Posts Tagged ‘maintaining independence’


Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Elderly citizens age 60 and over should receive a vaccine to protect them against shingles, or herpes zoster.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta recommends a single dose of the zoster vaccine, Zostavax, for adults age 60 and over. This is even if they have had a previous outbreak of shingles.

A new recommendation that was published in the CDC’s Mortality and Morbidity recently replaced a former provisional recommendation made in 2006. This provisional recommendation was made after the vaccine was licensed by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

In those ages 60 and over that received the vaccine, the occurrence of shingles was reduced greatly. Particularly with those ages 60-69, it reduced the occurrence rate by 64 percent.

Side effects of the vaccine from those that had it seem to be redness, pain and tenderness, swelling at the injection site, itching and headache.

It is reported that half of the people living to age 85 have had or will get shingles.

Shingles is characterized by clusters of painful blisters which develop on one side of the body in a band-like pattern and can cause severe pain that may last for weeks, months or years. Shingles is caused by the childhood disease chickenpox that becomes dormant within the nerves and reactivates later in life. It is said that over 95 percent of people are infected with the varicella zoster (chickenpox) during their lifetime. About one in three persons will develop shingles during their lifetime, resulting in about one million cases of shingles per year.

Chickenpox is usually mild, but it can be serious, especially in young infants and adults. The risk of contracting shingles increases with age starting at around 50 and is highest in the elderly.

Elderly Employment

Monday, October 18th, 2010

There are many senior citizens who want to work again despite the limitations that society imposes on them. While there are physical limitations to the kind of work that they are able to do, elderly individuals must be permitted to take on jobs that will help them to continue to lead a happy, productive life. With the current state of the economy, jobs for anyone are hard to come by or find, but that is not saying that it’s an impossible task to accomplish. Work for the elderly is more difficult due to limitations and age, however, jobs for the elderly can be found if you know where to look.

For the most part, elderly work should be free from strenuous activities. This includes jobs that require a lot of movement, lifting heavy objects, or stay up until the wee hours of the morning. Physical exhaustion and too much effort would not be conducive to a job for an elderly individual.

What sort of work would then be appropriate for an elderly individual given these conditions? This job should not only be physically mild but also it needs to be meaningful. A job for an elderly individual does not need to be monotonous or absent of emotion to be a good fit for them.

The elderly could work from home and earn money and feel fulfilled without leaving home. There are many job opportunities out there for those who want to work without leaving home. These types of jobs can be based on previous employment such as tutoring, teaching piano, or a craft.

Many elderly want to reach out to others and often either volunteer for charities or non-government organizations. There are many opportunities for elderly social work that is open for employees as well as volunteers. This can be a rewarding experience.

Leading a happy and fulfilled life does not stop at retirement. There are plenty of work opportunities for the elderly that will allow them to earn a bit of money and feel productive as well as feel good about themselves by helping their community. Being happy, productive and fulfilled can lead to a healthier mental well-being.

Making the Holidays Brighter

Friday, October 15th, 2010

The Christmas season is a beautiful time of the year full of friends, family, presents, and yummy goodies. In the hustle and bustle of this busy season, the elderly and shut-ins are often overlooked. There are many ways to squeeze in a little time to share with an elderly neighbor and make their holidays just a bit brighter.

Here are a few ideas but the sky is the limit!

  • Take a senior out to a special dinner. Check out local festivals, plays, tree lightings, or parties. Go tree shopping—an elderly person might enjoy helping you shop for a tree or even their own. Take them on a drive and look at the Christmas lights. Many areas have a ‘festival of lights’ show through a local park. Make sure on any outing that you consider any special needs and be sure you can
  • The elderly enjoy shopping; however due to no longer driving or mobility issues, they may not be able to get out much so taking them shopping could provide a nice service for them.
  • Help them do things that they are unable to do for themselves such as shoveling their sidewalk if it snows, helping them decorate the tree or how, or anything else they might need you to do for them.
  • Hugs and lots of them. Who doesn’t need a hug? For some reason, the elderly aren’t often touched and would welcome a genuine, heart-felt hug at Christmas.
  • Visit an elderly person in a nursing home or simply someone who is a shut in and bring them a Christmas card or a small gift.
  • Help the elderly through a local charity that supports seniors at the holidays. Charities are always looking for volunteers and can help you to find somewhere to volunteer your time.

The elderly are thankful for being remembered at Christmas and you will feel warmth in your heart for helping to make their holidays a bit brighter!

To Market, To Market

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Elderly grocery shopping is so much different than shopping for a family. When grocery shopping elderly style, you are no longer buying in large quantities as you would for a family. Instead, you are looking for products that are easy to open and handle and in smaller sizes.

Here are some guidelines for your shopping trip:

  • Easy to Handle Products: Seniors do not have neither the strength nor dexterity as they did when they were younger. Lifting bottles of cleaning supplies, milk, juice, or other items found in large, bulky containers, are awkward. Smaller containers may cost more; however they are easier to lift and carry. Buy milk and juice in quart bottles, coffee in 1 lb cans, ketchup and mustard in small bottles as well as mayonnaise, salad dressing, laundry detergent and cleaning supplies.
  • Easy to Open Items: Make sure asprin and all over-the-counter medications are in easy to open bottles instead of child proof bottles. When purchasing cans of soup, vegetables, fruit and meat, look for the pop top cans so that the elder doesn’t have to use a can opener.
  • Smaller Portion Sizes: Think smaller when it comes to food that can go bad. For example, ask the butcher at the grocery store to package just 1-2 chicken breasts, pork chops, or steaks. Look for canned food in small cans. Many vegetables have the single-serve portions available.

For elderly shopping, it isn’t so much about buying in quantity to save money; it’s more about convenience and ease. With a little bit of practice, you can learn to shop for the elderly. And trust me; they will let you know when something doesn’t work for them.

Information in this article obtained here


Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Incontinence simply means loss of bladder control and it is a common condition that many who care for the elderly must deal with. It is more of a symptom and not a disease and is caused by a wide range of conditions and disorders including pelvic surgery, injuries, certain medications, and just basic degenerative changes that occur with aging.

Elderly with incontinence can experience both physical and emotional uneasiness. These are many things that can be done to treat and manage the condition. The first step in treatment is to see your doctor to find the cause and establish a treatment plan.

The following are some additional tips to help you, the caregiver, deal with some of the challenges associated with incontinence:

  • Make the bathroom easy to find by using night lights in the bedrooms and hallways.
  • Many elderly have accidents because they are unable to make to the bathroom in time; consider purchasing a bedside commode. This can be used in the bathroom over the regular toilet or it can be used bedside at night.
  • Keep pathways through the home safe and clear; rearrange furniture and remove clutter; make sure throw rugs have a non-slip backing on them.
  • Encourage the use of a walker or can to increase mobility.
  • Get a waterproof bed sheet to help protect your mattress from night time accidents.
  • Provide chairs with sturdy arms so that it reduces the strain of getting up; straining to get in or out of a chair can put pressure on the bladder.
  • Make sure the elder is allowed enough time in the bathroom to completely empty the bladder.
  • Remove wet clothing immediately after an accident and rinse out to cut down on odor; if the wet item cannot be rinsed right away, store in an airtight container or plastic bag.
  • Have a schedule for toileting needs; start with every 2 hours and progress from there.
  • Consider a raised toilet seat and handrails beside the toilet to make toileting more comfortable. A raised seat helps an elder get up and the handrails help to steady.

It only takes time and a little patience to work through the symptoms of incontinence.

Elderly Social Worker

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

What do you think of when you hear the words, “social worker”? If you are like most people, you think of one of those people in the welfare office. Social work has been associated for a long time with Child Protective Services and other non-profit organizations that work to help improve the lives of children and help to remove them from abusive situations.

Adult Protective Services is also an important part of the field of social work; however, APS is understaffed in many places throughout the United States and some cities do not even have an APS department. Cases involving the elderly have increased in recent years and the increase in reports added with the media attention on the issue has finally given APS the focus it deserves.

Choosing to be a social worker for elderly citizens is going to give you a challenge. You have to be willing to learn specific skills both personally and academically in order to succeed at working with the elderly.

Working with the elderly demands a level of education that can only be obtained through a college or university; a social worker must have at the minimum, a bachelor’s degree, to start a career. Many times, however, it is necessary to have a master’s degree. While working on a degree, electives can be taken to give the more specialized training you may need to work with the elderly.

Some of your coursework might include:

  • Death, Loss and Grief
  • Social Work with the Elderly
  • Evaluation in Adults and Elderly
  • Basic Social Work Research
  • Adulthood and Aging
  • Policies and Services for the Elderly

To work with seniors, you must have compassion and patience. You have to see things through their eyes; many times they won’t understand with a younger person coming to help them. While most elderly are wonderful to know, just like any other group of people, there are bumps along the way. And if the elderly is a victim of abuse or neglect, this may amplify the negativity in them and they may call you names and seem very angry.

It is also good to be able to work with those that have mental illnesses. Many of the individuals in nursing homes are there because of dementia, Alzheimer’s, or some other mental illness and require constant care. It is important to know how to talk with these elderly and be able to tell the difference between fact and fiction as these individuals will often have issues with confusion.

Being a social worker and working for the elderly can provide you with a fulfilling career.

Living Alone Safely

Monday, October 11th, 2010

For many elderly, the idea of living alone can be scary, especially if it is the first time. Some elderly haven’t ever living alone and have oftentimes relied on others to do things like the household budget. Other are having problems with health issues and one fall could be scary, or even life-threatening.

It doesn’t take a whole lot to insure that your elderly relative or friend is safe.

Use the following as a check-list:

  • Lighting is important to insure that those with problems seeing can motor through the home easier. Nightlights are a great way to light up the floor.
  • Consider moving their bedroom downstairs; stairs can be hard to maneuver if the elderly has mobility problems like arthritis. If stairs just can’t be avoided, insure that the handrails are sturdy and useable.
  • Test all smoke alarms on a regular basis
  • In the bathroom, use non-slip mats and grab bars for ease of getting in and out of the shower; a shower chair could also be considered.
  • Insure that all electrical cords are out of the way safely. This could be a trip hazard.
  • Consider putting a timer on small appliances; the elderly can forget to turn things off and these timers could save their life in the long run.
  • Have an emergency escape route planned so that in the event the normal route is unable to reached, that they can get in and out of the house safely.
  • Help make a list of emergency numbers and have them posted by a phone. This list should include doctors, hospital and nearby family and friends.

Planning ahead for a possible emergency eliminates a rush in the event of one and could save a life or lives.

Many Elderly Below San Francisco’s Poverty Line

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Richard Ow, an 80 year old gentleman, lives in the North Beach Hotel. He has been a resident there for the past 40 years. He earns less than $24,000 a year from his pension as a former postal worker. He retired 20 years ago. By what the federal government says, this man is not poor; but by San Francisco’s calculations, this elderly Chinatown man is living in poverty.

Mr. Ow considers himself fortunate; some of his friends are earning less than $800 a month from Social Security. The average check in San Francisco is $11, 319 annually which is a mere $500 above the federal poverty line.

Elderly residents are increasing in numbers to line up for the food banks and free meals. And, in the same breath, the federal government doesn’t consider them poor enough to qualify for many of the federal assistance programs.

For example, the federal government considers a single person earning $10, 830 or less a year as living in poverty; however, there are many seniors that earn as much as double that figure and still living in impoverished conditions.

A recent report by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development showed that 61% of San Francisco residents ages 65 and over earn less than $27,282 annually which is the bare minimum that a senior needs to cover necessary costs of living.

To help bridge the gap in costs, seniors will end up skipping meals or cutting pills in half to make them last longer. The economic recession has added to the problems of homelessness among senior citizens. In San Francisco, the number of food stamp, or SNAP, cases have grown by 55% in the past 17 months and the San Francisco Food Bank has seen a 25% increase in their case load over the past 12 months.

Based on an article located here; please visit for more information

Preventing Abuse

Friday, October 8th, 2010

The incidence of elder abuse can be reduced, but it will take more time and effort that we are making right now. Preventing elder abuse means doing three things:

  • Listening
  • Intervening
  • Educating

If you are a caregiver and overwhelmed by the demands of caring for the elderly there are a few things you can do as well to prevent an abuse of elder incidence:

  • Request help when you need it so you can take a break
  • Find an adult day care program
  • Stay healthy
  • Seek out therapy for depression
  • Find an elder caregiver support group
  • Seek help for drug and alcohol abuse

Remember, elder abuse hotlines offer help for caregivers as well. Call a help line if you think that there is a possibility that you could cross that line and commit elder abuse.

As a concerned family member or friend, you can also help by:

  • Watching for warning signs and if you suspect abuse report it
  • Keep watch on the elder’s medications; does the amount in the container match up with the date of the prescription?
  • Watch for possible financial abuse; ask if you could scan the bank accounts and credit card statements for possible unauthorized transactions
  • Call and visit as often as you can
  • Offer to stay with the elder so that the caregiver can take a break

If you are an elder, there are ways you can protect yourself against elder abuse. Here are some ideas:

  • Make sure your financial and legal affairs are in order. If they aren’t, seek professional help to get them in order, with a trusted friend or relative if necessary.
  • Keep in touch with family and friends and avoid isolation.

If you are unhappy with the care you’re receiving, whether it’s in your own home or in a care facility, speak up. Tell someone you know and trust and ask that person to report the abuse, neglect or substandard care to your state’s APS (Adult Protective Services) office, or make the call yourself.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800 799-7233

Risk Factors

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

It is difficult to take care of a senior citizen when he or she has many different needs and on the other hand, it is difficult to be an elder person when age brings with it a lot of dependence on another person. But the demands of the caregiver and the one needing care can create situations in which abuse is more likely to occur. Stress can get great for both at this time.

Many of those who are nonprofessionals such as spouses and adult children, find taking care of the elderly, satisfying; however the responsibilities that can come with deteriorating health can be stressful. That stress that results from being burned out for example can lead to mental and physical abuse.

Among caregivers, risk factors for elder abuse are inability to cope with the stress, depression, lack of support from other caregivers, the ideation that taking care of the elderly carries heavy burden, and substance abuse.

Even those that give care in institutional settings can experience this kind of stress levels that lead to abuse. Even nursing home staff may be prone to elder abuse if they do not have the proper training, have many responsibilities, are not suited to care giving, or work under poor conditions.

Several factors concerning the elderly, while they do not excuse the abuse, might have influence over whether they are at greater risk for abuse. These factors include the degree of an elder’s illness or dementia, social isolation (the caregiver and the elder are alone together a lot), whether the elder had been an abusive parent previously, a history of domestic violence in the home, and the elder’s own tendency toward verbal or physical aggression.

In many cases, elder abuse is not intentional. Caregivers are often pushed beyond their capabilities or psychological means and may not intend to yell at, strike out, or ignore the needs of the elderly in their care.

If you suspect elder abuse, do not hesitate to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800 799-7233

Check back on Thursday, October 7, 2010 for the 4th installment in the series on elder abuse