Living to Age 100 Becoming Common

One of Caregiverlist's employees will be taking time off next week to visit her 100-year-old Grandmother who will soon turn 101.  Reaching age 100 doesn't receive as much attention as it did when my great-grandmothers turned that age.  Instead, reaching age 105 or 110 grabs the limelight now because more and more seniors are living to be 100.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population age 65 and older is projected to double between 2000 and 2050.  We have modern medicine to help us age a little better and with advances in nutrition and an easier lifestyle, Americans can expect to live way past retirement age.

This means seniors who retire in their 60's need to plan for their next 40 years - life is far from over at retirement.

The news media has picked up on a story about a Chinese senior this week.  The Chinese woman, at age 107, decided that she is interested in getting married because she does not want to be a burden on her relatives now that she can no longer do everything for herself.  She apparently did do all her own laundry and household tasks until recently.........although perhaps a husband is not the answer for help with those things?  I don't know, maybe it works differently in China.  In a country where arranged marriages are a common practice it is very impressive she has waited this long.  I wish her luck! , ,

Senior Volunteering

President-elect Barack Obama said Wednesday that he wants his inauguration to be about more than him; it should be about getting all Americans involved in community service.

Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden and their families plan to participate in service projects in the Washington area Jan. 19th and are encouraging every American to roll up their sleeves and become involved in their communities to renew the promise of America.

If you are a senior, this is a reminder to get involved in your community, especially if you are retired and now have the time to volunteer.  And if you are a Caregiver, this is an opportunity to take the skills you have learned to other seniors.  Seniors are usually the most grateful group to volunteer for as many of them may have experienced the loss of family and friends and are open to making new friends and welcoming volunteers.

From meal programs to senior services, you can find out about senior volunteer programs through your local Area Agency on Aging and you can find this information in Caregiverlist's "By State" listings.

And, if you are thinking about becoming a professional caregiver but do not have paid experience, look into volunteering with a local hospice which will usually provide you with training and assign you to one-on-one care with a senior.  This is great caregiving experience that will assist you in finding a caregiving job.

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Dr. Sanjay Gupta: New Surgeon General?

Apparently Dr. Sanjay Gupta, of CNN fame, has accepted the job of Surgeon General.  And now the news media is talking about how appropriate this choice may be.

He is a medical doctor.  And he clearly knows what the issues are since he is on the front lines with daily news deadlines which also means he can communicate and hustle......probably all qualities that will serve him well as Surgeon General.  I think it is quite fine that the choice is not a government official.  It is kind of refreshing, actually.  Especially when you consider government officials came up with a "donut hole" for medication coverage for seniors.  That program would never had sold in the private sector. 

CNN's Dr. Gupta is known for promoting a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise for longterm health.

The grim reality is that many seniors do suffer mobility, breathing and heart problems because of years of unhealthy living.  Improper diet, smoking and lack of exercise have contributed to a decline in their health.  Advances in medicine have enabled them to stay alive with medications, oxygen and medical equipment, but this is at an added cost to Medicare and to taxpayers.  And it means family and professional Caregivers, at an additional cost, are needed to help them get through each day.  Certainly many seniors could not have prevented their medical issues.  But many other seniors perhaps could have limited their medical issues with a change in lifestyle (and this applies to all of us, at all ages, right?).

As a side note, there has also been new mentions of a "nanny issue" (a nanny was hired but payroll taxes were sort of not paid, which is an issue if you were the employer of the nanny who did not pay the taxes and may be taking an appointed government job) for one of Obama's nominees......another reason to realize the value of using a Senior Home Care Agency for senior care services - professional management will insure that taxes are taken care of as part of the payroll benefits, along with substantial insurance protections such as Worker's Compensation Insurance and Professional Liability Insurance......those who think they are saving some pennies by skirting taxes with a hire-direct caregiver should think at least twice before they go this route.  An uninsured Caregiver can sue their employer (the senior) for many things and no protections are in place.....and the IRS can hold the senior responsible if the Caregiver does not pay their payroll taxes (and if you are going to be appointed to a government job, senior caregivers are in the same boat as nannies when it comes to paying taxes).

 

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Our new "First Grandma" Marian Robinson

As the Obama's prepare to move into the White House, we have learned that Michelle Obama's mother, Marian Robinson, will be joining them.  Mrs. Robinson, age 71, finally retired from her job at a bank, to help with granddaughters Sasha and Malia during the presidential campaign.

As Caregivers know, juggling the needs of careers and children, along with senior care, can be daunting.  And likewise, running for president while raising young children also brings unique demands.  Fortunately for the Obamas, Grandma was willing to help out.

Healthy aging requires not only taking care of physical health with proper diet and exercise, but also staying socially and mentally engaged.  Marian Robinson provides a very positive role model for healthy aging - she kept on working beyond the typical retirement age and by staying involved with her family she now has a new job as "First Grandma" in the White House.  She won't be staying in Chicago where she would have less of a chance to interact with her daughter and granddaughters.

One of the biggest challenges for seniors besides health care, is isolation.  As people move around the country to follow careers, many times parents are left without any children who live near them.  It is very important for seniors to stay involved in weekly activities where they interact with others, especially if no family lives close by.

My own Grandparents lived just up the road from us, on the family farm.  The bus stop was a half mile from our house (it really was, I am not exaggerating), and we were dropped off at the bus stop each morning since the bus arrived really early as we were the first stop.  However, after school we had to walk home.  It wasn't a big deal because we just stopped in at Grandma's house on the way, where she always had a snack for us and she and Grandpa were ready to ask us about our day and provide their commentary (and teasing) on all.  It served my brothers and sister and me and our Grandparents well to spend the time together.

I read that Michelle Obama took two buses and a train to get to her high-school each day, so her commute out did mine, and clearly her mother and father did a lot of things right.  It is very cool that she continues to involve her Mother in raising her own children.  It will be nice for our country to have a "First Grandma" to bring the spotlight to a senior in the White House.

 

 

 

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Acupuncture Beneficial for Many Age-related Illnesses

Acupuncture originated in China more than 5,000 years ago and continues to be a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  The acupuncture points provide gateways to influence, redirect, increase, or decrease the body’s vital substances, qi (energy) & blood, to help correct many of the body’s imbalances.

You are probably thinking "ouch" but actually, the needles used for acupuncture are very thin and delicate.  You will not even feel most of them go in if you have a good practitioner.  And once the needles are in, you still won't feel them except for feeliing maybe extra pressure in that area for a moment.  On one of my visits for acupuncture, I started to get up, thinking all the needles were out.  The ones I could see were gone but there was still one in my forehead, which I didn't realize was still there.  It is a very relaxing experience and not at all painful.

I saw a presentation on senior care in China recently and it was noted that most of their nursing homes offer acupuncture treatments for everything from stroke to memory loss to depression.  It is routinely provided as part of the senior's daily activities- grab breakfast and then show up for an acupuncture treatment.

Acupuncture is beginning to be covered by more health insurance plans in the U.S. and offered in integrative medicine programs at hospitals and clinics.  In addition, more acupuncture research studies are being done to provide us westerners with the proof we seem to need before giving something new a try.  And much of this research is studying the benefits of acupuncture for age-related illnesses.  If it benefits the elderly in other countries, it can benefit the elderly in our country.

One national study showed half of 78 stroke patients receiving standard rehabilitative care, who also received acupuncture treatment recovered faster and to a greater extent, spending 88 days in a hospital or nursing home compared to 161 days for those without acupuncture treatment.  And guess what?  This saves dollars for insurance companies which is another reason acupuncture research is taking place and the reason there is a movement to incorporate it into health insurance plans.

I have found acupuncture to work amazingly well and to be the most cost-effective treatment for ailments.  I fell on my elbow a couple years ago and several months later still had a bump on my elbow along with shooting pain, at times, when my elbow hit something just wrong.  One acupuncture treatment later and the bump disappeared, along with the pain.  All for just $35 at my local college of oriental medicine.

As a caregiver, you may want to find out what acupuncture offerings are available in your area and if there are discounted pricing for seniors - the clinic near me does offer senior discounts.

 

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Look Good to Feel Good

The American Cancer Society provides a health tip to patients with terminal illnesses - take the time each day for personal care because research shows when you look good, you feel better.  I think we all have probably always known this as everyone feels a little better when they are dressed up and ready to head out to a party.

Doctors usually urge seniors to stay active and engaged each day and this is a reminder to Caregivers to make sure to assist loved ones and clients to shower daily, dress in clean clothes, put on makeup and style their hair.

It is also essential for seniors to get some form of exercise each day, as long as thier doctor approves.  If able, a special treat of a massage, manicure and pedicure also does wonders to make a person feel better.

Caregivers can even arrange for these services to be performed in the home if a senior is unable to go out.  Call your local salon or massage spa and ask for referrals to massage therapists and cosmetologists who visit the home - many do.

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World's Oldest Woman Dies at Age 115

The world's oldest woman, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, died on Friday, January  2nd, at the age of 115 years and 114 days. Maria de Jesus, of Portugal, died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.  She started the day with breakfast and then went to the hospital for swelling, her daughter said (and she did not elaborate beyond that so the exact details for cause of death or unknown).

The Gerontology Research Group at the University of California, Los Angeles, tracks supercentenarians and verifies birth dates through birth certificates and other documents.  Now the oldest person status falls to American Gertrude Baines, a 114-year-old daughter of former slaves who still has a very good memory and is healthy except for arthritis in her left knee.  She was proud to vote for Barack Obama and lives in a nursing home in Los Angeles.

Researchers say that definitely for these seniors healthy aging is in their genes - they chose parents who also lived long lives.

It is kind of cool to think that living to be 100 is no longer all that big of an accomplishment.  However, this means savings must last longer, along with good health and presents new challenges for health care and government, primarily making sure we have enough caregivers and enough money for the aging population!

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A Caregiver

The number of people aged 65 and older who have moved from one state to another in the last decade has increased by 65%, accrording to a national survey by one of the leading long-term care insurance providers.  Retirement brings many choices for living options, from relocating to a warmer climate to moving to be closer to family.  At the same time, with many advancements in medical care and the availability of more medications to treat age-related ailments, we are living better longer.

As the new year begins, it is a good time to talk about what type of living situation your senior family members would like if their care needs change.  Medical emergencies can always arise and it is added peace of mind to already have had the conversation with your loved ones about where they would like to receive care.  Do they wish to have care provided in the home and do they want to move to assisted living?  My mother's parents were more progressive and made the move to downsize and sell their home and move to be near my Aunt as they began to experience more health problems.  This was a welcome move as they lived hours away from the nearest family member.  Especially if you do not live in the same city as your senior relatives, you should discuss the plan for care and make sure everyone understands the senior's wishes.

My Grandma ended up being a caregiver to my Grandfather, who suffered from memory loss, for several years and she set the example for the rest of us to plan ahead, and, to be there in sickness and in health.

Happy New Year!

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Caregiving Vitamins

Caregivers often monitor the medications of those they care for, and doctors typically prescribe vitamins to go along with the medications for seniors.  So what about making sure Caregivers are taking the right vitamins?

As more and more research has shown which vitamins are best for certain conditions, learning about the proper vitamin supplements at any age can lead to healthy aging.  Caregivers, especially, deal with lots of stress and proper nutrition, supplemented with vitamins, can be beneficial to avoiding a breakdown in the immune system.

Depending on your family history, you may want to find vitamin supplements for memory, bone and vision loss.  Talk to your doctor about what vitamin combination would be best for you based on the latest research.

One example is the results of a study from Johns Hopkins University which suggested that vitamins C and E taken together may slow down the progress of Alzheimer's disease.  While the study does not prove that vitamins C or E prevent Alzheimer's and more research would be needed to come to that conclusion, this is one of many studies which medical doctors use to guide their individual prescriptions for vitamins.

And, since Caregivers are already monitoring medications, it is easy to take their own vitamins at the same time.  Find out what vitamins are right for you as you take time to take care of the Caregiver!

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Gene Impacting Risk for High Blood Pressure Discovered

A gene that affects how the kidneys process salt may help determine a person's risk of high blood pressure, a discovery that could lead to better ways to treat the condition, researchers announced yesterday.  People with high blood pressure are more likely to develop heart attacks, heart failure, strokes and kidney disease.

Seniors with a common variant of the gene STK39 tend to have higher blood pressure levels and are more likely to develop full-blown high blood pressure, also called hypertension, University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers found.

They identified the gene's role in high blood pressure susceptibility by analyzing the genes of 542 people in the insular Old Order Amish community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

The researchers confirmed the findings by looking at the genes of another group of Amish people as well as four other groups of white people in the United States and Europe.  About 20 percent of the people studied had either one or two copies of this particular variant, the researchers said.

The gene produces a protein involved in regulating the way the kidneys process salt in the body -- a key factor in determining blood pressure, the researchers said.  The findings could lead to the development of new high blood pressure drugs targeting the activity of STK39. Many factors are involved in high blood pressure such as being overweight, lack of exercise, smoking and too much salt in the diet.

The Lancaster Amish are seen as ideal for genetic research because they are a genetically homogenous people whose ancestry can be traced to a small group who arrived from Europe in the 1700s. In addition to genetic similarity, they also maintain similar lifestyles in their close-knit rural communities. 

And, it is also interesting to note that the Amish do not pay into Social Security as they also do not collect it because they take care of their seniors as part of their community - Mom and Dad live with their children or in a house next door to the children when they are unable to live on their own because of health issues.

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