Friday, September 27, 2013

Adding Care to Senior Housing

Photo by Kotomi_.
In decades prior, older adults often lacked options for aging with support. Many either stayed too long in their own homes without adequate services, or they moved too soon  into a skilled nursing facility.

Older adults today have more options for where and how they age:

Types of Housing
  • Long-established Home (with or without modifications for aging in place)
  • Relative's Home
  • Active Adult Community
  • Senior Apartments (some are government subsidized)
  • Independent Living Communities
  • Assisted Living Communities
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • Continuing Care Retirement Community (2 or more levels of care under one roof)
Or they might be in a temporary situation after an acute illness:
  • Subacute "Step-down" Facility 
  • Long-term Acute Care Hospital
Some of these choices might be unavailable or difficult to acquire due to constraints on finances, family availability, geographic location, health, or limited supply / vacancies.

Services Added to One of the Above Settings

Monday, September 23, 2013

The More Things Change. . .

Photo by Mr. Tea. 
After five decades, I've gone through several transformations.  I was shy as child. Now I am a chatterbox. I shunned athletics for years. Now I'm a gym rat.  I often argue that I have changed in deep and meaningful ways. Nevertheless, the words of French critic Jean-Baptiste Alphonese Karr echo in my mind: "The more things change, the more the stay the same." 

Despite changing jobs again and again within fields and between fields, I've always played the role of peer tutor. 

See the thumbnails below more posts by midlife women
on the topic of "Transformations." 

The links below will evaporate soon, so here are links to a few posts from this set
in case you visit after the blog hop expires.

Flourishing Post-divorce: Sharon "Reinvention for Real People" at Empty House Full Mind
Midlife Makeover: Pam "Transformation Stories: Here's Mine" at Over50Feeling40.
Battle of the Bulge: Joy Weese Moll "Reinvention" at Joy's Book Blog
Triumph over Brain Injury: Ruth "Reinvention by Chance" at Cranium Crunches 

Photo by MaineDOE
Karr is right. From about age 10 to age 48, I worked as a peer tutor in way form or another.

When I was 10 and 11, I volunteered to work without pay as a classroom helper during those summers.  I was a TA in high school. From 18 to 34, I tutored in various university writing centers to the point that calling me a peer was stretching the concept.

My fellow students and I not only explored how to best improve our academic performance, we also talked more generally about how to prepare and achieve as young adults. 

In my 30s and 40s, I spent a lot of time as an adjunct and then a clinical faculty member / administrator training and mentoring other educators.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Artificial Hopelessness of Amour

Photo by Franz Johann Morgenbesser.
I enjoy independent films for their departure from the Hollywood stereotype. Slow-paced films give opportunity for reflection. Dialogue-driven films provide food for thought.

I prefer realistic depictions of people closer to my age.  Life involves so much more than sexy young adults chasing after criminals, robots, aliens, or each other.  I'd rather see an art house film starring mature actors in their midlife or late life.

Consequently, I was eager to watch Amour (2012) directed by Michael Haneke (pictured on the left), knowing that it was a film about a mature couple dealing with the wife's declining health.  Haneke most likely drew on personal experience of his beloved aunt's failing health to make the film.

I have watched many films about the harsh realities of aging, so I didn't flinch when placing this film in my Netflix queue, even after reading some reviews that spoiled the ending.

However, I will not be recommending this film as a study in how to manage the challenges of late life.  After I watched it, I had insomnia for the remainder of the night. And then I chewed on the film for another week. Now I'm writing this in an effort to achieve some peace of mind.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Transcending Age

Image by new 1Illuminati
"Gerotranscendence" refers to a theory of aging that is loosely related to Eastern mysticism and New Age philosophy.

Gerotranscendence views the proper task of late life as this:

finding life satisfaction in realms beyond material experience.

As with other transcendental aka spiritual theories, a gerotranscendent state does not reside in physical attractiveness, strength, fame, material possessions or political power. Happiness is grounded in accepting the self, others, and the world at large in a way that transcends mortal limitations.

Swedish sociologist Lars Tornstam developed this theory in a series of scholarly papers published throughout the 1980s and 1990s and culminating in his book, Gerotranscendence: A Development Theory of Positive Aging. (2005)

Building on the work of Carl Jung and Erik Erikson, Tornstam interviewed older adults themselves, looking for an emerging theory of aging from their perspective.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cognitive Changes: The Usual Suspects

Photo by Mark B. Schlemmer. 

While teaching college English for 30 years, I thought I knew a great deal about the human mind. After all, I was teaching critical thinking.  Entering the field of gerontology at midlife has brought me to a greater awareness of how the brain works.   As people experience changes based on trauma, disease or even just the passing of time, we can see how the brain functions.  The contrast helps us see the efficiency of the brain that we usually take for granted.

Now that I am a gerontologist, I frequently have friends and acquaintances ask me if a parent’s changing cognition is a sign of dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s disease.  I am not a neurologist, so I am not qualified to assess. I ask them to schedule an appointment with their parent’s general practitioner.  Nevertheless, here is an overview of some of the many reasons why an aging parent might demonstrate a change in cognition. 

This list is no way exhaustive, but it contains the "usual suspects" when cognitive changes appear.  If you or someone you love shows cognitive changes, please consult with a licensed medical professional. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

An App that Supports Memory

Photo taken with my Droid Razr Maxx HD
Every once and a while, I have a little trouble with my memory.

I might lose my keys, forget an appointment or struggle to recall the name of someone I've recently met.

When I was younger, I attributed memory problems to being overcommited, tired, or stressed out.

I have even more demands competing for my attention now. 

To better manage all my responsibilities as a midlife woman, I'm learning about age-related changes to cognition.

Note that mature people have many strengths and other advantages when managing their cognition:
* greater stockpiles of information
* greater understanding of how to respond effectively based on context
* greater self-awareness of cognitive abilities
* greater awareness of means for compensating.
My maturity helps me manage challenges to my memory.  I have customized compensating strategies to my own needs.