The Power of a Valentine

Research conducted over the course of two decades by the Swedish Karolinska Institute found that married aging adults were half as likely to develop dementia as their single counterparts. The scientists behind the research believe that the intense social interaction of living with another person may be the reason behind this resistance. The research was based on a study of almost 1,500 people over the course of 21 years.

You’re in Good Company ~ Famous Caregivers

Maria Shriver helped cared for her father, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, and has become a champion of Alzheimer’s Caregivers. Her journalism career began with KYW-TV in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but she soon moved up to the National News and later gained a different sort of fame when she married Arnold Schwarzenegger. The former First Lady of California has been a lifelong advocate for people with intellectual disabilities and recently co-authored an Alzheimer’s study with the Alzheimer’s Association.

Princess Yasmin Aga Khan cared for her mother, Rita Hayworth, who was suffering from dementia. Yasmin is internationally recognized for her advocacy work promoting awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Steve Slater cared for his father, who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease, until his death. In 2010, while caring for his mother who suffers from Lung Cancer, Steve achieved national notoriety for quitting his job as a JetBlue Flight Attendant in spectacular fashion.

Susan Boyle was the primary caregiver for her elderly mother until she passed away at the age of 91. In 2009, two years after her mother passed away, Susan appeared on Britain’s Got Talent and gave a performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” that made her an International Sensation overnight.

Rosalynn Carter helped care for her father when he was diagnosed with terminal leukemia and has since cared for several family members, including her late mother who died in 2000 at the age of 94. The former First Lady of the United States has even authored a book on Caregiving entitled, Helping Yourself Help Others – A Book for Caregivers.

Can you think of Famous Caregivers that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add them to the list.

The Super Little Grandmom ~ Fighting Senior Boredom

This morning as I was driving to work I heard an interesting interview on the radio about ‘Super Mamika’. No, Super Mamika isn’t a copycat of Super Mario, it’s a series of themed photographs by Sacha Goldberger featuring his Hungarian grandmother in the role of a superhero. Mamika means ‘Little Grandmother’ in Hungarian, so the literal translation is Super Little Grandmom.

The story behind ‘Super Mamika’ is that Goldberger noticed that his grandmother, after a long active life, was becoming bored and depressed in her later years. Like many concerned family members he brainstormed ways to engage her, though the solution he came up with does stand out as being more than a little unique.

The ‘Super Mamika’ series of photographs were only the beginning for Frederika Goldberger. She has continued modeling for photographs as can be seen on her MySpace page.

www.myspace.com/frederikagoldberger

Fortunately you don’t have to be a professional photographer or even an artist to engage your elderly loved ones. It’s not only good for Seniors socially and emotionally but some studies have shown that mental stimulation “may” help slow the spread and lessen the symptoms of cognitive decline, as we’ve mentioned before. Of course, the more personal the better…apparently Frederika loves the humor of her Superhero counterpart…but here are a few general suggestions to get you going. Nothing quite as unique as Super Mamika.

  • Pictures: Looking at old family pictures together is one of the classic ways to engage Seniors. However, an often overlooked activity is showing Seniors unfamiliar pictures as well as familiar ones. Books of amazing photography  and picture heavy magazines like National Geographic can be very stimulating.
  • Card Games: Games like Bridge, Pokeno, and Pinochle are old favorites of many Seniors. Large print playing cards, card holders, and automatic card shufflers can enable individuals with dexterity or vision impairment to continue to play their favorite games.
  • Puzzles: Puzzles can captivate Seniors for hours, keeping their mental juices flowing and focusing their attention on putting together a stimulating image. For Seniors with dexterity or vision difficulties, it’s recommended to look for puzzles with Large Pieces. Large Print Crossword Puzzles can also be a great help.
  • Book Clubs: Getting a Senior involved in a slower paced book club can do wonders for them both mentally and socially. If the book club is inter-generational, all the better…as long as they’re reading books that have large print editions available.

What activities have you used to fight Senior Boredom and Depression? Share them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.

Caregivers and Snowflakes

I was reading one of the Caregiver Blogs we follow and I came across an excerpt that I had to share.

Tonight, Patti and I sat sipping hot chocolate while snow flurries danced around us. While Patti’s memory of the moment melted with the snow, I couldn’t help but reflect perhaps we caregivers / carers are like snowflakes and no two are the same.

Read more at CaregivinglyYours.com

What’s the worth of a Smile

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile.

Don’t take the Elderly for granted

It’s incredible to think that two-thirds of all the people in history who have lived to the age of 65 are alive today.

There are far more Senior Citizens alive today than at other point in history. This is an incredible time to live in; the last century has been filled with breathtaking medical advances that continue today giving us longer and longer lifespans with higher and higher quality of life. This immense positive progress has had some negative consequences; the shear number of elderly means that where they were once honored and respected, they are now taken for granted and sometimes even neglected and abused.

It may no longer be a feat to live beyond forty but each elder is still a remarkable treasure. Reach elder is unique treasurehold of wisdom, experience, and life knowledge. Each of them have seen our world undergo changes unlike anything else in history. Let’s cherish them while we have the chance.

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.

Letting Go

To let go doesn’t mean to stop caring;
It means I can’t do it for someone else.

To let go is not to cut myself off….
It’s the realization that I can’t control another…..

To let go is not to enable,
but to allow learning from natural consequences.

To let go is to admit powerlessness,
which means the outcome is not in my hands.

To let go is not to try and change or blame another,
I can only change myself.

To let go is not to care for, but to care about.

To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive.

To let go is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.

To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes,
but to allow others to affect their own outcomes.

To let go is not to be protective,
It is to permit another to face reality.

To let go is not to deny, but to accept.

To let go is not to nag, scold, or argue,
but to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.

To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires,
but to take each day as it comes and cherish the moment.

To let go is not to criticize and regulate anyone,
but to try to become what I dream I can be.

To let go is not to regret the past,
but to grow and live for the future.

To let go is to fear less and love more.

~Anonymous