Hello and welcome to this issue of the "Senior Years Newsletter".
I hope you are enjoying the beautiful summer.
usual, I trust you will find this edition to be as informational,
inspirational and educational as promised it to be. Your comments are
always welcomed and interesting to me, so do write -- because I care to
hear from you.
There are a few new seminar/webinars that I have put together for you and your loved ones and friends. Just check the page at http://www.hofron.com/seminarsonboomersandseniorsissues.html to see what's available.
Till next time,
Blessings and good health to you,
Diane M. Hoffmann, CPCA
(Certified Professional Consultant on Aging)
The Plight of a Family Caregiver
“But what about me??” my client’s wife blurted out, “no-one asks what’s best for ME!!”
I was surprised by what I was hearing. I had met her husband a few days earlier in hospital: he had broken his hip seven weeks previous, was making a good recovery, and he was looking forward to coming home and resuming his hobbies and activities, albeit resigned to using a walker or a cane from now on.
I had visited the home and, thanks to the daughter, everything appeared ready for him to come home – workers had widened doors, installed grab-bars and built a ramp. Furniture was shuffled, clutter was gone. He was smiling at the prospect of getting ‘back to normal’ in just a few days. His grand-daughter had even made a Welcome Home banner.
But for the elderly gentleman’s wife, the peace and quiet she’d enjoyed for the past seven weeks – while not entirely stress-free – were about to end. ‘Back to normal’ for her was not something she was looking forward to.
Without context and background, it might seem to many that she was being selfish. It took me a few minutes of gentle questioning to see through the anger. Yes, I was surprised, but I wasn’t shocked: her feelings were normal for a spouse just promoted to the role of Primary Caregiver.
As is so often the case, a spouse (or adult child) assumes the role of family caregiver without training or qualifications, without being asked if they want the job, without being asked “what about me?” Hers were actually quite common feelings: a mixture of resentment, frustration and helplessness – a sense of losing control.
Fortunately, caregivers had been hired to help look after him – hired by the daughter and her distant siblings, who had predicted their mother’s reaction. And while the first few days were obviously stressful for all, by the end of the first week, there was a routine in place and everyone was a lot happier.
How do spouses cope? Well, there are lots of supports out there – IF (and it’s a big if) they would only ask. Attentive adult children can help, but ultimately it’s down to the primary caregiver to be willing to be helped. Sure, the hired staff can look after the care-recipient, but more is needed. Here’s what Caregivers Nova Scotia recommends to cope with the pressure of being a primary caregiver:
•Figure out what causes you stress: make a list – big or small, write it down.
•Talk about your feelings: difficult I know, but talking does help. Friends and family are usually the first to approach, but there’s also the family doctor or pastor.
•Go to a support group in your community.
•Reduce tension: do some physical activity, yoga or meditation. Take time for yourself.
•Prevent stress: to help prevent stress from building up: make decisions and avoid putting things off. Where possible, delegate: don’t be afraid to ask for help.
It is vitally important for primary caregivers and other family caregivers to acknowledge your feelings. It is quite normal to feel guilt, anger and frustration. The key is to set realistic goals, ask for – and accept – help, and strive for balance, not perfection.
Source: Alex Handyside, CPCA, www.ScotiaCare.com
For a lot of help, support and resources, I have made available a webinar (seminar for local residents) for caregivers, "Caregivers and Caregiving Basics - Understanding the Issues and Concerns." You can get the link for information on it at http://www.hofron.com/seminarsonboomersandseniorsissues.html
Q. - Are there any indicators to look for that a senior in my life may need professional support?
A. - Sometimes we wonder if a person is in need of assistance or assessment by their doctor, but do not know what exactly it is that is wrong. We may have insight into one area in their lives but not see how other areas might also be connected.
I thought that in this article it might be helpful to outline some indicators of problem areas. Probably no one item below is indicative of illness by itself, however, a combination of these changes could certainly signal reason for concern and medical follow-up.
Significantly disturbed sleep pattern
Does not appear well-rested / appears exhausted
Nutrition / Appetite
Poor selection of food or expired food in refrigerator
Not eating enough to maintain weight and health
Significant change in mood for longer than two weeks
Lack of interest in hobbies etc. that once brought them pleasure
Themes of conversation have become increasingly negative / darker
Complains that it is too tiring to manage daily chores
Agitated / restless / aggressive outbursts
Cognition (Memory and Concentration)
Changes in household management (garden, garbage, bill payments)
Not taking medications as scheduled
Seems easily threatened or suspicious
Angry or evasive with questions about self-management
Poor capacity for anything more than superficial conversation
Fragmented, distracted, poor concentration for reading or watching television
Judgement / Insight
Reluctance to leave the home to run errands or visit friends / family
No longer driving safely
Inappropriate or inadequate use of personal emergency devices / alarms / emergency systems
Recent accident or incorrect use of appliances in home
Inappropriate layering of clothing
Not maintaining personal hygiene (hair, shaving, oral care, body odours)
Mobility / Pain
Cannot move around safely in the home: e.g. stairs, toileting, bathing
Has had a fall and is unwilling or unable to use an assistive device
Complains of pain often
It is never easy to have these ‘observation conversations’ with the people that we love, or to intervene on their behalf, but encouraging them to see how their life has changed and asking if they would agree to have you accompany them to their doctor with a list of your concerns is a great start.
Frequently when I speak with seniors in hospital they say, “I didn’t realize how bad I had gotten until he/she told me”.
Hopefully this list will help you determine if your loved one is in need of professional help and give you the confidence to ask a few strategic questions.
Source: Laurie Duke, RN, CPCA, www.gigaluma.com
Spinach and Tuna Salad
Makes 1 to 2 servings. This salad is one large serving for dinner or easily can serve 2 for lunch. Pack it for a work lunch with the dressing on the side. Toss just before serving. The Asian flavours pack a wallop of flavour in this salad.
•3 cups (750 mL) lightly packed baby spinach
•1 can (120 g) flaked light tuna (such as skipjack) in water, drained
•1/3 cup (75 mL) halved grape tomatoes
•1/4 cup (50 mL) sliced water chestnuts
•1 green onion, sliced
•2 tbsp (25 mL) rice vinegar
•2 tsp (10 mL) sodium reduced soy sauce
•2 tsp (10 mL) sesame oil
•1 tbsp (15 mL) toasted sesame seeds
1.In bowl, combine spinach, tuna, tomatoes, water chestnuts and green onion.
2.In another small bowl, whisk together vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil. Drizzle over spinach mixture and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.
Tip: Substitute canned salmon or crab for the tuna.
Nutrition information per serving - Calories: 225, Protein: 30 g, Fat: 8 g, Saturated fat: 1 g, Cholesterol: 31 g, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Fibre: 3 g, Sodium: 579 mg, Potassium: 844 mg
Developed by Emily Richards, P.H. Ec. ©The Heart and Stroke Foundation. Reprinted with Permission from the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
P.S.: 6 Reasons to Add Spinach to Your Diet
1.Spinach is an excellent provider of calcium.
2.It can help you relax. It's one of the best sources of magnesium, a known muscle relaxant.
3.Spinach is high in folate, which is good for developing cells.
4.It's also a great source of protein.
5.It can help protect your eyesight.
6.Since it is high in Vitamin K, it can help retain calcium in your bones.
Source: www.chatelaine.com, Reprinted with Permission from Living Assistance Services, www.laservices.ca
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Quotes
“Everything will be all right in the end and if it's not all right, then it's not yet the end.”
(Sonny Kapoor (Played by Dev Patel)
“But it's also true that the person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing.
All we know about the future is that it will be different. But perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same.
So we must celebrate the changes.”
(Evelyn Greenslade (Played by Judi Dench)
Driving and Seniors
In 2009, 3.25 million people aged 65 and over had a driver’s licence—three-quarters of all seniors.
Of that number, about 200,000 were aged 85 and over. Since people in their 80s and over are, and will continue to be, a fast-growing segment of the senior population, the number of elderly drivers will also continue to increase at a rapid pace.
Computers are supposed to make our lives easier but passwords and endless online accounts definitely challenge that concept.
We’ve gone from having to remember a single bank pin number to upwards to 20 different online account... more in some cases!
Do you get overwhelmed by the need for so many usernames and passwords? You’re not alone. Not only do we need to keep track of all of our online accounts but we also have to be sure that our passwords are secure.
That’s because there are PC programs created by hackers bent on identity theft. These programs were designed to crack your password.
If you would like to test how secure your passwords are, there is a great online tool that you can use to test them. Go to the website www.ismypasswordsecure.net.
This website tells you how difficult it would be for one of the PC hacking programs to crack your password. It is recommended that you have an uppercase letter, a number and a symbol within your password.
Following is an illustration that clearly demonstrates the benefits. Note the difference symbols, numbers and uppercase letters can make in the time it would take for a PC program to crack your password.
Your Password and the time it takes to crack your password
senior - 30 seconds
Senior - 1 day
Senior1 - 252 days
*Senior1 - 3 years
Now you may be asking yourself, “Why bother? I don’t have anything for a hacker to steal.”
But remember, hackers don’t need much to steal your identity. Keeping Track of Your Online Accounts - eGurus Technology Tutors recommends that you keep a record of all your online accounts on a piece of paper in a safety deposit box and/or with your will.
A family member or your Executor of your Will should know about your accounts and passwords. That way, they will know about your online accounts after you pass and they will not be left dormant and subject to identity theft.
While you might not be very concerned about this, your identity can be stolen even years later and that could cause a real problem for your survivors. Contact eGurus for some useful tips to creating a more secure password.
Article by, eGurus Technology Tutors, Reprinted with permission from Senior Living Magazine, www.seniorlivingmag.com
See you next month!