The Truth about Aging Successfully
Rita Dichele holds Masters’ degrees in Counseling and Healthcare Administration. Currently, she is an advanced doctoral learner at Capella University where she is writing her dissertation on successful aging. Rita resides in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts and serves as a board member on the Council on Aging. She is a town appointee for the Shrewsbury Cultural Council, facilitates two groups at the Shrewsbury Senior Center, and is a certified SHINE Medicare/Medicaid counselor. Rita is also a past presenter at the 2009 American Society on Aging Conference.
Aging is the process of growth and movement as we progress through each stage of life. The interesting concept of aging is that each of us ages chronically, but emotionally and physically we age in our own unique ways. For instance, one person may suffer physical hardship related to illness and disease because of an immune system that has been predisposed by genetic makeup, lifestyle habits, and environmental conditions.
Unfortunately, many older persons are subjected to myths about aging that often create detours to age successfully.
In 1975 Pulitzer Prize winner Dr. Robert N. Butler authored the book titled, Why Survive? Being Old in America in which he describes the negative attitude regarding the aging process. Dr. Butler referred to any negative attitude toward the aged as “ageism” which he considered was consistent with other types of discriminating and stereotyping of people such as “sexism” and “racism”. Dr. Butler suggested that ageism is perpetuated from one generation to the next because of aphorisms such as “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
Subsequent to Dr. Butler’s research, stereotyping of the elderly has evolved to a level of erroneous stereotyping that has been heightened, for example, by the mass media, especially by television and movies made in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Moreover, literary accounts of the elderly have portrayed ageist attitudes that preempt elderly capabilities to be productive individuals who are able to age successfully.
Notwithstanding previous portrayals of the elderly, a new image of the older individual has emerged. Because many of the famous actors are aging such as Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, Sally Fields, Diane Keaton, characters in the movies are now being depicted as characters that are aging successfully. Thus, as a result new stereotyping is being generated that focuses less on ageist attitudes.
But nevertheless, there does exist today many myths about aging that are often perceived by the public at large as absolute truths, thus causing many to believe that aging invariably can lead to a future in which one disengages from the mainstream community. Perhaps individual acceptance of certain myths may take the mystery out of why so many older persons experience depression, substance abuse, and isolation.
Furthermore, in many instances later life can be less stressful. Unfortunately, members of our society perceive the elderly through stereotype lenses that suggest that as we age, we decline and live out our lives vulnerable to the vicissitudes of time. The problems of the widowed, those living alone, and certain minorities are often exaggerated inferring that older persons are troubled by later life stresses. This concept can often add to the typical stereotype of the older individual who is at risk of living the rest of his/her life to the fullest.
Current research conducted by gerontologists, individuals who study the elderly, suggests that aging is something to look forward to, dispelling common myths about aging. In fact much is being written about how older individuals are more resilient than their younger counterparts. Also, older individuals are more able to sustain lifestyles that are consistent with their previous days such as active sexual relations, living independently in their own homes, continued capabilities to make informed decisions, and cognitively able to process information and learn “new tricks”.
Furthermore, most older persons no longer live in poverty despite living on a fixed income. For instance, the creation of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, and Supplemental Security Income can remove economic hardships once a widespread problem with older individuals.
And finally, old age is a period of greater adaptation because older individuals are able to assimilate into their lifestyles more changes than younger individuals. For instance, older individuals are able to reconcile change because earlier life experiences have prepared them for the uncertainties of life. Decisions made early on will affect the lifestyle choices in later life.
In conclusion, statements made to the contrary places older individuals at risk to living out a life in a compromised manner and in many instances causing some individuals to have to adjust to a lifestyle that just does not have to occur. Future predictions of the baby boomers monopolizing the older generation should provide hope to older people that those misguided myths about aging will dissipate. Thus, ageist attitudes will no longer be present and will yield to stereotyping that has replaced old stereotyping which historically has contributed to myths of aging successfully. Therefore, the real truth regarding aging successfully can be appropriately validated.
Hospital Patients Can Have an Impact on Infections by Encouraging Staff to Wash Hands
New research indicates that a video by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can be an effective tool for encouraging patients to remind healthcare staff to wash their hands. The new hand hygiene video helps patients to remind hospital caregivers to clean their hands. This is a strategy that is critical in the fight to prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Nearly 100,000 hospitalized people are killed by these infections each year. The effectiveness of a CDC video called Hand Hygiene Saves Lives was tested by the research. In this video patients, family and visitors are encouraged to play a role in their own care by helping healthcare professionals remember to clean their hands before and after touching patients.
It was found that after the video was shown to patients in 17 CHP facilities, patients were twice as likely to report reminding nurses to wash their hands, and doctors were twice as likely to report being asked by patients to wash their hands. Dr. John Jernigan of the CDC states that research shows that hand hygiene adherence among medical professionals is less than optimal, despite long-standing evidence showing that it helps prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Such a tool can be used by hospitals to empower their patients to participate in their own care and diminish their risk of getting affected by an infection by reminding care givers to perform hand hygiene.
Each year there are approximately 1.7 million HAIs and close to100, 000 associated deaths among hospitalized patients. Also the cost of infections on the healthcare system is between $35-45 billion annually. The Catholic Healthcare Partners (CHP) and the Premier healthcare alliance joined CDC in the presentation of the video. For Carolyn Wieging RN, BSN, CIC, Infection Prevention and Control Manager, St. Rita’s Medical Center, preventing HAIs is a high priority goal at all CHP hospitals. Patients can be partners to assure safe and high-quality care. This video makes it clear that it is perfectly acceptable to ask care givers to wash their hands to decrease their risk of infection.
The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology helped to create Hand Hygiene Saves Lives. The video is indeed having a positive impact on patient empowerment. The number one way to prevent the spread of infection is hand hygiene and such measures lead to increased hand hygiene compliance and improved patient outcomes. Majority of patients reported that the video increased their knowledge about hand hygiene, that it is a useful tool to educate patients about hand hygiene and recommended that the video be shown to other patients.
Gina Pugliese, RN, MS and vice president of the Premier Safety Institute, believes that doctors and nurses work every day to deliver the best patient outcomes and care givers recognize the importance of hand washing as a strategy for preventing infections in patients and themselves as confirmed by the data.
The majority of doctors and nurses it was found were comfortable being asked by a patient or family member to wash their hands, thus recognizing the need for a reminder. As part of our multi-pronged approach to improve hand washing, patient empowerment is being viewed as one more tool that is employed which has been established by the research.
Coffee, A Favorite Drink of Senior Citizens, Appears to Fight Advanced Prostate Cancer
Kathy N. Johnson, PhD, CMC is a Certified Care Manager and the Co-Founder of Home Care Assistance, Inc. She holds a Doctorate in Psychology from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Kathy is committed to serving the needs of seniors nationwide.
A strong association between coffee consumption and a lowered risk of lethal and advanced prostate cancers has been reported in the data presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference. This comes close to the heels of last month’s action by the Food and Drug Administration to consider the merits of Provenge as a vaccine for prostate cancer.
Insulin and glucose metabolism and sex hormone levels are affected by coffee. All of these play a role in prostate cancer. Kathryn M. Wilson, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the Channing Laboratory, Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health conjectures that there is a plausible association between coffee and prostate cancer. Wilson et al found in a prospective investigation that men who drank the most coffee had a 60 percent lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer as compared to men who did not drink any coffee. This was the first study of its kind that looked at both overall risk of prostate cancer and risk of localized, advanced and lethal disease.
CREDITING YOUR EMOTIONAL BANK ACCOUNT
Margery Pabst is the co-author of Enrich Your Caregiving Journey (Expert Publishing, February 2009). She is also a national speaker and facilitator. For more information about Margery and her book, go towww.pivotalcrossings.com.
Many of you commented on the first article last month introducing the concept of the "emotional bank account". Thanks for your response. I promised a series of articles with specific tips for CAREGIVERS TO CREDIT THEIR EMOTIONAL ACCOUNTS going forward in 2010.
A quick review for those who may not have read the first article: we are focusing on our emotions because 1) most, if not all, the information we read focuses on financial and physical well being and balance, 2) our emotional lives need just as much attention and help, and 3) as caregivers, we know our emotions are in constant flux, even turmoil.
As I thought about the next tip for crediting and keeping your emotional accounts in balance, I decided to focus on HOW OUR STRENGTHS NEED TO BE CONSIDERED. When I was a caregiver for my husband, I found that, while my strengths served me well at times, that some situations brought my strengths back to bite me! Here’s an example:
One of my key strengths has always been my ability to plan and make decisions. So when Mark was diagnosed with leukemia, both of us put our planning and decision making skills into action. We made charts and diagrams of his blood tests, read copious amounts of research, and developed a plan for moving forward. However, Mark’s body and his doctors’ best thoughts for treatment put our plans on hold. We had planned to vacation for a week, have dinner with friends for an evening. The uncertainty of what the next test would bring put our strengths into deep distress. Our emotional bank accounts were being debited quickly!
Caregiver News Roundup Sunday February 14, 2010
Study Finds Working Caregivers Are More Likely to Have Health Issues
Being a caregiver is an incredibly stressful experience and a new study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute has some startling conclusions about its impact. The report examined employees serving as caregivers and found that they are more likely to suffer from health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure and depression than their co-workers.
Some of the key findings in the study include:
- Caregivers have health costs which are 8% higher than people who are not caregivers and cost employers $13.4 billion a year.
- Employees serving as caregivers were more likely to report poor health than their co-workers. For example, 17% of female employees ages 50 and older who were caregivers reported fair or poor health compared to 9% of non-caregivers.
- Employed caregivers find it difficult to take care of their own health care needs and are less likely to get preventive care such as mammograms, annual physicals and preventive health screenings.
Caregiver News Roundup Sunday January 3, 2010
Senate Passes Healthcare Reform Bill – The US Senate passed a healthcare reform bill on Christmas Eve. The House of Representatives passed a bill in November. The two bills will be merged and a final vote is expected by late January.
Alzheimer’s May Lessen the Risk of Getting Cancer – A new study found that people who are suffering from Alzheimer’s are 69 percent less likely to get cancer than people not suffering from the disease.
Nursing Shortage Is A Concern for Baby Boomers – The US is expected to face a nursing shortage just as the baby boom generation begins to retire. By 2025, the US will be facing a shortfall of 260,000 nurses.
Healthcare Will Need to Change as the Nation Ages – A report from the Institute of Medicine says US is not prepared for the coming boom of senior citizens. A major concern is a lack of medical professionals, such as geriatricians, to treat aging conditions.
Caregiver News Roundup Sunday December 20, 2009
Caregiver News Roundup Sunday December 6, 2009
The Impact Caregiving Had on Me
Editors Note: This is the third of a 3 part series on my caregiving experience. It is being cross posted at Caregiving.com and LosingourParents.com.
Being a caregiver has been a life changing experience and a fulfilling one in so many ways. It strengthened the bond between my father and me. It opened my eyes to the confusing and antiquated world of long term care. It gave me an understanding of how difficult it is to watch someone you love deteriorate before your eyes.
Since my father’s death, I have gone from caring for him to being the father of a beautiful, healthy 19 month old daughter, Avery. Being a father made me realize how many sacrifices my parents made for me when I was growing up. I am so grateful I was able to help my father enrich his life during his last years and like to think I repaid him for a few of the sacrifices he made for me.
After my experience as a caregiver was over, I was determined to help others by sharing the lessons I learned and bringing long term care into the 21st century. I have worked in healthcare for almost 25 years but was shocked at how difficult it was to navigate the world of long term care.
It was difficult to find qualified and compatible home healthcare aides for my father. There was no information about the quality of services or reviews from customers about their experiences. We went through numerous aides as we struggled to find the right one for my father.
One of the most frustrating parts about being a caregiver was keeping track of my father’s appointments, especially as his Parkinson’s progressed. He had home care visits, doctor’s appointments and medication dosages every 3-4 hours. There was no centralized place to track all this information.
Obtaining specialty medical supplies like bathroom bars, bed liners and walkers was difficult. Many of these items were not available at the local pharmacy and had to be order via catalogs or the Internet.
I created eCare Diary to make life easier for caregivers. It was developed out of my personal experiences and has grown through the input of other caregivers. eCare Diary is the first centralized website that offers free tools, information and community to address many of the issues I faced. These include an appointment and medication management tool, a search engine of care facilities, a shopping portal and supportive blog communities for caregivers.
One of the major goals of eCare Diary is to be an interactive community where the needs and suggestions of caregivers can be integrated into the site. We have been so gratified by the feedback and suggestions we are getting from visitors. We plan to release eCare Diary 2.0 shortly and this will include a number of additions recommended by users.
Starting a new business has been exciting and scary. I worked for a startup during the dot-com boom but I have spent most of my life working in large organizations. eCare Diary does not currently have investment money so we are operating on a tight budget. It is difficult and takes a lot of hard work, but it has also forced us to be creative. We have found social media to be an excellent way to connect with caregivers and to publicize what we are doing. It was through Facebook that we connected with Denise Brown and learned of the terrific work she is doing here at Caregiving.com.
The most rewarding part of the launch has been the new people we are meeting. Since launching the site in September we have connected with many caregivers locally and online. We have found that many of them have the same thirst for information and feeling of isolation that I had. They are fortunate that there are resources available today that did not exist when I was caring for my father.
Caregiver News Roundup Sunday November 29, 2009
A Message From the Founders: What We’re Thankful For
For this Thanksgiving holiday, we have so much to be thankful for.
We thank all of you, the community of eCare Diary caregivers, visitors and partners, who’ve helped make the site a success in such a short period of time. Our mission was to create a centralized place where caregivers could find help, information, and the support they need. John and I developed this site based on our own personal frustrations as caregivers with the hope that future caregivers would never have to go through what we did.
I am thrilled to report that in only 10 weeks since eCare Diary went live, the number of visitors and registered users more than exceeded our expectations. Response to the site has been amazing! We are overwhelmed by the emails offering thanks, support and terrific new ideas.
We are thankful for our experiences as caregivers. It wasn’t a role we expected or wanted. No one wants to watch their parents suffer through long term disease. However, while those were very difficult, sad times, that experience gave us a hard and fast education on long term care. We were exposed to information, resources and communities that lead to the creation of this site.
We are thankful for the loved ones in our lives more than ever. When you’ve suffered loss and death, you appreciate the people in your life in a whole new way. Around the holidays, John thinks about his parents a lot wishing that they were alive to have met our daughter, Avery. Their absence makes me more thankful than ever that my parents are still alive, and I appreciate them more profoundly.
We are thankful for our daughter Avery who just turned 19 months old. She has opened our hearts in ways we never expected. Giving birth to her reminded us of the preciousness and volatility of human life, interestingly similar to what we observe as caregivers.
We are thankful that eCare Diary is becoming a family affair. John’s sister, Polly Whitehorn, recently joined us as Director of Special Events and Outreach. Formerly of the Arthritis Foundation, Polly’s experience and networking has been invaluable in getting the word out about eCare Diary. Susan’s brother, Kevin Kim, has also joined eCare Diary as Web Designer. We are so fortunate to have his talent for developing clean, consumer-friendly designs; he is in the process of redesigning the site for eCare Diary 2.0 coming soon!
We are thankful for many new friends we’ve made and partnerships we’ve formed. Their generosity and assistance have helped propel eCare Diary. We thank and acknowledge them below.
We wish you a very Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!
Bill Walters, CEO of ALTHA (a hospital trade association), for featuring a 2 page story on eCare Diary in ALTHA’S quarterly newsletter
Denise Brown, creator of Caregiving.com (blog for caregivers), for inviting John to write a 3-part series on his caregiving experiences with his father
Howard Gleckman, author of Caring for Our Parents, for his long term care expertise
Margery Pabst, author of Enrich Your Caregiving Journey, for her caregiving expertise and articles
MarketWatch.com for inviting John to write “Obamacare: Why it’s Different This Time”
Chris Lombardi, of WomensVoicesForChange.org, for publishing my article “Sex in the Workplace: A Caregiver’s Story”
Jason Alba, Founder of JibberJobber.com (a relationship management website for professionals and entrepreneurs), for his advice, constant support, and plugs
Katherine Lewis, of CurrentMom.com (a blog for tech mom entrepreneurs), for publishing my story, “Becoming An Accidental Entrepreneur”
Karla Lightfoot and Stella Grizont, of LadiesWhoLaunch.com (women entrepreneurs website), for promoting the site and connecting me to an amazing community of female entrepreneurs
Jean Levin, founder of Caring From a Distance, for her advice, thoughts and insights.
Facebook Fans & Friends, your thumbs up and support encourage us all the time!
Caregiver News Roundup Sunday November 22, 2009
Caregiving in America Today—A True Story
Editor’s Note: eCare Diary is pleased to announce that Michael Chien, co-founder of Head to Toe Care LLC, is a guest blogger today. Head To Toe Care is a free website offering practical tips for home based caregiving. Medical professionals give step-by-step instructions, symptom management, and medical provider interaction tips.
My friend is a registered nurse experienced in hospice and palliative care. This is her story. Her father is a retired Air Force colonel—he served as a commander in three wars and assumed the responsibility to care for his troops. He still has this responsibility.
Last Saturday evening, she received a frantic call from her father that one of his “troops” needed assistance. They rushed over to the condo of his friend, a retired officer and doctor. He had been discharged from the hospital after a 7 day stay which included ICU care. He was discharged to his “home” which is a condo in the independent living section of a life care community. He had been “home” for about 4 hours when another friend happened to stop by for a visit. He found the doctor in a chair, in the living room, with no ability to care for himself, or call for help. There were no sheets on his bed and no clean towels or washcloths. There was nothing to eat or drink within his reach, and no possible way for him to get to the bathroom. Recognizing that the needs of the doctor were far beyond his abilities, the friend managed to place the doctor on the sheet less bed and telephoned my father for help.
When they arrived, what they found was heart wrenching. Not only was the hospital gown saturated with urine and feces, there was evidence of old as well as new urine and feces through out the small condo. It took them two hours to see to his basic needs of bathing, nutrition, making the bed, positioning him comfortably and cleaning the condo as best we could. The colonel is a smart and capable man. He had insight to know that he could not have cared for his friend alone. With her directions, he was able to learn and participate in simple care giving for his friend.
Sadly, this story is not unique. This scenario is happening all the time. People are being sent home from various health care facilities (hospitals, rehab centers, etc.) While care needs are evident, there is little if any communication to achieve a seamless transition between the needs of the patient from the outpatient setting to the inpatient setting, and then back to the “home” setting. With “real” discharge planning—this situation could have been avoided. A paid caregiver could have been hired as there were no family members available because the family lived out of state. When there are no funds to pay for a hired caregiver, than it is up to family members and friends to see to caregiving needs. However, the family needs to be instructed on how to provide care.
This type of caregiving information is vital for families and friends. This will ensure that those who need care can maintain their dignity and get the care that they deserve.
Caregiver News for Sunday November 8, 2009
Healthcare Reform Passes House of Representatives – A bill to reform the US healthcare system passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 220-215. The bill includes a requirement that all people have health insurance, eliminates denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, and provides a new regulatory structure for the health insurance industry.
Flu Facts for Patients for Dementia – The Alzheimer Foundation issued a list of tips for patients with dementia and the flu. One of the most important things is to look out for both Swine Flu and regular flu since both viruses will also be of concern this winter.
More Evidence That Alzheimer’s Is Hereditary – A Dutch study has found that about 60% of the risk on contracting the disease is based on genetics. A gene called apolipoprotein E is believed to be the cause. People with a variant called APOE e4 are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those without it.
Discovery of New Protein Offers Hope for Parkinson’s Patients – Scientists at Iowa State University have discovered the presence of protein kinase-C, a dopamine killer. In people suffering from Parkinson's Disease the brain cells producing dopamine die. It is hoped that knowing what causes these cells to die will lead to a cure.
It’s National Family Caregivers Month – President Obama has declared November Family Caregivers Month to recognize the extraordinary work of this group of people
Caregiver News Roundup Sunday November 1, 2009