Small Giants: bloggers influencing our health

2014 Bupa Health Influencer Blog Awards

Last Friday, Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining blog was awarded a Bupa Health Influencer Blog Award in the ‘Family Time’ category. The awards recognise those who are blogging to create awareness of health issues. This is what they said about the blog:

“Her blog serves as an important resource for people who care for ageing relatives, and offers insights and advice on the complexities and frustrations of aged care.
“This is a truly important blog which confronts questions around independence, control and choice”

I feel very honoured to be recognised alongside the ‘small giants’ of Australian bloggers – talented writers who are committed to sharing their stories, ideas, advice and insights in order to inspire and improve the health and well-being of others.”

Here’s a photo of the winners – with links to their awesome blogs below – check them out!

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Posted in November 2014 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Smiling on the inside: seeing beyond the wrinkles

elderlykidsThe saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” should be applied to the appearances of elder people.

The 8.00 am traditional service at my church has many elder people in the congregation who, if you didn’t know any better, look either sad or angry. But after I have a chat over a cup of tea afterwards with them, this perception is quickly dispelled. They are actually quite chirpy, despite appearances.

Which leads me to wonder whether people avoid speaking to elderly people because this reinforces a negative stereotype that elder people are grouchy and cantankerous.

Dimming eyesight in elderly people makes it difficult for them to see clearly from a distance. Poor hearing makes it difficult to engage in conversation, especially if there is background noise. Slow reflexes reduces their ability to respond spontaneously. All of this makes social connection more challenging, which is multiplied in elder-to-elder communication.

Ageing causes the face to sag. Wrinkles cause the mouth to drop and the forehead to crinkle – features that make faces appear sad or angry. Misreading emotions due to ageing facial features can give the false impression that a person is miserable or cranky, when in fact they are not. And it can unnecessarily put people off wanting to say hello and have a friendly chat.

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Posted in 2014 Blog Posts, November 2014 | 1 Comment

3 steps to protecting your ageing parent’s vital information

FAILTYIf you have an ageing parent experiencing frailty and memory loss, you’ll know how worrying it is that important information about their personal and financial affairs may become forgotten or lost.

New figures from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission show there is $1.14 billion waiting to be collected from 1.27 million unclaimed money records.

Some of the reasons for this is that people change their address, move into a retirement home, or move overseas.  Bank accounts have to be accessed every three years or they get impounded.

Another worrying trend is older people ‘hiding’ money in the home. Thousands and thousands of dollars.  I’ve heard of two stories recently of an elderly woman who buried $30,000 in cash in a tin in the ground under a lemon tree and an elderly man secreting cash in the cavity of a wall of his home.  All too sadly the latter suffered a stroke and was unable to speak or write.  The men demolishing the house years later were delighted with their “find”.

If your elderly parent is receiving care in the home, either by a family member or hired care worker, then it is even more important for you to be well aware of their assets and financial management. Frailty makes for vulnerability, and there are unscrupulous people out there. Continue reading

Posted in 2014 Blog Posts, November 2014, October 2014 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Understanding ambiguous loss in families of people with dementia

couple in the shadowPatsy said she had her eye on Bill from the first day she started working at the glass factory in December 1958. He was the tall and muscular foreman on the factory floor, and the son of the factory’s owner. Patsy was one of the new typists in the typing pool. Despite many a flirtatious glance between them, it was months before Bill asked her out to the movies. Instead of icecream or popcorn, he had bought her a bunch of dark red grapes. But as they had not been washed, she let them rest on her lap while they watched Ben Hur. She was in awe of Charlton Heston, and fancied Bill looked a lot like him. They hit it off immediately, going to the dance hall every Saturday night and the movies on Friday nights. They married in the Spring of 1960.

Patsy and Bill have since had 54 happy years together. They have two children and four grandchildren and have always been inseparable. “Best friends” is how Patsy described their relationship. “As a family, we did everything together: sailing in the summer, skiiing in the winter.” When the factory was sold many years later, Bill began to import leather goods from Italy, and the family travelled to Italy together every year to source new supplies.

Patsy’s voice is flat and she speaks matter-of-factly. “The man I married is gone, but my husband is still here. He is withdrawn and sleeps a lot of the time, and doesn’t talk much. There are moments when I have him back, but they are brief and rare. I miss the way we were.”

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Posted in 2014 Blog Posts, Dementia, October 2014 | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Caring for ageing parents: a career limiting move?

The cost to your career to care for an ageing parent is often unexpected one.

Caring for an ageing parent can come at a cost to your career.

Women face a host of challenges throughout their career, but caring for ageing parents, for most, is an unexpected one.

The women’s liberation movement opened the door to a huge growth of mothers in the workforce over the last few decades. But its care for ageing parents that is going to be the next big thing for career women – driven by the slow tsunami of an ageing population.

The availability of formal child care and after school care have enabled mothers to overcome barriers to pursuing a career. But just when the years of raising children are almost over, and the upper rungs of the corporate ladder are within sight, an often unexpected caring responsibility arrives: caring for ageing parents.

Elder care is an issue we all will face. Not everyone choses to have children, but everyone has parents. The number of elderly people needing care is not small. Those aged over 85 years (420,300 in 2012) are going to double in the next 20 years.

People who have elder care responsibilities feel less supervisory support for their needs compared to workers with child care responsibilities, according to University of Rhode Island researchers presenting at a recent Work and Family Researchers Network Conference.

Their research also shows that workers caring for ageing parents also report higher levels of stress, overwork and work-life conflict than workers caring for children.

Caring for an ageing parent differs from raising children in that it is less predictable because a parent can suddenly need a lot of assistance over a longer period of time.

Modern medicine and medical innovations are helping people live into their 80s but inevitably, they will need support when their health starts to decline.

The ABS says that 1 in 3 workers are caring for ageing parents, and that figure is growing, with 45 per cent of workers anticipating taking on elder care responsibilities in the next five years.

Overwhelmingly, it is women who bear the cost of caring for their parents as they age.

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Malnutrition silently killing our elders

No one likes  to eat alone.

No one likes to eat alone. Go join him Ellen!

Malnutrition conjures up images of starving children in Africa. But it’s a common issue and closer to home here in Australia than you think.

Unbelievable as it may sound, according to the Australian Association of Gerontology one-third of  patients aged over 65 who are admitted hospital are ‘overtly malnourished’.  Clinicians say up to 44 percent of older people are at risk.

Hello? I thought we had an obesity ‘epidemic’? Obviously, not among our ageing population.

The increasing physical problems faced by the elderly make it not only difficult for them to cook and eat meals, but also more socially isolated and lonely. Who wants to eat alone?

Thank goodness for Meals on Wheels you say? Well, there’s no choice with what you get. And its not’s not free. The price of a meal ranges up to $12.00.  Faced with the increasing rise in heating costs, rents, day care/home care, older people are often faced with deciding between buying a meal and paying the bills.

Experts on nutrition for the elderly increasingly view the traditional solutions to the problems of hunger and malnutrition — social policy fixes like Meals on Wheels — as inadequate.

As the elderly age, they develop chronic illnesses that kill their appetites or make it difficult for them to cook or eat. In addition, the drugs they take can suppress hunger, and deterioration of their senses can make them lose interest in food. In other words, even if one brings elderly people food, they will not necessarily eat.

The consequences of malnutrition in older people are calamitous. It causes slow healing, recurrent infections, delayed recovery, frequent falls, fracturing, frailty and premature death.

“These people are dying from infections,” my doctor friend said. “That’s how people in Somalia are dying!”

The solution is simple: Don’t let the elderly eat alone.

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Posted in 2014 Blog Posts, August 2014, Money, Nutrician | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Why I’m looking forward to old age

Sure, there are many down sides to getting older – not least because you’re  getting closer to The End. But it’s not all doom and gloom – there’s a lot to look forward to as well.

  • Feeling younger than I look

My mother says she sometimes has a double-take when looking into the mirror and sees an old woman looking back at her. She still feels young on the inside. I’m looking forward to a little bit of self-delusion about my age, lying about it to anyone who asks, and banishing all mirrors.

  • Dressing outrageously

I will wear whatever I want and will no longer be concerned for what others might think of me. I’ll wear my tracky dacks and ugg boots if I want to be invisible. Or I’ll wear bright lipstick, stunning hats, bold scarves and edgy sunglasses if I want to pretend I’m an ex-movie star.

  • Time

Every morning my dad sits for hours in a sunny spot on the verandah with his coffee and newspaper.  I’d love to stroll down to the park, sit on a bench and watch life – twittering birds, people walking and talking, dogs running, children laughing and playing. I’d curl up on the lounge read all those books I’ve bought over the years but never got around to reading. I’d take my time browsing through the grocery store and actually read the labels to see what’s in them.  I’d listen to music with a glass of wine in hand every evening. Anyway, you get the picture … I’d take it slow. Continue reading

Posted in 2014 Blog Posts, July 2014 | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

To sell or not sell the family home?

not for sale

“If the home is worth more than the bond it starts to be viable to rent it out”

Attendant care is not cheap. We have two options: either paying someone to care for mum or dad at home or paying someone to care for them in a facility. Either way, a fee needs to be paid for the attendant care worker and – in the case of a residential aged care facility – additional fees for accommodation, meals and other ‘overheads’.

Home care doesn’t have the overhead costs, so it’s most likely going to be the cheaper option,  if full time attendant care is not required.

It’s important to understand the financial implications of each of those choices.

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Posted in 2014 Blog Posts, July 2014 | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Older people discover secret to happiness

happinessMy mother’s birthday is coming up in a few weeks and I would like to buy her something special. It’s been a tough year for her – she was treated for cancer and her twin sister passed away.

She is notoriously difficult to buy for. Gifts are usually enthusiastically received, but very soon after given away. I quite often will find gifts I have given mum being worn or used by other family members. Although, I can’t complain. I recently acquired a gorgeous pink scarf my brother bought for her last year.

These days, my brothers, sister and I usually all chip in and buy something a bit more substantial for mum and dad. Recently, we’ve bought them a large flat screen TV and a bed ensemble. They don’t accept gifts graciously – we always have to insistent vehemently that they take it.

I’m thinking about something special, an experience that can’t be given away.  Like taking her to the theatre, or taking her away for the weekend. But she protests she wants nothing of the sort, “I’d much prefer us to meet up for a coffee and a chat, like we usually do.” And I usually have to twist mum’s arm to get her to let me buy her a coffee!

Mum insists, “We don’t need anything. Having our family visit, that’s what brings us happiness.”

Wow, talk about easy to please.

It’s interesting how I want extraordinary experiences to share with mum, but she’s happy with what’s ordinary.

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Posted in 2014 Blog Posts | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

I agree with PepsiCo CEO Indra K. Nooyi Who Says Women Can’t Have It All

indra k. nooyi

Indra K. Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, Photo courtesy Reuters

“I don’t think women can have it all. I just don’t think so,” said the CEO of PepsiCo Indra K. Nooyi in a frank interview on work-life balance earlier this week.

“We pretend we have it all.”

Her candid comments are refreshingly. This is a woman who regularly works to midnight, travels extensively and says being CEO is three full time jobs rolled into one.

Indra says her ‘coping mechanisms’ for juggling both a career and family life were to co-opt a lot of people to help, and to plan her life meticulously.

“You know, you have to cope, because you die with guilt. My observation? The biological clock and the career clock are in total conflict with each other. Total, complete, conflict. When you have to have kids you have to build your career. Just as you’re rising to middle management your kids need you because they’re teenagers, they need you for the teenage years.

“And as you grow even more, your parents need you because they’re aging. So we’re screwed.”

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Posted in 2014 Blog Posts, July 2014 | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments