Check out Protecting Elderly from Scams, a July 4, 2012 article in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Staying alert for the many troubling phone calls and other communications that elders receive is challenging. Just the other day we received yet another frustrating phone call from credit card services.
My past blog post feature links to many fraud prevention sites.
Read the March 7, 2012 Atlantic article, Making the Best of What is Often the Very Worst Time of Our Lives.
Whether we are helping to support aging parents right now or thinking about the years when we become elderly adults, we all know the situation. Our health care system and long-term care options are not prepared for the generational tsunami that is aging at this moment in time, and no workable solutions are in site to manage the big picture.
The Atlantic magazine piece is an excerpt from a book, The Best Care Possible: A Physician’s Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life , by Ira Byock, the director or palliative medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
Quotes from the Article
If you have aging parents who falls — and recently one of my parents took a spill — read the article about senior falling in the September 2010 Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Mobilize Boston, the organization that conducted the research stated on its website that, ”The purpose of the study is to collect information that will help us learn how older adults can maintain their health and independence longer.” The article abstract is free, but the article itself requires payment (or you can visit the library at your local hospital).
Identifying the differences between senior falls that occurred inside and those that occurred outside, the Mobilize Boston Study followed a cohort of 765 randomly selected men and women, most over 70 years old. Researchers collected data through questionnaires and medical examinations. During a median follow-up period of 21.7 months, 1,122 total falls occurred, consisting of 598 indoors and 524 outdoors. All study participants were Boston, Massachusetts residents, and they reported falls as they occurred.
Read the Associated Press article in the Seattle Post Intelligencer, about the the shortage of geriatricians. In Boomers’ Aging Casts Light on Geriatrics Shortage, reporter Matt Sedensky describes the increasing shortage of geriatricians –physicians who are trained to treat aging seniors. For those of us who are moving toward retirement, this is a serious problem.
Given my dad’s summer hospitalizations due to medication interaction, I find this the most thought-provoking sentence in the report:
Though not every senior needs a geriatrician, their training often makes them the best equipped to respond when an older patient has multiple medical problems. Geriatricians have expertise in areas that general internists don’t, including the changes in cognitive ability, mood, gait, balance and continence, as well as the effects of drugs on older individuals.
I am astonished at the number of diagnostic tests prescribed for older seniors. When my husband’s mother was 90, she had a gynecological exam — we suggested it and the doctor carried it out — and though I knew the doctor was gentle, Mother cried out because of the discomfort. Afterward we wondered why we put her through this exam and what we might have done if the test had identified the problem. We worried that we might have caused more health problems, especially the urinary tract infections were an ongoing problem, given Mother’s frail health. Ditto a year earlier when she prepped for a colonoscopy.
Every time my parents go to for a diagnostic test, I worry about what germs and complications they might bring home.
I don’t know the answer to this question, but several recent articles have reminded me how many of these diagnostic tests are performed and re-performed on elderly patients, despite that in the last years of life greater risks arise from the tests than from many of the health conditions.
The following three articles explore these issues.
Thoughts From Mom to Me
As we age, we are treated differently, make no mistake about it, but until I felt it myself, it never rang true. In my professional life, from time to time I observed how people are marginalized – individuals with mental illness, immigrants, international students, people of color.
Now, after years in college and ministerial circles, I’ve aged, and I sometimes feel marginalized because of my age. Someone might speak to me in a falsetto voice, pay no attention to my opinions, or worse still, not offer me a leadership role of some type. Sometimes I feel that young adults are patronizing. As I became more aware of ageism, at first I was perplexed, then angry, and finally curious. Is this a rite of passage for each generation?
Today when you told Dad and me of a conversation with your cousin, the gist of which is that gray hair raises barriers with younger colleagues, and that the barriers sometimes lead to perceptions of less competence or inventiveness, I wondered does this cycle have to exist? How can we understand these new roles? Are we taking enough initiative? Are we now only acceptable as participants with less primary roles? Do young adults ever really know who “old people” are? Read more »
Read Small Changes Enough to Keep Aging Seniors in Home, an April 21, 2011 article in the Kansas City Star. Reporter Diane Stafford describes how small tweaks and novel ideas can help a seniors remain in a much-loved home. These adjustments range from grab bars and higher toilets in bathroom to throw rug removal in places that are highly traveled. The article also describes some of the services that are available to seniors now, as well as others that may soon be used in the future.
Some time ago a post in this blog, Making Our House Safer for Aging Parents and For Ourselves, described how my family made some basic changes to our house. At first we tweaked various spots in the house to accommodate our senior parents when they were visiting, but now we find we happily use them ourselves.
Home accommodation demonstration videos are available on YouTube. For instance, the Visiting Nurses Service of New York has posted a series of “How to Help” videos on its website and on a visiting nurses channel on YouTube.
I have just read The Good Caregiver cover-to-cover. The recently published book, by Robert L. Kane, M.D., is an all-in-one user’s guide with thorough, indexed, and therefore easy-to-find information about every aspect of elderly parent caregiving. Though he is a world-renowned specialist on aging and long-term care (Read Dr. Kane’s faculty bio), and he produces lots of research papers, Dr. Kane’s writing style is low-key and easy to read. Listen to his talk about aging and his book on a recording made for the Public Health Moment series, a program produced by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.
My husband and I have twice assisted with caregiving. The first time, for his father, we managed our mini-part from a long distance; the second, for his mother, also began as a long distance affair but moved close to our home for the last several years. Despite great challenges the two of us, both only children, mastered much of the minutia and took care of ourselves. Still we yearned for a user’s manual.