Archive for the 'safety' Category

Sarah Palin, the elderly, the disabled, older Americans and rural Alaska

[revised]

naomidagenbloom 2008 September 2

Vuee, Vuee, We need to hear MORE from you now about the way Alaska has come into our consciousness via your governor–the believer in “stakeholders.”

Readers can’t get off that easy, Little Red Hen— what questions do folks have?

The reason I have been rather quiet, blogwise, is because the news from rural Alaska about living there isn’t good. There has been next to nothing improved since earlier posts, this includes the past 18 months of the personable Gov. Sarah Palin. I’ll give examples below, but they sound depressing. So readers, what do enquiring minds want to know? If nothing else, I can at least point you to some good sources of facts or commentary from Alaska perspective.

An older friend of mine (from Tucson) sends this musing upon the early photo of Sarah Palin and her caribou ( http://newsminer.com/photos/galleries/2008/sep/01/sarah-palin-growing-alaskan/1156/. It is the photo of the red-nosed caribou NOT a reindeer.)

>My deep reflections, caribou inspired::
1. Macho women don’t need to wear pantsuits to assert themselves.
2. Most currently popular female names go from my daughter Michelle to my mother Sarah.
3. Sarah definitely shoots better than Dick. How about Joe’s expertise with firearms?
4. Candidates should not be judged only on basis of age, gender, and looks.
5. Candidate’s children are given on-stage prominence. It should be unfair to have the youngest ones debate politics, but what about having a food fight?

————————————-

  • there’s the older gentleman who is resigning himself to move 400 miles away from home to be near his grandkids because his grown children had to move to Anchorage to find work to meet the utilities payments
  • there’s all the older people who need an assisted living arrangement or nursing home (a 400 mile trip, if one can afford to get into Bethel from the village to get on the jet)
  • there’s fuel oil at $6-15 a gallon
  • there’s the Bush-Cheney stimulus payments which only went to those who have taxable income. They don’t go to those who cashed in IRAs early to pay electricity or who struggle to make sense of their returns.
  • there’s electricity at 40 cents or more per kilowatt hour (with a subsidy for residences) in rural Alaska (Wasilla pays considerably less, without subsidy)
  • there’s gasoline, needed to go out and “grocery shop” on the tundra or out in the river, at $6 to $18 gallon.
  • there’s gaining grandmother status at 34
  • there’s raising grandchildren at 70
  • there’s having your one-time $1200 “energy check” from the state stolen by your children for smokes and booze

2008-09-04 Look guys, what someone else found
gov-sarah-palin-call-in-kyuk/

2008-09-04 Fact Check of Governor Palin’s Speech http://progressivealaska.blogspot.com/2008/09/saradise-lost-chapter-twenty-five-obama.html

PALIN: “Senator McCain also promises to use the power of veto in defense of the public interest – and as a chief executive, I can assure you it works.”
REALITY: PALIN OPPOSED CRUCIAL EDUCATION, HEALTH CARE AND SENIORS FUNDING […]

Andrew Halcro does a fine job at http://www.andrewhalcro.com/grading_palins_speech_a

Also: tech support has a listing of reasonable sources at Sarah Palin content

2008-10-27 Palin’s gaffe about her policy on “special needs” while her record shows she has none
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/BlueOasis/~3/431498178/showDiary.do


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Liz Taylor takes comments

One of the best reads ever on aging deliberately is Liz Taylor–
Her series has been mentioned previously –

I just discovered that the columns published at Kitsap Sun Stories: Liz Taylor: Aging Deliberately allow comments (registration required) and have an RSS feed . This is so much more convenient and useful than the Seattle Times venue. I’m not sure which is the primary home for Liz’s work, however, and Kitsap may not carry all her columns. At the Seattle Times I have to subscribe by E-mail to their health series (once a week e-mail, all health stories which are interesting) to get notice of her columns. Otherwise I have a Google News Alert for Liz Taylor+ aging, which sometimes brings in notice of National Velvet. [the colors behind some items below mean nothing except straightening out the code remains to be done.]

Liz Taylor began her career as a federal consumer-fraud investigator and was appointed by Elizabeth Dole in 1976 to direct a nationwide investigation of the nursing-home industry. She’s worked in the aging field ever since.

In the 1980s, Liz became one of the first geriatric care managers in the Pacific Northwest, working with thousands of families and older adults to find high-quality services. In 2000, she founded Aging Deliberately, a business that teaches people how to prepare for their aging so they’ll have more control over what happens to them. In 2005, she served as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging. She’s won the American Geriatrics Society’s 2007 Aging Awareness Media Award and the Washington Association of Homes and Services for the Aging’s Excellence in Media Award. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/growingolder/

It’s relatively easy to age successfully if you’re wealthy. Money can’t buy happiness, but it certainly allows you to buy the things that make life more comfortable at any age. 1/26/2008 11:00 PM
In my last column, I wrote about a growing problem: what to do when an older person who has dementia hasn’t named anyone she trusts to make decisions for her. This week I’ll tackle a tougher issue: what to do when the person she names does a poor job. 11/17/2007 11:00 PM
My e-mail has had a repeated theme recently: An older person with dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, isn’t paying bills, preparing meals, bathing, and other important tasks — but refuses to allow anyone to help.
11/3/2007 09:00 PM |
There’s a certain uniformity to finding a physician under Medicare these days. Rich or poor, if you’re 65 or older, you’re likely to have similar slim pickings (more so if you’re poor and on Medicare and Medicaid). 10/20/2007 11:00 PM |
Most of us want to live a long time, but nobody wants to grow old. The irony is, most of us will — live a long time and grow old. It’s easy to do — all it takes is letting the days roll by. As long as you’re healthy, getting old is a piece of cake.
10/6/2007 11:00 PM |
It’s easy as pie to age well when you’re healthy. The friction comes when you become frail. Sometimes it’s self-inflicted, the product of isolation, poor eating habits, lack of physical activity and falls — all common problems for people who age in their homes but don’t plan it correctly. 9/22/2007 11:00 PM |
A woman in her late 70s, a good friend, is pondering her options. Her home is two stories (or three, including the basement), with many stairs to her bedroom, bathroom and the washing machine. 9/8/2007 11:00 PM
Dad is 87, fun and funny, with moderate dementia. He lived “on the edge” in his own home for years while we kids worried sick. 7/28/2007 11:00 PM
When I was growing up in the 1950s and ’60s, cars were sort of round and later sort of square. My dad wore a hat to work and took the bus.
7/14/2007 11:00 PM
I’m 75 and have lived in an assisted-living facility for a year.
7/8/2007 02:00 AM
Older people are not simply younger people with wrinkles our bodies change dramatically as we age, both inside and out; some parts wear out before others, sometimes several at once.
6/17/2007 02:00 AM
Whether you live at home, in a retirement community, or in a yurt on top of a mountain, as you age, you want to do it consciously.
6/3/2007 02:00 AM

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Vibrators and exercise for strength among the frail

There has been additional research into vibrating platforms as a means to improve bone and muscle health. An earlier post is here,

  • Vibrating beds as osteoporosis exercise
  • These platforms may be similar to one manufactured by Soloflex and one about to come out by Nintendo Wii. The Wii will have a game console attached for using video games as an exercise on a balance board. The news reports don’t mention how the human tests are done.

    Other Wii games mentioned earlier–

  • Ideas to exercise in small cold places
  • The SoloFlex would be easy to set-up as a study in a senior center. See the news story (Boston Globe) Vibrating machines are studied for health benefits. A home machine called Soloflex Whole Body Vibration Platform is smaller and less powerful, generating more of a massage sensation at the lowest setting. More and stronger vibration doesn’t mean faster results and could be dangerous as the article points out. There would have to be modifications for those with balance problems. However, measures of muscle strength, balance, and coordination are easy enough to set up.

    Here’s a cautious review from epinions.com– It is considered a class 1 Medical Device by the FDA. Those who shouldn’t use this are recovering from surgery, have heart disease, neurological conditions, pre-existing deep vein thrombosis, joint implants or are pregnant.

    No one has yet tested vibrating motel beds (don’t forget your condom amulets http://www.alittleredhen.com/a_little_red_hen/2007/09/safe-sex-alerts.html or http://www.alittleredhen.com/a_little_red_hen/2007/10/jenna-bush-wear.html

    Vibrations Shown to Build Bone, Reduce Fat (National Public Radio)

    Morning Edition, October 29, 2007 · Standing on a gently vibrating platform for 15 minutes a day can build bone mass and reduce fat in mice, according to a new study. The changes are due to a stem cell in bone marrow that can become muscle, bone or fat. Testing has begun in humans…. Scientists are about to launch a similar study in humans. Douglas Kiel works at the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew Senior Life in Boston, where subjects will soon get 10 minutes of jiggling a day.

    How to calculate hazardous materials exposure for older adults

    EPA Releases Report on Development of an Exposure Factors Handbook for Aging

    Older adults may be more susceptible to the adverse effects of environmental contaminants due to differential exposures arising from physiological and behavioral changes with age, as well as the body’s decreased capacity to defend against toxic stressors. To address these issues and discuss practical considerations of the utility of an Exposure Factors Handbook for the Aging in conducting exposure assessments, a panel of experts in the fields of exposure assessment, risk assessment, physiology, and behavioral science were convened at a national workshop in February of 2007. This report summarizes the discussions held during the workshop, highlights several sources of existing data, and provides recommendations for additional research. Panelists included national and international experts in the fields of gerontology, physiology, exposure assessment, and behavioral science.
    The workshop panelists discussed practical issues related to evaluating and protecting against environmental health risks posed to older adults. A summary report of the workshop is now available online […]

    http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/CFM/recordisplay.cfm?deid=171923

    from Aging Initiative” Listserver! The “Aging_Initiativ” Listserver [sic] is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to raise awareness about the susceptibility of older persons to environmental hazards and to share information on strategies to reduce or prevent exposure. We use the listserver to send email to you, to let you know about important news and updated information.

    see earlier, Aging and Toxic Response (EPA review)

    Lead and Older Adults

    Long-term lead exposure linked to cognitive decline in older adults

    The Association between Blood Lead Levels and Osteoporosis among Adults – Results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) Campbell JR, Auinger P. 2007. Environ Health Perspect: doi:10.1289/ehp.9716.

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    How to fall-proof your body and your home

    Liz Taylor has a review of two complementary books

    Geared to older people and their families, rather than professionals in the health-care field, both books are highly readable with large print and no medical jargon, amply illustrated and easy to understand.

    Read more here–

    Elder neighbor in crisis?

    Liz Taylor answers a question many people have about family, friends, the person down the hall who no longer seems to be taking care of themselves.

    What should I do to help — if I have a responsibility — and how long do I wait for the son to act before I become concerned enough to take action?

    A: So many good questions, a few good answers. Let’s start with the basics.

    …it takes a village to help older people to thrive. This is why: Your neighbor’s brain is misfiring and causing her great harm…. But let’s say there is no son, or he can’t get her to see a doctor — what then? Two alternatives.

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    Bath falls common among older adults, but can be prevented

    This isn’t new news but the use of videotape for actual “ethology” (observation of behavior) is a good idea. It is most worthwhile to remind everyone that ordinary bathroom fixtures are not suitable for those needing assistance and are not appropriate for older people; frequently not even appropriate for anyone, tall or short, lithe or lazy. See the Bethel Senior Center for what should be banned in public facilities (When you visit the senior center). Emphasis added.

    Public release date: 13-Sep-2006,

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-09/uomh-bfc091306.php

    Installation of proper equipment essential

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Getting in and out of the bathtub or shower can be a perilous journey for older adults, even when they have bathrooms already equipped with safety features, according to research by the University of Michigan Health System.

    Researchers videotaped people ages 60 and older who demonstrated (while fully clothed) how they normally climbed in and out of the shower or tub. One-third of the 89 participants in the study had difficulty, such as plopping onto a tub seat or hitting the side of the tub or the shower threshold with their legs.

    “We found that there are a lot of independently bathing older adults who have trouble or are unsafe getting into and out of the tub or shower stall,” says lead author Susan L. Murphy, ScD, OTR, an occupational therapist and research assistant professor with the University of Michigan Medical School’s Division of Geriatric Medicine, part of the Department of Internal Medicine. The study appears in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

    “For older adults, losing the ability to bathe is associated with having falls, fracturing bones, and even being admitted to a nursing home. It is important that we take steps to help to prevent bathing disability before it occurs,” Murphy says.

    One of the major problem areas the researchers found involved sliding glass doors in showers. Three-quarters of participants who used shower stalls with sliding glass doors tried to utilize the door for stability or balance.

    “This is extremely unsafe because shower doors were not designed to support a person’s weight,” Murphy says. “This problem could be easily remedied by educating older adults not to use the door as a support or possibly replacing it with a shower curtain, which was used only rarely by older adults in this study.”

    Participants in the study were residents of two congregate housing facilities and had no cognitive impairment. They were videotaped as they demonstrated how they used their environment while getting into and out of the shower or tub – that is, whether they used grab-bars, towel bars, shower curtains, glass doors, tub seats, and other parts of the tub to assist themselves.

    The videotapes were also evaluated for the participants’ fluidity of movement and whether they had difficulty negotiating the environment. While the majority of people using both tubs and shower stalls used safe environmental features such as grab bars, many used unsafe features in addition to the safe ones. Nineteen percent of participants using a tub were evaluated as using unsafe features, and more than 70 percent of those with shower stalls used unsafe features, such as the glass door, towel bar or a tub seat. One participant had a plastic lawn chair as a tub seat, a particularly dangerous device given curved shape of the tub floor.

    Some safety problems researchers observed can be fixed easily such as the installation of a shower curtain in place of a door, and proper instruction about built-in bathroom safety features (such as grab bars designed for weight-bearing) for new residents of senior housing facilities. A focus on better designs of bathrooms in senior housing facilities was also suggested by the researchers.

    “We think the results from this study demonstrate the need for healthcare professionals to become involved in helping to prevent bathing disability, instead of just treating people in the hospital after they have had a fall in the bathroom,” she says. “While bathrooms in senior housing facilities are designed to be safe, we have found that older adults often do not know the difference between a grab bar and a towel bar. They also have unsafe strategies of getting into and out of their shower or tub. Occupational therapists often see older adults for bathing problems and would be ideal to intervene with older adults before they start to lose the ability to bathe.”

    ###

    In addition to Murphy, the authors on the paper were Neil B. Alexander, M.D., professor in the Division of Geriatric Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, and director of the Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, VA Ann Arbor Health Care System; Linda V. Nyquist, Ph.D., senior research associate-social sciences, Institute of Gerontology; and Debra M. Strasburg, M.S., P.T., research physical therapist, VA Ann Arbor Health Care System.

    The research was supported in part by grants from the AARP Andrus Foundation, the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Research & Development, and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) Claude Pepper Older Adults Independence Center. Murphy is a recipient of a K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award from the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, and Alexander is a recipient of a K24 Mid-Career Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research from NIA.

    Citation: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Aug. 2006, “Bath Transfers in Older Adult Congregate Housing Residents: Assessing the Person-Environment Interaction.”

    Contact: Katie Gazella, kgazella AT umich DOT edu
    734-764-2220
    University of Michigan Health System


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    O’Folks (off their rocker)

    Old age isn't a disease.

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