Senior Nation’s Ask Irma: My 86 Year Old Mom is Falling More Often Now

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Senior Nation is committed to offering resources to help us deal with the challenges and opportunities of aging. To that end, we are launching a new monthly column called “Ask Irma” by Irma Toce, where we focus on all topics related to aging.

Dear Irma,

Mom has been falling more these past few weeks, should we place her in a nursing home? She is 86 and currently lives alone

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Thank you very much for your question.

First of all let’s have a look in mom’s home. Are there any trip hazards? Area rugs, lots of furniture, different flooring in different rooms, stairs etc.

Secondly how is mom’s diet? Is she eating well balanced meals and snacks throughout the day.

Does mom exercise, does she take yoga or balance classes?

Thirdly, and most importantly, is she drinking enough fluids throughout the day (8 glasses of water) Dehydration is a common cause for dizziness, urinary track infections etc. all of which can cause a person to fall. This is the season to hydrate even more because of the heat and humidity.

There could be numerous causes for a person to fall, I only mentioned a few but please have mom checked by her physician to rule out any medical issues.

Take care!

Irma

Irma Toce is the  CEO of Londonderry on the Tred Avon with over 25 years experience work with seniors. Her years of experience in the field is accompanied by BS in social work and an MA in health management, Irma not only leads the dynamic community of Londonderry, but she is also nationally recognized as an expert in the field of aging.

Senior Nation: A Sexagenarian’s Musings on “Aging in Place”

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One of my favorite movies is “The Thin Man,” based on the first of six mystery novels by Dashiell Hammett. Nick Charles is a retired detective who manages his wife’s inheritance; however, his wife’s adventurous spirit soon has them assisting the police in solving cases. The inspired casting of William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora made the series pure pleasure to watch.

In the first movie, “The Thin Man,” Nick and Nora are asked to help find a missing inventor who had shown signs of forgetfulness. During a New Year’s Eve party at the Charles’ apartment, the son of the inventor is surrounded by reporters asking questions about why his father would want to disappear. The overly erudite son answers “Well, he is a Sexagenarian.” One of the reporters exclaims “I can’t print THAT” and the camera pans to show Nick’s bemused face as he chuckles over the reporter’s limited vocabulary.

As this sexagenarian reaches another birthday this week, I am contemplating, even more, the challenges of “aging in place” in my early 20th-century farmhouse. Shortly after moving in, I removed the tub shower in my first-floor bath and modified the floor joists to slope the floor in the shower area. The added benefit is the extra floor space I now have in my small bathroom. I am currently designing my kitchen renovation with five feet between my galley kitchen layout for ADA clearance if that ever became an issue for me.

Whenever I design a new home or undertake a major renovation with a client, we discuss design features that would enable them to remain in their home as they grow older. Instead of the 36” wide hallways stipulated by the building code, 42” wide hallways are better for maneuvering a walker or wheelchair, and 36” wide doors make access to rooms easier. Stacking closets in a two-story house creates a shaft for a future elevator so the house could be fully accessible. Leaving space in an attached garage for future addition of a lift to the main floor eliminates the need for an exterior ramp. Many houses have three steps from a deck or porch to grade, and the code does not require a handrail. However, adding handrails is safer for people like me who need to grip a handrail for support when maneuvering steps.

I just completed a “Smart Home Technology” course as part of Continuing Education for renewal of my architectural license. This technology has had an enormous impact on home design and can be as simple or complex as you need. Voice-activated controls, security systems that can lock exterior doors and provide video of your exterior door areas, lights that can be voice or motion activated to eliminate the need of timers for lamps, etc., are all part of the technological integration of your personal devices with today’s technology to keep you independent as long as possible. It’s then easy to relax, pour one of Nick’s signature martinis and watch a great movie like “The Thin Man.”


Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

Senior Nation: Technology and America’s Elders with Leslie Walker

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Typically, when modern technology is discussed concerning those over 65 years old, the general narrative is that many senior Americans are suffering from a significant disadvantage or gap, if you will, in their inability to access the internet.

Retired before the frequent use of email, web research, or enterprise-related software had entered the lives of the professional classes, these elders, the story goes, have been marginalized due to their lack of computer skills in a world that continues to find new uses for the world wide web.

In some ways, that impression is correct. Over one-third of Americans over 65 years old do not use the internet at all in their daily lives while 90% of all Americans find themselves online almost every day. But when you look more in-depth in the numbers, as the University of Maryland’s Leslie Walker has done over the last few years, those statistics can be misleading.

Walker, who recently spoke at the 3rd annual Senior Summit at the Talbot County Community Center, counters that this age gap is dramatically narrowing. Indeed, the rate of adoption to the internet is increasing every year with seniors.

That is just one of the many subjects that Professor Walker shares after a remarkable career in the development of online news at the Washington Post (she was the first editor of washingtonpost.com) and now teaches at the Merrill School of Journalism at College Park.

The Spy sat down with Leslie for a quick interview after her formal presentation to talk about the revolutionary use of technology for those in their senior years, ranging from telemedicine to voice recognition, which has the potential to radically improve the quality of life for millions as they grow older.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. 

Senior Nation: Talbot Senior Summit Draws Record Crowd

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Talbot Community Connections (TCC) and the Talbot County Department of Social Services recently held their third annual Talbot Senior Summit. This day-long program for seniors, children of seniors, caregivers, professionals and concerned citizens provided presentations and discussions on the issues that seniors face today.  Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford and Mental Health Advocate Lynn Sanchez provided the remarks to open the day.

Pictured is Mental Health Advocate and keynote speaker Lynn Sanchez

In Sanchez’s keynote remarks, “Wine Isn’t the Only Thing That Improves with Age,” she said, “It’s the age of our spirit that matters as we age.” Sanchez went on to present three things she attributed to finding happiness and contentment with aging. She said we need something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to every day. By incorporating humor, Sanchez encouraged participants to keep wondering and to trust the journey.

Pictured are Summit attendees participating in the workshop, “Rising Strength: Self Defense,” conducted by Rachel Layer and Matt and Kathy Herron.

Over 200 participants listened to speakers on such topics as “Manage and Reduce Stress: Organize, Downsize, De-Clutter;” “How to Protect Yourself Against Insurance Fraud;” “Transitions: How Will  We Flourish in Midlife and Beyond;” “Rising Strength: Self Defense;” “Helping Seniors Navigate Our High-Tech World;” “Senior Fitness: Finding the Athlete Within;” “Yoga: Aging Positively;” and “The Importance of ‘Social Capital’ for Seniors.” A special Virtual Dementia Tour conducted by Christina Wingate-Spence from Bright Star was especially popular.

Pictured are staff of Avon Dixon Insurance Agency, one of the near 50 vendors at this year’s Talbot Senior Summit.

Participants were able to visit informational tables of almost 50 vendors with services and resources for seniors.  A healthy lunch was provided by Sprout.

Platinum sponsors for this year’s Senior Summit were the Star Democrat, Talbot County Department of Social Services, and Talbot County Government. Gold sponsors were the Talbot County Health Department, the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health, and the Visiting Nurse Association of Maryland.

Photos by Calvin Jackson Photography

Senior Nation: The Very Best Senior Moment by Craig Fuller

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Returning from California where my younger brother – by two years – was married this past weekend, I reflected on the remarkable experience and emotions discovered in a “senior wedding.”

Truthfully, I have not been to many senior weddings in the past, yet each one I attended provided a wonderful spirit of love and commitment. While part of all weddings, the commitment of people in their 60s who elect to get married brings with it…well, more maturity.

Professional reputation has been built. The children have been raised and released into the world. Friendships have been built and nourished over decades. Then, added to all of that comes a strong and intentional passion to marry, again.

I shared with my brother and his beautiful wife a comment I’ve never forgotten from the woman my father married a few years after our mother passed. His new wife, who had survived two previous husbands, shared with me that marriage to our father was wonderfully different because they spent all of their time together.

The “senior marriage” is decidedly not about building a family, it’s about embracing two families. It’s not about building a career or two; it’s about enjoying the fruits of hard work over many years. It’s not about a process of finding yourself; it’s about a process of finding a new future with another.

For two days, my brother and his new wife brought together friends and family. We spoke of how we knew the bride or groom (or, in my case, both…but that is another story). We told stories about their past lives and laughed at experiences familiar to all of us. We truly celebrated a union of two fine people who know themselves and know they are happier, better and more fulfilled together.

Honestly, it was a weekend of pure joy and a sense of wishing the bride, the groom, along with their families and friends nothing but the best in the years they have together….where they really will be together.

This is one senior moment I hope can be shared by every couple finding perfect companionship in their later years.

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

Senior Nation: Maryland State Retirees Must Change Drug Coverage Soon

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A significant change in the Maryland retirement policy takes place at the end of the year is one that will separate prescription drug coverage from the state’s retiree health plan.

This is a very big deal for the thousands of Medicare-eligible state retirees who must enroll in its Part D medication coverage plan by December 31 to continue their drug coverage.

What makes this even more difficult is that official rates for those plans will not be announced until October just as open enrollment begins.  The good news is that  Maryland’s Insurance Assistance Programs staff in each Mid-Shore county will be offering workshops and individual consulting for those impacted.

The Spy state down with Talbot County’s program counselor Pam Limberry for a quick check in on this important revision in coverage.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Part D planning, please contact Pam at 410-822-2869 ext. 231 or plimberry@uppershoreaging.org for more information.

 

 

 

Senior Nation: A Short Report from the Front Line of Dementia Research

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It’s safe to say that Dr. Terry Detrich has been around the block, so to speak, when it comes to neurology conferences. Starting his practice on the Eastern Shore as the Delmarva’s first neurologist in 1976, Detrich has long made it a habit to attend these annual gatherings to keep up with current developments in his field.

But, at least with most of these professional summits, particularly in the area of dementia, it is more often the case that Detrich has left them feeling mostly underwhelmed with the progress being made to treat and prevent neurocognitive disorders.

That was one of the reasons, Dr. Detrich was not all that excited when he decided to travel to Los Angeles (not his favorite city) for the 2018 American Academy of Neurology in April.

So it was surprising for him to hear some remarkable reports from his peers and start feeling for the first time in many years that scientific research and clinical trial results had reached a modest but clearly evident tipping point in the fight against dementia and other memory loss diseases.

For purposes of analogy, Detrich relies on the arc of progress seen in aviation to measure tangle milestones. From the first controlled flight of the Wright Brothers in 1903 and Lindbergh’s first flight across the Atlantic, to our modern era of commercial airlines and space exploration, aviation advances were unprecedented in the their speed of discovery.

Dr. Detrich makes it clear that while the field has certainly well passed its Kitty Hawk stage, he still was looking for the equivalency of Charles Lindbergh’s arrival in Paris in 1927 in dementia prevention and management.

In Los Angeles last month, the doctor felt for the first time in decades that perhaps we are close to that moment.

With advances in knowledge of gene behavior and the positive results of new trials, Detrich cautiously indicts that real medical treatment for some forms of dementia, and even a vaccine, may be in use in two to five years.

The Spy had a short debriefing on the subject from Dr. Detrich last week at the Samuel & Alexia Bratton Neurocognitive Clinic at Bayleigh-Chase.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Samuel & Alexia Bratton Neurocognitive Clinic at Bayleigh-Chase please go here

Senior Nation: Talbot Community Connections Holds Mid-Shore Senior Summit with Lynn Sanchez as Keynote Speaker

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Lynn H. Sanchez of Easton, Mental Health Advocate, will be the keynote speaker for the third annual Senior Summit, “Life Reimagined Challenges and Triumphs,” on Thursday, June 7, 2018, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Talbot Community Center on Route 50 in Easton, MD. This day-long program for seniors, children of seniors, caregivers, professionals and concerned residents will provide presentations and discussions on the issues that seniors face today, including health and wellness, technology, staying active, and transitioning in life.  The event, sponsored by Talbot Community Connections (TCC) and the Talbot County Department of Social Services, helps to fund the unmet needs that are fundamental to the safety, security, health and well-being of Talbot County’s children and adults.

Sanchez will present “Wine Isn’t the Only Thing That Improves with Age” – an insightful and light-hearted discussion about our personal aging journey. She states, “We will take a look at the physical and emotional energy needed to transition, into our next phase of life.”

Sanchez, who has worked tirelessly as a mental health advocate on the Shore, attended Florida State University where she completed a bachelor’s degree in Child Development and a Master’s in Education degree in Mental Retardation. She has served on the faculty of Chesapeake College and served as Site Coordinator of Talbot Touchpoints Project & Eldercare Project for the Mental Health Association in Talbot County. Currently, she is Administrative Assistant at the medical office of Robert B. Sanchez and is a Mental Health First Aid Trainer.

The Senior Summit will include workshops on downsizing, flourishing through transitions, self-defense for seniors, senior fitness, and even a virtual dementia tour. In addition to break-out workshops, there will be the opportunity for participants to have lunch and to visit vendor tables to gather additional information on aging issues and services.

Talbot Community Connections (TCC), a nonprofit arm of the Talbot County Department of Social Services, has the mission to raise and distribute funds to help keep families together, support children in foster care, and support the elderly so they can remain independent, safe, and healthy members of our communities.

The cost of the Senior Summit is $15 for the General Public, including seniors, and $85 for Professional Social Work CEUs. A healthy continental breakfast and lunch are included in the registration fee. Pre-registration is required by June 1. For further information, contact Kelley Werner at kelley.werner@maryland.gov or call 410-770-8810 or visit talbotcommunityconnections.org to download a registration form or to purchase tickets online. Registration forms are also available at the front desk at Talbot County Department of Social Services at 301 Bay Street, Unit 5 in Easton.

Platinum sponsors for the 2018 Senior Summit are the Talbot County Department of Social Services, the Talbot County Government, and The Star Democrat. Gold sponors are the Talbot County Health Department, Visiting Nurse Association of Maryland, and University of Maryland Shore Regional Health.

Senior Nation: Preparing for Dementia with Integrace’s Tabassum Majid – Part Two

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Very few things are more worrisome for those over the age of sixty-five than the possibility of experiencing some form of dementia in their senior years. And there is a good reason for that concern since it is turning out that one out of every three Americans will indeed have this condition in their lifetime.

Adding to this grim fact is the growing awareness that dementia, like cancer, is turning out to have many different sub-categories. In fact, the current number used by experts in the field believe there are at least 120 identifiable sub-types, and that number seems to be growing every year.

But along with those sobering facts is also the growing awareness the lifestyle choices can have a dramatic impact on the severity of these many different types of memory loss. In fact, with modest improvements like regular exercise, a balanced diet, and social interaction, the odds improve significantly in mitigating the worst effects of the illness.

In the second of a three-part series, the Spy continues our conversation with Dr. Tabassum Majid, executive director of the Integrace Institute and expert on dementia, about the growing body of evidence that lifestyle changes can significantly improve the quality of life of those with the illness.

 

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the Integrace Institute or the Integrace Bayleigh Chase please go here.