Did you see the Daily Herald last Thursday? The village of Grayslake is striving to become dementia-friendly, to be a community where people with dementia and their families can continue to participate and engage in daily life and activities.
CareSmart and Right at Home Northern Lake County, our sponsor, will be kicking off the program in Grayslake this week by training the fire and police departments. During the training, we'll be focusing on increasing dementia awareness and promoting effective communication strategies. As the community moves forward, training will also occur in other service and business establishments.
Dementia is a group of symptoms that interfere with daily activities by affecting memory, thinking, and social skills. Alzheimer's disease is the most widely-diagnosed dementia disorder. Though people with dementia symptoms have challenges, they still retain much of their ability to live full lives with a little help from their family members, friends, and communities.
Dementia-friendly communities help to support people with dementia (and their families) by making it easier for people to find their way around their communities, to access local facilities that they know and where they are known, and to maintain their social networks so they feel that they still belong.
The dementia-friendly community concept started in Great Britain and has spread internationally. Minnesota and Wisconsin have developed programs; Kenosha County is home to several dementia-friendly establishments. Last year, the idea spread nationally, with Dementia Friendly America taking the lead in the U.S.
To become involved in Dementia-Friendly Grayslake, contact Mike Steiner at Right at Home. If you are interested in helping to develop other dementia-friendly communities in Lake County, please contact Chris Damon at CareSmart.
As we age, we're more likely to take medications...to control high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis pain, etc. The medications can help us feel better and keep disease under control. They may also have negative side effects, however. One major concern is the effect on our cognition, the ability to think, understand, learn, plan, and remember.
According to the National Institutes of Health, changes to our bodies as we age can influence the way that medications affect the ways our brains work. One, our brains change, both in terms of physical structure and ability. Two, our digestive and circulatory systems slow down, potentially affecting the speed at which medications enter and leave our bodies. Three, weight changes can affect the amount of medication we need and the length of time it stays in our system. It's not just our bodies that may be problematic, however. Medications also interact with each other and with everything we consume including food, supplements, and alcohol.
The American Geriatrics Society, an organization representing medical professionals who specialize in serving older adults, has identified a list of medications that are potentially inappropriate for older adults. Two types of medications, "anticholinergics" and "benzodiazepines," are often used to treat common health issues like asthma, depression, allergies, and sleep disorders. They may, however, adversely affect our brains resulting in confusion, memory loss, and other cognitive problems. Sometimes these symptoms are mistaken for signs of an irreversible dementia.
If you are concerned about the effect of your medications on your brain and cognition, seek professional advice from you healthcare professional/pharmacist. Suddenly stopping any medication can be dangerous!
Click here for a handout that includes additional information from the National Institute of Health on the potential of some medications to affect brain health.
Click here to download the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) "Beers List" of "Criteria for Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use in Older Adults."
Two important events occur this week. The first, you’re very familiar with... Income Tax Day. You may not, however, be as familiar with the other. April 16th is National Healthcare Decision Day (NHDD)... a day that encourages all of us to express our wishes regarding our own healthcare... and for medical personnel and facilities torespect our wishes, whatever they may be.
National Healthcare Decision Day grew out of the realization that many families and medical personnel struggled to understand the healthcare wishes of a loved one who was not then capable of speaking for him/herself. Terri Schiavo is one example. The anguish of that case and others like it influenced several people to focus on making advance care planning a routine part of everyone’s lives.
Advance directives include two basic documents. The first designates the person/s who will make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to speak for yourself; “Healthcare Power of Attorney “ or “Healthcare Proxy” are two examples of this document. The other outlines the type of medical treatments you would want or not want; examples include “Living Wills” and “POLST” documents. All documents can be changed by you at any time.
To participate in National Healthcare Decision Day, take one or more of the following actions.
There’s no doubt that advance planning is a serious matter. It can also be extremely rewarding, leaving you and your loved ones with a much clearer vision of YOUR healthcare wishes... whatever they may be.