Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I want to wish each of you a very Happy New Year. As we move into 2009, I pray that you will find joy and prosperity, and that God will establish the work of your hands and lives. Bless you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Knowing When to Consider Assisted Living

Accent on Seniors published an article titled "How Do You Know When It’s Time to Consider a Move to Assisted Living for Your Elderly Parent(s)?” Since I expect to need this information in 2009, I found it very helpful. Here are some questions they suggest asking as indicators. Are your aging parents:
Eating nutritiously? Losing weight? Is there fresh food in the house?

Are the bills paid on time? Are they able to maintain their finances and keep records in order?

Experiencing falls and/or bruising?

Experiencing episodes of marked mental confusion? Has there been a wandering incident?

Not getting dressed all day? Depressed? Personality changes?

Lacking in social interest, isolation and/or a loss of interest in friends or favorite activities?

Is one parent overwhelmed as the primary caregiver for the other? If so, is his parent equipped both mentally and physically? Does that other parent have a caregiver to relieve them at times?

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Friday, December 26, 2008

The Four Stages of Caregiving

Martha Grove Hipskind, a researcher with the Health Planning Source, and Denise M. Brown, the editor and publisher of Caregiving, have developed a model that illustrates the four stages of caregiving that all caregivers go through to some degree or another. These include the anticipatory caregiver, the freshman caregiver, the entrenched caregiver, and the caregiver in loss. The authors give a description of each stage, along with advice for navigating each.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to each of my wonderful readers. You are doing a great job and are to be commended for the work you do. Blessings to each of you.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas with an Aging Mother

We spent last weekend with Mom and most of our family. Everyone still wants to go to Mom’s for the family holiday, and Mom still wants to host it. Problem is, she really can’t handle much of the preparations and most of the family can’t or won’t pitch in. That used to be OK. I could handle dinner for a crowd with little effort. However, now that I have my own aches and pains, it’s harder for me to manage. I was utterly exhausted following our dinner – and we low-keyed it in every way possible. Paper plates, ham rather than turkey, boxed scalloped potatoes. Fortunately, my brother washed all the dishes (there were still a lot!) and cleaned up the kitchen. As good as it was to see everyone, we were glad when it was over!

We had arrived on Thursday for a Friday doctor appointment. Still no diagnosis, but at least this doc is reducing the medications. However, between the medical appointment and last minute shopping, Mom was pretty blitzed even before Saturday arrived. By the time we were ready to leave on Sunday, she couldn’t keep her eyes open. She laid down for a nap and slept four hours! She sounded much better today.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

12 Tips to Keep Joy in the Holidays

John Grohol offers 12 Tips to Keep Joy in the Holidays. Important reminders for everyone, but especially for Gen Sandwichers who are trying to keep more than the usual number of plates spinning.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Exercise helps Arthritis

A study published in Arthritis Care & Research and reviewed at evaluated the effects of the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program to promote managing arthritis through exercise.

The study involved 346 patients with an average age of 70 who had self-reported arthritis. The results showed that those in the program had significant improvements in pain, fatigue, and managing arthritis at 8 weeks and maintained improvements in pain and fatigue at 6 months.

Although the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program focuses mainly on range-of-motion and low-resistance exercises, a separate analysis found that those completing the program showed increased strength in their upper and lower extremities. This indicates that strength training, one of the more minor components of the program, was effective.

Since so many of our parents (and those of us who are aging) have arthritis, this is good to know. In fact, I probably should do more exercise myself since arthritis is creeping in – even though I’m not quite 70.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Depression Leads to Internal Body Fat in the Elderly

According to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, older people who are depressed are much more likely to develop a dangerous type of internal body fat -- the kind that can lead to diabetes and heart disease -- than people who aren't depressed.

This is the first large study to track people over time to see if those with depression were more likely to gain weight. The participants, all in their 70s, were recruited in and around Memphis, Tenn., and Pittsburgh in 1997 and 1998 and were followed for five years.

Both groups, depressed and nondepressed, were overweight at the start of the study, with approximately the same average body mass index. When the researchers took into account other risk factors for obesity, including the depressed group's higher visceral fat levels in the beginning, they still found a connection between depression and visceral fat gain. The amount of fat gained could mean the difference between developing a cardiovascular disease or not.

Since many of our parents are depressed, this is important information to stay aware of. I’ve noticed that Mom has become increasingly depressed over the past few years. Anti-depressants caused worse side effects, but it’s important for her to stay active and engaged and it’s important for us to stay attuned to her mental health as well as her physical health.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Christmas Preparations

I’ve been sick since Nov. 22. I have some sort of cold/URI (doc thought it was pneumonia) that I can’t shake, even after two rounds of antibiotics. I was sick through Thanksgiving and still feel absolutely awful. In fact, it feels as if it’s getting worse again. I was supposed to go to Mom’s for another round of her doctor appointments this past week, but canceled. She certainly doesn’t need to catch this, and I honestly didn’t have the energy to go. She went to one on her own and I rescheduled the rest for a couple of weeks from now when we are there for the family Christmas. Hope I’m better by then!

Despite feeling at about 50%, we decorated the tree and much of the house today That has to be one of my least favorite tasks, followed only by UNdecorating the house after Christmas. Decorating was never a favorite activity, but when Son was home, there seemed to be a reason for it. Now with an empty nest, it seems, well… empty. We have cut back a lot, but still want it to be “home” when Son and DIL arrive on the 26th. And of course, once it’s done and the boxes are back in storage, I like the fruit. Just not the process. So, Lord willing, tomorrow we’ll finish the process and begin to enjoy the fruit.

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Monday, December 01, 2008


“Mom, why are you climbing that ladder when I’m here! Don’t do that!”

This sounds like my normal mantra to my mom. At 87, she still thinks she can just scamper up the step stool and get something from the top shelf. But she’s so unstable on her feet that it scares me silly when I see her doing that. No matter that the other 27 days of the month I’m not there and she has to manage by herself. When I’m there, I want to be the one doing the climbing.

But this wasn’t me scolding Mom. It was my son scolding me. He and his wife were here for Thanksgiving, and he moved our DSL router to the top of a kitchen cabinet to give us better coverage. I wanted to adjust some of the decorative items on top of the cabinet, so as usual, just grabbed my step stool, climbed onto the counter top, and did what I needed to do. Son came in about then and scolded me.

Of course, I don’t think I’m nearly as unsafe as Mom – or nearly as old -- but I suppose to Son and DIL, I seem pretty old. I remember how old our parents seemed when we got married – and they were younger than we are now!

This trip, like most of Son’s trips home, has been full of tasks we needed his technical support on. He was bemoaning the fact that it seems that every time he comes home, we have a list for him. Funny, every time I go to Mom’s, she has a stack of stuff for me to do, review, or advise her on – in addition to the doctor appointments I accompany her to. We’re learning that as we age, we need the younger generation’s help, just as they need us for other things. In the circle of family love, we each have something valuable to offer. We may lament the time our parents’ needs take from our own agendas, but the older I get, the more I value family. The more I value the unique skills and contributions of the different generations. And the more precious multi-generation time becomes.

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