The Caregiver's Beacon Newsletter
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Feature Article: Homecare Dos and
Donts by Steven Schwartzman
Arranging homecare for aging parents can be a difficult process for many different reasons, but in the end the solution is not complicated. That is, if you have high quality homecare personnel providing the care, you will at least be able to rest easy knowing that your parents are well cared for.
Read the complete article with five Dos and five Donts by Steven Schwartzman, a noted geriatric care manager in New York City at http://www.ec-online.net/Knowledge/Articles/homecare.html
The importance of being physically fit and maintaining memory skills is becoming more apparent through numerous studies nationwide. There are a number of reasons why researchers are correlating stronger memory with a strong body. A study by the MacArthur Foundation found that exercise had a profound effect on the brains of adult subjects of a major research project. The study found that an increase in exercise had a simultaneous increase in chemical substances in the brain that promotes new brain cell growth. The findings suggested that exercise enhances memory function. Another national study found that older people who have a regular exercise routine do better on memory tasks. The same study found that immediately after exercising, people are able to learn and remember new information more effectively than if they were sedentary.
Exercise increases the blood flow of the entire body and gives your brain more oxygen and other important nutrients. In addition, research has shown that increased exercise promotes feelings of well-being and can reduce depressive feelings in older people. Endorphins, the brains natural feel good chemicals, are released when you exercise. This is important because people diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease and their caregivers often report feelings of depression in their daily lives. A regular exercise program for both persons with dementia and their caregivers can help to alleviate or reduce these feelings. Studies have also shown a correlation between feelings of depression and cognitive dysfunction. Sometimes, what appears to be dementia is actually acute depression. This is why it is imperative for a person to be clinically assessed for depression who has recently begun to display dementia symptoms.
Read Pauls complete column at http://www.ec-online.net/Knowledge/Columns/elderjournal0703.html
My mother is 75 years old and has lived alone since my dad died 7 years ago. She is alert mentally but has a number of physical problems about which she constantly complains to her children. My problem is I cant get her to go to the doctor although she continues to drive my sisters and me crazy.
How do I get her to go to the doctor?
Many families experience the same frustration in trying to get a reluctant parent to the doctor so you need to first decide how urgent the problem is. Does it appear to be something life threatening, in which case you need to act promptly, or are your mothers complaints those of someone growing old? It its the latter, there isnt any immediate need to act.
Next you want to determine whats behind her refusal to see a doctor. Has she had a bad experience with doctors? Does her reluctance to seek medical advice stem from her fear of learning that something serious may be wrong? If shes generally someone who has trusted doctors and, as far as you know, hasnt felt restrained in talking about her complaints with them, then I would guess that shes probably frightened that there might be something seriously wrong with her health. If one of her parents or siblings died of a disease such as cancer or Alzheimers Disease, this may heighten her anxiety about seeing a doctor.
Im sure her behavior seems irrational to you. After all, wouldnt it make more sense to deal with a problem than to let it go unattended? Well, unfortunately, fear and anxiety tend to overtake logic, and many people stick their heads in the sand or procrastinate or find creative ways of avoiding facing the problem. Such avoidance techniques may be intensified in old age.
You should also consider your level of concern. Are you getting upset because you think theres a serious problem or because your mother is driving you crazy and youd love to involve an expert to help find a solution?
I agree that consulting a doctor to find out if there might be a serious illness would ultimately assuage your mothers and your anxiety. However, you need to remember that your mother is of sound mind and that she has the right to be the final arbiter of what she will and wont do. Therefore you need to direct your efforts to her underlying fears.
A conversation might go something like this: Mom, I know there must be good reason for you to refuse to see a doctor. I was thinking that it must be scary to experience physical changes that make it hard to do the things youve always done. Its as if your body has betrayed you and youre angry and punishing it for its betrayal. In addition, I know that grandma and one of her sisters died of cancer, which must add to your worries about your own health. But I want you to know that my sisters and I worry about you and want to do everything in our power to keep you healthy. The problem is that we dont know what to do to help you unless you see a doctor. So I hope that youll reconsider your decision. Id be very happy to go with you to the doctor if that would make it easier for you.
If your mother agrees to reconsider her decision, youve made a lot of progress. The chances are that if you give her some time to express her feelings, shell eventually agree to see a doctor.
Try also to give her some options. Explain that if she doesnt want to see her regular doctor, there are geriatric physicians, geriatric care centers, and nurses wholl come to her home. Be sure to talk with your family and your mothers friends, some of whom could assist you in encouraging your mother to have a physical examination. Talk with her current physician, who may have experience in getting reluctant older patients to come in for a visit.
Remember that your mother has the right to decide how she wants to live out the remaining years of her life and, although you dont make the decisions for her, you have a lot of influence as her loving daughter.
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Institute on Human Values and Aging is a program of the International Longevity
Center-USA, under support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It is involved in
research and public education related to issues raised by the coming of an aging society:
in particular, applied ethics, late-life creativity, lifelong learning, and the search for
meaning in the second half of life.
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