CareNotes: The Home Care Newsletter Vol 5. Issue 7
Download PDF version
CareNotes: The Home Care Newsletter Vol 5. Issue 7
Letter From the Editor:
The holiday season is officially underway with lights and decorations lining the streets and filling the stores. This time of year is a great source of joy, being in the company of friends and family and sharing holiday traditions with those you love. The holidays also offer an opportunity to assess whether your parent may need additional assistance; with the family gathered together, it’s a good time to discuss care options for your loved one if it appears his or her quality of life has declined.
For family members who may live far away or who are unable to travel, internet programs like Skype can be a great tool. In this issue, I will discuss how more and more seniors are surfing the web —accessing social media sites, e-mailing, shopping, reading the news and playing games—and how this activity has been linked to increased self-esteem and social connectedness.I will also explore the initial findings of the National Parkinson’s Foundation’s research on the link between Parkinson’s disease and depression and how the research illustrates the importance of a holistic approach to care focused on the body and mind, like our Balanced Care Method, to combat these feelings of sadness in individuals. Further, I will share an interview with Bette Calman, a world-renowned yogi and Home Care Assistance inspiration, who still practices and teaches the discipline in her 80s. Bette shares her thoughts on yoga, happiness, aging and Internet fame, attributing her remarkable longevity to the practice of yoga and its calming qualities. Lastly, I would like to acknowledge both Yandeh Gassama and Elva Petitfrere from Home Care Assistance of Atlanta for being selected for this month’s Caregiver Spotlight. The first Caregiver Spotlight to feature two caregivers, we are especially excited to honor both of these women for their outstanding commitment to providing the highest level of care to their clients.
From our family to yours, Home Care Assistance wishes you safe travels and a happy and healthy holiday season. See you in 2013!
Seniors Benefit from Learning to Surf the Web
While keeping in touch with tech-savvy children and grandchildren is one major motivator for seniors to learn how to surf the net, recent research from Case Western Reserve University points to another potential benefit. Scholars found that seniors who use technology are more socially engaged and have higher self-esteem than older adults who don’t use technology. This research supports an older study from 2005, which found that seniors who used computers tended to be less depressed.
With many seniors centers, public libraries, and retirement communities offering free computer classes to interested seniors, it’s easier than ever before for older adults to get online, even if they don’t have a computer at home. Some websites are also making it easier for seniors who struggle with their eye sight, by allowing users to change the text sizes on web pages.
And in fact, more and more seniors are are surfing the web. According to a recent report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project
, 53% of adults over the age of 65 use the internet or email. Of that group, 70% use the internet everyday. Unfortunately, this percentage drops as seniors get older, with only 34% of adults 76 and older using the internet.
Once seniors gain basic computer skills, they can use the internet for a variety of different purposes. Indeed, there are many ways in which seniors can benefit from getting online. Thanks to social networking sites, older adults can more easily keep in touch with friends and family who live far away. This can help seniors feel less isolated and alone. E-commerce sites help make it possible for seniors to remain self-sufficient. Older adults can purchase items and have them delivered right to their doorstep, without having to worry about driving to multiple stores and carrying heavy items. Finally, seniors can use the web to stretch their brain and learn new things. They can play games, catch up with the latest news, research their family history, or read articles about their health.
Depression may be biggest hurdle for Parkinson’s patients
In the last week of November, the National Parkinson’s Foundation released initial findings from its Parkinson’s Outcomes Project, an international study designed to investigate the efficacy of various treatments for Parkinson’s patients—some people are able to maintain a moderate level of independence while others require full assistance often in the form of in-home care. Though most people think of Parkinson’s as a mobility disorder, this study suggests that it is depression that plagues Parkinson’s patients the most. In fact, the impact of depression on overall health is almost double that of motor problems.
With over 5,000 participants, this long-term study is the largest undertaking to date in Parkinson’s research history. So far, 61% of the sample reported some form of depression. About half of Parkinson’s patients will experience depression at some point after diagnosis; depression appears to be more common in Parkinson’s patients than in those with other chronic diseases. While those with Parkinson’s disease may be upset about their loss of mobility and coordination attributed to their condition, the depression we see in this population is more largely related to changes in the brain; dopamine plays a role in muscle movement as well as mood.
The fact that depression plays such a prominent role in the overall wellbeing of Parkinson’s patients makes early detection and treatment key. Unfortunately, depression is both under-detected and under-treated in this population, having significant negative impacts on overall wellbeing. The loss of control of facial muscles associated with Parkinson’s makes the face rigid (masked facial expression) and thus difficult to read—our facial expressions are one of the key indications of mood. In addition, Parkinson’s and depression share some symptoms. As a result, the National Parkinson’s Foundation suggests that doctors screen Parkinson’s patients for depression at least annually. These initial findings also highlight the importance of addressing both the physical and mental wellbeing of individuals with a holistic approach to care.
An Interview with Bette Calman: World Renowned Yogi and Aging Extraordinaire
Bette Calman is one of the pioneers of Australian Yoga, jumping to notoriety in the 1950s. Over the years she has had her own TV show, been featured in countless magazines and newspapers, written three books discussing the benefits of yoga as well as taught the practice for over 40 years. Bette has remained a fixture in the media spotlight over the years and has now become an Internet sensation for remarkable aging and longevity – still practicing yoga and teaching as a great-grandma in her eighties. Because of our focus at Home Care Assistance on health, wellness and quality of life, Bette has served as an inspiration to all of us—an example of aging gracefully. As part of our mission to change the way the world ages, we interviewed Bette to better understand her secret to a healthy mind, body and spirit. Here are her answers:
Q: How were you first drawn to the practice of yoga?
A: It was a lot of things – I didn’t know what it was. I first wanted to do it when I was 15—Sir Paul Dukes from England came to Sydney and I wanted to try it, but my Dad said I had enough on my plate with school, swimming, diving, piano and dancing. Dad said if it is right, it will come back to you. When I was 26 I discovered Michael Volin from Russia who had a small class in Sydney.
Q: What about yoga has kept you practicing all this time?
A: I always felt good after class—never sick, no headaches, menstrual problems or aches and pains – I thought this is perfect for me. My husband and I were in the hotel business and I needed yoga to keep me healthy, strong and able to work long hours (7am-2am with shift work) in a rather unhealthy environment. It helped with my energy and soothed my tired legs from standing all day.
Q: Did you think you would still be teaching and practicing yoga in your 80s?
A: No, I never thought I would teach but I thought I would practice—it has helped me physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. The things that worry a lot of people don’t worry me at all and I am sure it’s because of my yoga practice.
Q: How do you feel about “going viral” as a model for aging well (being an Internet sensation)?
A: I had a TV show for 24 years, a weekly newspaper article for 14 years and a monthly magazine for several years, so I have always been involved in the media industry; however, the internet was out of my control—it wasn’t my choice, but I felt it may help bring Yoga to the forefront of people’s minds. If it inspired one person to go to a class then I considered that I had done the right thing in doing the interviews and taking pictures.
Q: Do you teach your grandchildren yoga?
A: I teach my great-grandson, Andreas, yoga—he loves it. He has been going to class each week since he was 18 months. My daughter ran a yoga school in Melbourne for 18 years and has been teaching for 24 years. My grandson does yoga to help his flexibility for Australian Rules football.
Q: What do you think is the secret to aging well? Do you think yoga has contributed to your aging so well?
A: The secret to aging is to keep on keeping on. When we stop, that is the issue—just keep on!!! Yes, yoga has contributed because it helps you on all levels—it’s natural for yogis to sit on the floor, whereas older people who don’t do yoga can’t do that as easily. I feel it’s also about moving the body, stretching the body and mind, being open on all levels rather than closing down to only doing what is familiar. I am always open to do something new, go somewhere new, or meet new people.
Q: What advice can you offer baby boomers and younger adults alike about how to age well and live a long and healthy life?
A: Not much because they seem to know it all, but they don’t seem to apply it.
You can lead a horse to water but you can force it to drink…
Q: Do you think you’re helping in changing society’s view on aging to a more positive perspective? Have you seen any changes in the way society views aging over the past decades?
A: Yeah, in a roundabout sort of way—my grandson admits it’s terrible that I am more flexible than him. I am not focused on aging so I do not observe it, but living in a retirement village here in Melbourne, I notice too many pills, too many tests, too many things going wrong or looking for the next thing to go wrong. I don’t study aging – I live for today.
Q: If you could only share one piece of advice, what would it be? Why?
A: Start the day with water and end it with water.
Q: Our mission is to change the way the world ages. How do you feel you are achieving this mission?
A: We need to look after our own ~ live the day good ~ live a happy day. I never thought about aging until the last few months….
Q: If 2012 Bette could write a letter to 45 year old Bette, what would she say?
A: Keep on you will get there. You are on the right path—do not change. Do more for yourself instead of relying on others.
Q: Do you have a favorite saying? What is it?
A: Keep on keeping on.
Q: What is your favorite "guilty pleasure"?
A: I don’t have a guilty pleasure—I eat what I enjoy and if I over indulge I will go quiet the next day. But I do love the movies, chai and naughty jokes.
Q: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A: Enjoying what I do, when I do it.
Q: While your lifestyle choices mean you’ll likely spend the rest of your years in phenomenal health, if you were to need assistance with daily activities in the future what would you do?
A: Have to accept it—enjoy and life goes on. I am nearly ready to have a guide dog.
Q: Our proprietary Balanced Care Method, based on studies of the long-lived elders in Okinawa, focuses on mind, body and spirit and is the foundation for the care we provide. Do you think this is a strong foundation? What do you think should be the major focus when caring for seniors?
A: This is my foundation too. This is the only foundation, there is no other. Treat them as if they are healthy.
We are honored that our inspiration, Bette Calman, took the time to share her thoughts on yoga, health and quality of life so that we can now pass them along to you. As Bette mentioned, the real secret to aging well is taking what you learn and applying it in some way, shape or form. Hopefully you can take away at least one piece of wisdom from our Q & A with Bette and start changing your life for the better today!
For more information about our exclusive Balanced Care MethodTM approach to care to promote healthy longevity and quality of life visit www.BalancedCareMethod.com
Caregiver of the Month Spotlight: Yandeh Gassama and Elva Petitfrere
This month’s Caregiver Spotlight honors both Yandeh Gassama and Elva Petitfrere from Home Care Assistance of Atlanta. Both Yandeh and Elva’s compassion and commitment to provide exceptional care to their clients are inspiring to all of us at Home Care Assistance. We would like to share an email we received from the Atlanta office about both of these incredible women.
It takes special people to be truly dedicated to the type of services we provide for our Clients — forming meaningful relationships beyond simply assisting in daily care needs.
Home Care Assistance of Atlanta has WONDERFUL Caregivers who go above and beyond the call of duty. These two caregivers in particular shined in their roles with their responsiveness and extraordinary skills.
Yandeh Gassama noticed that her Client needed extra care—more assistance than what she was able to provide. Because of her observant commitment to her Client’s wellbeing, she was able to act quickly and get her Client to the hospital in the nick of time. The family says they can’t express enough how grateful they are to have Yandeh Gassama as part of their family.
Elva Petitfrere was acknowledged by her Client’s family for “saving the day”. When Elva began providing care for their loved one, the Client had basically “given up,” choosing to remain in her bed all day and night. A compassionate and patient person, Elva would warmly approach her Client and gently motivate her to at least try and get out of the bed for a little while. With Elva’s persistence and commitment, the Client decided to get out of bed and is now walking to the dining room and other areas in her assisted living facility. The Client’s husband is thrilled to see his wife up and moving again!
Thank you Yandeh Gassama and Elva Petitfrere! Having Caregivers like you proves that we are changing the way the world ages by providing the best level of care to ensure our clients are living the happiest, healthiest lives possible.