Plan good holidays for elderly loved ones

We posted this blog a year ago. Got lots of good feedback, so posting again and hope it's of help.

Best for the holidays from us both and back in the new year.

When you’re planning for the festive season, remember that older parents and other aging loved ones often have different needs than our children or we do.

Because they’re such an important part of our sense of family and the holidays, we need to plan good holidays for elderly loved ones. Too often we take for granted that our older family members can be as fully involved as we’d like. The fact is elderly family members may be lacking the stamina we’d wish they had.

That’s why it’s so important to plan all holiday events to ensure aging loved ones can enjoy them fully and that we can have the pleasure of their company.

Here are five steps for you to consider and apply in order to assure elder enjoyment at your family events this holiday season.

1. Reduce ‘wait time’. You can spend a lot of family wait time while meals are being prepared or people are dressing, or getting to a religious ceremony early in order to have good seating. But these are actually tiring times for the elderly. Help them by planning the latest time you can bring them to the event. That way, they don’t have to spend tiring ‘wait time’ doing nothing.

2. Build in ‘down time’. Make sure there’s at least half an hour or hour of rest time between events so your elderly parents can relax and perhaps catch a catnap or at least just have some personal quiet time. Their batteries run down faster now, and some recharge time becomes important.

3. Make meals more manageable. The more courses and the longer time a full meal takes, the more agitated little kids become… and the more aggravated older people become. Elderly parents will find long, drawn out meals fatiguing, even if they pretend to be enjoying themselves. So plan meals to be shorter, or plan strategies to respectfully give them options during a drawn out dinner so they’ll have some rest time.

4. Smart wrap for gift giving. Opening gifts that are tightly taped and tied with lots of ribbons is often difficult for the elderly. With reduced dexterity and maybe some arthritis, they can be stymied by some of the packages we present. Make it easier—and eliminate the embarrassment of being unable to open a package—by either wrapping their gifts much more loosely, or better yet, by putting them into attractive gift bags, covered with colorful issue paper.

5. Slow down and speak up. The elderly tend to process less quickly and don’t hear as well as once ago. To help them get the most out of your holiday events, slow down how fast you talk or do things, and speak more slowly and louder. Be sure to watch their reactions and body language very carefully for clues about how well they’re staying with you in terms of what’s being done and said.

And it’s also important to consider that for an elderly person who has lost a loved one, this is an especially difficult time of year. The loss, and the memories that inevitably freely flow especially during religious festivities, combine to create a level of personal hurt and pain we often don’t understand or respect to the extent we could and should.

When we consciously plan to meet the oft-unexpressed needs of our elderly family members, we’re ensuring they’ll be active participants in our holiday events. And we’ll know that their engagement is satisfying to them and to every person in the family.

Exploring better, longer living for loved ones… and us

We're always exploring better, loger living for loved ones, and us.

This article is a terrific overview of where we are and how we might approach longer healthy living by smart actions, rather than rash, impossible hopes and dreams and resulting possibly harmful experiments

Ma­nip­u­lat­ing the bi­ol­ogy of ag­ing
'The Globe and Mail Metro (Ontario Edition)' – 2014-11-25
Re­searchers hope to slow the body clock to de­lay the on­set of
dis­eases such as can­cer, strokes, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and
For thousands of years, people have sought to escape or outrun their
mortality with potions, pills and elixirs, often blended with heavy
doses of hope and will.
In the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh, a Mesopotamian king searched for the
secret of immortality after the death of his best friend. At least
three Chinese emperors in the Tang dynasty died after consuming
treatments containing lead and mercury that they hoped would make them
immortal. In the late 19th century, a French-American physiologist
seemed to have found the elixir of life by injecting the elderly and
himself with extracts from animal testicles.
Despite this enduring quest, most scientists say we are no closer to
eternal life today than we were all those years ago. The word
“immortality” elicits a mixture of laughter and earnest explanations
about the difference between science and science fiction.
Conversations about longevity, however, are an entirely different
story. Researchers are optimistic about recent efforts to delay the
effects of aging and, perhaps, extend life spans.
But at the same time, the scientific community is wary of how quickly
these findings are packaged and resold by companies promising a
fountain of youth.
“It’s probably worse today than it’s ever been,” said Dr. S. Jay
Olshansky, a professor in the School of Public Health at the
University of Illinois at Chicago and a research associate at the
Center on Aging at the University of Chicago. “As soon as the
scientists publish any glimmer of hope, the hucksters jump in and
start selling.”
Understanding the process of aging and developing treatments that
might slow the rate at which people grow old could help doctors keep
patients healthy longer. We won’t be able to stop or reverse aging,
but researchers are interested in slowing its progress, such that one
year of clock time might not equal a year of biological time for the
body. That could delay the onset of cancer, strokes, cardiovascular
disease and dementia, which become more prevalent as people age.
“By targeting fundamental aging processes, we might be able to delay
the major age-related chronic diseases instead of picking them off one
at time,” said Dr. James Kirkland, a professor of aging research and
head of the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging at the Mayo
Clinic. “For example, we don’t want to have a situation where we, say,
cure cancer and then people die six months later of Alzheimer’s
disease or a stroke. It would be better to delay all of these things
This is where the field known as the biology of aging is moving – to
develop drugs that will increase life span and what researchers refer
to as health span, the period of life when people are able to live
independently and free from disease.
Kirkland said that at least six drugs had been written up in
peer-reviewed journals and that he knew of about 20 others that appear
to affect lifespan or health span in mice. The goal is to see if those
benefits can be translated into humans to increase their longevity,
“to find interventions that we can use in people that might, say, make
a person who’s 90 feel like they’re 60 or a person who’s 70 feel like
they’re 40 or 50.”
Other researchers are studying centenarians, seeking to understand
whether certain genes have carried them past 100 years old and kept
them in good health.
“Everybody knows someone who’s 60 who looks like he’s 50, or someone
60 who looks 70,” said Dr. Nir Barzilai, the director of the Institute
for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New
York who is studying centenarians and their children. “Intuitively, we
understand that we age at different rates, so the question is, really:
‘What’s the biological or genetic difference between those who age
quickly and those who age slowly?’ ” Drugs that mimic the effect of
those genes might be beneficial to the rest of the population not born
with them.
Barzilai said that as a scientist his goal wasn’t to help people live
longer, but to live healthier, although he did occasionally get
e-mails from people interested in how his work might benefit their
quest to live forever. He doesn’t respond – he says he has nothing to
offer them.
The global anti-aging industry was worth $195-billion (U.S.) in 2013
and was projected to grow to $275-billion by 2020, according to the
market research firm Global Industry Analysts. Products include beauty
creams, Botox, dietary supplements and prescription medications, not
all of which seek to reverse aging as much as minimize its visible
Olshansky points to resveratrol supplements and human growth hormones
as products that are marketed as having anti-aging benefits soon after
initial scientific studies suggest promising results. But resveratrol,
often made from the skin of red grapes, is still being studied and
commercially available products are premature, he said. Growth
hormones are a more severe risk, he said, because they can actually be
dangerous for those who take them.
Barzilai added that many of the centenarians he studied had naturally
lower levels or activity of growth hormones. “We think that’s
important for their survival,” he said.
Other dietary supplements promise to help consumers reverse the aging
clock. Such products aren’t required to prove their effectiveness or
safety with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before their sale,
although the FDA can take action against products that have misleading
labels or that claim to treat diseases.
Instead of spending money on aging “fixes,” Olshansky suggests that
people accept the bland prescription doctors have been offering for
decades: a healthy diet and exercise.
“You don’t need to spend money,” he said. “Maybe a good pair of
running or walking shoes would work. Exercise is roughly the only
equivalent of a fountain of youth that exists today, and it’s free to

© Copyright The Globe and Mail Inc. All Rights Reserved

Protect aging parents and older loved ones: get a flu shot

You may not believe flu shots make a difference, or you may get the shot one year but not another. But if you have aging parents and other elderly loved ones, do them a favor: get the flu shot.

Ask your family physician or any health care professional about the importance of limiting the risk to the elderly that getting a flu shot gives. No question: given their ages and often their conditions, older loved ones are more vulnerable to catching a bad cold or flu from someone who has been infected.

That’s why as added protection for them, get a flu shot for you. Reduce the risk. And maybe even help yourself.

Will you go get a flu shot, knowing it can help keep aging parents and other loved ones at less risk?


Last wish: to die at home

Here is a story recently published in The New York Times titled Fighting to honor a father’slast wish: to die at home

It's a very touching, moving chronicle of how Maureen Stefanides wanted to fulfill her father’s request after long nursing home stays left him weak and unhappy, but the forces of the health care system seemed stacked against her. It's a story we hear over and over again. Well worth reading. It's here:

What countries are best to age in?

What countries are best to age in?

A new global study outlines it all.

Here is the link to the CTV network web site's story.

At the end of the story, there is also a link that leads to the entire study. Interesting reading. Nice to note Canada rates fourth best in the world; the United States ranks eigth. 

Eight elder-safety steps to consider

A major challenge for all of us—caregivers to aging loved ones and all those who are into their advancing years—is to identify and address safety.

From all the statistics we can look at, it seems that generally speaking the physical and psychological safety of our aging loved ones is a high priority but a low deliverable.

There’re many actions we can take to help protect our aging parents and other elderly loved ones. The key is to consider the challenges and options, and to consider how committed and able we are to help them live in the safest possible environment.

Eight elder-safety steps to consider

1.     If living in a facility or hospitalized, make sure your aging loved one walks the halls with care, using a cane or walker if there is any unsteadiness. As well, tell them to avoid newly washed hallways and rooms: a slip can become a fall.

2.     In tandem with a health care professional, impress upon your aging parent how important it is to sit up and sit at the side of the bed for a minute before standing, or even when getting up from a chair. Slower blood circulation—or in some cases, high blood pressure—can cause momentary light-headedness and increase the potential for a fall.

3.     Make sure loose rugs are taped down with double sided tap: prevents trips and falls.

4.     Check how easily an aging parent is able to sit in or get up from a chair. Sometimes the height of the chair becomes an impediment and you can buy risers to put under each leg for more secure sitting and standing.

5.     Bathroom falls are way too frequent. Help aging loved ones by installing hand grips for getting into and out of bathtubs and bathing seats in the tub; look at installing grip bars next to toilets and either getting toilets with higher seats or portable seats that make sitting and standing up easier.

6.     Stairs are another threat zone for aging people. Ensure handrails are in place and secure. On wooden staircases, look to install runners or rubberized stair mats secured to each step. Similarly, in our climate, check to see who clears snow and salts or sands outside porch steps: winter falls are frequent. Help find someone or arrange for a snow clearing service to do the stairs, and of course, the walkway. In fact, in some jurisdictions the city or town will clear the snow off sidewalks of elderly who qualify.

7.     Lighting is often taken for granted. But well-lit rooms, and especially hallways and stairwells are important to help aging loved ones better see the terrain and judge depths and distances.

8.     The elderly are frequently on a number of medications, sometimes prescribed by different physicians. They more often than not also take other potions, tonics, herbal, and across the counter medications. That’s why it’s important to get a sound, professional review of all medications being taken and determine the right mix and match.

There are, of course, more preventative safety steps. The eight listed here are good starting points for you to look at and as needed apply.

There are many relatively simple, logical protective actions we can take that will help keep our aging parents and other loved ones safer and more secure. It’s up to each one of us, in any setting, to make it happen.

Lack of vitamin D could increase risk of dementia

A recent study indicates that the lack of vitamin D could increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's.

Read the CTV network media covereage on this here:

Need for eldercare national policy pressed

This week, the Canadian Medical Association released survey findings showing a lot of Canadians are concerned about the quality of care now available for the elderly. And, the boomers are concerned about what to expect for themselves as they age. That's why the CMA is calling on the federal government to create a health care stratetgy for the aging and elderly.

Read the Globe & Mail article about it: