Videos of children who have received a cochlear implant and are hearing for the first time often go viral on YouTube. Perhaps not as dramatic, but nonetheless significant, cochlear implants also offer some seniors an improvement not only in hearing, but also in cognitive and emotional well-being.
Read more here to know more about this interesting topic.
Copyright © AgeWise, 2015
It often happens that as couples grow older, one gives up driving while the other one continues to drive. University of Missouri researchers took a look at the consequences, emphasizing that planning for transportation is vital.
Read more here to know more.
Copyright © AgeWise, 2015
University of Michigan researchers agree that caregiver interventions are far superior to medication when it comes to managing the troubling behaviors of Alzheimer’s disease. But, they point out; caregiver training should be incentivized through reimbursement. Read about their DICE approach here.
Copyright © AgeWise, 2015
Discharge plans are really important after hospitalization. It is where the home health care instructions by the health providers are written. It is needed to be taken seriously so that complete recovery will be achieved.
What to expect after hospitalization? Read more here to have some input about what to do with those discharge plans by the health providers, as well as home health care.
We like to think that we will always be capable of making our own health care decisions. Sometimes, however, it doesn’t work like that. A stroke, an automobile accident, Alzheimer’s disease—any number of circumstances might limit or take away a person’s immediate ability to make health care decisions. The Gerontological Society of America recently reported that nearly one in four older Americans today receives “excessive or unwanted medical treatment” because they had not earlier made their wishes known.
Fortunately, you have the power to think and act ahead of time for such situations. There are two types of legal documents that are referred to as advance directives: health care appointments and health care directives.
Health Care Appointments
A health care appointment, also called a durable power of attorney for health care or a health care proxy, is a document that lets you give someone else the power to make decisions for you if a time were to come that you couldn’t speak for yourself.
Who would be the person you would most trust to make those decisions for you? That is the person you should appoint as your health care representative. If for some reason the person who would be your first choice were not available to act for you, who would be your second choice? Most forms designating a health care representative allow you to name an alternate.
Although no one is under any obligation to fill out a health care appointment, it is the most flexible sort of advance directive. Your health care representative can make decisions for you in a wide variety of unforeseen situations. Your representative has a legal obligation to make decisions for you based on what you would have chosen for yourself. Therefore, the appointment of a health care representative significantly extends your ability to control your health care decisions.
If you wish to name an individual as your health care representative, ask the person if he or she is willing to take on that responsibility. If the person agrees, then you should sit down with him or her and have a frank, detailed conversation about your feelings and values concerning health care and the kinds of treatment you would or would not want. Along with this conversation, be sure to give your health care representative copies of your health care directive.
Health Care Directives
A health care directive or living will is another way of extending control over your own health care. This document lets you say what kinds of care you would or would not want if you were nearing the end of your life. A health care directive usually refers to “life-sustaining measures.” These are advanced medical treatments that can keep a person alive past the time when death would very likely occur. Examples include CPR, dialysis, ventilation (using a machine to breathe for a person), tube or needle feeding and antibiotics to fight an infection that could hasten death.
If you were near the end of life, would you want your life to be extended by these steps? Some people would respond “yes” to some or all of these technologies; others would answer “no.” If you fill out a health care directive, that document will ask you for your preference regarding specific treatments if you were at the end of your life. It is a common misperception that you should fill out a living will only if you don’t want any life-sustaining treatment at all. In fact, your living will allows you to specify precisely what treatments you would like and which ones you would refuse. Most health care directives also have a space to write down any preferences not covered in the specific treatment questions asked.
If you do fill out a health care directive, give a signed and witnessed copy to your primary physician, your health care representative, your hospital, and any other major health care institution or organization with which you are connected. It is also wise to share the contents of your living will with your family and close friends. Let them know what you would want. Doctors and hospitals may become uncomfortable when the family is surprised by a family member’s wishes as stated in a living will, especially if family members disagree with the patient’s wishes. You can make it easier for everyone by talking openly with your loved ones about what you would want.
Visit the National Healthcare Decisions Day website to find more information about healthcare planning, and to access free advance directive forms for the state in which you live.
© IlluminAge AgeWise 2015
The risk of falling increases as we age. Every year, one in three Americans older than 65 sustains a fall. Many of these falls turn out to be harmless. But many are serious, leading to injury, hospitalization and incapacity. And every year 10,000 seniors will receive fatal injuries from falling.
The good news is that many falls can be prevented. The first step is to know the risks, and to take steps to reduce the risks over which we have some control.
If you are an older adult, or you worry that an older loved one could be at risk of falling, start the conversation with this checklist for assessing and reducing the risk of falls. Click here to download the checklist. If you have questions about reducing your risk of falls, talk to your healthcare provider about a fall prevention strategy that’s right for you.
[Note: you may customize the checklist by adding your information in the box at the bottom of page 2]
Source: IlluminAge AgeWise
Medical research confirms that loneliness is bad for our health. Feelings of isolation raise blood pressure and contribute to sleep disorders, cognitive impairment and a host of other chronic conditions. Geriatricians say that spending more time with others can lengthen our lives, lower the risk of depression and also protect our heart health.
But is spending time in pleasant conversation enough? Recent studies suggest that meaningful activity is also important, especially for our brains. Research shows that people who feel a sense of purpose in life are healthier in mind, body and spirit. And a remarkable study from Rush University in Chicago found that people who had the plaques and tangles of the brain that are typical of Alzheimer’s disease had fewer outward signs of the disease if they felt their lives had meaning.
It feels good to do good. Researchers from University of California, Riverside showed that practicing acts of kindness can be an effective way of treating depression. They used brain imaging to demonstrate that altruistic behaviors and other positive interactions can boost circuits in the brain that reverse depression and apathy.
But in our later years, we often confront barriers to maintaining a sense of purpose and self-esteem. Our children are grown. We retire from our lifetime careers. We may have lost our spouse or developed health problems that seem to occupy most of our attention. These are definite challenges and not to be ignored.
How can we continue to feel connected and valuable? For more and more older adults today, volunteer service is providing that sense of purpose and meaning in life, as well as promoting socialization and physical activity. Volunteering offers a tremendous boost to healthy aging. An article that appeared in the American Medical Association News even urged doctors to “prescribe” volunteer service for their patients!
Healthcare providers and service organizations alike are calling this new emphasis on volunteer service a big win-win. Social service agencies, community groups, nonprofit organizations, schools and cultural organizations all report that they rely more than ever on volunteers to help their programs succeed. Fortunately, help has arrived as seniors are stepping up in greater numbers to offer their services and give back to the community. The U.S. Administration on Aging reports that a record number of older adults are volunteering today. Almost a third of seniors volunteer—that’s over 20 million older adults, whose donated service is valued at $67 billion per year. Indeed, a third of all volunteers are age 55 or older.
According to Dr. Erwin Tan, director of the U.S. Senior Corps volunteer program, “Today, Americans over 65 represent 13 percent of our population. By the year 2030, that number will be 20 percent. But while some may talk about how the aging of America is a problem to be solved, we at Senior Corps believe it is an opportunity for both individuals and communities. The boomer generation is the most educated and healthiest group of people over 55 that America has ever seen, and they are looking for ways to give back to their communities.”
I Want to Join the Volunteer Movement! Where Do I Start?
Locating volunteer positions in your area means finding a good match between the available opportunities and your own skills and interests. You might be surprised at how your special talents can be put to use—and you might find yourself tapping into your potential in new ways you hadn’t even envisioned! As you search for an organization that can use your help, first consider:
- your special skills.
- your work experience.
- special knowledge you can share.
- your interests and the things that are important to you.
- the amount of time and commitment you are willing and able to offer.
Next, investigate the organizations in your community that welcome volunteers and provide training for committed individuals:
- hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and other healthcare organizations
- schools and youth organizations
- community agencies (such as senior centers or the public library)
- charitable organizations
- parks and recreation department
- faith communities
- cultural groups (museums, theaters, art societies, music groups)
- civic organizations
- political groups
You might begin your search by calling your local Senior Services office. The U.S. Corporation for National and Community Service is also a great place to start. This agency offers many volunteer ideas, and several of their programs are tailored especially for older adults: Senior Corps, for people over age 55, includes programs such as Foster Grandparents, Senior Companions and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).
If none of these ideas inspire you, make your own volunteer opportunity! Call an organization that interests you and see if they have a volunteer program. If you have the desire to give of your time and energy, volunteer opportunities await you.
Source: IlluminAge AgeWise
Give your brain a workout with this month’s puzzle, which contains 20 words all having to do with locating volunteer opportunities that are a great fit for your skills and interests. Click here to download and print the puzzle.
Need a little help? Click here for the solution to the puzzle.
Copyright © IlluminAge AgeWise, 2015
Scientists from Brigham Young University have studied the damaging effects of loneliness for years. In the most recent study, they found that isolation is as deadly as obesity. And they look at whether texting is a factor in a trend toward isolation.
Read more here.
Copyright © AgeWise, 2015
How important is socializing as the person ages? Can lack of socialization truly hold back a person’s overall quality of life? This question seems easy to answer. Majority of the people will not really pick seclusion and loneliness over socializing with others.
Studies show that some form of active socialization is an advantage on to one’s health. Sadly, many of our senior loved ones today are beginning to lose their social contacts and there are reasonable explanations for this loss. First, the capacity to drive is reduced – clearly a means to an independent lifestyle, and as a consequence, the access to their friends, relatives and social activities is limited. Second, as one spouse will be sick, the other spouse will happen to be more homebound to take care of his or her partner, and this develops further to a form of social isolationism. Third, passing away of friends that leads to reduced social contacts, which can result to a moderate but constant decline in social function as we age.
While physical activity is needed to sustain body wellness, social activities also play a vital part. As we age, being socially active is considered more. Thus, socialization for the seniors is really important like the younger ones have. When they socialize, they enhance their lives. Feeling needed and active helps them to live blissful lives. It also helps with their emotional health, thus reducing stress as a result.
Seniors will get a lot of health benefits when they socialize. It includes reduced risk for cardiovascular problems, cancers, osteoporosis, mental health issues such as depression and dementia, high blood pressure and rheumatoid arthritis. On the contrary, doing the opposite brings about feelings of loneliness, depression, being less physically active, having greater risk of death and high blood pressure.
In addition, here are some suggested activities that seniors can do to improve their social skills:
- As a start, keeping in touch with family and friends by visiting them regularly.
- Volunteering in the community work and activities.
- Visiting a senior care center and join their activities. In here, they can participate in some activities and make new friends.
- Join interest groups where they can enjoy the activities that they like to do, e.g.: playing chess, reading books
- Enroll in some classes like cooking, where seniors can learn new cuisines or at gym or fitness centers to stay physically fit.
- Be involved in the social media world where they can communicate with others and play games as a form of recreation. If not yet comfortable in using computers or other related gadgets, ask help from the younger ones.
Depression, anxiety and loneliness can lead to health issues. The more the seniors are socially active, the less risk of them getting depression. Therefore, encourage them to get up and get out by socializing with others – it can really do well for their health.