Helping Caregivers Through the Holidays

When someone in your family has dementia, or really any other chronic condition, it can affect what holiday time and family gatherings look like. There’s no magic solution, but we hope these tips and reminders might help make this holiday season a bit easier and merry as you balance the holidays as a caregiver.

1. Help your family and friends adjust their expectations
If some time has passed since visiting relatives or friends have seen the person who has dementia, there may have been significant changes in that person’s status since the last time friends or family last saw them. It is often very helpful if you update family, perhaps via a mass email or individual phone calls, on what kind of cognitive changes are going on and what they can expect when they arrive.

These changes can be hard for family members to accept. Remind them that changes in memory and behavior are a result of the disease, not the person. Continue reading

Austin Mayor’s Task Force on Aging

Dear Friends,

For the past year, I have had the great honor to serve on the Austin Mayor’s Task Force on Aging. I am very proud to have been part of this effort.

The recommendations from the Task Force include the following focus areas:

  1. Healthy Living
  2. Independence
  3. Informed Community

We are especially thrilled that under the focus area of ‘independence’, the Task Force specifically highlights the need for critical support and training for family caregivers. One of their recommendations is to expand CaregiverU, a collaboration that AGE is honored to coordinate with the generous support of the St. David’s Foundation. Continue reading

The “Sandwich Generation” should be called the “Hero Generation”

(Guest Post by Caregiving Cafe)

According to Pew Research’s report titled “The Sandwich Generation,” 47% of US adults in their 40’s and 50’s have a parent who is 65 or older and are caring for a child 18 or younger, or are supporting a grown child.  Many are providing caregiving as well as financial and emotional support.  [Pew Research, January 2013]

With advancing age, the likelihood of an aging parent needing help by the time a child becomes a young adult is rather great.  The picture becomes a bit more complex as grown children experiencing hardship (financial or emotional) pull at their parents’ heartstrings (and wallet).

I have had a taste of this dubious “sandwich” while caring long-distance for my mother and raising our daughter.  Mine was actually loaded with the “extras,” as I also began to care for my husband when our daughter had just turned 13.  He became disabled as a result of CRPS, a painful and debilitating neurological disease. Continue reading

Older Americans Month 2013: Unleashing the power of age!

Here are a few of the things we know about the older adult population:

  • The older population (65+) numbered 41.4 million in 2011, an increase of 6.3 million or 18% since 2000.
  • Over one in every eight, or 13.3%, of the population is an older American.
  • Almost 3.6 million elderly persons (8.7%) were below the poverty level in 2011.
  • The Round Rock-Austin metropolitan area had the fastest growing “pre-senior” (age 55-64) population in the country, with a 110% change.
  • Older Americans MonthGrowth of the senior (age 65+) population ranked second nationally over the same period.

In the news, most of what you hear about aging is reflects negative or worried attitudes like how the ‘silver tsunami’ is coming and how the community isn’t ready to adequately deal with the booming population of older adults. At AGE of Central Texas, our business is to face the negativity head on to meet the needs of seniors in our community and help older adults age with dignity and vitality.

Thankfully, the time is upon us to focus on the positivity of aging– May is Older Americans Month! Every year since 1963, May has been the month to appreciate and celebrate the vitality and aspirations of older adults and their contributions and achievements. It is a proud tradition that shows our nation’s commitment to honor the value that elders continue to contribute to our communities. Continue reading

Spring Lawn Care: Or When His (Or Her) Jobs Become Your Jobs

[This is the fifth installment of posts from Faith, AGE’s CaregiverU Coordinator and personal expert on being a family caregiver – you’ll continue hearing from her on a range of topics once a month.]

Lawn care.  Hmmm, not my expertise.  I do enjoy the sight of a well tended lawn, though.  Thick green grass, nicely edged, pretty stones in a ring around each tree, neatly trimmed trees, front flower Green Lawnbed blooming.  All very nice, but I am clueless as to how to create that, and probably not much better on knowing how to maintain it.  You see, I’ve been married close to 45 years and we’ve had a system called ‘his work’ and ‘her work’.  I took care of the inside of the house and he took care of the outside.  The work inside of the house and all my other responsibilities took up all of my time and then some, so I paid little attention to the work in our yard.  Seven years ago when we moved into our current house, I was eager to learn how to do yard work and hoped to work together with my spouse to plan the landscaping and share in the labor.  My dear husband was insulted by those plans—refer back to ‘his work’ and ‘her work’ above.  The yard was definitely his domain and I’d best remember that.  In the name of peace and harmony, I took my rightful place, and simply enjoyed the loveliness.

I enjoyed it until now.  Now my spouse is not so capable of planning and organizing the yard work.  He sometimes forgets how to start the lawn mower and claims it doesn’t work.   Our good neighbor comes over to get it going, and tells him the mower just needed an adjustment.  Helpful friends give him bedding plants for the flower beds, thinking he would enjoy digging in the dirt again.  He enjoys the digging and puttering, but then becomes very anxious because the plants aren’t thriving.  That’s when he asks me what to do, and, I’m –clueless.   He worries about the bald spots in the front lawn and then I worry.  Surely bald spots are not a good thing, but what does one do? Continue reading

Meet Anne, A Volunteer

 

Anne is a Texas transplant- she moved here just over 6 months ago following the sudden death of her husband. She came to Texas looking for a fresh start and the chance to put down new roots in the aging industry, in which she has extensive experience. After attending a Get Acquainted with AGE monthly tour and luncheon, she found herself so taken with what AGE does that she decided to start volunteering. Anne wanted to keep herself busy as she settled into her new city, but she also wanted the chance to get to know the community and network with other professionals.

So, Anne began spending at least one day each week with the clients in AGE’s Austin Adult Day Health Center and another day providing administrative support to AGE’s health equipment lending closet. Immediately, it was clear that she has a special gift for this work.

Ultimately, Anne discovered that the purpose of her volunteer days goes much deeper than just networking and filling her time- she’s been impacted by her relationships with staff and clients alike. Her journey in the past year has not been easy, but her desire to serve others and give of herself has not faltered. Instead, Anne’s passion for helping others has helped her to find a place where she is needed and belongs.

Anne has a unique perspective as a seasoned volunteer and as a professional within the senior services arena. She says, “This community would be severely impacted if AGE was not here to offer services to older adults. One of the most concerning issues for seniors is isolation, and AGE does so much to connect their clients to things they love to do, to each other, and to the rest of the world.”

If you agree with Anne and think that what AGE of Central Texas offers is important to the community, please click here to learn more about how you can support the services that directly impact older adults in Central Texas. If you would like to find out more about how you can volunteer and get involved, please click here.

We at AGE of Central Texas are so grateful for the hard work and dedicated support from all of our volunteers and donors. Thank you for caring about the older adults in our community!

Bullying Is Not Just For Kids

There are more and more baby boomers staying active in the workforce, well into what was previously assumed to be retirement age. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), one unanticipated side effect of this trend has been an increase in age-based harassment complaints.

It seems as though there is a rash of adult-bullies out there who are using age to taunt and ridicule the wisest among our population. Instead of embracing and valuing what a diversity of ages brings to the workforce, many older adults often experience being pushed out or stay in very negative and toxic environments.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects anyone over 40 years of age from discrimination in any employment practice. There are things you can do to protect and advocate for yourself in this position. You can go to your supervisors, but there is always a risk of retaliation although it is illegal for them to do so. You should begin to document specifics of each incident of harassment. And you have the option to file a charge with the EEOC, to see details click here.

To see AARP’s article on this subject, click below:

Workplace Bullying: How you can fight back against age-based bullying on the job

Alzheimer’s “defining” disease for boomer generation?

Alzheimer’s called ‘defining disease’ of baby boomers
By Jennifer Bixler, CNN.com

As any family who has gone through it can tell you, Alzheimer’s disease is tragic on a number of levels. Once vibrant men and women become shells of the people they once were. Not only do memories fade, there also is anger. And loneliness. Former first lady Nancy Reagan famously referred to it as “the long goodbye.”

As the first baby boomers turn 65 this year, a new report suggests they will be especially hit hard. One out of eight boomers will develop the disease, according to the report released by the Alzheimer’s Association. That comes to about 10 million people. Of those who reach 85, nearly one in two will get it. “Alzheimer’s is a tragic epidemic that has no survivors. It is as much a thief as a killer,” says Harry Johns, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, in a press release.

Currently Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Each year, it kills more Americans than breast and prostate cancer combined. Last year, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementias cost families, insurers and the government $172 billion. In 2050, researchers estimate, it will cost more than $1 trillion.

There is currently no treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s. Officials with the Alzheimer’s Association say it’s time for the government to start spending more to fund research. They point to the money spent on cancer and AIDS and the strides made in treatment.

“When the federal government has been focused, committed and willing to put the necessary resources to work to confront a disease that poses a real public health threat to the nation – there has been great success,” says Robert. J. Egge, vice president of public policy of the Alzheimer’s Association. “In order to see the day where Alzheimer’s is no longer a death sentence, we need to see that type of commitment with Alzheimer’s.”

Read the full post and related articles here at CNN.com.

Elderly Americans Increasingly Declaring Bankruptcy in Retirement

By Lynnette Khalfani-Cox

Elderly Americans struggling under the weight of credit card debt and medical bills are increasingly resorting to bankruptcy in retirement.

A slew of recent data highlights the problem:

A 2010 study from the University of Michigan Law School, called The Rise in Elder Bankruptcy Filings, found that those 65 and older are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population seeking bankruptcy protection
The Washington D.C.-based public policy group Demos reports that Americans 65 and above who carry a balance on their credit cards owe an average of $10,235 — up 26% from 2005.
Older debtors who filed for bankruptcy owed a median $22,562 to credit card companies, the Michigan study showed
“The findings are both striking and ominous,” says John Pottow, author of the University of Michigan study. “While multiple factors, such as health problems and medical debts, contribute to elders’ financial distress, the dominant force appears to be overwhelming burdens related to credit cards.”

Pottow’s study found that elder debtors carry 50% more credit card debt than younger debtors, and seniors cite credit card interest and fees as a reason for their bankruptcy filings 50% more frequently.

Unfortunately, the rise in bankruptcy filings among the elderly isn’t merely a recent phenomenon, or a reflection of the Great Recession. Even before the recession hit, seniors were struggling.

Read the full article here at WalletPop website.

Alzheimer’s Futurists Explain How America Can Cope With the Epidemic

Another great article with interesting perspectives on how the growing aging population will change our country and society.-SP

– Care, Alongside Cure, Must be Focus –
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif., Oct. 18 /PRNewswire/ — Providing meaningful roles in society, involving children, and embracing a love-based approach are how America can successfully cope with the soaring numbers of people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other memory-impairing diseases. That’s the view of Alzheimer’s futurists Loren Shook and Steve Winner, who say the nation must elevate care for those with the disease alongside the ongoing efforts to develop prevention and cure measures. They issue a call to action in their new book, The Silverado Story: A Memory-Care Culture Where Love is Greater than Fear. The book is being published on November 1, the start of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.

“Despite enormous activity by researchers, no drugs or medical procedures have yet been found for preventing or curing memory-impairing diseases,” said Shook. “It is critical that their work continue and we support it. But it’s also crucial to focus on improving the lives of the millions of people who currently have memory impairment and the millions more who will develop it in the future.”

The Silverado Story details practices Shook and Winner believe should form the core of America’s response to what is being called the Alzheimer’s epidemic. The approaches are central at Silverado Senior Living, the memory-care organization the pair established nearly 15 years ago. Silverado’s founding innovations, including the lack of physical and pharmaceutical restraints, drug reduction, exercise, and the active role of children and pets have now been widely adopted across the field. A groundbreaking study conducted at Silverado’s memory-care community in Escondido, Calif. by University of California at San Diego researcher Dr. Sonia Ancoli-Israel revealed the positive impact of sunlight on the mood and behavior of those with memory-impairment. This finding has also shaped professional care standards. More than 3,500 memory-impaired people have regained the ability to walk and over 2,500 have become able to feed themselves again while in Silverado’s care.

Practices Shook and Winner say are key for the future include:

•Providing the memory-impaired with meaningful roles in the mainstream of daily life. “Every human being needs a sense of purpose and value to others,” Winner said. “This desire doesn’t go away as a person’s Alzheimer’s progresses. If anything, it becomes even more vital for maintaining their self-esteem and spirit. It is incumbent upon us as a society to offer the memory-impaired opportunities to participate instead of isolating them.” Winner points out the success of including the developmentally-disabled in society’s mainstream in the latter part of the 20th century. “We all now accept this as normal and understand its importance. We must do the same for those with Alzheimer’s disease.”
•Putting children in close touch with the memory-impaired so they grow into concerned adults. “The current generation of adults is uncomfortable around people with Alzheimer’s and this attitude is a major reason many are kept shut away from society,” Winner said. “But children have open minds and hearts. They are able to quickly accept and befriend the memory-impaired. A number of young people who participate at our Silverado memory-care communities have chosen to dedicate their careers to Alzheimer’s care because of their early positive experiences. This is a wonderful model for all to follow.”
•Approaching the issue with the principle that “Love is greater than fear.” Shook says, “By this, we mean embracing the memory-impaired and acting in their best interests through the spirit of love, rather than shunning them because of our own fears of the disease. This belief will be essential to making memory-impairment care as great a social focus as are prevention and cure.”

More information on the book The Silverado Story is available at http://www.SilveradoStory.com. All net proceeds from the sale of The Silverado Story will benefit the Future Senior Care Leaders Fund, a scholarship program for those training for leadership roles in serving the memory-impaired, administered by the non-profit Silverado Foundation.

Read more at PR Newswire website.