Aging & Caregiving In the News

Related topics: Caregiver Skills, Senior Life, Memory Care

Information, updates and interesting tidbits from across the country and around the world.

In this issue:

  • Older Americans Month highlights 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act
  • Effective ways to fight hospital delirium in senior patients
  • Instead of brain games, make a quilt!

May Is Older Americans Month

Each May since 1963, communities across the country have celebrated Older Americans Month. The theme of this year's celebration is "Get into the Act," to focus on how older adults are taking charge of their health, getting involved in their communities, and having a positive impact in the lives of others. The theme also reflects on the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act, signed into effect by President Lyndon B. Johnson in July 1965. Since that time, the Act has provided a nationwide aging services network and funding that helps older adults live with dignity in the communities of their choice for as long as possible. By promoting and engaging in activity and wellness, more Americans than ever before can "Get into the Act." Older Americans Month offers an opportunity to emphasize how older adults can access the home- and community-based services they need to live independently in their communities. Find Older Americans Month 2015 resources on the website of the U.S. Administration for Community Living. 

Families Alarmed When a Senior Loved One Experiences Hospital Delirium

It happens millions of times each year: An older patient in good cognitive health goes to the hospital for surgery or illness, and family are alarmed when their loved one suddenly seems to have developed dementia, showing uncharacteristic aggression, confusion or apathy. Though delirium is a temporary state, it can have long-term negative effects, raising the risk of dementia and fall injuries. In a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a research team from Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital reported on the Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP), designed to target the risk factors of dementia. Said researcher Dr. Tammy Hshieh, "Delirium can be the source of anxiety for many patients and their families and often they wish that there was a pill that would make the patient's symptoms go away. Our study demonstrates that there are effective strategies for preventing delirium and treating patients that don't rely on medications." The HELP interventions include improved nutrition and hydration for patients; ensuring uninterrupted sleep; daily exercise; and reorienting patients daily to the time and date and where they are. Said Hshieh, "If we can prevent delirium, we can do a lot of good for patients in the long run. It’s important for both families and healthcare providers to be aware of these beneficial non-medical strategies."

Can You Quilt Your Way to Better Memory Health?

Mayo Clinic researchers have been trying to pinpoint the types of activities that can help seniors avoid the thinking and memory problems that can lead to dementia, according to Rosebud Roberts, MB, ChB, MS, author of a study that appeared in Neurology, a journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Roberts said, "As millions of older U.S. adults are reaching the age when they may experience the memory and thinking problems called Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), it is important that we look to find lifestyle changes that may stave off the condition." Roberts and her team found that a variety of activities can be protective—everything from painting, woodworking, sculpting, book clubs, Bible study, travel, going to a movie with friends, surfing the Web, and yes, quilting. Roberts said, "Our study supports the idea that engaging the mind may protect neurons, or the building blocks of the brain, from dying, stimulate growth of new neurons, or may help recruit new neurons to maintain cognitive activities in old age."

Source: IlluminAge Communication Partners; copyright 2015 IlluminAge.