Goodbye, Barbara Jean…Seeing Her through to the End. ~ It’s the permanence that’s getting to me. The knowing that now, the phone will never say her name on caller ID again. It’s knowing that soon, my phone won’t be ringing with things related to her,
Elderly Care Resources: Updates July 2014
In the past year, our family has dealt with horrendous crimes against our elderly family members. Because of this, I have been pulled away from one blog, to focus solely on writing about Justice for Nancy, and keeping the world updated on the horrible guilty felon, Zachery Doan. You too can read these updates, and how things have progressed with my 80 year old Grandma’s brutal beating and home invasion, and subsequent blindness and essential loss of life. Justice for Nancy updates and stories are on our friend, Author Skye Falcon’s blog.
For my Grandma’s, I’ll be stepping back into this site. You’ll see more articles and tips and tricks, safety, living issues, as well as how to help them deal with awkward situations, or problems they may be too ashamed or upset to fully discuss. We’ll be covering state laws dealing with DNR and end of life choices, as well as hospice issues in our state of Indiana, and others.
Our world is turning into an unsafe place for the vulnerable, especially seniors and the elderly. As in my Grandma’s case, children she use to give candy to, chat with, and throw a ball to ended up being the ones who stalked her, beat down her back door, used her to steal money, and beat her beyond recognition. In these situations, it’s hard for them to draw a line between old memories of good times with children, to the new odd behavior, and bad situations with the grown kids, now turned criminal. Even immediate next door neighbors can be out to get you, just like this case here.
So, stay tuned for new articles and such. We hope you’re having a safe summer!!
World Scleroderma Day!! What do you know about this disease?
Many of our readers deal with Systemic Scleroderma on their skin, in patches around their legs, hips, and joints. Many of your hands are inflamed, sore, and taught. Many of you just wish for some relief, minus the piles of pills, heating pads, and ice packs. Minus the breathing machines, chemo meds, and insomnia.
On World Scleroderma Day, it’s everyone’s chance to help spread the word on this autoimmune disease. One of the worst in the list of diseases, this hardens your body often from the inside out, or vice versa- from the outside in. Normally there is no rhyme or reason. Something triggers inside your body, and your body begins attacking its own organs. Over and over. Relentlessly. The only way to stop the attacks are to take massive amounts of steroids, chemo, or other immune suppressants to control the flares. Sometimes those meds cause a whole other list of issues that sometimes, don’t feel necessary to go through.
This blog post is from our friend, Author Skye Falcon. She deals with Scleroderma, and often writes about the tribulations and trials that life throws in her way. She asks for people to help spread the word about this, “excuse the humor…..very HARD disease.” Check out her post.
Please take a moment to like this blog, or share it, if you know someone who has, or is going through, a fight with an autoimmune disease. Comment with the disease that’s stealing days away from your friends or loved ones. Let’s spread the word on all the diseases, and get more accessible endocrine and genetic testing! Consider using this icon on your social media pages to show your support!!
Who will Stand Up for You? Choosing the Best to Represent Your End of Life Wishes
Sometime in your years, you’re going to need to depend on someone to know, understand, and follow out your wishes. This is an inevitable part of life. The issues that you should consider before you decide on who you want to be, “your person,” (or people) for lack of a better word, should include your end-of-life wants, estate planning, POA planning, and more. In many States, and in many families, this is a heated issue.
Should family members be required to follow a person’s wants, even if they are incapacitated, and cannot make the decision?? Should the family members be able to do what they want to do, because they see the 1% chance that recovery *may* happen, as the light at the end of the tunnel?? Should any family member have the right to trump the written, signed decree, to prolong a life that is less than quality, or satisfactory for the person now bedridden, or whose life has been changed forever?
With the situations that our family has dealt with in the past few years, and are currently dealing with, I implore you to make sure that the person, or people, you select to do this for you are trust worthy, and have never, ever made you question their loyalty. Even those in your life who smile to your face, invite you to birthday parties, post on your Facebook page occasionally, and front to others as if they care. Don’t just pick any one, take your time, and have those conversations. Observe them, and their actions with others. If they have dealt with these types of situations before, check their track record.
The most important thing to remember is that your end of life rights and wants are just that—YOURS. There is no question that whatever YOU want to happen in the end is YOUR choice. While it’s never easy for any family member to say good-bye, at no time do YOUR rights cease to matter before your last breath.
If you are faced with this currently, ask yourself these questions about your possible POA, or caregiver:
-Will this person honor my wishes 100%? Even if it means taking personal hits to defend my rights?
-Does this/these people have my best interest at heart? And mind?
-Have these people caused distress in my life, at any time, over the years?
-Are they there when I need them? Or only when I’ve got something to give, or they can benefit?
-Does this person/people show respect to me at all times?
-Does this person/people stand up for me, when I cannot defend myself?
If you’re interested in reading more about estate planning in Indiana, check out this book that covers just about everything! The Complete Guide to Estate Planning in Indiana on Amazon. Or get updates on Living Wills, Wills, and End of Life Rights by checking out the book, Healthcare power of Attorney and Living Will Kit, also on Amazon.
On a personal note, it should be stated that this was spurred from current drama, and nonsense, by a group of “adults” who would rather treat people like their own possessions, and push their own needs on to them, rather than doing what said person wants in the first place. Thankfully, these “adults” are not the ones that will see to it that this person will have every single one of her wishes honored, at whatever cost. I will assist those honoring those wishes at any cost. <3 nlb <3
Seniors Need Funding and Rights, too!
In most states we researched, seniors and elderly people do not feel that they are being heard by a number of government agencies that were created to do just that- help them. Of course, many or all now know that the government is broken in so many places, that it’s hard to even pin point where to go to fix the issues. However, as there is a division for children and family services in most all states that the government supports, there is not a specific division there to help seniors.
In some states, there are some “things” set up for the elderly, but it is nothing that is just readily available to them. These are things that they have to fight to get. As an elderly senior, fighting for rights, for better identity theft protection, and laws against elder abuse… they should not have to be fighting for!
Recently in Louisiana, seniors protested at the State Capitol to have a bill pushed through that would assist them with such fights with these programs. This bill is also pushing for more funding for the Office of Elderly affairs, and programs that it supports. It is these types of programs, and incentives, that truly do make the lives of the elderly easier, and more worth fighting for. State officials in Louisiana also pointed out that if they had more programs, incentives, and the like for seniors, it could open up a whole other avenue in having more seniors retire to their state for the duration of their lives.
Medical Marijuana and the Quiet Use in Our Elderly Community
By now, you’ve heard that many states are beginning to legalize the use of medical marijuana, and even some areas where recreationally using pot is now not considered a major crime. Finally! Medical marijuana has been used for years by so many people secretively, and cured so many ailments that even the best prescription drugs just cannot touch. There are certain areas, however, even in the states where legalization has occurred, that certain groups of people do not have access, or even knowledge, that a drug like a CBD exists.
People are choosing to ingest and try the more natural cannabidiol (CBDs) that are in medical marijuana, instead of taking some of their 35 daily prescription medications. Many studies have been done proving that CBD tablets, when taken in a regimen, have been known to destroy cancer cells, and temporarily curve major issues in humans, such as pain, nausea, muscle spasms, and so much more. Many times, with the elderly, a new ailment means a new medication. Sometimes that new medication then reacts and interacts badly with an old medication, causing horrendous side effects or damage done internally. There are more risk in mixing prescription medication, than in taking medical marijuana. Period.
In California, this topic is growing quickly. The Kaiser clinics have begun quietly pushing their elderly patients into dispensaries, and legal prescriptions, to try medical marijuana for their pain, and other ailments. Why are they doing this, you wonder? Think about the elderly 80 year old man you know, or you knew. There came a point in his life where he couldn’t get around like he did, due to massive amounts of bone pain. Not to mention his lungs. He’s got cancer, and it’s progressing slowly. For just those two ailments alone, this man could be on close to twenty different medications. If he takes ANY for pain, he’s probably in a medicine fog, feeling like he is half-way to drunk on the meds. Granted, he may be in less pain on these meds, but should he really be forced to give up his life quality to forgo the pain? What if he could have NO pain, and still be in his mind enough to move a bit? Or make his own coffee? What if the medicine he COULD take would also help bring back his appetite, and relax the rest of his issues as well?
Thinking of it like that, I’m sure you can see why CBDs need to be more talked about and discussed when visiting the primary care doctors of your elderly loved ones and friends. Without doctors becoming more knowledgeable about CBDs and the real possibilities of medical marijuana, some people may be being denied some of the best, more natural options available today. Keep in mind that this is not a smoke-able marijuana. This is not your pot on the corner, although, that does help in some of the same ways as medical marijuana. Difference is it was not grown in control, and may have “full strength” THC and other things in it to make you actually “high.” Whereas medical marijuana does not bring the “high,” only the helpful side effects of calming your body, mind, and belly.
California is working hard on opening the availability of cannabidiol medications to be allowed in nursing facilities, and hospitals. The nice thing is that caretakers can handle the paperwork, and even getting these meds for their loved ones, in certain cases. There are certain groups that can be found by searching the internet on the topic that will bring these types of medications into nursing home facilities for seniors, when they cannot get them. But again, the major thing to remember with this is that unless more doctors speak up on how this truly works, there will be no great strides for the elderly to have this as an option for their ailments.
Seniors & STDs: April is Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month
In this day and age, you’d think that nursing homes main focus would be preventing pneumonia and the flu from spreading rampantly throughout the facility. You’d think that retirement community’s main issues would be which band to have play at the summer festival. Maybe you’d consider that ID theft may be the focus of the weekly meeting put on by the local chamber of commerce for your elderly relatives in nursing facilities. But what if I told you that you were wrong, and now the latest meeting for Grandma and Grandpa are on how to prevent STIs and STDs from spreading down their hall in the facility? It’s true, and it’s happening at an alarming rate.
The troubling facts about chlamydia and gonorrhea is that for those over 50, and into their 60s and 70s, the numbers are even higher than the national averages. WebMD states that the numbers, while steadily growing, are also very misleading, as they are ONLY representing the people who have sought treatment and help for their STIs. This is such a cause for concern that Medicare has also said that they will begin covering all sexually transmitted disease testing for the elderly.
In a recent Reuter’s survey, adults over the age of 50 were tested to determine percentage of time a condom was used, or introduced, in a situation that deemed one necessary. The survey showed emphatically, that your children know more than the elderly when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases, and safety. Reuters said their survey showed that 50-year-olds are six times less likely to use a condom than men in their 20s.
This information may be shocking to you, but this is something I deal with working at the School of Loving Arts all the time. Facts are facts, and older people are not comfortable discussing anything intimate openly. This includes safety. Often times, those entering retirement homes or nursing homes do not even think of any sexual aspects to being there. Humans are humans, however, and their need to find pleasure always seems to win out. It may be rough for you to make sure that your elderly and senior relatives are safe in the sexual department, but it really is not as hard as it seems.
Here are a few things that you can do to ensure that your loved ones and senior friends are safe in their sexual ventures.
*Discuss the importance and simplicity of condoms, and give them freely.
*Discuss sexually transmitted diseases: chlamydia, gonorrhea, AIDS/HIV, herpes, and others
*Encourage the complex or facility to offer human sexuality classes or groups on sexual education
*Encourage your loved one or senior friends to be open and communicate in their personal relationships.
The important thing to remember about STIs is that they are treatable when caught early. If you, or someone you know, are having symptoms of any sexually transmitted infection, please seek out your doctor immediately.
Learning to Live Again: Could you do it?
Often times, its one event that changes our lives. One unplanned, unpredicted life altering event that changes your entire life’s plan. As I sit here, pondering my own life’s plan, I’m also thinking about the difference of life stages, and these types of catastrophic events. I think in these points, everyone reaches a point of “tired.” Until you live with major change, major trauma, major illness—you just won’t understand. It’s at these points though, where we have to find the reasons we’ll carry on to live again. Being so close to a number of my family members growing up, I can pin point with most of them where they “lost” their path. Fell off, or were completely pushed off by forces they couldn’t even imagine.
For my Grandpa C., one wrong house working accident rendered him chair bound for the last 15 years of his life. See, he was taking off, or maybe it was putting up, storm windows in his house. Big, huge, sheets of glass, almost as tall as his 6ft self. One slipped off, and cut his shin, muscles, tendons…all of it, down the back of one of his legs, to the bone. Being that he was older when he did it, stubborn as hell, and bound to do it all “his way,” he never really recovered. Never did the correct rehab, never found the happiness he needed to live again. With my Grandma C., breaking her arm started it off; and then letting her diet slip, and not taking care of herself enough pushed her into the nursing home, and everything else. I thought we were giving her, doing for her, what she would need to push on…but it just wasn’t enough.
Now, I’ve also had grandparents who have had issues out of their control. Lung cancer, and ALS, took a Grandpa and a Grandma, but up until the end, they remained as positive, and hopeful as they could. Even with body failure, complete reliance on loved ones, family drama hanging heavy in the air, and fate looming daily…my last visits with them were full of smiles, and laughs at old memories. And now, my poor Grandma, being assaulted to blindness in a home invasion, at 80 years old. She’s gone through multiple surgeries, multiple moves, super hard days and nights, and we’re only weeks in. She shows more drive than some people my age do when their biggest worry is how many pounds they’ve lost, or how they can’t wait to have a break from their kids.
It all comes down to your own internal flame. Your voice. Your strength. Whether the events that come up in your life are planned, or happen in the most tragic of ways, it’s all in how you handle it. If someone in your life, an elderly family member, or friend, has something like this happen…do what you can to be there. Even if it’s just checking in by phone call. Don’t let them get lost in their own thoughts, or drown in the unproductive, burdensome, thoughts of pity. Even with tragedy, life can still go on. But you really have to want it to, and sometimes, you may be just what your loved one needs to take the first steps back into living.
My Black Heart & Your Personal Safety.
Last night, our entire family’s personal safety was thrown up in arms getting word that my grandmother had been brutally beaten in a home invasion. Worse news, it was someone that she knew. To quote my uncle, who summed it up well, “My heart is black.” I sit, over and over, thinking about every aspect of this, and bottom line is, people are freaking insane. You can’t predict crazy, but we’ve all got to do more to prevent it from spreading. My heart is black because I can’t understand how someone could so this to an innocent 80 year old woman. My heart is black because of the dark thoughts of harm, vengeance, and true justice that I so badly crave. My heart is black because I know, deep down inside, she’s never going to be the same again.
My head throbs from the constant thought of way she looked last night, and how there was nothing I could do to make this better. Her spirits were calmer than mine, even taking a second to say that my “doctoring skills” wouldn’t fix this one. (That’s a long running thing. See, I use to “doctor” my Grandpa with shaving cream, toothpaste, Band-Aids, fake scalpels, etc.) He stalked her in her house, watching in the dark, waiting for the perfect time to pounce. He took away more from her than he’ll ever have the brain capacity to understand… He took that away from all of us.
It’s is now that I remind you, IMPLORE you, to make sure your elderly relatives, friends, and neighbors are safe. Advise them to keep their doors locked, and to call 911 when anything seems off. Talk to them about the myriad of “emergency buttons” available now, and some are even FREE to those who qualify. Make sure that they understand the latest threats: Identity theft, phone scams, manipulation.
As I get ready to pack up, to head to the hospital for her first of many surgeries…. (swallows real hard) I’ll do anything I can to help her adjust to life after violence, and help her regain herself. All the while trying not to lose myself in the deep, dark emotions.
New Indiana Law Requires POST Documentation
There is always confusion about DNRs, and who should, or shouldn’t be resuscitated. Each doctor’s office, or hospital, now require a separate copy of your wishes, signed by a multitude of people, with extra hoops to jump through. In fact, this process is getting closer and closer to being as difficult as taxes are, and dealing with the IRS. For someone who simply wants to make sure that their own wishes are followed at their end of life, State’s sure do not make the process an easy one. Depending on your State will depend on which forms you need, and where to submit them to. In our experience, every place that your loved one MAY be seen needs to have their DNR on file, POA, and if in Indiana, the POST form. Below you’ll find information about the newly adopted POST form laws.
As of July 2013, Indiana’s Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST) legislation was signed in, and took effect. While POST is not a living will, this form does allow each individual to make specific decisions and interventions about their medical care. Being signed by both the patient and the doctor, this document helps make one’s wishes actionable.
POST is not for everyone, or otherwise healthy people. This form is for patients who are chronically ill, with progressive frailty, those with terminal conditions caused by injury, disease or illness from which there can be no real recovery, or death will occur at some near future point. Those patients with conditions where resuscitation may be unsuccessful, where cardiac or pulmonary failure is present; or those patients with a life expectancy of six months or less.
These forms do have different parts, and don’t be afraid to ask your doctor’s office to help you fill them out. If any patient is unable to make their own decisions, or sign for themselves, a legal representative must sign. This form IS NOT complete until it HAS BEEN SIGNED by the PHYSICIAN.
Downloadable/Printable POST form for INDIANA residents
For more information, or list of the complete laws surrounding the POST forms and law, please visit the in.gov website, and follow their links!
Resources Used: Indiana State web site (linked above)