boomer news

The New Old Age section of the New York Times online, with news for seniors and senior caregivers, has been a favorite eldercare resource of mine for years, long before they won the SeniorHomes.com Best of the Web 2011 for Senior Living Blogs. Every time I visit, I discover interesting articles, great comments, and terrific food for thought to help us as we stay busy dealing with the Sandwich Generation issues of caring for the elderly parents in our families, along with caring for kids, babysitting grandchildren, etc. And today was no exception.

They have a very interesting article, In Sickness and In Health, written by Paula Span, covering the topic of a healthy spouse coupled with a spouse whose health is deteriorating. My senior parents and I dealt with that situation in a variety of ways for over 20 years , due to my dad's Parkinsons Disease, so I was especially interested as I read the article. It definitely gives some interesting insights into a couple of different families and their situations.

At first, when my my dad was in the early stages of Parkinsons Disease, he and my mom were able to handle all the necessary caregiving, which wasn't much.  As the Parkinsons disease progressed, they reached a point where they knew they needed some extra support. At that point they moved cross country to buy a home in a retirement community within ten minutes of my home. With high quality exercise equipment easily available in their community, and me nearby to help as needed, they were able to continue being primarily independent for several more years.

As his health deteriorated, I became more and more involved, driving them on errands, taking them to doctor appointments, and spending more time with them at home as well, to help as needed. Still, they were mostly independent and we were all happy about that. 

As he progressed to the end stage of his Parkinsons Disease, the time finally came for them to need quite a bit more help. In June, they moved into my master bedroom, which I turned into a cozy apartment for them, complete with a mini refrigerator and their own couch and beds. That way, they could be part of the whole family when they wanted, but the could also retire to their own suite when they needed more peace, quiet, and privacy. When he got even worse and our family was grief-stricken to find he had to enter the hospice program, it was a blessing that they were already settled in with us and we didn't have to move them. 

Sadly, due to some medication he was taking, he went from a sweet, rational father to an angry stranger struggling with dementia symptoms. At that point, we did look into a nursing home for him, while my mom would have stayed with me. We were so grateful for the hospice medical team who kept working with us and were able to find the right combination of medications that brought him back almost to his normal self and enabled him to stay in our home for the last few weeks here on earth.

It wasn't the easiest time in my life but God kept us "keeping on." We were blessed by help and support from other family and friends as we dealt with all the different situations including grief along with hospice issues, and I was so glad my parents could stay together until "death did them part."  

Over the years, some members of our family have made good use of the C.C.R.C.'s mentioned in the article, while others went the traditional nursing home route, with plenty of visits. As with so many other situations in life, there is no "one size fits all" solution to caring for the elderly parents and relatives in our family as their health deteriorates. All we can do is do our best as we trust in God to lead us along the way.  How about you? What direction are you going in?

Baby Boomer News For Boomers and our beloved seniors

While looking for information for all of us in the Baby Boomer Generation, busily caring for elderly parents, I discovered some interesting news and updates for the beloved seniors in our lives who are dealing with Parkinsons and / or Alzheimers Disease and their varied symptoms.

ARICEPT FOR ALZHEIMERS DISEASE

NPR brings us the good news that seniors who have been diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease can now get their Aricept in larger doses. According to the companies who manufacture the drug, "the higher dose improved scores on a patient test that measures cognition." The FDA said that "the larger dose is recommended for patients who are already taking smaller doses daily for at least three months." You can read the whole story at NPR – FDA Approves Larger Dose of Pfizer's Aricept.

PARKINSONS DISEASE

Adult tricycles can be safe and healthy senior fitness equipment including for those with parkinsons who want to try using a bicycle

You may recall the very interesting story I wrote, Good News for Those Caring for Elderly Parents Dealing with Parkinson's Disease Symptoms. As you can imagine, my ears and eyes really perk up now when I read anything to do with Parkinsons and a bicycle. So I really enjoyed reading this article, Cyclists Climb Mountains in Parkinson's Fight. It's primarily about a Parkinsons Disease fund-raising bicycle ride that is VERY heavy-duty, but I found it especially interesting to read about one of the riders who is only 36, but is in the early stages of Parkinsons.

 

 This would be a nice drinking glass for our elderly parents with dysphagia symptoms to help them drink their Ensure

Speaking of Parkinsons Disease, do your senior parents have swallowing issues? My father developed major swallowing problems when he was in the advanced and end stage of his Parkinsons Disease. Enough to cause issues with aspiration that led to trips to the hospital on more than one occasion. We went to a specialist for this condition, which I have since learned is called dysphagia which is defined by WebMD as "difficulty in swallowing, with MedicineNet.com giving a more detailed definition of: Difficulty in swallowing, swallowing problems. Dysphagia is due to problems in nerve or muscle control. It is common, for example, after a stroke. Dysphagia compromises nutrition and hydration and may lead to aspiration pneumonia and dehydration."

Ensure was a big help for my senior dad when he developed dysphagia symptoms - the swallowing problems and his advanced end stage parkinsons disease led to his eating less so Ensure helped keep his weight at safer levels

My sweet dad definitely experienced most of these and had such a difficult time with it all. One thing that really helped him was stocking up on Vanilla and Chocolate Ensure to help supplement his regular meals.

There is a brand new book out on this exact topic and I so wish it had been available sooner. But it's great that it's available now – Swallow Safely: How Swallowing Problems Threaten the Elderly and Others. A Caregiver's Guide to Recognition, Treatment, and Prevention. I would recommend checking this out to all who are caring for elderly parents – with or without Parkinsons, as this condition can impact people for a variety of reasons. We did not know enough to recognize these problems immediately and I know it would have helped and encouraged us to find out about this sooner.

Swallow Safely is a book to help those caring for elderly parents learn more about what is dysphagia and what is the treatment for it

This book, which is carried at Amazon, is written by Roya Sayadi, Ph.D., CCC-SLP (speech-language pathologist), and her husband, Joel Herskowitz, M.D. The Amazon description includes the information, "Many people these days know about the dangers of falling in the elderly…Relatively few people, however, realize the danger of swallowing problems. They, too, take tens of thousands of lives every year through choking, pneumonia, and malnutrition. Swallow Safely seeks to erase this knowledge gap. The book presents in clear, non-technical language, with illustrations, how swallowing works normally, how things can go wrong, what symptoms to watch out for, and how to get help."

It sounds great! I'm going to have get this for my senior relatives! To read more information and reviews at Amazon, or to order the book in order to help you as you are caring for your elderly parents, just click here.

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All in all, a good news day for our beloved seniors, as well as ourselves, at SandwichINK. I'd love to hear your opinions on any or all of these articles. And for more Baby Boomer and Senior Citizen News…