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,
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)
Winter Safety 2014 Midwest Edition
Seriously. If you’re living in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, or Wisconsin, chances are you’re pretty much up to your eyeballs in snow. Better yet? I’m awaiting another foot of snow predicted to fall this afternoon and through the night tonight. So, I thought it a perfect time to remind you of the importance of checking on the elderly and seniors in the winter!!
First and foremost, make sure that they have enough food to get them through the WEEK of predicted bad weather. You don’t want to get a call a Monday, after your store trip the past weekend, declaring that she’s ran out of toilet paper. Better yet, make them a weather care package, and fill it with all the essentials. Paper products, water, medicines, flashlights, radios, hand warmers, and anything else your loved one may need.
Second, make sure to call and check on them, or communicate via social media or email, if that is an option. Many times in high snow totals, and ice, the elderly will stay indoors for weeks upon end, fearing the possible slip or accident if they travel outdoors. Making sure that they have an outlet to the outside world is more important than ever at this time of year. The winter blues come upon even the strongest adults, so it’s only natural that it hits those trapped indoors faster, and harder than others.
Thirdly, ensure that they have some of the proper items to ensure they’ll stay warm, and be as safe as they can being on their own in this horrendous winter weather! The links on the items below will take you to Amazon, which a very safe, and secure site!
This kit ensures that your loved one has what they need in case of a roadside emergency. This compact kit contains the following items: 1 AAA car care guide, 1 AAA membership brochure, 1 8-gauge booster cable, 1 flashlight, 2 AA batteries, 1 emergency poncho, 1 safety vest, 1 roll of duct tape, 1 2-in-1 screw driver, 6 assorted sizes of fuses, 1 shop cloth, 4 cable ties, 1 reusable zip lock bag, 19 pieces of first aid, 1 AAA storage bag, and information. Definitely worth the cost, if your elderly loved one is still driving the town!
These are fabulous inventions that work well for the elderly, as well as those suffering from autoimmune issues. I use these regularly to be able to go out in temperatures below 45 degrees. They last for over 8 hours, which is plenty of time for most outings. They work well in pockets, shoes, pants pockets, shirt pockets, hats, and more!
This is detrimental for making sure that we don’t have falls on the front porch, or by the back door where they let the pets outside. This brand is wonderful, because it is pet safe, taking away of their worry about hurting Fido’s paws.
Many of our elderly relatives that are still living on their own, are in older houses, and electrics and things sometimes go haywire after years. Arming your relative with a chance to save the kitchen, or a bedroom with a fire extinguisher, may save their life! And possibly the residence! However, not just seniors should have these! Every household should have at least one fire extinguisher!
Be safe the rest of this winter, Midwest!
Interstitial Lung Disease Information
For many patients who suffer from autoimmune diseases, COPD, breathing issues, and lung cancer, simply breathing can be this biggest challenge of their every day. Interstitial lung disease describes a group of lung scarring disorders, that affect one’s ability to breath, thusly making it impossible for the patient to get enough oxygen into their blood. For the most part, ILD’s causes are unknown. There have been documented cases of ILD flaring after long term exposure to hazardous chemicals, and in many rheumatoid diseases. Once lung scarring occurs, there is no way to erase the damages. Certain medicines may help slow the damage, but these patients never regain the full use of their lungs.
Below you’ll find some facts and important information about ILD.
Symptoms & Causes
There are two main symptoms of serious lung issues, and those are a persistent dry cough, and shortness of breath, especially during times of exertion. If at any time you’re experiencing these symptoms, it may be best to consult with your doctor.
ILD seems to occur more when the lungs are injured, or damaged in some way. Instead of the body healing them normally, the body overreacts, and goes off the grid. The tissue around the alveoli becomes thickened and scarred, making it difficult or impossible for oxygen to transport through your body.
Medical Conditions known to have high rates of ILD:
Most Common Pollutant Causes:
Bird and Animal Droppings
Most Common Medications Listed as Triggering Further Lung Damage:
Cytoxan and Trexall, and other Chemotherapy drugs
Heart Medications like Cordarone or Innopran
Some Antibiotics like Macrobid and Azulfidine
Complications from ILD
-High Blood Pressure in the Lungs (Pulmonary Hypertension)
-Right Sided Heart Failure (cor pulmonale)
Tests & Answers.
Getting a straight diagnosis on this can be very complicated, as they have multi-levels of issues, and underlying issues. However, there are certain tests that can rule out other issues, and prove somethings are happening.
-Chest Xray. Xrays can show damage done to the lungs, but not always. Many times the scar tissue is not picked up, or shown to be in less areas in the lungs than it truly is.
-CT Scan. These cross sectional images done by a large machine, can put together your body in layered pictures. This allows doctors to see how deep infections are, and how much tissue in your lungs and heart are being affected by the ILD.
-Echocardiogram. A sonogram on the heart, to check on it’s function and status. This test can check pressure, as well as arterial function.
Pulmonary Function Tests
-Spirometry. A breathing test, requiring one to exhale quickly and forcefully through a tube to measure how much air your lungs can hold, and how quickly the air leaves your lung.
-Oximetry. The finger probe gently squeezed on the tip of your finger that monitors the oxygen levels in your blood. This test has been proven more effective than the standard chest xray.
-Stress Test. By exercising a proscribed amount of time, and with proscribed tasks, one’s heart rate and body function is measured during said exercise.
Lung Tissue Analysis
-Bronchoscopy. During a scoping event, the doctor uses the tubs to pull a small tissue sample from your body. This sample is no larger than the head of an eraser. Sometimes these samples end up not proviing enough tissue to sample to get the correct, definitive answers.
-Bronchoalveolar Lavage. Here, your doctor flows salt water through a bronchoscope into a section of your lung, and then turns immediately to remove it. The solution that’s withdrawn contains cells from the pateints’ internal air sacs. In some cases, this works, but often is not enough information to diagnose pulmonary fibrosis.
-Surgical Biopsy. The most invasive, with the most risk. This way does ensure enough tissue is collected for study, and results. Entering with cameras and instruments between the ribs, the camera allows the doctor to visually see your lungs, as well as safely take a sample.
Treatments, Drugs, Home Changes, and More.
There are no specific drugs to combat the effects of ILD, but there are some given to help curb the further damage. Prednisone is often given first, and if that does not help, Immunosupressors are given to allow the body to relax, and stop attacking itself.
Oxygen therapy, and a gradual increase of exercise can help the body as a whole be able to handle the effects from the lack of oxygen. Exercising my help the body be able to absorb more oxygen, as well.
Lung transplants are the last resort move for young people suffering from this terrible disease.
Three ways to Improve your Health Today.
Sometimes, the hardest parts about having ILD and other autoimmune issues is the feeling of being alone. Many times family and friends just do not understand, unless they too have some incurable disease. They may tire of hearing the truth as to how you’re feeling, leaving you even more angry than before you tried to talk about it. Don’t be afraid to seek out counseling, or a support group in your area. The internet and Facebook have made such groups easy to find, and now they come with a certain amount of anonymity, too.
Please remember, I am no doctor, and if you’re having any of these issues, PLEASE GO TO YOUR DOCTOR THIS MINUTE!
Personal, Home & Phone Safety in 2014
Although we have touched on the topics of safety in previous years, we must revisit this topic frequently with our elderly relatives and seniors we may know. Why must we do this? Because our world is constantly changing, and it is no longer the 1950s, where leaving your front door unlocked was the norm. Because thieves thrive on technology, and via phone calls, more than mail scams. Because neighbors are no longer always friendly, trust worthy individuals. Regardless of the reasoning, it just has to be done.
If you’ve ever thought about how you cannot be around your loved ones as much as you’d like, or worried that the distance between you may be a problem in the event of an illness, or medical issue, you should consider having extra care for these individuals in place. Checking out the Senior Care Solutions at Care.com may be what you’re looking for.
Find Quality In-home Care for Seniors
Nowadays, it’s easy to have a phone with caller ID. They even make telephone now that will speak to you who is calling, so there is no guessing as to who it is. Scam artists are still calling the elderly, and posing as grandchildren, lost in another country needing funds to return home. They’re preying on the emotion of one of the most giving, and trusting age groups in America. This is exactly why they do it. Most of the time their calls come through as “unavailable” or “unknown.”
We always encouraged our elderly relatives to NOT ANSWER at all if they do not know the number on caller ID, or the name showing on the phone. They may protest, and say it could be important. It is this point that I would implore that you get them an answering machine, so that they can be reassured that anyone important will leave a message, and they can call right back.
This is important because people are still getting swindled out of thousands of dollars each year, and with cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, and the trouble with Social Security—elderly folks and seniors need to hold tight to their money plans, and not veer off course.
Home safety is an important thing that many families do for their relatives, but sometimes forget about the total picture. OF course, you’re probably readying the house for your loved one. Grab bars, slip resistant rugs and pads, life-saving alarms and buttons, emergency phone lists, and more. However, you also need to check the structure’s safety, too. Ensuring that locks are working on all exterior doors, and batteries in fire alarms are working. Make sure that outdoor lighting is working, and think about motion lights that come on automatically with movement outside.
Things like this are necessary in making your loved one feel more secure, and also for your own peace of mind. You’ll know that Aunt Betty is safer with working locks, and that she can see outside in her front and back yard if there is movement or motion. You know she’ll have her list of numbers, and know who to call if there is an emergency.
It’s often the simple things that we may forget, or just not think of, that can cause unneeded stress and strife for both your elderly relative, and yourself. Making sure there are extra batteries for flashlights, a plan for emergencies if the power goes out, and what you’re going to do to reassure your relative they are okay after turmoil.
2014: Safety, Health, and Living!
2014 will bring much more to Elderly Care Resources! We’ll have more reviews of products geared towards giving seniors and the elderly more freedom to continue living fully. We’ll cover more medicine related news and controversy, and of course, cover more on the new developments on Obamacare. We’ll soon be linking to our new Facebook page, too! We’ll also cover more on living…having fun…getting our there, and experiencing life as long as you can. Happiness. Light. Love.
This year, instead of taking care of my Grandma, who left us in 2013, we’re expanding our circle of helping the elderly in our community! I know there’s no way I’ll ever be able NOT to help, after going through so many struggles with my own Grandma over the years, and I was pleasantly surprised by my children’s instant love for my ideas. To start, we’ll be volunteering monthly at our local food bank, and making lunches for the elderly in their lunch program. We’ll be making regular visits to our own elderly family members, and making sure they have what they need, and getting them out of the house more. We’ll be relocating sometime this year, and will be closer to a new nursing home, and plan to invade it with our kid-made goodies, and love.
We can’t wait for 2014, and to see just what this year will hold! Almost anything is an improvement from last year!!
Thanks & Peace!
*All for you, always. My Angel. BJC 07-21-1930/10-31-013*
2013 Helpful Product Reviews #1
While there are many products on the market geared towards seniors and the elderly, man of those are just plain silly, or ineffective. Some have even found to be completely unsafe. Below you’ll find some products reviewed by our local “panels” on their effectiveness and worth. Hopefully these will be helpful to you, too!
Conveniently toasts 4 pieces of toast, and poaches two eggs simultaneously, on the counter top. There are a multitude of settings for toast, muffins, or bagels, and you always have the option of only cooking toast, or eggs. Retails from $50-60 dollars, and is available from many places. Click on the link above to find out the specs from Amazon.com.
With the features on the cell phone, and the ease of dialing and hearing capabilities, this has rested many worried minds of the family and friends of seniors and the elderly! Customer service also has high ratings, and the monthly plans are very affordable! Phones are available in different colors. Retails from $40-100, depending on style, and service plan. To get all the details, click on the link above to visit Amazon.com!
The Hamilton Beach Automatic Jar Opener is simple to use, and makes getting those tough lids off a snap!! Works especially well for those with arthritis, and unable to fully squeeze the top like normal to untwist the seal. Retails for $10-20, depending on where you get it from. Click the link above to visit Amazon.com for the latest info on this fabulous product!
There’s going to come a time where you just don’t trust your knees. Or maybe for you, it’s your hips. Or possibly both! Rather than being unsure of your next steps, this walker will be there for support, and the time out to sit down for awhile, whenever you need it! It’s more than convenient being that it is foldable, too. The basket is removable, if at times you may not need it. While you can use these to push someone in, it is not always recommended. Cracks in the pavement and sudden inclines, or inclement weather, can cause the Rollator to tip over when being used as a chair or seat. This is NOT something that should deter you from this quality walker/seat, however. This is just something to remember so you don’t make the same mistakes that we did!! These retail from $40-300, depending on the style and brand you purchase. Click the link above to read the rave comments on Amazon.com!
To check out more great products, visit Amazon.com!!