Tag Archives: seniors and alcohol

Careful In The Kitchen

By  Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer

The best place to be as a child was in Grandma’s kitchen, especially when she’s taking a fresh tray of cookies out of the oven.  Sneaking a bite of cookie dough was a must for any youngster. Grandma may have thought nothing of it then, but today, the risks of eating raw eggs are well known.  For seniors, these stakes are even higher.  A caregiver may be today’s gateway to good health for their loved one, starting at the basic knowledge of food safety.

My, how times have changed

It’s safe to say that the way the world “goes round” in 2010 is much more advanced than it was 10 years ago, at the turn of the century. A decade can make a big difference. In 2000, the Internet was just taking shape. Today, it’s a necessity for almost all people’s daily lives. So, if a decade can change things, what about four, or five, even more? Some loved ones may be reaching into their 80s or 90s, and in the 1950s or 60s, when they were raising their families, doing most of their own baking and cooking, life was a lot different.

The way food is produced, harvested, distributed and prepared has evolved hand-in-hand with technology. Scientific advances have shown that new and dangerous bacteria and viruses can be found in foods; these microorganisms were not even known years ago.  Food modification, mass production and mass distribution have led people away from homegrown, fresh vegetables and meat, leading almost all to rely on others, even those long distances away, to provide for their daily nutritional needs.

Science has identified illnesses that can come from food, as well as ways people in the later years of life are more susceptible to contracting foodborne health issues. A caregiver has the responsibility to know and respect the way a loved one used to live, while teaching and helping them understand the way they must live to be healthy today.

Special Risks for Seniors

Foodborne illness, also known as food poisoning, can be serious, even fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year 76 million people fall ill, 325,000 are hospitalized, and 5,000 die from food-related infections and illness in the United States. Many of these victims are very young, very old, or have weakened immune systems, unable to fight infection normally.

Seniors have always been grouped with the “women and children” crowd. This has been for good reason; they are able to catch germs easier and also hold onto them longer. Age causes changes in a body, slowing the food digestion process. The stomach and intestinal tract process foods slower, and a loved one’s liver and kidneys are slower to rid their body of toxins. This even alters a person’s sense of taste and smell.  Added to the natural effects of aging, all chronic illnesses, and medications, and the unwelcome addition of food poisoning can become very serious very fast. Vigilance when handling, preparing and consuming foods is important for a loved one to have. For caregivers, awareness and education are crucial.

Are You Sick?

Teaching a loved one when to recognize they are experiencing a negative reaction to food will help identify the problem after the fact. First, caregivers must understand that there is a wide range of time that can pass between eating food with harmful bacteria and the onset of symptoms.

Usually, foodborne illness takes one to three days to develop. The common assumption is that it’s caused by a person’s last meal. This may be true, but not necessarily. There are many factors to consider, including the type of bacteria which was in the affected food. The range of time could be from 20 minutes to 6 weeks, at extreme circumstances. Even then, it’s possibly a different illness. Some common symptoms of food poisoning are feeling sick to the stomach, vomiting or diarrhea. Others could be flu-like, including a fever as well as head and body aches. Professionals suggest a caregiver check with their loved one’s doctor if they suspect food is to blame for an illness.

Eating In

It used to be all foods were grown at home. Today’s younger generations are trying to return to a semblance of that lifestyle; but for most, climate and convenience will never leave them completely independent for all food. Many elderly loved ones will remember the days gone by when they ate the same potato they dug the hole in the ground for and planted months prior. There was no need to worry about exactly where food came from. Because of this, a loved one may have a greater trust for food than the rest of society, or greater distrust.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers some guidelines for proper food prep at home. First, “clean.” Wash hands and surfaces often and well. Bacteria can be found throughout a kitchen, including on utensils, cutting boards, sponges and countertops. Use warm water and soap for all washing of hands and cooking supplies. When cutting boards develop worn and hard to clean surfaces, they should be replaced. A loved one may consider paper towels just extra waste, but they are very good at preventing bacteria buildup.

Next, “separate.” Cross-contamination is how bacteria is spread, especially when handling raw meat, poultry and seafood.  Separate these foods from other foods in a shopping cart and also in the refrigerator. Use different cutting boards for them as well. Wash utensils and other dishes after coming in contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and unwashed fresh produce. A big
“no-no” is putting cooked food on the same plate the raw was on previously. Bacterial residue on the plate could contaminate the cooked food.

After separating, “cook” foods to proper temperatures. The FDA explains that foods are cooked safely when heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria. There are many guidelines available for temperatures to watch for when cooking a variety of foods. Visitwww.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/Seniors/ucm182679.htm for more information.

Finally, the FDA advises seniors to “chill,” and not in the way a teenager would mean! While stored at room temperature, bacteria in food may double every 20 minutes. Caregivers should teach a loved one to refrigerate foods quickly to keep bacteria at bay. Many people believe it’s not good to put hot food in a refrigerator, but the FDA says it keeps a person safe to do so.

With some simple guidelines, a caregiver can show their loved one how to eat safely at home and avoid problems down the road.

Eating Out

The McDonald’s trend hit the United States in the late 1950s, and has grown into a full-blown way of life since then. No longer is eating out a “treat” for a special occasion, such as a birthday, anniversary or first date. Sure, people may still dine at a fancier restaurant for those times, but grabbing a sandwich or salad is a regular habit.  Today, nearly 50 percent of the money spent on food goes toward meals that other people prepare.

It can be easy to simply trust that the food served at a restaurant is suitable for consumption. Each person should learn to be their own advocate and a senior loved one is no exception. They may be experiencing an age-related dulling of the senses, minimizing their ability to recognize an unsafe situation. As at home, don’t eat raw or undercooked food. Make sure hot meals are hot and if the food is not cooked properly, encourage a loved one to speak up and send it back. It’s better to be safe than worry about “hurting someone’s feelings.”

The trend in restaurants today is leaning toward large meal portions. Many seniors end up packing the leftovers to take home. The FDA advises that if the leftover food will not be refrigerated within two hours of leaving the restaurant, it’s safer to leave it there. Some senior centers across the country won’t even allow food to be taken home because they know of the dangers when food is left sitting out too long.

Foods to Avoid

The FDA offers a list of foods seniors are advised to avoid:

  • Raw fin fish and shellfish, including oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops;
  • Hot dogs and luncheon meats, unless they are reheated until steaming hot;
  • Raw or unpasteurized milk or soft cheeses (such as Feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, and Mexican-style cheese) unless they are labeled as made with pasteurized milk;
  • Refrigerated pates or meat spreads; (Canned or shelf-stable pates and meat spreads may be eaten.)
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood unless it is contained in a cooked dish, such as a casserole; (Canned or shelf-stable smoked seafood may be eaten.)
  • Raw or lightly cooked egg or egg products containing raw eggs such as salad dressings, cookie or cake batter, sauces, and beverages such as eggnog; (Foods made from commercially pasteurized eggs are safe to eat.)
  • Raw meat or poultry;
  • Raw sprouts (alfalfa, clover, and radish); and
  • Unpasteurized or untreated fruit or vegetable juice.

Be a Better Shopper

Reading labels is becoming more and more essential for all age groups. Many people have adverse affects from the ingredient MSG, especially those in the senior community. The other labels to look for are the open dates on raw foods such as meats, eggs and dairy products. Most important are the “sell by,” “best if used by,” and “use by” dates. Caregivers can teach their loved one how to read these labels and also check refrigerators to ensure food has not gone bad and poses a problem for bacteria growth.

Raw meat, poultry and seafood should also be placed in a separate plastic bag, so the juices do not leak onto other groceries. Buy only pasteurized milk, cheese and other dairy products. Teach a loved one to buy only eggs from the refrigerated section of the store, and check canned goods for dents, cracks or bulging lids.
With a few small tricks and tips, a caregiver can encourage a loved one to eat good, nutritious meals safely.

Raleigh Geriatric Care Management, Raleigh, NC.  www.rgcmgmt.com

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What is an Aging Life Care Professional ™?

We are still the same, but our name has changed to better reflect what we do and who we are. Our national association, formerly known as National Association of Professional Care Managers (NAPGCM), is now  the Aging Life Care Association™ (ALCA) and care managers are now refered to as Aging Life Care Experts™.

Conflicting demands on your heart, time, and energy can make it hard to care for an aging relative. If this sounds familiar, you could benefit from the services of an aging life care expert.

An aging life care expert provides relief. They work with you and your family member to develop a realistic care plan. The goal of the plan is to maximize your loved one’s independence, safety, and quality of life. A solid care plan addresses family resources. This includes making sure you are not called upon to do more than you are able.

An aging life care expert is a guide and an advocate. These experts are typically trained in the health professions or social work. Many have specialties in elder care. They bring to their role an understanding of the

  • local healthcare system;
  • emotional and physical challenges of aging and/or disability;
  • difficulties of adult children juggling work and family;
  • common legal and financial issues that arise in later life;
  • local housing options and other senior or disabled services.

Aging life care experts use a holistic approach. They begin with a thorough assessment of needs and capabilities. They can often resolve uncertainties and dispel family disagreements. Their emotional support may help your loved one come to terms with this new phase of life.

An aging life care expert’s input may save you time and money. After looking at money and other family resources, they can recommend appropriate housing situations. They can identify veteran assistance and other benefits. They can avoid duplication of medical services and potentially catch problems before a crisis blooms. They can also monitor the quality of care.

An aging life care expert works independently as the client’s advocate.They are not paid through referral fees. Nor are they employees of hospitals or insurance companies. In some cases, their services can be reimbursed by long-term care insurance.

If you think you and your loved one could benefit from the services of an aging life care expert, give us a call at Raleigh Geriatric Care Management, 919-803-8025, http://www.rgcmgmt.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Considerations for Caregivers

By Arthur N. Gottlieb

Caregiving is not for everyone. Remember, it’s not about you. If the relationship is too emotionally charged or patience is not your best virtue, find someone else to take over the primary role of caregiver.

It is important to reflect upon your motivations for being a caregiver and to make an honest assessment of your limitations.

As a caregiver you may at times feel powerless and sad. But an experience laden with difficulty may also provide opportunities to strengthen relationships with loved ones, and for the development of one’s own personal and spiritual growth.

About Visits
Focus on the quality of interactions with a loved one, not on the quantity.

Consistency and predictability of visitations are important, especially for the homebound.

Communication Skills
Learn the healer’s art of “bearing witness.” This means listening empathically and suppressing the urge to intervene with solutions.

When speaking to someone in bed or in a wheelchair, sit down or otherwise lower yourself so that you are at the same eye level as they are. This will distinguish you from others who remain standing, essentially looking and speaking down to them with the unspoken but inherent power differential this implies.

Choose your battles wisely. Attempting to address an irrational situation with rationality is generally futile, and will increase conflict with no resolution

The hearing impaired are often too prideful to admit that they haven’t heard most of what you just said, and are hopeful that they can eventually figure it out.

Those with mild cognitive impairment are still quite capable of comprehension, but the thought process may have slowed down a little. Be patient and speak slowly.

Restoring Dignity
Asking for a senior’s opinion about a non-provocative issue may offer them an opportunity to feel respected and still relevant.

At the dinner table when others are present, if a person needs to have their food cut for them, discreetly take the plate back into the kitchen and cut it there. This will add an unspoken but important element of dignity for those being cared for.

Residential and Financial Concerns
The attitudes and behaviors of many seniors are oftentimes driven by an unspoken fear of abandonment.

When parents do not feel that their children have made wise decisions for themselves, they are naturally hesitant to turn over financial control to them.

It was not uncommon for senior women to have deferred to their husbands’ judgment when choices were being made about financial and property issues. If now widowed, they may feel more comfortable acting in accordance with someone else’s say-so for important decision-making.

It may be illuminating to discover what memories a senior has of his or her own parent’s convalescence. What would they, as caregivers, have done differently? Had they promised themselves they would never go to a “nursing home”?

When a senior is facing the prospect of moving to a continuing care or assisted living community, speak to them about what they think this will be like. Many will have a stark vision of facilities from many years ago when options were relatively limited.

About Moodiness
Seniors will experience good days and bad days due to effects of pain, adjustment to medications and or emotional issues.

Seniors who seem short-tempered may be responding to the frustrating lack of control of not being able to think as quickly, and remember as well, as they once had.

Psychology of Seniors
Understand and be prepared to recognize the issues that trigger depression and anxiety for seniors.

Be sensitive to anniversary depressions. Birthdays, anniversaries, and major holidays evoke memories of those who have passed, and independence lost.

For most, losing control of physical functioning is difficult. Experiencing the steady loss of friends and relatives leads to sadness and isolation. For those with dementia, witnessing the gradual loss of one’s own self can be the ultimate loneliness.

If a senior is grieving the loss of a loved one they think died yesterday, even if that person actually died years ago, their grief will be as deep and painful as though it just happened.  This is legitimate suffering and must be handled with empathy.

Oftentimes, a parent will have a set of expectations of how they deserve to be treated by their children based on the sacrifices they made on behalf of their own parents. When children do not meet these expectations, resentment, depression and various forms of acting out behavior are the result.

Some seniors harbor lifelong prejudices that were carefully concealed. It can be quite distressing for a caregiver to discover that their parent has “all of a sudden” developed a shocking taste for racial bias. The gradual loss of mental functioning allows one to become “dis-inhibited”; thoughts, formerly suppressed due to social constraints, are now out in the open. This applies for latent sexual desires as well, especially for men.

Denial
If the person you are caring for continually puts off medical diagnosis, they are using the defense of denial in the service of their fear. If they are never diagnosed, then they never have to face the reality of being sick.

For Senior Men
More often than not, senior men went along with the social arrangements made by their wives. If a man becomes a widower, he may feel out of place socializing with others on his own. Additionally, since women outnumber men of this age group, a man may feel he is betraying the memory of his wife when engaging in social situations involving mostly women.

Religion and Spirituality
It is important to understand what a person’s religious or spiritual beliefs are. Does he or she believe in an afterlife? Are they concerned over what is in store for them when their mortal life ends? Are they disillusioned  or angry with God?

Restore and Maintain Balance
It is essential for you, as a caregiver, to leave time for your own introspection and emotional balance. Engage in activities that serve to cleanse toxins and stress from the body and spirit.

Engage the help of others when necessary to de-stress and achieve perspective.

Rest and relaxation are critical in order to prevent “caregiver burnout.”

Raleigh Geriatric Care Management Aging Life Care Professional  www.rgcmgmt.com

Leave a comment

Filed under adult children of aging parents, Adult day care, aging drivers, Aging In Place, aging life care association, aging life care professional, alcohol and seniors, Alzheimer's Disease, anxiety and the elderly, assessments, bathing and seniors, care giving, care planning, caregiver burnout, caregiving, caregiving and the holidays, clinical trial studies, dementia, Depression and the elderly, driving retirement, elder care raleigh nc, elder nutrition, eldercare, employee stress, family meetings, Geriatric Care Management, Having a conversation, humor, laughter in caregiving, Long Term Care Insurancee, long term care planning, medication reminders, moving in with family, NC, Nursing Homes, nursing homes and assisted living, paying for home care, Power of Attorney, Raleigh, respite, Sandwich Generation, senior care, senior driving, Seniors and driving, sibling relationships, support groups, tax tips for seniors, travel with seniors

Geriatric Care Manager—>Aging Life Care Professional

WHAT IS AN AGING LIFE CARE PROFESSIONAL?

An Aging Life Care Professional, also known as a geriatric care manager, is a health and human services specialist who acts as a guide and advocate for families who are caring for older relatives or disabled adults. The Aging Life Care Professional is educated and experienced in any of several fields related to aging life care / care management, including, but not limited to nursing, gerontology, social work, or psychology, with a specialized focus on issues related to aging and elder care.

The Aging Life Care Professional assists clients in attaining their maximum functional potential. The individual’s independence is encouraged, while safety and security concerns are also addressed. Aging Life Care Professionals are able to address a broad range of issues related to the well-being of their client. They also have extensive knowledge about the costs, quality, and availability of resources in their communities.

Aging Life Care Professionals become the “coach” and families or clients the “team captain,” giving families the time to focus on relationships rather than the stress. In Raleigh, Durham, and surrounding area, contact Raleigh Geriatric Care Management, an Aging Life Care member.


Leave a comment

Filed under adult children of aging parents, Adult day care, aging drivers, Aging In Place, aging life care association, aging life care professional, alcohol and seniors, Alzheimer's Disease, anxiety and the elderly, assessments, bathing and seniors, care giving, care planning, caregiver burnout, caregiving, caregiving and the holidays, dementia, Depression and the elderly, driving retirement, elder care raleigh nc, elder nutrition, eldercare, employee stress, family meetings, Geriatric Care Management, Having a conversation, humor, laughter in caregiving, Long Term Care Insurancee, long term care planning, medication reminders, moving in with family, NC, Nursing Homes, nursing homes and assisted living, paying for home care, Power of Attorney, Raleigh, respite, Sandwich Generation, senior care, senior driving, Seniors and driving, sibling relationships, support groups, travel with seniors

Is it Elder Abuse?

By Hilary Wright

Abuse isn’t happening just to toddlers and young children, but is becoming more common among the senior citizens in this country. Unable to take care of themselves, they must rely on a professional or family caregiver to help them from day to day. If you have a loved one who must depend on care from someone other than yourself, you may want to know the tell-tale signs of the many forms of abuse that they may be afflicted with. 

Sometimes, an elder may report an incident of physical abuse; however, they often won’t, so you’ll need to look for other behavioral and emotional signs, like depression or withdrawal from family and friends, changes in behavior, i.e., mood swings or appearing frightened and teary eyed. Sometimes, the abusers themselves will give clues to possible abuse by their refusal to take the elder to the doctor when needed, by not allowing family and friends to see the abused person alone, by giving explanations which are found to be inconsistent with the abuse symptoms.  They may have bite marks and scratches themselves, from an elder fighting back.

Signs of physical abuse:

  • Cuts, lacerations, welt marks (a possible sign of using restraints)

  • Burn marks from cigarettes

  • Malnutrition or dehydration

  • Hair loss from someone grabbing/pulling hair

  • Sores on the body, open wounds

  • Weight gain or weight loss

  • Poor skin conditions

  • Unexplained injuries, such as fractures and breaks

  • Bruises, scratches, bite marks, finger prints

  • Frequent trips to the emergency room

  • Black eyes, broken fingernails

  • Over or under medicated

As much as people don’t want to think about it, sexual abuse does occur among the elderly. It’s considered sexual abuse when something happens either without their consent or when an elderly person is incapable of making such a decision on their own. Physical signs of sexual abuse may include:

  • Bruises around the breast or genital area

  • Cuts or lacerations around the breast or genital area

  • Clothes with blood stains or tear marks

  • Soreness around breast, genital, or anal areas

  • Difficulty with walking or sitting

Some older people may report sexual assault, while others may withdraw from family and friends, flinch at certain quick movements, or be frightened by the opposite gender. The abuser will usually have a story that will not match the physical or emotional evidence noted by family members, and they will generally not allow family or friends into the home or to be around the abused person alone.

Not all abuse can be seen with the naked eye. There’s also emotional and psychological abuse that occurs when a person is demeaning and dehumanizing to another person. Psychological and emotional abuse can also make someone withdraw into depression or even deny that anything bad is actually taking place. You may catch the abuser talking down to the person, calling them hurtful names, and begin to withdraw the elder from visiting with family and friends.

Behavioral signs of psychological abuse:

  • Continuously emotionally upset or disturbed

  • Nervous behavior and a repetition to their actions

  • Negative attitude

  • Agitation or anger

  • Rocking back and forth, sucking their thumb, or even biting (themselves or others)

Financial abuse occurs when a caregiver takes advantage of an elderly person financially, either through stealing money, lying about how much the elder needs for certain care, or cashing the elder’s checks without permission.

Signs of financial abuse:

  • Caregiver withholds money from the elder

  • Checks are cashed without permission of the elder

  • Personal belongings begin to disappear

  • Power of Attorney begins to be misused

  • Caregiver isn’t actually providing the services that are needed

  • Elders aren’t taken to the doctor when needed

  • You notice unusual items being charged on a credit card

  • You notice the elderly person requesting a transfer of assets or funds

  • There’s sudden and abrupt changes in a will

  • They are not aware of where all their money has gone

  • Suddenly, they are unable to pay their bills

  • They are unable to buy clothes, food, and other necessities

  • You notice withdrawals of a lot of money at the same time or within the same week

Another form of abuse is neglect and abandonment, occurring when an elderly person isn’t being cared for properly, like not being fed, bathed, or properly medicated.  Ignoring an elder is also considered a form of neglect and abandonment, because the caregiver refuses to give them any sort of care. The signs of neglect and abandonment can sometimes be noticed with a simple inspection of a loved one, where you may see things like untreated sores or bed sores, malnutrition and/or dehydration, unsanitary living conditions, or dirty bed linens and clothes. You may also notice a strong odor coming from a loved one, due to the lack of continual hygiene, or obvious weight loss or weight gain. Sometimes an elder will actually begin begging you for food, or tell you they have some medical or dental need that hasn’t been tended to.

Although it’s no excuse, caregiver abuse, either by a family member or by a professional, often occurs due to caregiver burnout, caregiver stress, substance abuse, emotional and mental issues of their own, economic conditions or living arrangements. This doesn’t mean that all caregivers are abusers, because very few are; but it’s better to be informed and educated for the safety of your loved one. If it’s a family member who is a caregiver for someone disabled or elderly, you can take some preventative measures in order to prevent it from occurring, or to at least notice it at the very earliest stages. Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of caregiver stress; make sure the caregiver is receiving help from others, so they don’t have to do everything on their own, which can quickly lead to caregiver burnout; and investigate other living arrangements, in order to take an elderly loved one out of a toxic, ultimately unsafe environment. Elderly people don’t have to be a target for others, especially by those who are supposed to care for them. Older people can also take some important steps on their own in order to make sure they remain safe from abuse of all kinds:

  • Don’t live with a family member who is or has been abusive in the past.

  • Speak to friends often, especially when you feel as though you are being taken advantage of.

  • Review your will. If changes are made, be sure it is because you want them to take place, not because of pressure from family members.

  • Have friends and/or neighbors visit you often.

  • Seek legal advice when making decisions.

  • Have your Social Security or pension check deposited directly into your account.

  • Speak directly to your attorney first before signing a Power of Attorney.

  • Don’t sign anything until you’ve read it. If you have difficulty understanding the legal terms, make sure to seek out an attorney and have them explain it to you.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Older Adults and Alcohol

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
• Have health problems
• Drink heavily

There are special considerations facing older adults who drink, including:

Increased Sensitivity to Alcohol
Aging can lower the body’s tolerance for alcohol. Older adults generally experience the effects of alcohol more quickly than when they were younger. This puts older adults at higher risks for falls, car crashes, and other unintentional injuries that may result from drinking.

Increased Health Problems
Certain health problems are common in older adults. Heavy drinking can make these problems worse, including:

• Diabetes
• High blood pressure
• Congestive heart failure
• Liver problems
• Osteoporosis
• Memory problems
• Mood disorders

Bad Interactions with Medications
Many prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as herbal remedies can be dangerous or even deadly when mixed with alcohol. Medications that can interact badly with alcohol include:

• Aspirin
• Acetaminophen
• Cold and allergy medicine
• Cough syrup
• Sleeping pills
• Pain medication
• Anxiety or depression medicine

Drinking Guidelines for Older Adults
Adults over age 65 who are healthy and do not take medications should not have more than:

• 3 drinks on a given day
• 7 drinks in a week

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

Leave a comment

Filed under adult children of aging parents, alcohol and seniors, Alzheimer's Disease, anxiety and the elderly, care giving, care planning, caregiver burnout, caregiving, dementia, Depression and the elderly, driving retirement, elder care raleigh nc, elder nutrition, family meetings, Geriatric Care Management, Having a conversation, long term care planning, medication reminders, moving in with family, NC, Raleigh, Sandwich Generation, senior care, senior driving, Seniors and driving, sibling relationships, support groups