Tuesday, November 12, 2019
As the semester winds down, I have a few more posts from my students giving us updates on current events. Here's a happy and inspiring story from Shelby Reinwald:
“Love a Senior Day”
On Saturday, October 26, Jacksonville, Florida hosted its first-ever “Love a Senior Day.” This “not-so-typical” senior expo event’s primary purpose was to bring together people of all ages to recognize and celebrate older Americans and their care providers. Guest speakers at the event, including Bill Thomas, a renowned geriatrician and co-founder of the Eden Alternative and Green House Project, hoped to inform attendees of three major issues faced by the senior population: health, wealth, and dignity.
Thomas sought to pose questions to attendees with the goal of getting them to think about ways to communicate with loved ones while aging and to consider various financial management strategies to help with long-term care planning. Further, Thomas hoped to destigmatize the concept of aging as a “decline,” and to instead get more people to realize aging is just another phase of growth.
Attendees were also provided valuable information on local politics, health care and Medicare.
What made this event especially unique, though, was that music, yoga, and games were offered alongside the informative presentations in an effort to get people to “live [their] lives and forget age.”
I believe events like this will help pave the way in combating ageism and to foster relationships between people of all ages. “Love a Senior Day” is a fantastic way to gather people and educate them on ways to better care for themselves and loved ones while aging – which is something we all do – in one united space.
Aging should be celebrated, so keep an eye out for future “Love a Senior” events that you could attend at http://loveasenior.com/love-a-senior-day-events/.
The Jacksonville Times-Union article on “Love a Senior Day”: https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20191023/jacksonvilles-first-love-senior-day-is-not-your-typical-senior-expo
For information on the Eden Alternative, visit: https://www.edenalt.org/
For information on the Green House Project, visit: https://www.thegreenhouseproject.org/about/visionmission
Maddison Cacciatore writes about the important of exercise in cases of cognitive decline:
The New York Times recently published Steps to Prevent Dementia May Mean Taking Actual Steps, which discusses the preventative and mitigating effects exercise can have on cognitive decline diseases for people of a more advanced age. The article also rebuts the common presumption that brain-training apps are a reliable way to prevent or slow the development of cognitive decline. I think this a topic SNF’s need to be aware of in order to provide better care for their residents. I realize that in this risk averse society, brain training apps may be more appealing to SNF’s, as they have a far lower ability to cause physical harm to residents, however, does this it really a lower risk of harm in the long run. Reducing or avoiding necessary exercise and replacing this with a lacking alternative the SNFs are setting their residents up for a faster decline in health.
The above-referenced article outlines a few of the reasons why exercise is beneficial in regard to cognitive deterioration, one of which is common sense but not often mentioned in this discussion. Exercise brings people together in a social environment, which in turn provides them with social interaction and a need to use their brain. This is so important. SNF’s need to realize the importance of incorporating exercise and social interaction into residents’ care plans, when applicable. Any movement is better than nothing.
The New York Times included some very persuasive information regarding the prevalence of dementia in the US:
“A recent study in Health Services Research found that the additional cost of dementia to Medicare is nearly $16,000 per person over five years. About 14 percent of people in the United States over the age of 71 have some form of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause, afflicting 5.7 million people.”
As someone who has personally seen the toll these diseases cause on a family, as well as the positive effects of exercise on the slowing of its progression, this topic is of great importance to me and think it should be on every SNF’s radar in the future. One of my grandfathers is 92 and has very advanced Alzheimer’s. Our family opted to have a family member live with/provide him care. Pat, the caretaker, forces my Grandpa to walk around the yard a few times throughout the day. Grandpa is always more coherent after he walks, and it is especially noticeable what days he does not get some sort of exercise. We all know and agree that if he were in a SNF, not being forced to exercise on a daily basis, he would not be here today. Additionally, my other grandfather, in my opinion, has prevented (or at least put off) his development of this disease. All three of his younger siblings developed and passed away from Alzheimer’s. Because my grandfather is terrified of the disease, he is constantly exercising and playing the brain development apps. He is 77 and exercises for at least an hour every day. I am not an expert by any means, but it is my opinion that he has not been diagnosed due to this constant exercise.
The prevalence of cognitive decline is a very important problem, needing more attention. They are a great emotional and financial burden on a community, and if there is a way to prevent and/or mitigate their progression, SNFs and families need to take note. It may be more work, and not the most financially appealing option, but the end result is much more important.