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Caregiving Chronicles

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Caregiving Chronicles

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Caregiving Chronicles will present news and analysis on caregiving topics in MetroWest and around the world, in-depth Q&As with experts in fields related to caregiving and updates and announcements about caregiving resources available in MetroWest from CaregivingMetroWest.org Program Director Douglas Flynn.


By DebraMcDonagh / August 25, 2021

Activity helps someone with Alzheimer’s disease feel better. Exercise helps keep their muscles, joints, and heart in good shape. It also helps people stay at a healthy weight and have regular toilet and sleep habits.

But, as a family caregiver, you know that is sometimes easier said than done. The National Institutes of Health share tips on ways to help a person with Alzheimer’s stay active.

  • Be realistic about how much activity can be done at once. Several short “mini-workouts” may be best.
  • Break exercises into simple, easy-to-follow steps.
  • Make sure the person wears clothes and shoes that fit well and are made for exercise.
  • Exercise together to make activities more fun. Exercise is good for caregivers and family members, too!

Check out the NIA website to find more ways to help a person with Alzheimer’s stay active

Source: This content is provided by the NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA). NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure it is accurate and up to date.


By DebraMcDonagh / August 19, 2021

Vaccinations prevent serious disease.

Every August is dedicated to National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), which is designed to highlight the importance of immunizations. When you get vaccinated, you’re protecting yourself, your family & your community.

Vaccines are not just for kids.

Adults can protect themselves from serious diseases such as pneumonia, flu, shingles, or whooping cough, and now COVID-19. For example, if you have a preexisting condition, such as diabetes, getting the flu can make it harder to control your blood sugar (glucose). The CDC recommends that all adults speak with their primary care physicians to make sure they are up to date on doctor recommended vaccines.

Are vaccines "the NEW" normal?

Simply put, no. Vaccines have been around for centuries. According to www.historyofvaccines.org, an educational resource from The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the story of vaccines begins with the long history of infectious disease in humans, and in particular, was successful in the 1700's, in providing immunity to smallpox.

As you age, you may need to get vaccinated to stay protected against certain serious illnesses.

It is critical to stay updated with your vaccinations and talk with your doctor about others you may need. The credible information in this post from The National Institute on Aging provides an overview of the vaccines most commonly suggested for older adults. We recommend that you talk to your primary care physician about which vaccines may be right for you. Your regular doctor knows your health history and what medications you are on and can, therefore, help you make the most informed decision for yourself.

Vaccines may be given to help protect you, and others, from:

Flu (influenza):

  • A virus that can cause fever, chills, sore throat, stuffy nose, headache, and muscle aches
  • The flu is easy to pass from person to person
  • The virus also changes over time, which means you can get it again
  • To ensure flu vaccines remain effective, the vaccine is updated every year

Shingles:

  • A disease that affects the nerves and can cause pain, tingling, itching, a rash, and blisters
  • Shingles is caused by the same virus as chickenpox
  • If you had chickenpox, the virus is still in your body. The virus could become active again and cause shingles
  • Healthy adults age 50 and older should get vaccinated with the shingles vaccine, which is given in two doses

Whooping cough (pertussis): 

  • A serious illness that causes uncontrollable coughing fits, which can make it hard to breathe
  • Pertussis is caused by bacteria and can spread from person to person
  • The CDC recommends that adults get a Tdap booster shot every 10 years

Pneumococcal disease / pneumonia:

  • A serious infection that spreads from person to person by air and often causes pneumonia
  • There are two pneumococcal vaccines: PPSV23 and PCV13
  • According to the CDC, adults who are age 65 and older should get the PPSV23 vaccine
  • However, you should ask your doctor if you need one or both pneumococcal vaccines

Coronavirus (COVID-19):

  • A respiratory disease that causes fever, cough, and shortness of breath and can also lead to serious illness and death
  • Though the vaccines are new, studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing transmission
  • To learn more about the types of coronavirus vaccines there are available, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website

By DebraMcDonagh / August 2, 2021

We all need help from time to time, especially when caring for a loved one. It is easy to feel like you SHOULD help just because you are family. If you feel unhappy, tired, or stressed over it, guilt may set in. Talking in a group with others who share the same or similar feelings can help relieve the pressure you may put on yourself.

Due to COVID, we are still living in uncertain times. Even though in-person events are cautiously resuming, you may still feel more comfortable attending virtual support groups. CaregivingMetroWest.org has found a few family caregiver support groups that you can attend virtually! DOWNLOAD FLYER


CAREGIVING SUPPORT GROUP

Hopkinton Senior Center
Virtual* on Fridays at 10:30 a.m.
Dates: 8/6, 8/20, 9/2 & 9/17
(508) 497-0108
info@ourtimememorycafe.org

Are you caring for a parent, spouse, partner, or close friend?
Are you feeling overwhelmed or isolated?
This group provides an opportunity for learning and space for you to share your concerns with others who face similar challenges.

*In-person meetings are Wednesday 8/18, 9/3 & 9/17 (This depends on COVID restrictions, please call first)


POWERFUL TOOLS FOR CAREGIVERS

Natick Senior Center
Virtual on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m.
Dates: 8/25 - 9/29 (Intro session 7/21 or 8/4)
(508) 674-6540
kedwards@natickma.org

Learn to reduce caregiver stress, improve self-confidence, time management, goal setting, voicing your feelings, and complex problem-solving skills.
This is a 6-week workshop.

The program is free and is partially made possible by funding from the Older Americans Act, as granted through BayPath Elder Services.


CAREGIVING SUPPORT GROUP

Needham Senior Center
Virtual**
Dates: 2nd Monday of each Month (Aug = 8/9)
kcusack@needhamma.gov

Caregiving can be a lonely and isolating experience. This group offers the opportunity for members to share experiences, information, and encouragement.
Group members share their perspectives, learned tools, and how they approach their caregiving journey. Guest speakers will also share info about local resources.

**You can also attend in-person at Center at the Heights(this depends on COVID restrictions - please call first.)


NOTE: Due to continually changing regulations for safeguarding from COVID, any in-person meetings are subject to change. Because of this, virtual scheduling may need to change as well. Therefore, we recommend that you please confirm the dates and times listed with the contacts provided for each of these support resources.
 


By DebraMcDonagh / July 30, 2021


10 Warning Signs

If you or someone you know is experiencing changes in memory, it's time to learn the facts. Knowing the warning signs can help determine if you should speak to a doctor. Early detection matters!


Healthy Living for Your Brain & Body: Tips From the Latest Research

Lifestyle choices impact the aging process. Learn about important information and research in the areas of diet and nutrition, exercise, cognitive activity and social engagement. Use hands on tools to develop a plan for healthy aging.


Understanding Alzheimer's and Dementia

Join the Alzheimer's Association to learn about the impact of Alzheimer's; the difference between Alzheimer's and dementia; stages and risk factors; current research and treatments available for some symptoms; and Alzheimer's Association resources.


By DebraMcDonagh / July 19, 2021

Care Consultation

The Alzheimer's Association, Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter provides Care Consultations that are at no cost to families, confidential, and personalized to the needs of individuals and families. 

Care Consultations can be a lifeline during a difficult time and are great for planning ahead.

Each of the Alzheimer's Associations Care Consultants has expertise and experience in the field of dementia care. Consultations can be provided by phone or video conference and can include family members in separate locations.

Connect with an Alzheimer's Association Care Consultant to:

  • Develop an understanding of a dementia diagnosis
  • Identify available resources
  • Develop strategies for navigating decisions and challenges
  • Make a plan for the future 

To schedule a Care Consultation with the Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association:


By DebraMcDonagh / June 21, 2021

While the weather is more unpredictable than in decades past, the summer heat is sneaking into the weather forecast! Staying healthy during summer includes some tips that are rooted in common sense. However, for the busy caregiver, it is easy to forget, not have the time, or take care of our loved ones better than we do ourselves. 

So we are sharing this reminder from MetroWest Medical Center on the most basic health tips to protect you and your loved ones from preventable summer health issues. 

Sunburn – Almost everyone has had their skin scorched at least once in their lifetime. Sunburns are painful, uncomfortable and can increase your risk of skin cancer. Wear sunscreen and lip screen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Remember to reapply it as needed and when you get out of the water. Cover up with clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to protect exposed skin. Drink plenty of cool, non-alcoholic fluids. Seek shade. When possible, avoid outdoor activities during midday, when the sun's rays are strongest.

Heat Stroke & Dehydration – Dehydration can be a serious heat-related disease that happens with a combination of overexposure to the sun and not drinking enough water. Our bodies make a tremendous amount of internal heat and we normally cool ourselves by sweating and radiating heat through the skin. In extreme heat, high humidity, or vigorous activity in the hot sun, this cooling system may begin to fail. If a person becomes dehydrated and cannot sweat enough to cool his or her body, his or her internal temperature may rise to dangerously high levels causing heat stroke. To avoid heat-related illnesses, drink plenty of fluids, especially when working or playing in the sun. Make sure you are taking in more fluid than you are losing. Try to schedule physical outdoor activities for the cooler parts of the day, like early in the morning or in the evening.

Bug Bites – Sorry bugs, but no one wants you at their summer shindigs. In order to avoid these pesky creatures use insect repellent and citronella candles. If you’re heading into the woods, skip the shorts and tanks and cover up with lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and pants. Install or repair window and door screens on your house. Eliminate mosquito breeding sites by dumping any sitting water around your property.

Fireworks Injuries – A summer isn’t complete without some sort of July 4th fireworks celebration. It’s important to remember that fireworks can be dangerous and it’s best to leave the displays to trained professionals. Never allow kids to play with or ignite fireworks. Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks and have a fire extinguisher or a bucket of water nearby in case of a fire.

Water Safety – Pools, lakes, rivers and oceans. One of the best ways to cool off during the hot summer months is to jump into the nearest body of water. In order to avoid the potential for drownings, learn how to swim, and never swim alone. Wear a life jacket and avoid drinking alcoholic beverages while boating.

Summer Feet – It's sandal season. Whether you are biking, walking or hiking, your feet will be carrying you through however you spend your time outside. Limit walking barefoot. It exposes feet to sunburn, plantar warts, athlete's foot, ringworm and other infections. Going barefoot also increases risk of injury and raises the risk of picking up foreign bodies like stepping on glass or splinters. Wear shoes or flip-flops to prevent injuries and limit the likelihood of contracting any bacterial infections. To keep your feet from swelling due to heat, stay hydrated.

Food Poisoning – Food-borne illnesses peak in the summer months since hot temps and humid conditions provide the optimum breeding ground for bacteria to multiply rapidly. Be especially wary of food that’s been sitting out in the sun all day and wash your hands properly before eating. Make sure to pack plenty of extra ice or freezer packs in your cooler to ensure a constant cold temperature.


By DebraMcDonagh / June 17, 2021

Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, 1 in 3 older adults had financial worries. The pandemic isolated seniors more than ever before. Those who did have help managing their finances suddenly found themselves forced to "go it alone" and, in some instances, were not up to the task. 

Current Economic pulse of Adults 65 years old or older in the U.S. [Source: National Council on Aging]

  • Over 15 million older adults aged 65+ are economically insecure, with incomes below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. [Source: Kaiser Family Foundation]
  • Older women are more likely to live in poverty than men as a result of wage discrimination and having to take time out of the workforce for caregiving. [Source: Justice in Aging]
  • Over half of Black and Hispanic seniors aged 65+ have incomes below 200% of the Federal poverty line. [Source: Kaiser Family Foundation]
  • Over 14.8 million, or 4 in 10, older adults are lifted out of poverty by obtaining Social Security benefits. [Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Experts determined that older Americans living in a single-person household are likely to experience significant declines in their financial well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. [Source: National Council on Aging.]

If you care for someone who needs help managing their day-to-day budget, BayPath's Money Management Program can help 

Our Money Management program assists people 60 and over and persons with disabilities who have difficulty managing their day-to-day finances. We provide free assistance with bill-paying, budgeting, reading mail, advocating with service providers, and more. With the support of our Money Management volunteers, elders receive the targeted help they need for improved stability and prolonged independence. Certain income and asset guidelines may apply. All volunteers undergo background checks, and are trained and supervised by BayPath staff.

If you think you would benefit from this program, or have an interest in becoming a volunteer, call Sue Burns at BayPath, 508-573-7241.


By DebraMcDonagh / June 8, 2021

A community coming together to bravely defend their civil rights

The uprising at the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan in June of 1969 began in the early hours of the morning when New York City police raided the establishment. Raids on gay clubs were not uncommon in the late '60s, and that fact combined with the rough treatment by the police at Stonewall led to an uprising when bar patrons and neighborhood residents made a stand for their civil rights. In the following six days, protests took place throughout the Greenwich Village neighborhood where the Stonewall Inn resides to demonstrate against centuries of abuse, hostility, shaming and discrimination. These events were a catalyst for the forming of the gay rights movement.

June has become a time to remember the hardships and celebrate the progress the LGBTQ+ community has endured while courageously bringing themselves front and center during that tumultuous time to fight for full equality. The first Pride march took place in New York City on June 28, 1970, and according to documentation gathered by the Library of Congress, marchers at the inaugural Pride in New York City totaled somewhere in between 3,000 - 5,000 people. Today New York City’s Pride march numbers in the millions.

While LGBTQ+ equality has become a reality in many aspects, there are still many more hurdles to overcome. However, in an official proclamation signed by President Biden on June 1, 2021, the Biden administration is taking historic actions to deliver full equality for LGBTQ+ families.

Within the pronouncement, the President states, "...I will not rest until full equality for LGBTQ+ Americans is finally achieved and codified into law. That is why I continue to call on Congress to pass the Equality Act, which will ensure civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ people and families across our country."

The content in this post was gathered from the following sources: History.com, The Library of Congress, and www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room.

Click the image below or this link to go to the Library of Congress' website to see actual footage of the first Gay Pride demonstration march. Dr. Lilli Vincenz, a lesbian activist, produced this documentary in 1970. 


By DebraMcDonagh / May 27, 2021

Food Assistance Options

If you are a caregiver for a loved one who does not have enough money to make sure they have enough food, there is help, this post offers some startling facts about food insecurity among our elder population, but also offer guidance on some assistance programs. 


THE ARTICLE IS A DIRECT CUT & PASTE FROM AN E-NEWSLETTER WE RECEIVED FROM: 

National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs
www.nanasp.org

THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY: Alexandra Ashbrook, Director, Special Projects & Initiatives, Food Research & Action Center


Focusing on Food and Hardship During Older Americans Month

By: Alexandra Ashbrook
Director, Special Projects & Initiatives, Food Research & Action Center

This year’s Older Americans Month focuses on Communities of Strength. One critical need is to focus on the unprecedented rates of food hardship among older adults, which have been fueled by the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.

Some 2 million older adults age 65 plus have reported their household sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat in the last seven days (Household Pulse Survey data collected March 17-29, 2021). Food insecurity has serious consequences for the health and well-being of older adults and can lead to malnutrition. The attendant harms of food insecurity as well as diet-related chronic disease have propelled the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to adopt a range of actions to strengthen and improve the reach of the federal nutrition programs during COVID-19.

These programs-- especially the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)-- are ready solutions to address hunger among older adults during COVID-19 and beyond. SNAP can reach any eligible older adult with a benefit that is 100 percent federally funded. Take the time during Older Americans Month to spread the word about the importance of SNAP and other nutrition programs. These programs support the food and nutritional needs of older adults who are low-income to improve their nutrition, health, and well-being.

For more on addressing hunger, sign up for the FRAC Action Network.


Additionally, BayPath Elder Services Home Delivered Meals program (Meals on Wheels) is actively taking new referrals for homebound individuals 60 years old or older. Call our main number 508-573-7200.

For a list of Community Dining Sites located in MetroWest Massachusetts, CLICK HERE. (Note: please contact these locations BEFORE visiting, to confirm their current hours of operation.)

For more information on BayPath's Nutrition programs and the Meals on Wheels service, you can download our brochure by CLICKING HERE.


By DebraMcDonagh / May 26, 2021

The Framingham Council on Aging Department is providing free taxi service to people 60 and older who need transportation to a vaccine site. Please note: this service requires at least one week's notice.

Transportation is available to sites set up with the COVID Equity initiative, such as churches, local pharmacies, and mass vaccination sites. 

BayPath Elder Services is administering this service through the Older American’s Act funds. 

To sign up for this service, contact:

Sam Swisher at the Callahan Center 

(508) 532-5980, extension 4113.

Note: this service also offers FREE round-trip taxi rides beyond Framingham’s borders for other medical appointments.


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BayPath Elder Services, Inc

The BayPath Family Caregiver Support Program and CaregivingMetroWest.org has been made possible by funding from the Older Americans Act as granted by Executive Office of Elder Affairs. Participants may make a voluntary donation toward the cost of this federally funded service. Click here for more information.

CaregivingMetroWest.org was originally made possible, in part, by generous grants from the MetroWest Health Foundation. Additional funding support was graciously donated by Avidia Bank from 2018 – 2021.

Thank you, MetroWest Health Foundation and Avidia Bank, for enabling BayPath Elder Services to provide support and resources to family caregivers.