Aging & Caregiving in the News

Related topics: Care for the Caregiver, Alzheimer's Disease, Heart Health, Safety, Emergency Preparedness

Information and updates from across the country and around the world

In this issue:

  • Seniors are seriously impacted by wildfires
  • Exercise protects the health of Alzheimer's caregivers
  • Women are less likely to receive CPR

Couple looking at burned home

Seniors Most Affected by Wildfires

The summer of 2018 will be remembered for the horrific wildfire season in the West that killed hundreds of people and destroyed the homes of thousands. This event also serves as a reminder that the majority of people who lose their lives during wildfires are older adults.

Mobility, cognitive and sensory challenges make it harder for seniors to learn about a fire and to evacuate promptly. When older adults are displaced by fire, it's also much harder for them to rebuild their lives. And their health can suffer: If they evacuate to a shelter, they are more susceptible to infections that spread in a crowded living situation, and wildfire smoke is dangerous for people with heart problems and respiratory disorders. Seniors who live in a fire-prone area should create a plan for receiving alerts, and evacuating safely to a shelter that can meet their medical needs. Have help lined up well ahead of time. Here are government resources for wildfire preparation and a general emergency preparation guide for people with disabilities.  

Exercise Protects the Health of Alzheimer's Caregivers

Providing care for a loved one who has dementia can be very stressful—and stress can take a real toll on our health. A research team from the University of British Columbia recently studied a group of people who provide care for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease. Half of the study participants were enrolled in an exercise program, with most meeting the recommended 120 minutes of activity per week.

According to researcher Prof. Eli Puterman, "At the end of the study, not only had the caregivers improved their cardiorespiratory fitness, reduced their body mass index and trimmed their waistlines, they also reported lower levels of perceived stress." And that's not all; exercise protected these caregivers right down to the cellular level! Puterman agrees that when you're caring for a loved one, exercise might fall to the bottom of your "to do" list—but it's very important to get the help you need to make it a priority.

Women Less Likely to Receive Life-Saving CPR

When a person suffers cardiac arrest, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can triple their odds of surviving, according to the American Heart Association. Yet studies presented at a November 2018 symposium revealed that bystanders are less likely to perform CPR on women than on men.

Researchers from University of Colorado School of Medicine examined this disparity and found that people hesitate to perform CPR on female heart attack victims because they are unsure of the symptoms of heart attack in women; they fear that they will injure a woman; and they fear that touching a woman's chest area would be viewed as inappropriate. Study author Dr. Sarah M. Perman said, "The consequences of all of these major themes is that women will potentially receive no CPR or delays in initiation of CPR. While these are actual fears the public holds, it is important to realize that CPR is lifesaving and should be rendered to collapsed individuals regardless of gender, race or ethnicity."

For this February's American Heart Month, celebrate by taking a CPR class and learn how to save a life!

Source: IlluminAge Communication Partners; copyright 2019