Every adult child has some type of calendar issue when it comes to scheduling certain activities with senior parents. Even when parents keep track of their own affairs, adult children often need to be aware of some of the events.
It’s not that I need or want to know what my parents are doing every moment of their day, but when they schedule medical appointments or other meetings and I need to attend (and drive more than 100 miles to get to), it’s really important for us to coordinate our calendars. I need to see my mom’s schedule, and she needs to see mine so that she knows the days when I am working or other days when I really cannot get away.
We’ve tried a number of strategies, but often they require her to learn something entirely new, and events get scheduled on days that don’t work for at least one of us. Promptly figuring out and rescheduling the glitches is challenging.
Or it was until a week or so ago when my mother and I sat down to set up her new Google Calendar, sharing it with my Google account. Because she already uses Gmail (I recommend getting senior aging parents on this e-mail system first so they become familiar with the Google look and feel) my mom’s calendar learning curve was short. Read more »
I just finished reading How to Defeat Alzheimer’s, a May 28, 2013 article in the Los Angeles Times. The article, by David Shubert, PhD, of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, reminds readers of the vast number of boomers who will experience memory impairments (14 million in 2050) at the end of their lives, requiring extensive medical and caregiving support. No cure is in sight, not even that many hopeful signs for possible cure, and research is not keeping up. Dr. Shubert offers some “out-of-the-box” ideas to move along the study of dementia diseases.
As a member of the sandwich generation — I have a married adult daughter and aging parents — I am aware of the challenges that Alzheimer’s and dementia may present for my parents, for my generation, including me, and for young adults who will likely observe a fair number of their relatives passing through various stages of brain impairment. Yet, with so many people moving inexorably toward dementia illnesses, the situation also offers an opportunity for researchers to learn more than ever before and get answers to at least a few of the unanswered questions. The boomer generation may become a sentinel cohort that helps medical researchers find some answers to Alzheimer’s. Read more »
The Family Caregiver Alliance – National Center on Caregiving, a San Francisco organization that assists family members who need information on long-term care issues, offers materials that can help adult children and spouses understand as much as possible about the complex and confusing world of caregiving.
According to the organization’s press release and website, the fact and tip sheets aim to help families navigate through the personal, legal and financial decisions that adult children and spouses must make when they care for elders with Alzheimer’s disease, stroke or brain trauma. I’ve downloaded several of these resources documents and they are excellent and comprehensive.
Eye care is critical as we age, and retina health figures in prominently.
After a vitrectomy in each eye, I hoped that I was finished with retina problems. I was thrilled with my new vision after the cataracts — a side-effect of each vitrectomy — were removed and new lenses inserted. I even used the word coda in the title of my last post (see below). But it was not to be.
Just over three weeks ago I began to see new flashes. When this new flashing started, I was unperturbed, but after it continued for most of the morning, I called my retina specialists to schedule a visit. I’ve learned over the last couple of years to call the retina doc rather than wait around. Sure enough, they asked me to come in right away and discovered a small tear in a new location. The doctor treated the tear with the laser and told me to come back in two days so that my regular specialist could check. He checked, and my eye seemed to be OK, but within a few days I was seeing a shadow, a sign that the tear was getting bigger and the retina perhaps detaching.
So I returned to the hospital ambulatory surgery department to get another vitrectomy in my right eye. This time the bubble is longer lasting, part gas and part some type of oil, so three weeks after my surgery, it is still covers most of my vision. When I look through the bubble, I see impressionist images. Read more »
One of our University of Chicago alumni publications — a pamphlet aimed toward older boomer alums — featured an interesting article, A Geriatrician’s Guide to Healthy Aging.
Penned by William Dale, M.D., Ph.D., the University of Chicago Chief of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, the short piece offers general aging advice in four categories:
- Staying active
- Maintaining relationships
- Keeping our personal health records
- Finding a doctor who is comfortable treating older patients
Dr. Dale is also the author of My Father’s Life and Death from Cancer, a description of his experiences during the last months of his father’s life. This article appeared in a 2011 edition of Medicine on the Midway, another Chicago alumni publication.
Adult children should be sure that their parents understand the clever strategies that telephone scammers use as they encourage elders to part with credit card information. Over the past several days I’ve received two phone calls on my home landline, aiming to convince me that I ordered a personal safety device and that it was ready for delivery. The caller laughed when I said I did not make the order, pointing out that I probably forgot.
The best line in the conversation — “Oh, from time-to-time we all forget that we ordered something.”
Taking advantage of memory issues is a new twist, for me anyway. The scammer tries to convince people — in this case me — that they purchased a device for safety reasons, but … somehow I must have forgotten about it. I assume a fair number of people do not want to admit that they forget things and thereby make themselves easy marks for a caller who takes advantage of the anxiety about memory lapses.
I wrote a post about a similar phone scam, Call About Personal Safety Devices, in January 2013.
What is significant about my most recent calls was how refined the pitch has become. The caller, a real person, asked me when I wanted my personal safety device delivered. I played along, acting like I did not remember making the order, and worked hard to sound doubtful. The scammer zeroed in, friendly but with laser-like precision, pointing out that I must have forgotten and that the personal safety device was ready to deliver AS SOON AS I PAID WITH MY CREDIT CARD.
Every time I expressed doubt, he had another warm and friendly explanation. When we finally parted ways, I thought I was finished with him but he called back today, reminding me of our conversation and asking me if I remembered the order that I had made.
Forewarned is forearmed.
I like this post, Technology Moving Too Fast for a Girl Born in 1950, over at the Life in My Sixties blog. The author aptly captures many of the feelings and expectations about the fast-paced, always-changing world of technology. Our feelings magnify when our adult children casually take digital life for granted and our elder parents benefit from many new gadgets and digital services.
Lots of people are happy just keeping the old familiar gadgets that we know and love — for as long as possible. Others, myself included, thrill to new things, although sometimes we have difficulty making decisions because we can choose from so many new devices and opportunities. For us the issue is not what things we want, but more how much money we have to spend and time we have to learn. Did I mention it’s also about learning?
According to a wonderful article, Digital Natives-Digital Immigrants, written by Marc Prensky way back in 2001, we boomers are digital immigrants, living in a world that is extraordinarily different from the one we were born into. Even though it’s 12 years old, the article identifies a situation that we all recognize as it contrasts the lives of younger people who have lived with technology throughout their entire lives (digital natives) with their parents and grandparents who have adopted technology along the way (but who remember the non-technological “olden days.”)
Of course, those of us who are a part of the digital immigrant generation span a wide continuum of tech skill.
In light of my most recent post (April 23, 2013) about the effect of music during my parents’ Bible study sessions, I am reposting this blog post describing an article about music, eurhythmics, and elders.
How interesting to read about the research Effect of Music-Based Multitask Training on Gait, Balance, and Fall Risk in Elderly People (abstract), an article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The article is not freely available from the medical journal, so to read it you will need to speak with a librarian or go to a hospital library.
The article points out that most seniors’ falls occur when people are performing concurrent tasks and that “each year more than a third of the population 65 years and older experiences at least one fall.” The Swiss medical researchers wondered whether participation in a music-based program involving concurrent tasks of movement and music might have a positive effect on the factors that can cause a fall — gait and balance — thereby reducing the frequency of falls.
The music activity they chose for their research is eurhythmics, a program of music education that combines music and movement, developed by composer Emile Jaques-Dalcroze in Geneva in the early 20th century. Not surprisingly, at least not from my perspective as a college music major and life-long very amateur musician, people who participated in six months of Dalcroze eurhythmics reduced both the rate and the risk of falling by the end of the program compared to a control group that did not take the class but carried on with life as usual. When the control group subsequently took the class for six months, the researchers found the same results.