Worried about your risk of dementia? While there are some risk factors that are out of our control, there are some activities you can do to lessen your risk for some types of dementia. This article on Yahoo!, “3 Things to Do Now to Lower Your Risk of Dementia Later,” suggests the following:
1. Eat Right. Remember, not all dementia is the Alzheimer’s type. Poor circulation to the brain can cause vascular dementia, which can also lead to strokes. You can lessen your risk of a stroke by reducing your sodium intake. Try tasty herbs and other spices instead.
2. Exercise. It’s not just good for your heart! You can reduce your risk or certain types of dementia, too.
3. Relax and Stay Engaged. Use your brain “muscle”! Engage in activities that keep you thinking and active, such as yoga, crossword puzzles, or game nights with friends.
One of the most frustrating processes in life is boarding an airplane. You’re already rushed to be on time, making sure you packed everything you need… and now you have to go through security. Travelling with an older adult, much like with a small child, increases the worry and stress: you have to strip down not only yourself, but your loved one, who many have mobility issues, may not understand the process, and whose nerves are probably just as frayed as yours, all while keeping the line moving.
Hopefully, the process will soon get easier. The TSA has announced a pilot program in four airports to test alternative screening procedures for persons deemed to be 75 or older, much like they have different rules for children under 12. Older adults will be allowed to leave their shoes and light outer clothing, such as a jacket, on while going through screening. They will get a second pass at a machine if something out of the ordinary is detected, and be screened for traces of explosives before being patted down. If these modifications work out, they could be expanded to all airports. Let’s hope this makes travelling with an older adult one less thing to worry about.
Is your family struggling to celebrate the holidays with a loved one who has dementia? The change in routine, hustle and bustle, and added noise of parties and family get-togethers can spell disastrous results for the dementia patient. How have you modified your holiday celebrations to accomodate older family members? Here are some suggestons:
1. Create a new tradition. Is the big meal getting to be too much, even if Grandma just watches? Order in a meal, or go out for Chinese food for Christmas dinner. Your family can start a new tradition in her honor.
2. Have a safe place. If Dad gets tired and irritable easily, have a bedroom with soft lights away from the noise designated and ready for him to get away for a while.
3. Talk with others about appropriate behavior. If your family includes small children, let them know that if they want to run around and be loud, they have to go outside or to a certain spot. Remind them to keep the noise down around their granddad. Talk about what to say if he forgets their name or asks the same question over and over. Keep them busy with an art project, such as decorating name tags for everyone.
Saturday was a great day for a walk–cool in the morning, warm later on. Team Katten & Benson joined several hundred others as we walked to end Alzheimer’s disease. We had a great time, dogs included! I hope that everyone will consider joining us next year, because I’m sure we’ll have another team.
Medicare open enrollment begins this Saturday, October 15, and runs through December 7. I really encourage everyone with a Medicare Part D plan (prescription drug plan) to review your current plan and compare it to other plans. Open enrollment is the only time you can make a change.
Every year plans change their drug lists, and premium prices change, so you might find a more economical plan. It is easy to compare plans at www.medicare.gov. If you don’t have computer access, you can get help from the benefits counselors at the Area Agency on Aging in Tarrant County by calling 817-258-8125. If you aren’t in Tarrant County, the North Central Texas Area Agency on Aging can be reached at 1-800-272-3921.
What do you do with old medications? Where is the best place to keep them? Here are a few places to go for resources.
This is a good article on where to keep – and where not to keep – your medications. Heat can lessen the effects of many medications, and in some cases, can break them down into undesirable compounds that might make you sick. Especially in this summer heat, you should never leave your medications in a vehicle. You also should not store your medications in the bathroom, as exposure to heat, light and moisture can damage them as well.
What about medications that are no longer needed? Included in my water bill this month, I had a flyer for the Take Back Meds Program. On Saturday, October 29, you can drop off old medications at three different locations. This is a great way to clean out your medicine cabinet and not worry about putting substances in the public water supply. Check out the flyer below.
Caregiving is one of the most difficult, time consuming, and ultimately, most rewarding jobs any of us will have. While there are moments of love and joy, there are often many more moments of isolation, feeling overwhelmed, and frustration. It can be difficult to take a step back and look at your own situation, so I like this list of “9 Secrets of Caregiving” by aarp.com. This is good advice from people who are caregivers themselves, on what has helped them be not only effective caregivers, but functional people in many different roles. Highlights:
#4: Accept Today. The caregiver giving this advice is right: it isn’t fair, nor is it realistic, to expect or wish the person you are caring for could be the way they used to be. We all change as we age, and that time has passed. It is fine to remember those days fondly, but it is also important to redefine what is a “good day”: it may be a day with no pain, or a day with improved communication abilities. Living for today will help you bring peace and joy to your current situation, rather than longing for something that can no longer be.
#7: Get the Legal Stuff Done. Of course, your Elder Law Attorney is going to want to help you take care of this business! Making adequate preparations for incapacity can save you time, money, and frustration. Have those difficult conversations – or let us help you do so! – and get it out of the way so you can concentrate on caring for your loved one.
I ran across a good set of articles in the most recent addition of the CostCo magazine, of all places, that I wanted to share. It includes a short piece of finances, estate planning, downsizing and a Social Security primer. While each of these articles is short, and just barely skims the surface, it is a good reminder that planning to age wisely involves multiple areas of your life, not just one. You can’t ignore your estate plan and concentrate solely on your finances; even the best estate plan may mean that you have to downsize your home eventually; and no financial analysis is complete without considering the benefit you or your family might receive from Social Security. Each of these puzzle pieces must fit together nicely to complete a picture.
I also like the inset box of “Learning Elder Care Language.” It is important to realize all of the different options your family has when taking care of an older adult. I think this box could have one more column, though: How to Pay. Considering the available funding sources for each of these categories is important as well.
Katten & Benson can help you with many of these areas. Our attorneys, Steve, Monica, Sandra (and soon to be Dana!) can help you put together a seamless estate plan that accomplishes your goals in the most simple way. Our social worker, Kim, can help you discover what kind of care is most appropriate for your situation, but can help you identify the right care provider for you. We can also help you access funding sources for different kinds of care, be it through Medicaid, VA Benefits, private insurance, or private pay, or a combination of the above.
Check out this article. Which puzzle piece can Katten & Benson help you with?