Archives for posts with tag: old age

Last week we talked about the various emotions and the stages one goes through while coping with the loss of a loved one. This week, we will talk about how one can help others go through this process.

While mourning and grieving may be an extremely personal experience, it is essential for the family members to provide support and be there for those who have just experienced the loss. The most important thing one can do is to listen.

Listen

The importance of listening cannot be overstated. Take a cue from this personal experience:

One of our older neighbour lost her husband a few years ago. The couple had been married for 12 years. This wasn’t nearly as long as my parents had been together, but I think she actually took the loss worse. And this left her even more vulnerable as relatives and friends assumed that, since she had been a successful, independent career for most of her life, she would easily bounce back. Her needs were very different than those of my mom. She later told me that the kindest things people did for her following that death was just listen. Listen to her memories, listen to the plans they had for the future and listen to her share what made their relationship so special.

Sometimes when visiting the ones who are grieving, we tend to avoid the topic of the one who has just passed away or death altogether. While this may seem like a more comfortable, it is actually a source of great discomfort to the grieving. They need to talk about the loss and the more they talk about it, the faster they will be able to overcome it.

Pay attention to their mental and physical health

This stage of their lives poses some special risks for the elderly. Senior citizens are already at a higher risk for depression and mental health issues. Many may even begin to self-medicate with pain medicine or alcohol, leading to addiction problems. If your loved one does not seem to be doing well mentally, encourage him or her to seek professional counselling. Some may feel comfortable talking to a religious authority. Others may not know who to turn to for assistance. Help find a referral service and assure them that counsellors are now viewed as any other health professional. Many elderly citizens grew up with outdated stereotypes and may still view seeking counselling as a sign of weakness. Assure them this is not the case and, if you’ve ever received counselling, perhaps share this with them. It will help remove any misgivings.

Most importantly, be there in the time after the death.

The weeks following the death of a loved one are busy. Relatives often visit and the house is full for days after the funeral. Everything tapers off after a few weeks or maybe a month or two. Then the house becomes very quiet. Children have returned home. Friends have returned to work and the day-to-day details of life. This is when the reality of their new situation – life alone – sets in. This is when they need you most of all. And the simplest gestures now mean so much. Drop in on your way home from work with a small bouquet picked up from the market. Make a point to get together to watch a favourite team or an anticipated movie. Invite your friend out to lunch or, even better; invite him or her over to share a meal with your family.

The loss of a loved one is never easy. The kindness shown when a senior loses a spouse will never be forgotten.

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It is often said that the most certain thing and yet the most forgotten thing is death. In our heart, we are all aware that one day we and everyone around us will die. However, even this certainty is not enough to prepare for one for the massive emotional devastation that occurs due to the death of a loved one. The impact is even more severe, when this happens at an old age, and we are left wandering the streets of a new world, all alone.

In the next  post, we will talk about a few ways in which we can all help our elderly friends in coping with such a loss. This post is about the various stages of grief a person will undergo as they try to deal with this loss.

The loss of a child or a spouse is the especially devastating. Having invested an entire life in building a relationship, or in case of a child bringing them up, their sudden departure can be almost life threatening. The world suddenly starts holding less meaning and this effect alone can be paralysing.

Everyone experiences a wide range of emotions when a death occurs, the five stages of grief area well known psychological phenomena, and usually everyone goes through them. They are:

  • Denial: A refusal to accept that anything has changed
  • Anger: As the pain starts to become more real, a person directs their anger towards the situation. However, unable to do anything about it, they channelize it towards anyone and everyone
  • Bargaining: At this stage, a person realises their helplessness at the situation and starts bargaining with God for a resolution of the situation
  • Depression: Sadness, regret, guilt, humiliation and any other emotion that disconnects a person from the world manifests themselves in this stage. The person blames themselves for everything that is happening and starts moving away from the world. This is a stage in which a lot of people get stuck
  • Acceptance: Very few people get the gift of reaching this stage, however, those who do, are able to truly get on with their lives. This is not a state of happiness, but a complete realisation of the situation and acceptance in its entirety

Coping with loss is a deeply personal and singular experience — nobody can help anyone go through it more easily or understand all the emotions that one goes through. However, others can be there for support and provide comfort through this process. The best thing one can do, is to allow themselves to feel the grief as it comes. Resisting it only will prolong the natural process of healing.

For families with a senior citizen getting ready to celebrate a birthday, there are many ways that you can make their day by going that little extra mile. No need to have an elaborate birthday party, unless that is what you think they would like, just a meaningful thought can make them feel valued and respected.

However people have different views on birthdays, many people believe that once you get to a certain age, a birthday becomes another wrinkle on their forehead, or another grey hair on their head. While on the other hand, there are many senior citizens who look forward to their birthday almost as much as they did when they were young children. A birthday becomes a milestone and a triumph when you reach a certain age.

Let’s discuss a few things you can do to spice up a birthday and make it more memorable at old people homes or their own residences:

Guests

The guest that you chose to invite is a crucial factor in planning an elderly’s birthday party. Especially in India, we tend to have lots of friends and family – it can be tempting to include every family member or friend; but that can become overwhelming. Send out invitations ONLY to their closest friends and close family members they have had good rapport with. Oftentimes they will appreciate just being around the people they care about for their birthday. For the senior who prefer a relaxed birthday event, you can have just the immediate family and just a few of their friends to join in for a more intimate celebration.

Food

Since it is their birthday, it’s best to have food that they love. A meal does not have to be elaborate to be a success.  Old age care needs to be taken for the elderly in terms of their allergies, dietary restrictions and medical conditions when choosing the food. This is especially important when senior citizens are attending, since many may have conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure and all foods would be advisable for their health.

Decoration

Try & keep the decoration minimalistic. Many will enjoy simple balloons and streamers. It might even be a good idea to create a slideshow or collage of the birthday boy or girl’s life and of their friends and family wishing them happy birthday! This is an idea that they can even keep with them long after the party is over.

Activities

Plan activities suitable for people of all ages – especially when family is in attendance, you want activities that appeal to all generations together

Bingo! For the elderly, consider having cards that have large print and markers that are easy to manipulate. If you are planning birthday party games for Elderly Adults, consider making the squares be something to relate to the senior citizen (rather than numbers). Activities like Antakshari or Dumbcharades can also be considered.

So there you have it, a short check-list that can help you plan the special day for your elderly. However, the most important thing to bear in mind is that all these are just indicative. You know what the elderly in your family prefer and the birthday party should be about them. You can find a few examples here

So have fun and share pictures with us.

In the last post we had mentioned different types of diabetes and why it is considered to be very dangerous. Today we discuss the symptoms and treatment for the same.

Symptoms

Symptoms of diabetes include: excessive thirst, frequent urination, being very hungry, feeling tired, weight loss without much physical effort, the appearance of sores that slowly heal, having dry and itchy skin, loss of feeling or tingling in feet, and blurry eyesight. Still, some people with diabetes do not experience any of these symptoms.

Treatment

There is no cure for diabetes, but with careful control of blood glucose level,  cholesterol level and blood pressure, it can be managed.Managing diabetes includes several lifestyle changes. These include:

Following a Meal Plan

It is not necessary for people with diabetes to only eat particular foods, rather food that are good for everyone are also good for diabetics. Such food includes those that are low in fat, salt, and sugar. Foods that are high in fiber, such as whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables are also great choices. Making healthy choices in your diet will help you to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, control your blood glucose levels, and prevent heart disease. It is highly recommended to consult a dietician.

Get Regular Physical Activity

Make physical activity a part of your daily life. Go on walks, ride a bike, or gardening.  Try dancing or swimming, or simply stay active by doing work around the house. Try to get some sort of exercise every day for at least 30 minutes. If you are new to exercising, start slowly and gradually increase the amount and intensity of your exercise. However make sure to talk with your doctor before you begin.

Medication

Insulin

People with Type 1 diabetes and some people with type 2 diabetes use Insulin to lower blood glucose levels. People must take insulin when their body does not take enough of it. Insulin is a liquid hormone that must be injected with shots or an insulin pump.

Diabetes Pills

In many cases of type 2 diabetes, the body makes enough insulin but is not properly used by the body. Diabetes pills are used to correct this problem. Some are taken once daily while others must be taken more often. It is important to ask your doctor or pharmacist how to take your pills. Also, be sure to talk with your doctor if you are experiencing side effects or your pills make you sick.

Self-Monitoring

It is important to keep track of your blood glucose levels regularly by using a blood glucose monitor. Logging these levels in a diary may also be helpful to get a better idea of how your treatment is going. Some people must check their blood glucose levels several times a day while others check it once daily. Consult your doctor how often you should test your blood.

Foot and Skin Care

Despite the risk of diabetes due to age and weight status, people often delay having a check-up because they do not feel any symptoms. Unnoticed injuries can contribute to ulcers, which may lead to amputation. Check your feet everyday for cuts, red spots, sores, infected toe-nails and swelling. People with diabetes are more likely to experience skin injuries and infections – For these reasons taking care of your skin is also important.

Sometimes, people experience symptoms do not realize that it may be diabetes. Diabetes, if left untreated, may lead to hazardous complications and even death. Controlling blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol can help prevent or delay complications associated with diabetes such as heart disease and stroke.

Human body obtains glucose from  food , the liver and muscles also supply our body with glucose. Blood transports the glucose to cells throughout the body. Insulin, a chemical hormone, helps the body’s cells to take in the glucose. Insulin is made by the beta cells of the pancreas and then released into the bloodstream.

If the body does not make enough insulin or the insulin does not work the way it should; glucose is not able to enter the body’s cells. Instead the glucose remains in the blood causing an increase in blood glucose level. This high blood glucose level causes pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Pre-diabetes means that blood glucose level is higher than average but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. Having pre-diabetic glucose levels increases risk for developing type 2 diabetes as well as heart disease and stroke. Still, if you have pre-diabetes there are many ways to reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Moderate physical activity and a healthy diet accompanied by modest weight loss can prevent type 2 diabetes and help a person with pre-diabetes to return to normal blood glucose levels.

Symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst, frequent urination, being very hungry, feeling tired, weight loss without trying, the appearance of sores that slowly heal, having dry and itchy skin, loss of feeling or tingling in feet, and blurry eyesight. Still, some people with diabetes do not experience any of these symptoms.

Diabetes can be developed at any age. There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is also referred to as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. It is usually diagnosed in children, teens, or young adults. In this type of diabetes, the beta cells of the pancreas are no longer able to produce insulin because they have been destroyed by the body’s immune system.

Type 2 diabetes is also referred to as adult-onset diabetes or non insulin-dependent diabetes. It may be developed at any age, including childhood. In this type of diabetes is the result of insulin resistance, a condition in which the body’s cells do not interact properly with insulin. At first, the pancreas is able to produce more insulin to keep up with the increased demand for insulin. However, it loses the ability to make up for the body’s cells inability to interact properly with insulin with time. The insulin is unable to help the cells take in glucose, this results in high blood glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes amongst  senior citizens in India. An unhealthy weight contributed by a high calorie diet and lack of physical activity increases the risk for developing this form of diabetes.

Type 3 diabetes is also referred to as Gestational diabetes; development of diabetes in the late stages of pregnancy. It is caused by hormones associated with pregnancy and a shortage of insulin. This form of diabetes goes away after the baby is born, but puts both the mother and child at a greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes in later life.

Diabetes is a serious disease and when it is not well controlled, it damages the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, gums, and teeth. Having diabetes makes one more than twice as likely as someone without diabetes to have heart disease or stroke.

It is important to keep blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol under control to avoid the serious complications associated with diabetes. Taking steps to control diabetes can make a large impact in the one’s health.

In the next post we will discuss about the prevention & treatment of diabetes for the elderly.

A catastrophe of an unimaginable magnitude has hit theuttrkhnd state of Uttarakhand, while not entirely unexpected, we were unprepared as usual. This isn’t the first time that the human race has had to face the fury of nature and “Land of Gods” is perhaps the latest victim of Mother Nature. Being the most popular pilgrimage destination in the country, thousands of devotees have had to face the might of water, as they battle for survival and escape to safety.

Elderly and seniors comprising of a significant population at these locations, face the dual challenge of survival and then beginning their life once again, at an age when most thought living with calm and serenity. As the death toll increases, the media shows us examples of how helpless the people were before the intervention of the Indian Army.  Huge walls of water brought down entire road, buildings and mountains alike, all in a flash.

As the people were evacuated to a safer place, priority was given to the elderly, women and children. With roads being damaged food, water and medical assistance are all scarce, making it difficult for the elderly fighting this battle. The worst was for those, who were suffering from chronic ailments, having lost all of their medication, they were now entirely dependent upon others to get them through this ordeal.

The situation could have been much worse, however the administration being unprepared and lack of coordination between the government agencies, added an element of unnecessary delay, which in this scenario translates into perhaps thousands of lives.

However, it’s now time to look forward, this is no time to cry over spilled milk, we need to start taking an initiative, and we need to start engaging in self-precautionary measures. We must now come together to ensure that the elders and others in Uttarakhand survive this catastrophe that has befallen them.

While a few steps such as avoiding these northern areas during monsoons and even if you travel, having some contact in the cities nearby who could be of assistance if the situation arises, can be taken to ensure you have a smooth journey.  Also, seniors must always carry the small doses of medicines with them whenever they visit any outdoor place and an understanding of the weather is essential before any travel.

Let’s pray for the people who are affected by this calamity and hope that everything comes back to normal, however please make every effort you can to support the survivors in Uttarakhand.

oldage2Most of people over the age of 75 prefer to stay mostly at home, with the population increasing leaps and bounds everywhere; stepping out these days is not an easy task. This desire for relaxation and freedom are absolutely natural, but may be a cause of concern for their children, who are busy with performing the duties, essential in today’s world, earning their daily bread.

While away and parents at home, the children need to ensure that their parents and other elders are safe and secure, while most of the times this concern is just precautionary, there may be instances where it may become essential. The elders may fall, forget to take their medicine or may be even forget their belongings at someplace and panic, all these are genuine concerns and can happen to anyone.

However, the blessing of science, technology has come up with some pretty useful gadgets that maybe more helpful to the elderly than the regular folk:

Big button cell phones

These cell phones are specially designed for elderly persons. Their distinct features like big sized keys for ease of use, emergency call button, hearing aid complaint, flash light, long battery life, etc prove to be worth using.

A bed that gets up with you

An invention from Japan, where almost 20 percent of population is over 65. Panasonic has developed a bed that easily converts into a wheel chair so that elderly people can become mobile without actually having to get up out of bed.

A memory cheat sheet

When people talk about Google Glass, no one mentions old persons. But can you imagine how much easier old age would be if you never have to worry about remembering to-do list.

Remote monitoring

With remote monitoring system, the care providers can automatically detect emergency situations like falls, etc. any critical situation can be avoided from turning it into an emergency.

Vacuum cleaning robot

This gadget performs the human day to day tasks of cleaning, sweeping, etc. with a touch f a button the elderly people can make their place dirt free and that too without any hassle.

These technological innovations may definitely aid the elderly people and lessen the worries of their children for them.