Is it time to “take the keys” to the liquor cabinet?

It’s a happy time. The whole family has come together for a holiday meal together and now, it’s time for a toast. On break from College, this is the first time that Junior is able to join in. It’s now that it occurs to you… Should Pop be drinking with all his medication? He’s already got a wine glass in hand and is having a laugh with Junior. You have to make a choice, do you cause a scene or do you risk his health by letting him drink?

Family toasting over holiday meal, should Seniors be included?It’s a question that often comes up at the last minute, when the bottle’s uncorked and you’re about to pour. Should you serve alcohol to a Senior? There isn’t one answer, but with the right information a Caregiver can make the right judgment call.

The importance of Drinking.

Drinking alcohol, like driving, is often seen as a rite of passage, something that separates children from adults. Caregivers should be aware that restricting a Senior’s use of alcohol may be received as attacking their adulthood.

Reasons to “Take the Keys” to the liquor cabinet.

Unlike driving, there are few guides that help Caregivers decide if a Senior should “turn in the keys” to the liquor cabinet. Here are some reasons to think about restricting a Senior’s access to alcohol.

  • Dangerous Alcohol and Medication Interactions: Many medications can have dangerous interactions with alcohol that lead to increased risk of illness, injury, or even death. The elderly are especially at risk due to the large amounts of medication they often take.
  • Increased Effect of Alcohol: Several studies have shown that Alcohol has an increased effect on most Seniors, reducing their ability to function to a greater extent and for a longer period of time. This can be especially dangerous for Seniors suffering from cognitive impairment.
  • Worsen Medical Conditions: Alcohol can worsen certain medical conditions, such as High Blood Pressure and Ulcers.
  • Increased Risk of Injury: Drinking alcohol can greatly increase a Senior’s risk of injury from falls.
  • Late Onset Alcoholism: Depression, social isolation, and physical pain can lead to Seniors abusing Alcohol later in life. This is a growing problem in the United States and one that often goes overlooked.
  • Malnutrition: Drinking large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis can flood a Senior’s system with empty calories, quenching appetite and causing malnutrition without weight loss.

The Checklist

If you can answer ‘yes’ to any of the items on the following check list, it may be time to take control of your elderly loved one’s access to alcohol.

  1. Is there a risk of dangerous interaction between Alcohol and the Senior’s Medication? Is the Senior no longer able to respond appropriately to this risk?
  2. Does the Senior have a medical condition that is exacerbated by alcohol consumption? Is the Senior no longer able to respond appropriately to this condition?
  3. Does even a small amount of alcohol have an exaggerated effect on the Senior? Is the Senior no longer able to drink responsibly?
  4. Are there signs that the Senior is at higher risk of incidental injuries such as falls when they drink alcohol? Is the Senior no longer able to respond appropriately to this danger?
  5. Is the Senior showing a signs of Alcohol abuse? Do those signs merit an intervention?

This guide is meant to educate and inform, it is not meant to be a substitute for a Medical Doctor’s advice. The best judge of whether a Senior should give up drinking is their Doctor and a Caregiver should always consult with a Doctor if they’re worried about a Senior drinking.

Preserving health, dignity, and relationship

Refusing to serve alcohol to an elderly loved one might leave them feeling embarrassed, excluded, and like you stripped them of their adulthood. It might result in a nasty scene and hurt feelings, ruining what had been a happy time together. With some forethought you can set up a compromise that preserves both a Senior’s dignity and their health.

  • Talk to the Senior’s Doctor about your concerns beforehand, don’t wait until the family toast to think about alcohol.
  • Talk to the Senior beforehand, tell them your concerns and ask them to compromise. Let them know that you want them to be part of the family traditions but that you’re worried about their health.
  • Serve Low-Alcohol Beverages like ‘Near Beer’ or a light ‘Mixed Drink’; lowering the alcohol content can go a long way, just be sure to always check with the Senior’s Doctor first.
  • Serve Non-Alcoholic Beer like O’Doul’s instead of alcoholic beer or Sparkling Grape Juice instead of Champagne.

These suggestions might not be enough to prevent hurt feelings or wounded pride, but in the end the important thing to remember is that you’re not stealing your loved one’s dignity – you’re trying to protect their health.

More Information

To help equip you to make an informed decision we’ve compiled some additional information that we hope proves helpful.

Some Medications that interact dangerously with Alcohol.

The following are some common medications that can interact dangerously with alcohol. This is by no means a definitive list and to be safe always check the medication warning labels and consult with the Senior’s Doctor.

  • Antibiotics are a common medication used to fight off infectious diseases.
  • Anticoagulants are prescribed to impede the blood’s ability to clot.
  • Antidepressants are an increasingly medication used to counter clinical depression.
  • Oral hypoglycemic drugs help lower blood sugar levels for some individuals suffering from diabetes.
  • Antihistamines are commonly taken to lessen allergic symptoms and to treat insomnia.
  • Antipsychotic drugs are prescribed to lessen psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations.
  • Antiseizure medications are primarily prescribed to treat epilepsy.
  • Cardiovascular medications are prescribed to treat heart and circulatory system ailments.
  • Narcotic pain relievers are prescribed to lessen moderate to severe pain.
  • Nonnarcotic pain relievers are the most common nonprescription pain relievers and are commonly used by the elderly.

Many other medications can have dangerous interactions with alcohol so, again, to be safe always consult with the Senior’s Doctor. It’s a good idea to keep a list of all medications that the Senior is taking, including over the counter drugs and supplements, on hand to check with the Doctor.

Benefits of Drinking for Seniors?

Light to Moderate Drinking
No more than 14 drinks a week
No more than 2 drinks a day

Several studies have shown that Seniors who drink light to moderate amounts of alcohol also have a lower risk of certain ailments. There are still a lot of unknowns in these studies but the message seems to be that ‘moderation may be best after all.‘ Let’s take a closer look at a handful of the studies.

The results of a study conducted by the David Geffen School of Medicine found that healthy Seniors who drank light or moderate amounts of alcohol were almost 25% less likely to suffer from incident disability or death as compared to non-drinkers or heavy drinkers.

Three Seniors in living room drinking champagne and smiling

Researchers from the Tulane University studied 35 studies and discovered that individuals who drink one to two alcoholic drinks a day were almost 30% less likely to have a stroke than non-drinkers. The same study also found the disturbing correlation that heavy drinkers were almost 70% more likely to have a stroke.

Several studies have shown that individuals who drank light to moderate alcoholic drinks were less likely to suffer from heart disease. The same studies also showed that heavy drinkers were more likely to suffer from heart disease.

The material of this blog is provided for informational purposes only. Elder Depot does not intend to provide medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment. Please consult with a Medical Professional when deciding if a Senior should drink alcohol.

10 Things to do on Father’s Day

With strength fading and independence slipping away, many elderly Fathers feel lost and out of place. Father’s Day offers us a great chance to celebrate and honor them but many of us have trouble with the how… There is no one answer as every father is unique but here are a few suggestions.

  1. Take Him out to the Ball Game – Father’s Day is the third weekend in June, a great time to catch a game. Order tickets early, get great seats, and consider a special surprise – like an autographed ball, a picture with the mascot, or a message on the score board.
  2. Hang with the Grandkids – Few things can make a Grandfather feel like part of the family like Grandkids who want to be with him. If you need to bridge the generational gap, try the Wii – let Granddad get some ‘street cred’ by trouncing the kids at bowling.
  3. Skype Reunion – You might remember me recommending Skype as a great free software gift for Dad. Here’s a chance to take it a step further, coordinate with your Dad’s old buddies to arrange for a great big Skype reunion. Hopefully this will open the door for regular video chats.
  4. Quickest Way to a Man’s Heart – Get Dad his favorite meal, take him out if you can or take it to him if you can’t. If he drinks, remember to double check his medication before buying him a beer. He might want to contribute, if he does a good compromise is to remind him that dinner is your treat but ask him to get the tip.
  5. Favorite Shared Pastime – Chances are that your Dad gave you a love of one of his pastimes. Consider taking your Dad out for a few hours of your favorite shared pastime; fishing, golfing, crafting, gardening, etc. Tell him how meaningful sharing this pastime has been to you over the years.
  6. Movie Marathon – Is your Dad a huge fan of John Wayne, Bob Hope, Katharine Hepburn, Groucho Marx, or other vintage film stars? Consider a three movie marathon of his favorites with lots of snacks. Get the whole family involved if you can without drama, this is about enjoying his favorites together as a family not giving him lonely reign over the entertainment system for a few hours.
  7. Daddy’s Little Girl – You may be a influential professional or a successful parent yourself, but in many Dad’s eyes their daughter is always first and foremost their Little Girl. It can be hard to step back into that role but its a surefire way to make many Fathers feel like they still belong in the family. Let Dad feel like a provider; listen to his advice or let him treat you to a coffee, basically let him do something for you even though you don’t need him to.
  8. Classic Game Night – Break out the classic card and board games for a good time with Dad and the whole family. Play games he already knows the rules for; games like Monopoly, Hearts, Canasta, or Pokeno. Remember to play with Large Print Playing Cards if Dad is visually impaired.
  9. His Greatest Adventure – Did Dad live overseas, serve in the military, meet someone famous, or do something else that might qualify as an adventure? Remind him of it and get him to tell the story one more time, even if you’ve heard it hundreds of times already. Get the kids to hear it too if you can without too much drama.
  10. Cherished Memory Book – Get in touch with everyone whose life your Dad has touched; ask them each to send you a letter to him along with some photographs. Put them together into a scrapbook commemorating him and letting him know that he’s not forgotten. Not only will it make him feel special now, years from now it stands to become a treasured family heirloom holding memories that would otherwise be forgotten.

After a lifetime in the role, many Fathers feel insecure after they step out of the provider role for their families. Because of this it is important to avoid anything that might make Dad feel unwelcome. Chances are that you don’t see eye to eye with Dad on everything but, at least for Father’s Day, try to let remarks and points of contention slide. Be gracious and patient, focus on the good and avoid drama. Remember, your goal is to celebrate and honor Dad, not get drawn into old arguments.

Our Collection of Father Quotes

How pleasant it is for a father to sit at his child’s board. It is like an aged man reclining under the shadow of an oak which he has planted.

I’ve had a hard life, but my hardships are nothing against the hardships that my father went through in order to get me to where I started.
Bartrand Hubbard

My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.
Clarence Budington Kelland

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.
Mark Twain

I talk and talk and talk, and I haven’t taught people in 50 years what my father taught by example in one week.
Mario Cuomo

My father, when he went, made my childhood a gift of a half a century.
Antonio Porchia

Nothing I’ve ever done has given me more joys and rewards than being a father to my children.
Bill Cosby

It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.
Harper Lee

By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.
Charles Wadsworth

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.
Jim Valvano

By profession, I am a soldier and take pride in that fact. But I am prouder – infinitely prouder – to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build; the father only builds, never destroys. The one has the potentiality of death; the other embodies creation and life. And while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are mightier still. It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle field but in the home repeating with him our simple daily prayer, ‘Our Father who art in Heaven.’
Douglas Macarthur

The words that a father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world, but, as in whispering-galleries, they are clearly heard at the end and by posterity.
Jean Paul Richter

Being a father, being a friend, those are the things that make me feel successful.
William Hurt

I learned from the example of my father that the manner in which one endures what must be endured is more important than the thing that must be endured.
Dean Acheson

My father died many years ago, and yet when something special happens to me, I talk to him secretly not really knowing whether he hears, but it makes me feel better to half believe it.
Natasha Josefowitz

It is much easier to become a father than to be one.
Kent Nerburn

My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard.  Mother would come out and say, “You’re tearing up the grass.”  “We’re not raising grass,” Dad would reply.  “We’re raising boys.”
Harmon Killebrew

I am not ashamed to say that no man I ever met was my father’s equal, and I never loved any other man as much.
Hedy Lamarr

You know, fathers just have a way of putting everything together.
Erika Cosby

One night a father overheard his son pray: Dear God, Make me the kind of man my Daddy is. Later that night, the Father prayed, Dear God, Make me the kind of man my son wants me to be.

A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.

Can you relate to any of our quotations? Do you have a quote that you’d like us to add to our collection? Please, let us know!

Reprint of a Reprint of our Mother’s Day Article

Looking around the Internet to see what folks are saying about us, we discovered a wonderful blog that had ‘reprinted’ our Living with Alzheimer’s – Celebrating your Mother Article. The author included some great additions on long distance caregiver that bear ‘re-reprinting’.

(Reprint of Article From Elder Depot Below) My Comments First

As our family deals with the decline of my husband’s mother, I thought this was good article to share and wanted to add a few thoughts.

These tips below are excellent, but for those of us who live at some distance from our elderly relatives, it is often not so simple to think of things to do.  This year we sent off a box of goodies well in advance and of course, we call often, though at times the conversations are frustrating and sometimes make us quite sad.  I have found that as memory and cognitive functions decline, it is a good idea to make changes in the types of gifts we give or send.  Some people still enjoy the same things they always liked, such as books or candy and flowers.  Often though, elders stop reading due to vision problems, inability to remember things or disinterest.  You may worry they will choke on some goodies you buy if they have swallowing issues, and when they admire your flowers for a minute, set them aside and don’t look at them again, you feel frustrated or perhaps that your expensive flowers are wasted.

One nice idea is to make a CD of old beloved songs, either that you sing or that you download from the Internet. If your parents have caregivers,  you can find out if there is a CD player and if the caregivers will play the music, or you can send a CD player with instructions for the caregivers.

If you are not able to be present to go through old family photos together, how about making a few copies of old prints or sorting through some you have and sending them with labels or cute captions? You might choose group photos .  My mother-in-law keeps asking for an enlargement of a photo of my husband, even though she has many pictures that just sit in boxes and drawers. She wants a big portrait.

If phone calls become stressful for you and there is a lot of agitation, crying and repetition, keep the calls short and make them more frequently.  Keep a small “idea-catcher” box or pad by your phone on which you write down some brief memories or simple events that have happened to you or to other family members in the last few days, so you will have something to talk about . This can help  minimize your stress and your elder’s, as they sometimes get caught up in cycles of complaining and they get stuck and don’t know how to stop.  My mother-in-law, for example, asks repeatedly for our phone number while speaking to us, though we have made large lists of important numbers,  have put them up in obvious places on the wall and mirror, and have taped them to her telephone stand by her favorite chair and to her walker seat. That is not to say you should not listen to their concerns, validate their feelings and offer to help with things when you are able, but when you find them obsessing, then it is helpful to have a small advance list of more pleasant things to discuss and to aid you in diverting them a bit.

Be as reassuring as you can. Sometimes you will need to remind and to reorient. This is probably hard on you emotionally but it is often helpful.  Don’t give a lot of choices, just as you would not give a small child too many, as this can be overwhelming, but at the same time, try not to treat your parent like a child.  Even someone with moderate dementia can sense his or her own decline and your disrespect, or what they interpret as disrespect.

If you can’t personally make a cake or cupcake or sing a song, is there someone near your parent whom you can enlist to do it?  It does take extra effort to do such things but the pleasure it brings to you and to your parent will make it worthwhile.  How about calling and singing a favorite song, even if it is quite off-key?  Just be sure to identify yourself clearly before you begin

Living with Alzheimer’s – Celebrating your Mother

Many times, we get so caught up in purchasing the perfect gift, as with most holidays, we forget that Mother’s Day should be about celebrating and honoring your mother. As a result, we at Elder Depot decided to focus some time on creating a small list to help you bring some happiness to your mother’s life and create a memory together. And the best part is that the items in this list will not cost you any money!

Activities can vary depending on the stage of Alzheimer’s, so we tried to create a variety of common and simple things that you can both enjoy. The most important thing to remember is that you will one day cherish and be thankful for all of the moments that you spent with your mother – taking the time out to show that you cared.

10 Things To Do on Mother’s Day
  1. Have lunch or dinner together. I hope this list provides you with some useful suggestions to make your Mother’s Day special. The most important thing to remember is to spend some quality time with your mother on Mother’s Day. Its not about the best gifts, but about the memories you will have for years to come. If mom is in a nursing or assisted living home and unable to leave, cook up a quick meal or pick up a pre-made meal and sit with her while eating so you can enjoy the moment together.
  2. Celebrate as if it were her birthday.
    Put a single candle in a cupcake or piece of cake and sing her “Happy Mother’s Day”
  3. Take a walk or sit outside together.
    If the weather permits, bring your mom outside for a walk or just some fresh air and sunshine (Vitamin D) and bring up some old memories! If mom is in a facility and physically able, ask to borrow a wheelchair or transport chair to wheel her outside for a short time.
  4. Have an old fashioned beauty day.
    How about a nice pedicure! Paint mom’s nails or put some curls in her hair and show her how good she looks in the mirror!
  5. Look over some old photos.
    Conjure up some memories of familiar faces or times by showing an old photo album or memorable photos. Maybe even do a little Scrapbooking.
  6. Sing some old church hymns or familiar songs.
    If your singing skills are not up to the task, listen to some old familiar tunes together. Encourage mom to sing along and you might get a surprising response!
  7. Put together a simple puzzle.
    Puzzles with larger pieces are easier to see and handle and those with brighter colors may draw more interest.
  8. Bring the family dog for a visit.
    If your family dog is friendly and calm enough for mom to be comfortable around, bring the dog over for some one-on-one contact. If mom is in a facility that will not allow pets, see if you can take the dog to her in the lobby or bring your mom outside to spend some time with the dog – animals can be very therapeutic!
  9. Watch an old movie together.
    Pop in an old favorite movie, like the Sound of Music!
  10. Enjoy some gardening.
    If your mom used to enjoy gardening, let her sit outside with you and watch you do some of the gardening. If she is in a facility or this is not possible, bring in some flowers from your garden and cut the stems and organize the vase with your mom and she’ll have a beautiful home-made bouquet.

More Gift Ideas for Father’s Day 2010

Last week I shared some Free Software Gift Ideas for Father’s Day, today I’m going share some great gift ideas that are well worth the cost.

Apple iPad

iPadWhat is it?
The iPad is a ‘tablet’ computer engineered for Internet surfing, e-book reading, video streaming, and light computing. It features an intuitive touch screen control system.
Why buy?
The iPad offers great benefits for persons who are visually impaired or face motor skills challenges. The touch screen is far more accessible than the standard computer keyboard and mouse set-up. In addition, the iPad includes options for VoiceOver screen reading, Zoom, and White on Black features. Even for those with solid vision and motor skills, the easy to use iPad takes computing several steps towards the familiar and simple experience of reading.
How much?
$499 from Apple

ClearSounds 2001M Infrared TV Listening System

What is it?

ClearSounds 2001M

The 2001M is a TV Listening System that allows the user to hear the Television through headphones at a higher sound level without changing the actual Television Volume.
Why buy?
The 2001M allows the hearing impaired and their loved ones to watch Television together without the one side being unable to hear or the other being blasted from the room. It also features individual volume settings for each ear.
How much?
$69.88 from Elder Depot , compare to MSRP $79.95

Large Print Reader’s Digest Subscription

What is it?
First published in 1922, Reader’s Digest has become the best-selling monthly magazine well known for its positivity, diverse array of articles, and humor pages.
Why buy?
Reader’s Digest has been a familiar publication for over 87 years and provides simulating but optimistic reading. The Large Print edition makes its pages more accessible to the visually impaired but it is also available in braille, digital, and audio.
How much?
$27.96 for One Year from Reader’s Digest

Nintendo Wii

What is it?
The Wii is a ‘next-generation’ video game console that features an innovative motion sensor control system resulting in highly interactive gaming.
Why buy?
The Wii is renowned for breaking down the generational divide and opening up gaming for people of all ages. The standard Wii includes Tennis, Baseball, Golf, Bowling, and Boxing. It’s fun, nostalgic, and healthy — recent studies have shown that the stimulation provided by the Wii can be of both mental and physical benefit to Seniors. In fact, the Wii has enough of a health benefit that it has been endorsed by the American Heart Association (AHA).
How much?
$199 from Nintendo, additional controllers will raise the cost by roughly $55 a piece.

ezOne GSM Mobile Phone

What is it?
The ezOne is an easy-to-use Cell Phone stripped clean of confusing clutter and boasting useful streamlined features.
ezOne GSM Mobile PhoneWhy Buy?
Let the features speak for themselves.

  • Easy to Read KeypadFinally, a Cellular Phone with a Keypad that can be used without a magnifying glass. The ezOne has big and bright keypad buttons; in fact they are so big and so bright that the phone can be used easily in complete darkness. There is no competition, the ezOne has the largest buttons on the market.
  • Large Text Screen – Tired of squinting at a tiny cluttered screen? The ezOne features a Large 28-point Font and a simple interface without all the confusing bells and whistles.
  • Just the Right Size – The ezOne is 2″ Wide by 4″ Long by 1/2″ Tall. It fits easily in a pocket.
  • No More Wrong Numbers – Even if the keys can’t be seen clearly, the ezOne can read numbers as they are dialed!
  • S.O.S. Call Button – In an emergency no one wants to be fumbling with their phone. Simply press and hold the large S.O.S. button for 5 seconds. This will sound an alert and consecutively call 4 numbers until someone picks up. It will even send “Emergency, please answer my call!” as a text message to preselected numbers.
  • Phone Book – The digital phone book has memory to store up to 200 names and numbers. Calling is as just a matter of scrolling to a name and hitting a button.
  • Flashlight – The ezOne has a built in LED flashlight that gives off a bright beam of light for up to 20 feet. Because it is a low energy LED it can run off the phone battery for hours. Activated by a simple slide switch on the side of the phone, this handy feature will illuminate locks, dark paths, and corners without a hassle.
  • How much?

    $99.95 from Elder Depot

    Memorial Day Schedule 2010

    In observance of the Memorial Day Holiday, our offices will be closed on Monday, May 31st. Orders placed after 1:00pm EST on Friday, May 28th and over the holiday weekend will ship on Tuesday, June 1st.

    Our secure online ordering system is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for your shopping convenience.

    From all of us at Elder Depot,

    We wish you a happy and safe holiday.

    The Spirit of ’45 ~ Kissing the War Away

    The generation that lived through the storm of World War II has been called the Greatest Generation. This Memorial Day that generation is close to fading into history, the coming years will hold our last chances to hear them in the flesh.

    Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive! is a non-profit organization collecting stories from that generation and encouraging later generations to listen to those who lived through history while they still can. The story of Edith Shain is part of their collection.

    I’m a nurse working at Doctors’ Hospital in Manhattan. The radio in my patient’s room is playing “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree”. My patient is taking the medication I handed to him.

    The music is interrupted with an announcement that Japan has surrendered and the war is over…

    I’m stunned, incredulous, and joyful. Fifteen minutes later, after removing my cap, I’m running to the subway. I get on the train to Times Square.

    When I get there, I run up the steps and to the street, walk a short distance.

    I’m surrounded by jubilation. Soldiers, sailors, old and young civilians. I celebrate with them.

    A sailor puts his arm around me, bends me back, holds me, and gives me a long kiss. I close my eyes. When he releases me, I turn in the opposite direction and walk away.

    The sailor is a symbol of all who fought in the horrific savagery of the war who shared courage, responsibility, and commitment.

    We at home were with you.

    Now, we are all together; the combination of all of our efforts.

    Now, the empty spaces will be filled.

    Now, the broken pieces will be put together.

    Now, relationships will be repaired.

    Now, we have peace.

    This Memorial Day ask someone who lived through World War II to share their story.