Caregivers are often advised to maintain their own health by eating right and exercising, but they often overlook the importance of socializing to improving quality of life for themselves and their loved ones. Maintaining friendships is essential to having a balanced life as a caregiver of an individual with dementia, according to Lynn Lazarus Serper, Ed.D.,founder and president of Brain Enhancement Services, Inc., Boston.
“Stay healthy! Plan time with your friends!” Serper said. “Friends are not only a pleasure, but also research shows that spending time with friends can actually increase overall health and mental well-being. Take advantage of this wonderful resource.”
On January 14, Serper will expand on this topic, “Friends, Caregiving and Health,” when she is the guest expert on Care Connection, a free telephone support service co-sponsored by AFA and Dr. Jamie, a psychologist and professional life coach. Care Connection is held every Thursday at 9 pm (Eastern time) and up to 150 family and professional caregivers can call in-and simply listen or contribute to the conversation-from anywhere in the nation. Dial toll-free 1-877-AFA-2992, Enter guest ID: 271004#. Taped sessions are available at www.askdrjamie.net.
More than 15 former NFL players, executives and doctors testified before Congress earlier this week as the NFL trys to answer whether there is a connection between football and brain injuries.
A recent study commissioned by the NFL showed that retired pro-football players may have a higher than normal rate of Alzheimer’s disease or other memory afflictions.
NFL Commisioner Roger Goodell told Congress that the league is taking steps to address this issue, including offering free follow-up medical work to 56 survey participants who reported dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or other memory-related problems.
Earlier this month, the NFL Players Association formed a concussion and traumatic brain injury committee to address the issue of head trauma among players.
There is no evidence that hospitals that spend more money on services for patients at the end of life provide them with better care, and in some cases they provide worse care, according to a new study published in the Web edition of Health Affairs, a health policy journal.
Researchers studied the cost of care at 2,172 hospitals nationwide for Medicare beneficiaries at the end of life who had heart attacks, pneumonia and congestive heart failure. At the low end, hospitals spent an average $16,059; at the high end, they spent an average of $34,742.
But, after researchers factored in specific quality indicators, they found either no association or a negative link with spending.
“The absence of positive correlations suggests that some institutions achieve exemplary performance on quality measures in settings that feature lower intensity of care,” the authors said. “This finding highlights the need for reporting information on both quality and spending.”
To many, it seems that the old and the young are growing further and further apart-whether by increasing distances or emerging technologies. Intergenerational programming, however, can help foster communication and connections, including those between youngsters and individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
Comfort & Joy is one intergenerational program that has proven just that. The Philadelphia-based program includes a wide array of creative arts projects that unite teenagers from Philadelphia Schools with residents of NewCourtland Elder Services, a conglomerate of seven nursing nursing homes. Activities throughout the school year include choirs, mural-making and quilting.
From now through June 12, NewCourtland will host the Art is Ageless Exhibit-an artistic collaboration between the New Courtland seniors and local students at The Center for Emerging Visual Arts in Philadelphia.
In addition to structured programs at long-term care facilities, intergenerational activities can be facilitated by caregivers at home. Here are a few activities to unite the generations:
– Make a collage or painting. Through collaborative activities, the talents of both individuals will shine through, and they will have a finished project to be proud of.
– Do easily-manageable household chores, such as folding laundry or clipping coupons, which promote a feeling of making a valuable contribution to the household.
– Engage in the creative arts, such as writing a poem or singing a song, creating the perfect opportunity for self-expression and reminiscing.
– Get cooking. Making a sandwich or mixing cake batter (with appropriate kitchen utensils) can help prompt conversation and help the person with dementia recall memories as well as teach some skills to youngsters.
Local sites from coast-to-coast can now sign up to participate in the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s (AFA) National Memory Screening Day (NMSD) on November 17. Now in its seventh year, this annual event is the focal point of AFA’s efforts to champion early detection and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease or other conditions causing memory loss.
AFA welcomes participation by myriad venues, such as senior centers, pharmacies, assisted living facilities and doctor’s offices.
On NMSD, qualified healthcare professionals offer free, confidential memory screenings–a series of questions and tasks that take about five minutes to administer. It is a first step toward finding out whether a person has a reversible condition that is causing memory loss or an irreversible condition, such as Alzheimer’s disease. The non-invasive screenings do not represent a diagnosis, and individuals with below-normal scores or who still have concerns are encouraged to pursue further evaluation.
The event has been growing each year. Last November, about 2,200 sites nationwide screened an estimated 54,000 people and countless other individuals picked up educational materials
“National Memory Screening Day is an opportunity for organizations to serve members of their community in need, both those with memory concerns and those who want a point of comparison for the future. Memory screenings are about being proactive; we know that the earlier a condition is detected, the better,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and CEO.
Care Connection is a strategic alliance between Ask Dr Jamie and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. Dr. Jaime’s website contains over 40 free, previously-recorded, hour-long audio talks about various aspects of caregiving. Listeners need a computer with speakers and an internet connection in order to listen to a variety of caregiving topics such as understanding Alzheimer’s disease, communication skills for caregivers, elder legal issues, driving and aging, taking care of yourself as a caregiver, etc.