Elderly health care issues may be sudden & swift.
...To both senior citizens and their caregivers. This is what happened with our Dad when he suddenly called us from Arizona, his voice trembling on the phone. He said he could no longer live alone.
Dad had woken up that morning and what little vision he had was now so bad he couldn't read a thing. It impacted most senior activities that he was involved in.
His eyes had had a bleeding episode overnight, from his macular degeneration.
Sometimes we are
fortunate to age in place slowly. In either case, recent studies by
AARP have estimated that family and friends, themselves, provide care of
the elderly (unpaid) worth over $360 billion per year.
I first learned about elderly issues and caregiving when I was a child. My grandparents lived next door (my mother was a nurse). Grandpa had had a stroke and Grandma had a heart condition. So I was assigned many caregiving duties to help out, which I enjoyed. That experienced peaked my interest in senior activities and caregiving later in life. Including becoming the primary caregiver for my father when he was 93 1/2.
Nowadays many caregivers, of course, are baby boomers who themselves have full- or part-time jobs. And often their own children at home. They're part of the "sandwich generation." Worrying about elderly health care and caregiver duties triggers a myriad of concerns.
Our seniors experience stress, and so do caregivers. As we know, our attitude and thinking are of utmost importance, as they can impact the very chemistry and physiology of our brains and moods, and thus our health.
It makes all
the difference in the world. Keeping stress down midst the issues of
aging is important. And we have some really good ideas in this web site,
including a special page,
Creative Elderly Stress Activities.
Dealing with Changes
It is true that sometimes a sudden crisis may occur that catapults you into a series of unexpected events. Or perhaps certain conditions have been gradual, but now have become real elderly problems. We need to somehow cope. There may be many new questions (and I had a gazillion of them). They may include --
We had to ask ourselves, what type of housing is now needed? What kind of elderly assistance will be best in this situation -- should we care for Dad in my home? What
are the fundamentals of caregiving, and where do we get quality home healthcare information? What about assisted living? We decided on that to begin with.
As our loved ones age, we must be observant about habits and lifestyles we used to take for granted. And to listen. Seniors often "ask" without asking. I really had to learn to "listen between the lines" with Dad. I could tell he was afraid of losing his dignity or independence, so there were only hints. But if we observe, we can find the cllues that hint at special elderly problems.
Elderly problems can mean a change in routine or care of elderly. If you've noticed specific changes, talk them over with your loved one. One of the most startling changes that happened with Dad was his changing memory -- and he knew it. And also that his vision got even worse after he decided to stop getting his eye injections for macular degeneration. These issues were tough to talk about, but it had to be done.
Express your concern, but involve them in the solution as much as
possible. This is what we had to do with Dad when we moved him back
here from Arizona. I tend to want to jump in and take charge, be efficient,
get things resolved quickly. But if the issue was not pressing, I needed to step
back and encourage Dad to participate with me. This took some patience.
Discuss the changes you've noticed and offer to help an elderly
parent or friend in small ways at first -- perhaps with grocery
shopping, laundry, or paying bills. Most do want to stay independent as long as possible.
Good elderly nutrition is vital for overall well-being. Issues with nutrition are a very big factor with elderly health care. In fact, studies have shown that actual malnutrition is one of the biggest reasons elderly become hospitalized. (We go into this further in our Nutrition area). That was shocking to me.
Establishing a new routine of care for the elderly may cause resistance. Even by family members or friends. Dad had his set schedule and was forever wanting to know what time it was, so he could stick to it. Sometimes I let certain things slide a little because changes were always so difficult to deal with. It may be easier to just go into denial for awhile. To deal with it later. That may be OK for some issues, but terrible for others...
Is the Clock Ticking
Because in some instances, your loved one's clock is ticking and
"awhile" could trigger a crisis with elderly health care. Examples may involve the causes of blindness or hearing loss. There are many types of blindness for which detection and treatment are timely, including from diabetes, glaucoma, or cataracts. Cataract treatment is very common and easy, and cataract surgery recovery involves very few problems.
vision issues, for instance, may be the result of macular degeneration,
as was the case with Dad. There are treatments now that can halt its
progress, but they are timely. Macular degeneration nutrition can help - but as a preventative measure. Waiting may cause some irreparable damage, which is what happened to Dad when he had his crisis. (If you want to learn about our experience with the avastin macular degeneration eyeball shot, just click the link). Yet, we learned many great tips for macular degeneration help.
Seeking Professional Help
If you have major concerns or are unsure about discussing these
elderly issues with your loved one, involve a professional. In my case,
my sister is a geriatric nurse, plus I was in regular contact with our
church parish nurse.
It is also extremely important to receive regular dementia screening. The most updated world-wide dementia report was issued in the fall of 2009 (we discuss this in our Dementia section) notating that this elderly health care problem had increased to almost epidemic proportions globally. And will continue to be on the rise.
The elderly often accept directives from a professional that they would resist if coming from a family member. Giving up driving, for instance. That can be one of the most traumatic elderly problems that must be faced. Some elderly get upset to the point of becoming combative when they get their keys taken away.
Attend the appointments with your loved one, and go prepared. I'm
a lover of lists, so I always made a list of questions and concerns
about Dad's issues in advance. And wrote down everything the doctor said.
You Are Not Alone
In recommending solutions, a professional may also include
intervention as needed. If an acute event has already occurred and your
elderly loved one is in the hospital, an expert (a social worker or
discharge planner) will usually be assigned to review options. This thankfully takes us as caregivers out of the picture of being the decision maker.
many resources to help you. Elderly health care is not something we
need to deal with alone. And shouldn't.
More About Elderly Health Care:
Falls in Elderly - The Game Changer -- Falls in elderly are the main reason for accidents & injuries for age 65 and over. There are specific causes for falls. Do you know them? And the preventions?
Facing Elderly Stress Issues -- I recently was stunned about a lack of perception regarding elderly stress issues by some people, and the many misconceptions of just what our elderly go through. Read what was said and how I responded. How will we cope when we go through these challenges?
Health, Music and Mood -- Is there a correlation between health, music and mood? You may already know that music can make us healthier. Get the amazing scoop on why music and Mozart beat the blues and mend the mind and immunity.
How To Get Happy -- Of course one of the important aspects to elderly health care is being positive. And we've learned some fun information.
Special Resources Related To Elderly Health Care
See these other web sites:
Massage Education Guide helps you understand the great health benefits that massage therapy can provide to elderly men and women! Relaxation for our bodies and our minds!
For women -- Check out this great resource for women: WomenOver40Health.com A Guide for women over 40, working together for empowerment and good health.