What’s On Our Mind

Wellness in the work place

We’re participating in the Worksite Wellness Challenge sponsored by Get Fit Kauai. We aim to improve the health of our employees. Sometimes that means beginning in small ways to encourage each other to be more conscious of our exercise and eating habits. This month we had our first Thursday Salad Potluck. Everyone brought a salad item. What was on the table? Beets, cabbage, heart of palm, corn, roasted turkey, cucumber and every imaginable kind of Kauai grown green leafy thing.

Caregiving With Your Siblings

Caregiver.org is a beloved site we refer to often. Read the article on siblings for some clear and concise explanation on why it can be such a complicated situation when it comes to sharing the care of a parent. This no-nonsense, compassionate article offers insight and tools. Here is one paragraph we related to in our own situation as four sisters caregiving our 85 year-old mom.

Excerpt: Also, it’s helpful now to take a fresh look at your siblings. Parents create labels and roles for each child, and everyone in the family adopts them and assumes they are true. They may be based on some reality, but parents may also assign these labels for all kinds of reasons: who was born first or last, which kid reminds Mom of her older sister (who she resented), which kid is most like Dad in personality—and how Mom feels about Dad!

Will You Make Decisions For Your Parents When They No Longer Can?

Beautifully written and sprinkled with subtle insights, a good book for the Baby Boomers.

About the Book, Paula Span

A few years ago, working on a story for the Washington Post Magazine, I spent months visiting the residents of an assisted living facility in Bethesda, Maryland.  At the same time, my own father’s health concerns and my mother’s recent death were making me more conscious of this task that most of us will eventually take on: caring for our aging parents.  The subject was in the air, it seemed.  When I ran into friends at the bank or the farmer’s market in the town where I’ve lived for 25 years, conversations that had once focused on our kids had shifted.  People were talking about home health aides, about ADLs instead of SATs, geriatricians instead of pediatricians.

In 2006, I began work on “When the Time Comes,” an attempt to look more deeply into the ways adult children help their parents navigate old age.  I wanted to tell the stories of families who’d chosen a variety of options when their parents were no longer able to live independently.  With the help of friends and professionals, I found about a dozen families willing to let a reporter tag along through these stressful transitions.

AARP Bulletin Today wrote, “Both an informative guide and a compassionate, inspiring read.”

Here is an excerpt from the introduction when the author and her siblings reach that time when one must make hard decisions regarding a parent.

Sooner or later, we knew, he would need more help. He’d just turned 83 that fall. Something – eyesight, heart, memory – was increasingly likely to fail.  My mother had seemed fine too, slowing but still engaged with life, until suddenly an exploratory laparoscopy found metastasized cancer, and we had to learn a lot in a hurry about hospice care.:

I’d been dreading the next phase ever since.  Nobody wants to be facing these questions.  We talk sometimes about a role reversal, the children becoming the parents, but it’s a flawed analogy.  Our elders are not children; they don’t have to do what we think best.  There’s no t-shirt that proclaims, “Because I’m the Daughter, That’s Why.”  And this passage, unlike childrearing, will not result in eventual independence.

Still, we want to do the very best we can for the people who did the best they could for us.  Looking ahead, I felt afraid – but I also wanted to understand, to feel prepared, to find a way to give my father comfort, security, dignity.  His life may have begun winding down, but there could still be years of good times, friendships, laughs and love ahead.

You can find buying options for the book at Amazon. Paula Span also writes a New York Times blog, “The New Old Age.”

“Move With Balance, Healthy Aging Activities for Brain and Body”

This holiday season, rather than give a parent one more “dust catcher,” what if we introduced them to an empowering and fun way to improve their balance. We discovered this book at a recent AARP event and think it’s definitely gift worthy. Check out this video where founder, Karen Peterson, shares her theory.

The following excerpt is from the Move With Balance website.

Move With Balance® began in 2005 as a regional project on the island of Maui, Hawaii, a project focused on preventing falls and fall-related injuries, and enhancing brain function and cognitive skills in our growing population of frail elders. Move With Balance® is founded on two unique and innovative elements…

The Move With Balance® activities combine movement with cognitive skills. For example, we move, but while we move we read, or recognize shapes, or recite a poem. Ideally, in a single activity we stimulate many senses—for example, visual, auditory, and kinesthetic at the same time. The underlying principle: challenge the brain and body simultaneously with some sensory- motor activity, repeat until the challenge becomes easier or even automatic, then up the stakes by repeating the activity at a higher level. We always keep it fun so you will stay with the program!

Dementia: Projected 35,000 Hawaii Residents by 2025

Dr. Linda Rosen, DOH Director of Health, wrote a compelling letter to healthcare professionals encouraging them to learn more about the early detection and diagnosis of dementia. Do you know the 10 signs of early detection? Dementia trainings are being offered as a result of the State Plan On Alzheimer’s Disease & Related Dementias. Trainings are being offered by Honolulu Subarea Health Planning Council of the Hawaii State Health Planning and Development Agency. We have not tracked down dates for the trainings on Kauai, but you can read Dr. Rosen’s letter for more information and links to services.

Holidays and Our Loved Ones

During family gatherings over the next two months seize the opportunity to take a closer look at how your aging parents are doing physically, emotionally and spiritually. Care.com is a wonderful resource for caregivers and family members with aging parents. Their mission is to “Help the helpers.” Sweet, right?

Their website states, “We equip family caregivers to make better decisions, save time and money, and feel less alone — and less stressed — as they face the many challenges of caregiving.”

A recent article was posted, Holiday Spy Kit, 8 Clues Your Parents Aren’t OK, that offers simple and direct ways to be proactive.

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness

Here is a very sweet page where you can honor a caregiver. It’s nice to read all the gratitude swelling in this space.

Stroke Recovery: Hospital to Home Health

Once a stroke survivor is discharged from the hospital, they will either go to a long-term care community or begin rehabilitation. Rehabilitation can take place either at home or at a rehabilitation facility.

Even after rehabilitation, they’ll likely have to deal with uncertainty about the future. Three months after a stroke, 50 to 70 percent of survivors are able to live independently, 15 to 30 percent are permanently disabled, and 20 percent need long-term institutional care.  Every situation will depend on the severity of the stroke and the general state of their health. There’s no way to plan exactly how recovery will go.

Rehabilitation can enable them to make progress over the next year or even longer, even though most of their spontaneous neurological recovery will occur in the first few months, rehabilitation can help:

  • Make the most of the functional abilities they have and those that can be regained naturally
  • Learn new strategies to compensate for abilities lost
  • Forge new neuronal connections to bypass injured brain cells
  • Minimize medical complications and reduce the risk of a second stroke
  • Caring.com is a wonderful resource for caregivers