Light of Gray

Elder Care Expertise

Social Security Program Tuesday, March 19th, at 2 pm

Do you have questions regarding your social security? A State of NJ Coordinator will be at the Ringwood Library on

Tuesday, March 19th, at 2 pm

to give a general overview of Social Security programs followed by a audience Q&A.

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Many people are confused by the term “dementia.” This blog post addresses it pretty well.

Aging in America

Dementia, as readers of this blog are no doubt well aware, is a health problem which particularly (but not exclusively) strikes the older adult population and, because of the “greying of America” that’s been going on, will only increase in prevalence over the coming years. Increasing age, of course, is a major risk factor for developing dementia.

Let’s define dementia first. Probably one of the most influential definitions of dementia is in the American Psychiatric Associations’ Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text-Revision (DSM-IV-TR for short), which basically says that to have a dementia of any sort, you must have

1) the development of multiple cognitive deficits manifested by both:

a) memory impairment (impaired ability to learn new information or to recall previously learned information); and

b) one (or more) of the following cognitive disturbances:

i) aphasia (language disturbance),

ii) apraxia (impaired ability to carry out…

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Legal Responsibility

If you doubt the value of planning for your future or the future of your parents in old age, here’s an article you must read:

Are Adult Children Legally Responsible for Parents’ Long Term Costs?

Having the right team in place to help you is key. If you don’t know where to start, see the Light of Gray.

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What’s YOUR Plan?

Too often, we go through our day to day lives on auto-pilot. Get up, go to work, do your job, come home, eat something, see your family, watch some television and go to bed. Start over again the next day until the weekend.

This may not be the full scope of your days, but for many of us, there is a repetitive nature to our lives that makes us feel secure. It may not be exciting, but there’s comfort in being able to take certain aspects of our lives for granted. And when things are going well, or at least comfortably, we don’t think things will change. Until they do.

If you’re the parent of younger children, you may be focused on how they’re doing in school. Maybe you’ve given some thought to college or professional training for your kids. Perhaps you’re planning a visit with your folks soon, or at least a phone call to see how they’re feeling, let them know you care.

Maybe you’re a little older. Retired or approaching retirement? Trying to get the hang of Facebook so you can see pictures of your grandkids? Have you thought about the future? Do you have a will? Do your children know what your wishes might be for your future?

It’s easy to go through our lives without facing these difficult ideas. No one wants to think “What if?” But the worst thing you can do is to neglect answering these important questions. In life, change is inevitable. And if we look at how we’d like to approach those changes before they occur, the transition will be much smoother for everyone in your family. And isn’t that better than leaving it all to chance?

If you haven’t had that all important “family talk” yet, I urge you to put it on your schedule. If you want a list of topics to consider, here’s a link to the 8 Things You Must Discuss.

And if you need help finding professionals to help you work out the details, visit Light of Gray.

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On Dependency

lifesaverAs our parents become less able, we need to become creative in finding ways to help them. The first response to any kind of enabling technology is usually flat-out rejection. “I don’t need that!” “I’m not that sick!” “I’m not that old!” “What will other people think?” “I can’t afford that!”

This is completely natural. Most people hate change (except for babies, who cry out for it). So many potentially helpful devices frighten people; they’re afraid of developing “a dependency.” And no one wants to be thought of as “old.” There are strategies for dealing with these fears you may find effective.

Cite Meaningful Examples

I knew a woman who was strong and highly independent well into her eighties. A widow for years, she lived on her own with an adult son who had some developmental issues of his own. She had able children with families and grandchildren, a wonderful circle of friends with an active social life, and she retained her cognitive capabilities through the end of her life. At home after a visit from her daughter’s family, she was walking around her backyard in the late afternoon when she tripped and fell. She broke her leg and could not get up. Her screams for help brought neighbors to her aid. She was taken to the hospital for a lengthy interval followed by rehabilitation in a skilled nursing facility.

When she got back home, this smart lady got an alert pendant system. So did all of her girlfriends. Because once an able person suffers an emergency like this, it really hits home. Before her accident, everyone thought of these devices as something laughable. “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Ha ha! That only happens to other people. When it happens to someone close to you, a new perspective coalesces.

Minimize the Impact

With a little research, more palatable solutions to certain problems may be found. In many cases, the appearance of devices are off-putting to those who could derive their benefits. There are often smaller, more discreet and appealing versions available. While the alternatives may cost a little more, the likelihood that the item will actually be put to use is higher, so the added expense might well be worth it. And in the case of certain systems, like blood glucose monitors for diabetics, Medicare covers, or at least helps to defray a lot of the cost.

At the basis of most resistance is the fear of lost independence. No one wants to be “handicapped” or perceived as disabled, particularly when they’ve enjoyed being able and independent for most of their lives. The beauty of many of these devices is they RESTORE independence. By implementing some of the available tools, older folks can stay in their homes and take care of themselves longer, and more safely. Understanding this concept of “extending independence” will encourage your loved ones to be more accepting of these ideas. And you’ll have more peace of mind, knowing that your folks are struggling less, and hopefully maintaining contact with the outside world should they suffer an accident out of range of a phone or helping ears.

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