A new Alzheimer’s Association report, 2013 Alzheimer's Disease Facts & Figures, released yesterday, indicates that the disease is now the sixth leading cause of death, taking the lives of 1 in 3 seniors.
And while death from other diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and stroke decline, Alzheimer's deaths continue to rise, increasing 68% from 2000-2010. The reason? According to the report, it is the only cause of death among the top 10 in America without a way to prevent it, cure it or even slow its progression.
The mortality rate for Alzheimer’s and dementia, while certainly increasing as the population ages, isn’t a new phenomenon. However, the reporting of death from dementia and Alzheimer’s may have been previously under-reported, according to Susan Mitchell, a professor of medicine at Harvard and a scientist at Hebrew Senior Life Institute for Aging Research.
Alzheimer's patients tend to have other health problems as well, she says. Alzheimer’s and dementia lead to the death of nerve cells. In the beginning stages of the disease, the cells damaged mostly affect memory and behavior. As the disease progresses, the brain cells damaged control body functions. For example, a person suffering from dementia may lose their ability to swallow correctly. Food goes down the wrong way, resulting in lung damage and finally pneumonia. And it is that pneumonia which has been listed as the cause of death, and not the underlying dementia from which it stemmed.
From a caregiving standpoint, almost 15% of those caregiving for loved ones are doing it long-distance — living an hour or more away and they pay nearly twice as much out-of-pocket for care as their onsite counterparts. However, the emotional toll is understandably greater for those who must deal with caregiving on their own. “More than 60 percent of Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high; more than one-third report symptoms of depression.” These are the family caregivers who desperately need help in the form of respite caregivers.
Caregiving for Seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia requires a special skill set and the need for skilled caregivers is only going to increase. State training requirements vary, but Caregiverlist, along with Terra Nova Films, presents training videos to assist you with understanding how to care for special needs of older adults suffering with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
If you are a certified nursing aide, home health aide, companion caregiver or family caregiver, these videos will help you improve upon your current skills and learn about the latest approaches for successful caregiving.
And read Norm McNamara’s Caregiverlist Diary to gain a better understanding of the daily challenges faced by those living with Alzheimer’s.
Assisted Living has become the "new normal" for seniors looking for retirement options. And the newer Assisted Living communities are places we all would want to live at any age. Americans are living longer and also enjoying what is now being called the Third Age. However, with longer lives, comes more years of help with care - which is why senior caregiver jobs continue to be available (senior care companies are constantly hiring part-time and full-time caregivers). And some of these caregiver positions are available in the attractive and even posh Assisted Living communities.
The Villages, in Florida, is where one of my friend's parents have found a home for their retirement years. They love it and their children and grandchildren also love this community. My friend Lisa's father plays on 3 softball teams and her Mother enjoys a golf league, a knitting group and a book group. In addition, one of their spare time activities has become a booming business. They enjoy going to estate sales and auctions and now have a booth at an antique mall and even resell items on ebay. Their knack for finding great items has been going so well that they have had to expand into 3 booths at the antique mall.
Back at The Villages, they can enjoy actiivites such as yoga at one of the recreation centers, go for a swim or enjoy live music at a Mexican restaurant. If the time should come that the would need more assistance with senior care or even assisted living, these options are also available.
Assisted Living communities now often have spas and one in the Chicago area even has a rainforest. The good news is that these Assised Living communities do need senior caregivers or resident assistants.
Caregiver duties at Assisted Living centers may involve assisting the residents during meals and with mobility from one activity to the next. Activities many times involve learning a new skill through creating a new craft project or discussing a movie or book. Many times a Resident Assistant Caregiver will assist the residents in these activities.
Senior caregivers are available for residents of Assisted Living communities and usually when more assistance is needed with personal care a Certified Nursing Assistant is assigned to the resident.
Caregiver job descriptions for senior caregivers are similar for caregivers in assisted living communities to those working with a senior in their home. If the caregivers is hired as a Resident Care Assistant they will provide some hands-on care but their primary is role is helping all the residents on one wing with Activities of Daily Living (ADL"s). Smaller Assisted Living communities may also have the Resident Care Assistant help with meal prepration and activities. If a senior has memory loss and is in the memory care unit of Assisted Living, the Resident Care Assistant may need to be a Certified Nursing Assistant (C.N.A.).
Apply for a senior caregiver job near you and review requirements for working in an Assisted Living community on Caregiverlist'sCareer Center.
Memory loss occurs for all of us at certain moments: where, oh where are my keys? Right? And everyone will begin experiencing some memory loss after the age of 85.
Alzheimer's disease presents a certain form of memory loss where there is confusion of person, time and place. Because of this, many refer to Alzheimer's disease as the "long goodbye". Senior caregivers know the challenges that come when caring for someone with memory loss but the good news is that medications can slow the progression. In addition, by implementing a steady daily schedule and mental exercises and meditation, seniors can lesson the impact of memory loss on their lives.
The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) is inviting healthcare professionals to participate as screening sites for the 10th annual national memory Screening Day on Tuesday, November 13th, 2012. Community sites nationwide will offer free, confidential memory screenings and educational materials to the public.
Learn more about the memory loss screenings where the AFA will provide a comprehensive toolkit, including screening tools and marketing and educational materials all at no cost. The memory loss screening sites are searchable by zip-code and state.
Sign-up as a Memory Loss Screening Site.
For more information you may contact melissa Austen, AFA"s National Program's Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Senior caregivers often have the challenge of updating family members on the senior's activities or, they may be working with seniors who have very busy adult children and may need efficient ways to keep updated on care services. Technology provides new ways to connect caregivers and seniors with family members.
Instagram brings an easy-to-use photo album to everyone's finger tips and can assist caregivers in communicating.
A picture is worth a thousand words and caregivers can share those pictures with just a few clicks on their smartphones using the application Instagram. People use their smartphones to take pictures and want to share them in real time - without having to wait to connect their device to a computer and upload it. Instagram allows this to happen and creates a feed of photos that have been uploaded for every user. For caregivers, Instagram provides the opportunity to document their time with their senior clients.
Four Uses of Instagram for Senior Caregivers:
Document Shared Hobbies or Activities with a Senior Client. Taking on a project such as learning how to knit can create a bond with your senior client and you can use Instagram when you finish your projects to showcase your work. Also, if you go for a walk, visit a museum or just enjoy making a flower arrangement together, you can take a photo and share this with the senior's family members. After a few months, you'll have a collection of photos to look through and see your own progress. When family members come to visit, they can also view the senior's activities.
- Share Photos with a Senior Client's Adult Children. Your senior client may not be plugged into the technological world but if their adult children have smartphones, you can use Instagram to post photos for them to see. In return, you can also share photos the children post to their own profiles with your senior client so that the parent can feel connected to their adult childrens' daily lives. Caregivers can even help senior clients exchange comments back and forth on their children's photos.
- Edit Photo's without Photo Editing Software. Add an extra touch to photos without needing to learn photo editing software. Instagram offers various “filters” for photos. All you have to do is take the picture then pick from different
colorations and frame options. It adds an extra flair to preserve a moment exactly as you want it to look.
- Document a Day in the Senior's Life. Many people use instagram almost like a photo journal of their day. Caregivers are often under-appreciated because their work is not visible to many people, but Instagram provides an opportunity to document your day. Try taking a picture at the start of every hour for one day if you want to share more about what you do with someone in your life.
Instagram is available for iPhones and iPod Touch. The application also was recently introduced to Android model phones as well, so most smartphone users can take advantage of the quick photo sharing provided for free.
Senior caregivers can now have an instant photo album in their phone, all for free.
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Alcoholism in Seniors
In a recent Vital Signs report, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the group of people who binge drink most often are those 65 years and older, drinking an average of five to six times per month. Binge drinking is defined as men drinking 5 or more alcoholic drinks within a short period of time or women drinking 4 or more drinks within a short period of time.
“Alcohol abuse among the elderly is not a new phenomenon,” according to Dr. David Tews, adjunct faculty member in the Counselor Education Program at Loyola University in Chicago, Northern Illinois University, and addiction consultant at SoftLandingRecovery. “We’re seeing an increased number of elderly drinkers simply because the population as a whole is aging.” Indeed, the over 65 population in the United States was 12% in 2000 and is expected to reach 20% in 2050.
“There also tends to be an attitude of “I deserve this” among older drinkers. Particularly after retirement, many feel they’ve earned the right to drink as much as they like—they’ve put in their years of productivity and there’s no chance that their actions will have career-altering repercussions.”
Senior binge drinking is not necessarily an indicator of alcoholism, although the near epidemic number of senior binge drinkers illustrates that the trend is largely ignored or unreported. Many factors contribute its concealment.
Oftentimes, the effects of alcohol are mistaken for other conditions associated with aging, such as a lack of mental acuity, memory loss or depression. Medication can be blamed for erratic behavior (although drug and alcohol interactions can be especially serious to health, and can even result in fatality.) Outreach and treatment programs tend to target the more visible young alcohol abusers.
“Current treatment focuses on future planning,” Dr. Tews added. “Many senior alcohol abusers believe long-term treatment plans for them would be futile.”
Be aware that binge drinking in the elderly can result in other negative consequences, besides the obvious health detriments. According to Seniors in Sobriety:
If you think you or a senior you love may have a problem with binge drinking or alcoholism, your state’s Department on Aging may be able to provide you with information regarding alcohol and drug abuse treatment and prevention programs in your area.
- Seniors appear to be more vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of alcohol that cause brain damage, resulting in Alzheimer’s-like symptoms.
- Use of alcohol in older adults can result in trauma. Falls constitute the largest single cause of injury mortality in elderly individuals. 40% of all nursing home admissions are the result of falls.
- Heavy alcohol consumption is a known risk factor for depression, dementia and suicide.
- Alcohol abuse has been shown to increase the risk of certain cancers already age related, such as liver, colon and prostate cancer.
- Late onset drinking can begin when stressful life events occur such as bereavement, disability or retirement.
bingeDrinking, alcohol, seniorCare
Senior caregivers well know that their work can be stressful. Now the American Psychological Association is highlighting the link between stress and health. Many times the caregiver of a senior can find they have additional health problems because of the stress of caregiving. The data from the latest Stress in America survey suggests that the connection between stress and health is especially critical among adults age 50 and older who serve as caregivers for a family member.
This is why hiring a professional caregiver delivers more than just care for the senior - it also assists the senior's loved ones to maintain balance in their own life. And it allows the senior's spouse and children and friends to enjoy quality time with them.
Managing stress in a health way is important for senior caregivers. One quick stress reliever, which also delivers a health benefit by instantly lowering blood pressure and producing a relaxation response is the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise.
Relaxation Breath Exercise: The 4-7-8 Breath
This exercise is simple and does not require special equipment - we give credit to Dr. Andrew Weil.
- Exhale completely through your moth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of 4.
- Hold your breath for a count of 7.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of 8.
- This is 1 breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle 3 more times for a total of 4 breaths.
Now do you feel relaxed? It works every time. Always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The time you spend on each phase is not important: the ratio of 4:7:8 is important.
As everyone is learning the value of having a professional caregiver, those who are interested in working as caregivers may apply for a caregiving job position in their area - just remember to take time to take care of the caregiver!
seniorcaregiver, caregiverstress, seniorcare