Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mastering the art of aging

Interested in feeling better today and staying healthy for the future? Today, we are living longer – so it is good to be thinking about ways to engage in ongoing and positive ways to make the most of longevity. In 1950, the average American who was 65 could expect to live another 14 years in retirement, with roughly half of that time in good health. Today, once people reach age 65, they can expect to live another 19 years with roughly 66% of that time in good health. As a result, we can expect to have the greatest amount of free time in history. It is exciting for me to share with you a wonderful program being implemented by The Dale Association, in partnership with National Council on Aging, New York State Office for Aging, Niagara County Office for Aging, and SUNY Albany’s Center for Excellence in Aging and Community Wellness – called “Aging Mastery Program”. It is an opportunity for you to participate in a program that provides new pathways that encourages your ongoing and positive engagement in life. It is an incentive based program designed to inform, encourage, and support aging adults as they take steps to improve their lives and stay engaged in their communities. The Aging Mastery Program is about feeling better today and staying healthy for the future. National Council on Aging (NCOA) is the nation’s leading non-profit service and advocacy organization representing older adults and the community organizations that serve them. NCOA works with national and local partners to give older adults tools and information to stay healthy and secure, and advocates for programs and policies to improve the lives of older adults. First piloted nationally, the Aging Mastery Program incorporates evidence-based materials, expert speakers, group discussion, and peer support to give participants the skills and tools they need to achieve measureable improvements in managing their health and remaining economically secure. The program aims to empower adults to make and maintain small, effective changes to their behaviors to live a healthier, happier, and more secure life. Small steps can make a big difference in your health and well-being, and even modest improvements can make life fun and meaningful. Participants set individual goals and a key element of the program is the reward system, designed to both motivate and encourage ongoing participation. Incentives are an essential feature of the program and help turn learning into doing. The incentives are tied directly to the action steps in each class. Participants earn points for each action step they accomplish. At the end of the 10 week session, participants receive rewards based on the number of total points they achieved. The following testimonials highlight the impact of the program on past participants: “I was reminded that it was important to feel and express gratitude each day, and I have tried to make this part of my morning routine.” “I developed a more positive acceptance of both my past and future.” “This program was very uplifting. I learned that the aging process can be done gracefully. I am working on a plan for the future to share with my family.” Additional information about what topics participants can expect to be covered follows: Navigating longer lives - A special emphasis on the new realities of aging and making the most of the gift of longevity. Overview of how sleep patterns change as we age and simple strategies to improve sleep. Review of nutrition as it relates to aging with a focus on strategies to incorporating healthy eating and hydration into daily routines. How to take medications as directed, how to store medications safely, and how to keep track of multiple medications. Overview of the importance of falls prevention among older adults and strategies to prevent falling. The benefits of being socially active, as well as exploring the risks of isolation. Focuses on continuing to build and strengthen healthy relationships and family connections as we age. Introduction to the value of identifying meaningful volunteer and community engagement opportunities. Discussion of the importance of aerobics, strengthening, flexibility, and balance as they relate to aging with a focus on strategies for incorporating physical activity into daily routines. Strategies for remaining economically secure in an era of longevity. Guidance around key steps needed to manage health care, financial, and housing/care decisions. A graduation ceremony for participants will also take place. Aging Mastery Program is a FREE class and will be offered beginning Thursday, November 2, 2017 from 10:00 – 11:30am and will run for 10 weeks. The classes will take place at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport. Advance reservations are needed; to reserve your seat, please call 433-1886, visit our website at www.daleassociation.com or stop in at our Centre, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport, NY. Thanks to the generosity of the Office for Aging, participation in the session is free. We hope to recruit a wide range of participants and the class is appropriate for adults of all ages. If this program piques your interest and you want to learn more, please call 433-1886 and ask for Jennifer Burt at extension 104. Jennifer Burt, Program Coordinator and Aging Mastery Lead at The Dale Association, says, “I’m very excited about the Aging Mastery Program being available to Niagara County residents. I encourage people to enroll; it will be fun, educational, and rewarding. The comprehensive approach to your overall well-being is great” The Dale Association is a unique non profit organization which has been responding to needs of adults in our Niagara community for 66 years. It has been said many times that our services help make lives better and we are proud to be able to do this for people with so many different needs. The Dale Association’s mission is to provide comprehensive services and coordinate connections for adults in Niagara and neighboring counties which enhance their health and wellness and empower them to build bridges into their communities. This important mission is the focal point of each program – including our Senior Services, Mental Health Services, Enrichment Activities, and Caregiver Support Services. Our Senior Services offer activities that enhance health, encourages community involvement, utilizes years of experience and allows for the development of friendships, as well as a sole local resource for the visually and hearing impaired. Memory Minders a social program for individuals with mild memory loss is also among The Dale Association’s community support services helping to improve the quality of life for adults. Our Mental Health Services have the clearly stated goal of assisting people to remain emotionally stable and living independently in the community. The Enrichment Activities are geared to developing and enhancing skills with the objective of adding to the quality of life. The goal of Caregiver Support Services is to help informal caregivers’ ability to manage and coordinate care. For more information about The Dale Association or its programs, please visit www.daleassociation.com or our blog at http://www.ExceptionalYouAtTheDale.blogspot. Side Bar: WHAT: Aging Mastery Program - FREE WHEN: Starting November 2, 2017 For 10 weeks TIME: 10:00 – 11:30am PLACE: The Dale Association 33 Ontario Street, Lockport Please RSVP to 433-1886

Monday, September 25, 2017

Powerful Tools for Caregivers

Millions of Americans are providing care and support to a parent, spouse, friend, or neighbor – who need help because of a limitation in their physical, mental, or cognitive functioning. Not enough attention is given to family caregivers who provide 85% of all care to the frail and disabled. At least 17.7 million individuals in the United States are family caregivers of someone age 65 and older who has a significant impairment. Are you one of them? The circumstances of individual caregivers are extremely varied – they may live nearby or far away from their loved one; they may provide care occasionally, daily, or for a long duration; they may help with household tasks or self-care activities, or they may provide care for complex medical conditions; or they may be responsible for all of these activities. The impact of caregiving on families cannot be ignored. Current research is finding that taking care of tired caregivers could be as important as providing care for their loved ones. Caregivers often completely change their lifestyle to take care of those they love. It is well known that caring for a family member with a chronic illness such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, or other diseases is stressful and can take an enormous physical and emotional toll on caregivers. Are you feeling stretched caring for a loved one? Did you know that over a six week period you can take part in a training program designed with you, the caregiver in mind? Powerful Tools for Caregivers is an educational series designed to provide you with the tools you need to take care of yourself. You will learn to: Reduce stress Improve self-confidence Better communicate your feelings Balance your life Increase your ability to make tough decisions Locate helpful resources. The classes are offered on Wednesdays beginning October 4th and running through November 8th from 1:00 pm – 3:30pm. Sessions will be held at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport, NY 14094. Two experienced class leaders will conduct each session. Interactive lessons, discussions and brainstorming will help you take the “tools” you choose and put them into action for your life. The cost for the six-week program is $25 and includes a copy of The Caregiver Help book, but is covered in full for members of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of WNY and Independent Health. Pre-Registration is required - Call Erie County Senior Services at (716) 858-2177 or email caregiver@erie.gov for more information and to register. Additional classes are also being scheduled; additional classes can be found at www2.erie.gov/seniorservices. Powerful Tools for Caregivers is co-sponsored by The University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions and the Erie County Caregiver Coalition.

Suicide Awareness and Prevention

September is Suicide Prevention Month. Every 15 minutes someone in the United States takes his or her own life. And for every one suicide, there are 25 attempts. Suicide takes life without regard to age, income, education, social standing, race, or gender. Overall, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for all Americans. The legacy of suicide continues long after the death, impacting bereaved loved ones and communities. Fortunately, there is strong evidence that a comprehensive public health approach is effective in reducing suicide rates. In fact, suicide rates have been declining among both American youth and elders for well over a decade, two groups on which the nation has focused most. It’s important to know the warning signs that help identify an individual who may be at immediate risk of taking their own life. For example, an individual may reveal the following information: • Talk of wanting to hurt or kill oneself • Unusual contemplation of death, dying, or suicide • Feelings of being trapped—like there’s no way out • Feelings of hopelessness or that there is no purpose in life • Withdrawal from friends, family, and society People at risk of suicide may also present with: • Increased alcohol or substance use • Anxiety/agitation • Rage/uncontrolled anger • Trouble sleeping or sleeping all the time • Dramatic mood changes, including sudden elevation in mood Half the population reports they have been touched by suicide. And, one out of three people say it has had a high impact on their lives. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7 free confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved one, and resources for professionals. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline # is 1-

Devices for Wandering Residents

Six in 10 people with dementia will wander. A person with Alzheimer's may not remember his or her name or address, and can become disoriented, even in familiar places. Wandering among people with dementia is dangerous, but there are strategies and services to help prevent it. Anyone who has memory problems and is able to walk is at risk for wandering. Even in the early stages of dementia, a person can become disoriented or confused for a period of time. It's important to plan ahead for this type of situation. Be on the lookout for the following warning signs: Returns from a regular walk or drive later than usual Forgets how to get to familiar places. Talks about fulfilling former obligations, such as going to work Tries or wants to "go home," even when at home Is restless, paces or makes repetitive movements Has difficulty locating familiar places like the bathroom, bedroom or dining room Asks the whereabouts of past friends and family Acts as if doing a hobby or chore, but nothing gets done (e.g., moves around pots and dirt without actually planting anything) Acts nervous or anxious in crowded areas, such as shopping malls or restaurants. Wandering can happen, even if you are the most diligent of caregivers. Use the following strategies to help lower the chances: Having a routine can provide structure. Identify the most likely times of day that wandering may occur for your loved one and plan activities at that time. Activities and exercise can reduce anxiety, agitation and restlessness. If the person with dementia wants to leave to "go home" or "go to work," use communication that reassures them; refrain from correcting the person. For example, "We are staying here tonight. We are safe and I'll be with you. We can go home in the morning after a good night's rest." Has your loved one gone to the bathroom? Is he or she thirsty or hungry? Make sure all their basic needs are met. Avoid busy places that are confusing and can cause disorientation. This could be a shopping malls, grocery stores or other busy venues. Consider a “Wandering Prevention Device”. Locally, Niagara County Office for the Aging and the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department are partnering to provide a free device and monitoring for wandering prevention. According to Maggie Hempel, Case Manager/ Senior Services at Niagara County Office for the Aging, “I wish more people would take advantage of it. It keeps your loved one safe and gives you, the caregiver, peace of mind. It prevents the crisis from happening.” The first call is to Maggie Hempel at the Office for the Aging. She can be reached at 438-4036 or via email at Maggie.hempel@niagaracounty.com. During a care consultation meeting, the risk of wandering is assessed. Maggie meets with caregivers of all ages who are caring for people with a memory deficiency – which can be caused by dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, or other conditions. Then, arrangements are made with the Sheriff’s department for the device, which attaches to the wrist similar to a watch. It is easy to put on by the caregiver, but difficult to remove. Niagara County Sheriff’s Department can be reached at 438-3331. Ongoing monitoring is also provided. The Office for the Aging will assist the caregiver with set up, programming the monitoring range and setting up the phone alerts. The monitoring range establishes safety zones; when a loved one wanders beyond the safety zone, the designated caregiver receives a transmission on their phone that alerts them that their loved one is wandering. This is a great example of a partnership that is keeping the at-risk residents of the community safe. I agree with Maggie Hempel that it has the potential to prevent a crisis from happening. I hope that if you are a caregiver and your loved one is showing signs that he or she is at risk of wandering that you will call about the wandering prevention device and other caregiver services available.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Mental Health and Depression

Depression is a medical condition that affects individuals and those who share their lives. Everyone knows what it is like to feel sad, down or “blue” from time to time. In fact, transitory feelings of sadness or discouragement are perfectly normal, especially during particularly difficult times. But, when these feelings continue for more than a few weeks and are accompanied by certain other physical and mental symptoms, doctors call the condition depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Depression, if left untreated, can lead to suicide. Fortunately, depression can be treated effectively with therapy and/or medication. Depression screening provides awareness about depression and enables people with depression to seek necessary treatment. Anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status, can suffer from depression. It is estimated that 19 million Americans suffer from depression every year. Depression is not a weakness or a character flaw—it is a real medical illness. But the good news is that with proper treatment, patients can improve. People who have depression are not just moody or having "the blues" for a few days. They have long periods of feeling very sad and lose interest in social and daily activities. Depression changes the way a person feels, thinks, and behaves. The causes of depression are not always clear. It may be caused by an event or for no apparent reason at all. Genes may also play a role. The symptoms of depression may differ from person to person. Some symptoms may include a persistent sad mood, lack of pleasure in activities, change in sleep or eating habits, or a feeling of worthlessness. There are several signs and symptoms that help a healthcare professional or doctor determine if a person has depression. The following is a depression risk questionnaire. Have you noticed any of these signs of depression?  Change in sleeping pattern (too much, too little, or disturbances)  Change in weight or appetite  Speaking and/or moving with unusual speed or slowness  Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities  Withdrawal from family and friends  Fatigue or loss of energy  Diminished ability to think or concentrate, slowed thinking or indecisiveness  Feelings of worthlessness, self-reproach or guilt  Thoughts of death, suicide or wishes to be dead You should seek professional help if you or someone you know has had some of the symptoms continually or most of the time for more than two weeks. You don't need to have all these signs and symptoms to have depression. Symptoms will also vary from person to person. For instance, compared with depressed men, depressed women are more likely to experience guilt, weight gain, anxiety, eating disorders, or increased sleep. Depressed older adults tend to experience persistent sadness or "empty" moods. It is important to remember that depression is a medical condition like any other. And, just as there are treatments for conditions like diabetes or heart disease, there are treatment options available for depression. Remember—depression is more than just feeling down. It is a real medical condition that can be effectively treated, but first you must seek help. The diagnosis and treatment of any medical illness or condition, including depression and other psychiatric disorders, can only be performed by a physician or qualified mental health professional. Unfortunately, many fail to recognize the illness and get the treatment that would alleviate their suffering. They or their loved ones fail to notice a pattern and instead may attribute the physical symptoms to "the flu," the sleeping and eating problems to "stress," and the emotional problems to lack of sleep or improper eating. But if people looked at all of these symptoms together and noticed that they occur over long periods of time, they might recognize them as signs of depression. The term "depression" can be confusing since it's often used to describe normal emotional reactions. At the same time, the illness may be hard to recognize because its symptoms may be so easily attributed to other causes. People tend to deny the existence of depression by saying things like, "She has a right to be depressed! Look at what she's gone through." This attitude fails to recognize that people can go through tremendous hardships and stress without developing depression, and that those who suffer from depression can and should seek treatment. For many victims of depression, these mental and physical feelings seem to follow them night and day, appear to have no end, and are not alleviated by happy events or good news. Some people are so disabled by feelings of despair that they cannot even build up the energy to call a doctor. If someone else calls for them, they may refuse to go because they are so hopeless that they think there's no point to it. Family, friends, and co-workers offer advice, help, and comfort. But over time, they become frustrated with victims of depression because their efforts are to no avail. The person won't follow advice, refuses help, and denies the comfort. But persistence can pay off. Remember the person suffering from depression is not alone – more than one out of six individuals suffer from depression in their lifetime. I hope by providing some of this information, it makes it a little easier to discuss with your medical professional.

Caregiver Pain

New research shows that nearly all unpaid caregivers suffer from some form of chronic pain. While the issue of long term pain and the resulting risk of injury for informal caregivers certainly isn't a new one, the study shows just how prevalent this problem has become. According to this research, 94% of unpaid caregivers experience chronic pain that affects the muscles, ligaments and tendons, and bones. The vast majority of study respondents complained of lasting lower back pain (76%), while knee, wrist and shoulder pain were also cited as frequent areas of concern. Perhaps most troubling is the impact chronic pain is having on caregivers and care recipients alike. Over 78% of informal caregivers said that chronic pain has adversely affected their ability to provide care. As a result, 66% also said their overall quality of life has suffered. The research study points out that the complaints of chronic pain from an estimated 42.1 million unpaid caregivers actually mirrors what is reported by professional caregivers. However, informal caregivers often times do not have access to the training and resources available to their professional counterparts. Informal caregivers provide almost half a trillion dollars’ worth of support to individuals with disabilities each year. These caregivers - usually family members - often perform physically-demanding tasks with little or no training, which can result in muscle strains and chronic pain. With very little data on the physical impact of informal caregiving, new research is identifying which tasks caregivers say are the most physically demanding and where they experience the most body pain. The good news is that the results of this study are being used to identify tasks and situations that may be considered "high risk". The hope is that in the coming years, protocol developed using this research will help lower the risk of chronic pain and injury among caregivers of all types.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Food Nutrition Survey - Fresh out of the garden class

A statewide survey was conducted by New York State Office of the Aging and New York State Department of Health to assess the extent of nutritional health risks among older New Yorkers. The “New York State Elderly Nutrition Survey” results show that one out of every four elderly New Yorkers living at home is nutritionally at risk. The survey found that 25 percent or approximately 728,000 New Yorkers aged 60 or older were at risk of malnutrition based on one of the following three factors: • Presence of 2 or more warnings signs of poor nutritional health • 'Food insecurity' including going without meals and inadequate income to buy food as well as other necessities; and/or, • Being homebound and unable to prepare nutritious meals. The survey uses ten warning signs to determine the risk of poor nutritional health. As shown below, each warning sign, if answered "yes," receives a weighted score of 1 to 4 reflecting the importance of the warning sign. These scores are summed; and, a score of 6 or more indicates high nutritional risk. ___Has 3 or more drinks of beer, liquor or wine almost every day (weighting of 2) ___Eats fewer than 2 meals per day (weighting of 3) ___Doesn’t always have enough money to buy the food he/she needs (weighting of 4) ___Has tooth or mouth problems that make it hard for him/her to eat (weighting of 2) ___Without wanting to, he/she has lost or gained 10 pounds in the last 6 months (weighting of 2) ___Is not always physically able to shop, cook and/or feed himself/herself (weighting of 2) ___Takes 3 or more different prescribed or over-the-counter drugs a day (weighting of 1) ___Has an illness or condition that made him/her change foods he/she likes (weighting of 2) ___Eats few fruits or vegetables, or milk products (weighting of 2) ___Eats alone most of the time (weighting of 1) The Elderly Nutrition Survey found 18.5 percent or 539,000 elderly New Yorkers were at high nutritional risk and should consult a qualified professional. The prevalence of individual warning signs ranged from a low of 3 percent who had "3 or more drinks ... every day" to 42 percent who said they eat "alone most of the time." It is recommended that elderly persons at high nutritional risk consult their doctor, dietitian or other qualified health or social service professional. Food insecurity (including going without meals and inadequate income to buy food as well as other necessities) is a serious concern for the elderly. Because of low incomes often coupled with frailty, the elderly may skip meals, may not be able to shop for food or to prepare meals, or may be forced to choose between buying food and paying for other necessities such as medicine, housing and utilities. The Elderly Nutrition Survey found that a total of 11.4 percent or 332,000 elderly New Yorkers experienced at least one of the three food insecurities, ranging from 4 percent who skipped one or more meals to 7 percent who had to choose between buying food and other necessities during the past six months. Elderly persons most at-risk nutritionally are often those, who because of physical incapacity from chronic health problems or following acute hospital stays, are unable to shop, prepare meals or feed themselves. In many cases, family or other informal caregivers provide the assistance the elderly person requires. When such care giving is inadequate or simply not available, the elderly person is determined to need nutritional assistance, which may include nutrition counseling, shopping assistance and the delivery of hot meals to the older person's home. You may be interested in attending one or more free workshops/presentations related to nutrition. Fat Facts is being offered on Monday, August 21st at 10:30am. You will learn about fats – which are the healthiest and which to limit in your diet. You’ll learn tips for adding healthy fats to your meals without sacrificing taste. Information will be presented by Jennifer Johnson, Health Promotion Coordinator, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York. Good Bugs for Good Health is being offered on Monday, September 18th at 10:30am. Learn how bacteria affects your gut and the digestive and immune systems, as well as the difference between probiotics and prebiotics. This presentation is also by Jennifer Johnson. Fun Facts and Good Bugs for Good Health are both free to attend. Presentations will take place at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport. Please call 433-1886 to reserve your seat. Fresh Out of the Garden Cooking Class is being offered on Thursday, August 10th at 10:00am. It is sure to be a fun morning of cooking with fresh in-season ingredients. Four different recipes will be made that include fruits and vegetables of the summer season. Bring containers to take home leftovers and be prepared for fun, laughter, and delicious tastings. The cost for this session is $20 for members or $30 for non-members. Please call 433-1886 or register in person at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario St, Lockport.