Parkinson’s Disease

In the U.S., over one million Americans suffer from Parkinson’s disease (approximately 10 million worldwide). Every year, 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s. The frequency and severity of this disease increases with age. An estimated four percent of people with Parkinson’s disease are diagnosed before the age of 50.
Unfortunately, many of us do not understand the impact this disease can have on our families and loved ones. Many of us do not know what it is, how to treat it, or even what the signs are.

What is Parkinson’s disease?

 

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system. Due to increased changes in heredity, men are more likely to develop Parkinson’s than women. The disease usually develops around age 60. Ongoing exposure to herbicides and pesticides may put an individual at a slightly increased risk.

What are some signs of Parkinson’s?

 

Tremors. Shaking can begin in a limb.
Slowed movement. Parkinson’s may reduce the ability to move and slow movement. Steps may become shorter when walking.
Rigid muscles. Muscle stiffness may occur in any part of the body and can cause pain.
Impaired posture and balance. Posture may become stooped, balance problems may also result.
Loss of Automatic Movements. Decreased ability to perform unconscious movements including blinking, smiling or swinging arms while walking.
Speech Changes. One may start to speak softly, quickly, slur or even hesitate before talking. Speech may be more of a monotone rather than with the usual speech inflections.
Writing Changes. It may become hard to write or text size may become smaller.
Dementia. A person with Parkinson’s disease has 2-6 times the risk of exhibiting symptoms of dementia compared to the general population.

How Parkinson’s is diagnosed?

No specific test exists to diagnose this disease. A neurologist will attempt to diagnose Parkinson’s based on one’s signs and symptoms, a neurological and physical examination, and one’s medical history. Doctors may order tests to rule out other conditions that may be causing the symptoms.

 

If Parkinson’s is not controlled?

 

Thinking difficulties. Cognitive problems such as dementia, which usually occur in the later stages of Parkinson’s, are likely to develop and aren’t responsive to medication.
Depression and emotional changes. Fear, anxiety, loss of motivation and depression can make dealing with Parkinson’s hard but these issues can be treated with medication.
Swallowing problems. Difficulties with swallowing as the condition progresses. Saliva may accumulate in the mouth due to slowed swallowing, leading to drooling.
Sleeping problems and disorders. Issues sleeping, including waking up frequently or early, is very common.
Bladder problems. Inability to control urine or even having difficulty urinating can occur.
Constipation. A slower digestive tract can cause constipation in those with Parkinson’s.
Blood pressure changes. Feeling dizzy or light-headed when you stand is common.
Scent dysfunction. Problems with a sense of smell or identifying odors may.
Fatigue. Many people with Parkinson’s lose energy and experienced increased fatigue.
Pain. May people with Parkinson’s disease experience pain.

 

Treating Parkinson’s

 

Carbidopa-levodopa is a Parkinson’s disease medication. Improvement with this medication will often confirm a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. This medication comes in pill form as well as an infusion, which is administered through a feeding tube that delivers the medication in a gel form directly to the small intestine.
Dopamine agonists mimic dopamine effects in your brain. This isn’t usually as effective as levodopa in treating symptoms however it may be used in conjunction with levodopa to smooth the sometimes off-and-on effect of levodopa.
MAO-B inhibitors. Help prevent the breakdown of brain dopamine (includes side effects such as nausea or insomnia).
Catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibitors. Medication mildly prolongs the effect of levodopa therapy by blocking an enzyme that breaks down dopamine.

Anticholinergics. Used for many years to help control the tremor associated with Parkinson’s disease. Modest benefits are often offset by side effects such as impaired memory, confusion, hallucinations, constipation, dry mouth and impaired urination.

Amantadine. Provide short-term relief of symptoms of mild, early-stage Parkinson’s disease. It may also be given with carbidopa-levodopa therapy during the later stages of Parkinson’s disease to control involuntary movements.
Deep Brain Stimulation. Surgeons impact electrodes into a specific part of your brain. The electrodes are connected to a generator implanted in your chest near your collarbone that sends electrical pulses to the brain and may reduce symptoms.
Lifestyle changes including aerobic exercise, physical therapy to focus on balance and stretching may be an option.

 

Prevention of Parkinson’s

 

Doctor’s are not certain what causes of Parkinson’s nor have clearly proven way to prevent the disease. Some research has shown that caffeine (found in coffee, tea and cola) or green tea may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

 

What Causes Parkinson’s

 

Generally. Generally Doctor’s are unaware of the cause.
Genetically. About 15-20% of Parkinson’s cases report having a relative with the disease, however researchers have found that people with an affected first-degree relative, have a 4-9% higher chance of developing Parkinson’s.
Chemically. In 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs added Parkinson’s to a list of diseases possibly associated with exposure to Agent Orange. Another compound, a synthetic neurotoxin agent called MPTP can also cause immediate and permanent parkinsonism. This compound was discovered in the 1980s in those who injected themselves with a synthetic form of heroin contaminated with MPTP. Cases of this MPTP induced Parkinson’s are rare. A veteran who was exposed to this herbicide may have a strong case for a VA service connected compensation claim for benefits.

 

Economic Burden of Parkinson

 

The cost of Parkinson’s, including treatment, social security payments and lost income from an inability to maintain employment, is estimated to be nearly $25 billion dollars per year in the United States alone. Medication costs for an individual with Parkinson’s disease average $2,500 per year and therapeutic surgery can cost up to $100,000 dollars per patient.

 

Famous People with Parkinson’s Disease

 

Muhammad Ali (diagnosed 1984 at the age of 42)
Michael J. Fox (diagnosed 1991 at the age of 30)
Johnny Cash (unknown diagnoses)
Maurice White of Earth, Wind, and Fire (diagnosed roughly 1992)
George Wallace, Democratic Presidential nominee in 1972 (diagnosed early 1990s)
Estelle Getty Actress Golden Girls (unknown diagnoses)
Billy Graham, Evangelist Pastor (unknown diagnoses)
Charles Schultz, Peanuts comic strip (unknown diagnoses)
Janet Reno, Attorney General under President Bill Clinton (unknown diagnoses)
Billy Connolly, Actor (unknown year of diagnoses at the age of 70)
Linda Ronstadt (unknown diagnoses)
Bob Hoskins (unknown diagnoses)
Pope John Paul II (unknown diagnoses)

 

Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc

 

Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to www.advancedwellnessgcm.com for information on no fee seminar. 

What to Do When an Aging Loved One Dies

If and when my parent passes away (which will likely take place in my own home), I wouldn’t know what to do. Most people don’t know what to do. The process itself is overwhelming to think about. Take a deep breathe, the next few moments maybe may be a little hectic.

 

Things to consider just after passing
When your aging loved one dies, note the general time of death. You don’t necessarily need to call someone right away unless the circumstances of the death were unusual or if your loved one is an organ donor. Organs need to be transferred as quickly as possible. If you are not sure if they are an organ donor, you can check their driver’s license or any advanced health care directive (living will or health care proxy) they may have available. You may even consider calling the nearest hospital to speak with an organ donor coordinator who can help you through the process.

 

If your loved one is not an organ donor and you want to spend some time with the newly departed and say goodbye, then is the perfect time to do so. Within the first hour of death, you can also wash and dress the body if you’d like to do so. You can also close their eyes and mouth if they are open. Sometimes the mouth may reopen. If that happens, place a rolled towel underneath the chin in order to keep it shut.

 

Inviting relatives and loved ones to come say their final good-byes can be done as well. It is generally best to keep these types of invites to a select few as you may be overwhelmed, emotionally drained or even in a panic. Adding additional people’s emotions to your own may make matters worse. Funerals, viewings, and family gathering may be the more appropriate time to invite relatives to visit the deceased.

 

Calling a local funeral home is your next step (if other arrangements haven’t already been made). It may be many hours before they come. When they arrive they will have questions for you. They will transport your loved on a gurney from the place of death to their vehicle, then drive to the funeral home/mortuary.

 

Things you will need to think about during the upcoming days
The death of a loved one is not an easy thing to experience. Finalizing their final affairs can be just as difficult. Take time now to understand the items below so you will be prepared to assist your loved one with their final wishes and needs.

 

Funeral Arrangements
Considering the departed wishes and what you’re able to afford. Reach out to a funeral service and meet with the funeral director. They can assist in any decisions that need to be made including embalming or cremation, closed or open casket, burial site, headstone, etc.

 

Close Friends, Extended Family
You’ll want to contact the departed’s close friends and extended family and maybe a few of your own. They can help with moral support. This also gives them time to take time off to grieve and time off to attend the funeral.

 

Religious Leader
Notify the departed’s church leader or clergy. These individuals can help you and your family during the coming days.

 

Property
Securing the departed’s home and vehicle is important. If the person lives in a rent home/facility, you’ll want to notify the property manager.

 

Pets
Does the departed have pets? If so, making arrangements for them will be necessary.

 

Post Funeral Gathering
Gathering those together who cared for the departed is a great way to share experiences and help each other through the grieving process. Enlist family and friends to help with this gathering.

 

Obituary
Some funeral home may offer this as a service, or you may want to write one yourself. Check with the local newspaper on rates, deadlines, and submission guidelines.

 

Death Certificates
Before you talk to any of the entities below, make sure you request and receive the death certificate and order duplicates. Funeral directors may help handle this but you can also visit your local vital statistics office in your state for further assistance.

 

Notifying government agencies
Social Security, Veterans Affairs (if applicable), Medicare, DMV, and the IRS are all agencies that need to be informed about the death of the departed. An official copy of the death certificate may be needed with the cause of death clearly provided. With the IRS, a final tax return will need to be filed.

 

Insurance Policies
Insurance companies will need to be notified of the death.
Estate (Probate), Creditors, Financial Advisors, Mortgage Companies, Banks, etc…
All will need to be notified. Accounts will need to be closed. Trusts and estates will need to be settled. Much of this can be done as paper statements arrive in the mail.

 

Credit Reporting Agencies, Other Memberships
Credit reporting agencies should be notified to limit the chance of identity theft. Other memberships such as Gym, Spa, Clubs, Library, etc should be cancelled as well.

Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc

 

Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to www.advancedwellnessgcm.com for information on no fee seminar. 

Include End-Of-Life Planning When Anticipating Long Term Care

A key deficiency in the process of planning for long term care occurs when seniors fail to provide for orderly distribution of assets at death and fail to let their family know what to do when the senior can no longer handle his or her own affairs.

 

Estate planning from a qualified estate planning or elder law attorney, a financial adviser who specializes in estate planning or a CPA planner, is the design of documents to provide the orderly transfer of assets and property to the next generation. Wills, living trusts and a myriad of other trust documents or business arrangements to avoid estate taxes, income tax and real estate capitol gains are some of the principal documents used. Estate planning also concerns issues of business succession or disability of a business owner.

 

Many estate planners are also adding final directive or end-of-life documents such as living wills, powers of attorney and special medical directives. But often these are considered secondary to the process of transferring assets or property. Unfortunately, these documents are much more important to family caregivers dealing with the needs of elderly loved ones.

 

Estate planners also need to become more involved in the planning process for long term care by helping in the production of a written long term care plan. This should also include meetings with potential family caregivers and instructions or checklists for these people. We call this Life Resource Planning. This important aspect of planning is often overlooked.

 

Likewise the elderly or their families who are assisting them should insist on more careful planning for long term care issues when doing an estate plan.

 

Some advisers have recognized this need and have put together a team of experts such as attorneys, care managers and financial planners who provide a more complete and comprehensive approach to estate planning, long term care and end-of-life issues.

 

Here are some other important issues to consider for end-of-life planning:
  • Provide instructions, in the event of death, for guardianship of minor children.
  • Provide for disabled adult children, elderly parents, or other relatives.
  • Get your property to chosen beneficiaries quickly and determine in advance who gets what.
  • Plan for incapacity.
  • Minimize expenses of transferring property.
  • Choose executors or trustees for your estate.
  • Ease the strain on your family by making funeral arrangements and purchasing a funeral trust.
  • Create tax savings and leave money to charity.
  • Reduce state and federal estate taxes.
  • Provide a plan for an orderly transition of your business ownership to others.
  • Pre-plan for Medicaid/Medical

 

Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc

 

Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to www.advancedwellnessgcm.com for information on no fee seminar. 

Home, the Desired Setting for Elder Care

Most of those receiving long-term care and most caregivers prefer a home environment.

 Out of an estimated 10 million older Americans receiving care, about 7 million are in their own home or the home of a family member or friend. The National Association for Home Care & Hospice reports that over 12 million individuals currently receive care from more than 33,000 providers (for causes including acute illness, long-term health conditions, permanent disability, or terminal illness).

Most older people prefer their home over the unfamiliar proposition of living in a care facility.

Family or friends attempt to accommodate the wishes of loved ones even though caregiving demands might warrant a different environment. Those needing care feel comfortable and secure in familiar surroundings and a home is usually the best setting for that support.

Often the decision to stay in the home is dictated by funds available.

It is much cheaper for a wife to care for her husband at home than to pay out $3,000 to $6,000 a month for care in a facility. Likewise, it’s much less costly and more loving for a daughter to have her widowed mother move into the daughter’s home than to liquidate mom’s assets and put her in a nursing home. Besides, personally taking care of our parents or spouses is an obligation most of us feel very strongly about.

For many long term care recipients the home is an ideal environment.

These people may be confined to the home but continue to lead active lives engaging in church service, entertaining grandchildren, writing histories, corresponding, pursuing hobbies or doing handwork activities. Their care needs might not be that demanding and might include occasional help with house cleaning and shopping as well as help with getting out of bed, dressing and bathing.

Most of the time these people don’t need the supervision of a 24/7 caregiver.

There are, however, some care situations that make it difficult to provide long term care in the home.

It is precisely the ongoing and escalating need for help with activities

of daily living or the need for extended supervision that often makes it impossible for a caregiver to provide help in the home. Either the physical demands for help with activities of daily living or the time demand for supervision can overwhelm an informal caregiver. This untenable situation usually leads to finding another care setting for the loved one.

On the other hand if there are funds to hire paid providers to come into the home,

 there would be no need for finding another care setting. By planning for eldercare in advance and providing the funding necessary to remain in the home, no one need go to a facility to receive long term care. With enough money, anyone who desires, can remain at home to receive the necessary care.

 

Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc

 

Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to www.advancedwellnessgcm.com for information on no fee seminar. 

Arthritis Among Seniors

Arthritis affects millions of people of all ages, including children (1 in every 250 children in the United States each year). From 2010-2012, nearly 50% of adults 65 years or older in the U.S. were told by a doctor that they have some form of arthritis in their joints. Although osteoarthritis is the most common form of the disease, there are over 100 different types of arthritis including gout, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis.

.

What is Arthritis?

Although very common, arthritis is not well understood. Arthritis is an informal way of describing pain due to inflammation of one or more of your joints. Although most common among women and the elderly, arthritis can affect anyone regardless of race, sex or age. In fact, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.

Symptoms might include decreased range of motion, pain, stiffness and swelling. These symptoms can be frequent or infrequent and range from mild to severe. Arthritis symptoms can last for a number of years and even worsen over time.

 

Common Types of Arthritis

Degenerative Arthritis (Osteoarthritis)

As cartilage wears away, bone begins to rub against bone. This can cause pain, swelling and stiffness. Risk Factors include weight gain, excessive weight, family history, previous injury, and old age.

Inflammatory Arthritis

Rheumatoid and Psoriatic Arthritis are two examples of inflammatory arthritis. When the immune system mistakenly attacks a joint, inflammation and joint erosion develop which may lead to complications with internal organs, eyes and other parts of the body. Smoking is a strong risk factor.

Infectious Arthritis

This unique type of inflammatory arthritis is caused when bacteria, virus or fungus enter the joint and triggering inflammation. Food poisoning, some sexually transmitted diseases ,and Hepatitis C can cause Infectious Arthritis.

Metabolic Arthritis

Uric acid is commonly formed in the body to break down purines, found in cells and foods. Having excessive levels of uric acid can cause needle-like crystals in the join, which can result in sudden spikes of extreme joint pain or gout.

 

Arthritis Symptoms Checklist

Arthritis.com provides a symptom checklist to help you and your doctor determine if arthritis could be the cause of your symptoms. Visit:arthritis.com/arthritis_symptoms_checklist

 

What can I do to manage arthritis?

Ways to help manage arthritis include staying moderately active (strengthening muscles around your joints) with rest between activities, hot and cold therapies, eating a healthy balance diet, maintaining a healthy weight, improving sleep habits, and avoiding smoking and alcohol. If you think a medication is causing painful side effects in your joints make sure you discuss it with a professional.

 

When Should I See A Doctor?

If joint pain persists, going to the doctor for a diagnosis and getting treatment is recommended. Many people can develop significant joint and other serious issues if arthritis is not treated over an extended period of time. Visiting your doctor may also help determine whether you have other diseases similar to arthritis such as:

Lyme Disease, which not only gives you Arthritis but may in fact cause heart, brain, and nerve problems.

Lupus, which does not cause erosive, deforming arthritis. Symptoms rather tend to be milder overall.

Reiter’s Syndrome, also know as reactive arthritis. It can last from three months to a year, in cases, longer.

Reactive arthritis, which affects a few larger joints usually only on one side of the body. Inflammation of tendons, ligaments and muscles can happened as well. This can cause inflammation of other parts of the body such as eyes, head, skin, and mouth.

Fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition in the muscles and soft tissue.

Pseudogout, a sudden with swelling and intense pain most common in the knees ( flares can last for weeks or months).

Chicungunya, a virus spread by mosquitoes. One can experience high fever, joint pain, and rashes. Though the rash lasts up to 10 days, joint pain can last up to a year or more.

Still’s Disease, which starts with a salmon-colored rash, high fever, joint pain can occurring after weeks of the initial symptoms. In those younger than 16, it is called Systemic-onset Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. This can appear in both adults and children.

 

Summary

Arthritis is a disease that affects millions but with the right treatment, plenty of rest and a balanced diet, arthritis doesn’t have to ruin plans or stop you from doing what you want to do. Going to your doctor and diagnosing arthritis early can limit damage and give you many years of happy, healthy activity.

 

Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc

 

Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to www.advancedwellnessgcm.com for information on no fee seminar. 

Three Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Consider these odds: If you play the Powerball lottery, your chances of winning the grand prize are about 1 in 175 million. But whether you’re a woman or a man, your chances of dying from heart disease are 1 in 4. It’s a sobering thought, especially if, like me, you have a family history of heart attack and stroke.

 

The good news – and there is good news – is that there are simple things you can do to improve your odds when it comes to the game of life. Talking to your doctor about your heart health is an important first step, and the American Heart Association is just one trusted resource for tips to help you start the conversation. Here are some other ways you can be heart smart:

 

1. Calculate (and conquer) your risks.
Do you have high blood pressure? Do you have high cholesterol? Do you smoke? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you’re at increased risk for developing heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about half of all Americans have at least one of these three risk factors. Other risk factors include family history, diabetes, and poor diet.

 

2. Give your heart the nourishment it needs.
Sadly, your heart can’t live on love (or potato chips) alone. To keep it pumping properly, the American Heart Association recommends eating a balanced diet low in salt, sugar, and saturated fats, and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. When at the grocery store remember to you stock up on healthy staples, like berries and quinoa (say it with me: keen-wah).

 

3. Brush your teeth (Yes, really.)
Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and not being physically active can all contribute to heart disease. But do you know that poor oral hygiene may also be linked? Scientists believe that bacteria that cause gum disease may travel through our bloodstream and cause blockages in our arteries, which can lead to a heart attack. Be sure to brush and floss regularly to stop bacteria in their tracks.

 

It’s always easier to make lifestyle changes stick if you make one small change at a time. Since I know my family history puts me at risk for developing heart disease, I’ve been cutting out sugary drinks, like soda and bottled ice tea, and drinking more water.

 

What’s one small thing you’re doing to help keep your ticker in tip-top shape?

 

Save the Date: Walking is one of the best ways to improve your heart health. Plan to join the independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies as we encourage everyone to get up and get moving for National Walk @ Lunch Day℠ on Wednesday, April 27, 2016.

 

 

Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc

 

Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to www.advancedwellnessgcm.com for information on no fee seminar. 

Avoiding Slips and Falls In Bad Weather

Cold weather can bring more than just a white Christmas. It also brings a number of hazards which can cause slips and falls. Here are some ways to avoid slips and falls.

Footwear

Wearing proper footwear is an easy way to prevent slipping.

Flat Surfaces

Parking and walking on flat surfaces can help prevent slipping. Avoid parking or walking on an angle if possible.

Textured Surfaces

Textured surfaces may harbor ice without making it too slippery for the person walking on it.

Handrails

Walking near handrails indicates you are on a walking path but may also save you in case you do slip and fall.

Bring Extra Shoes if Needed

If you have to wear dress shoes, bring a good pair of outdoor shoes to change into.

Walk Slowly

Walk slowly and pay attention to the areas around you.

Walk Like A Penguin

Point your feet out slightly like a penguin, this changes your center of gravity.

Bending

Bend slightly and walk flat-footed with your center of gravity directly over the feet as much as possible.

Extend Your Arms

Extend your arms out to your sides to maintain balance. Do not put your hands in your pockets or carry anything with your hands, this may leave you heavier on one side and leave you extremely venerable to slips.

Remove Debris Indoor

Remove as much snow and water from your shoes when going indoors.  This will prevent standing water and therefore you or someone else slipping on that standing water.

Lighting

Walk in areas were lighting is good enough for your to see the surrounding area.

Clothing

Wearing a bulky bright coat won’t prevent you from slipping and falling but may prevent injury if you do fall.  The bright color will make sure you can be seen by others.

Don’t Go Out

Life happens and sometimes we can’t put appointments off, but if you can, avoid going out when the weather is bad or later in the afternoon when it has warmed a little. Rescheduling appointments or cancelling due to bad weather is not just for you but for the good of everyone.  Everyone would rather you show up than try to make it and be injured.

If you do fall:

Avoid landing on bony parts of your body, such as your knees, wrists or even your spine.  If you can, land on more fleshy parts of your body such as your behind. Relaxing your muscles and not tensing up may make your fall less painful and prevent further injury.   If you ball backward, tuck your chin in as much as possible to avoid hitting your head on the ground.

Happy and safe walking.

 

 

Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc

 

Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to www.advancedwellnessgcm.com for information on no fee seminar. 

Fall Prevention and Coping after a Fall

Fall Prevention and Coping after a Fall

American writer and poet Gertrude Stein once said, “We are always the same age inside.” I couldn’t agree more. I still feel young even though I am far beyond my twenties. When I dream, I am always much younger. When I look in the mirror, I am often surprised by the reflection of my older self.

 

I will, however, readily admit that I am no spring chicken. My body isn’t what it used to be and sometimes my age attacks when I least expect it. It is frustrating. I get myself into all kinds of messes, including an occasional injury.

 

Age related physical changes, mental conditions, health conditions, and even medications increase the risk of injury. Falling is the leading cause of injury among seniors ages 65 and older. In fact, each year one in three seniors will have a fall. As we age, a serious fall can be the difference between freedom of movement and wheelchair, or worse, the difference between living comfortably at home and moving to a care facility. One serious fall can be life changing.

Unfortunately, 2 million seniors will be treated in an emergency setting for fall-related injuries this year alone. For seniors, fractures are one of the most serious consequence of falls. Serious falls may cause hip fractures or even life-threatening head injuries. In 2013, the direct medical costs of older adult falls, adjusted for inflation, were $34 billion.

While the aging population continues to increase, both the number of falls and the costs to treat the associated injuries will also increase. Even when there’s no serious injury, a fall can still be scary enough that we choose to avoid certain activities because we are fearful of another fall. Falls can have an adverse psychological impact on the aging. For example, after having a fall some can lose confidence, become withdrawn and feel as if they have lost their independence entirely.

 

The fear of falling doesn’t need to control a life. Below we have compiled some useful information to help you or a loved one prevent falls and cope after a fall.

 

Make an Appointment with your Doctor if You Fall or have a “Close Call”

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer than half of seniors who experience a fall will actually talk with their doctors about it. Many will rationalize and conclude that the fall “wasn’t serious enough.” It is important to remember that ALL FALLS ARE POTENTIALLY SERIOUS. You or your family member should see their health care provider if they have fallen, even if they are not hurt. Remember to record the details of the fall, including when, where and how.

 

It is also important to discuss instances when you almost fell. For example, you were caught by someone, were able to brace yourself just in time, or you became so dizzy that you rushed to a chair or bed before it was too late. These types of details may help you and your doctor identify fall-prevention strategies to protect you.

 

Review your Medication(s) and Eye Sight with Your Health Care Provider

If you have fallen, have been feeling dizzy, or your sense of balance has declined, consider reviewing the medications are you taking with your health care provider. Some medicines (or combinations of medicines) can have side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness. This can make falling more likely. The Mayo Clinic recommends that you:

 

Make a list of your prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements, or bring them with you to the appointment. Your doctor can review your medications for side effects and interactions that may increase your risk of falling. To help with fall prevention, your doctor may consider weaning you off certain medications — such as sedatives and some types of antidepressants.

 

Poor vision can make getting around safely very difficult. Aging seniors should have their eyes checked annually and wear glasses or contact lenses with the proper prescription strength to ensure clear eye sight. The Mayo Clinic adds:

 

Certain eye and ear disorders may increase your risk of falls. Be prepared to discuss your health conditions and how comfortable you are when you walk — for example, do you feel any dizziness, joint pain, numbness or shortness of breath when you walk? Your doctor may evaluate your muscle strength, balance and walking style (gait) as well.

 

Eliminate Home and Clothing Hazards

Over one half of all falls happen in the home or yard. A safety check in the home (including exits), garage and yard can identify hazards that need to be removed, changed or upgraded. To make your residence safer, consider:

 

Moving, downsizing, or eliminating coffee tables, book shelves, electrical and phone cords, or plants from high-traffic walkways outside and inside.
Securing rugs and doormats with tape, nails or a slip-resistant backing (or remove the rugs entirely from the home).
Swapping out chairs and couches that are unsafe or difficult to stand up from.
Using nonslip mats in the shower or bathtub.
Repairing loose tile, stairs, sidewalks, floorboards and carpeting.
Storing tools, clothing, dishes, food and other necessities in areas that are easy to reach.
Avoiding wearing loose clothing. Regardless of how comfortable they might be, baggy clothing can make a fall more likely.
Consider changing your footwear (shoes, socks, and slippers). Properly fitting, sturdy footwear with nonskid soles can prevent falls.
This safety check should include a review of your clothing and foot apparel. There is a myriad of outer garments, underwear, leisure wear, footwear and other specialized clothing available for elderly people with Alzheimer’s, arthritis, mobility issues, foot problems, incontinence, scoliosis or obesity issues.

 

Medical Equipment and Assistive Technology

Medical equipment is a term often used to refer to a larger category of services called assistive technology. Assistive technology is a broad term and may mean different things to different people but for our purposes we will define it as devices or systems to help the elderly function safely at home. Assistive technology can include:

 

Hand rails for entrances and stairways
Lifts and ramps
Nonslip treads for the floor
Raised toilet seats with armrests
Grab bars and nonslip treads for the shower or tub
A sturdy plastic seat for the shower or tub
Elevated toilet seats
Wheelchairs and scooters
Oxygen equipment
If you or a loved one spends a substantial amount of time at home, and is at increased risk of falling, consider subscribing to a personal emergency response system. This service, which operates through your home phone line, provides a button or bracelet to wear at all times in your home. Carrying a cell phone in your pocket while you are at home can also make it easier to call someone if you need assistance.

 

Great care and consideration should be used for those who are at a fall risk and have been diagnosed with dementia. Although many of the items mentioned above can be very helpful, those with memory issues may forget to utilize them properly.

 

Physical Activity
The Mayo Clinic recommends that:

 

Physical activity can go a long way toward fall prevention. With your doctor’s OK, consider activities such as walking, water workouts or tai chi — a gentle exercise that involves slow and graceful dance-like movements. Such activities reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination and flexibility. Lack of exercise can lead to weak legs and this increases the chances of falling. Exercise programs such as Tai Chi can increase strength and improve balance, making falls much less likely.

 

Practice Getting up from the Floor
Can you get up from the floor on your own right now? The answer to that question may depend on your age, health, past injuries and what is available to grab to help you up. Knowing whether or not you can get up from the floor by yourself is important. You might consider testing your ability. If it is difficult, can practicing with a stand by assistant help you develop this skill? Don’t wait until you fall down to work out how to get up. If you practice getting up and down from the floor on a regular basis, you might be surprised by the results.

 

If You Fall
A sudden fall can be startling and upsetting. Knowing what to do if a fall occurs can help you or a loved one be less afraid of falling. Whether you are at home or somewhere else, the steps below, provided by NIH Senior Health, can help you know how to get up from a fall.

 

Remain still on the floor or ground for a few moments. This will help you get over the shock of falling.
Decide if you’re hurt before getting up. Getting up too quickly or in the wrong way could make an injury worse.
If you think you can get up safely without help, roll over onto your side.
Rest again while your body and blood pressure adjust. Slowly get up on your hands and knees, and crawl to a sturdy chair.
Put your hands on the chair seat and slide one foot forward so that it is flat on the floor. Keep the other leg bent so the knee is on the floor.
From this kneeling position, slowly rise and turn your body to sit in the chair.
If you’re hurt or can’t get up on your own, ask someone for help or call 911. If you’re alone, try to get into a comfortable position and wait for help to arrive.
When someone has a serious fall and, for example, breaks their hips, they can feel that the situation is the beginning of the end. A fear of become increasingly frail and incapacitated can set in. Care.com has offered some helpful suggestions to help the elderly cope with depression after a fall. Here are some things you can do:

 

Empathize with your parent’s feelings.
Don’t minimize the situation, but remind your parent that it is temporary and that he or she will become more fully mobile little by little.
If your parent continues to feel depressed, tell the doctor and make sure the depression gets treated and starts to improve.
Any exercise that your parent is able to do will help improve his or her mood.
Conclusion – Address the Fear of Falling, Eliminate Risk, and Find Ways to Cope after a Fall

 

Each year one in three seniors will have a fall. Unfortunately, there is a common pattern when it comes to falls among the aging: risks increase, fear of falling ensues, the fall and subsequent injury, followed by hospitalization, rehabilitation, decreased independence and mobility, and often relocation to a nursing or residential care facility. One serious fall can be life changing.

 

Simple home modifications, the use of assistive devices, wearing sensible footwear, and removing hazards can reduce the risk of falling and the injuries that come with it.

 

If you’re worried about falling or having another fall, talk with your doctor or another health care provider. Getting rid of your fear of falling can help you to stay active, maintain your physical health, and prevent future falls.

 

 

Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc

 

Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to www.advancedwellnessgcm.com for information on no fee seminar. 

Preserving Assets and Transferring Assets to the Next Generation

Older Americans control a large amount of the wealth in this country and have a continued interested in protecting that wealth from loss. Older Americans also want to stretch their assets out as long as possible in order to avoid running out of money well before they die.

As Americans age many look for ways to preserve, maintain or transfer their assets. Whether the assets are many or few, there are steps that can be taken to further secure and maintain a distinct lifestyle.

 

Reasons for Preserving Assets

 

Provide Assets and Income for a Surviving Spouse

Though tragic, when a spouse of a couple dies, income is usually reduced through loss of Social Security income or reduction of retirement pension. This can be especially hard for the surviving spouse having to learn to live on less and prepare for following years.

 

Protect Assets and Income from Deterioration or Loss of Property

Unexpected property loss may result in a drain on available cash assets. You might have damage to a vehicle or even to the home. Lack of regular maintenance or damage may result in expensive repairs. There are estate preservation strategies which strive to recognize these losses and to provide potential solution to avoid these losses with adequate insurance coverage. In additional, help may be sought through grants, tax credits, and other programs that provide maintenance or savings on utility bills.

 

Maintain Assets to Pay for Medical Care and End-Of-Life

Paying for Medicare supplement policies, medical co-pays and the cost of prescription drugs not covered by insurance can reduce available assets. Costs associated with dying can drain the estate. Strategies are designed to identify these costs and to deal with them while assets are still in place to provide protection.

 

Maintain Assets to Pay for Long Term Care

The need for long term care often occurs at the end of life. Unfortunately, this is the time when assets are already being stretched thin. The cost of home care or assisted living or nursing home care can be very expensive. Assets that have taken a lifetime to accumulate can be wiped out in a matter of months. Strategies are designed to take advantage of government programs to cut down on the burn rate of assets when the need for care occurs.

 

Compensate Children or Grandchildren for Their Sacrifice

It is very common for children or grandchildren to put their own lives on hold and to sacrifice their time and their income to care for loved ones in their final years of life. It is only fitting that any assets remaining should go towards helping family members get back on their feet after the sacrifice of months or years providing care.

 

Provide an Inheritance for Children or Grandchildren

Many seniors have worked hard their whole lives to accumulate cash savings, investments and a fully owned personal residence. It does not sit well with these people to have to put out money at the end of their lives for such things as health care, long term care or maintenance. They prefer to have their children have the money. Many aging seniors will actually forego medical care or long term care or maintenance on their property to leave more money to their children.

 

Transferring Assets for Tax Planning or to Qualify for Government Programs

Many elderly look to the government to help them pay for to pay for home care, assisted living, or nursing home care. At least two government programs may be able to help pay for this care but do prevent participation for seniors who have too much in assets. These two programs are the Department of Veterans Affair’s Pension Benefit (more commonly known as the Aid and Attendance Benefit) and Medicaid long term care for the elderly. In order to qualify, eligible participants must have little or no money in cash equivalent assets. Some individuals use strategies to transfer the assets out of the name and control of persons eligible for these programs and thus allow participation in the programs.

There are also a number of government programs that help rich and poor alike without consideration of assets. Medicare, for example, is funded through premiums by participants and directly through the Federal general fund from taxpayer dollars. In general, all persons 65 years of age or older who have been legal residents of the United States for at least 5 years are eligible for Medicare.

 

Another area where there is a no discrimination between those having assets and those without assets is tax planning. Some individuals use strategies to take advantage of the deductions available to senior households.

Seniors and their families should use caution as they considered using asset preservation and tax planning strategies to qualify for government benefits or to avoid paying high taxes.

 

Estate Planning & End-Of-Life Issues

A key deficiency in the process of preserving or transferring assets occurs when seniors fail to provide for orderly distribution of assets at death or fail to let their family know what to do when the senior can no longer handle his or her own affairs.

 

Estate planning from a qualified estate planning attorney, a financial adviser who specializes in estate planning or a CPA planner is the design and creation of documents to provide the orderly transfer of assets and property to the next generation. Wills, living trusts and a myriad of other trust documents or business arrangements to avoid estate taxes, income tax and real estate capital gains are some of the principal documents used. Estate planning also concerns issues of business succession or disability of a business owner.

 

Many estate planners are also adding final directive or end-of-life documents such as living wills, powers of attorney and special medical directives. But often these are considered secondary to the process of transferring assets or property. Unfortunately, these documents are much more important to family caregivers dealing with the needs of elderly loved ones.

 

Estate planners also need to become more involved in the planning process for long term care by helping in the production of a written long term care plan. This should also include meetings with potential family caregivers and instructions or checklists for these people. This important aspect of planning is often overlooked.

 

Elders or their families who are assisting them should insist on more careful planning for long term care issues when doing an estate plan.

 

Advanced Wellness GCM Inc. can help you plan to preserve you assets

We can provide a listing source of community care providers and advisers who can help the public keep, transfer and protect what assets they have from loss. For questions about any of these topics contact us here(click to the right) or attend one of my seminars(click to the right).

 

Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc

 

Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to www.advancedwellnessgcm.com for information on no fee seminar. 

Vietnam and PTSD – 40 Years Later

40 years ago – May 7th – marked the end of the Vietnam War. Many of those alive 40 years ago can still easily recall where they were on the 7th of May and what they were doing on that memorable day. Some are still mourning those who didn’t return home. Many of those who did return home, returned to bitter feelings towards the war. Public opinion of the war was very negative. So negative, in fact, that service members (even cadets) were told to not wear their uniforms in public places. Many were afraid to reveal their service to strangers. The negative public sentiment surrounding Vietnam Veterans remained for years. 58,000 brave men and women gave their lives and those who returned, though just as brave, were forced to hide one of the most traumatic events of their lives.

 

Imagine joining the service in the 1960s or being drafted for a war that very few people knew the U.S. was fighting. Now imagine (after joining), fighting a war in a foreign country, being far away from home, surviving the war, then being forced to feel shame for fighting and having to quietly endure the mental hardships caused by the war for years.

 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, was not officially recognized until 1980 when the American Psychiatric Association added PTSD to the Third Edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until 1989 that a Congressional Mandate (PL 98-528) addressed the needs of Veterans and other trauma survivors with PTSD. Then in 2010, VA Secretary Shinseki reduced the medical evidence needed by Veterans who were seeking health care and disability compensation for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Shinseki simplified the application process which allowed for faster and more accurate decisions and quicker access to medical care for Veterans with PTSD. For years, Vietnam and pre-Vietnam Veterans had very few resources and struggled to access the healthcare and financial resources that are readily available to veterans today.

 

PTSD has existed in many forms throughout the ages. Though fictional, Shakespeare’s many characters displayed symptoms of PTSD. Before the official term of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, those with combat experience were deemed “Shell Shocked”. Many times, Shell Shock / PTSD was mistaken for cowardice. In 1943, Lt. General Patton encountered and American Soldier at a hospital in Italy, this soldier was recovering from what was then called “nerves.” Patton slapped the soldier and called him a coward. An even more saddening account was uncovered more recently when, in 2006, the British Ministry of Defense (BMD) pardoned 300 soldiers who were executed for cowardice and desertion during World War 1. The BMD concluded that many of these soldiers were probably crippled by PTSD.

 

Not only were Vietnam Veterans coming home from war not allowed to talk about their service but they were told what they did was wrong. Unable to understand their feelings and unable to talk about it, many returning service members relationships struggled, they were unable to get work and life became increasingly difficult. This hits home for me, my father in-law was drafted for Vietnam. He returned home and although he married almost immediately after, the marriage didn’t last. He ended up married multiple times and had two children. He remains a person who would rather not talk about the war and prefers not be around others who have been in the war. He was diagnosed with PTSD in the last few years but refuses to believe the diagnoses and get any treatment. Though he believes he does not have PTSD he cannot watch movies with violent war scenes or be around video games with life-like war situations.

 

In 2011, 476,515 veterans with primary or secondary diagnosis of PTSD received treatment at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers and clinics. According to the VA about 5.2 million adults have PTSD during a given year and only a small portion of those who have endured a trauma.

 

Our history books are littered with thousands of cases of PTSD. Fortunately, veterans in today’s society have more resources and have vastly more emotional, verbal and physical support than those who served during Vietnam Era. Many of us rarely remember how brave Vietnam Veterans were and still are.

 

Do you suspect you or a loved one may have PTSD? Find out symptoms and treatment options here or contact your mental health provider for more information:ptsd.va.gov/PTSD/public/PTSD-overview/basics/index.asp

 

Vietnam War Memorial: thewall-usa.com

 

Look up friends or family members on the Vietnam War Memorial: vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces

 

If you are a Veteran and need help with benefits: veteransaidbenefit.org

 

Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc

 

Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to www.advancedwellnessgcm.com for information on no fee seminar.