Earlier this year Ohio State University Medical Center released the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE). This self administered test is meant to identify individuals with mild thinking and memory issues at an early stage. That’s really important because cognitive changes that are caught really early can be treated much earlier and generally have better treatment outcomes. This fifteen minute test can be taken at home and involves simple tasks like making change, listing items, making comparisons, and drawing geometric shapes. These activities test reasoning, problem solving skills and memory. When the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences released the study about the SAGE test, the demand for the test online was so huge it crashed the computer server at Ohio State University. That underscores the need for easily accessible and useful testing for cognitive issues like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Dr. Douglass Scharre, the neurologist who developed this simple test, claims it is just as accurate as other commonly used but lengthier and more complicated cognitive tests.
All this being said, you need to be aware that all the media hype surrounding this test is just that — hype. This test by itself can’t formally diagnose Alzheimer’s disease nor any other forms of dementia. At worst, you could interpret the results as a false positive and panic that you’re getting dementia. At best, it can identify some possible cognitive issues that may be developing. It could then serve as the needed push to have a frank conversation with your doctor. Taking the test can also provide a baseline for comparison with later testing. It can flag problems that can be monitored over time. Your family doctor remains the first and best source of information and evaluation of any cognitive issues that arise. How do you feel about taking a self-administered test for dementia? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com
As we get increasingly older, mobility is really important. And I’m not talking about cell phones. If you think about it, everything you do and every experience you have is very much related to how well you can move about. Movement translates into independence and that in turn reflects on quality of life. As we and our loved ones age it becomes increasingly clear what a devastating effect a simple fall can have on our lives. According to the National Institute of Health there are over 300,000 people admitted to hospitals every year for broken hips which are often caused by falling. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control one out of every three Americans over the age of 65 falls each year. In seniors between the ages of sixty five and eighty four, these falls are responsible for eighty nine percent of fractures they receive. Those are alarming statistics. If you do nothing to stay active and don’t take measures to remain mobile it’s possible to lose up to forty percent of your muscle mass by the time you are eighty years old.
Fortunately, there are things you can do on a daily basis to keep from becoming a statistic. Small changes in your every day life can make a difference. Try to incorporate some of these practices in your routine and you’ll be rewarded with improved mobility and increased strength.
*Use the stairs whenever possible.
*Park you car in a spot further from the store.
*Exercise during TV commercials. You can practice getting up and sitting down or do calf stretches.
*Squeezing a small rubber ball repeatedly with one hand can help improve grip strength.
*Practice standing on one leg while holding on to a chair or standing at the kitchen counter.
*Switch up the way you do your daily activities. Try washing dishes or shaving with the hand you don’t normally use.
*To help improve balance, walk heel to toe down a hallway.
*Practice getting up and down on your tippy toes when reaching for something in the cupboard.
You don’t have to have a lot of free time for exercise sessions. Look around your home to see how you can force yourself to move more. It takes time to build your strength and increase your fitness level so be patient and don’t give up. As you become more mobile you’ll naturally want to do more and will be more inclined to go places and do things. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Do you have any tips for being more active at home? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com
We all come to the role of caregiver in a variety of ways. Some of us are thrust into this role when someone we love has a medical crisis and needs us to care for them until they are better and can return to their former healthy status. Some of us start out by gradually taking on more responsibilities for an aging parent as they become less able to handle daily activities. And then there are those of us who have a family member or loved one who is dealing with a chronic condition or illness and who will always need some extra support. Regardless of how we come by our caregiver role, the goal is always the same. We’re trying to help our loved ones live as independently as possible and with the best quality of life as possible.
Being a caregiver is a very demanding and often stressful job. It takes a lot of physical, emotional, and mental energy and can lead to incredible fatigue, anxiety, illness, and ultimately depression and burnout. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are things you can do to become a more effective and successful caregiver without compromising your own health and well being.
Educate yourself. Take a crash course in your loved one’s illness or condition. Remember the old adage “Knowledge is Power”. This is one of the most important things a caregiver can do. The more you know and understand about what your loved one is dealing with, the more you can successfully handle any challenges or changes in their health. This includes keeping an open line of communication with their doctor or health care team.
Take care of yourself. If you are worn out and/or physically ill, you certainly can’t be much help to anyone else. Being a caregiver is demanding work so you need to eat a nutritious diet, get enough sleep, and get some exercise. Don’t give up a social life. The last thing you need is to become isolated. Know your limits and don’t try to do more than you can in any given day. Be realistic about what you’re trying to get done. Try to schedule some “me-time” to help you relax.
Ask for and accept help. Tap family and friends for any help they can give you no matter how incidental it may seem. If they can run some errands for you or cook a meal, it’ll be less on your plate for a change. Don’t try to do everything by yourself. The goal is to keep from being overwhelmed and feeling trapped. Consider using the services of an experienced home care agency, even if on an occasional basis. This would give you a well needed and deserved break and an opportunity to recharge your battery. Just remember to ask for help before you are overwhelmed. Do you have any tips on being a successful caregiver? What has helped you? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com
It’s flu season but you probably know that. All you have to do is turn on the TV to hear some sad story about a young adult succumbing to the influenza virus. It’s in all the headlines. According to the Center for Disease Control, 3% of the population is now sick with the flu. More than 2,600 people have been hospitalized due to the flu since October of 2013. Dozens of healthy adults have died. As caregivers we need to be aware that if our loved one has an underlying condition, they are at much greater risk of getting the flu.
Of all the adults who have been hospitalized this year the most commonly reported underlying conditions include obesity, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disorders and neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, stroke and spinal cord injuries. That covers an awful lot of people. The very best way to keep your senior or loved one safe is to get the flu shot.
That being said, I know there are a lot of people who claim they don’t get a flu shot because it gives them the flu. This just isn’t true. The flu is actually a respiratory disease so if they got a runny, stuffy nose and some sneezing or a sore throat, they actually got a cold. Flu symptoms include a fever, headache, coughing, fatigue, and general aches and pains. It takes two weeks after vaccination for the protective antibodies to develop in your body so you can actually get the flu for two weeks after the shot. If your loved one hasn’t gotten their vaccination yet, it’s not too late. As long as the flu virus is around it pays to get vaccinated. Typically, flu season doesn’t peak until February and can last as late as May. Although most flu clinics were held last fall in October, your loved one can still get vaccinated at their doctor’s office. In addition, vaccine is still available at your local pharmacy like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite-Aid. Many retailers that have a pharmacy, including Target, Kroger, Meijer, and K-Mart also have flu shots available. Don’t let the one you care for take unnecessary risks with their health and even their lives. Make sure they get their vaccination. Have you had to deal with your loved one’s reluctance to get their shot? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com
Now that we’re without a doubt in the clutches of Old Man Winter, we have to be especially vigilant about the problem of dealing with low temperatures while caring for a senior friend or relative. Cold weather can create serious problems and health concerns for seniors. Two very important issues to be aware of are slip-and-falls and hypothermia.
It’s probably best to stay indoors in very cold weather but if your loved must go out, it makes sense to take precautions against falling. One of the most important things your senior can do is to dress appropriately with “sensible” shoes or boots. They need to have good ‘non-skid’ soles and be as waterproof as possible. Wet feet are very quickly cold feet. If your senior uses a cane or walker, this is not the time to leave it at home. Be sure the rubber tips on these devices are not worn down. It’s also important to make sure walkways and entrance areas are shoveled and salted if needed. Even a small amount of slush will make these areas slippery.
Another concern for seniors during cold weather is hypothermia which is an unusually low body temperature which can result in illness or death. According to the National Institute on Aging, over 2.5 million seniors are especially vulnerable to hypothermia. As many as 25,000 of them die each year. Seniors are particularly at risk because they may not feel the cold as easily as younger people do. They end up losing body heat faster than it can naturally be replaced by the body and temperatures do not have to be below freezing for hypothermia to occur. In addition, statistically, seniors take a lot of prescription drugs and these drugs also predispose them to hypothermia. Carefully monitor your senior if they take anti-depressants, tranquilizers, sedatives, or cardiovascular medication. Medical conditions your loved one may have can also cause a lack of feeling in their extremities and they may not realize how cold they are. These conditions include diabetes, arthritis and stroke complications.
Take some precautions with your senior or loved one when it’s so cold. If they live alone, check on them every day. Be certain that the thermostat is set no lower than 68 degrees. Make sure they dress in layers of light clothing and have extra blankets on the bed at night. Hypothermia can develop even during sleep. If you see them shivering or acting particularly drowsy, or they seem unusually confused or fumble with their hands, head for the emergency room. Don’t let your loved one become a statistic. Do you have any other tips for handling all this cold weather? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com
The holiday season is finally in full swing and before your know it, we’ll be ushering in the New Year. We’ll be looking at the past year and promising ourselves that this new year will be different. We’ll think of all the things that went wrong and come up with a nice list of changes for the coming year that will make everything so much better. Sound familiar? As caregivers, it’s easy to blame ourselves for anything that might have gone wrong while we cared for our loved one. Did we put our loved one first? Were we attentive to their needs?
I’m sure the list of New Year resolutions will look something like this:
#1. I will get all the sleep and rest I need.
#2. I will do all I can to have a healthy lifestyle.
#3. I’ll ask for and accept all the help I can get.
#4. I will do something every day to de-stress a bit.
#5. I promise to keep up a social life.
#6. I will communicate and share with others who are going through the same experiences I am.
#7. I will use respite care whenever I can.
#8. I will learn all I can about my loved one’s condition.
After looking at all of these resolutions, you can see a common thread. They can all be replaced with an attitude adjustment. As caregivers, we need to shift our concerns to caring for ourselves! Somehow it seems wrong to even say that. We’ve spent an awful lot of time putting someone else’s needs ahead of our own and just thinking about yourself seems so selfish. The thing to remember is that if we aren’t in good shape physically and emotionally, we’ll be ineffective as caregivers and end up being useless to those we care for. This year my goal is to wake up every morning and remind myself that it’s all about me. What resolutions are you making for the new year? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com
It’s that time of year when we wrack our brains trying to select that perfect something to give the special people in our lives. If there is a caregiver who helps us or who cares for a family member or loved one, this is an especially difficult decision to make. What can we possibly get them that would be both meaningful and helpful? What could the caregiver in your life use the most? It seems to me that all caregivers are short of one special thing — time. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to go to work, care for one’s own family, and care for a loved one. Don’t even mention having a social life or time for simple personal interests. If you think about it, anything you can do to free up some time for the caregiver would be appreciated. You can volunteer to do some grocery shopping or you can provide some meals. Better yet, you can stay with the loved one for a while to free up some time for the caregiver to do something for themselves. Volunteer to do some household task like doing the laundry or cleaning house. If you personally don’t have time to do these things, perhaps you could arrange to pay for some of these services to be provided.
It’s important for caregivers to know they are not alone. Providing an opportunity to vent without being judged or criticized can be an invaluable gift. Caregivers often have to deal with family members who provide little help but lots of ideas on how things should be done. Just lending an ear can help relieve the constant stress they are under. In that same vein, a gift certificate for a day at a spa or for a relaxing massage while you take over the caregiver duties would allow for some much needed “me time”.
If you’re more inclined to giving tangible things as gifts, you might consider gift cards for restaurants, grocery stores, or services. Anything that would help defray the costs of living would surely be appreciated. Caregiver reference materials like books or caregiver magazine subscription can help provide tips and advice on how to ease the burden of their duties. Paying for a personal emergency reporting system for their loved one can provide some piece of mind for the caregiver when they are not there. The bottom line is, give the gift of YOU. They surely don’t need another knickknack. Do you have any other caregiver gift ideas? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com