Should you join aarp

The AARP used to be the American Association of Retired Persons. The AARP is known for representing and speaking on behalf of aging populations based in the United States. It is involved in all kinds of activities such as: negotiating reduced rates for prescriptions, housing, tourist attractions, automobile rentalsm motels and hotels. It is at present involved politically with the Medicare Prescription Drug Program. The AARP was founded in 1958 by Ethel Percy Andrus and hopes to have 70 million members in the next ten years due to the increasing age of the US population. It is interesting that the AARP is fighting the proposed changes to Social Security. The AARP has changed its role over the last few decades so as to reflect current living standards and the way in which we now approach age with dignity and purpose. On its website discounted trips to Hawaii and Alaska are advertised as well as news specifically geared to seniors, such as employment news, legal advice, health and fitness information and other interesting items. At present some of the hot button items the AARP is working with are: Prescription Drugs; Prescription Drugs over the last 5 years have increased much more rapidly in costs than the rate of inflation and as such are a heavy burden on Seniors. The AARP makes available the results of studies of changes in manufacturers' prescription drug list prices for 200 brand name and 75 generic drugs most widely used by Americans age 50 and over. Social Security; President Bush seems to think that there will not be enough money in the future to pay for Social Security benefits for Seniors at today's level. His private accounts plan would allow workers to invest up to one third of their payroll contributions in the Stock Market. Based on Stock Market results for the time President Bush has been in office this would have resulted in a loss for the average Senior taking inflation into account. And the indexing plan that Bush embraced at his April 28 press conference would preserve the present defined-benefit approach only for low-wage workers—those currently earning less than about $20,000. For everyone else, 70 percent of workers, the system would be flipped upside down—so that the more you earn and pay in, the more your benefits are cut. Consumer alerts; Last year Americans spent more than $20 billion on anti-aging products of which a sizeable amount was for so called "snake oil" products such as "human growth hormone " pills which sold for $80 per bottle per month and promised to cure anything that ails you. The US Food and Drug Administration does'nt regulate over-the-counter products so it is buyer beware.

being a primary carer for a relative with alzheimer s disease the long goodbye

“I am a Carer”. There you go, “straight off the bat” as they say, I write this article (the first in a series) in my role as a Primary Carer first and author second. At present I am the primary carer for my elderly mother who is suffering from the advance stages of Alzheimer’s disease. It is desperately cruel disease (most are, I know) in that it robs people (by and large) of their dignity and their independence at a stage in life when they need it most. In the United Kingdom, the Alzheimer’s Society claimed in a recent survey that over 750,000 people suffered from Alzheimer’s and related dementia problems.

In the United States it is calculated that an estimated 4.5 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s and that this figure has doubled since 1980. Further alarming statistics highlight the fact that it is possible that in the US alone, the number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s could more than double to between 11.5 and 13 million sufferers by 2050. Alzheimer’s disease is what is described as a progressive disorder of the brain that gradually destroys a persons’ memory, ability to learn, reason, make judgements, communicate and carry out daily activities. As the disease progresses, sufferers may also experience changes in their personality and display such behavioural changes ranging from anxiety, agitation or suspicion right up to and / or including delusions and hallucinations Although there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, new treatments are on the horizon as a result of accelerating insight into the biology of the disease. Research has also shown that effective care and support can improve quality of life for individuals and their caregivers over the course of the disease from diagnosis to the end of life. Considering the long term implications for Alzheimer’s sufferers, the hidden sociological impact will in reality be born on the shoulders of those who will be caring for the sufferers for it is indeed a bittersweet irony that those who care for the sufferers in reality suffer more than the sufferers do themselves. This fact in itself has been largely responsible for another survey finding recently and that was the fact that Americans are equally afraid of caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s as much as they are of developing the disease themselves. Approximately 1 in 2 American adults are more apprehensive of caring for partner or loved one who has developed Alzheimer’s. Just less than 1 in 5 American adults have indicated that they are more afraid of getting the disease themselves (17%). The real problem from a carer’s perspective is that no two people experience Alzheimer’s disease in the same way. As a result, there's no one approach to care giving. Your care giving responsibilities can range from making financial decisions, managing changes in behaviour, to helping a loved one get dressed in the morning. Handling these duties is hard work. But by learning care giving skills, you can make sure that your loved one feels supported and is living a full life. You can also ensure that you are taking steps to preserve your own well-being. Caring for someone who has Alzheimer's disease or another illness involving dementia can be very difficult, time-consuming, and stressful – (serious understatement here). Here are some more things a care giver can do to help the person with Alzheimer's disease while also reducing the substantial burden that comes with care giving: * Stay Informed - Knowledge equals power. The more you know about Alzheimer's disease or any other signs of dementia, the better you can prepare yourself to deal with problems that may arise. * Share concerns with the person - A person who is mildly to moderately impaired can assist in his/her own care. Memory aides and other strategies can be created by the person with dementia and the caregiver together. This is easier said than done I know but you have to give it a try. But, and this is a big but (no laughs here please) it is essential that you realise that you are probably dealing with a person who if they have any cognisance at all, will be in denial. * Solve problems one at a time - A multitude of problems may occur that may seem insurmountable at the time. Work on one specific problem at a time -- you do not have to solve every problem all at once. As the saying goes “Success by the inch is a cinch, by the yard it’s hard” and in this case this has never been more true. * Use your imagination - One of the keys to handling this disease is your ability to adapt. If something can't be done one way, try another. For example, if the person only uses his or her fingers for eating, do not keep fighting; just serve as many finger foods as possible! * Establish an environment that encourages freedom and activity within limits Try to create a stable, balanced schedule for meals, medication, etc. but also encourage activities that the patient can handle such as taking a walk or visiting an old friend. Remember, the person with AD is not the only one whose needs must be taken into consideration. You as a caregiver have needs and desires that must also be met. First, try and find some time for yourself. Even though this suggestion may seem like an impossibility, find some time during the week where you can have someone else watch the patient -- be it a relative, friend, or neighbour -- and do something for yourself. * Avoid social isolation - Keep up contacts with friends and relatives. It’s easy to get burned out when it seems like you have no one to turn to. Another way to establish contacts is by joining the Alzheimer's Association or other such support groups. Talking with other families who share many of the very same problems can be reassuring as it helps you know you are not alone in your round-the-clock struggles.

Caring for mom and dad as they grow older what baby boomers need to know about geriatric health care

I often get letters, like the two below, from Baby Boomers who are caring for aging parents and trying to find health care that meets the unique needs of older people. Finding the right kind of care can seem daunting, but a little information and some key resources can help tremendously. Q: My 81-year-old mother recently fell and was rushed to the emergency room. The doctor who saw her suggested that she start seeing a geriatrician. What is a geriatrician and why should she see one? A: A geriatrician is a physician with special training and expertise in caring for older adults, especially those with complex health problems. Like children, older adults have unique health care needs. As we age, our bodies change in many ways that affect our health. Among other things, we're more likely to develop chronic health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis, and to need multiple medications (all with potential side effects). About 80 percent of adults 65 or older have at least one chronic health condition and 50 percent have at least two. As we grow older it's also harder for us to recover from illnesses. Q: I've tried to find a geriatrician for my parents but haven't had any luck. Why aren't there more geriatricians? What should I do? A: Today, there are fewer than 7,000 practicing geriatricians in the U. S. That's about one geriatrician for every 5,000 adults over age 65. Finding a geriatrician is likely to become even more difficult over the next 20 years, as the nation's 77 million Baby Boomers reach retirement age. To prepare for this "Aging Boom," we need to support programs that both train geriatricians and better prepare all health care providers to care for older adults. Until recently, the federal government's "Title VII" geriatric health professions program did just that, by supporting geriatric education centers and young medical school faculty who trained medical students, primary care physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other providers to better meet the health care needs of older adults. Unfortunately, Congress eliminated all funding for this program in late 2005. We need to restore this funding--for the sake of all older Americans.

Maintain your brain strategies to help prevent alzheimer s disease

: It's almost become a joke. Forget the word you wanted to use and joke 'Must be early Alzheimer's.' Lose track of where you left your keys? "Doh! Guess I'm getting Alzheimer's." Alzheimer's Disease is no joking matter, though, and we know it even under the casual, joking jabs at our own memory problems. I suspect that more than one of us, when those occasional lapses of memory happen, wonder if we really ARE starting to lose our memories to one of the most baffling and devastating diseases we know. According to the Center for Disease Control statistics, 20% of adults who are in nursing homes have a primary diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease - over 214,000 people.

For many of us who are approaching the far side of middle age, that's a frightening statistic. Those jokes have the air of gallows humor. There is good news on the Alzheimer's front. Research into risk factors and predisposition have turned up some interesting correlations between general health, social well-being and Alzheimer's disease.

The Alzheimer's Association has some suggestions that may help lower your risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease, and even slow its progression among those who have already started showing symptoms.

  • -- Eat your fruits and veggies. Mother always told you to eat all your veggies, and this is one more good reason. In one study of over 1,800 elderly men and women, researchers found that those who drank fruit or vegetable juice at least three times a week had a 75% less risk of developing Alzheimer's than those who drank less than one glass per week. Why? The answer probably lies in the effects of antioxidants. Fruit juices - especially berry juices - are among the highest sources of antioxidants around. Dark green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, berries and citrus juices are all up there as excellent sources of antioxidant goodness. Get out the juicer and drink up!
  • -- Eat a healthy, balanced diet - and don't forget your fats. A healthy diet is basic to a healthy brain. Whole grains, vegetables and fruits should be your major source of calories, but doctors are starting to take a closer look at fats again. One source of fat that appears to be vital to rebuilding and maintaining brain cells is fish. The omega-3 fatty acids that are found in high concentrations in cold-water fish like tuna and salmon, as well as in shellfish, are an important ingredient in building neural pathways that function properly. Nutritionists suggest including a source of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet at least three times a week. Tuna casserole, anyone?
  • -- Get social! In a study of over 2,500 men, those who had the least contact with friends and family were nearly 3 times as likely to develop dementia as those who had more active social lives. Social activity and maintaining family and social ties seem to stimulate the brain cells and keep them from atrophying. When's the last time you had coffee with your sister, hm?
  • -- Exercise your brain. Recent studies strongly suggest that elderly people - including those with Alzheimer's Disease, can improve their memories with practice. Researcher suggest that activities like crossword puzzles, memory games and challenging mental activities could help the brain create new neural pathways as old brain cells die off. Get out the word-search books and have some mental fun!
  • -- Stay physically active. In one study of almost 500 adult children of parents with Alzheimer's Disease, researchers found that those who exercised regularly scored better on memory and problem solving tasks than those who were sedentary. It may be that exercise, which promotes healthy circulation and gets the blood flowing through your entire body, helps nourish the brain by getting more nutrients to it on a regular basis. Take a walk or take up swimming - or join a fitness group to combine social AND physical activities in one.
The bottom line? Doctors and researchers aren't sure what causes it, so there's no surefire way to prevent Alzheimer's Disease from developing. They do know that people who share certain traits are much less likely to develop the symptoms though. Stay fit, get active, get out with your friends often and do what you can to enjoy your life. As a prescription for preventing Alzheimer's disease, it sounds like a great way to live!

Providing respite for the family caregiver

Progress is being made on the homefront for those caring for family members suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia. Currently, about two-thirds of Americans with those conditions are cared for at home. As the disease progresses it carries with it a tremendous burden, both physically and psychologically on the family members-usually the husband, wife or partner--who are doing the caregiving. That is why it is vital that the family access community support systems, such as local Alzheimer's organizations, that can provide reassurance and support groups. It is also important that family caregivers seek outside help if they feel they are becoming ill from the strain of caregiving as the disease progresses.

The strain can easily become intolerable for spouses trying to cope all alone at home with an Alzheimer's sufferer and they themselves can have a physical or mental breakdown. There should be no shame or guilt in seeking respite care from a professional home care agency. People who are not trained professionals often find it a strain to be caregivers, and should not feel that this makes them a bad or unloving partner or child. By turning to outside resources, a family can delay having to place Alzheimer's sufferers in a long-term-care facility and, instead, keep them in the comfort of their own home. Interim HealthCare has formed a strategic partnership with the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) to support AFA's goals related to dementia care professionals, including: • Raise the level of professional care provided to individuals who are suffering from Alzheimer's disease and dementia; • Support professionals as they support those in need by providing practical training; • Set standards of excellence through the AFA qualification program; • Offer networking and advocacy opportunities. Interim HealthCare, a leader in the home healthcare industry, recognizes the special needs of Alzheimer's and dementia patients and their families. Creating an Alzheimer's - and dementia-friendly and safe environment is an important step in making it possible for people to remain at home much longer and further into the disease.

Retirement communities are key to living well

Today, growing older doesn't necessarily mean slowing down your life. In fact, just the opposite is true, as thousands of seniors have already discovered how to enjoy their "golden years" with vigor and style. Not content with sitting in front of the television, today's senior citizens are swimming with dolphins, learning a new art form and even plunging from a plane in their first skydive. What is the key to their happiness and well-being? According to a recent study, it could be living in a retirement community.

According to a University of Michigan study, people who live in retirement communities are more satisfied with their daily lives and are more likely to be happy than their contemporaries who remain in their own homes. Residents of these communities also are more likely to say their health is better today than it was two years ago, the study concluded. Many retirement communities not only give seniors a place to share common interests, but also provide unique opportunities to try new hobbies and experiences. For instance, the Fountains communities, located in 13 states at 19 locations, plan activities and excursions for their residents. On a recent excursion to Key Largo, Fountains residents age 78 to 98 swam in natural lagoons with six Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. Creative expression also is encouraged at the Fountains, home to hundreds of artists - both professional and amateur. Each year, the company produces an annual calendar featuring the work of its resident artists. Communities such as the Fountains also offer various styles of retirement living to meet different needs and desires. For seniors who want to maintain or enhance their independent lifestyle, the Fountains' "Town Center" neighborhoods offer apartments, cottages, cabanas, casitas, bungalows, suites or condos. Amenities include dining venues, fitness centers, salons, lounges, movie theaters, bank branches, convenience stores and wellness clinics. For seniors who want to live independently with some assistance and supervision, the Fountains provides ready access to services, gentle encouragement and motivation from the community's 24-hour staff. Medicare-certified nursing care for those recuperating or rehabilitating from illness is also available at many locations.

Why swimming is the perfect exercise for seniors

There are a many reasons why swimming and water-based exercise may be the best choice for seniors. Water based exercises are second only to walking in lowest rates for injuries. They are commonly used for physical therapy modes for those recovering from major surgery. Water also provides more options for those who are lacking in general fitness or have a prior injury that makes land based activity difficult. Finally, water based activities work the entire body, serving as a form of both strength training even as aerobic training takes place.

Swimming utilizes nearly all major muscle groups simultaneously, imparting a total body work out. Because of the inherent resistance of the water, swimming develops both muscle strength and endurance, as well as helps flexibility. Because of its horde of effects, swimming provides almost all of the aerobic benefits of running even as it yields many of the benefits of resistance training thrown in. Because swimming does not put the strain on connective tissues that running, aerobics and some weight-training regimens do, swimming is the kind of low-impact work out that is perfect for seniors seeking to regain or maintain their fitness. This is a sport especially gentle to those who are physically challenged. The buoyancy factor of water makes swimming the most injury-free exercise available. So it is specifically interesting to seniors, especially those with any type of joint issues.

In water, a person’s body weight is reduced by 90% as compared to its weight on land. For example, a 220 pound man will weigh about 22 pounds if he is standing in chin deep water. Exercises in water can also be done more often because of the low incidence of injuries and it is more effective for exercising the entire body as any movement in water 12 times greater resistance than movement in air. For the elderly, water fitness is safe, fills the need for exercise, increases a body's range of motion and is a low-impact exercise.

Managing caregiver guilt 5 tips to manage guilt so guilt serves you not imprisons you

: Guilt is a common feeling in the landscape of care giving. Guilt can propel you to be the best you can be …or it can immobilize you. For caregivers, painful feelings -- such as guilt, sadness and anger -- are like any other pain. It’s your body’s way of saying, 'Pay attention.' Just as the pain of a burned finger pulls your hand from the stove, so, too, guilt guides your actions and optimizes your health. You have a picture of the "Ideal You" with values you hold and how you relate to yourself and others. Guilt often arises when there’s a mismatch between your day-to-day choices and the choices the "Ideal You" would have made.

The "Ideal You" may be a parent who attends all of the kids’ soccer games. Miss a game to take your dad to the doctor, and you think you’re falling short. You may have needs out of line with this "Ideal You." You may believe that your own needs are insignificant, compared to the needs of your sick loved one. You then feel guilty when you even recognize your needs, much less act upon them. A mother may ask herself, “How can I go out for a walk with my kids when my mother is at home in pain?” (A hint for this mother: she can give more to her mother with an open heart when she takes good care of herself.) You may have feelings misaligned with the "Ideal You." Feeling angry about the injustice of your loved one’s illness?

You might even feel angry at your loved one for getting sick! Recognizing those feelings can produce a healthy dose of guilt. Yes, you may even feel guilty about feeling guilty. “Why did my loved one get sick?” you may ask. Perhaps, if the "Ideal You" acted more often, your loved one would be healthy. What if you served more healthful meals? What if you called 911, instead of believing your husband when he said his chest pain was just “a little heartburn”? If you’re the kind of person prone to guilt, learn to manage guilt so that guilt serves you rather than imprisons you. Here are 5 tips for managing your caregiver guilt: Recognize the feeling of guilt: Unrecognized guilt eats at your soul. Name it; look at the monster under the bed Identify other feelings: Often, there are feelings under the feeling of guilt.

Name those, too. For example, say to yourself: “I hate to admit this to myself, but I’m resentful that dad’s illness changed all of our lives.” Once you put it into words, you will have a new perspective. You will also be reminding yourself of how fortunate you are to have what it takes to take care of loved one.” Be compassionate with yourself: Cloudy moods, like cloudy days, come and go. There’s no one way a caregiver should feel. When you give yourself permission to have any feeling, and recognized that your feelings don’t control your actions, your guilt will subside. Look for the cause of the guilt: What is the mismatch between this "Ideal You" and the real you? Do you have an unmet need? Do you need to change your actions so that they align with your values? Take action: Meet your needs.

Needs are not bad or good; they just are. If you need some time alone, find someone to be with your loved one. Change your behavior to fit your values: For example, Clara felt guilty because her friend was in the hospital and she didn’t send a card. Her guilt propelled her to buy some beautiful blank cards to make it easier for her to drop a note the next time. Ask for help: Call a friend and say, “I’m going through a hard time. Do you have a few minutes just to listen?” Have a family meeting and say, “Our lives have been a lot different since grandma got sick. I’m spending more time with her. Let’s figure out together how we’ll get everything done.

Revisit and reinvent the "Ideal You": You made the best choices based on your resources and knowledge at the time. As you look to the future, you can create a refined vision of the "Ideal You." What legacy do you want to leave? What values do you hold dear? Then, when you wake up in the morning and put on your clothes, imagine dressing the "Ideal You." Let this reinvented "Ideal You" make those moment-to-moment choices that create your legacy. Understand that you will be a more effective caregiver when you care for the caregiver first. Loved ones neither want nor expect selfless servants. As a caregiver, when you care for yourself, you increase and improve your own caring. Yes, guilt is part of caregiving, but this guilt can help you become the caregiver you and your loved one want you to be.

Keep seniors independent and involved practical acts of kindness

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Sometimes elderly people can be fierce about maintaining their independence - some would say downright stubborn. But it is hard to give up taking care of oneself and give the reins over to someone else. It can diminish their spirits to depend on others to do tasks they used to do so easily.

How can you help without taking away their independence?

Following are five ideas from the e-book, "101 Ways to Change the World". Use them to stir up your own ideas. Let's keep our seniors involved in life - they are a valuable commodity!

1. If you have an old computer that still works, take it to an elderly person.

  • Teach how to operate it to send and receive email. Give them a connection to the world.
  • What a great way to keep them connected to their family and friends who are probably online too.
  • Their kids and grandkids will think they are so cool, and be so impressed that they mastered the computer!
  • Become an E-mail Pen Pal with them yourself!
  • 2. Help someone around the house who is elderly or sick. You could:

  • Paint
  • Garden
  • Mow the lawn
  • Shovel snow
  • Take out trash
  • Just look around. You'll be able to discover what needs to be done. If there is an extensive list of things to do, enlist the help of a couple other people - take a lunch along and make it a party! The senior will appreciate the help and the company.

    3. Take daily walks with an elderly neighbor who doesn't feel comfortable or safe going out on their own. Exercise will help keep them mobile and keep their spirits up, too. And you may just learn tidbits of history and wisdom from their perspective.

    4. Birds are always a delight to watch for those who are homebound.

  • Take over a bird feeder and keep it filled with birdseed.
  • Hummingbirds are fun to watch. Keep their feeder filled with fresh hummingbird nectar for hours of entertainment!
  • 5. Help the elderly or homebound decorate for the holidays. They often miss out on the fun of holidays because they aren't able to handle the traditions and decorations. Yet they usually have boxes of items that made their holidays special over the years. Make sure you return to put them all away!

    There you have it - five simple ways to make a difference in an elderly person's life. All you have to do is make the decision to help and then do it. It's just that simple!

    For more suggestions, visit http://101WaysSeries. com and download the e-book, "101 Ways to Change the World". Use these tips to change your world, one kindness at a time.

    Medicare drug benefit gaining millions of enrollees

    According to a recent report from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Medicare's new prescription drug benefit now covers 25 million Americans, with an average of 250,000 new enrollees being added each week. In a promising sign of the program's growth, HHS' progress report showed that the number of beneficiaries rose more than 2.6 million in a month. "It is important for seniors and people living with disabilities to understand their options with Medicare's new prescription drug benefit," said Senator Bob Dole, former presidential candidate, who is leading an ongoing, national tour to promote the new drug benefit to seniors. "Anyone eligible for Medicare in need of dependable drug coverage can join a Medicare-approved plan and potentially save a significant amount of money on their medications." HHS says there are benefits to enrolling in a Medicare drug plan at the beginning of any given month. According to HHS, signing up early in the month means enrollees will likely have their prescriptions filled promptly and allows them to get the best value out of their drug coverage from the first day it goes into effect. More importantly, anyone who wants to take advantage of the benefit this year must sign up by May 15, 2006-the last day of 2006's open enrollment period. Seniors who have Medicare's new prescription drug coverage are experiencing lower prices and are spending less on their medications than ever before. In order to maximize savings, seniors should compare the new Medicare options with their existing coverage to decide which option is best for them. Eligible seniors and people with disabilities may want to speak with family members to help them understand the new benefit. Advocacy organizations representing more than 8 million Americans are supporting Dole's speaking tour. Anyone currently enrolled in or eligible for the new benefit can log on to Dole's Web site, bobdoleonmedicare. com, which is updated regularly with important information for seniors and their families.

    Caring for elderly parents 5 tips for avoiding caregiver burnout

    : Joanne’s mother, Betty, had rheumatoid arthritis for years. Suddenly and unexpectedly, Betty was disabled by the pain, fatigue and limited mobility that she had feared since her diagnosis. Joanne convinced her fiercely independent mother that living alone was no longer an option. And Joanne, the eldest of four children, knew that caring for her sick mother fell on her shoulders. Joanne was a legend in the circles of her family, friends and colleagues for her ability to act with grace under pressure. Joanne took two weeks of vacation from her job and cooked and froze meals for her husband and three children. As she flew to her hometown, she wondered how she would coordinate her mother’s care from a distance. Supporting her husband as he built his new business, nurturing her kids and directing a major project at work already made her feel that she was running on empty. You may relate to Joanne’s story.

    One out of four Americans cares for a friend or relative who is sick, disabled or frail. That’s 46 million Americans who offer unpaid help to a loved one. If they were paid caregivers’ compensation would exceed last year’s Medicare budget! And if you become a caregiver, you, like Joanne, may try to do it alone, shrouded in secrecy. Solo caregiving compromises your ability to nurture yourself and others. Let’s take caregiving out from behind closed doors. For your sake and the sake of those who count on you, please get some help. Caregivers are competent people who feel that they should be able to do this job. Yet, many soon find themselves unprepared and ill-equipped to manage the sometimes daunting tasks, such as managing a complex medical regimen or remodeling a house so it’s wheel-chair accessible or even finding someone to stay with their loved ones so they can go out to a movie without worrying their relatives will fall on the way to the fridge. If you are a caregiver, you know that this act of love has its costs.

    You stand to forfeit up to $650,000 in lost wages, pension and social security. Add to that is the personal cost to your well being, as your new demands leave you less time for your family and friends. You may give up vacations, hobbies and social activities. Finally, caregiving places a burden on your health. Caregivers are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, depressed immune function and even hospitalization. Instead of reaching out, caregivers become isolated. Many who assume the caregiving burden fit the profile of the giving family member, like Joanne, who does not want to trouble others with their problems. Some fear the consequences of disclosing their new demands to coworkers or employers.

    Caregivers are further challenged by the cultural conspiracy of silence. Our youth-centered society turns a blind eye to the unpleasant and inevitable reality that all of us age and die. This leaves both caregivers and care recipients unprepared. Look no further than the path of Hurricane Katrina to witness the consequences of a lack of planning. What can you do? Start talking about the "what ifs" and make a plan. 1. Start with yourself. What will happen to you and your family if you become disabled or die unexpectedly? Do you have disability insurance? Do you have a will? Do you have a living will, and have you identified the person who will make the medical choices you would make if you are not in the position to do so? 2. Approach healthy family members. Say, "I hope that you live many happy years in which you enjoy all of the pleasures you worked so hard to create.

    " Have you thought about what would happen to you in the event that you cannot live independently any more? If some medical event befalls you, who would make your medical choices? 3. Look into community resources that support caregiving. A day program, for example, helps your loved one by providing social connections with peers. Your community may even offer transportation to and from the program. Getting out of the house offers the additional benefit of getting bodies moving.

    Socializing and exercise are the two most powerful interventions that help your loved ones stay at their best. 4. Make specific suggestions to friends, family members and neighbors who want to help. You may even want to keep a "help list." When they say, "Let me know what I can do," you have a response: "Could you take Mom to her physical therapy appointment this week?" "When you’re at the store, could you pick up some oranges and blueberries?" "Could you watch the kids for an hour so I can get to the gym?" Your giving friends will appreciate specific ideas about how they can help. 5. Take care of your health. Get good nutrition, plenty of sleep, and regular exercise to stay in top health. Wash your hands regularly to prevent colds and flu. Manage your stress with laughter, a prayer or even a deep breath. Nourish your soul with a taste of activities that recharge your batteries such as writing in your journal or gardening. Finally, talk to your doctor if you feel depressed or anxious.

    The best strategies for effective caregiving include preparation, acts of self-care and reaching out for help. That begins with the courage to start talking openly about caregiving.

    Easy movement with chair lifts

    Chair lifts are useful in enhancing the mobility of the people with handicaps. There are various types of chair lifts in the market, ranging from those that raise the chair to another level for stairs or vehicles to lifts that raise a person to a level that will allow them to stand. The most popular chair lifts are those that help people in wheelchairs get up the stairs. There are various models and brands of chair lifts that can help perform this function. To choose the right chair is very important. For people who have difficulty in getting up from the chair, chair lifts offer an opportunity for them for more freedom and normalcy in movements. The main difference of a normal chair from a chairlift is that the chair lifts are built with a motor. The motor lifts the chair and aids the user to stand up out of that chair.

    A chair lift can also prevent a user from flopping down by coming up to meet the user. A good chair lift can put the user in a standing position. Selecting the right chair life becomes difficult since there are so many models in the market. Many lift chairs look like a sofa, bed, accent chair or a love seat. You should judge them in terms of looks, comfort and functionality. Other factors of consideration are the size and height.

    The size of the chair lift needs to be matches with the needs of the user. Too small and too large a chair can pose problems. The weight of the user and the power source are two other factors on which the type of chair lift will depend. Different chairs have varying weight capacities. Some of the chair lifts plug into traditional outlets, while others use a battery pack. There are some that have both these facilities. Examining the weight capacity of the chair before picking it up is a must.

    There are various other things that need to be checked before buying the chair lift. Some of them are the frames, comfort level and footrest angle, hand rim, wheels, wheel locks, and front and back balance. There are various safety measures that one should follow while using a chair lift. Make sure that it is in good condition all the time. Turn the power off when leaving it on a slope or inclined plane. Use the brakes when not in motion and select a brake that can be released or set by the user. Check the battery every time before going out and keep a cell phone handy.

    The social security cost of living increase is not keeping up

    Is the COLA (Cost Of Living Adjustment) losing its fizz? Many seniors now feel that the annual Social Security cost of living increase is failing to keep up with the soaring prices of everything from gas and heating bills to groceries and prescription drugs. As a result, seniors are suffering, and they're suffering badly. In 2005, for example, the Social Security cost of living increase was just 2.7 percent. But if you filled up your car at the gas pump, you probably noticed the 28 percent jump in gas prices. And when you paid your heating bill, you probably noticed that the price of home energy soared by double digits as well.

    Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve kept raising its rate last year as well, meaning that seniors watched helplessly as their already diminished spending power was cut even further as they paid higher rates on credit card bills, car loans and adjustable rate mortgages. The absence of a fair Social Security cost of living increase affects seniors in a very real way. Fran, a TREA Senior Citizens League (TSCL) member from New Hampshire, is typical of our members. She follows the news, knows what's happening with her friends and detects even subtle changes in prices. She recently told us that even her beloved oranges are getting too expensive to buy at her local grocery store. "I don't think the politicians care about seniors at all," she told us. "I have friends whose sole source of income is Social Security, and they struggle each month to make ends meet. Each year, it gets worse.

    The politicians don't care about people like them!" How The COLA Hurts You The COLA is tied to changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). While the public commonly thinks of the CPI as one index, this is not the case. There are several CPIs--each of which measures inflation rising in different rates, depending on which "market basket" the government is looking at. However, the government calculates COLAs using one of the most slowly growing indexes-the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. It surveys the goods and services that younger workers use. But younger workers have far different spending habits than seniors, who must spend a much greater percentage of their income on health care. When the government calculates the COLA for an 80-year-old war veteran using the spending patterns of a 28-year-old young mother, something has gone terribly awry. How Underpayments Affect You The government does track senior costs, however, and has done so since 1983-maintaining the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers (CPI-E). If the government had used the CPI-E, seniors would have received a COLA increase of 3.1 percent last year instead of 2.7 percent. Does such a small percentage increase matter? In a single year, not much. Over time, it certainly does. For example, if Fran retired with an average benefit of $360 in 1984, she would have received about $8,629 more over the past 21 years had the government used the CPI-E to calculate her COLA. With compound interest, that means that she would have had tens of thousands of dollars more to help with medical expenses, home energy costs, and mortgage payments--and she could have purchased as many oranges as she would have liked. What We Can Do Over the past three months, we've been hearing from hundreds of seniors across the country. And what they've told us has come as a surprise. Even though Medicare is dominating the headlines, the Cost Of Living Allowance is dominating their thoughts. They want action, and their message is clear. They're tired of partisan squabbling in Washington. Although we seniors turn out in high numbers during each election cycle, our representatives too often take our votes for granted. Only by presenting a unified message in large numbers will we influence legislators to take us with the seriousness we deserve.

    Understanding home care agency options

    As people age, the desire to remain in their homes, close to family, friends and familiar surroundings, deepens. However, the ability to remain totally independent within one's own environment often diminishes. Millions of Americans spend part or all of their day assisting and caring for family members or friends who need help to stay in their homes. Often, however, paid outside help is needed to supplement this care because of the caregiver's responsibilities for children or work outside the home. Americans presently spend over $40 billion annually on home care, allowing loved ones to remain at home and "age in place.

    " If you or someone you know is looking into home care for a relative, or may soon be in that position, here is some information that may help make the process more manageable: • Determining the individual's care requirements. Will there be a need for hands-on care such as bathing, dressing and toileting? Are there cognitive issues that will require a different type of care? Are there financial restrictions? Is the individual willing to receive help? Write down the answers to these questions, along with the estimated amount of time and number of days that a caregiver will be needed. When you call a home care agency, you will want to have this information at hand. If you require help making these assessments, check with a nearby senior center. They often have social workers who can perform assessments or direct you to someone who can, such as a geriatric care manager. This is a professional who specializes in assisting older people and their families in making long-term care arrangements. They can do in-home assessments, develop care plans and monitor services. • Identifying the type of care that is required. Custodial or supportive care is usually provided by paraprofessionals--home health aides, home care aides and nursing assistants who provide hands-on care to people in their homes, nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Custodial care includes assistance with bathing, dressing and mobility, as well as transportation, light housekeeping and similar tasks. Skilled care is usually provided by health care professionals, such as registered nurses, licensed practical nurses or therapists, under the direction of a physician. Most often, skilled care is needed after a person has been hospitalized due to a fall or other medical condition. Discharge planners and social workers assist in the coordination and arrangement of these services, which may include some care from certified nursing assistants if they are included as part of a skilled plan of care. • Contacting an agency. Every state has the authority to license and regulate its home care agency system. As a result, there are often variations in licensure requirements and regulations from state to state. The exception is Medicare-certified agencies, which must also comply with federal regulations. If care is to be covered under Medicare, it must come from a Medicare-certified agency. • Paying for care. While many older adults count on Medicare to cover their home care needs, the reality is that Medicare will only cover home care costs if an individual has a skilled need and meets specific Medicare criteria. It will not cover ongoing long-term care services. It is important to know that custodial care is not typically covered by Medicare or most private health insurance. Funding for custodial care must often come from personal resources. The local Area Agency on Aging is a good place to check for programs or services for which an individual might qualify. One good source of information is a free booklet from the MetLife Mature Market Institute called "Understanding Home Care Agency Options." It's part of the "Since You Care" series of guides, created in cooperation with the National Alliance for Caregiving. It includes advice, resources and checklists.

    Elder day care a novel idea

    Okay, we all know how hectic life is for people nowadays. We have jobs, kids, social lives, and other things that keep us busy. People have been questioning for years the ethical argument regarding putting elderly people into nursing homes. Some people think that putting the elderly in places where they can be properly cared for is right, while others think that the abandonment of an elderly person's family just because of the complications is wrong. But we're not here to discuss that question. You are here, my friend, to learn about elder day care. You should see elder day care as an acceptable compromise between the two sides of the nursing home argument. After all, your parents took care of you, so you should share some responsibility in taking care of them. This responsibility is misinterpreted by some Americans to be purely financial, when it is not. Trust us to try the solution we have for every problem: throw money at it. No, caring for the elderly entails an emotional responsibility to the people who took care of you when you could not take care of yourself. Elder day care shows the possibility that you can take care of the elderly while living a normal hectic lifestyle. With elder day care, you need not worry about your elderly getting the proper care that they need with the love of your family. Nursing homes can be such sad places. Everyone wants to stay with his/her family. You can be sure that, no matter how much he/she denies it, your elderly wants to stay with your family. However, elderly people do not also want to be a burden. You are their family, after all, and they do not wish for you to suffer because of them. They do, however, want to feel loved. With elder day care, you can give them love and care. Having the services of an elder day care means that you need not send your elderly to a nursing home. You can drop them off and then pick them up again. This would give your elderly time to reminisce among their colleagues and have their social lives while you go about your activities. You can be sure that they will be thankful for you introducing them to the concept of elder day care. With an elder day care, your interactions are not limited by the visiting hours. After all, your elderly will still live with you, in your home. Elder day care is a novel idea because it actually reconciles the American way of living with the American way of family. With the passing of the years, the American dream has overtaken the American sense of heritage. The word family has been scoffed and the word "elderly" has been attached to the word "burden". We need to take the image of a family-based America back, and we need to do it without upsetting the American way of business. So far, elder day care has provided the best solution to do this. Right now, the business of elder day care is still in its infancy. Only a few people operate these elder day care services, and most of those people are ordinary individuals who have realized the advantages this type of business offers. We live in a world where compromise is very important. And since elder day care provides a great compromise to the betterment of the American way of living, why not take advantage of it?

    What s the difference between alzheimer s and dementia

    "What's the difference between dementia and Alzheimer's?" It's a common question, and doctors are some of the best at confusing us. Physicians seem to prefer the word "dementia," possibly because Alzheimer's has become such a loaded word. "Dementia" somehow sounds less frightening to many people, and now even the experts have started using the words interchangeably. They aren't interchangeable. Alzheimer's Disease and dementia are two very different things. Dementia is a symptom. Pain is a symptom, and many different injuries and illnesses can cause pain. When you go to the doctor because you hurt, you won't be satisfied if the doctor diagnoses "pain" and sends you home. You want to know what is causing the pain, and how to treat it. "Dementia" simply means the symptom of a deterioration of intellectual abilities resulting from an unspecified disease or disorder of the brain. Alzheimer's Disease is one disease/disorder that causes dementia. Many other illnesses or "syndromes" can also cause dementia. Parkinson's Disease can cause dementia. A stroke can cause dementia. Even dehydration can cause dementia. Many of the things that can cause dementia are treatable, even potentially curable. If you have taken your elder to the doctor and received a diagnosis of "dementia" you haven't received a diagnosis at all. Unless you know what is causing the dementia you can't begin to treat it's root cause. If your physician has diagnosed "dementia" it's time for a second opinion. You are probably dealing either with a physician who is not comfortable with the truth, or one who doesn't know how (or doesn't want to bother) to differentiate between all the possible causes of dementia. Either way, a skilled geriatrician or a neurologist who is comfortable with seniors would be a good place to start.

    Helpful hints for the elderly

    The elderly need a lot of help around the house, but it is not often that each and every member of the family will be around to help. A typical household will not have a hired nurse, and so it becomes the duty of the homeowner to assist their aged parents or grandparents. Assistance may range from simple walking, to getting a hard to reach item. The wisdom comes in the form of self-assistance; that is, in the ability for the elderly to help themselves. This can easily be made possible with proper planning and slight adjustment to your daily routine.

    Eliminate obstacles around the house. What may seem like a trifle to an agile twenty-year-old may be a gauntlet for a seventy-year-old. These daily obstacles pose threats ranging from mild to critical. For example, glassware and tile pose a very serious threat, while polycarbonate and carpet virtually eliminates any concern. Problems like that can be remedied by practical thinking: eliminate the obstacle, not the object. Outfitting the house to meet the needs of the elderly, while at the same time preserving the homeowner's comfort of living, can be a much simpler task than perceived. Solutions can be entirely within the realm of practicality, while others involve expenses. The most obvious and time-honored solution is to leave all of their personal affects downstairs, assuming they live inside a house with more than a single story. Doing so will sidestep the most frightening scenario: falling down the stairs.

    If at all possible, ensure that plenty of necessities remain accessible on the first level, especially a bathroom. As a tip, lay out a non-slip surface inside the tub and showers, as well as bath mats on the outside. Inexpensive and easy to install, they deter the most hazardous of daily household injuries. By way of expenses, outfit the television with a wireless headset. This way, the volume can be turned up to suit their needs without disrupting the rest of the household. Another measure would be to enable subtitles and captions for movies and television. Other gadgets to consider are audio reminders, which will remind a person of certain tasks via pre-recorded messages. In short, gadgets of all kinds can aid in everyday life just as well as practical decisions. In times of boredom, say, handheld portable gaming systems integrate very well into the lives of the elderly.

    For example, crossword puzzles and other games that aid in critical thinking and coordination are easily accessible on Nintendo's own DS Lite. With these tips in mind, use your home to their advantage, all without necessitating too much change. Too often can discomfort and accidents happen at the smallest detail. Sometimes the elderly may be at home for hours at a time, alone. The best option would be to organize a lifestyle alongside your aged parents or grandparents, a lifestyle that suits them. This makes it easier for everyone involved, as self-assistance is the most ideal way to retain their freedom and their dignity.

    Caring for a loved one with alzheimer s disease

    The majority of the 4.5 million Americans with Alzheimer's disease live at home, where family and friends provide most of their care. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease, a progressive brain disorder that not only affects memory, but gradually destroys a person's ability to learn and carry out daily activities, can be emotionally and physically challenging. As memory loss and other symptoms worsen, the amount of time and energy caregivers and families spend taking care of their loved one increases. The Memories to Treasure program provides people who care for a loved one with Alzheimer's tips on caregiving and information about the disease, while helping them connect with their loved one through the art of scrapbooking. "Alzheimer's caregivers have unique needs; Memories to Treasure offers resources to help facilitate interaction with loved ones," says Gail Hunt, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving. "Engaging in meaningful activities, such as scrapbooking, allows time spent together to be more positive and can benefit everyone involved." While people with mild Alzheimer's disease often experience problems with short-term memory, they may recall memories from the distant past. Looking at old photographs and keepsakes may lead to conversations about people and past events, and can be enjoyable for everyone involved. "Activities, such as scrapbooking, can be beneficial for families facing Alzheimer's disease," says Benjamin Seltzer, M. D., director of the Alzheimer's Disease & Memory Disorders Center, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans. "Engaging in meaningful activities with a loved one is only one facet of caregiving; however, it is also important to know that there are treatments available that can help slow symptoms of the disease." Memories to Treasure can be accessed online at memories totreasure. com. The Web site offers tips on caregiving, information about Alzheimer's disease and a Memory Checklist to help guide discussion with a physician. Caregivers will also find instructions to create a scrapbook with a loved one facing Alzheimer's disease. When caring for someone with Alzheimer's, keep these tips in mind to help provide the best care possible: • Your loved one may become frustrated while bathing, dressing or eating. Try to be calm and reassuring during such moments. • Keep your loved one involved. Plan an activity, such as scrapbooking, for a time of day when your loved one seems to be at his or her best. • Take time for yourself and build a strong support network. Let your family and friends know what you need and when you need it. • Seek information so that you can make choices about care and treatment for your loved one. Memories to Treasure is brought to the Alzheimer's community by Eisai Inc. and Pfizer Inc, in partnership with the National Alliance for Caregiving and Creating Keepsakes scrapbook magazine. Dr. Seltzer's participation in Memories to Treasure has been sponsored by Eisai and Pfizer.

    Should we fear death

    Death is not something that many people want to think about. However, death is a part of living a human life. At least, our current level of science and technology acknowledges that death is inevitable. Is death something to be afraid of or is death something to look forward to? The answer may depend on who you talk to. Aside from the obvious religious answers, what body of information exists that can help us to approach this question with some degree of logical thinking? When exacting scientific evidence is lacking, our only option is to consider the anecdotal or subjective experiences that others have had. Fortunately, there is a body of information that leads to the formation of some interesting thoughts on the subject of death and what it is or what it might lead to. You can find this resource at near-death. com. Each person is encouraged to draw their own conclusions. Yet, I would like to share some of my thoughts and opinions on the matter. Many people who have a near-death experience have strikingly similar experiences. There are some who report a horrible experience but the majority report more positive experiences. Some may have gone to a terrible place, while others seem to leave the pain of the mortal body behind and experience an interesting journey before they revive. Both kinds of experiences have been recorded. One striking similarity is the 'life review' process. This has been reported as a review of one's entire life where each event is played out before your eyes. People that have experienced this process say that you suddenly become aware of how you affected the people you interacted with during your life. If you did something that caused them pain, you may become cognizant of those feelings as if you were experiencing them yourself. People report that they feel regretful. The experience doesn't just extend to that one person, but the effects are like a ripple in a pond and you see how that ripple affects multiple people. On the other hand, if you did something good you experience that as well. It does appear that the good things involve acting from compassion. For example, one lady said the most significant act of her entire life occurred when she was a little girl. She cupped a flower in her hand and gave it 'unconditional love'. Others don't experience an in depth life review, theirs lasts a few seconds and doesn't seem to have much impact. Experiences vary someowhat. However, the fundamental similarities remain. Can a person change as a result of a near-death experience? I was struck by the example of one person who was a self described atheist and hateful person. After his near-death experience he became a minister and a kinder, gentler soul. The change was not only noted by himself, but also by his family members. Wouldn't it be fascinating to actually talk to a person who has had a near-death experience? I remember listening to a gentleman named Dannion Brinkley talk about his NDEs (near death experiences). He actually had more than one in his life due to an unfortunate propensity to attract lightning. I found his insights to be very interesting. If you want to read more about NDEs, visit near-death. com Although it is hard to classify the information there as anything more than subjective, there is a large body of recorded experiences there. Perhaps it will provide you with more insight as to whether death should be feared or not.

    Curved stair lifts an overview

    If you are looking to purchase a stair lift and are worried about getting one to fit because you have a curved, odd shaped staircase or multiple landings – dont be! Curved stair lifts are just what you need. No matter what the configuration or layout of your staircase, stair lifts can be tailor made to the size and shape of virtually any staircase easily coping with bends, straights and landings. But of course, this extra flexibility comes at a price generally speaking these types of stair lifts are more expensive than their straight counterparts. Depending upon the configuration of your staircase the price will be based upon several factors: the number of bends, the angle of the bends, the length of the actual staircase, cost of labour etc. Another design plus with curved stairlifts is their ability to be installed on either the inside or the outside path of your stairs. Basically, this means the stairlift can run along either side of your stairs and the profile of your stairs will ascertain which would be the most suitable option for you. Although there is a buoyant market for second-hand and used straight stair lifts there is little market for curved stair lifts. And as such they have no real resale value, because they are custom made to fit individual staircases they are not suitable for installing in other properties. In view of this, if you find that after a few years you have to move out of your home, unless you have an identical staircase, it is best to leave your stair lift in situ. Again, because they are individually made, be prepared to pay your supplier a substantial deposit when ordering a curved stair lift. This practice does not generally take place with a normal, straight stair lifts but the one you are ordering will only fit in your house and if you pull out of the deal the supplier will not be able to resell it. If you are considering having a stair lift in your home the website below contains free information and impartial advice on this topic. These are, of course, just a couple of minor considerations you should bear in mind when deciding to buy a curved stairlift… you may decide that the advantages of being able to access all the floors your existing home far out way these points – especially when compared to the stress and expense of converting your house or moving to a single storey residence.

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