'Black Friday' has different meaning for county's senior care providers PDF Print E-mail
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor   
Friday, 08 November 2013 10:09
The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday.
But over at the Alzheimer’s Association of Northwest Ohio offices it’s known as “the one day out of the whole year that we get the most phone calls.”
It makes sense. The adult kids living far away have returned home to be with their parents for the holiday and had their eyes opened.
“She wore the same clothes three days in a row, there’s a big stack of bills. In the refrigerator you see the potato salad you bought them when you were last there in July,” said Lynn Ritter, education coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association.
“She sounded fine over the phone” all those months in between. “The image she projected over the phone was very different,” but it’s obvious mom is in trouble.
Ritter was one of the members of a panel of local experts fielding audience questions on the challenges of caregiving during Monday’s Optimal Aging seminar at BGSU.
Denise Niese, director of the Wood County Committee on Aging, agreed about the tsunami of “SOS” calls her agency receives on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
“We get slammed with calls from people asking about the home-delivered meals, because of all the weight their (parent) has lost” since the last time the child was at home, Niese said.
She recommended that anyone who suspects dementia in a parent, aunt or uncle start by trying to get that person to go for a physical exam. It will rule out physical problems that can affect memory, including urinary tract infections or nutritional deficiency.
Justin Moor, from the Area Office on Aging of Northwest Ohio, warned that caregiving is a formidable role, and people should take advantage of all the help that is available.
“Put on your own mask first,” he said, offering the airplane passenger analogy.
Moor recalled the family saga of a home-bound woman with whom he had professional dealings.
Three years later, when he went back to see the family, “she was the only one still living.” The woman’s spouse had died, and so had her 47-year-old son and caregiver.
Caregivers have to pace themselves so they are good for the long haul.
“‘Old’ is a destination. ‘Aging’ is a journey,” said Tom Stofac, CEO of the Ohio Masonic Home. “That also applies to us if we’re caregivers.”
It’s something more and more of us will be.
Mike Magee, M.D., the final speaker for the day, noted that 50 percent of all 60-year-olds have a parent alive today.
“The traditional three-generation family is rapidly being replaced with a four-generation family, and will soon be a five-generation family,” said Magee, president of Positive Medicine Inc., a health communications firm. He is also past president of the National Association of Physician Broadcasters; former senior vice president of Pennsylvania Hospital and former professor of surgery at Jefferson Medical College.
It’s when these four and five different generations “begin to compete for limited resources, that things will become increasingly complex.”
Magee recommended that Americans take advantage of their family linkages.
“We want the young people to care about the elders” in their family, so they will be willing to hang around and help.
But at the same time “we also want learning to pass down the generational ladder.”
Dr. Nancy Orel, director of the gerontology program at BGSU, noted that some of most poignant stories she’s heard about caregivers have involved grandchildren.
Last Updated on Friday, 08 November 2013 13:02

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