Monday, April 21, 2014

When Your Parent With Alzheimer's Goes Wandering






When Your Parent With Alzheimer's Goes Wandering
Caroline Mayer Caroline Mayer , Contributor


Washington Post reporter Tom Jackman was frightened when his 78-year-old father with Alzheimer’s went missing in northern Virginia last October. Fortunately, his dad was found about 20 hours after disappearing.
Jackman discovered some valuable lessons in the search for his father, which he wrote about in a touching Washington Post story.
Jackman reported that  his dad “spent most of his career as a spokesman for the airline industry and the American Automobile Association before retiring more than 10 years ago. Then he began working as a docent and information-desk guy at the Udvar-Hazy Center, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum annex near Dulles Airport. He had to stop doing that about two years ago, when he got lost coming home from the museum one day.”
 Jackman’s father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about two years ago but is in fine physical shape otherwise. As with many people with Alzheimer’s, his short-term memory is terrible, although his long-term memory is still reasonably good.
“He lives with my mother, who is a couple of years younger and quite active around their town.”
Until last October, the doctor said it was OK to allow Dad to continue to drive to the two places he visited regularly: A daily drive of about one mile to Starbucks and a Sunday drive of less than a mile to the church where he has long sung in the choir.
“To our knowledge, he had never experienced any problems going back and forth between those two places until a Saturday morning in October.”
What happened that morning?
“My mom went to meet some of her friends for a leisurely breakfast. Dad was asleep when she left; he typically goes on his daily Starbucks run around 11. Mom returned around 11:30 a.m., so she wasn’t concerned when Dad wasn’t home. But by 12:30, she began to be. At 1:30, she was extremely concerned and started calling me. Shortly before 2 p.m., she called the Fairfax County police.”
“The Police conducted an all-out search with more than 60 officers. One officer was assigned to stay with my mother, to get information from her and to be around in case Dad called or showed up. A helicopter searched the air over the town where they live.”

“The fire and rescue department took down all of Dad’s medical information in case he was found in distress. Officers were dispatched to any place we could think he might have visited. The phone company was contacted to try to locate his cell phone — an older model which had no GPS device in it.”
 The police released a Missing Persons poster at 4:30 a.m., and the local TV news began broadcasting it at 5:00.

“At around 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, an officer in Washington, D.C., found my father. His car had stalled outside a McDonald’s near the Capitol, about 25 miles from his home. Receipts in the car showed he had driven about 40 miles north to Baltimore, got gas, went to a McDonald’s there and then drove back to Washington. He had no memory of any of it. He was checked out at a hospital and released.”
  What were some of the lessons learned from this experience?
For one thing, cell-phone locator technology is far from perfect. The phone company was quite certain that his phone was in a particular neighborhood. Two months later, my mother found the cell phone under a couch in their house. He’d never taken it with him. For older phones without GPS capability, like my dad’s, phones pinging off cell towers can still be in a radius of many miles around the towers.
Another lesson was that many banks simply do not have the capability to access customers’ records immediately on weekends, particularly smaller banks such as the one my dad uses. Even for the police.
Can technology help find people with Alzheimer’s who are wandering?
There are devices that can be used to track missing adults. But in Fairfax County there is a waiting list to obtain one, from a program called Project Lifesaver, which is available in nearly every jurisdiction in the Washington, D.C. area.
“After I wrote the article, a local group stepped up and donated several thousand dollars to Project Lifesaver in Fairfax County, which will be used to purchase more GPS equipment so more people can be enrolled. The newly elected sheriff has indicated he hopes to expand the program.”
What advice would you give families who have loved ones with Alzheimer’s?
There are several things family members can — and should — do.
First, they should get their loved one a cell phone with GPS capability to help track them if they wander.
They should also sign up for online banking with their parent’s financial institution to be able to access the account and follow any transactions if he or she goes missing.
They should also sign up for Project Lifesaver or a similar program, if there is one.
And by all means, they should contact the local police and inform them that there is someone in your family who might some day wander.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2014/01/16/when-your-parent-with-alzheimers-goes-wandering/
Caroline Mayer is a consumer reporter who spent 25 years working for The Washington Post. Follow her on Twitter @consumermayer.

Bob O'Toole, MSW
Informed Eldercare Decisions, Inc.
Dedham, MA 02026
http://www/elderlifeplanning.com
Home of the Elder Life Planning for Organizations program (ELPO) a nationwide, low cost, caregiver support program for employers, associations, banks, credit unions, labor unions and religious organizations. 
 

Students Devise Products For Adults With Dementia



Students Devise Products For Adults With Dementia
Richard Eisenberg

 Anyone who has, or had, a loved one with dementia will want to say “thank you” to the seven student finalists of the inaugural Stanford Center on Longevity Design Challenge announced today. With any luck, caregivers and families will be able to buy their brilliant creations sometime soon.
 Stanford, in collaboration withAging 2.0 (an organization aiming to accelerate innovation to improve the lives of older adults), challenged graduate school and undergraduate students around the world to design products and services that would keep individuals with cognitive impairment independent for as long as possible.
Why Independence is a Worthy Goal
More than 80 percent of adults want to age in place and that the cost of 24-hour supervised memory care can run $10,000 a month, according to Stanford.
Each of the finalists will receive $1,000 and mentorship from the Challenge’s corporate sponsors, to help them refine their ideas. The Design Challenge winner, to be named at a ceremony on April 10, will receive $10,000; two runners-up will get $5,000 and $2,000. That’s also when Stanford will unveil the theme of its next Design Challenge.
  Stanford received submissions from 52 teams in 15 countries. Five finalists were from colleges in America, one was studying in Denmark and one in Singapore.
“Cognitive impairment affects people in such a personal way, the challenge brought out a lot of creativity,” says Ken Smith, Director of Mobility at the Stanford Center on Longevity.
The students who entered weren’t just studying design and engineering. They also came from fields such as nursing, psychology, fine arts and computer science. Dementia affects patients, families caregivers and health providers in a multitude of ways, so the inventions addressed the disease from a variety of angles.
The 7 Challenge Finalists
Memory Maps from Ritika Mathur at Copenhagen Institute of Design. Combining a small device with an RFID reader, a map of the patient’s neighborhood and GPS technology, Memory Maps lets someone with early-stage cognitive issues and his or her family record memories and then coordinate them to a map with the real-world locations where they took place.

“Our goal was not just to bring back what’s gone, but to find out what is still there and nourish and cherish that,” Mathur wrote in the entry.
Eatwell from Sha Yao at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. Inspired by her grandmother who had Alzheimer’s, she designed a seven-piece tableware set specifically designed for people with the disease. Its goal: to help users eat better and maintain their dignity while helping alleviate burdens of their caregivers.
Anti-slip bowls are designed to get food into spoons more easily, cups have rubber mats and extended handles that act as stabilizers, trays let caregivers clip aprons onto the edge to help catch food that may drop. Estimated retail price: $150 initially.
Taste+ from Huabin Kok at Singapore National University. Another product for meals, this is a spoon with a built-in electrical stimulation to make food more delicious if they have diminished taste sensation, as many with cognitive impairment do. The user taps a button on the spoon to deliver a salty or sour flavor, rather than actually adding salt, which could lead to heart problems. Estimated price: Under $40.
Caresolver from Arick Morton at Harvard University. This is a cloud-based, web/mobile/phone-based platform for “lay” caregivers to give them  support and help facilitate coordination with a larger caregiver team. Its CareLogic engine tracks and monitors caregiver and care-recipient wellness and delivers alerts, notifications and clinically-validated interventions when appropriate. Caresolver also connects users with online support groups, forums and mentors.
Confage from Ani Abgaryan at San Francisco State University . Abgaryan devised this engaging gaming experience after growing frustrated that she was unable to teach her grandmother how to read or write text messages on her mobile phone. Confage shows people with memory and hand-motorics issues the main gestures needed to use touchscreen devices.
ThermoRing from Kayvan Mojtahedzadeh at San Francisco State University. It’s a plastic ring placed around an electric stove burner that warns people the burner is on by changing from black to red.
Kitchen fires and burns are, of course, a significant safety concern for people with dementia and their families. Fear of fire accidents is actually a common reason why the elderly are moved into assisted living centers.
Automated Home Activity Monitoring from Guido Pusiol at Stanford University. This computer-based system, operated through cameras, would learn its user’s daily living behavior and then send an alert to the caregiver when “abnormal” activity occurs — such as a fall. A 24-hour test in an apartment found the system was 90 percent accurate in detecting eight daily activities including cooking and eating.
Will any of the Design Challenge ideas make it to market? No one knows, of course, but Smith says: “I was more encouraged about the possibility after we figured out who the finalists would be.”

 Source: Money & Security and Work & Purpose channels of Next Avenue  http://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2014/01/23/students-devise-products-for-adults-with-dementia/

Blog Editor: Bob O'Toole, MSW
Informed Eldercare Decisions, Inc.
Dedham, MA 02026
http://www/elderlifeplanning.com
Home of the Elder Life Planning for Organizations program (ELPO) a nationwide, low cost, caregiver support program for employers, associations, banks, credit unions, labor unions and religious organizations. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Financial Abuse of Elderly on the Rise, New Survey by NAPGCM Finds


New survey of geriatric care managers finds that financial abuse and exploitation of older Americans is increasing. Most common form of financial elder abuse encountered is theft by family, friends, neighbors and caregivers.


Survey Finding: Most Common Forms of Financial Elder Abuse

"Financial abuse of seniors is a growing problem. Families with older relatives need to know the warning signs of this all too common and often hidden form of elder abuse." - NAPGCM President, Emily Saltz.

Tucson, AZ (PRWEB) March 12, 2014

Financial abuse and exploitation of older Americans is on the rise, according to a new survey released today by the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM). The survey, which also identified theft of money by family, friends, neighbors and caregivers as the most common types of abuse, comes on the heels of President Obama’s call last week for a new $25 million initiative to combat elder abuse as part of his budget.

NAPGCM surveyed 325 professional geriatric care managers nationwide about their experiences with financial abuse in their work with seniors. Major findings of the survey include:

        71 percent of the care managers reported that financial abuse and/or exploitation of the elderly is a growing problem in their communities.
         The top 5 types of financial abuse most commonly encountered are:

-Theft of money or property by family/friend/neighbor (79%)
-Theft of money or property by caretaker/ in-home care provider (75%)
-Investment/securities schemes through the mail or phone (52%)
-Home Repair scams (45%)
-Getting senior to sign a deed, will, power of attorney through deception (43%)

“Financial abuse of seniors is a growing problem. Families with older parents need to know the warning signs of this all too common and often hidden form of elder abuse,” said NAPGCM President, Emily Saltz. “Our survey shows that close oversight of vulnerable adults by family members or qualified professionals is crucial,” added Ms. Saltz.

According to the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) 1 in 20 older adults indicated some form of perceived financial mistreatment occurring in the recent past. Most financial abuse goes undetected, as NAPSA estimates only 1 in 44 cases are reported. So it is crucial that family and loved ones know the warning signs. The NAPGCM survey asked professional geriatric care managers to identify the most reliable “red flags” that a senior might be the victim of financial abuse or exploitation. The top five red flags identified are:


You and/or their bank notice unusual activity on bank accounts and/or credit cards that they can’t explain
        A new “best friend” has appeared who is becoming heavily involved in personal activities
        A friend, paid caregiver or trusted employee/vendor is isolating senior from others
        Another family member becomes secretive or defensive about parent’s finances
        Missing belongings or property are apparent

The survey, which was conducted March 4-8, 2014, also identified a number of emerging schemes professional care managers are seeing more frequently now in their communities, including:

 A new version of the "Jamaican lottery" scams in which someone posing as a new friend of the senior, often pretending to have romantic interests, tricks them into purchasing cash cards supposedly to send payment in order to receive their lottery “winnings.
        A rise in “caregivers” marrying seniors and then financially exploiting them.

Financial abuse of the elderly carries a major and direct cost to taxpayers as almost 1 in 10 financial abuse victims will turn to Medicaid as a direct result of their own monies being stolen from them. And President Obama’s budget plan released last week contains a new $25 million effort to reduce elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. The initiative would fund grants to States to pilot a new abuse reporting system and improved research to understand and prevent elder abuse.


About NAPGCM

The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) was formed in 1985 to advance dignified care for older adults and their families. Geriatric Care Managers are professionals who have extensive training and experience working with older people, people with disabilities and families who need assistance with caregiving issues. They assist older adults who wish to remain in their homes, or can help families in the search for a suitable nursing home placement or extended care if the need occurs. The practice of geriatric care management and the role of care providers have captured a national spotlight, as generations of Baby Boomers age in the United States and abroad. For more information please visit http://www.caremanager.org. You can also find a listing of professional geriatric care managers in your community at the NAPGCM website: http://www.caremanager.org and click on “Find a Care Manager”

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Elder-care Provider: ‘We Want Respect and a Living Wage’

 Elder-care provider: ‘We want respect and a living wage’

Underpaid, overworked and barely making ends meet 
 More Americans live longer and longer, 79 percent of people who need long-term care live at home or in community settings. By 2050, the number of elderly people who will receive long-term care is expected to reach 27 million, up from 13 million in 2000.

So, who's providing all this caretaking?

Many of the people who care for all these seniors receive low pay, often below their state’s minimum wage. Few receive health benefits, and most states offer no protections for harassment, abuse or unsafe and unsanitary conditions. Hours can be long and irregular, and client turnover may suddenly cut off their incomes. The need for caretakers is urgent, their work intimate and demanding, but the median pay is just $16,800 a year.

On Tuesday, America Tonight’s special series "Aging America" continues with a profile of Marlene Champion, a 68-year-old Barbados native who has worked as a caregiver for the elderly for more than 30 years, and in domestic care since the age of 14.

"I cook, wash, clean, vacuum, shopping, [help with] doctor visits," she said. "If there's a nail to nail, I'll nail it. If something's being undone, I'll try to fix it."

Working with the elderly can be a huge challenge, she said, as the people under her care have early dementia, Alzheimer’s, or both.

"Some of them spit on you. Some of them hit you. Some of them deliberately do dirty things,” she told America Tonight. “You have to put yourself in the same frame of mind as they're in, because if you are not strong enough as a caregiver – mentally you're not strong enough – you'll break."

Champion's first job in the U.S. was caring for an 89-year-old doctor. By the time the man died seven years later, she could barely get by on her salary.

"You cannot save anything," she said. "It's like that cup of coffee, if you're cold in the morning, you cannot afford to buy. I cannot do the things that some people do. Very seldom I go to a restaurant. Maybe for my birthday I go for breakfast at IHOP.”

Champion doesn’t have the money, or the time, to go out anywhere, like a movie. She goes from home to work, and then straight to church. Caregiving can be strenuous and the hours are long, yet clients often undervalue it, she said.

"People have to learn that one of the greatest things for a caregiver is respect – and a decent salary," she said. "They want to pay you $5 an hour, and they want you to work 10, 12 hours a day for that.”

Champion’s hopeful that she’ll be able to enjoy retirement of her own someday.

"At this stage of my life, I shouldn't have to be working so hard to make ends meet," she said. "But when I get things together, I'm out of here. I want to enjoy a little bit of life before the good Lord decide to take me home."


Editor's Note: The complete 3 -part series with video is available at the following link:
http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/america-tonight-blog/2014/2/25/eldercare-providerwewantrespectandalivingwage.html

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Shortage of Workers in Long-term Care May Improve With Immigration Reform

Nursing homes and operators of agencies providing home-care services already are straining to find enough so-called direct-care workers, who help the elderly or disabled with such things as eating and bathing. They also face looming retirements in the current workforce, in which one-fifth of workers are 55 years old or older.


The reasons for the shortage: pay is low, typically less than $12 an hour, injury rates are high, and the work can be unpleasant and physically draining.

Nursing aides say they often are being asked to work double shifts at short-staffed nursing homes. Indeed Inc., which runs an employment website, says the number of U.S. nursing-home-aide jobs advertised in December was 10,922, up 120% from a year earlier

With the number of Americans aged 65 and older projected to reach 73 million in 2030, the demand for nursing aides will continue to grow. But high demands have led to high labor turnover.

Between 43% and 75% of nursing aides turn over each year, studies have found, compared to a 27% rate for all healthcare and social-assistance jobs in 2012, notes WSJ.

Immigration reform has been one of the hottest topics on the political agenda in Washington. Depending on the final shape it takes, it could be a boon for the long-term care industry.

The long-term care industry has struggled with labor shortages in recent years. "As a result," wrote Walter Leutz in a report for the Immigration Policy "immigrants will continue to play a significant role in the growth of the U.S. labor force in general and the direct-care workforce in particular."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the direct-care workforce will be one of the fastest growing, increasing to about 6 million by 2050. In 2005, Leutz noted in his report, there were 2.5 million direct-care workers age 18 and older in the U.S. labor  

"By 2020, we need an additional 1.6 million direct-care workers. There are not sufficient numbers of women entering the workforce to fill these jobs," said Karen Kahn. "Immigrants will help us meet this challenge." 

Between 43% and 75% of nursing aides turn over each year, studies have found, compared to a 27% rate for all healthcare and social-assistance jobs in 2012.

"We're going to have a healthcare worker shortage as people live longer. There's no question about it," said Harlan York, a New Jersey-based immigration attorney. "Immigration reform, I think, cures, no pun intended, that problem."

In some situations, injury rates have forced nursing aides away from work. It is not just the toll that heavy lifting takes on an aide's body that deters workers, but the daily stress of caring for patients who are often gravely ill and suffering from dementia creates a stressful work environment.

Better pay and working conditions for aides would help reduce turnover and workers' compensation claims for injuries, says Dore Seavey, an economist at Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute.

However, not all experiences are negative for nursing aides; the WSJ article clarifies, as many aides feel a sense of companionship with the patients they serve.

"You have to be ready physically and mentally," says Sonia Dhaliwal in the article, a 27-year-old aide. "They're our family. We really do love them."

—Robert E. O'Toole, President, Informed Eldercare Decisions

- See more at: http://caregiversupportenews.enewsworks.com/#sthash.1Qt6S0OF.dpuf 

   

Friday, February 14, 2014

How Are Today’s Seniors Adapting to Disability?

Man in wheelchair cooking

Only about a third of Americans ages 65 and older are fully able to take care of themselves and go about their daily lives completely independently, according to a recent study published online in the American Journal of Public Health.

Understanding that there are different ways older adults adapt to disability is a big step in developing public health policies that maximize the quality of life for all older Americans, said the study's lead author, Vicki Freedman, a research professor at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

Freedman and colleagues analyzed data on a nationally representative sample of 8,077 older men and women, part of the National Health and Aging Trends Study. The National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, funded the research.


Among the findings:

  • About a quarter succeed in accomplishing what they need to do on their own by using walkers or other assistive devices. Another 18 percent say they have trouble even when using these devices.

  • Six percent cope by reducing their activities—bathing or going outside less often, for example.
  • Twenty-one percent manage by receiving help from others.

The study is the first to provide national estimates of ways the Medicare-age population adapts to limitations in daily life.

"Nearly 80 percent of all older adults find ways to manage on their own without assistance from others," Freedman said. "The group using devices on their own without difficulty is especially interesting. They seem to be able to participate in activities they enjoy and report well-being as high as those who are fully able to care for themselves."

The researchers asked about seven activities of daily living: going outside, getting around inside, getting out of bed, eating, getting cleaned up, using the bathroom and dressing.

During face-to-face interviews, study participants were first asked whether they used devices or environmental modifications including canes, walkers, wheelchairs, scooters, grab bars, and bath/shower seats and whether they received help from another person in the last month.

Then they were asked whether they experienced any difficulty doing any of the activities even when they used modifications, and about whether they had changed how often they performed any basic activities over the last year.

According to Freedman, the proportion of older adults able to function independently varies greatly by activity and by age. For example, 90 percent of older adults are fully able to eat by themselves, while only 54 percent are fully able to bathe by themselves. About 45 percent of those ages 65 to 69 are fully able to carry out all activities independently, compared with only 4 percent of those ages 90 and older.

Women are more likely than men to do things on their own by using devices to assist them (26 percent compared to 23 percent). But African Americans and Hispanics are much less likely than whites and Asians to do so. Older adults with low incomes are also less likely to successfully accommodate declines in their functional abilities.

"Two groups that we identified may be especially important targets for public health intervention," Freedman said. "These are the seven million older adults who have difficulty carrying out activities alone with whatever accommodations they have already made, and the additional 2.1 million who have reduced their activity levels but do not experience or acknowledge that they are having difficulty."

Source: University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (http://home.isr.umich.edu)


- See more at: http://caregiversupportenews.enewsworks.com




   

How Are Today’s Seniors Adapting to Disability?

Related topics: Safety, Senior Lifestyles

Man in wheelchair cooking
Only about a third of Americans ages 65 and older are fully able to take care of themselves and go about their daily lives completely independently, according to a recent study published online in the American Journal of Public Health.
Understanding that there are different ways older adults adapt to disability is a big step in developing public health policies that maximize the quality of life for all older Americans, said the study's lead author, Vicki Freedman, a research professor at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.
Freedman and colleagues analyzed data on a nationally representative sample of 8,077 older men and women, part of the National Health and Aging Trends Study. The National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, funded the research.
Among the findings:
  • About a quarter succeed in accomplishing what they need to do on their own by using walkers or other assistive devices. Another 18 percent say they have trouble even when using these devices.
  • Six percent cope by reducing their activities—bathing or going outside less often, for example.
  • Twenty-one percent manage by receiving help from others.
The study is the first to provide national estimates of ways the Medicare-age population adapts to limitations in daily life.
"Nearly 80 percent of all older adults find ways to manage on their own without assistance from others," Freedman said. "The group using devices on their own without difficulty is especially interesting. They seem to be able to participate in activities they enjoy and report well-being as high as those who are fully able to care for themselves."
The researchers asked about seven activities of daily living: going outside, getting around inside, getting out of bed, eating, getting cleaned up, using the bathroom and dressing.
During face-to-face interviews, study participants were first asked whether they used devices or environmental modifications including canes, walkers, wheelchairs, scooters, grab bars, and bath/shower seats and whether they received help from another person in the last month.
Then they were asked whether they experienced any difficulty doing any of the activities even when they used modifications, and about whether they had changed how often they performed any basic activities over the last year.
According to Freedman, the proportion of older adults able to function independently varies greatly by activity and by age. For example, 90 percent of older adults are fully able to eat by themselves, while only 54 percent are fully able to bathe by themselves. About 45 percent of those ages 65 to 69 are fully able to carry out all activities independently, compared with only 4 percent of those ages 90 and older.
Women are more likely than men to do things on their own by using devices to assist them (26 percent compared to 23 percent). But African Americans and Hispanics are much less likely than whites and Asians to do so. Older adults with low incomes are also less likely to successfully accommodate declines in their functional abilities.
"Two groups that we identified may be especially important targets for public health intervention," Freedman said. "These are the seven million older adults who have difficulty carrying out activities alone with whatever accommodations they have already made, and the additional 2.1 million who have reduced their activity levels but do not experience or acknowledge that they are having difficulty."
Source: University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (http://home.isr.umich.edu)
- See more at: http://caregiversupportenews.enewsworks.com/en/1051314/1/1267/How-Are-Today%E2%80%99s-Seniors-Adapting-to-Disability.htm#sthash.y0Ivng7m.dpuf

How Are Today’s Seniors Adapting to Disability?

Related topics: Safety, Senior Lifestyles

Man in wheelchair cooking
Only about a third of Americans ages 65 and older are fully able to take care of themselves and go about their daily lives completely independently, according to a recent study published online in the American Journal of Public Health.
Understanding that there are different ways older adults adapt to disability is a big step in developing public health policies that maximize the quality of life for all older Americans, said the study's lead author, Vicki Freedman, a research professor at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.
Freedman and colleagues analyzed data on a nationally representative sample of 8,077 older men and women, part of the National Health and Aging Trends Study. The National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, funded the research.
Among the findings:
  • About a quarter succeed in accomplishing what they need to do on their own by using walkers or other assistive devices. Another 18 percent say they have trouble even when using these devices.
  • Six percent cope by reducing their activities—bathing or going outside less often, for example.
  • Twenty-one percent manage by receiving help from others.
The study is the first to provide national estimates of ways the Medicare-age population adapts to limitations in daily life.
"Nearly 80 percent of all older adults find ways to manage on their own without assistance from others," Freedman said. "The group using devices on their own without difficulty is especially interesting. They seem to be able to participate in activities they enjoy and report well-being as high as those who are fully able to care for themselves."
The researchers asked about seven activities of daily living: going outside, getting around inside, getting out of bed, eating, getting cleaned up, using the bathroom and dressing.
During face-to-face interviews, study participants were first asked whether they used devices or environmental modifications including canes, walkers, wheelchairs, scooters, grab bars, and bath/shower seats and whether they received help from another person in the last month.
Then they were asked whether they experienced any difficulty doing any of the activities even when they used modifications, and about whether they had changed how often they performed any basic activities over the last year.
According to Freedman, the proportion of older adults able to function independently varies greatly by activity and by age. For example, 90 percent of older adults are fully able to eat by themselves, while only 54 percent are fully able to bathe by themselves. About 45 percent of those ages 65 to 69 are fully able to carry out all activities independently, compared with only 4 percent of those ages 90 and older.
Women are more likely than men to do things on their own by using devices to assist them (26 percent compared to 23 percent). But African Americans and Hispanics are much less likely than whites and Asians to do so. Older adults with low incomes are also less likely to successfully accommodate declines in their functional abilities.
"Two groups that we identified may be especially important targets for public health intervention," Freedman said. "These are the seven million older adults who have difficulty carrying out activities alone with whatever accommodations they have already made, and the additional 2.1 million who have reduced their activity levels but do not experience or acknowledge that they are having difficulty."
Source: University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (http://home.isr.umich.edu)
- See more at: http://caregiversupportenews.enewsworks.com/en/1051314/1/1267/How-Are-Today%E2%80%99s-Seniors-Adapting-to-Disability.htm#sthash.y0Ivng7m.dpuf

How Are Today’s Seniors Adapting to Disability?

Related topics: Safety, Senior Lifestyles

Man in wheelchair cooking
Only about a third of Americans ages 65 and older are fully able to take care of themselves and go about their daily lives completely independently, according to a recent study published online in the American Journal of Public Health.
Understanding that there are different ways older adults adapt to disability is a big step in developing public health policies that maximize the quality of life for all older Americans, said the study's lead author, Vicki Freedman, a research professor at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.
Freedman and colleagues analyzed data on a nationally representative sample of 8,077 older men and women, part of the National Health and Aging Trends Study. The National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, funded the research.
Among the findings:
  • About a quarter succeed in accomplishing what they need to do on their own by using walkers or other assistive devices. Another 18 percent say they have trouble even when using these devices.
  • Six percent cope by reducing their activities—bathing or going outside less often, for example.
  • Twenty-one percent manage by receiving help from others.
The study is the first to provide national estimates of ways the Medicare-age population adapts to limitations in daily life.
"Nearly 80 percent of all older adults find ways to manage on their own without assistance from others," Freedman said. "The group using devices on their own without difficulty is especially interesting. They seem to be able to participate in activities they enjoy and report well-being as high as those who are fully able to care for themselves."
The researchers asked about seven activities of daily living: going outside, getting around inside, getting out of bed, eating, getting cleaned up, using the bathroom and dressing.
During face-to-face interviews, study participants were first asked whether they used devices or environmental modifications including canes, walkers, wheelchairs, scooters, grab bars, and bath/shower seats and whether they received help from another person in the last month.
Then they were asked whether they experienced any difficulty doing any of the activities even when they used modifications, and about whether they had changed how often they performed any basic activities over the last year.
According to Freedman, the proportion of older adults able to function independently varies greatly by activity and by age. For example, 90 percent of older adults are fully able to eat by themselves, while only 54 percent are fully able to bathe by themselves. About 45 percent of those ages 65 to 69 are fully able to carry out all activities independently, compared with only 4 percent of those ages 90 and older.
Women are more likely than men to do things on their own by using devices to assist them (26 percent compared to 23 percent). But African Americans and Hispanics are much less likely than whites and Asians to do so. Older adults with low incomes are also less likely to successfully accommodate declines in their functional abilities.
"Two groups that we identified may be especially important targets for public health intervention," Freedman said. "These are the seven million older adults who have difficulty carrying out activities alone with whatever accommodations they have already made, and the additional 2.1 million who have reduced their activity levels but do not experience or acknowledge that they are having difficulty."
Source: University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (http://home.isr.umich.edu)
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