Oh the holidays – how we look forward to them with anticipated joy! And then reality hits when even the best laid plans don’t quite go as expected. Guests are late to dinner or don’t show up at all. The turkey is over cooked – under cooked. Your teen-aged children are finding “themselves.” And, the grandparents – well, they are changing as well.
The fifth commandment instructs us to “honor your mother and your father.” Last time I checked, there is no social commandment instructing our elders to hide their gray. The veneration that our tradition gives to a person with gray hair is undermined by a nip-and-tuck culture. People in large numbers persist in trying to mask the natural effects of aging, which creates a false hierarchy of youth and communicates that those who are older are less valued.
It’s time we got over it. The statistics are quite clear: We are living in a time when the oldest in our society are the fastest-growing portion of the population. And yet it is also clear that people over 85 are frequently marginalized, lonely and alienated from the larger community. Significant change is needed.
Imagine this scenario: your 75-year-old mother falls and can no longer walk independently. You take her to the hospital emergency room. Although she doesn’t need hospitalization, she does need rehabilitation in a skilled nursing facility to regain her ability to walk.
The catch--she must be admitted to the hospital for three nights in order for Medicare to pay for rehabilitation. Without that stay, you or she must either pay for her care in a nursing facility or nursing home (about $300-$430 per day) or hire caregivers to support her at home ($20-$30 per hour).
In the fall of 2012, Hebrew SeniorLife gathered together geriatric thought-leaders, researchers and physicians for our inaugural "You and Your Aging Parents" program, an important discussion about the steps one should take to help aging parents as they make decisions regarding health and well-being. Overwhelmingly positive response indicates the need for this information and Hebrew SeniorLife continues to offer this program. Check our events listing for upcoming events.
Delirium in the elderly is a serious, under-recognized and often fatal condition that affects between 25-60 percent of older hospital patients. Although scientists have made progress toward predicting, treating and preventing delirium, there is still a great deal of work to be done.
If I told you that a key to happiness would be to give away money, would you believe me?
Researchers recently gave a group of volunteers $5 or $20 each. Half of the group was told to spend the money on themselves and the other half was told to spend it on others. Regardless of the amount, the volunteers who spent money on themselves reported an insignificant boost in happiness, while the people who spent money on others felt much happier.
Scientists have found that when people donate to charity, it activates areas of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust. They also believe that giving releases endorphins, which are hormones that boost mood and reduce stress.
Last year, just around this time, I started laughing to myself as I drove to my job as a marketing specialist for Assisted Living at NewBridge on the Charles, part of Hebrew SeniorLife’s continuing care retirement community just outside of Boston in Dedham, MA. Halloween had recently passed, and as my thoughts turned to Thanksgiving, I remembered a calendar quirk I had first noticed on the back page of a Jewish calendar 2013 distributed by Combined Jewish Philanthropies. In 2013, the first day of Hanukkah would fall on Thanksgiving Day!
Older adults can manage pain in the comforts of home
November 5, 2013 Patricia O’Brien
Hebrew SeniorLife Home Care specializes in the care of older patients, and in my experience, the majority of my patients experience some degree of pain. It can range from mild, daily arthritic discomfort and stiffness to severe pain associated with surgery or trauma such as a fall, and in some cases, a disease like cancer or diabetes. Whatever the cause or level of severity, pain can cause a ripple effect that touches relationships and profoundly affects an individual’s quality of life.