Tag: dementia

Ordinary People Like Us Need to Fight Racism

I was confronted with a difficult realization today when talking with a co-worker.  We were working with an older couple, the wife has Alzheimer’s dementia and he is her very devoted caregiver.  My Coworker and I discussed the husband’s reluctance to provide needed information to access services.  She pointed out to me that they were African Americans from the deep South and may be fearful of outsiders, based on past experiences with systematic racism.  I then realized that so many old wounds are being opened with the recent public demonstrations of white supremacy/white nationalism.  Older people are reliving the racism of the past.

Here is a great article with information we can all use.  You don’t need to be a full time activist, but all of us ordinary people need to DO SOMETHING!

10 Ways to Fight Hate

https://www.splcenter.org/20170814/ten-ways-fight-hate-community-response-guide

 

 

 

Abuelita

abuela

Abuelita translates to mean “dear grandmother” in Spanish. I visited the adult day program for older Hispanics recently and found several abuelitas there.  I was meeting with a woman who had three younger generations there with her for the meeting, including a newborn, the baby’s mother, grandmother and great grandmother, all taking care of each other.

Around the Center, some men were playing dominoes and some of the women were helping with chores-sweeping and wiping down tables, occasionally breaking into song, singing along to the Spanish crooner playing.

Having dementia is difficult, but when compounded with a language and culture barrier, its even more so. There is a commonly held belief that Hispanic families are tight knit and don’t institutionalize their elders.  This may have been true in the past, but now, family members may or may not be available to care for Abuelita 24/7.  Adult Day Care is a great resource for many, but is an absolute necessity if an older family member needs 24 hour care and the Caregivers are working or in school.  It also helps to give caregivers a respite break.

NADSA link  Adult Day Services Locator

The long term care programs that cover the cost of adult day programs are part of the Medicaid dollars that are proposed to be drastically cut.  Please consider contacting your Senator and asking that the Medicaid funding cuts are taken off the table!

Pets

One of the most wonderful parts of seeing clients in their homes and connecting older adults with long term care programs is supporting individuals and families in home settings.  Along with keeping families together, it allows older adults to have their pets around, improving quality of life for all involved.

One of the most memorable pets I’ve met is Terry the cat-a very large grey cat.  His owner, Marie, lives alone and has a limited support system.  She told me that he comes running when she calls him Baby.

On one occasion a few years back, I brought my puppy into my workplace, which was an adult day center.  One frail woman fell to her knees when she saw the puppy and held the dog with tears in her eyes. “I used to have a dog just like that and I miss her so much”, she said.

In the book, “A Man Called Ove”, there is a heartwarming subplot about his relationship with a stray cat.  When Ove peacefully passes away, the cat curls up on his chest.

Pets help us to live in the present moment.  It’s important to remember even when someone may be older, possibly ill or have a dementia, animals  will likely provide the joy and feeling of connectedness.

I hope you enjoy this slideshow that outlines specific reasons why animals are wonderful companions for older people.

https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/slideshows/10-reasons-older-people-need-pets?slide=10
 

Healthy Aging for Older Americans Month- two common myths 

I read an article published by Next Avenue for Older Americans Month in May that talks about the need to establish the shared value of healthy aging. It is never too late to address the importance of exercise, nutrition and social engagement.

Also, it is important to have a good understanding of what parts of the aging process are normal and what are some common myths. There are two myths specifically to look at-changes in memory and mental health.

When are memory problems part of normal aging and when should others start to worry? A little bit of forgetfulness comes with age related changes to the brain.  Alzheimer’s or dementia is not normal aging.  If you see confusion, personality changes and disorientation over a period of time, you can ask for a memory workup.  There are specific things to rule out that can mimic dementia that are reversible.  It is important to try to get a specific diagnosis for dementia because it may help to know the course of the illness and it can allow time to plan for the future.

People experience grief and sadness as normal reactions to losses associated with aging.  When do you know if an older adult is in need of extra psychological or psychiatric help? If you see a person isolating themselves and expressing feelings of helplessness and hopelessness more than a year following a loss, you can pursue a psychiatric evaluation. There are treatments for depression and also a medical doctor can rule out other causes.

I picked these two areas in particular because in my experience, they are the most often misunderstood aspects of aging.  Society in general, including some in the medical field tend to not address changes in memory or changes in emotional wellbeing, often attributing these changes falsely to the aging process.

While I am a social worker not a medical professional, I have met many older adults taking 5 or 6 or 7 different medications on a daily basis.  There are risks and side effects and interactions that come along with polypharmacy.  Doctors may not catch these things without patients stopping to ask.  

All older adults deserve to optimize everything they can to live a full life! #ageoutloud #oam17