Q: Who believes “aging” is not a dirty word?
A: Arise Home Health Care
Our culture is fixated. How many weight-loss programs and health products are touted on the TV? What about commercials for hair coloring and wrinkle removal? And what about gossip magazines, featuring face-lifted and airbrushed celebrities? (Watching Oprah’s body shape-shift over the years has been reaffirming!) There’s plenty of focus on youth but not much talk about how to handle the inevitable––aging.
Al* is a youthful 99 years of age. His longevity can be attributed to good genes and clean living, we suppose, but also to his spry frame-of-mind. He’s a regular at the St. Cloud Area YMCA and Sertoma Club. He prefers to keep active socially, mentally, and physically.
Not everyone is as healthy in his or her elder years as Al. The “kid” in many of us is challenged by age or disease. That’s how it is with Al’s wife Bea,* a soft-spoken––yet sassy––93-year-old with dementia. And because we care about Al and Bea, Arise Home Health Care is making sure the two continue living comfortably at home without worrying about Bea.
“Arise enables you to stay home and maintain a residence and continue your independence like you’re used to doing,” says Al. “Medically, she (Bea) belongs in a nursing home, and we didn’t like that.”
Bea’s dementia is the result of high blood pressure and small stokes. It’s a vascular dementia that affects memory and intellectual functions, and interferes with her ability to perform regular activities. (The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke1.. is a good resource for additional information.) Bea cannot remember to take her medications, even though she’s a former nurse and consistently tells her caregiver, “I can understand those things, too.”
Bea would like to be in the driver’s seat, however, she simply cannot. And if you’ve had to work with an elder who has dementia, you know there’s no reasoning with the person. On any given day, Bea will refuse to get out of bed or to take her meds. “I don’t have to do it because I’m 93,” she’ll declare. (Familiar?) Often, our staff resorts to chocolate chip cookie bribes. When cookies fail, caregivers rely on patience, patience, and more patience.
The Arise Home Health Care homemaker/aide, Whitney, certainly provides more services to Bea than to Al. She accompanies Bea on walks and assists with range-of-motion exercises. She helps Bea with bathing, grooming, dressing, and trips to the toilet. She takes and tallies blood pressures, too, and reminds Bea to take the medications set up by our home health nurse. Whitney cooks meals for the couple (mindful of Bea’s need for a low sodium diet), cleans, and also does the laundry, freeing Al from these tasks so he can go out and play.
Al gets tired just watching everything Becky does. (He’s thinking, “They’re worth every dollar.”) In fact, he HAS remarked, “It’s probably less than half” of what they’d be spending on a nursing home.
Life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.7 years (2011 data), according to the CDC.2. If you’re male and a resident of Stearns County, expect to live to age 79.4. And the average age for a female is 84.6!
Certainly, Al and Bea are well above the average and are probably responsible for skewing the data higher. However, many of us will spend one-third of our lives as “elderly,” even if we never see 90. We’ll want to remain in our homes for as long as possible, yet we won’t want to be a burden. We’ll be angry and frustrated when we cannot complete a task yet, we’ll remain 19-years-young in our memories.
No doubt as we age, we’ll use those wrinkle creams and hair coloring and maybe, make a strategic nip and tuck. There’s also a chance we may feel old and alone at times. Then, someone will have to remind us, as Al and Bea were reminded …
You’re not alone because “Arise cares.”
Do you have a question for our professional Arise Home Health Care staff? Contact Us
* Not the individual’s real name
1. National Institute for Neurological Disease and Stroke website: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/dementias/dementia.htm
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lifexpec.htm
3. “For a long life, choose Stearns County,” by Colleen Stoxen, Minneapolis Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/blogs/148163145.html