Exercising at least three times a week for six months reduced stress in a group of family caregivers and even appeared to lengthen a small section of their chromosomes that is believed to slow cellular aging, new UBC research has found.
“I am hoping that a new focus on the family caregiver will emerge out of this research,” said Eli Puterman, a professor in the University of British Columbia’s school of kinesiology and lead author of the study. “We need to design interventions that help caregivers take care of their bodies and their minds, and provide the type of support that’s needed to maintain that long-term.”
The population of seniors in the U.S., where Puterman and colleagues from the University of California conducted the study, is expected to nearly double by 2050. Younger family members will increasingly be providing this type of care and it can take a toll on their health.
AMERICA HAS AN AGING population, and as such, more and more people are considering options for where and how they’ll live after retirement. Sorting through those choices and determining which is the best one for your particular situation can be challenging.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities are one option you may consider. Sometimes called life plan communities, CCRCs offer most anything older adults may need as they move through the stages of aging, says Andrew J. Carle, an adjunct professor in the department of health administration and policy and founding director of the program in senior housing administration at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. “The gist of it is they include the full continuum of care options,” meaning everything from independent or assisted living to memory care and skilled nursing care.
Not just focused on health care and assistance in daily living, CCRCs address the range of needs seniors will face after retirement and typically offer housekeeping and dining options, transportation, wellness and fitness programs, recreational activities and a wide range of social activities and outings for residents.
IF YOU WERE BORN between 1946 and 1964, you count yourself, of course, as part of the baby boomer generation that is the largest in American history. And boomers age just like everyone else. In March 2018, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that by 2035, adults aged 65 and older will number more than 78 million. By comparison, kids aged 18 and younger are expected to total just 76.4 million, meaning that in short order, the number of seniors in the country will outnumber children for the first time in American history.
As they continue to age, many people need some help in completing the daily tasks of living. Faced with the decision of how to address these needs, thousands are settling on the option of an assisted living facility.
Definitions of assisted living can vary from state to state and facility to facility, but “we generally define it as another long-term care option for folks that generally don’t need 24/7 skilled nursing care, which is what most long-term nursing homes provide,” says Rachel Reeves, director of communications for the National Center for Assisted Living, a non-profit organization representing about 4,000 assisted living facilities across the country. For many people, assisted living means they need help with some aspects of daily living, such bathing, dressing, toileting, eating or transferring to bed at night. “Assisted living really focuses on supporting individuals with those activities, but then also maximizing independence and socialization in a home-like environment,” Reeves says. Currently, the NCAL reports that there are more than 835,000 Americans residing in assisted living facilities.
Providing insight into the changing post-retirement landscape, a new survey by Home Instead, Inc. revealed that more than half (53 percent) of workers approaching retirement in the next five years believe they will likely return to work.
According to the Home Instead, Inc. survey, money is an important overall factor in desire to return to work. However, the second most important motivator for those who have retired was fighting boredom (44 percent) or keeping their minds sharp (22 percent), while finding new challenges and fulfillment were the second and third most important motivators for those pending retirement. In terms of their next move, the majority of both those approaching retirement (68 percent) and those who have “unretired” and returned to work (65 percent) said they will change or have changed industries.
“Today, more aging men and women are redefining what their next chapter looks like, seeking out new career opportunities that serve their skills, passions and life goals,” said Jeff Huber, president and CEO of Home Instead, Inc. “We are seeing the desire among seniors for a second career to not just fulfill a monetary need, but source of personal fulfillment later in life. In fact, many of our own professional caregivers are seniors themselves.”
Mary Walsh and Beverly Nance did considerable research in 2016 before deciding to move into a continuing care retirement community outside St. Louis.
They took a tour of Friendship Village Sunset Hills and were impressed by its pool and fitness center, a calendar crammed with activities, the newly built apartments for independent living. They had meals with a friend and with a former co-worker, and their spouses, all of them enthusiastic residents.
“We’d met other people from the community, and they were very friendly,” said Ms. Walsh, 72, a retired manager for AT&T. “I was feeling good about it.”
Like most C.C.R.C.s, Friendship Village — a “faith-based” but nondenominational nonprofit — includes assisted living and a nursing home on its 52-acre campus, an important consideration.
As much as 10 percent of Oklahoma’s adults age 60 and older are victims of physical, psychological, sexual or verbal abuse.
Also, senior citizens are seriously neglected or victims of financial exploitation, according to a new report co-authored by Lance Robertson, assistant secretary for aging in the Trump administration. Robertson served as Oklahoma’s director of aging services from 2007 to 2017.
Now, elder-abuse costs in the United States are estimated to be $8.2 billion a year, according to Robertson and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams.
“Elder abuse is a critical social, health and economic problem,” the report notes.
Communication breakdown among nurses and doctors is one of the primary reasons for patient care mistakes in the hospital.
In a small pilot study, University of Michigan researchers learned about potential causes of these communication failures by recording interactions among nurses and doctors, and then having them watch and critique the footage together.
Several themes emerged to help explain the poor communication, and both nurses and physicians improved their communication styles, said Milisa Manojlovich, U-M professor of nursing, who defines communication as reaching a shared understanding.
One barrier to good communication is that the hospital hierarchy puts nurses at a power disadvantage, and many are afraid to speak the truth to doctors, Manojlovich said.
When we think of family caregivers, we tend to think of women. And in fact the typical caregiver is a middle-aged woman caring for a relative, often her mother.
But the face of American caregiving is changing rapidly, according to “Breaking Stereotypes: Spotlight on Male Family Caregivers,” a recent report from AARP. Eight years ago, just 34 percent of caregivers surveyed were men. Today, 40 percent of the 40 million Americans caring for a loved one are male.
In many respects, male caregivers resemble their female counterparts. Both say they had little choice about taking on caregiving responsibilities, whether they are caring for a parent, a spouse or partner, or other relative. Both are more prone to health problems and depression than non-caregivers. Both often not only manage finances and medical care, but also provide personal care, including helping their loved one with eating, bathing, dressing and toileting.
The right to live independently, integrated into the community, is a cornerstone of the disability rights movement. It’s also the core of the mission for the Administration for Community Living — it’s even built into our name. ACL was created around the fundamental principle that all people, regardless of age or disability, should be able to live independently and fully participate in their communities.
For decades, people with disabilities have worked to turn this principle into a reality. Looking at this history, certain moments stand out as turning points. For example, the passage and implementation of landmark legislation including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Rehabilitation Act, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act have each helped make community living possible for more Americans.
THE INSTITUTE OF Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) issued a report in 2012, “The Mental Health and Substance Use Workforce for Older Adults: In Whose Hands?” that said 14 to 20 percent of U.S. adults over age 65 have one or more mental health or substance use conditions. That’s about 8 million people. Yet a number of studies also indicate that mental illness in older adults is underrecognized and underdiagnosed.
For instance, a telephone survey of nearly 10,000 adult households, published in 2003 in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, found that half of adults over age 65 with a probable mental illness were significantly less likely to be receiving any mental health treatment than younger adults. Of those, only 7 percent had used specialty mental health care.
“Indeed, compared with younger adults and middle-aged adults, adults over age 65 were much less likely to be asked by their primary care physician if they felt tense or anxious and were much less likely to be referred by their primary care physician for mental health specialty care,” says Dr. Susan W. Lehmann, clinical director of the division of geriatric psychiatry and neuropsychiatry and director of the Geriatric Psychiatry Day Hospital at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. A more recent study of seniors receiving home health services found that 23 percent screened positive for depression, yet less than 40 percent of those people were receiving treatment for depression, she says.