My father, a retired minister, and my mother are leading a short Bible study once a week at Woodland Park, Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community’s (VMRC), newly opened Green House Homes. The weekly activity is engaging and fun for mom and dad, and they enjoy sharing scripture as well as music with the group members. Most of the participants who choose to attend are physically fragile and some also have significant memory loss.
Each Thursday my parents bring a lesson, as much as possible, from the weekly lectionary – the three-year cycle of Bible readings that corresponds with the events of the Christian church liturgical year. Many ministers base their Sunday sermons on these readings, and many churches schedule their Bible study groups to help members learn more about the lectionary passages prior to the Sunday service when the passages are read during worship.
At the Woodland Park Bible study sessions my parents just about always read a Psalm. Dad chooses the next reading based on how well-known and familiar it is, because the participants are increasingly engaged when they recognize the story, and some may even share a thought or two after hearing the passage read aloud. With this group familiarity with a passage is more important than any one lectionary passage.
Music and hymn singing become more central each time my parents lead a session, since just about every member of the group seems to automatically remember words to many of the old-time favorite hymns. Read more »
The Over 65 Blog is a part of The Hastings Center, an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit bioethics research institute that focuses on ethical issues in the areas of health, medicine, and the environment. The Center concentrates on and produces research about making decisions at the end of life, public health priorities, and the role of emerging technologies when it comes to medical care and aging.
The Over 65 Blog examines issues and problems that affect members of the over-65 generation, and I’ve started to follow it after learning about it on Facebook from Jane Gross, who is on the organization’s board.
Those of us who are adult children and also approaching retirement are watching the Medicare debate with a combination of anxiety, frustration, and resignation. A recent post on the over 65 Blog, The Medicare Showdown, by Daniel Callahan, offers some sobering thoughts about what it may take for Medicare to continue to operate effectively.
- Quite apart from the long-term deficit crisis, Medicare is in deep trouble: unsustainable in the long run and a burden already. Much higher taxes, especially for the rich but even for the middle class, will be necessary to soften the impact of benefit cuts.
- The president’s proposal contains a gradual increase of benefits after age 76 to offset inadequate retirement income, a far-sighted and welcome idea.
Below is a three-paragraph excerpt from an April 12, 2013 report by Adam Moll, a compelling look at the aging prison population and the increasing amounts of geriatric medical care that must be provided to inmates.
Dementia is not a condition associated with incarceration, yet a demographic shift is challenging the very nature of prisons. In England and Wales, male offenders aged 50 or above are the fastest growing group in prison, rising by 74% in the past decade to close to 10,000, 11% of the total prison population. The over-60s population has increased eight-fold since 1990.
This transformation, primarily driven by decades of punitive sentencing policy from politicians falling over each other to appear “tough on crime”, is exacerbated by an accelerated ageing process experienced by many offenders, a combination of the health risks associated with criminal lifestyles and the psychological strains of prison life.
Most Interesting Quote
The United States, where legislation has been particularly draconian, is facing the genuine prospect of its prisons becoming the biggest single providers of geriatric care in the next thirty years.
From a posting on Facebook by A Bittersweet Season author, Jane Gross. A bit scary, I think.
Some 29 states currently have laws making adult children responsible for their parents if their parents can’t afford to take care of themselves. These “filial responsibility” laws have rarely been enforced, but six years ago when federal rules made it more difficult to qualify for Medicaid long-term care coverage, some elder law attorneys predicted that nursing homes would start using the laws as a way to get care paid for.
An article in Fiscal Times, How Startups Art Profiting from Aging Boomers, describes how boomers and individuals in other age groups are creating new businesses and products that respond to the needs of people who are aging. Adult children may want to become acquainted with this business trend because products may pop up that are specially useful in the lives of elder parents. One product that I am considering for my family is CareZone (see right-hand illustration).
The April 4, 2013 piece, by Julie Halpert, points out that most boomers have a fair amount of money to spend on supportive devices if and when they are required. Moreover, it turns out that many of the people who are setting up aging-related businesses are themselves boomers.
I hope these businesses figure out a way to produce products that look like they are a part of “normal,” routine life for everyone, even if they are developed for elders. About a year ago I read about an especially interesting fact for product developers to keep in mind on Laurie Orlov’s Aging in Place Technology Watch. Orlov points out that people who are aging do not want to use products that look like they are for old people. Instead, they want products that look like anyone can use them but also have features that support a person as he or she ages. Read more »
I’ve written about senior parent hospitalizations several times on this blog. When a parent is hospitalized, an adult child needs energy, clarity, and attention to detail.
Recently Dale Carter, over at Transition Aging Parents, wrote an excellent post about her experience when her mother was hospitalized for surgery, and she includes lots of ideas that can assist those of us who help to support our parents and may spend some time with them at hospitals.
Last week I shared that I had been away, helping my mother through surgery and recovery for colon cancer. As I reflect on the many lessons learned from this experience, I’ve decided to devote this post to the 5 things I believe were key in ensuring the best care for my mother. These are things that will make a true difference, regardless of the diagnosis, your location in the country, or selection of hospital. Continue reading this post at Transition Aging Parents.
I just finished reading Too Many Colonoscopies for the Elderly, a short article that appeared on the New Old Age blog at the New York Times. The March 12, 2013 post, by New Old Age journalist and editor Paula Span, explains how the United States Preventive Task Force recommends that routine screening colonoscopies not be performed on people older than age 75. It brought back some dramatic memories for my husband and me.
A few years ago we helped my husband’s 89-year-old mother go through the colonoscopy preparations and the procedure itself. She was exceedingly healthy and still six months away from a serious stroke.
Spending a day on liquids was difficult for the small woman — she was dizzy during the entire day and exceedingly so by the evening. Then she proceeded with the preparation, drinking the gallon of liquid and going through the various stages of diarrhea. Added to the dizziness was nausea, and she felt worse and worse. Despite her uncomplaining nature, getting through the final hours and procedure was a huge challenge.
Those of us who have lived with dementia or Alzheimer’s in our families know about the struggle. But rarely does an opportunity come along to read about what’s happening to memory from the perspective of the person who is ill and gradually becoming sicker.
Facing a Fading Future: Retired Doctor Chronicles His Struggles With Alzheimer’s appeared in the March 31, 2013 Washington Post, and it offers the perspective of the patient who also happens to be a trained physician.
Take some time to read this compelling article, by Theresa Vargas, about Dr. David Hilfiker who has Alzheimer’s and is blogging about it. It’s heartbreaking and amazing at the same time, and providing many of us with the first real look at the disease, chronicled from a patient’s point of view.
A Few Quotes from the Article Read more »