My 100-year-old Grandma Martha may be nearing the end of her life. While she has lived a long life we are reminded that she is from a generation that really does not talk about death. Her generation had a life expectancy of age 75.
Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter wrote an article for The New York Times this month titled "First, Sex Ed. Then Death Ed". She shares the statistic that 80% of Americans would prefer to die at home, but only 20% actually do. She notes that often people in intensive care units may be restrained and have no idea they are dying. You can read more of Dr. Zitter's articles on her website.
Grandma has a pacemaker which has extended her life. But she also has macular degeneration which has caused her to lose most of her vision. Losing your eyesight dramatically impacts your quality of life. Which lead her to tell her doctor to only give her a "2-year battery" for her pacemaker last year. How do we better plan for death?
How do we decide to say "no" to medical procedures which may extend our life but not improve a diminished quality of life caused by a health condition which cannot be cured?
My father, at age 79, is also living life right now by volunteering in Ecuador. He just shared his whitewater rafting photos.
That's Dad in the back seat of the raft, hanging with the 20-year-old's.
My Dad is still living life, for sure. He has mentioned more than a few times that the adventure travel company assigned him a 26-year old lady from Argentina to accompany him to be sure he could manage. See, not everything about aging is negative! There are no right answers to some questions. We have to find the best possible answer for ourselves. The spirit of life pulls us forward. My Grandma still has the fight in her and we can see that and are assisting her to keep on going in all ways possible.
She is still living life. With a whole lot of help from family members and doctors and nurses and nursing aides and caregivers and friends. She still has a very sharp mind and memory. But she also is living with pain each day, which we cannot take away.
Starting the conversation about how we would like to experience aging and what we would not want done to extend our life if the quality of life will not be there should become a part of our care plan for senior care. Medical technology has allowed us to do what could not be done before for physical care and we need to become modern enough to discuss the emotional components of aging and caregiving as well.
Senior care companies and senior caregivers can begin the conversation about death with adult children by sharing stories of scenarios of aging that are positive and negative. By talking about death we can spark new ideas and solutions to learn how to age in a way that truly allows someone to not only be alive but to be living life.
Become a professional senior caregiver by joining the Professional Association of Caregivers to receive online caregiver training, t-shirt and lapel pin to become a senior caregiver in one of the fastest growing industries in America. Join the P.A.C.
How do you become a senior caregiver? As long as you naturally have a caring personality and an appreciation for the aging journey seniors are dealing with (a journey we all hope to be fortunate enough to make someday), then you just need to educate yourself on some proven skills that make caregiving a positive experience for both the senior and the caregiver.
The Professional Association of Caregivers assists you to learn the basic caregiving skills with an online course while keeping up with senior care industry news and you'll receive a t-shirt and lapel pin along with the training. You may also apply for a caregiving job on Caregiverlist to begin working as a companion caregiver.
Seniors, caregivers and families can learn how sharing a senior's life story can benefit everyone in the family. Gloria Vanderbilt, socialite, heiress, artist, entrepreneur, actress and mother shares how she began the conversation about her life with her son, newsman Anderson Cooper in this new documentary.
Nothing Left Unsaid profiles Gloria's life and how she has navigated being in the spotlight since the day she was born. Her life story will leave you inspired to stay positive and keep on living, as she is doing, as you are aging, while appreciating the lessons learned along the way.
You can catch this documentary tonight, April 29th, at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on CNN and it also will continue to air on HBO. You will not be disappointed.
Anderson Cooper, one of her 4 sons, shares that there were many things he did not know about his Mother until they began the deeper conversation. Begin to ask your senior loved ones about their life stories and go deeper to ask "why" to learn more about who they really are and how they became the person you know.
One really interesting item Anderson shared was that his mother earned more money than she inherited. He chooses to not inherit any money as he says he sees that many are not motivated to develop their passions when they do not have to earn a living. Gloria Vanderbilt continues to develop her passions and we compliment her for promoting this documentary and sharing her story with us at age 92. And also thank her for bringing us designer jeans with a little bit of stretch in them!
Anderson Cooper with his Mom, Gloria Vanderbilt
Congress recently passed a budget bill in December, giving a few hundred million towards the research of Alzheimer's disease.
While we are able to identify the existence of the same brain plaques Dr. Alzheimer found back in the early 1900's, we still are not sure why some people develop these plaques while others do not.
Researcher Sam Cohen shares some of the facts around Alzheimer's disease research. One reason Congress included research for finding a cure for Alzheimer's is because of the huge costs associated with full-time senior care for those with memory loss. Medicare does not currently pay for ongoing senior care needs but Medicaid, for low-income seniors, does.
More than 15 million caregivers assist a senior diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This month, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed into law legislation authorizing a $350 million increase for Alzheimer’s disease research funding in 2016’s budget.
Disease modifying drugs and a cure will be the best way to allow the U.S.A. to be able to effectively care for seniors with the current Medicare and Medicaid benefits. The Alzheimer’s Association supported a research study to find how much money will be needed to adequately care for the growing number of seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, finding Medicare spending will more than quadruple in the next generation to $589 billion annually in 2050. By this time, if no cure or improved treatments are found, more than 16 million Americans will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
However, research funding for cures for cancer, AIDS/HIV and heart disease exceed $2 billion each. As someone in the U.S.A. gets Alzheimer’s disease every 67 seconds, this will also become an even larger economic issue for both American citizens and the government senior Medicare and Medicaid health care programs.
Women over the age of 60 are twice as likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease than breast cancer.
Studying our brains will be the key to more than just a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which is another reason more money should be invested in this research.
Participation in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease is one step senior caregivers can learn more about along with joining Maria Shriver’s The Women’s Alzheimer’s Challenge to emphasize brain research. Share your story as an advocate, caregiver and activist for Alzheimer’s disease care and research.
Senior caregivers may obtain caregiver training for activities to engage with seniors with memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease in the digital caregiver certification training program. More caregivers are needed to assist senior's who may need part-time or full-time senior home care. Join Caregiverlist to be considered for caregiving jobs in your area. Anyone with a caring and trustworthy personality can become a senior caregiver.
America's "Oldest Old' are increasing. This term refers to those who are age 80 or older. Media attention recently has focused on the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Medicare benefit program and how when it was developed in 1965, the lifespan for an American senior was age 75. This is why Medicare benefits begin at age 65. But today age 75 seems rather young.
Our retirement years are going through an evolution as we realize we are more likely to live to be 100 than just age 75. This requires more money to be saved and for a game plan for a fulfilling lifestyle. But a reality of aging is also the fact that the human body was not built to last forever.
Aging is a natural process, for those of us who will be fortunate enough to experience it.
Doctor Atul Gawande, who has written books such as "The Checklist Manifesto", now has written "Being Mortal" to start a conversation on how accepting the aging process and planning ahead for how you would like for your senior care to be, should become as common as creating an estate plan. While Medicare does NOT pay for long-term care, Medicaid, for low-income seniors with few assets, does pay for an ongoing stay in a nursing home for seniors who qualify for this level of care. Understanding the costs of senior care are as important as choosing the type of senior care you would like, since the government program most of us will be on (Medicare) does not pay for long-term care.
Americans currently do not plan ahead for senior care, a fact all caregivers know.
Read "Being Mortal" and share it with those you care for to begin the conversation about how you would like to grow old, while also addressing the realities of changes that will be a natural part of aging. Think about how seasoned travelers prepare for a vacation: a carry-on bag has a change-of-clothes should our bags be delayed, a copy of our passport is in our wallet....
Dr. Gawande is a gifted writer and his book is an enjoyable read, even though it deals with tough topics. Begin the conversation with your loved ones and with yourself about how you picture your screenplay for growing old. Then you and your caregivers will know where the extra change of clothes are located - and if we even want to bother with them.
Memory loss can be both a concern and fear for everyone. Especially for senior caregivers who have witnessed someone experience memory loss. I had the opportunity to meet former President Ronald Reagan after his memory loss had progressed (he thought he knew me, but for sure we had never met). It was a reminder to me that we are all the same when it comes to aging.
This week, the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) has launched a National Memory Screening Program.
National Screening Week is November 1 - 7 of this year.
The AFA is providing free, confidential memory screenings for people that have concerns about their memories. When necessary, individuals will be encouraged to have a follow-up exam by a qualified health care provider and may be directed to appropriate social services and community resources in their area.
The AFA is working toward eliminating the stigma and fears associated with dementia, and providing education for the public about memory problems and how to age successfully. The organization also hopes to alleviate fears for the people who do participate in the memory screening who are not currently showing any signs of memory problems.
Screening sites in your area can be located below.
National Memory Screening Locations
Memory loss has many forms and Alzheimer's Disease is just one type of memory loss. Now that we know late actor Robin Williams suffered from Lewy Body dementia, we can better understand how difficult the changes he was dealing with in his mind were during his last year of life.
Other types of memory loss include:
- Vascular Dementia
- Lewy Body
- Frontal Love Dementia (FLD)
- Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)
- Huntington's Disease
- Pick's Disease
- Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
- Parkinson's Disease
- Subdural Hematomas
- Brain Tumors
By identifying the type of memory loss, the senior can then be treated correctly. The progression for some types of memory loss, such as Alzheimer's Disease, can be slowed when treated with medications. Many clinical trials are in progress now, to study ways to better prevent Alzheimer's Disease.
Meditation is proving to be an effective way to change the structure of the brain and Deepak Chopra and Rudi Tanzi, both medical doctors, are researching how meditation may be able to prevent or slow down memory loss. The doctors co-authored the book Super Brain where they discuss new ways of using our brains to help exercise it more and create new pathways, which, research is showing, just might be a way to prevent memory loss.
Caregivers in the Los Angeles, California, area are invited to a special evening of cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, along with a movie viewing and fellowship with other caregivers on October 1st. This event, honoring family and professional caregivers, is a special event sponsored by Clorox® as part of the debut of their new care kits. This means you will also receive a FREE GOODY BAG - - - we always love goody bags and can tell you this one is a really good one! Complimentary parking is included and a $5 donation will be made to the Beauty Bus, in the caregiver's honor, when a photo of the one they care for is shared at the event.
Caregiverlist's team attended the Chicago event and really enjoyed the documentary movie created by Ernesto Quintero, profiling his brother's journey with M.S. Ernesto's mother and siblings provide care for his brother who now cannot walk, eat or breathe on his own. Ernesto's Mom even went back to school for nurse's aide training and become a C.N.A. in order to properly care for both her husband and son. Clorox has debuted a home care clean-up kit that contains products without bleach and also includes gloves and just the right items for caregivers: hand sanitizer, stain remover, germicidal non-bleach spray and disinfecting and deodorizing spray. Maintaining a sanitary environment for the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom are very important in caregiving and are part of the caregiver basic training required in many states.
Spread the word to other caregivers about this event as you will also enjoy a roundtable discussion with the film maker and others in the caregiving industry after the event. Below you will find the invitation for this night where caregivers will be "caring for the caregiver
Let Clorox CareConcepts take care of, celebrate and honor you for caregiving. Join us for a “night off” to enjoy hors d'oeuvres, drinks and camaraderie with other caregivers. Enjoy pampering activities and a private screening of the documentary “A Sacred Journey” by Los Angeles-based filmmaker Ernesto Quintero that touches all of those who care for a loved one. A panel discussion (6:30 p.m. screening only) with experts and caregivers on "When Care Comes Home” will follow the screening, exploring the challenges and inspirational moments of caregiving.
Date: Wednesday, October 1
Time: 6:30 p.m. with panel discussion, 8:00 p.m. film only
Location: Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater, 611 N. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Transportation: Complimentary valet parking
RSVP: To RSVP@pdcpr.net or 708.305.5075 noting 6:30 p.m. or 8:00 p.m. showtime
Donation in Your Honor: Submit a photo or keepsake representing the one you care for and Clorox® CareConceptsTM will donate $5 to the Beauty Bus Foundation
Congratulations to the February monthly winner of Caregiverlist Refer-a-Friend and Win program - caregiver Rebeca Torres from San Antonio, TX.
Rebeca referred her friends and family for caregiving jobs that are available on Caregiverlist.com, and she won a free stylish scrubs outfit and a pair of shoes, courtesy of Scrubs Magazine. February caregiver winner will receive a chic scrub to look fabulous this spring, as a thank you for taking care of her loved ones, and for making a difference in seniors' lives. Read Rebeca's caregiving story to find out what lead her to caregiving career, and then refer your friends, family and coworkers for professional Caregiving Jobs near you.
Senior care companies hire Professional Caregivers, C.N.A.’s, & C.H.H.A.’s weekly from Caregiverlist, the only Caregiver Career Center customized for the senior care industry. Build your professional caregiver resume, and apply for multiple caregiving positions near you online.
Refer-a-friend to Caregiverlistand get entered to win a free 8-hour online caregiver training program. A new winner is drawn weekly. One monthly GRAND PRIZE WINNER receives a Scrub of the Month (top, bottoms and pair of shoes), courtesy of Scrubs Magazine.