Are Helping Chinese Seniors with Rehab

How Robotics Are Helping Chinese Seniors with Rehab

It’s no secret that Asia is leading the way when it comes to robotic caregiving. The latest news has to do with robotics helping Chinese seniors with rehab. Doing physical rehab is more engaging and enjoyable with the help of these robots.

How Robotics Are Helping Chinese Seniors with Rehab

How Robotics Are Helping Chinese Seniors with Rehab

 

People over 60 in China have reached 250 million in 2018, out of a total population of around 1.4 billion. The country realized it needs to come up with alternative ways to treat their aging population because soon the senior community will be bigger than the country can handle.

So, scientists and tech companies are creating artificial intelligence applications to make things easier.

A woman named Wang Lingmei is using a training machine and playing a game at the same time. The device resembles an electronic piano with a TV attached to it. Wang, 84, is reaching to touch virtual fruits by moving a handle as part of her daily exercise. The exercise regiment is to help her recover mobility after fracturing her right arm and leg in a fall.

“The game is interesting and makes me feel happy. We have a therapist to monitor our condition while using it, so I am not afraid of this technology and machine.”— Wang Lingmei

The Lujiazui Elderly Community Center, where Wang resides, uses the game/rehab machine and also uses smart mattresses. The mattresses have sensors to help monitor the health of patients, and the data can be shared with everyone who’s allowed to see. GPS can even find residents if they wander off.

Before having the rehab machine, the center would hire a therapist to visit every day to help patients. The therapist would direct the patient’s hand to an object and repeat the move with them hundreds of times. It took a lot of time and wasn’t fun for the patient.

Now with the machine, while a therapist is still needed, the exercises are more engaging, and there is a sense of independence.

We’ll be keeping an eye on the robotic caregiving field.

Read more here.