Category Archives: Senior Living

Managing medicines for a person with Alzheimer’s

People with Alzheimer’s disease may take medicines to treat the disease itself, mood or behavior changes, and other medical conditions. Caregivers can ensure that medicines are taken safely and correctly. Here are some tips to help you manage medications for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.

Learn the basics

Know each medicine (prescription and over-the-counter) the person with Alzheimer’s disease takes. Ask the doctor or pharmacist:

Why is this medicine being used?

What positive effects should I look for, and when?

How long will the person need to take it?

What is the dose and how often should he or she take the medicine?

What if the person misses a dose?

What are the side effects, and what can I do about them?

Can this medicine cause problems if taken with other medicines?

Managing medications is easier if you have a complete list of them. The list should show the name of the medicine, the doctor who prescribed it, how much the person with Alzheimer’s takes, and how often. Visit Tracking Your Medications: Worksheet for a template. Keep the list in a safe place at home, and make a copy to keep in your purse or wallet or save a picture on your phone. Bring it with you when you visit the person’s doctor or pharmacist.

People with Alzheimer’s should be monitored when they start taking a new drug. Follow the doctor’s instructions and report any unusual symptoms right away. Also, let the doctor know before adding or changing any medications.

People with Alzheimer’s disease often need help taking their medicines. If the person lives alone, you may need to call and remind him or her or leave notes around the home. A pillbox allows you to put pills for each day in one place. Some pillboxes come with alarms that remind a person to take the medicines.

As Alzheimer’s gets worse, you will need to keep track of the person’s medicines. You also will need to make sure the person takes the medicines or give the medicines to him or her.

Some people with Alzheimer’s take medicines to treat behavior problems such as restlessness, anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, and aggression. Experts agree that medicines to treat behavior problems should be used only after other strategies that don’t use medicine have been tried. Talk with the person’s doctor about which medicines are safest and most effective. With these types of medicines, it is important to:

It is recommended that people with Alzheimer’s should not take anticholinergic drugs. These drugs are used to treat many medical problems such as sleeping problems, stomach cramps, incontinence, asthma, motion sickness, and muscle spasms. Side effects, such as confusion, can be serious for a person with Alzheimer’s. These drugs should not be given to a person with Alzheimer’s disease. You might talk with the person’s doctor about other options. Examples of these drugs include:

Ipratropium — brand name Atrovent

Dimenhydrinate — brand name Dramamine

Diphenhydramine — includes brand names such as Benadryl and Nytol

Some people, especially those with late-stage Alzheimer’s, may have trouble swallowing pills. In this case, ask the pharmacist if the medicine can be crushed or taken in liquid form. Here are other ways to make sure medicines are taken safely:

Keep all medications locked up.

Check that the label on each prescription bottle has the drug name and dose, patient’s name, dosage frequency, and expiration date.

Taking Care of Yourself: Tips for Caregivers

Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver. Make sure you’re eating healthy, being active, and taking time for yourself.

Caregiving, especially from a distance, is likely to bring out many different emotions, both positive and negative

Although they may not feel as physically exhausted and drained as the primary, hands-on caregiver, long-distance caregivers may still be worried and anxious. Sometimes, long-distance caregivers feel guilty about not being closer, not doing enough, not having enough time with the person, and perhaps even feeling jealous of those who do. Many long-distance caregivers also find that worrying about being able to afford to take time off from work, being away from family, or the cost of travel increases these frustrations. Remember that you are doing the best you can given the circumstances and that you can only do what you can do. It may help to know that these are feelings shared by many other long-distance caregivers—you are not alone in this.

Taking care of yourself if one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver. Make sure you are making time for yourself, eating healthy foods, and being active. Consider joining a caregiver support group, either in your own community or online. Meeting other caregivers can relieve your sense of isolation and will give you a chance to exchange stories and ideas. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it.

Caregiving is not easy for anyone—not for the caregiver and not for the care recipient. There are sacrifices and adjustments for everyone. When you don’t live where the care is needed, it may be especially hard to feel that what you are doing is enough and that what you are doing is important. It often is.

For More Information About Caregiver Health

Family Caregiver Alliance 800-445-8106

info@caregiver.org www.caregiver.org

This content is provided by the NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA). NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure it is accurate and up to date.

Managing medicines for a person with Alzheimer’s

People with Alzheimer’s disease may take medicines to treat the disease itself, mood or behavior changes, and other medical conditions. Caregivers can ensure that medicines are taken safely and correctly. Here are some tips to help you manage medications for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.

Learn the basics

Know each medicine (prescription and over-the-counter) the person with Alzheimer’s disease takes. Ask the doctor or pharmacist:

Why is this medicine being used?

What positive effects should I look for, and when?

How long will the person need to take it?

What is the dose and how often should he or she take the medicine?

What if the person misses a dose?

What are the side effects, and what can I do about them?

Can this medicine cause problems if taken with other medicines?

Managing medications is easier if you have a complete list of them. The list should show the name of the medicine, the doctor who prescribed it, how much the person with Alzheimer’s takes, and how often. Visit Tracking Your Medications: Worksheet for a template. Keep the list in a safe place at home, and make a copy to keep in your purse or wallet or save a picture on your phone. Bring it with you when you visit the person’s doctor or pharmacist.

People with Alzheimer’s should be monitored when they start taking a new drug. Follow the doctor’s instructions and report any unusual symptoms right away. Also, let the doctor know before adding or changing any medications.

People with Alzheimer’s disease often need help taking their medicines. If the person lives alone, you may need to call and remind him or her or leave notes around the home. A pillbox allows you to put pills for each day in one place. Some pillboxes come with alarms that remind a person to take the medicines.

As Alzheimer’s gets worse, you will need to keep track of the person’s medicines. You also will need to make sure the person takes the medicines or give the medicines to him or her.

Some people with Alzheimer’s take medicines to treat behavior problems such as restlessness, anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, and aggression. Experts agree that medicines to treat behavior problems should be used only after other strategies that don’t use medicine have been tried. Talk with the person’s doctor about which medicines are safest and most effective. With these types of medicines, it is important to:

It is recommended that people with Alzheimer’s should not take anticholinergic drugs. These drugs are used to treat many medical problems such as sleeping problems, stomach cramps, incontinence, asthma, motion sickness, and muscle spasms. Side effects, such as confusion, can be serious for a person with Alzheimer’s. These drugs should not be given to a person with Alzheimer’s disease. You might talk with the person’s doctor about other options. Examples of these drugs include:

Ipratropium — brand name Atrovent

Dimenhydrinate — brand name Dramamine

Diphenhydramine — includes brand names such as Benadryl and Nytol

Some people, especially those with late-stage Alzheimer’s, may have trouble swallowing pills. In this case, ask the pharmacist if the medicine can be crushed or taken in liquid form. Here are other ways to make sure medicines are taken safely:

Keep all medications locked up.

Check that the label on each prescription bottle has the drug name and dose, patient’s name, dosage frequency, and expiration date.

Taking Care of Yourself: Tips for Caregivers

Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver. Make sure you’re eating healthy, being active, and taking time for yourself.

Caregiving, especially from a distance, is likely to bring out many different emotions, both positive and negative

Although they may not feel as physically exhausted and drained as the primary, hands-on caregiver, long-distance caregivers may still be worried and anxious. Sometimes, long-distance caregivers feel guilty about not being closer, not doing enough, not having enough time with the person, and perhaps even feeling jealous of those who do. Many long-distance caregivers also find that worrying about being able to afford to take time off from work, being away from family, or the cost of travel increases these frustrations. Remember that you are doing the best you can given the circumstances and that you can only do what you can do. It may help to know that these are feelings shared by many other long-distance caregivers—you are not alone in this.

Taking care of yourself if one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver. Make sure you are making time for yourself, eating healthy foods, and being active. Consider joining a caregiver support group, either in your own community or online. Meeting other caregivers can relieve your sense of isolation and will give you a chance to exchange stories and ideas. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it.

Caregiving is not easy for anyone—not for the caregiver and not for the care recipient. There are sacrifices and adjustments for everyone. When you don’t live where the care is needed, it may be especially hard to feel that what you are doing is enough and that what you are doing is important. It often is.

For More Information About Caregiver Health

Family Caregiver Alliance 800-445-8106

info@caregiver.org www.caregiver.org

This content is provided by the NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA). NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure it is accurate and up to date.

The symptoms of dementia can vary

What are the signs and symptoms of dementia?

Signs and symptoms of dementia result when once-healthy neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain stop working, lose connections with other brain cells, and die. While everyone loses some neurons as they age, people with dementia experience far greater loss.

The symptoms of dementia can vary and may include:
Experiencing memory loss, poor judgment, and confusion
Difficulty speaking, understanding and expressing thoughts, or reading and writing
Wandering and getting lost in a familiar neighborhood
Trouble handling money responsibly and paying bills
Repeating questions
Using unusual words to refer to familiar objects
Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks
Losing interest in normal daily activities or events
Hallucinating or experiencing delusions or paranoia
Acting impulsively
Not caring about other people’s feelings
Losing balance and problems with movement

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities can also develop dementia as they age, and recognizing their symptoms can be particularly difficult. It’s important to consider a person’s current abilities and to monitor for changes over time that could signal dementia.

The causes of Alzheimer’s and related dementias can vary, depending on the types of brain changes that may be taking place. While research has found that some changes in the brain are linked to certain forms of dementia, in most cases, the underlying causes are unknown. Rare genetic mutations may cause dementia in a relatively small number of people.

Although there is no proven prevention, in general, leading a healthy lifestyle may help reduce risk factors that have been associated with these diseases.
Types of dementia include:

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common dementia diagnosis among older adults. It is caused by changes in the brain, including abnormal buildups of proteins, known as amyloid plaques and tau tangles.

Frontotemporal dementia, a rare form of dementia that tends to occur in people younger than 60. It is associated with abnormal amounts or forms of the proteins tau and TDP-43.

Lewy body dementia, a form of dementia caused by abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein, called Lewy bodies.

Vascular dementia, a form of dementia caused by conditions that damage blood vessels in the brain or interrupt the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.

Mixed dementia, a combination of two or more types of dementia. For example, through autopsy studies involving older adults who had dementia, researchers have identified that many people had a combination of brain changes associated with different forms of dementia.

Scientists are investigating how the underlying disease processes in different forms of dementia start and influence each other. They also continue to explore the variety of disorders and disease processes that contribute to dementia. For example, based on autopsy studies, researchers recently characterized another form of dementia, known as LATE. Further knowledge gains in the underlying causes of dementia will help researchers better understand these conditions and develop more personalized prevention and treatment strategies.

Fall Prevention Program

by Carol Leish, MA

For the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging (VC AAA), Julianna Eusanio, MSW, is the Fall Prevention Program Coordinator. Shaunese Southward is the Program Coordinator.

All classes are for those who are over the age of 60, and are free. They are offered in Ventura at the Area Agency on Aging. Southward said, “All classes are evidenced based and ‘tried and true.’” Classes are: 1) A Matter of Balance; 2) Stepping On; 3) Tai Chi Moving for Better Balance; and 4) Walk with Ease. For more information, please look at the website: www.vcaaa.org.

“Case management is important,” according to Southward. “We have been fortunate enough to have received a grant through the end of next year that will allow us to reach more of our community than what we have been historically able to be doing. This grant has allowed us to provide services to adults that are 60+ and adults with disabilities. Prior to this grant, case management services were provided solely to seniors 65+ referred by the City of Ventura EMS, City of Ventura Fire, and the Emergency Department of our partner hospitals (Ventura County Medical Center, Community Memorial Health System in both Ventura and the Ojai Valley).

“Through the ‘consent to contact,’ which is given to the EMS & Fire officials, short term/long term resources, such as classes offered (mentioned above), can be given to individuals in need of services. Thus, individuals are asked, ‘Are you open to someone reaching out to you after your fall?’ Through this and other questions on a questionnaire, we are reaching out to a population who wouldn’t necessarily be getting connected to resources.”

Pearls (A Program to encourage active and rewarding lives.) “It is a program to help individuals who have fallen,” according to Southward. “Part of this entails giving a whole person assessment that looks at various needs/impairments. This includes: 1) Transportation needs; 2) Long term care management needs; and, 3) the possibility of cognitive impairment challenges. One of the benefits of this assessment is to get connected faster to available services.

“Not all (after someone falls), is an easy fix, since there is a change in physical limitations which may include the person who has fallen going to a rehabilitation facility. The person could be experiencing depression and isolation, along with the fear of falling again.

“Fall prevention is unique since our program (at the VC Area Agency on Aging), may also speak to family members who might be caregivers. It’s important for these caregivers to get connected to resources in order not to feel frustrated or experience burnout.”

For more information regarding getting assistance for someone who has fallen, call Julianna Eusanio, MSW or Shaunese Southward at: (805) 477-7342. Or email: julianna.eusanio@ventura.org; or, shaunese.southward@ventura.org.

Healthy Aging Tips for the Older Adults in your life

If you have older family members or loved ones, you may worry about their health as they age. Aging increases the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and dementia. The good news is that adopting and maintaining a few key behaviors can help older adults live longer, healthier lives. As a family member, it’s important to encourage healthy lifestyle behaviors in your loved ones — it’s never too late to start!

Healthy behavior changes can help older adults live more independently later in life. That’s important both for their quality of life and for yours. If a family member loses independence — whether it’s due to disability or chronic disease — you may find yourself in a caregiving role earlier than expected, which can affect family dynamics as well as finances.

So what can you do to help the older adults in your life manage their health, live as independently as possible, and maintain quality of life as they age? Read on to learn about four ways to help support and promote healthy habits in your older loved ones’ lives.

As people age, they often find themselves spending more time alone. Poor health, the death of a partner, caring for a loved one, and other situations that are more likely as people age can all lead to being socially isolated or feeling lonely.

Although they sound similar, social isolation and loneliness are different. Loneliness is the distressing feeling of being alone or separated, while social isolation is the lack of social contacts and having few people to interact with regularly. Increased social isolation and loneliness are associated with higher risks for health problems, such as depression; heart disease; and cognitive decline, which is a decrease in the ability to think, learn, and remember.

As a family member, you can play an important role in helping the older adults in your life to stay socially connected. Here are some ways you can help:

Encourage them to seek out others with shared interests, such as through a garden club, volunteer organization, or walking group.

Search the Eldercare Locator or call 800-677-1116. The Eldercare Locator is a nationwide service that connects older adults and their caregivers with trustworthy local support resources.

There are lots of reasons to make physical activity a part of daily life. Exercise can help reduce levels of stress and anxiety, improve balance and lower risk of falls, enhance sleep, and decrease feelings of depression. Most importantly, people who exercise regularly not only live longer, but also may live better — meaning they enjoy more years of life with less pain or disability. On the other hand, lack of physical activity can lead to increased visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations, and increased risk of certain chronic conditions.

Encouraging the older adults in your life to exercise may not be easy — it can be difficult to get someone to start a new activity — but the rewards are worth the effort. Following are some suggestions to help encourage exercise or other daily movement:

Help your loved ones aim for a mix of activities, including aerobics, strength training, balance, and flexibility. This could include walking around the neighborhood, lifting weights, gardening, or stretching.

Discuss how much activity is recommended and brainstorm ways to work it into their daily lives. Experts recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, and muscle-strengthening activities at least two days each week.

Help them shop for appropriate clothing and equipment for their exercise activities. Remember, many activities don’t require expensive equipment. For example, they can use filled water bottles as weights for strength training or walk outside or at a mall rather than on a treadmill.

Share your favorite activities that get you moving. Are there any you could do together? If so, that’s a bonus because you’re not only helping promote physical activity but also helping to prevent loneliness and social isolation.

Healthy eating is an important part of healthy aging. As with exercise, eating well is not just about weight. Having a healthy diet can help support muscles and strengthen bones, which can help with balance and independence. A nutritious diet involving a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins also can help boost immunity and lower the risk of certain health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers.

Senior exercise program instructors needed

Trained instructors make a difference in the lives of those enrolled.

Volunteer leaders are needed to teach with RSVP’s popular senior exercise program, Bone Builders. No experience is necessary to become an instructor, the first training step is to attend a class and observe. Interested volunteers then attend a free training session to learn the program and prepare for teaching.

Trained instructors make a difference in the lives of those enrolled in classes, as well as contribute to their own well-being by engaging in a regular exercise program. RSVP exercise programs are free and open to the public. Classes operate in RSVP’s four-city service area of Oxnard, Ventura, Camarillo and Port Hueneme.

This is an osteoporosis exercise and education program in which participants use light weights to build bones while also improving their balance and making new friends. There are currently 21 classes scheduled in RSVP’s four-city area, but several have lengthy wait lists. By training more instructors we will be able to add more classes and accommodate the community’s interest in this program.

Volunteers attend one day of training before being paired with an experienced instructor to practice and ready for leading their own class. All trainings run from 9:00am to 3:00pm in Oxnard. Lunch is provided.

RSVP is a volunteer engagement program, helping people age 55 and older find volunteer positions that match their interests, talent, and available time. It both recruits and places volunteers with nonprofit partner agencies as well as overseeing the two distinct exercise programs designed for seniors. Volunteer positions are available in RSVP’s four-city service area of Oxnard, Ventura, Camarillo and Port Hueneme.

Oxnard RSVP has about 350 members and is locally sponsored by the City of Oxnard with grant funding from the federal AmeriCorps. To learn more about the benefits of being an RSVP member, for help finding a volunteer position or more information about the trainings, call 805-385-8019.

Tips for people living with Lewy Body Dementia

Coping with a diagnosis of Lewy body dementia (LBD) and all that follows can be challenging. Getting support from family, friends, and professionals is critical to ensuring the best possible quality of life. Creating a safe environment and preparing for the future are important, too. Take time to focus on your strengths, enjoy each day, and make the most of your time with family and friends. Here are some ways to live with LBD day to day.

Your family and close friends are likely aware of changes in your thinking, movement, or behavior. You may want to tell others about your diagnosis so they can better understand the reason for these changes. For example, you could say that you have been diagnosed with a brain disorder called Lewy body dementia, which can affect thinking, movement, and behavior, and that you will need more help over time. By sharing your diagnosis, you can build a support team to help you manage LBD.

As LBD progresses, you will likely have more trouble managing everyday tasks such as taking medication, paying bills, and driving. You will gradually need more assistance from family members, friends, and perhaps professional caregivers. Although you may be reluctant to get help, try to let others partner with you so you can manage responsibilities together. Remember, LBD affects your loved ones, too. You can help reduce their stress when you accept their assistance.

Finding someone you can talk with about your diagnosis — a trusted friend or family member, a mental health professional, or a spiritual advisor — may be helpful.

LBD causes changes in thinking and movement that can lead to safety issues. Consider these steps:

Fill out and carry the LBD Medical Alert Wallet Card and present it any time you are hospitalized, require emergency medical care, or meet with your doctors. It contains important information about medication sensitivities.

Consider subscribing to a medical alert service, in which you push a button on a bracelet or necklace to access 911 if you need emergency help.

Address safety issues in your home. Consider areas of fall risk, poor lighting, stairs, or cluttered walkways. Think about home modifications that may be needed, such as installing grab bars in the bathroom or adding stairs with ramps. Ask your doctor to refer you to a home health agency for a home safety evaluation.

Talk with your doctor about LBD and driving. Have your driving skills evaluated, if needed.

There are many ways to plan ahead after a diagnosis of LBD. Here are some things to consider:

Start conversations early. Soon after your diagnosis, start conversations with your family and doctors about the care you’d like to receive in the future.

If you are working, consult with a legal and financial expert about planning for disability leave or retirement. Symptoms of LBD will interfere with work performance over time, and it is essential to plan now to obtain benefits you are entitled to.

Consult with an attorney who specializes in elder law or estate planning to help you write or update a living will, health care power of attorney, will, and other documents.

Identify local resources for home care, meals, and other services before you need them.

Explore moving to a retirement or continuing care community where activities and varying levels of care can be provided over time, as needed. Ask about staff members’ experience caring for people with LBD.

Despite the many challenges and adjustments that come with an LBD diagnosis, you can have moments of love, humor, tenderness, and gratitude with the people closest to you. Your attitude can help you find enjoyment in daily life.

Make a list of events and activities you can still enjoy — then find a way to do them! For example, listen to music, exercise, or go out for a meal with family and friends. If you can’t find pleasure in daily life, talk with your doctor or another health care professional about effective ways to cope. Let your family know if you are struggling emotionally so they can offer support.

For more information about living with Lewy body dementia

NIA Alzheimer’s and related Dementias Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center

800-438-4380

Census Bureau releases report on domestic migration of older Americans

“These are the best movers we ever had!”

Where people live is especially important as people age. Life changes including retirement; children leaving the household; possible physical, mental, and cognitive declines; and changes in disability status influence the housing preferences of older adults. These changes may require changes in a person’s or family’s living arrangements. Domestic Migration of Older Americans: 2015 – 2019, a report supported in part by NIA and released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, describes the migration patterns of older adults to help provide key insights on this important topic.

Following are a few key findings:

Although older adults are far less likely to change their home residence than younger people, more than 3 million adults age 65 and older move every year. Larger proportions of the oldest old population — people age 85 and over — moved, compared to those age 65 to 84.

Older adults living with at least one disability were found to be more likely to move than those with none. However, individuals with a disability who moved were likely to relocate within their same county.

The southern and western states were the most popular destinations for older adults who move. Among the states, Florida gained the most older people, while New York had the greatest number of people leave the state.

These migration estimates and patterns could provide critical data for federal, state, and local governments, policymakers, and businesses to support community planning. For example, communities with high proportions of older adults may want to ensure that their public transit routes stop at grocery stores and pharmacies.