Latest Blog Post

Read the latest article written by EPPIA members, published in the Eden Prairie News.

A New View of Dementia

How do you feel about Alzheimer’s and dementia? Do you believe that all people with dementia are the same? Are you embarrassed by a family member or friend who has dementia? Do you make jokes about people who have dementia or treat them as if they have no feelings or intelligence? Our society is facing an “Alzheimer’s tsunami” as our population ages and lives longer. This is the elephant in the room that we need to acknowledge because it is not going away.

Although much medical progress has been made in the understanding and treatment of various forms of dementia over the last few decades, many people remain uninformed or misinformed about these diseases. Dementia, the broad term covering many brain diseases, is still portrayed in a derogatory manner in films and on TV, often to get a laugh. Those who are more informed and enlightened realize that people who suffer from these brain diseases are people who deserve to be treated with dignity. They have feelings and opinions, and are often highly intelligent, People with dementia include former professors, lawyers, doctors, nurses, and even a U.S. President.

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or any condition that results in memory loss does not mean the end of a meaningful life and happiness. There are programs and services that focus on people’s strengths instead of their losses and creating healthy, happy moments and safe environments where our loved ones can flourish. In these environments/communities, people are active participants in life. Instead of sitting on the sidelines they bake cookies, discuss current events and engage in creative projects, worship services, singing and more. In short, these are not the unhappy and scary people sometimes portrayed in movies and on television. They are people like you and me except they are experiencing changes or gaps in their abilities and need some assistance in closing those gaps. We need to start seeing them differently. We need to learn how to approach them on their terms, not ours. We need to learn to be in the moment with them. We need to understand that people with dementia have feelings and should be treated with dignity and respect. They are not objects. They are people. They belong.

We can no longer afford to hold onto false and outdated notions about dementia. As a society we need to talk about Alzheimer’s and related conditions to effectively face this growing challenge. We need to advocate for our loved ones when they cannot stand up for themselves. Although it can be difficult and painful for families and friends to “lose” a loved one to dementia, we need to understand that there is a new person that we need to get acquainted with. That person isn’t the same as the old one, but they still have feelings, opinions, and memories, and in the right environment they are engaged in activities that reflect their passions and personalities. In the right environment they are respected and celebrated and their lives can be happy, filled with love, laughter, joy and meaning.

There are many resources for learning more about dementia such as The Alzheimer’s Foundation (www.alzfdn.org) which provides information on the disease, care giving, support groups and more. Lovely, Still, a film produced by Nicholas Fackler that stars Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn, is an inspiring story of a husband and wife’s journey through dementia that will touch your heart.

Additional ideas and resources for family caregivers can be found at www.caregiverstress.com. For a list of community resources for those experiencing or caring for someone with memory loss, visit the Eden Prairie Professionals in Aging (EPPIA) website: www.edenprairieaging.org.

Submitted by EPPIA Members:
Theresa Klein, Cognitive Clinical Specialist at www.emeraldcrest.com
Holly Hansen, Senior Partner at www.BrilliantMovesMN.com
Rhonda Kalal, CAREGiver Director at www.homeinstead.com

EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA meets five times a year to exchange information and problem solve in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org.

Nutritional Management For Seniors

Tip for Seniors Looking to Lose Weight and Eat Healthier: Get a Pro and a Plan

What changes would you like to make to the way you eat? Are you looking to lose weight or bring down your blood pressure? Do you want to see how you can decrease your risk of diabetes? Do you want to eat more fresh vegetables and whole grains, but don’t know how to buy and prepare them?

A story about a senior making some big changes in the way he eats and lives helps illustrate that no one is too old to learn new tricks.

Meet Chester, a 70-year old bachelor. Over the past 10 years since his retirement from construction, he’s reached a weight of 315 pounds—the result of a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating choices. Arthritis in his hip made exercise increasingly painful and then impossible. The pounds piled on. Last year Chester had his hip replaced, but by that point his weight was really the obstacle to exercise. He continued eating a diet high in red meat and processed convenience foods because it was easy and it was habit. Living alone, there was no one encouraging him or showing him how to improve his poor eating patterns.

Finally, at the urging of his daughter, Chester agreed to meet with a nutritionist. She came to his home, assessed his diet, and developed a plan that was custom-fit to his caloric needs. She’s on hand to answer questions, provide encouragement, and make changes along the way.

Chester has now lost over twenty-five pounds and hopes to keep going. “I never thought losing weight would be this easy. I get plenty of food and I like it. I don’t even miss the old garbage I was eating. I mean, I’m not saying I’m never going to eat pizza again, but maybe just not the whole pizza.”

Get help from a pro. What made the difference? Chester said that it really helped to have the help of others. He realized how little he knew about good nutrition. He’d gotten used to living on whatever was easy and convenient—thinking little about what was on the label. He also said that having to pay for a few sessions with the nutritionist helped keep him accountable—he wants to get his money’s worth.

There are a couple occupations in which people design specific diets suited to the needs of individuals. Working with a nutritionist or dietitian who is experienced with senior diet planning can help you determine a proper weight and a healthy level of calories. He or she can also help tailor your diet to individual health conditions, allergies, medications, and physical limitations. The difference between a dietitian & a nutritionist is that nutritionist often has a master's degree in nutrition. A dietician has at least a four-year Bachelor's degree in nutrition and dietetics (or graduate degree), has completed an internship and has passed a national registration exam from the American Dietetic Association. To find a Registered Dietitian, go to http://www.eatright.org/programs/rdfinder/. Though some may worry about the cost of hiring a professional, a few sessions that can get you going in the right direction are far cheaper than the diseases that can result from poor diet. And as health insurance companies realize the severe impact of obesity-related illness on the cost of health care, many have agreed to reimburse nutritional counseling with a dietician or nutritionist.

Get a plan. A personalized food plan takes the guesswork out of trying to determine what your body needs and what will be healthy for you. A food plan that is structured around regular meal times and that incorporates fairly exact portions for each meal helps keep you on track. For example, Chester’s eating plan tells him how many servings of protein, starch, vegetable, fat and fruit he is allotted at each meal. He then plugs in the foods that comprise the meal. A consistent food schedule helps to keep the metabolism active and sparks a normal appetite.

Said Nancy Rouch, owner of Healthy Solutions MN and a nutritionist specializing in senior nutrition, “Many seniors are actually malnourished. Lack of appetite, energy, and interest in cooking combined with decreased mobility and access to food, can make it especially hard for seniors to get the nutrients that their bodies need.” Many nutritionists that work with seniors find it especially beneficial to go directly into the home rather than to meet at a remote office. This way they can observe lifestyle practices that may contribute to poor eating habits. They can also educate the client right in the kitchen where they will be preparing the meals.

Start small. The first suggestion that Chester’s nutritionist made was, “Eat breakfast!” Nothing else needed to change immediately—she just wanted him to incorporate this one new habit. Don’t try to overhaul your life in one sweep—small changes that become grooved for life are of far greater benefit than an impractical laundry list of resolutions that don’t stick.

Food is about more than just taking in vitamins and minerals—eating is about remembering the past, enjoying the present, and expressing love. Healthful eating shouldn’t take that away, but rather insure the good health that will help seniors to live longer and more vibrantly—making more happy memories as a result!

Eden Prairie Professionals in Aging is a non-profit organization based in Eden Prairie, a town of 50,000 in the southwestern Twin Cities. Our diverse member organizations are all committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. Our purpose is to provide networking opportunities for individuals who provide services to elderly persons in Eden Prairie by meeting bimonthly for information exchange and problem solving in our field. For more information on EPPIA and a list of resources regarding activities in Eden Prairie, please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org.

Submitted by EPPIA Members:
Jacki Christopher, Promise Care Inc., www.promisecareinc.com/
Lisa Schmidtke, Able Deluxe, www.AbleDeluxe.com
Barb Howe, Barb Writes, www.barbwrites.com
Joanne Bartel, Prairie Adult Care, www.prairieadultcare.com

Transform 2010 - Transforming Minnesota to Become Boomer Ready

“Boomers Mean Business!” That was the title of the first mini-conference held in May, 2006 meant to kick off an initiative called Transform 2010. 2010 is a partnership between the Department of Human Services, the Minnesota Board on Aging, the Department of Health and many other state agencies whose purpose is to prepare Minnesota for the coming age wave of baby boomers and a permanent shift in the age of our state’s population.

That shift will begin in 2011 when the large baby boom generation begins to turn 65. The aging of our society will dominate the demographic landscape for the next 50 years. According to the MN Dept. of Human Services website (http://www.dhs.state.mn.us), “Transform 2010 seeks to heighten the sense of urgency to transform our policies, infrastructures and services, so that Minnesota is prepared for these historic changes. Transform 2010 has developed a framework—a Blueprint for 2010―for what needs to be done across all systems to prepare for the future.”

Since the inaugural meeting in 2006, over 1000 individuals have participated in a series of meetings including county representatives, health and long-term care providers, volunteer organizations, senior citizens and local elected officials. According to the Blueprint (http://edocs.dhs.state.mn.us/lfserver/Legacy/DHS-5059-ENG), participants reviewed issues related to the aging of the state’s population and presented actions that individuals, communities, businesses and government must take to prepare for 2010 and beyond. Working in small groups, they generated over 1,200 “bullets” about issues, ideas and recommendations for the future. This demographic shift has serious implications for future trends including the dominant increase in the over 50 age group, increase diversity of our population and the potential for labor shortages.

The Blueprint summarizes the data that was gathered & the discussions that were held. Topics included are:

Redefining Work and Retirement
Supporting Caregivers of All Ages
Fostering Communities for a Lifetime
Improving Health and Long-Term Care
Maximizing Use of Technology
It then goes on to answer 3 important questions:

Why is this important?
What if we do nothing?
What issues need to be addressed to prepare for 2010?
To put this into perspective, the conclusion of Supporting Caregivers of All Ages is that Minnesota needs to slow the decline of family caregiving by offering eldercare in all workplaces and redesigning services to support family care. This is important because there’s a growing number of individuals who to do not have personal & family resources to help them as they age. Doing nothing could cost U.S. businesses over 17 billion dollars to employers; due to absenteeism, replacing employees & unpaid leave (Source: The MetLife Caregiving Cost Study: Productivity Losses to U.S. Business, July 2006). Issues that need to be addresses include the financial burden for caregivers who must put their career plans on hold, as well as use their own money to pay for items needed by their older relatives but not covered by any insurance.

Because the Blueprint was intended to offer solutions and not just identify problems, it then goes on to identify action steps. Examples of such steps under Supporting Caregivers of All Ages are:

Develop one-stop resource centers for caregivers in local communities and consolidate all caregiver services in each community, to eliminate artificial age or other restrictions.
Broaden the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to include more relatives who can be cared for under the law.
Make all health and aging services more “caregiver-friendly”.
Expand the availability of professionals trained to counsel caregivers.
To ensure the success of the Transform 2010 project, the founding agencies involved are committed to playing a leadership role in moving these concepts forward into fruition. Over 100 presentations have been held to educate Minnesotans on these important concepts with individuals such as Peter Spuit discussing, “Moving Beyond 2010: Is There a Safety Net at the Bottom of the Cliff?” at the Minnesota Gerontological Society Convention on April 29th. In the end, this project is a catalyst for the attention that should be given to state agencies, businesses & organizations who are already working to solve these issues.

Eden Prairie Professionals in Aging is a non-profit organization based in Eden Prairie, a town of 50,000 in the southwestern Twin Cities. Our diverse member organizations are all committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. Our purpose is to provide networking opportunities for individuals who provide services to elderly persons in Eden Prairie by meeting bimonthly for information exchange and problem solving in our field. For more information on EPPIA and a list of resources regarding activities in Eden Prairie, please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org.

Submitted by EPPIA Members:
Lisa Schmidtke, Able Deluxe, www.AbleDeluxe.com
Mike Cornelison, www.IHLCaregiver.com/EP
Kris Drew, www.pathfindergcm.com

Preventing Falls is the Key to Staying Independent

We managed to make it through another challenging Minnesota winter packed with cold weather and icy surfaces. Perhaps you or someone you know is still recovering from an unexpected slip on the ice. For many older adults the possibility of a fall, both inside and outside of the home is a year round concern.

Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths. They are also a common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma, with more than one third of adults 65 and older falling each year in the United States. Eden Prairie Professionals in Aging advocates for public awareness and action to reduce falls in older adults.

The first key to awareness is learning how and why falls occur. Physiological and cognitive changes that are common with aging increase the likelihood of falls. As we age there are naturally occurring changes in vision, hearing, mental processing, strength, endurance and flexibility. In addition, many persons also manage medical conditions that are common in adults such as arthritis, cardiac disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, and dementia. The combination of natural aging plus weakness and disabilities of other diseases put the affected adult at a higher risk than the general population. The greater the number of risk factors both physiologically and environmentally, the greater the probability for falls.

A good way to get started with fall prevention is to perform an assessment of an individual’s risk factors. From this assessment, steps may be taken to reduce the risks. There are simple screening assessment tools available. However, in complex situations, a trained professional such as a home care nurse, occupational or physical therapist, physician or social worker may be able to provide a more comprehensive plan.

There are many common fall prevention interventions that you can put into action today to begin lowering your risks.

Obtain an annual physical exam including an assessment of all medications and a thorough vision and hearing evaluation. Sight, hearing, coordination and loss of muscle strength can affect balance and medication side effects can contribute to dizziness.
Establish an exercise plan to maintain or increase your strength, endurance and flexibility. A physical therapist or athletic trainer may be helpful in setting up an appropriate exercise plan. Simply going for a walk is a great way to get moving, but be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any exercise routine.
Be safe at home by removing clutter from your pathways, such as telephone and electric cords and newspapers and boxes. Immediately wipe up any spills and secure loose rugs with double-faced tape or slip-resistant backing, or simply get rid of those throw rugs all together. Watch out for pets under foot as well. When indoors, avoid walking in just your stocking-feet on slippery floors. Wear shoes or soled slippers that enclose your whole foot or socks with non-skid soles on them.
Always keep your surroundings well lit and place nightlights in your bedroom, bathroom and hallways.
Add assistive devices where necessary like handrails on both sides of the stairs and grab bars placed inside and outside of the shower, as well as next to the toilet. Put a non-slip mat in the bathtub, and consider using a shower chair. In addition, some adults may benefit from using a properly fitted assistive device such as a cane, walker, scooter or wheelchair.
Taking these small simple steps today can help prevent big falls from happening tomorrow. For guidance in intitating your personal fall prevention plan, please visit the Eden Prairie Professionals in Aging (EPPIA) website at www.edenprairieaging.org.

Eden Prairie Professionals in Aging is a non-profit organization based in Eden Prairie, a town of 50,000 in the southwestern Twin Cities. Our diverse member organizations are all committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. Our purpose is to provide networking opportunities for individuals who provide services to elderly persons in Eden Prairie by meeting bimonthly for information exchange and problem solving in our field.

Submitted by EPPIA Members:
and Heather Reynolds, CSA, At Home Solutions, LLC, www.athomesolutionsllc.com
Joanne Bartel PT, Prairie Adult Care, www.prairieadultcare.com
Lisa Schmidtke, Owner, Able Deluxe, www.AbleDeluxe.com

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