Category Archives: Family Caregiver

Can we rebuild the brain? Neuroplasticity and Brain/Body Fitness

(Society for Neuroscience) The discovery that the human brain can produce new cells in adulthood offers just one example of how adaptable the brain is throughout life. With this knowledge, researchers are investigating how normal aging as well as neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease affect that adaptability, and how we can maintain healthy brain function as our brains age.  So what is neuroplasticity?

(Brainworksneurotherapy.com/uk)

Our brains are constantly being shaped by experience. Most of us have very different behaviours and thoughts today than we did 20 years ago. This shift is neuroplasticity in action; changes in brain structure and organisation as we experience, learn, and adapt.

With every repetition of a thought or emotion, we reinforce a neural pathway – and with each new thought, we begin to create a new way of being. These small changes, frequently enough repeated, lead to changes in how our brains work.

Neuroplasticity is the ‘muscle building’ part of the brain; the things we do often we become stronger, and what we don’t use fades away. That is the physical basis of why making a thought or action over and over again increases its power. Over time, it becomes automatic; a part of us. We literally become what we think and do.

Neuroplasticity is at work throughout life. Connections within the brain are constantly becoming stronger or weaker, depending on what is being used. Younger people change easily; their brains are very plastic. As we age change doesn’t come as easily; the brain loses some of its plasticity and we become more fixed in how we think, learn, and perceive.

Since the brain is pivotal to all we think and do, by harnessing neuroplasticity we can improve everything we do and think.

We know that exercise for the body is critical to maintaining bone and muscular structure, cardiovascular health and blood flow. Now we know these same benefits can be applied to the brain, and that “remolding” in our brain can take place with throughout life, even into “old” age.  This science is opening new doors to exciting research and hope for  keeping our brains healthy as we age,   and even helping those with neurodegenerative conditions such a Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute, whose mission lies in creating transformative change in an aging world.  AGE-u-cate’s newest partnership with Ageless Grace® – 21 Simple Tools for Lifelong Comfort and Ease™️ is their ongoing commitment to helping people of all ages with a groundbreaking body/brain  fitness program.  

www.AGEucate.com/Ageless Grace

Boomers Optimistic about Their Future – Until They Need Care

A survey form the National Council on Aging, UnitedHealthcare and USA Today concluded that most Boomers are optimistic about their future.  That is until you ask them about needing help as they age.  When it comes to the issues surrounding who will provide caregiving when they no longer are able, optimism turns to fear.

The Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), a New York-based nonprofit that supports the home care industry, has created a new campaign to address and solve the chronic shortage of health care workers in the United States.
The “60 Caregiver Issues” campaign points out the country needs five million caregivers in the next seven years in order to keep pace with the growing demand from a rapidly aging society. The first issue briefing, The Future of Long-Term Care, lists eight signs the shortage in paid caregivers is getting worse. Those signs are:

  1. The population of older adults in the U.S. continues to rapidly age, igniting demand for long-term services and supports.
  2. A sizable growth in elders and people with disabilities means a growing demand for paid caregivers: home health aides, nursing assistants and personal care aides.
  3. The primary labor pool for direct care workers isn’t keeping pace with national trends, raising concerns about the broad appeal of this occupation.
  4. Direct care workers are leaving the occupation in droves.
  5. The workforce shortage in paid caregivers might be affecting areas of the country differently.
  6. Policymakers, long-term care providers and the general public are hampered by the lack of available data and research on the direct care workforce.
  7. Home care providers and other long-term care entities cite the workforce shortage as a top concern for delivering quality care.
  8. The shortage in workers extends beyond long-term care—and is garnering public attention.

Now let’s look at the state of family caregivers.  A report by the Public Policy Institute (2013) researched the statistics for family caregivers, who provide the majority of long-term services and supports (LTSS).

The Caregiver Support Ratio is defined as the number of potential family caregivers (mostly adult children) aged 45 – 64 for each person aged 80 and older – those most likely to need LTSS.  The caregiver support ratio is used to estimate the availability of family caregivers during the next few decades.

In 2010, the caregiver support ratio was more than 7 potential caregivers for every person in the high-risk years of 80-plus.

In 2030, the ratio is projected to decline sharply to 4 to 1;  and is expected to further fall to less than 3 to 1 in 2050.

Steep rising demand as the population rapidly ages, combined with professional caregiver shortages and shrinking families requires more than policy action.  Every stakeholder (and that takes in to account ALL of us) must take it upon themselves to be better educated on aging issues, plan for their future and make healthy aging a priority.   Just as healthcare has created the need for us to be our own advocates for our health,  we must certainly take this same position with decisions that we make as we age and may eventually need care.

http://www.nahc.org/NAHCReport/nr170213_1/

www.AGEucate.com

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and passionate advocate for older adults and those that care for them.  

When Disaster Strikes – Are you Prepared to Care for Your Loved One?

The devastation we are witnessing in the wake of Hurricane Harvey is a reminder that we must all be prepared to care for a loved one, elderly or  disabled neighbor or friend when disaster strikes. Here is a list of 6 basic yet vital precautions that everyone should have in place, especially in the event of a natural or manmade disaster:

Communications Plan

How will you communicate with immediate and extended family members in the event of an emergency?  These discussions should include how to get in touch with neighbors, friends, a loved one’s church or other support systems that are in place.

If your loved one lives in a community setting,  discuss what response and evacuation plans they have in place, including their designated emergency shelters.

Prepare a comprehensive Healthcare and Medication Record that includes but is not limited to:

A healthcare record lists chronic illness, allergies, immunizations, disabilities, doctors and hospitals and emergency contact information (names, relationship and cell phone numbers of family members and/or primary caregivers).

Families can maintain this list on a spreadsheet and share electronically with family members, but also know that a hard copy should be accessible to first responders in  the elderly person’s home.  Placing a decal on the refrigerator door is advisable with all information kept in a baggie or vial inside the refrigerator.  Vialoflife.com is an excellent project and their website has valuable forms, tips and resources.

Have an emergency/escape plan in place

Talk with your loved one about what to do in case of emergency.  Write out simple, clear instructions where it is can easily be read.  If your loved one has any level of cognitive impairment and lives independently, a disaster can cause immediate confusion and anxiety.  In this case,  plans should immediately include receiving aid from someone else.

Emergency supply kits

Three days of food and non perishable food items are advisable to include in case of disaster.  Other items recommended include but are not limited to portable, battery powered radio, flashlight, sanitation and hygiene items, clothing, blankets, cell phone and charger, whistle and photocopies of identification, emergency contacts and healthcare/medication records.   If your loved one has any level of cognitive impairment, make sure food items are easy to open, kits are well marked and simple instructions included.

Plan for pets

Find out what veterinarians and pet services are available to shelter animals in emergencies.  Include in personal information phone and contact information of pet services in the area.

Learn CPR and train on using an automated external defibrillator (AED).  These classes are free and can save someone’s life.  Go to www.redcross.org for training information.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those that serve them.  

www.AGEucate.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caregiver’s Bill of Rights – Words of Guidance and Hope

Families caring for aging adults have and will continue to reach unprecedented numbers affecting every corner of our society.   We MUST address the complex needs of this population who are the foundation of long-term care nationwide, exceeding Medicaid long-term care spending in all states (National Alliance for Caregiving and Overcare, March 2009).  Jo Horne, author of Caregiving:  Helping an Aging Love One created the Caregiver’s Bill of Rights. These are powerful and impactful words of hope and guidance for each and every person caring for a family member or friend:

I have the right . . . 

To take care of myself. This is not an act of selfishness. It will give me the capacity to take better care of my relative.

To seek help from others even though my relative may object. I recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength.

To maintain facets of my own life that do not include the person I care for, just as I would if he or she were healthy. I know that I do everything that I reasonably can for this person, and I have the right to do some things for myself.

To get angry, be depressed, and express other difficult feelings occasionally.

To reject any attempt by my relative (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through guilt, anger, or depression.

To receive consideration, affection, forgiveness, and acceptance for what I do for my loved one for as long as I offer these qualities in return.

To take pride in what I am accomplishing and to applaud the courage it has sometimes taken to meet the needs of my relative.

To protect my individuality and my right to make a life for myself that will sustain me in the time when my relative no longer needs my full-time help.

To expect and demand that as new strides are made in finding resources to aid physically and mentally impaired older persons in our country, similar strides will be made toward aiding and supporting caregivers.

To ___________________________________________________
(Add you own statement of rights to this list. Read the list to yourself every day.)

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those that serve them.

www.AGEucate.com

www.caregiveraction.org