Painting at 98, moving to the suburbs, futile ICU care, and dropping dementia rates

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A 98 year old man has created a painting using Microsoft Paint.

A 66-year-old makes a proactive move into the city from the suburbs.

Over 10% of ICU patients receive care that doctors think is futile.

Best news I’ve heard all week: Dementia rates are dropping.

paint brushes close-up” © 2010 Tech109, Attribution 3.0 Generic http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Crisis Management 101

(Note: For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to use “her” to describe your loved one, but, men need this type of care as well.)

You’ve gotten the call that Mom is in the hospital.  Up until now, you had thought that everything was fine. But, the doctors are telling you that she’s got too many health problems to live on her own.  She probably needs to move into some sort of retirement community, and it’s your job to find one.  What do you do?

Here’s where to start:

  • Get good medical information.  In these situations, knowledge is power.  The more you know about your loved one’s health status and potential for recovery, the better prepared you’ll be to help care for her needs.  Have a meeting with the doctor and ask frank questions about what is going to happen and how to best prepare for it.
  • Be realistic.  It’s going to be tempting to pretend that the doctors don’t know everything.  After all, your mom isn’t the type of person who has medical problems or needs care!  The problem with that line of thinking is that as people get older, things change.  If you really want to help your loved one, then you owe it to them to be honest with yourself regarding their needs.
  • Even if things are fine right now, plan for problems.  We tend to put off making big decisions because it’s overwhelming to think about moving a person out of her home.  However, now is the best time to make a plan.  Try to find one or two communities that offer assisted living, memory care, or nursing (depending on your loved one’s needs).  Make sure to tour the community and check their ratings online.  Keep in touch with the admissions coordinators, since they’ll be invaluable during the move to senior housing.
  • Expect pushback. Often times, the patient doesn’t want to admit that there’s a problem.  After all, they’ve been independent for the last 50 years.  Why do they need care now?!  Be prepared for arguments regarding care, and don’t be offended if they accuse you of not having their best interests in mind.  Be patient, and try not to engage in direct conflict.  If you need help, find a counselor who has worked with caregivers before.

Managing someone else’s care isn’t easy, but handling just one thing at a time can make it less intimidating.

This post was made possible by Churchill Estates, a luxury independent living community located in Dallas, Texas.

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UnSCAMable: Now available in print and kindle editions!!

My new book is on Amazon now!

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Print | Kindle

Written by a daughter for her mother in easy to understand language, this guide to internet safety includes the following:

• Three basic questions to ask when something seems fishy
• How to avoid falling for the “News/Disaster Prep Cycle”
• How to determine if a product or website is likely to be legitimate
• How to investigate so-called experts and their credentials
• Tips for safer emailing
• How to uncover possible sham charities
• How to handle phishing calls or emails
• How to tell if a photograph or video is likely to be fake
• How to avoid most Facebook scams

“UnSCAMable” shows readers how to conduct their own investigation using free online resources and how to report scams to the authorities. Each chapter has a quiz at the end for seniors who are unsure about a particular email, phone call, or message.

While “UnSCAMable” can’t protect you from every con artist, it can help you avoid some of the more obvious hoaxes!

Cheerleaders, interning at 60, seniors who don’t have family, and stress linked to dementia

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It’s never too late to be a cheerleader!

Interning at 60 is the “new” career choice.

Seniors who don’t have close family members face difficulty when hospitalized.

Stress is linked to dementia.

Cheerleaders” © 2010 Ralph Hockens, Attribution 3.0 Generic http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Planning to move in the spring? Here’s how to get ready!

It’s the fall now.  Halloween is in a few days, and Christmas is right around the corner.  It’s tempting to not think about moving to senior housing until the blur of the holiday season dies down, but doing a few items of prep work today can give you a huge boost in the spring when you begin your search for senior housing.

Here are three things that you can do now to ease the moving process later:

  • “Fall” cleaning. Take stock of the things that you want to take to a retirement community and get rid of the rest.  If the kids are coming for the holidays, send them home with things that you want them to have.   If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of things that have accumulated during your time in your home, you can hire a moving specialist who will help you organize your things, sell or donate what you don’t want to keep, pack the things that you do want, stage and sell your home, and organize your move to the community.  You literally don’t have to lift a finger if you don’t want to.
  • Document collection.  There’s all sorts of documentation that retirement communities require prior to moving in.  If you want to be prepared for your move, you’ll want to gather the following: your living will (living wills typically contain your advance directive, physician designation, power of attorney, and organ donation if applicable), proof of financial ability (tax return for the past 2-3 years, bank and financial statements), and emergency contact information
  • Financial planning visit.  If you haven’t already done so, go talk to your financial planner and ask about your options for senior housing.  Knowing how much you can afford will help you narrow your search and avoid wasting time on communities that are outside your price range.

Moving into senior housing can be intimidating.  Sometimes, even thinking about getting started is tough.  But, doing a little bit each day can help you accomplish your goals by spring!

This post was made possible by Churchill Estates, a luxury independent living community located in Dallas, Texas.

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Guest Post: Why are seniors particularly vulnerable to disasters?

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The elderly have always been at greater risk than other groups.  For example, more elderly died than any other group during Hurricane Katrina and in the first year thereafter. Those over age 60, accounted for approximately 75% of bodies found immediately after; 40% were over 70.

High mortality rates can be attributed to several factors: few resources in place to evacuate and transport the elderly, lack of emergency shelters geared to seniors, and high levels of poverty and isolation. The lack of infrastructure for caring for elderly evacuees, and the absence of effective communication systems for locating displaced persons continues to be a challenge.

Many of the elderly who live in their own homes lack transportation options to evacuate, or simply won’t leave. Many are without family, or family near enough to assist or step in to encourage evacuation, and in some cases, those who live alone don’t have the physical capacity to evacuate on their own. Additionally, seniors without family or significant support systems, can become overwhelmed, and simply “give up”, or die due to depression. Many elderly people with chronic conditions cannot get treatment or obtain medications in a timely manner in disaster events, dying from lack of medications for chronic conditions, especially cardiac conditions, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, cancers and asthma. For some elderly, physical illnesses multiply, complications develop, and illnesses are made worse by the ongoing turmoil and displacement.

For those who are fragile and in nursing homes, implementation of evacuation protocols in a timely fashion is challenging, at best. Transportation resources can become overloaded; frail elderly residents are even more compromised if they are made to undertake long bus rides, and some will decide to stay in what they perceive to be a safer place. To this end, many die in nursing homes alone, without proper support and intervention.

To sum it up, older adults suffer disproportionately during disasters, partly due to the vulnerabilities of chronological age, lack of evacuation methods geared to elderly needs, medical frailties, depression and other infrastructure issues.

We, at Saving Grace, are working to empower Seniors and their families to the best possible outcomes should disaster occur. There are a number of ways to find out about Saving Grace Alliance.

The Skinny on Independent Living Communities

I write a lot about CCRCs, and, although I think that most communities offer a pretty good value, there are other products in the market.  One that I often overlook is independent living.  Here are some of the main reasons that people choose these communities:

  • Low up-front cost. Although a decent portion of independent living communities have an up-front community fee of between $1,000 and $5,000, it’s rare to find an independent living community that requires an entrance fee anywhere near the one required by a CCRC.
  • Rental contracts.  CCRC contracts are long-term, large-investment contracts.  You generally sell your home to pay for the entrance fee, and the CCRC agreement is meant to be for the rest of your life.  An independent living community generally only requires a one-year agreement.  If you want more price stability, you can opt for a longer term.  But, if you move in an decide that you hate it, then you can move out at the end of your lease.  It’s nearly impossible to do the same thing at a CCRC.
  • Increasing amenities.  The differentiating factor between CCRCs and independent living has traditionally been on-site amenities.  CCRCs are known for multiple dining options, high-tech fitness studios, and elaborate activity rooms.  Nowadays, that distinction is blurring.  There are independent living communities that are competitively priced and offer similar amenities.
  • Assistance in your apartment. In recent years, the industry trend has been to help seniors delay moving to higher levels of care.  Independent living communities are no exception.  If you are independent now, but hope to remain in your apartment as long as possible, look for a community that allows you to receive home health or other assistance in your independent living apartment.

(Note: While some independent living communities offer assistance in your apartment, not all have access to nursing or dementia care.  If these things are important to you, you’ll need to look for a community that offers these levels of care on site or has a nearby partner that offers these services.)

Today’s retirees have more options than ever regarding their senior housing choices.  Independent living can be the right choice for seniors who don’t want to make a large investment in a community and who like the flexibility that comes with renting but don’t want to skip on amenities or services.

This post was made possible by Churchill Estates, a luxury independent living community located in Dallas, Texas.

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Q&A: Medical Recalls

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I spoke with Mario Trucillo from the American Recall Center about recalls in medical devices and medication:

How often to drugs or medical devices get recalled?

Drugs and medical devices are continually being evaluated and reevaluated by the FDA. The pace can actually be quite hectic, making it difficult to stay on top of the possible side effects of a drug/device you could be using. That was the main thought behind The American Recall Center; making this incredibly important recall information easily available.

What are the typical reasons for recall? Is it common for a consumer to be seriously harmed by a defective product?

Recalls are issued when a safety issue becomes apparent. Sometimes drugs and devices may initially pass all the FDA requirements, with signs of hazardous safety issues not showing up until the drug or device becomes widespread throughout the medical community. For example, certain hip replacements had signs of danger that weren’t present until they were used across the country.

What are some current recalls that my readers should know about?

It’s difficult to put precedence of one recall over another. Instead, it’s incredibly important as the patient to know every type of drug or medical device we are using and what the potential side effect could be. If you take a certain prescription or have had a joint replacement, call your doctor and find out all the details so you can stay up-to-date on your wellbeing.

What can consumers do to protect themselves from defective medical products in the future?

Having the information about your medications and medical devices is the first step if you’re already receiving care. If your doctor is recommending something new, start by asking questions. Find out all the possible side effects and known complications. It is up to the patient to feel confident in their doctor and the treatments they recommend, so always be as inquisitive as possible. Lastly, stay up to date with The American Recall Center. Our site aims to be an awareness hub to keep the patient informed and educated on the role these drugs and medical devices can have on their everyday lives.