Recent life changes have forced me to learn the fundamental differences between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. A month ago, my father fell and broke his hip. While he was in the hospital, we noticed that his memory seemed worse than normal. I asked if there was testing that could be done to determine the level of care that might be needed for him post-surgery based on these noticeable symptoms. There had been many instances over the past three years that warranted some concern, but there seemed to be a drastic change in his confusion. I thought we should have him evaluated before his release from the hospital. One of the things we noticed during the process was his getting lost while driving to the dialysis center he had gone to every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for the last three years. I would receive phone calls in the middle of the night from police officers asking in I come pick him up because he had lost his way. The first time it was the Hilliard police; the next time, the Dublin police; and the last time he ended up in Millersport, Ohio, at 12 midnight, forty miles one way from my home. Each officer said immediately that he seemed very confused and that I would need to pick him up. I tried countless times to have him see a doctor to be tested, to no avail. I was always told growing up that things happen for a reason, so I believe the broken hip was a way to let me know that he does have dementia.
I found out he might have dementia when I mentioned to a nurse that I thought he had Alzheimer’s disease. She said that she was not a doctor, but believed he has a form of dementia and should be tested to properly diagnose his symptoms. Late last week he was accessed by two different people, a doctor and a registered nurse, both concluding he does indeed have a form of dementia. I learned from my dad’s nurse that many people use the words “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s disease” interchangeably. However, they are not the same thing. You can be diagnosed with a form of dementia that is completely unrelated to Alzheimer’s disease. And though young people can develop dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease, the risk increases as you age.
After conversations with my dad’s doctor and nurse, I learned how the two conditions differ. Dementia is a group of symptoms and is not a disease, where the symptoms affect mental tasks like memory and reasoning. Dementia can be caused by a variety of conditions, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s disease. As one’s dementia progresses, it can have a devastating impact on how they function independently. It is a major cause for older people and can cause an emotional and financial burden on families and caregivers. Early signs of dementia are often mild and easily overlooked. People with dementia have trouble keeping track of time and tend to lose their way in familiar settings. As dementia progresses, forgetfulness and confusion grow. It becomes harder to recall names and faces. Obvious signs of dementia include: repetitious questioning, poor decision-making, and concern for personal hygiene is no longer a priority.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease of the brain that slowly impairs memory and cognitive function. The exact cause has yet to be determined. Damage to the brain begins years before symptoms appear. Abnormal protein deposits form plaques and tangles in the brain of someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Connections between cells are lost and they begin to die, and in advanced cases, the brain shows significant shrinkage. Research shows it is impossible to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease 100 percent while a person is alive. The diagnosis can only be confirmed during an autopsy when the brain can be examined under a microscope. However, specialists are able to make the correct diagnosis of up to 90 percent of the time.
Wesley Glen and Wesley Ridge offer Alzheimer’s disease/dementia care-specific programs. For information and additional information on the stages of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia contact Wesley Glen by calling 614-888-7492 and Wesley Ridge at 614-759-0023. Specialists are available to assist with questions about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Three weeks ago while I was on a quick trip to the store to buy bags of my father’s favorite candy, he fell and broke his hip. From that day on, both of our lives have been turned upside down from the moment we arrived at the hospital to the move to a rehabilitation center after his surgery. We are now forced to make a decision as to whether he can return home or will require 24-hour care.
As days turn into weeks, the need to make choices about long-term care has come knocking with force at my front door. I thought the challenge would be finding the perfect location for my father to receive the care he now needs full-time. However, I’m finding that there’s much more to it. Though my journey is just beginning, I’m learning very quickly that we all need to have a budget plan in place, as well as an idea of how we want to live out our lives, if the time comes that we need long-term care.
Paying for long-term senior care can be a challenge for all families, no matter what your circumstances may be. There are so many unknowns. We don’t know how long we will live or if those years will be spent in good health. We all hope to get lucky and stay healthy until our end, but in reality most people will face health challenges that will increase the need for assistance. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans significantly underestimate the amount of care they’ll need and how long they’ll need it. People are outliving their resources AND they are living much longer than years gone by.
When you plan for your golden years, here are some things to consider.
- Anticipate escalating health needs
- Ask about Medicare policies
- Consider inflation increases
- Give advance notice of limited funds
- Be conservative in your choices
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Luckily for me, I have friends who have dealt with or are currently dealing with making choices about long-term care for their loved ones, whether it be independent or assisted living. All of them have graciously offered their help in guiding me to the correct avenues to enable me to make the best choices for my father’s future in long-term care.
For more information on budgeting and long-term care options, go to www.aarp.org or www.longtermcare.gov
All seniors know they need to exercise, but most don’t know there are simple activities that can be done in the convenience of their home that count towards your daily physical activity goals. If you don’t currently have exercise goals in place, hopefully the following 5 fitness activities will show you how simple it can be to add physical activity to your everyday life.
- Balancing: Although balancing isn’t an obvious part of exercising, everyday activities require the ability to control your body’s position. From getting out of bed, to walking on an uneven sidewalk, and standing on tiptoes to reach something on a top shelf of your cabinet — all involve balance.
- Endurance Aerobic Activities: Endurance, or aerobic activities, increase your breathing and heartbeat, which helps improve heart and lung health. This can make chores like vacuuming and raking the yard easier to do. After all, who wouldn’t want to get a few chores in while helping your heart and lungs at the same time?
- Strength Training: Strength exercises help build muscles and bone, counteracting the weakness that can come with aging. Simple things, like sweeping, carrying in groceries or even getting up from a chair, can help make improvements in your muscle strength and in keeping and maintaining your independence.
- Stretches: As we age, connective tissues become less elastic, so stretching is important to maintain a functioning range of motion. Stretches should never cause pain or serious fatigue, so always be sure to warm your muscles prior to stretching. Take in deep breaths in each stretch for up to 60 seconds to get the full benefit of the stretch, and always be aware of the position of your spine.
- Video Games: Many seniors are now joining the world of video games, and have quickly learned it is the ultimate way to connect with their grandchildren. With popular video game consoles, such as Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinect, seniors can use these and the variety of other interactive games to improve their fitness in the comfort of their own home.
Though incorporating a regular exercise routine into your everyday life can take some time, taking a few minutes a day to be more active is crucial to maintaining a healthy and independent lifestyle. Before you start any exercise routine, be sure to discuss your plans with your doctor for any health restrictions he or she may want you to consider before getting started. Also discuss with your family your plans so they can help you check your home to make sure there are no safety issues that need to be handled before you start your exercise plan.
For the past few years since moving from Virginia to Columbus, my father has allowed me to take over paying his bills. Each month, along with his checkbook, he hands over the EOBs he has received that month from his insurance company, with payment amount circled with his red ink pen, which he believe he owes. Every month I explain that just as printed on the top of each statement, it is not a bill, but that it is an Explanation of Benefits. One day I thought I should ask what he had done with the EOBs he received while living in Virginia. He said “I’ve paid them.” I had him show me how he had determined what to pay, and quickly learned he had been giving money away, paying the amount of the bill before his two insurance companies had paid their portion. After a few inquiries, it was apparent that he just needed to move forward and there was no way to recover the money he had paid out already, especially since it had been a couple of years.
Have you ever considered paying the amount listed on your EOB? Do you have friends who have or who consider it? I hope the information below will help you and those close to you when you receive your next EOB in the mail. According to most insurance companies that I talked to, here are things you should know. An Explanation of Benefits (EOB) is a notification form provided by your insurance company when a healthcare benefit claim is processed on your behalf. The EOB displays the expenses submitted by the provider and shows how each claim is processed.
The EOB has four major sections:
- Claim Information includes the member and patient name, the member’s group and identification numbers, and the claim number.
- Summary highlights the financial information – the amount billed, total benefits approved and the amount you may owe the provider.
- Service Information identifies the health care facility or physicians, dates of service and charges.
- Coverage Information shows what was paid to whom, what discounts and deductions apply, and what part of the total expense was not covered.
The EOB may also include additional information:
- Information About Amounts Not Covered will show what benefits limitations or exclusions apply.
- Information about Out-Of-Pocket Expenses will show an amount when a claim applies toward your deductible or counts toward your out-of-pocket expenses.
- Information about Appeals explains your rights regarding review or claim denials.
- Fraud Hotline is a toll-free number you can call if you think you are being charged for services you did not receive or if you suspect fraudulent activity.
Your EOBs are always available, and if you would rather contact your insurance company by phone, you will find their 800-number listed on the back of your insurance card. Remember — don’t reach for your checkbook until you are sure of the exact amount of your out-of-pocket cost.
Over the next couple of weeks summer vacation from school will begin for most school-aged children. What does this mean for you and me? For many of us this means it’s time for a road trip to visit our grandchildren or they are headed our way for a week or two. If the thought of the visit stresses you out, you are not alone. Here are some pointers to help ease your nerves and make for a more enjoyable visit.
Before the visit be sure to talk to your son or daughter about their rules and routines. For example, how long are the children allowed to watch television? How long can they be online and are they allowed to play video games everyday? When is bedtime and do they take naps? What types of foods do they like to eat? Are there any allergies you should know about? By taking the time to find out these things beforehand you help pave the way for a smoother visit.
While your grandchildren are visiting, the best things you can do with them is give them your attention and try to meet them at their level. Ask them things they enjoy doing and share with them things you enjoyed doing at their age. Share with them the cost of things like bread, gasoline, bacon, milk, a loaf of bread cost when you were their age and show them the comparison to today’s prices, which is a great way to sneak in a math lesson. Family photo time is always a fun time for everyone and it’s interesting to see the reaction the children have when they see you when you were they age they are now.
If you want to get outside, find a nature trail and take a hike. Bring along a small bag to collect treasures along the trail like a special petal from a flower, an odd shaped twig or a favorite from my childhood was shiny rocks or stones. Once you return from the hike, ask the child what they liked about each item they picked up and why they thought it was special. Another favorite is a picnic in the park. Allow the children to help prepare and pack the lunch for the picnic. Take a field trip, most children have never used public transportation or taken a ride in a taxicab, even if it’s just through downtown because they are using a form of transportation they’ve never used before, plus you will score major points with your grandchild.
Cherish every moment with you spend with your grandchildren. What I’ve learned is that the older they get, the less time they have to spend with you. Take the time to build a special bond with them when they are young so that they always look forward to their visits with you.
By now, cabin fever has taken its toll on us all. If you’re like me, the time has come to open that cabin door and get out and enjoy the weather. As I sat on my porch the other day, I noticed most of my neighbors either working in their yards, washing their cars, walking their dogs or just sitting on their porches soaking up the warmth of the day. I cannot sit still for long, so I decided to see what was happening around the city that I might enjoy doing. After a few online searches, I found that Columbus has a lot to offer it’s residents so I decided to put together a list of sites for you to visit to help get your summer started.
If you want to find a little of everything in one search, you’ll want to visit Experience Columbus at www.experiencecolumbus.com. They make finding events to match your interests very simple and you can search by dates or add keywords to help narrow down your search results. Columbus Underground offers a very user-friendly site offering events for today, tomorrow and all year round. You can find them at www.columbusunderground.com. For events happening in Downtown Columbus, visit www.downtowncolumbus.com or Columbus Commons. If you like festivals but aren’t sure where to find them you’ll want to visit Columbus Ohio Festival Information at www.in-and-around-columbus.com/columbus-festivals.html where they offer a complete list of festivals in and around Central Ohio.
Today I’m heading to the North Market for lunch with a friend. There you can find a little of everything there from fresh produce and meats, yummy desserts, jewelry to a bouquet of flowers for a table at home to remind you that spring is here and summer isn’t far behind, so get up and out and enjoy the outdoors. The North Market also offers a seasonal farmer’s markets on Saturdays starting at 8am. For more information on activities and events, go to www.northmarket.com.
Join The Wesley Communities as we celebrate National Nursing Home week. What is National Nursing Home week? National Nursing Home week began in 1967 and was incorporated into the celebration of Older Americans Month established in 1963 when only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthdays. At that point about a third of older Americans lived in poverty, and there were few programs to meet their needs.
Each year there is a theme for National Nursing Home Week, and this year’s theme is “Bring on the Fiesta.” During this week the spotlight is on nursing home residents and staff. Everyone is encouraged to celebrate the elders who make a positive difference in the lives of others. The week also provides an opportunity to highlight and honor those who contribute to our nation’s nursing homes — residents, family members, employees and volunteers.
The Wesley Communities is celebrating all month long with activities at Wesley Glen and Wesley Ridge Retirement Communities. There will be activities such as gardening, music, dance and art classes. The month will end with a Memorial Day Picnic.
Wesley Ridge is also hosting “A Splash of Style Family Fashion Show” this week on Saturday, May 16th.
How will you celebrate that special senior in your life?
For more information on activities at Wesley Ridge or Wesley Glen, visit the events calendar at www.wesleyglen.com or www.wesleyridge.com. You can also check with your activities representative for a complete list of events for this week.
Spring is finally here and many of us have already gotten our hands dirty doing yard work and tending our gardens. Gardening is a soothing hobby and a great form of exercise. However, for those with arthritis, like my mother-in-law, gardening was at one time her favorite pastime, but now has become difficult since being diagnosed with arthritis. I decided that I would try to find tips to help make gardening easier for her so she doesn’t have to give up something that she has always enjoyed.
If you love gardening and find that arthritis gets in the way, here are few simple tips that can hopefully help you work smarter, not harder, in your garden this year.
1. Avoid bending or kneeling; bring the garden up to your level. Have a friend or a professional landscaper help you install a raised flowerbed. Adding a retaining wall around your garden gives you a place to sit while you tend your garden.
2. When digging, pruning and weeding, use tools with arthritis-friendly features, such as easy-grip handles, which help absorb some of the impact and protect your joints.
3. When you have to go down to ground level, kneel on a foam pad to protect your knees.
4. Don’t carry your water. Use a water caddy on wheels or install a hose long enough to reach the entire garden.
5. Plan ahead to avoid multiple trips back and forth by taking all the things you need in a wheelbarrow, bucket or wagon.
6. Use gloves that have a good grip, and try slipping a spongy rubber sleeve over the handle of your tools to help increase your grip. This will help reduce the strain and jarring of your joints.
By using a few special tools and techniques, gardening doesn’t have to be a thing of past — you can exercise that green thumb without causing added pain to your thumbs and other joints. Remember that you don’t have to finish everything in one day. Take your time, relax and enjoy the dirt and the treasures of your work.
Accepting that your loved one’s life is limited is something that is very difficult to do. Calling hospice is even harder, but as your loved one begins to lose their quality of life, it becomes necessary to make the call. The feelings of guilt or feelings of being an inadequate caregiver often make the call to Hospice delayed longer than it should.
Caregiving is difficult. It is difficult for family and friends, and even more difficult for the person who is receiving care. Once independent, your loved one is now faced with the humiliating position of having others assist with the most intimate tasks. Along with the humiliation comes anger, and tempers sometimes flare, causing everyone involved to say things they really don’t mean.
Guilt has a purpose in life, but guilt is a complicated emotion. We take on the expectations of others, society, friends and family, and of course, on ourselves. Making the decision to call hospice can cause us to “beat ourselves up” even though we can no longer properly care for a loved one.
Once acceptance is reached and the call is made to hospice, you will find that they are willing to offer you their expertise and compassion at a very difficult time for you and your family. The compassionate staff at Hospice Services at Methodist ElderCare will be available to help you and your family at a difficult time for all involved.
Give one of our hospice professionals a call today to assist with making the proper plans for your loved one as they enter their final days. Call 614-451-6700 or go to www.hospicemec.com for more information.
In June 2013, two residents of Wesley Glen began reviewing research on how physical and mental activity could affect the onslaught of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Some initial research was based on a book entitled “Now You Can See It,” by Cathy Davidson, and other research in “brain training” performed at The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). A focus group was formed under the leadership of CEO, Margaret Carmany, of The Wesley Communities.
Ms. Carmany states, “All residents and employees of Wesley Glen and Wesley Ridge are very interested in this new research. We have all seen the devastating effects of brain function deterioration first-hand in those we love.”
The residents at Wesley Glen and Wesley Ridge Retirement Communities are encouraged to participate in a range of activities, from brain games and physical fitness classes, to spiritual and social interaction groups. In addition, the program is now expanding to train administration and staff members in the benefits of getting involved to encourage residents to engage in brain fitness activities. Research shows that good nutrition and being mentally, physically and spiritually fit may provide our aging population with preventative maintenance against the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
It is projected that by 2050, 1 in 85 people will have Alzheimer’s disease and/or dementia, and The Wesley Communities will be a leading source of information and action to the local community.
The Wesley Communities is an affiliate of the West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church that provides quality housing, health care and services for seniors in Central Ohio. Incorporated in 1967, The Wesley Communities continues to be a not-for-profit Ohio corporation that seeks to understand and meet the unmet needs of older people of Central Ohio. The Wesley Communities operates Wesley Glen Retirement Community, Wesley Ridge Retirement Community, Wesley At Home and Hospice Services at Methodist ElderCare in Columbus, Ohio.
To schedule a tour or for more information about The Wesley Communities, visit www.methodisteldercare.org
5155 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43214