When a family caregiver is called upon to help with an elderly loved one, occasionally he or she runs into an unexpected situation – hoarding. Hoarding is relatively common among the elderly and tends to get worse with advancing age. Clutter and unsanitary conditions can severely hamper the ability for a senior to live independently.
As a society, we quickly recognize overt prejudice. Disparaging comments about skin color, national origin and religion are patently unacceptable. Yet, seemingly innocuous comments to the elderly about their age do not raise much indignation.
Being referred to as an “Old Geezer”, for example — even with a wink, begets a stereotype that defines ageism. Such a prejudicial generalization assumes that older adults are inherently prone to being weak, forgetful or sickly. And, it is not just younger people who may carelessly express such disparaging remarks, but, sadly, people whose jobs it is to care for the elderly – including medical professionals.
Polypharmacy is defined as “taking multiple medications for a variety of conditions.” There are millions of seniors in this situation today.
Medication management is an important issue for seniors and their families. Failure to properly manage medications can threaten the lives of seniors. This situation suggests a heightened emphasis on ensuring that seniors take their medications in strict adherence to their physicians’ instructions. Harmful drug interactions are a result of confusion that can arise when seniors take multiple medications at the same time.
Everyone is familiar with arthritis. But few really understand it.
Arthritis is not a single disease. It is an informal way to refer to joint pain or joint disease. The term is so wide-ranging that the Arthritis Foundation says it actually refers to more than 100 types of conditions.
In these busy times, it is easy to get caught up in the routines and not remember the details. Medical information for an older person can be critical at certain times when it is least convenient to locate it. It is relatively easy to be prepared. When an urgency arises it will alleviate confusion and stress.
As people grow older, there are any number of things about which they grow wary. Sometimes that fear includes refusal to participate in regular health checkups – or even seek medical help when needs are more urgent. This allows the elder to avoid bad news about conditions that arise as we grow older. Annual physicals and diagnostic tests can be the source of bad news. Not participating avoids the issue.
For older adults, social isolation is an all too common part of life. Many elders have lost spouses and live alone or have children and other family members who do not live close and cannot easily visit on a regular basis. Others are housebound due to injury or illness or cannot drive to visit friends and family, leaving them prone to loneliness and depression and at higher risk for health problems.
At those times when you encounter someone with Alzheimer’s is critical to create an environment and communication that best matches what that individual needs. It is impossible to read the mind of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s and different people with the disease respond to situations differently. That being said, there are a few “best practices” you can adopt.
The call you feared was coming and were thankful every day – until today – that it had not. Mom has fallen and broken a hip. The adult siblings have been talking for several years about the condition of the mid-60’s house she lives in. The “kids” have been helping around when possible, but the conversations more recently have turned to “getting Mom some help”.
There are hundreds of thousands of loving family members whose primary responsibility every day is to take care of those who need them to survive. They are most often elderly parents, but sometimes more extended branches of the family tree. Knowing that meeting the needs of those who cannot care for themselves is rewarding. But it can be exhausting.