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Archive for the ‘Aging Issues’ Category

Why We Lie to Ourselves About Retirement Living

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

The aging process happens whether we want it to or not. Unfortunately, many in North America worry about the loss of independence as well as the potential to lose touch with their loved ones. It is in that nervous space where many people try to make decisions about retirement living. In many cases, the elderly can end up hurting themselves and ruining their golden years.

Levels of Care and Their Necessity

There are three basic types of retirement living facilities: independent apartments, assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Some new centers have all three options on one campus, but seniors generally need to take a close look at what kind of care they need.

Generally speaking, those who may want to interact more with people their age do well at senior-centric apartments or communities. If showering or getting dressed is difficult, assisted living facilities can help as long as residents do not need medical care and can afford the monthly costs. In the U.S. it is important to note that personal aides who don’t provide healthcare assistance are not covered by Medicare.  In Canada, there are both government subsidized and private assisted living facilities.

Finally, nursing homes are alternatives for those who need frequent medical attention and cannot remain with their loved ones through the use of home healthcare aides. Medicare and Medicaid both cover these services for lengthy periods in the United States, and there are both private and government subsidized options in Canada.

Distance From Loved Ones and Home

Speaking of remaining in place for one’s golden years, many of those considering retirement living are acutely aware of cost of living differences in the various states and provinces. Unfortunately, many seem to think that they will be able to handle a move of hundreds of miles even when that simply is not the case.

Many Americans, for example, move frequently throughout their lifetime. Going from Connecticut to Florida may be easy for people who have spent time in Texas or Tennessee. Many families do not, though, with parents who’ve been in the same home for decades and who grew up nearby as well. Their entire worldview is based on a relatively small area.

Instead of moving out of state, it may require more careful budgeting and perhaps moving a few counties over rather than such a long distance. Still, it requires the self-awareness to understand that moving long distances can lead to severe loneliness and depression. Moving into a retirement living facility of any kind can be unnerving, doing so without the normal support network can be very difficult.

Budget Issues and Retirement Living

Costs change, and for many seniors the sense is that if they choose the right housing, they will do just fine. Budgeting does not always work that way. Catastrophic illnesses and injuries occur, and home repairs or vehicle maintenance can add up too. Senior citizens may not be able to create a financial cushion, but it is a critical component of maintaining the quality of life one wants during his or her golden years.

This article was prepared by Jonathan Rosenfeld of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers. Jonathan is an attorney in Chicago who represents families in cases which involve nursing home negligence.

New Alzheimer’s Test

Friday, August 13th, 2010

On Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 a study was published in the Annals of Neurology which reported that a spinal tap test could successfully detect Alzheimer’s – with high accuracy – many years prior to any noticeable symptoms of the disease.

How is Alzheimer’s Perceived to Develop?

For those with Alzheimer’s, it is likely that brain changes occur at least 10 years before memory loss.  Two proteins located in the brain called Amyloid and Tau are thought to compromise communication between nerve cells and destroy brain tissue.  This spinal tap test can detect certain combinations of these two proteins which are typical of Alzheimer’s Disease.

This study found these signs, or ‘biomarkers’, of the disease in 90% of Alzheimer’s patients; in 72% of people with ‘mild cognitive impairment’; and in 36% of people who were thought to be ‘normal’.

In order to use these findings productively moving forward, specialists can conduct the test on patients in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s to then test current treatments.  Up until now, various medications have been used on many patients with moderate to advanced levels of Alzheimer’s with little to no positive results.  This research suggests that current treatments may be more effective if introduced to patients with only the very beginnings of Alzheimer’s in their brains.

Would You Want To Be Tested?

Given the fact that presently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, for many people this test may seem pointless.  If there is no way to stop it, why would we want to know that years down the road we will have this mind-crippling disease?

For others, knowing that Alzheimer’s is a definite reality in their future may offer a sense of control.  Having such knowledge may:

•    Help you make certain lifestyle decisions in the interim
•    Plan for the future in terms of living arrangements, finances, or your estate
•    Urge you to participate in upcoming clinical trials for possible treatments or even cures for the disease
•    Make you realize and value what is most important to you

What This Means for the Future

These latest research developments may bring us closer to what will hopefully be a cure in the future.  Before a cure is possible, there must be a way to detect the diagnosis early.  New or even existing treatments can be attempted on those will little to no symptoms.  It will be interesting to see if effective rises when implemented at a premature stage of the disease.  The hope we all share, is that successful treatments will eventually lead to a cure for this sad and unfortunate disease of the brain.

Information gathered from:  CBS News, CBC News, and The New Republic.

Hearing Loss in Seniors and Older Adults

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

I recently attended a breakfast meeting called the ElderConnection (a networking group for caregivers in elder care)which featured a wonderful speaker by the name of Donna Ross from a company called The Hearing Source – they are hearing instrument specialists. 


The presentation was educational and a real eye-opener for many attendees.  I’d like to share a few of the excellent points that were raised and add a little of my own two cents as well. 


Hearing loss is not something to be ignored and if handled properly, can make aging a much more pleasurable experience.


If you are a caregiver, a worker in a retirement residence, a close friend, or a family member, there are a few things you can look for in your fellow older adults or senior citizens that will be clear indications that some form of hearing loss is present:


  1. Do they seem confused at times when others speak?
  2. Do they nod their heads often after someone has spoken?
  3. Do they give inappropriate responses?
  4. Have they become quieter or less involved over time?
  5. To they appear withdrawn from conversations?


These are some excellent questions to ask yourself.  If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, your senior is likely experiencing hearing loss of one degree or another.


It’s funny how we will wear joint braces, use walking canes, put orthotics in our shoes, get bridges or root canals done on our teeth, but wearing a hearing aid is “embarrassing” and “makes us old”.  Where is the logic?


Wearing a hearing aid is not “old” – it’s smart.  “Old” is being withdrawn from society, uninvolved in conversations, head nodding in silence, and giving inappropriate answers.


As hearing loss worsens, many other occurrences take place.  Seniors begin to involve themselves in conversation less and less.  They may run into trouble and agree to something when they haven’t fully heard what is being presented to them because they are too embarrassed to say “I can’t hear you”.  Overall, seniors suffering from hearing loss will become more and more withdrawn from social settings.


A withdrawal from social settings puts a line of separation between the senior and the rest of the world.  As caregivers, friends, family members and employees we must take a proactive approach to the identification of hearing loss in the older adults and seniors around us, and usher them to take the necessary steps of action.


Technology has become far more advanced and sophisticated.  There are now digital hearing aids which act like mini computers to control how sound is delivered to you.  Digital hearing aids are more comfortable, are smaller in size, and are more powerful.  Old analog hearing aids deliver raw noise, and depending on the nature of your hearing loss, may or may not be effective for you.


Even from a safety point of view, severe hearing loss can mean that you are not hearing someone behind you, someone at your door, someone about to harm you or steal from you in some way.  Hearing properly also gives the body a sense of balance.  As hearing diminishes, so will your ability to stay balanced and avoid falling.


There are many reasons why hearing instruments should be used.  Hearing the world around you is far more enjoyable than missing everything and feeling forced to withdraw yourself, when all along you could have easily avoided such a misfortune.

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