Dr. Mauk’s Boomer Blog

/Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog

Each week, Dr. Mauk shares thoughts relevant to Baby Boomers that are aimed to educate and amuse.

Aging in Place: Home Preparations and Modifications for Alzheimer’s Patients – Guest Blog

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the disease affects five million Americans. However, this number doesn’t reflect the many more Americans that are affected by Alzheimer’s indirectly. This includes family and friends that take on the great responsibility of caring for a loved one with the disease. Many of these caregivers have numerous considerations to keep in mind, and one of these is altering and modifying the home to provide better comfort and safety.

Let’s look at some home preparations and modifications you can make if you need to accommodate a loved one with Alzheimer’s.

Safety and Comfort. The first consideration should be thinking about is how you can reduce the risk of your loved one tripping, falling, or becoming confused or disoriented.

● Remove objects that can be obstructive in high-traffic areas. Avoid having stuff on the floor or low tables and furniture that can be easy to miss.
● Lock cabinets that might contain hazardous chemicals and materials.
● Keep dark corners of the house well-lit and illuminated. This includes stairwells and basements.
● Check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
● Ensure your loved ones don’t have easy exits where they can wander out.

Functionality and Design

Making your house function better for Alzheimer’s patients means helping them avoid unnecessary disorientation, fear, or depression. The following are some tips:

● Remove clutter or scattered objects that might overstimulate. For example, instead of having five pairs of shoes for your loved one to choose from, leave only one pair. This might eliminate an unnecessary episode of confusion when getting dressed.
● Rearrange furniture in a simple and straightforward way. The way the furniture is arranged can dictate the atmosphere of the room. For example, if the only chair is facing the television, you might have them constantly sitting in front of the TV.
● The Huffington Post suggests that creating a personalized space with familiar objects and smells can be a great way to keep an Alzheimer’s patient comfortable. At the same time, you should avoid having busy patterns on furniture or curtains, confusing colors, or rugs that can cause tripping.

Stimulation and Socialization

It’s important for your loved one to get plenty of socialization and interaction with others. In a typical household, people are working or living their own lives as they juggle the responsibility of caregiving. Living at home without much visitation can often lead to patients becoming isolated and withdrawn. Try to arrange frequent visits by friends and family members. Consider taking loved ones with you if you have to run errands, going for short walks, or involving them in everyday activities.

How to Modify or Renovate Your Home

In order to maintain safety or functionality, it’s often important to do modifications to your home. One of the most common home alterations is improving or renovating bathrooms and kitchens. This is because these are two areas of the house that can be most hazardous and require a little more navigation.

For Bathrooms

Renovations for bathrooms cost an average of about $8,820 depending on the work to be done. Some common and important improvements for Alzheimer’s-friendly bathrooms include installing grab bars and handrails, swapping out a bathtub for a shower, and adding lighting and non-slip flooring.

For Kitchens

You might consider a kitchen modification as well. It will vary in complexity depending on your current setup. When restructuring your kitchen for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, consider faucets, accessibility of appliances, kitchen counter height, mobility, and difficulty of navigation.

Caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s is a great responsibility. Ensuring their safety and comfort at home will not only make their lives better, but it will make yours easier and remove unnecessary hazards and stress. Having confidence that your loved one is comfortable and at ease will take a big weight off your shoulders. Your loved one will be happy to be living at home. The Boston Globe reported that Alzheimer’s patients that remain at home live longer and better lives.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

By | 2017-12-22T12:02:54+00:00 December 21st, 2017|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Aging in Place: Home Preparations and Modifications for Alzheimer’s Patients – Guest Blog

The 6-Step Process of Stroke Recovery

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According to the CDC, nearly 800,000 persons in the United States have a stroke each year. This is about one every 4 minutes, resulting in over 130,000 deaths annually. Stroke is simply defined as an interruption to the blood supply to the brain and is caused by a clot or hemorrhage. It can be a devastating problem for survivors, resulting in changes in mobility, cognition, speech, swallowing, bowel and bladder, self-care, and general functioning to varying degrees.  Some people recover completely after a stroke, but others experience lifelong challenges.

The good news is that there is hope and quality of life after stroke. In my research with stroke survivors, I discovered 6 phases that survivors reported as they made the journey through rehabilitation towards recovery. These steps can be used to see where a person is in the recovery process, help us understand how they may be feeling, and help guide the way we interact with them.

Agonizing:  In this first phase of the process, stroke survivors are in shock over what has happened to them. They can’t believe it, and may even deny the warning signs of stroke. The important task during this time is survival from the stroke itself.  Call 911 if you see the warning signs of facial droop, arm weakness, or speech difficulties.

Fantasizing:  In the second phase of the stroke process, the survivor may believe that the symptoms will all go away. Life will return to normal, and there is a sense of the problem being unreal. Time takes on a different meaning. The way to help is to gently help them recognize reality, and without taking away hope for recovery.

Realizing: This is the most important phase that signals a turn in the recovery process. This is when the survivor realizes that he/she may not fully recover from the effects of the stroke and that there is work to be done to rehabilitate and reclaim life. Common feelings during this phase of realizing are anger and depression. The way to help is to encourage the person to actively engage in rehabilitation. The real work of recovery is just beginning.

Blending: These last 3 phases in the process of stroke recovery may be occurring at much the same time. This is where the real work of adaptation to life after stroke begins. The survivor begins to blend his “old life” before stroke with his new life as a stroke survivor. He/she may start to engage in former activities even if it requires adaptations to be made. He/she will be actively engaged in therapy and finding new ways to do things. The way to help is to promote education. This is a time when survivors are most ready to learn how to adjust to life after stroke. Listen to your rehab nurses, therapists, and physician. Be active in the recovery process.

Framing: During this phase, the individual wants to know what caused the stroke. Whereas in the Agonizing phase they were asking “why me?”, now they need to the answer to “what was the cause?”  Stroke can be a recurring disorder, so to stop a subsequent stroke, it is important to know the cause. Interestingly, if the physician has not given the survivor a cause for the first stroke, patients often make up a cause that may not be accurate. Help the survivor to learn from the health care provider what the cause of his/her own stroke was. Then steps can be taken to control those risk factors.

Owning:  In this final phase of stroke recovery, the survivor has achieved positive adaptation to the stroke event and aftermath. The survivor has accomplished the needed grief work over the losses resulting from the stroke. He/she has realized that the effects may not go away and has made positive adjustments to his/her life in order to go on. Survivors in this phase have blended their old life with the new life after stroke and feel better about their quality of life. While they still may revisit the emotions of the prior phases at times, they have accepted life as a survivor of stroke and made good adjustments to any changes that resulted. They feel that they have a more positive outlook on life. At this point, survivors can use their experience to help others cope with life after stroke.

For more information about stroke recovery, visit www.seniorcarecentral.net and view Dr. Mauk’s model for stroke recovery.

By | 2017-11-13T14:07:05+00:00 November 13th, 2017|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on The 6-Step Process of Stroke Recovery

Seniors: How to Cope and Manage Hearing Loss

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Hearing loss is a disability that affects over 36 million American adults; 30 percent of those afflicted are 65-74 years old and 47 percent are 75 or older.

The Hearing Loss Association of America cites three types of hearing loss:

1.    Conductive hearing loss is due to ear canal, ear drum, or middle ear problems. Most causes of conductive hearing loss can be treated with surgery or hearing aids, particularly bone conductive hearing aids.
2.    Censorial hearing loss (nerve-related hearing loss) is due to inner ear problems. Depending upon the cause, treatments include medications or, in some cases, surgery.
3.    Mixed hearing loss is when there is damage in the outer or middle ear as well as the inner ear or auditory nerve. The conductive hearing loss is usually treated first, then the censorial.

Hearing loss can have a profound impact on our work and social interactions. People with this disability may experience depression and as a result, anger at others or withdrawal from occasions where their hearing loss will be noticeable. Unfortunately, there is no cure to hearing loss, although, there are effective ways to manage it and be proactive. Learn about your disability and seek assistance to help cope.

  • Hearing aids –Purchase your hearing aids from an auditory or medical professional who specializes in hearing, not someone who specializes in selling hearing aids. Hearing Denial suggests booking with ones that are able to offer evaluations and custom hearing aid fittings all within one supplier.
  • Cochlear implants – You will need an evaluation by an audiologist and an implant-affiliated physician to determine if you are eligible for cochlear implants.
  • Hearing Assistive Technology is available at most performing arts venues, including most movie theaters. Amplified and captioned phone systems, smoke detectors and doorbells are also available.

Responding to Others

Communication is still a two-way. There are ways you can help maintain your end of communication with others. Some suggestions include:

  • Do your best to focus and concentrate.
  • Admit it when you don’t understand.
  • Watch for visual clues and ask for written clues if necessary.
  • Maintain your sense of humor and positive attitude.

 

 

 

By | 2017-11-01T11:31:37+00:00 November 1st, 2017|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Seniors: How to Cope and Manage Hearing Loss
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