A national 2008 survey found that about 40 percent of adults ages 65 and older drink alcohol. Older adults can experience a variety of problems from drinking alcohol, especially those who:
• Take certain medications
There are special considerations facing older adults who drink, including:
Increased Sensitivity to Alcohol
Increased Health Problems
Bad Interactions with Medications
Drinking Guidelines for Older Adults
• 3 drinks on a given day
Drinking more than these amounts puts people at risk of serious alcohol problems.
If you have a health problem or take certain medications, you may need to drink less or not at all.
Source: NIH National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Tag Archives: moving an aging loved one
By Michael Plontz
Your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The first thing you want to do is find out all you can about the disease, and all about what you can do to take care of your loved one. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but, at least you’re an adult and you can understand what’s happening. What about your children? How can you help them cope?
The way in which Alzheimer’s may affect children has to do largely with their relationship with the person before. If they are close to the loved one, the mentally debilitating illness could cause fear, anger, sadness, and confusion. If the loved one is living in the home of the caregiver, it can cause these feelings to intensify.
Fear is usually the first emotion to surface. From the fear of their grandparent or other loved one arises feelings of anger, guilt, and jealousy. All of these feelings can lead to sadness and even depression. Also, feelings of despair and helplessness may result from the loss of the loving relationship between child and loved one.
The best thing you can do for your child or teenager is to be completely honest and keep the lines of communication open. If children don’t understand, they could act out by doing badly in school or withdrawing or becoming impatient with their loved one. Physical or psychosomatic ailments such as stomachaches or headaches may manifest themselves as well. They may have to be reminded several times that Alzheimer’s is a disease, and that the disease is what’s affecting grandma or grandpa.
It is helpful to have answers ready for an inquisitive child’s difficult questions. The following questions are just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a start.
Q – Is grandma crazy?
A – No. Alzheimer’s is a disease. Older adults are prone to illnesses that may make them forget things or act differently.
Q – Is it my fault?
A – Certainly not. If grandma told you that, it is just the disease talking.
Q – Can I, or my mom or dad catch Alzheimer’s disease?
A – Alzheimer’s is not contagious, so, no, you can’t catch it like you would a cold.
Q – What will happen next?
A – Here the parent must judge how much information the child can handle. The best thing to do is reassure them that you love them mo matter what happens.
With teenagers the questions will probably be a bit more complicated. They can see things from different perspectives. The best thing to do is to inquire about how they’re feeling, and what can be done to make them feel better. Regardless of the age of the child, open communication is the key to success in weathering the Alzheimer’s storm.
By Helen Hunter, ACSW, LSW
|When was the last time you had a really good laugh?
The scientific definition of laughing is a “successive, rhythmic, spasmodic expiration with open glottis and vibration of the vocal cords, often accompanied by baring of the teeth and facial expression”. That doesn’t begin to tell the story of what laughing does for us, however. The bottom line is that laughing is medically beneficial.
Laughter establishes or restores a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people. In fact, some researchers believe that the major function of laughter is to bring people together – the more social a person is and the more social support a person receives, the more likely that laughter will result from that social connection. Mutual laughter and play are an essential component of strong, healthy relationships. By making a conscious effort to incorporate more humor and play into your daily interactions, you can improve the quality of your relationships.
What are the Physical Effects of Laughing?
Laughing makes people feel good for a reason. Studies have shown that laughter boosts the immune system and triggers the release of pleasure-inducing neurochemicals in the brain. The immune system, which contains special cells that are responsible for defending the body against infection, have been shown to increase during the act of laughing. In the central nervous system, the brain releases powerful endorphins as a result of laughing. Endorphins are natural, morphine-like compounds that raise the pain threshold, produce sedation and induce euphoria (commonly called a “natural high”). In other words, we feel better when we laugh because endorphins reduce physical and mental pain. While this may be a wonderful feeling, laughing has other benefits as well:
During a laugh, respiration, heart rate and blood pressure temporarily rise. This causes oxygen to surge through the bloodstream that then results in lower blood pressure.
Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
Laughter reduces pain and allows toleration of discomfort.
Laughter reduces blood sugar levels, increasing glucose tolerance in diabetics and non-diabetics alike.
Laughter relaxes the whole body, relieving tension and stress. It has been shown that following a good, hearty laugh, muscles in the body are relaxed for up to 45 minutes afterward.
Laughing burns calories – laughter is sometimes referred to as “inner jogging”. A hearty laugh gives the muscles of the face, chest, shoulders, stomach and diaphragm a good workout.
Laughter also helps to create a positive mood. It allows the expression of happiness and the release of anxiety. Humor eases tension and is a great antidote to a stressful situation. Laughter is often seen as a temporary vacation from everyday problems, bringing us to a paradise in which worries do not exist. Humor and laughter are natural safety valves that shut off certain hormones that are released during stressful situations. In fact, your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.
Here are some ways to bring more humor and laughter into your life:
Smile: Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, it’s contagious. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling!
Count your blessings: Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter!
When you hear laughter, move toward it: People are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feel the humor in it. When individuals hear laughter, they seek it out and ask “What’s funny?”
Spend time with fun, playful people: These are people who laugh easily, both at themselves and at life’s absurdities and who routinely find humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious!!
Bring humor into conversations: Ask people: What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?
Laugh at yourself: Share your embarrassing moments.
Attempt to laugh at situations rather than bemoan them: Look for the humor in a bad situation, the irony and absurdity of life. This will help improve your mood and the mood of those around you.
Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up: Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of you and your family having fun.
Keep things in perspective: Many things are beyond our control, so make the best of a situation and find the positive in the situation.
Deal with stress: Stress is major impediment to humor and laughter.
Pay attention to children and emulate them: They are the experts on playing, taking life lightly and laughing!!
Here is a simple prescription for a healthy life:
Thirty minutes of exercise at least 3 times a week, and 15 minutes of laughter on a daily basis!!
The bottom line – laughter may just be the best medicine on the market today!
~Paula Spencer Scott
Does caregiving actually cause stress? Some surprising new research says no, the real source of the stress lies within the person, not the situation.
After looking at more than 1,200 female caregiving twins, Peter Vitaliano, professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Washington, concluded that how stressful caregiving is for you psychologically is more a matter of your genes and your upbringing. Caregiving itself does not cause stress, he says. This new study appears in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.
Who’s most at risk, according to this research? People who:
- Have a history of depression. “Like putting salt in a wound,” says Vitaliano.
- Grew up with parents who showed a lot of avoidance and fear in response to big stressors (like losing a job).
- Lack resources to help them cope, like social support and finances.
The study also found that caregiving can cause anxiety, which is in turn linked to depression.
This all may sound like splitting hairs. Though this research confirms Vitaliano’s earlier work debunking a causal connection between caregiving and stress, it flies a bit in the face of many, many other studies that link them. There’s even a name for it: caregiver stress syndrome.
This study didn’t specifically look at Alzheimer’s caregiving, whose duration and unique challenges can wear down even the best-adjusted family member. I wonder, would the results look different?
Bottom line: It doesn’t strike me as terribly helpful to be told your stress is the fault of your genes or your family history. If you’re feeling it, you’re feeling it. It’s nobody’s fault — the real question is what to do about it.
File this info in the nice-to-know category. Then go hide in the bathroom for a little deep breathing, a few bites of dark chocolate, and a wish for some respite time to come your way this week.