Posts Tagged ‘agingpro’

Shriver Report – Alzheimer’s Impact on Women: Aging Pro’s Answers

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

The Shriver Report: A Women’s Nation Take on Alzheimer’s was just released. The Report is a collaboration between Maria Shriver and the Alzheimer’s Association, exposing the epidemic’s effect on women as caregivers, advocates and people with the disease. Maria is getting people talking about Alzhiemer’s disease!

Alzheimer’s is a women’s issue. According to the report, women make up two-thirds of the people with Alzheimer’s in the U.S. and account for 60 percent of the unpaid caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s. This means that 10 million women either have Alzheimer’s or are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. 40 percent of the caregivers interviewed said they felt like they had no choice in assuming the caregiving role. These numbers continue to grow, daily.

Alzheimer’s disease is costly. Governments, businesses and families spend $300 billion a year on Alzheimer’s disease. Yearly, it costs about $56,000 to care for someone with Alzheimer’s, which is typically paid for by families. Daughters, sons, spouses will give up their jobs, savings, time, health, and sanity to help care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s.

A woman with Alzheimer’s has unique challenges. Since women tend to live longer, they are more often widows who may not have a spouse to care for them as the disease progresses. She may be caring for other family or friends, so as she declines the others will need to find different caregivers. Women tend to be the “glue” in the family, and as her disease progresses her family may no longer remain as cohesive.

A woman as a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s experiences challenges as well. She is more likely to be depressed, and according the Report, 68 percent of women who were caregivers experienced emotional stress, and 51 percent of them said they suffered from physical stress. Most caregivers don’t self-identify as caregivers. They just think a loved one needs help and they are going to help. They don’t know they need to ask for help, and don’t realize what a toll caregiving is taking on their lives and health. Caregivers often put aside their own needs and dreams to take care of their loved ones. Daughters experience a role reversal, now needing to take an in-charge position with their parents.

The Shriver reports asks some questions, and I have the following answers:

How can we relieve the emotional stress on families? Caregivers need support, education and resources. The needed resources are often available, but it’s very difficult to find them when you need them. Lack of information promotes fear. That is why I launched www.AgingPro.com. It brings all the resources, professionals, education and support for eldercare to one place. Care coordination is also crucial, and part of the Healthcare reform legislation. Certified Geriatric Care Managers provide an invaluable communication link between doctors, community care providers, persons with Alzheimer’s and their family. Care Managers are invaluable, yet for some are not affordable. Pilot community care coordination programs do exist, and we need more. We need more support groups, both in-person and online. Adult day respite programs need to focus on early and moderate stage memory loss, not just later stages.

How can we prepare for Alzheimer’s possibly hitting our own family? Few want to talk about it. Some don’t even want to say the word. Yet it’s a natural part of life and will affect all of us in one way or another. I’m referring to Aging. Aging has become a taboo subject in our American culture, something we pretend isn’t there. If you read the paper, watch TV, or go on the Web, you mostly see images of youth, thinness, wealth and beauty. However, we are beginning to realize our population is aging – and so are we.
I’m here to tell you that getting older can be a positive experience and have its own unique rewards. Contrary to the whispered implications, it doesn’t have to be a time of withering away and going to a nursing home. Fun, happiness, success and fulfillment aren’t just the things of youth; they can be enjoyed abundantly throughout life. Older adults can stay independent, active and vital as they age. Getting older CAN mean getting better, if you have the right attitude, information and resources.
So first, we need to be willing to have discussions about aging, starting in our families and communities. Ask each other – when you get older, where do you want to live? What is your ideal vision? It is very helpful to create a “Plan B.” Just as we would prepare for an earthquake, we prepare for the potential of Alzheimer’s in the family. Plan A is what you’d like to happen, Plan B is what you will do if Alzheimer’s strikes you or your family. Plan B is created by: educating yourselves about the signs and symptoms of the disease; pre-planning your legal matters (creating a will, trust and durable power of attorney for healthcare and finances); saving money for your long-term-care, or purchasing long-term-care insurance; educating yourselves about the choices of housing and care; and locating the professionals and resources available to help out along the journey.

How can government, business, nonprofits and the press effectively call attention to the threat of Alzheimer’s and implement solutions? More education and awareness campaigns can be created – public service announcements, television series on different eldercare topics (similar to the new “Hoarders” series), celebrity involvement – to help shift the old negative stereotypes of aging and eldercare, and to help the millions of caregivers that don’t know how to access the services or find the support they need. Maria Shriver, the aging field needs your voice!

An example of a creative television show might be Extreme Makeover, Grandma Edition. Make over the home of an older person  –  repairing and/or modifying their homes so they can continue to live independently. There are many inspiring stories of need and courage among caregivers and elders!

Businesses can provide eldercare services, counseling and care coordination as part of their Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). Non-profits can provide more grant money to elder care topics. Solutions to Alzheimer’s now include: information, support and best practice guidelines.

The topic of Women and Alzheimer’s is so important. It is where the pain points of love, guilt, money and time intersect – a perfect fit for government, the press and business to join in the cause.

The issues of women, Alzheimer’s and eldercare are many-faceted and deeply layered. More money for Alzheimer’s research is needed. More support and education are also needed on all eldercare topics. Most family caregivers for the elderly are trying to do what’s best for their loved ones. They don’t know where to turn to get help. The stress of caregiving affects their work, finances, and physical and mental health. Caregivers  need a place to connect, to learn, be inspired and empowered. AgingPro.com is that place, the “Waiting for Superwoman, Caregiver Edition.”

Where are all the Eldercare Services?

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

I just came back from an elder abuse prevention meeting. There was a guest there whose dad was a victim of elder abuse recently. She was very upset that when she and her sister were looking for elder abuse resources, she couldn’t find them anywhere. Her dad has since died. This abusive situation (by a hired caregiver) created so much stress in their relationship that they didn’t get along the last year of his life. She hasn’t had a full nights sleep since. She’s hurt, mad and sad.

This renewed my passion for bringing all the services for eldercare services to ONE PLACE – This is why I created www.AgingPro.com.  My aim is that no other family member would lose sleep over edler abuse or be so hurt that they couldn’t find the best care for their loved one.

AgingPro.com brings all the eldercare services to one place, online. There are good people out there doing good work – it’s just very hard to find them!

We need support, marketing, and funding to make AgingPro.com truly the Google of Eldercare.

Spread the word – everything you need for eldercare is in one place. Come check us out!

Thank you for your support.

Dr. Cheryl is nominee for Alzheimer’s Association “Visionary Women and Compassionate Caregiver” award

Monday, September 27th, 2010

On Friday, September 24 I was honored to attend the celebratory luncheon for the 2010 Alzheimer’s Association (Orange County) “Visionary Women and Compassionate Caregiver” award. I was lucky enough to be nominated this year. The luncheon honors individuals who have served as models of commitment to compassionate care.

I felt so blessed to be there, with (mostly) women who are involved at some level with caring for those with Alzheimer’s. Each person I spoke with had their personal story of how this disease has affected them in some way. Some caregivers were children or spouses, some were professionals in the field. Some of their loved ones have already passed away, others are still living with the disease.

Alzheimer’s was the common thread at this luncheon. We all knew the storyline, quite personal yet familiar. We all knew that we could never really explain to another how this disease impacted us, nor could we convey all the stories we hold in our hearts – the struggles, the blessings, the comical events, the tears and the laughter. The stories may slowly emerge for us, yet all the details will truly only be our own. We simply honor each other, in a knowing of what this disease can bring forward, and in a gratitude that we have each other to lean on, to learn from and to celebrate with.

Blessings to all the caregivers out there.

I’d love to hear your stories, if you care to share.

How Can I Make My Aging Parents Do What I Want?

Friday, June 5th, 2009

I had two calls just today on a similar topic — How can I make my aging parents to “do what I want.” This question comes up a lot. The adult child sees mom or dad living in, what they consider, less than the best situation and the child thinks that things would be so much better if only they would do “X” (such as move closer to her, move to an assisted living or get caregiving in the home). The only problem is, Mom or Dad doesn’t want to do “X.”

The main thing to remember is this: People (everyone, including your parents) have the right to make their own decisions (even if they look like really bad decisions to you) for as long as they have “capacity.” Basically, “capacity” means that they understand the consequences of their decisions – the ability to receive, evaluate and communicate a decision to others. If they have advanced dementia or are in a coma, they probably don’t have capacity. Physical frailty is not sufficient in determining capacity.

If they have capacity, you can talk to your older loved one to see if they want to cooperate with what you have in mind, but if they don’t want to, nobody can make them. If you feel they aren’t safe and they refuse to get help, you could report them to Adult Protective Services (APS, available nation wide).They will do an assessment and determine if the person is safe or if they need a guardian. Powers of Attorney are documents a person signs, designating someone else to make decisions for them if they are no longer able to (such as for health care or financial decisions).

Ideally, everyone involved would talk and come up with a plan to support the older loved one in getting what they want while remaining safe and happy. If your mom or dad doesn’t want to change, the best you can do it make a “Plan B” – an alternative plan to implement when the “crisis” happens. Usually, an incident like mom falling and breaking a hip forces change. If you have a Plan B, you can sleep easier knowing you won’t be caught by surprise, because you know what your options are.

Answers to all your eldercare questions, and options for “Plan B” can be found in AgingPro’s Eldercare Basics E-Book. http://www.agingpro.com//store/Eldercare_Basics.htm

You can have peace of mind when you know you’ve looked at all your options, and made the best decision you could in the moment.

Aging Humor June 3, 2009

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

AgingPro Funnies

Q:  How can you avoid that terrible curse of the elderly—–wrinkles?

A:  Take off your glasses and you won’t see them.

Q:  Is it common for 60+ year olds to have problems with short term memory storage?

A:  Storing memory is not a problem, retrieving it is a problem.

Q: What is the most common remark made by 60+ year olds when they enter antique stores?

A: “‘Gosh, I remember these.”

Aging Humor: Never Stop Laughing

Monday, May 18th, 2009

You don’t stop laughing because you grow old, You grow old because you stop laughing!!

My memory’s not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my memory’s not as sharp as it used to be.

Just before the funeral services, the undertaker came up to the very elderly widow and asked, “How old was your husband?” “98” she replied, “Two years older than me.” “So you’re 96,” the undertaker commented. She responded, “Hardly worth going home, is it?”

AgingPro.com in Oprah magazine!

Monday, October 13th, 2008

Gayle and Dr. Cheryl in New York for Oprah magazine/White House Project Leadership Training

AgingPro.com wins Oprah magazine / The White House Project Women Rule! Leadership Training Program!

In April of this year, Oprah magazine advertised a contest – If you have a vision/ project to change the world, tell us what that would be, and we’ll help you take it to the next level.  I entered my idea for www.AgingPro.com, and out of 3,200 entries, I was one of 1 of 80 winners chosen to attend the Leadership Training in New York in June.

The article about this contest and Training is in the November issue of O magazine, hitting newsstands now!

AgingPro – The Complete Eldercare Resource

Welcome Oprah (O) Magazine Readers!
For a limited time, we are pleased to give you our e-workbook, “The Caregiver’s Partner” at no cost (retail value $12)  This 12 page journal is an interactive tool designed to support you in making your journey as a caregiver as easy as possible.  It is loaded with essential information, AgingPro tips for success, insider knowledge from those who have been down the caregiver path before, inspiration and practical tools for supporting your experience and optimizing your learning and growth as a result.  It provides an opportunity for you to look inwardly and to express all of the thoughts and feelings that are likely to arise in your role as caregiver.  Go to www.AgingPro.com now to sign up for your free gift!