Older Americans Month
Older Americans Month 2016: “Blaze a Trail”
Older adults are a growing and increasingly vital part of our country. The contributions they make to our communities are varied, deeply rooted, and include influential roles in the nation’s economy, politics, and the arts. From 69-year-old NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Jr. to 84-year-old actress Rita Moreno to 83-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who took her seat as a Supreme Court Justice at age 60, older adults are blazing trails in all aspects of American life.
In 1963, we began to acknowledge the contributions of older people by using the month of May to celebrate Older Americans Month or “OAM”, Led by the Administration for Community Living, the annual observance offers the opportunity to learn about, support, and celebrate our nation’s older citizens. This year’s theme, “Blaze a Trail,” emphasizes the ways older adults are reinventing themselves through new work and new passions, engaging their communities, and blazing a trail of positive impact on the lives of people of all ages.
While Solutions For Seniors, Inc. provides services to older adults year-round, we try to focus on how older adults in our community are leading and inspiring others, how we can support and learn from them, and how we might follow their examples to blaze trails of our own. Throughout the month, Solutions For Seniors, Inc. has been participating in activities and sharing information designed to highlight local programs, and resources. We encourage you to get involved by sharing stories, volunteering in the local area, or attending a senior organization event.
You are never too old to Blaze a Trail!
Discover OAM: Visit http://acl.gov/olderamericansmonth
The Perfect Gift
This is the time of year when people start thinking about giving gifts. I am certain that the “perfect” gift depends on what age you are!It is amazing how long children’s lists may be for Santa Claus every year, but as we grow older our list becomes smaller and smaller.
A lady living in a Nursing Home was recently asked what she would like most for Christmas. Her answer came as a surprise. She said “I would give anything to have a visit from my son!”
My eight year old grandson told his dad recently that he doesn’t take time to play with him anymore! Children must spend time with their parents, and marriages fall apart when couples don’t make time for each other. I know how busy people have become, but once the moments are gone you can never get them back. The gift of time is always most important gift anyone can give.
The Wall Street Journal recently printed information about giving the “Perfect Gift,” and I thought I would share it in my December Newsletter.
- Give Your True Self – Gifts should reflect your taste and the recipient will feel closer to you.
- Don’t Give Charity – Only close friends and parents enjoy receiving a charitable gift made in their honor.
- Avoid Stocking Stuffers – Don’t bundle a big present with extra add-on small items that with detract from the true gift.
- Be wary When Giving to Men – Men are tricky to buy for. They feel badly about a relationship when they receive a disappointing gift. Women’s views of a relationship are less affected.
- Give Well, But Above All Give – Just give! Giving to others makes even toddlers feel happier than receiving treats themselves.
Last but not least: No material gift can replace you being present for those you love. Say no to any distractions and do not be afraid to spend time alone with your friends and family. Turn off your cell phone and any other electronic device and enjoy your time without any interruptions.
Christmas is just around the corner and then it will be the New Year. I challenge everyone to give the gift of time this year, because it really is the “perfect gift!”
End of Life Discussions
One of the most difficult discussions for anyone, is a discussion about death. Especially when we are talking about what we want to have happen when we are at end of life. The discussion must come early before we are faced with a crisis. End of life conversations are actually continuing conversations about preferences and priorities.
Some interesting statistics were recently published about how people who have managed their own impending death.
A greater percentage of people have accepted their diagnosis of a terminal illness when they have had counseling. However counseling was not as helpful to people who want to know their life expectancy.
A large majority of people are concerned more about their comfort than their life being extended. The report reveals that people generally do not want to die in an intensive care unit.
A large segment of the population has completed a DNR or Do Not Resuscitate order. This is a form that states a person’s wishes not receive CPR if you stop breathing or their heart stops.
An even larger segment of the population have completed a living will, durable power of attorney or heath care proxy. This is an important form that will allow health care professionals and family members to honor your wishes when you can no longer make decisions for yourself.
Outpatient Hospice services are often preferred by most people who are end of life. Hospice does not hasten death or prolonging life. Hospice helps the person have comfort through end of life. Inpatient Hospice units are another option for someone to not die at home.
The use of life sustaining measures like a feeding tube are used less when people have counseling about end of life. A younger person who has every opportunity to recover from health crisis may only need nutrition by the use of a feeding tube for a short period of time. Older adults who can no longer have quality of life due to a degenerative disease, must consider not using a feeding tube to sustain or prolong their life.
When the body is end of life and shutting down, it is a very natural process for the body to not feel hunger. Many people fear that they are “starving the person to death!” I remind family members that the body cannot metabolize food and using a feeding tube would actually be more painful for the dying person.
Dehydration and the lack of water is also not a painful process because the human body generally becomes so sleepy until the person is unconscious. When IV fluids are given while the body is shutting down, the additional fluid begins to work against the person because their kidneys have shut down and cannot eliminate the fluid from the body.
Cremation is certainly a more affordable option, but some people feel strongly about traditional burial. Some people do not want a funeral and others want a large celebration of their life. It is important that your wishes are carried out as you wish.
Every person should talk with their family about their wishes before they are faced with end of life decisions. A wonderful gift for any family is to plan out your traditional burial or cremation, so it is a telephone call for a family who is grief stricken with the loss of someone that they love.
The Silent Generation
The Silent Generation - 1925 - 1942
They were called the "Silent Generation" or the gray flannel generation! They learned to live without, and save money like no other generation! Only 2% of this generation ever thought about being self-employed. Their role models were people who served in the military. History tells us that that they were cautious, unadventurous, and unimaginative. They were the generation without a cause, but they liked to discuss, review, and debate issues that are important to them.
This generation dominated the “Helping Professions” like teaching, medical services, and the ministry. They produced every major figure in the Civil Rights movement. The television was invented in 1949 when these folks were 7 to 24 years old.
We have learned that this generation focuses on people and they don’t consider rules are final. They like to bring in the experts to help with any decision. They don’t like loud music or loud people! If you try to sell them something, be certain that you show them how it will fit their core values, like frugality and responsibility.
This generation wants to maintain their independence, make their own decisions, and be treated with respect. They also do not want to be a burden to anyone. Their children have a very difficult time getting them to spend money when they need care.
These folks would rather live in their own home until death even if they are struggling physically to care for themselves. A Geriatric Nurse Care Manager can help older adults feel as independent as possible. They can also help guide a family making decisions about appropriate levels of care and placement options.
A Registered Nurse has experience in the medical field, and she understands the problems associated with aging and care giving. A qualified Geriatric Nurse Care Manager can help guide families through this unknown territory.
A Geriatric Nurse Care Manager will be supportive and an impartial advisor who will be invaluable when making life changing decisions that are difficult especially when time is limited. A Geriatric Nurse Care Manager can decrease the families stress level by using their experience and professional contacts to help navigate through the health care industry. As professionals, we can provide an objective assessment and care plan, while linking you to reliable resources and save you time and money.
An Amazing Woman
Recently I visited with a lady from my home town in Michigan who was one of the most beloved teachers at my elementary school. To my surprise she had moved into a long term care home about a year ago. When I arrived at the home she was on the move with her rolling walker and she was dressed as if she were on her way out for a special date. She told me that she was “106!” No one would ever guess her age if you were to meet her. Her spark was contagious, as she talked and laughed with us. It was obvious that everyone at the home enjoyed being with her. We never did sit down to talk because she had places to go and things to do!
I did a little research about this amazing woman and I found an article written by a local newspaper in 2008 when she was 99. The headlines read “Sturgis Woman 99, Golfs Three Times a Week.” They quoted her as saying “I don’t get my clubs out of the car for nine holes. That’s only half a game!” She attributes her long life to exercise and a loving family, and she has no intention of giving up golf, “until I can’t!”
It is hard not to focus on how people age when I work in the senior industry. I am surrounded by people who have aged prematurely due to health concerns and yet others who are still very healthy like Julia Finlay at age 106. It is clear that some people may have the genetic make up to have longevity. Others are predisposed to age more quickly. I am convinced that people have a choice at a younger age to decide if their glass if half empty or half full.
If we focus on all of the things that we have lost or can no longer do, we will age more quickly. The documentary “Alive Inside” clearly shows that people who grow more inward when they do not have stimulation, become the “living dead.”
We all have gifts to give at every age, it is when we no longer share our gift’s with other’s that we no longer have a sense of purpose. Having a sense of purpose in life is the key to growing old. There are leaders of large corporations who stay involved because they do not want to retire and become idle. They enjoy their work and they understand that they must have a sense of purpose every day.
Julia is my role model for aging gracefully and I hope that I can continue to count my blessings and try to always remember that my glass is half full!