Aging: 96 year old woman has third hip replacement

Hip Replacement

I have to ask myself – in the future would this 96 year old woman have the opportunity to have a third hip replacement?

She has her hair piled up on the top of her head in a kind of bun look. She is well groomed with a lovely gray skirt, white blouse and white cardigan. She is bright, happy, engaging and wants to talk to everyone – she is also 96 years old. When asked about her recent surgery she will clearly explain that the incision is smaller than her previous two – more than 20 years ago – and is healing well. She talks about how fast and great the therapy is going and how much stronger she feels already.

She says that at first “they” didn’t want to do it, just wanted to give her pain pills for the chronic hip pain, as her last hip replacement was failing. She didn’t really know why they changed their minds, but she is glad “they” did.

She lives in an Assisted Living Community connected to the Nursing Home where she is now recovering. She is very much looking forward to returning to her small apartment, and now has the confidence that she will.

Does it make a difference because she is not confused or have a diagnosis of a dementing disease? Should a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease make a difference? How old can you be to still be considered eligible for a major surgery? When do we stop trying and go to “pain pills?”

Virginia Garberding R.N.
Director of Education, The Wealshire
Author: Please Get To Know Me – Aging with Dignity and Relevance
With Cecil Murphey
(For related information see also other blogs in this category)

Caregiver Tips: Why blog? When we have a “silver tsunami” coming at us and more family members are becoming caregivers


The question for healthcare professionals is –
Why not Blog?

Recently I have heard this phrase several times “we have a real tsunami of dementia coming at us” or “the silver tsunami is coming.” What we know is that we now have 4-5 million people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Current estimates are that there are about 2 million people living in Nursing Communities. People 85 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. When you are 85 years old you have a 47% chance of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

All of these facts point to the overwhelming awareness that we all need to do something now.

The number of caregivers in the home, whether spouse, children or private duty home health caregiver is staggering. And that is just for the people with Alzheimer’s disease. Many home caregivers are taking care of someone with a disability, someone with another dementing disease or someone terminally ill.

This week I have had the opportunity, at the Illinois Department of Aging 2009 conference, to speak to many case managers. The stories they tell of difficulties they and their home health caregivers are dealing with are truly overwhelming.

Opportunities abound for health care professionals in facilities to learn person-centered care. But for the caregiver in the home, how much help is there for them?

If “blogging” is a way of reaching out a helping hand to that growing multitude of caregivers struggling in the home – many times going it alone, why not do it?

Then the question for the health care community should be, why not blog?

AGING: No Nursing Home for Baby Boomer Nurses

Baby Boomer Nurses

When baby boomers don’t downsize.

We always thought when we reached a certain age we would think about down-sizing. But with the value of our family home, for past 35 years, now going in the wrong direction, we have to re-think “the plan.” Realizing that people are living longer, and both of our parents being long-livers. We have the expectations of also living to very old age.

The new and improved “plan!” My retired husband is busy everyday working on the lower level of our raised ranch home, turning the area into an apartment. In light of the current need for apartments by those people who have suffered from foreclosure, we will now have a small apartment to rent.

Long term care insurance – housing for future caregivers.

However better than that, we are creating housing for our own caregivers of the future. If and when we get to that time when it is our turn to be old, the hands that assist us in our fragility will be our tenants. Seems like a long term care policy that will be a future win, win. This, I thought was pretty unique thinking until I shared the concept with other Baby Boomer nurses.

Even though we had never had this conversation, I was surprised to hear that they too were creating similar spaces in their homes. They also had thought they would downsize and the present picture in Real-estate has made them rethink the future. Several are looking into home elevators to make their two story homes meet their needs in the future. Many, who thought they would retire soon, are planning working longer because they are concerned about their children’s employment. But, all of them are working on living spaces for their future caregivers.

So, for now we are putting in new doors, painting, looking for new carpet – who ever that kind caregiver is in my future – I hope they like it!

Caregiver Tips: Things to do when the person you care for is a man

from: Please get to Know Me – Aging with Dignity and Relevance

Watching funny DVDs together can be an especially wonderful connection for a father with his son.

My father-in-law suffered from dementia. My husband, Jerry, knew his dad had enjoyed Laurel and Hardy films as well as those of Ma and Pa Kettle–the comedies of the 1930s and 1940s. Jerry found as many of those old movies as he could and brought them to the nursing home. On his visits, Jerry didn’t have to carry on long one-sided conversations.

When Jerry visited, he would tell his dad what was new with him and the family. After that, he put on an old movie and his dad laughed every time Jerry would laugh. We never knew how much he followed the story, or even “saw” the slap-stick comedy. But he could still enjoy that comfortable, normal activity of sitting with his son and laughing.

• Watch a DVD on travel, sports, history – whatever the man likes.
• Have something from his past interests – fishing pole, anything from a collection he had ( my dad had a tie collection that he enjoyed looking at),
• Read sports magazines together or look at new car brochures. Both are excellent opportunities for conversation.
• Most men like to do something physical. do that but keep it simple. Toss a ball or throw bean bags. These kinds of activities are also great to do with children.

E-MAIL to President Obama – the high cost of healthcare – just because we have the technology should we always use it

Families need help in letting go.

Working in healthcare for so many years I have seen many aging and dying people as well as their families. But when President Obama said he wanted input on healthcare, and the President wanted to fix healthcare from the bottom up. I thought of the many people over the years who couldn’t let go of their loved one, and e-mailed a note to the President.

I thought of Ralph, who was 93 when I met him. Ralph was in the end stage or last stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Ralph no longer recognized his family, his wife, his caregiver or even himself in the mirror. Ralph was total care and no longer spoke. Ralph had lost one leg to diabetes and now his heart was failing. So Ralph’s doctor suggests putting in – a pacemaker?

Shocking, rightly so, the family was shocked. Operate on Ralph? Send Ralph to the hospital? Just because Medicare would pay for this procedure – just doesn’t make it the right thing to do. Not for Ralph.

Family has hard decision.

Ralph’s family decided not to go ahead with the doctor’s plan and let Ralph go naturally and peacefully.

However many times the family, for whatever reason, wants everything possible done for that loved one. In this time of amazing technology and the ability to do things that not so long ago would have seemed impossible. The question is should we?

So President Obama, since you asked for ideas on healthcare and want to fix from the bottom up. Maybe some money spent on supportive services for the family would help. Education, counseling and support during a difficult time. Let’s help that family make good decisions for everyone – especially the patient.

Caregiver Tips: Aging and having Alzheimer’s disease shouldn’t mean breaking ties with longtime friends and the community

Many times just aging means that the senior can no longer physically manage their address book and correspondence. Keeping in touch with friends and community is so important for the elderly and people with Alzheimer’s disease. When the senior is no longer able to keep in touch, the family needs to step in and bridge that gap. I learned this the hard way when my mother went into a nursing community.

I came to visit one day and my Mom was very quiet and seemed as though her spirits were really down. When I asked what was wrong, she said she had just heard that her best friend had passed away. The worst was that it had happened very quickly about two months ago. I realized that while I couldn’t fault her friend’s daughter, in her grief, for not letting us know. I knew it was my fault for not keeping my Mom in touch with friends and community.

We started to make changes with keeping up her address book and when I went to visit on Sundays by phoning an old friend. I started keeping a box of assorted greeting cards in Mom’s room so when we heard that a friend was ill or had just suffered a loss we could follow up with a card.

I requested the Church to send the monthly newsletter and started reading it to her on Sundays. My brother started sending his monthly church’s news letter to her also.

My sister Ruth and I started maintaining her Christmas cards list and making an occasion out of writing the cards with her. When an elderly person in a nursing community receives more than 60 Christmas cards it says to the staff this person hasn’t been forgotten.

Last week we invited several people to lunch from her old sewing group “The Dorcas Society.” Four women and their current Pastor came and we had a wonderful time reminiscing. When they were leaving we all promised to “keep in touch.”

Aging: Senior moment or Alzheimer’s disease?

When you can’t remember where you parked the car at the Mall –is it a Senior Moment – or Alzheimer’s Disease?

Every senior citizen is concerned when they forget something that it is the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease. They many times make light of the memory laps calling it frequently a Senior Moment. This makes it sound a little cute and not so threatening. As a person ages many life stresses can cause normal forgetfulness.

Stress builds up – over a lifetime.

Stress can cause memory loss, even in young people. When a young person has the stress of being away at school, the pressure can cause memory loss. For the older person, stress has built up over time. And many things that caused stress in the past, trigger a stress response now.

Many elders suffer from fatigue.

Fatigue can cause memory loss, and fatigue combined with stress can really cause senior moments. Elderly people get so used to adapting to situations that many times they don’t realized they are even suffering from fatigue. The elder who has Arthritis will have aches and pains and toss and turn during the night. They don’t even realize that they do suffer from fatigue because they have become so accustomed to it. Then when that person forgets something or has a “Senior Moment” they immediately get worried that they are getting Alzheimer’s disease.

Becoming more distracted looks like memory loss.

Distractions can seem like memory loss. When a person reaches their late 50’s or early 60’s they begin to have a problem with distraction. The best example of that, is remembering where you parked your car at the mall. When you walk into the mall you are distracted with the first things you are seeing, and don’t lay down the memory of where you parked. (Especially if you are with someone and talking) When I reached that age, I decided to always park at J. C. Penny’s, always at the same door, at my mall. No matter what store I am going to I always park at Penny’s, this way I don’t have to remember where I parked the car.

A senior moment is not Alzheimer’s disease, its normal aging memory loss and shouldn’t scare people.

Aging: Please Get To Know Me – Aging with Dignity and Relevance


My Website is

Aging: Aging with Independence – we’ve got tech support.

Aging with Independence

Baby boomers need their “stuff”, we got stuff.

Well it happened to me, and I look out for pot holes like it is my profession. But turning into the bank last at 4:30 p.m., the unthinkable happened. It was like the pot hole jumped out and pulled the car in. I had the sick feeling right away, based on how hard the car hit – that this was going to be bad. Sure enough, the left rear tire on the passenger’s side was flat.

Rescued by my cell phone.

I took care of my banking, telling everyone that my tire was flat. No one seemed inclined to rush to my rescue. I called my daughter who came right over and took me to my local repair shop. Their only help was to give me a machine that will fill the tire. Back we go, and now as I try to fill the tire I can hear the air escaping just as fast as I put it in.

I tell my daughter to get the baby home, it is so—- cold. Then I call information for a towing service. They can come in about an hour. This is going to be a long hour!!!

I beg the bank to let me in to use “the facilities”, they of course have to check with everyone possible – I glory in the fact that I must look dangerous!

Ancient history – before the cell phone.

But then as I wait, I think of the wonder of the cell phone. All seniors need to be able to call for assistance any where, any time.

Our spirit of independence is so strong, going back to the first Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock. They charged into this wilderness and built their homes, communities and our way of life.

So in this New Year I toast (with Mogen David of course), independence and the creator of the cell phone. A toast to more gadgets and services that support our way of life:
• On Star
• Meals on Wheels
• Map Quest
• Medical Alert Personal Security Services
• Motion Sensors
And the list goes on. But in the very near future, due to the Aging of America and American ingenuity, many more products and opportunities will be out there. From the Smart Homes whose automation is now a reality, to all the products we don’t even know we need yet.