Staying Independent with Age

The Importance of Independence

By Jennifer Kilgore, GCM Consultant

Seniors in high school and seniors in their golden years may not like the same music, watch the same movies or show off the same dance moves, but they do have one thing in common. Both groups desire a more independent lifestyle.

Although what it means to live independently can change drastically as we age, independence is an essential part of what it means to be human. It means making your own decisions about how and where you live, who you spend time with, and what you spend time doing. It contributes toward the creation and preservation of our sense of self.

The way we spend our time and energy speaks volumes about who we are as people. And when we no longer have the ability to choose what we do and how we do it, it can be extremely difficult to maintain a sense of ownership over our own lives. However, those who are blessed with longevity will likely require assistance at some point.

One area where independence is keenly sensed, for both teenagers and their elders, is in the area of transportation. Particularly in American culture, driving signifies independent adulthood. A driver’s license is something that is dreamed about and looked forward to by the young, and not relinquished without a fight by the old. It means we can come and go as we please, and that’s certainly something that is hard to give up.

Maintaining an Independent spirit 

Sometimes being independent as we age means finding creative ways to maintain independence despite obstacles. For example, The Silver Runner Transportation service is one creative way for seniors who no longer drive to maintain transportation independence. The Silver Runner offers transportation for errands and appointments as well as group and private outings to help maintain a healthy social life.

Experiencing difficulty with mobility does not mean that you can no longer visit the places that you love. However, it may mean that you need to rethink the way that you visit these places. Enlisting the help of a mobility manager or other cargiver can be a great way to ensure a successful trip. You may also need to talk with a medical professional about how a walker, cane or self-propelling wheelchair could be used to increase your mobility and independence.

Because of new rules in America and across Europe to accommodate those with disabilities, traveling for those who have trouble walking long distances is even more possible than it has ever been. If you or a loved one have trouble getting around, but want to travel, the sky is the limit! To make your vacation a success, be sure to arrange for the assistance you need in airports and consider hiring help with ground travel and luggage.

Lastly, sometimes being independent means knowing when to ask for help. As we age, this may mean hiring an advisor to be your advocate, a person you can consult with to assist with many difficult decisions that must be made. You may also wish to create advance planning documents so that your choices are known and honored in the event that you are unable to express yourself later down the road.

The Geriatric Care Management team is available to listen to what is important to you or your loved one. We value and respect the unique qualities of each aging person, evaluate their needs, and locate the best resources to maximize that person’s level of independence.

Being independent is important at every age. Geriatric Care Management and The Silver Runner are committed to helping seniors remain as independent as possible, while also receiving a high level of care. Please contact us with questions or to schedule a consultation
(505) 897-3009.

Worried About your Memory? Is it Dementia? Alzheimer’s?

Guest Post by Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC, Aging Life Care Association™ member and Fellow of the Leadership Academy

We all have bouts of forgetfulness. We drive past the exit we wanted, we forget the name of a neighbor we have known for years, or we go to the market and buy everything but the milk we went for! If you find yourself forgetting names, places, dates, or appointments, you might think you have  dementia like like Alzheimer’s.

But stress, dehydration, multi-tasking, being a caregiver for another, and numerous other situations can all contribute to forgetfulness. Before you panic or before you just chalk it up to being overtired, consult with a professional to discuss your specific situation.

Aging Life Care Professionals™ can help guide you to appropriate resources that can evaluate your individual situation and provide answers or possible diagnosis. The Aging Life Care Professional, also known as a geriatric care manager, is a conduit to the appropriate medical or psychological referrals that may be necessary.

Some memory loss can be attributed to other illnesses such as depression, vitamin deficiencies, thyroid problems, and several other medical diagnosis. This is why symptoms should not be ignored, but brought to the attention of your physician immediately.

The benefit of getting a diagnosis of a dementia early is that you may be a candidate for medication that can help slow down, or reverse, your symptoms. These medications may enable you to function independently, longer.

Finding out early that you have a dementia gives you a chance to modify your lifestyle, eat healthy foods, stay engaged and exercise more. You can design the care you want and make the necessary legal and financial decisions to support your wishes.

Pro-actively working with an Aging Life Care Professional ensures that the plan and resources in place respect your values, fit in your budget and meet your current and future needs.

Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC, Founder and President of Eldercare Services in Walnut Creek, CA. She is also a partner of the VillagePlan Linda is a Fellow level member and Past President of the Aging Life Care Association. Linda has over 30 years experience working as a Care Manager. You can reach her at linda@EldercareAnswers.com, or connect with her via social media: FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

 

Talking to Elderly Parents about Falling

In his blog for the Huffington Post, Jim T. Miller, NBC contributor and Creator of SavySenior.org states:

It’s an unfortunate reality, but every year, one in three older Americans fall, making it the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for seniors age 65 and older.

A simple fall can cause a serious hip fracture, broken bone or head injury, which can lead to hospital stays, disability, loss of independence and even death. But even falls without a major injury can cause seniors to become fearful or depressed, making it difficult for them to stay active.

 

We couldn’t agree more. Fall prevention is one of the most crucial aspects of Aging life care. Learn more about fall prevention by reading Miller’s blog post.  Or read about how gardening improves balance!

Alzheimer’s and Hallucinations

Many are unaware of the fact that it’s common for Alzheimer’s patients to hallucinate—to see things that are not really there. This fascinating interview with a man living with the disease provides an inside look into what life with Alzheimer’s can be like. Read about it or listen to the audio interview at NPR.

Trendy and deadly

Why you shouldn’t follow the crowd when it comes to your health

By Kimberly Gyle, MSW, MSG, CMC

 
I recently attended a conference in which an expert shared the following two statistics.
 
1. In the United States, 29 million people are diagnosed with diabetes
2. Another 86 million people have prediabetes or are at risk for diabetes.

What is Prediabetes and are you at risk?

People with prediabetes, formerly called borderline diabetes, have glucose levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to indicate diabetes. Although most people with prediabetes don’t have symptoms, they are at higher risk of developing heart disease.
 
A healthy body produces a hormone called insulin, which helps your cells use the energy (glucose) found in food. However with diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin, or doesn’t efficiently use the insulin it does produce. When glucose builds up in the blood, it can damage the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys, heart, eyes and nervous system.
 
In a person with prediabetes, the subtle balance between glucose and insulin has been thrown off. If you have prediabetes, you’re at risk of developing type 2 diabetes as well as the serious medical problems associated with diabetes, including heart disease and stroke. People with prediabetes have a 50% higher risk of heart disease and stroke than someone who does not have prediabetes. For more sobering statistics http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/.
 
Often, prediabetes has no signs or symptoms. But without intervention, prediabetes is likely to become type 2 diabetes in 10 years or fewer. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to become part of this popular trend. So that got me thinking, what I can I do to not become one of the 86 million?
 
In a large research study called the Diabetes Prevention Program, the following lifestyle changes reduced the development of diabetes over three years by 58%.  For people age 60 or older, the reduction was an even greater 71%. 
 

  • Weight Control:  Losing 5 – 10% of excess body weight can help.
  • Exercises:  Studies have shown that moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day, such as cycling, swimming or brisk walking, helps prevent and manage diabetes.
  • Nutrition:  Healthy meals that mix a balance of low-fat protein, vegetables, and whole grains can help prevent pre-diabetes from becoming diabetes.  Calorie control, portion sizes, and low sugar, low carbohydrate choices are key.  Eating adequate fiber every day helps also.  For more information on a healthy diet, seehttp://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/eating_ez/

For more information on the Diabetes Prevention Program, visit http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/preventionprogram/. And to learn more about diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association:www.diabetes.org.
 

We can help

A Geriatric Care Manager can help coordinate care and services when someone is diagnosed with a chronic condition like diabetes. Geriatric Care Managers can attend doctor’s appointments, assist in life style changes and act as a lifestyle coach. They research various tools to help with the adjustment to a new diagnosis of a chronic condition. For more information, please call Geriatric Care Management at (505) 897 – 3009.