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.
Check out the Washington Post article, Caregiving is Especially Complicated When the Patient is Your Spouse, an article originally published in the January 14, 2013 online edition.
Written for the Consumer’s Union but appearing in the Post, the piece describes a book, The Caregiving Wife’s Handbook, by Diana Denholm, a licensed professional therapist who provided extensive care to her husband. Below are the topics that appeared in the article, but the book is far more comprehensive. The reviews on the Amazon website characterize the book as useful for any person who is providing care to a family member.
Topics in the Article
- How does caring for a spouse differ for caring for a parent?
- What’s the most important advice you offer to caregivers?
- What are other pitfalls to know about?
- When should a caregiver seek outside assistance?
Check Out this Easy-to-Use Guide
from the National Institute on Aging (NIA)
If one of your family members or a friend receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, this book, Caring for a Person with Alzheimer’s Disease, offers an enormous amount of information and support. It’s organized well, overs a range of resources, and even uses an easy-to-read typeface.
From the NIA Website
This comprehensive, 104-page handbook offers easy-to-understand information and advice for at-home caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease. It addresses all aspects of care, from bathing and eating to visiting the doctor and getting respite care. And it’s filled with resources.
Examples of the Information Provided in Caring for a Person With Alzheimer’s
- Learn more about caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s with advice on everything from memory issues to holidays to travel to coping strategies
- Get more specifics about the medical facts.
- Learn how to seek and find additional help for you and your family member.
- Find out how to help a caregiver remain healthy and strong.
- Explore a range of safety tips.
- Get information about the progression of the disease and the last states of Alzheimer’s disease.
Michael Lindenmayer interviews former First Lady Rosalyn Carter in a January 17, 2013 piece at Forbes. Mrs. Carter speaks about family caregivers in the United States, noting the important role this group plays in the United States health care system. Family caregivers, she points out, provide much of the daily life support to family members with significant chronic illnesses as well as aging parents.
The Rosalyn Carter Institute for Caregiving, founded by Mrs. Carter, “… is the only national institute to integrate both professional and family caregiver issues in research, education and advocacy agenda.” It’s mission is to educate the public about the critical role that caregivers, and especially family member caregivers play in our nation’s long term health care system, identify the risks associated with serving in that role, and create ways to help and support people who are working as caregivers.
Family caregivers represent one of this nation’s most significant yet underappreciated assets in our health delivery system. They are the backbone of our country’s long term, home-based, and community-based care system. The approximately 65 million family caregivers in the United States provide $450 billion worth of unpaid services each year.
Several years ago, when Jody G. started working at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC), she watched a video about the Green House Homes that were to be built. Immediately she fell in love with the concepts and wanted to become a shahbaz, the name for each person who works in the home.
I knew right then that I wanted to go to work in a Green House with its atmosphere conducive to building relationships and where the residents would have a say in what happens each day,” she said. “I couldn’t wait until the houses were built.”
The second celebration at VMRC was a day to thank collaborators – attending from near and far — people who worked together to bring the new Green House Homes to life. According to CEO Ron Yoder, the entire process took nine years and two months of hard work — dreaming, envisioning, planning, designing, and building three houses. The plan is to build a total of ten houses, each with living space for ten residents. Check out the many pictures on this blog or check out the pictures of the inside of the Woodland Park homes at the VMRC website.
Sunday’s speakers included representatives from the Mennonite Health Services Alliance and the Virginia Association of Nonprofit Homes for Aging, and both groups will probably arrange to bring members to visit and learn more about Woodland Park. Susan Frazier, the CEO of NCB Capital Impact, a nonprofit that partners with organizations to improve elder care, shared some Green House Homes facts (see below). Thanks were offered to the architects and interior designers who created the beautiful spaces and made them look like real homes, and extra special recognition was given to VMRC staff members like Jody G., who will work in the homes as shahbazim — sharing, working, and caring for the residents in each house.
Each year, during the two-month holiday season, I see an article or two urging adult children to use the holiday visits as an opportunity to spy — discretely, of course — during family gatherings. The goal is to discover how well parents are doing.
When it comes to the instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) and the activities of daily living (ADLs), the trick is to observe how well these tasks are accomplished and share those observations with a parent. I know that writers are using the word spy in a puckish manner — trying to add a bit of levity to a serious and potentially stressful family situation, but I’d still like to lose the word.
As we go about helping our parents find ways to maintain independence while aging gracefully, we need to be honest and direct — as much as possible. Sure, it’s difficult to speak about extra support and less independence when a parent who has lead a successful and fulfilling life feels a great sense of loss.
However, the concept of spying, no matter how discrete, just complicates the communication.
A few years ago, when my mother-in-law was sinking deeper and deeper into dementia, my husband and I suddenly realized, with some help from professional geriatric counselors, that the devious brain disease had been lurking for some time. Although we had noticed a number of memory issues and behaviors, we continually chalked them up to mundane issues of aging and personality. By the time we realized what was really going on and got serious about supporting his mother, she was well into the fourth stage of dementia, and we had missed many opportunities to offer support.
When I first read Inside the Dementia Epidemic by Martha Stettinius, I could not put it down. Right in front of my eyes, the author described and documented almost every step that her mother (and ours) experienced, first early on and then as it progressed incrementally. I wish that the book had been around for us to read five or six years ago.
Inside the Dementia Epidemic should be required reading for anyone who is beginning to notice changes and to feel concern about an elderly parent. Stettinius writes clearly, though not without emotion, about her caregiving role and her mother’s developing illness, sharing observations, explaining how her mother was changing, noting the effects of caregiving on her family’s life, and documenting the many caregiver support services that she found to be personally helpful. She describes the nuances of aging parental finances, sharing what she learned, pinpointing her mistakes, and highlighting the difficult decisions that she and her husband made.