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.

Thanksgiving is Good for Your Health

Close-up of Fresh Vegetables and Fruits

This time of year, many people pause to give thanks for the good things in their life, but did you know that giving thanks is good for your health?

Having an optimistic outlook on life and using positive coping skills to manage stress has been linked in numerous studies to a longer and happier life. One of the common themes among people over age 85 who report very good to excellent health (in spite of dealing with chronic illnesses) is just that – thinking positive. Norman Vincent Peale, in his famous book, “The Power of Positive Thinking” said:

The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.

But what if you are not naturally a positive thinker, but more of a “the glass is half empty” kind of person? The good news is that you can begin to change your thinking to improve your health. If you are not sure where to start, consider some of these suggestions as a place to begin:

Count your blessings. There is an old hymn that was sung when I was girl. When I felt down and discouraged, I would sing this song. It went like this:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed. When you are discouraged thinking all is lost. Count your many blessings every doubt will fly. Then you will be singing as the days go by. Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your many blessings. See what God has done.

Sometimes it helps to list what you are grateful for on paper. If you need a place to start, an excellent resource is the book “One Thousand Gifts: Reflections on Finding Everyday Graces” by Ann VosKamp. Through a series of 60 short devotionals, the author walks you through a journey to greater appreciation and thankfulness for all that you have.

Learn to be content with what you have.  At the holidays, especially, it is easy to get caught up in thinking about what we wish we had and those things we don’t have. Try looking at it the other way- even in relationship to your health. For example, several years ago I had a catastrophic skiing accident, breaking my leg and tearing all of my knee ligaments. A subsequent blood clot complication meant that I couldn’t have surgery to repair the knee right away. After being in a wheelchair, on crutches, and in awful pain for months, with the help of countless hours of painful therapy and surgery a year later, I was finally able to walk almost normally again. Every day since then, when I am tempted to complain that I will never ski again, cannot kneel or squat, or do not have complete range of motion in that knee, I remind myself of those months when I couldn’t walk at all without help and how it felt to be completely dependent on others for everything. Each step I take, each walk in the sunshine, each little jaunt to the car, and the ability to ride a bicycle is a blessing. Every movement without pain is a bonus I never thought I would have again. Take time to recall when your situation was worse, and express joy that things are better than they were then.

Help others.  One of the best ways to stop feeling sorry for yourself and cultivate an attitude of gratitude is to serve others, especially those who are less fortunate than you. Volunteer to help serve food at the community Thanksgiving dinner or participate in Operation Christmas Child by making a shoebox for a boy or girl in a developing country who would otherwise have no gifts. Take food to your local food pantry. Mow the lawn or shovel snow for your widowed neighbor. Invite the single and lonely person to share Thanksgiving dinner with your family. Buy gifts through the Angel Tree Ministry for children of those in prison. Adopt a needy family. Even if you are homebound, you can encourage others by simple but meaningful tasks such as sending birthday or holiday cards to the people in your church or community group. A simple encouraging phone call can change a person’s day. By giving to others, you focus on positive parts of life and meaningful activities that in turn promote your positive mental health.

So, this Thanksgiving, push the pause button for a little while and take a moment to reflect on what you are grateful for. You may just find that Thanksgiving is good for your health.

 

By |2018-11-16T10:57:19+00:00November 16th, 2018|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Thanksgiving is Good for Your Health

Guest Blog: Bringing the family support together – Crucial steps in elder care planning


As a devoted caregiver for an aging parent, you have to be ready to face a wealth of new responsibilities. Some of them will be intimidating, whereas others will be unfamiliar and unforeseen. Every now and then, you may feel alone and overwhelmed. However, in spite of all these challenges, caring for an aging parent comes with plenty of rewards too. There are many guidelines you should consider to make the process run smoother. Here are some steps to consider.

Bring the whole family together decide on a caregiving plan 

Before making any decisions, you should set up a family meeting and decide with your siblings what’s best for your parent. Should you hire a home care assistant for your parent, or would it be better to put them in respite care home? If your parents are mentally stable but are having difficulties remembering things, or heading out to shop for groceries, you and your siblings may be able to be their caregivers. Split tasks equally by making a weekly plan. This way, your parents get the chance to see their kids, and you won’t have to get angry that nobody else but you in the family is looking after the parents.

Split responsibilities equally

Proper elder care takes a lot of time and effort. Careful planning is fundamental for your parents to live happy and not feel like a burden. Always remember that providing care for a loved one is an act of love, loyalty, and kindness. Thanks to advanced technology, it is now easier than ever to keep in touch with aging parents. Medical treatments are improving, life expectancy’s are increasing, and seniors are living well into their 70s. If you know little about caregiving, follow the tips below to provide the best care for your elder parent:

  • Learn everything there is to know about their disability or illness. This will help you be prepared in case something unexpectedly happens.
  • Look for professional help from certified caregivers.
  • Go with your gut, and listen carefully to a doctor’s advice. If they tell you that an assisted living facility is better for your loved one, then they’re probably right.

Elder parents will do anything to preserve their independence, even if it means living on their own with a chronic illness or disability. Don’t allow them to struggle and try to make their lives more comfortable by caring for their well being.

 

 

By |2018-11-10T09:29:47+00:00November 14th, 2018|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Bringing the family support together – Crucial steps in elder care planning

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

 

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 |2018-11-10T09:29:12+00:00November 12th, 2018|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Aging in Place: Home Preparations and Modifications for Alzheimer’s Patients

Guest Blog: Burnout: Tips for Family Caregivers

Happy woman with elderly mother

By Dr. Nanette J. Davis, Ph.D.

Caregiving has often been compared to a roller coaster ride, with its inevitable ups and downs. This is especially true as your loved one deteriorates and faces the end of life. If you’re one of the 65 million family caregivers who has been feeling overwhelmed for too long, “burnout” may have set in.

Take that first step. Identify and claim the full range of your emotions—the anger, indifference, anxiety. In a recent study, 50% of family caregivers confessed to feeling depressed and some 69% admitted that frustration drove them to place their loved one in care. You may be experiencing the following, as well:

  • Fatigue
  • Confusion over role reversal
  • Loss of interest
  • Withdrawal or isolation from friends and other support persons
  • Irritability
  • Illness
  • Poor sleep
  • Desire to harm self or others

These unwanted reactions can also be compounded by the guilt and shame about feeling this way. Here are a few suggestions that might make a big difference.

  1. Make a point to engage in outside activities for maintaining a sense of health and well-being. Sure, it could feel like “one more thing” to do. But if you choose your outside activities wisely—staying away from demanding people or events—you could feel surprisingly refreshed.
  2. Seek and accept outside help. Once you admit to yourself and others that you can’t do it alone, the burden suddenly lifts. Good starting points are: local organizations, social service agencies and faith communities. Don’t overlook family, friends and neighbors who may be able to lend a hand.
  3. Allow your loved one plenty of opportunities to practice functional skills—as hard as it may be. Feeling as independent as possible satisfies a basic human need, even for a seriously ill person.
  4. Consult with a geriatric specialist, pastor or counselor about the right course of action if your loved one has become overly dependent or has exhausted your resources—physical, emotional or financial.
  5. Admit that you are juggling multiple roles, and engaging in an ever-so-delicate dance of support. The dance can go on as long as you allow the role of who leads and who follows to shift as circumstances change.
  6. Pay attention to your own needs. You can achieve balance when you include time to sleep, exercise, eat and attend to your own medical needs. Time spent with family, friends or just being alone helps you bounce back, too.
  7. Practice saying—maybe even forcefully—“no” when appropriate, and “yes” when someone offers to help.
  8. Seek out quality respite care.
  9. Enjoy an occasional movie or lunch with a supportive friend.
  10. Don’t expect too much from yourself.

Continue to recognize, acknowledge and accept your difficult emotions, so you can then work on setting boundaries, letting go of control and developing coping skills. For example, meditation and yoga can be incredibly relaxing.

Your commitment to your loved one can be a renewable resource if you take the right steps and are willing to change strategies when the “same ol’, same ol’” isn’t working anymore.

You can visit Dr. Nanette’s ABCs of Caregiving blog at http://www.abcsofcaregiving.com/

 

 

 

By |2018-11-10T09:25:20+00:00November 10th, 2018|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Burnout: Tips for Family Caregivers

Guest Blog: 5 Aged Care Aids that Should Be Accessible to Health Workers

When you are involved in the healthcare sector in Australia, and dealing with aged caregiving, you need to know what you may need to take care of the elderly under your supervision. Aged care requires some equipment and aids to be accessible to healthcare workers in order for them to perform their duties responsibly.

After all, health care workers dealing with aged caregiving is more demanding than many other jobs. You have to be on call for tending to the needs of the elderly in your care. If the equipment you have is insufficient, there might be a drop in the level of service provided.

That reflects badly, not only on you but on the health care facility as a whole. If you are missing any of these 5 aged care aids at your facility, you need to get in touch with your supervisors to have access to them when you need them most.

1. Wheelchairs
This is an absolute essential and can be used with many of the other aids mentioned here. There are many elderly that face difficulty when walking and a wheelchair on hand ensures that they don’t have to wait and suffer in discomfort to get to where they want.
It’s really important to have wheelchairs available on the spot if there is an injury in the elderly as the statistics about hip injuries and lack of immediate care are not that bright.

2. Gel Cushions
There are times when the elderly patient complains of pain in their hip joints and that sends stress signals, as your mind starts to go haywire thinking of the implications. You don’t need to be worried. With gel cushions, you’ll be able to have support for the elderly when they sit down.
The gel cushions are especially formulated for multiple uses, and are recommended by physiotherapists for pressure problems that may lead to stress fractures down the road.

3. Arthritis Handles
If there are elderly in your aged care facility that you see, struggling to open doors due to arthritis, an arthritis handle can help them be more mobile with less effort. It can safely attach to doors and drawers to help open them easily.
There’s no need to twist any knobs, grip firmly or any of the hard stuff. The elderly can get a hold of the things most important for them with an arthritis handle installed on doors and cupboards.

4. Hip Protection Pants
Safety+Mobility Aged Care Suppliers also have unisex protection pants with padded pressure guards, especially near the hip, for the elderly. It can be worn over undergarments as well, if they feel uncomfortable wearing it without underpants.
It’s not embarrassing as it is barely visible to anyone and protects the most precious areas of the elderly’s lower torso when they sit and walk. It’s a necessary aged care aid for those prone to hip problems.

5. Back Support
Lastly, back support is also very important because as we age, our bones also start to weaken without the proper diet and exercise. It means that you need to have our most important body areas safeguarded as we approach our golden years. A cushion provides the back and head support to help the elderly with posture problems.

By |2018-11-07T19:33:05+00:00November 8th, 2018|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: 5 Aged Care Aids that Should Be Accessible to Health Workers