Parenting Our Parents (POP) is the personal tale of millions of men and women in their 30's 40's, 50's, 60's and beyond who thought they'd finished parenting but have been drawn back in, this time to care for their own elderly parents and other family members.
Soon after my 50th birthday, 10 years ago, I started keeping a list of “Things I will do/things I won’t do when I get old.” It was a highly judgmental, and super secret, accounting of all the things I thought my parents were doing wrong. My dad lied chronically about taking his meds. He refused to get a hearing aid, telling others to “up their audio” (he had been a television producer). My mom smoked behind my back (she thought) until the day she was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was all too easy to call them out, and I recognized over and over just how awful it is to become feeble, sick and increasingly absent-minded, or worse.
Over the next decade I accumulated many pages of dos and don’ts, even as I fretted about exactly when I’d be old enough to start following my own advice. Recently I heard a sociologist on the radio call people in their early 60s, “the young old.” I imagine that my “young adult” nieces might consider me “old, old” already, but I don’t feel ready yet to start taking my own advice. I’m still working on building my list, not implementing it.
The entries on that list reflect my frustration of seeing the price my parents paid for their stubbornness. Take my mother’s terrifying driving, for instance. A growing number of fender benders, and worse, didn’t faze her, and she would not listen to any talk of her fading ability behind the wheel. In desperation, I reported Mom to the D.M.V. and they called her in for a road test. She failed it, and her license was revoked. It humiliated Mom, and tormented me.
Here’s how it appears on my list:
“If my driving capability is questioned, I will not reject the comment out of hand because I am afraid of losing my independence. I hope there will be self-driving cars by then. If nothing else works, I hope someone will turn me in.”
My biggest worry as I watched my parents grow old was their increasing physical frailty. Who hasn’t heard that hip fractures from falls are a leading cause of death among the elderly? I know my father had, if only because we talked about it with him ad nauseam. I pointed out the consequences of his own mother’s pride in refusing a cane or walker: At age 84, Grandma fell while riding the New York City subway alone, and that fall led over the months that followed to her death.
After literally hundreds of falls, none of which persuaded him to accept help or use a walker, Dad, at 87, finally came down hard and broke four ribs. That accident jump-started the slide that led to his death. I ask myself: Will my self-awareness triumph over my own (apparently genetic) stubbornness?
So on my list is what I told my dad time and again:
“I’ll try to remember that the best way to stay independent is to accept smaller degrees of dependence or assistance. I’ll use a walker rather than fall and break bones.”
A friend of mine put it this way: “I will use a walker so I won’t fall, even when it wrecks my outfit.” Designer walkers, anyone?
I’ll admit that vanity drives a number of my dos and don’ts. About eight years in I wrote:
“I will not blame the family dog on my lap for my incontinence. I will choose the humiliation of wearing adult diapers over the humiliation of wetting my bed and having someone else clean the sheets.”
For years, my dad chose the latter. Heck, maybe I’ll even grow in my self-acceptance so that I won’t view incontinence as humiliation. I also want to maintain some style. Right until the end my mother, who died earlier this year, continued to have her hair styled and colored, and her manicured nails painted her trademark Jungle Red. I wrote:
“If I can’t take care of my personal grooming anymore, I will find help. If I don’t care about my personal grooming anymore, I will find different help.”
At the very least I want to be clean — and smell fresh, like Mom — so people sit by me and hold my hand.
“Whiten teeth” is also on my list. A friend of mine has this entry on her list:
“Wear pants that touch the tops of my shoes at least.”
My list also acknowledges my quickness to anger, which is a trait I shared with both parents. A year before Mom’s death her aide repeatedly asked her to do some post-surgical breathing exercises prescribed by the oncologist, but which she hated doing because they were challenging.
One afternoon, Mom, in deep frustration, lashed out at the aide using language I’m too embarrassed to repeat, and I was the one who took the aide’s call of justified complaint. Onto my list went:
“If I’m hurt or angry by what’s happening to me or my body, I will do my best not to take it out on those who are closest to me.”
“I will be kind.”
“I will apologize.”
As I march onward from 60, I continue to pay attention and maintain my list. But I remain mindful of what one friend told me: “The important thing is to remember no matter how much we tell ourselves we won’t be like our parents, no matter how hard and fast we run in the other direction, we become them.”
Ironically, I have some guidance on that as well. My grandmother, the one who fell on the subway, once made a similar list, which I found among my father’s papers. Hers included:
Do not fall.
Work on controlling forgetfulness
Think before you speak
Eat moderately and no rich desserts
Do the best you can. Learn by your errors.
I certainly hope to learn from her errors, and my parents’, and avoid making too many of my own. Mostly I hope to be able to judge when to stop adding to the list, and start following its advice.
Steven Petrow, a regular contributor to Well, lives in Hillsborough, N.C.
Please share what it is YOU would like to do, be or have that’s different as YOU age?
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We here at POP are delighted to see the popularity – and hear from you all about the usefulness — when we write our blogs and share articles with you, our POP Community, about sex and seniors.
Although some younger folks may squirm at those thoughts, most everyone we know north of about 45 wants candid answers to the life-long quest: how can I have a more fulfilling sex life?
Whether or not you are currently partnered is not relevant as we are still able to have and fantasize about sexual encounters with ourselves, with potentially new partners and many are interested in revitalizing the pleasures with a partner of long-standing.
Enjoy this fairly comprehensive article, like us on Facebook, join our community, share with others who also want more satisfying sex lives (again, who doesn’t) and comment — a vibrant community expresses itself!
Whether the problem is big or small, there are many things you can do to get your sex life back on track. Your sexual well-being goes hand in hand with your overall mental, physical, and emotional health. Communicating with your partner, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, availing yourself of some of the many excellent self-help materials on the market, and just having fun can help you weather tough times.
Enjoying a satisfying sex life
Sex. The word can evoke a kaleidoscope of emotions. From love, excitement, and tenderness to longing, anxiety, and disappointment—the reactions are as varied as sexual experiences themselves. What’s more, many people will encounter all these emotions and many others in the course of a sex life spanning several decades.
But what is sex, really?
On one level, sex is just another hormone-driven bodily function designed to perpetuate the species. Of course, that narrow view underestimates the complexity of the human sexual response. In addition to the biochemical forces at work, your experiences and expectations help shape your sexuality. Your understanding of yourself as a sexual being, your thoughts about what constitutes a satisfying sexual connection, and your relationship with your partner are key factors in your ability to develop and maintain a fulfilling sex life.
Talking to your partner
Many couples find it difficult to talk about sex even under the best of circumstances. When sexual problems occur, feelings of hurt, shame, guilt, and resentment can halt conversation altogether. Because good communication is a cornerstone of a healthy relationship, establishing a dialogue is the first step not only to a better sex life, but also to a closer emotional bond. Here are some tips for tackling this sensitive subject.
Find the right time to talk
There are two types of sexual conversations: the ones you have in the bedroom and the ones you have elsewhere. It’s perfectly appropriate to tell your partner what feels good in the middle of lovemaking, but it’s best to wait until you’re in a more neutral setting to discuss larger issues, such as mismatched sexual desire or orgasm troubles.
Couch suggestions in positive terms, such as, “I really love it when you touch my hair lightly that way,” rather than focusing on the negatives. Approach a sexual issue as a problem to be solved together rather than an exercise in assigning blame.
Confide in your partner about changes in your body
If hot flashes are keeping you up at night or menopause has made your vagina dry, talk to your partner about these things. It’s much better that he know what’s really going on rather than interpret these physical changes as lack of interest. Likewise, if you’re a man and you no longer get an erection just from the thought of sex, show your partner how to stimulate you rather than let her believe she isn’t attractive enough to arouse you anymore.
You may think you’re protecting your partner’s feelings by faking an orgasm, but in reality you’re starting down a slippery slope. As challenging as it is to talk about any sexual problem, the difficulty level skyrockets once the issue is buried under years of lies, hurt, and resentment.
Don’t equate love with sexual performance
Create an atmosphere of caring and tenderness; touch and kiss often. Don’t blame yourself or your partner for your sexual difficulties. Focus instead on maintaining emotional and physical intimacy in your relationship. For older couples, another potentially sensitive subject that’s worth discussing is what will happen after one partner dies. In couples who enjoy a healthy sex life, the surviving partner will likely want to seek out a new partner. Expressing your openness to that possibility while you are both still alive will likely relieve guilt and make the process less difficult for the surviving partner later.
Using self-help strategies
Treating sexual problems is easier now than ever before. Revolutionary medications and professional sex therapists are there if you need them. But you may be able to resolve minor sexual issues by making a few adjustments in your lovemaking style. Here are some things you can try at home.
Plenty of good self-help materials are available for every type of sexual issue. Browse the Internet or your local bookstore, pick out a few resources that apply to you, and use them to help you and your partner become better informed about the problem. If talking directly is too difficult, you and your partner can underline passages that you particularly like and show them to each other.
Privacy concerns and Internet use
The Internet is a valuable source of all types of information, including books and other products (such as sex toys) that can enhance your sex life. Although it may be obvious, never use your workplace computer to do such searches, to avoid potential embarrassment with your employer, who is likely able to track your search history. People who feel uneasy even about using their home computers and credit cards to order sex-related information or products online might be able to find a nearby store (especially in major cities) and pay with cash.
Give yourself time
As you age, your sexual responses slow down. You and your partner can improve your chances of success by finding a quiet, comfortable, interruption-free setting for sex. Also, understand that the physical changes in your body mean that you’ll need more time to get aroused and reach orgasm. When you think about it, spending more time having sex isn’t a bad thing; working these physical necessities into your lovemaking routine can open up doors to a new kind of sexual experience.
Often, the vaginal dryness that begins in perimenopause can be easily corrected with lubricating liquids and gels. Use these freely to avoid painful sex—a problem that can snowball into flagging libido and growing relationship tensions. When lubricants no longer work, discuss other options with your doctor.
Maintain physical affection
Even if you’re tired, tense, or upset about the problem, engaging in kissing and cuddling is essential for maintaining an emotional and physical bond.
The sensate focus techniques that sex therapists use can help you re-establish physical intimacy without feeling pressured. Many self-help books and educational videos offer variations on these exercises. You may also want to ask your partner to touch you in a manner that he or she would like to be touched. This will give you a better sense of how much pressure, from gentle to firm, you should use.
Try different positions
Developing a repertoire of different sexual positions not only adds interest to lovemaking, but can also help overcome problems. For example, the increased stimulation to the G-spot that occurs when a man enters his partner from behind can help the woman reach orgasm.
The G-spot, or Grafenberg spot, named after the gynecologist who first identified it, is a mound of super-sensitive spongelike tissue located within the roof of the vagina, just inside the entrance. Proper stimulation of the G-spot can produce intense orgasms. Because of its difficult-to-reach location and the fact that it is most successfully stimulated manually, the G-spot is not routinely activated for most women during vaginal intercourse. While this has led some skeptics to doubt its existence, research has demonstrated that a different sort of tissue does exist in this location.
You must be sexually aroused to be able to locate your G-spot. To find it, try rubbing your finger in a beckoning motion along the roof of your vagina while you’re in a squatting or sitting position, or have your partner massage the upper surface of your vagina until you notice a particularly sensitive area. Some women tend to be more sensitive and can find the spot easily, but for others it’s difficult.
If you can’t easily locate it, you shouldn’t worry. During intercourse, many women feel that the G-spot can be most easily stimulated when the man enters from behind. For couples dealing with erection problems, play involving the G-spot can be a positive addition to lovemaking.
Oral stimulation of the clitoris combined with manual stimulation of the G-spot can give a woman a highly intense orgasm.
Write down your fantasies
This exercise can help you explore possible activities you think might be a turn-on for you or your partner. Try thinking of an experience or a movie that aroused you and then share your memory with your partner. This is especially helpful for people with low desire.
Do Kegel exercises
Both men and women can improve their sexual fitness by exercising their pelvic floor muscles. To do these exercises, tighten the muscle you would use if you were trying to stop urine in midstream. Hold the contraction for two or three seconds, then release. Repeat 10 times. Try to do five sets a day. These exercises can be done anywhere—while driving, sitting at your desk, or standing in a checkout line. At home, women may use vaginal weights to add muscle resistance. Talk to your doctor or a sex therapist about where to get these and how to use them.
Try to relax
Do something soothing together before having sex, such as playing a game or going out for a nice dinner. Or try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises or yoga.
Use a vibrator
This device can help a woman learn about her own sexual response and allow her to show her partner what she likes.
Don’t give up
If none of your efforts seem to work, don’t give up hope. Your doctor can often determine the cause of your sexual problem and may be able to identify effective treatments. He or she can also put you in touch with a sex therapist who can help you explore issues that may be standing in the way of a fulfilling sex life.
Maintaining good health
Your sexual well-being goes hand in hand with your overall mental, physical, and emotional health. Therefore, the same healthy habits you rely on to keep your body in shape can also shape up your sex life.
Exercise, exercise, exercise
Physical activity is first and foremost among the healthy behaviors that can improve your sexual functioning. Because physical arousal depends greatly on good blood flow, aerobic exercise (which strengthens your heart and blood vessels) is crucial. And exercise offers a wealth of other health benefits, from staving off heart disease, osteoporosis, and some forms of cancer to improving your mood and helping you get a better night’s sleep. Also, don’t forget to include strength training.
Smoking contributes to peripheral vascular disease, which affects blood flow to the penis, clitoris, and vaginal tissues. In addition, women who smoke tend to go through menopause two years earlier than their nonsmoking counterparts. If you need help quitting, try nicotine gum or patches or ask your doctor about the drugs bupropion (Zyban) or varenicline (Chantix).
Use alcohol in moderation
Some men with erectile dysfunction find that having one drink can help them relax, but heavy use of alcohol can make matters worse. Alcohol can inhibit sexual reflexes by dulling the central nervous system. Drinking large amounts over a long period can damage the liver, leading to an increase in estrogen production in men. In women, alcohol can trigger hot flashes and disrupt sleep, compounding problems already present in menopause.
Overindulgence in fatty foods leads to high blood cholesterol and obesity—both major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In addition, being overweight can promote lethargy and a poor body image. Increased libido is often an added benefit of losing those extra pounds.
Use it or lose it
When estrogen drops at menopause, the vaginal walls lose some of their elasticity. You can slow this process or even reverse it through sexual activity. If intercourse isn’t an option, masturbation is just as effective, although for women, this is most effective if you use a vibrator or dildo (an object resembling a penis) to help stretch the vagina. For men, long periods without an erection can deprive the penis of a portion of the oxygen-rich blood it needs to maintain good sexual functioning. As a result, something akin to scar tissue develops in muscle cells, which interferes with the ability of the penis to expand when blood flow is increased.
Putting the fun back into sex
Even in the best relationship, sex can become ho-hum after a number of years. With a little bit of imagination, you can rekindle the spark.
Maybe you’ve never had sex on the living room floor or in a secluded spot in the woods; now might be the time to try it. Or try exploring erotic books and films. Even just the feeling of naughtiness you get from renting an X-rated movie might make you feel frisky.
Create an environment for lovemaking that appeals to all five of your senses. Concentrate on the feel of silk against your skin, the beat of a jazz tune, the perfumed scent of flowers around the room, the soft focus of candlelight, and the taste of ripe, juicy fruit. Use this heightened sensual awareness when making love to your partner.
Leave love notes in your partner’s pocket for him or her to find later. Take a bubble bath together—the warm cozy feeling you have when you get out of the tub can be a great lead-in to sex. Tickle. Laugh.
Expand your sexual repertoire and vary your scripts. For example, if you’re used to making love on Saturday night, choose Sunday morning instead. Experiment with new positions and activities. Try sex toys and sexy lingerie if you never have before.
Read poetry to each other under a tree on a hillside. Surprise each other with flowers when it isn’t a special occasion. Plan a day when all you do is lie in bed, talk, and be intimate. The most important tool you have at your disposal is your attitude about sexuality. Armed with good information and a positive outlook, you should be able to maintain a healthy sex life for many years to come.
More good news for those of us with “older brains:” remaining active sexually – even with oneself – as minimally as once a week helps our minds stay younger. It also helps our spirit and our bodies to stay engaged with living.
Anything you would like to add from your experience or your thoughts?
New research found that older adults who reported having sex at least once each week got better scores on certain cognitive tests than those who reported having sex only once per month or not at all.
The study – by researchers at Coventry University and the University of Oxford, both in the United Kingdom – is published in the Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences.
The research builds on earlier work, which found that sexually active older adults performed better on some tests of mental ability than those who were not sexually active.
However, it is not clear why such a link exists. The authors refer to other studies that have found that older adults who are physically active and also have busy social lives are likely to perform better on tests of mental function.
These might suggest that the link between sexual activity and cognitive function is just a reflection of the social and physical elements of sexual activity.
Lead author Dr. Hayley Wright, from the Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement at Coventry University, and colleagues argue that sexual activity is a complex phenomenon with the potential to transcend not only its social and physical components, but also the emotional, psychological, and biological aspects.
They proposed that more frequent sexual activity may be linked with improved cognition, in the same way as such a link exists for other activities. Thus, they designed a study using a broader range of cognitive tests to investigate the link.
Study used range of cognitive tests
For their investigation, the team recruited 73 participants (28 men and 45 women) between 50 and 83 years of age, aged 62 on average.
The participants filled in a questionnaire that asked general questions about health and lifestyle, as well as how often they had engaged in sexual activity in the past 12 months. They were asked to respond with: once per week, once per month, or never.
Sexual activity was defined as “engagement in sexual intercourse, masturbation, or petting/fondling.”
The participants also underwent tests of mental ability. One of these – the Addenbrookes Cognitive Examination III – includes assessment of memory, verbal fluency, language, attention, and visuospatial ability, which is the ability to visualize objects and the spaces between them.
The verbal fluency test involves naming as many animals as possible in 60 seconds, and then to say as many words starting with the letter “F” as possible. The visuospatial ability test includes drawing a clock face from memory and copying a complicated design.
In their analysis, the researchers adjusted the results to account for gender, age, number of years of formal education, and cardiovascular health. They took heart health into account as this might influence frequency of sex and brain function.
Frequency of sex linked to cognitive scores
The results showed that frequency of sexual activity did not change with age, education, cardiovascular health, marital status, quality of life, and other factors.
More participants reported having had sex once each week than once per month or never in the last 12 months.
Participants who reported never having sex scored lower on average for overall cognitive function and verbal fluency compared with participants who reported having sex every week.
Also, participants who reported having sex once every month scored lower on average for verbal fluency and marginally lower on visuospatial ability, compared with those who reported having sex at least once weekly.
The team found no link between frequency of sexual activity and attention, memory, or language ability.
Because of its design, the study cannot prove that more frequent sex increases brain function; it can only establish a link and its strength. However, the researchers claim that it does shed more light on the association.
As Dr. Wright argues, “Every time we do another piece of research we are getting a little bit closer to understanding why this association exists at all, what the underlying mechanisms are, and whether there is a ’cause and effect’ relationship between sexual activity and cognitive function in older people.”
She and her colleagues suggest that further studies should investigate the biological aspects of the link and examine, for instance, the roles of dopamine and oxytocin.
“People don’t like to think that older people have sex – but we need to challenge this conception at a societal level and look at what impact sexual activity can have on those aged 50 and over, beyond the known effects on sexual health and general well-being.”
As our parents get older and begin to lose their independence, many will turn to their adult children to help them navigate the complicated and costly world of long-term care.
Yet for adult children already caring for young kids of their own, this new role of “caregiver” can be a difficult one to assume. It’s no wonder this group of people is known as the “Sandwich Generation” as they are literally ‘sandwiched’ between the pressures of raising a family, holding down a job and managing mom or dad’s growing medical and financial needs. July is known as Sandwich Generation month, where, as a country, we honor the struggles faced by this demographic—and their growing needs.
Planning Ahead is The Key to Retaining Control
Medical and long-term care needs for aging parents can be overwhelming, and Sandwich Generation kids can be tempted to “bury their heads in the sand.” However, failing to talk about and plan for an older parent’s needs can cause the family to miss out on important benefits, long-term care opportunities, and the ability to stay in controlduring mom or dad’s final years.
Remember—if you don’t make financial and medical decisions within your family, the courts will do it for you. Creating a plan in advance, while your parents still have the chance to have a say in their care and decisions, can make life easier for everyone involved.
5 Legal Planning Steps to Take
Elder law attorneys such as myself often recommend the following five planning steps to help ensure aging parents are afforded the most protection, flexibility, and financial security, while helping the adult child retain life balance and personal sanity:
1. Find out if your parents have an estate plan and whether it’s been updated in the past five years- The will, trust, powers of attorney, and health care directives your parents created years ago may not reflect their current wishes and long-term care needs now. Find out what they have in place and have it reviewed by an attorney to ensure their documents have stayed up to date as their life and the law has changed through the years.
2. Determine How You’ll Pay for Long-Term Care- Nursing home and assisted living facilities can cost up to $8,000 a month, and Medicare will not pick up the tab. In-home care can be equally burdensome for the average family. Medi-Cal may pay, provided you are hovering around the poverty level. The only other option is to pay out of pocket—unless, of course, you plan ahead. By acting in advance and not waiting until your hands are tied in a crisis, tools such as long-term care insurance, trusts, and annuities may be available to help your parents pay for their care without losing everything they’ve worked so hard for.
3. Get the Legal Authority You Need Now to Manage Their Affairs and Maintain Control- If your parents do not have powers of attorney or health care directives that allow you to communicate with doctors, access medical records, and manage their financial affairs, it’s a good idea to create them now while mom or dad is still in good health. Otherwise, if a sudden medical crisis strikes, or your parents no longer have the mental capacity to sign legal documents down the road, you’ll be forced to petition a court for control (read: major time and money lost).
4. Document Their End-of-Life Wishes- Thousands of families each year are torn apart trying to decide what their loved one “would have wanted” in serious medical situations. Avoid the stress and conflict by asking your parents their wishes about things such as life support, feeding tubes, organ donation, etc., and legally document their choices to ensure everyone is on the same page.
5. Get Organized Now to Avoid Last Minute Scrambling- Gather your parent’s important information now to avoid any confusion and delays in the event of a medical emergency. Some important documents to collect would include their insurance information, front and back of all ID cards including driver’s license, prescription cards, military ID card, prior medical history, names and numbers of doctors, copies of their living will, health care directives and a list of current medication and doses.
By being proactive and planning for these issues in advance, you can help make sure your parents always receive the care they need without worry or financial struggle. You’ll further avoid many costly legal headaches that adult children face when they are not prepared for their parent’s incapacity or ongoing care needs. It’s never too early to get started, so begin to take steps now to put plans in place that protect your parents, their assets, and your own sanity during mom and dad’s golden years.
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AARP said recently that 42 million Americans over 45 are chronically lonely. Wow!
Why is that? Fewer of us are getting married; we are having fewer children; more of us are becoming divorced and widowed. We get a dog instead of a friend. We interact on Facebook rather than in person.
What does all this mean for those who suffer with chronic loneliness? Another study of millions of Americans reports a 50% greater risk of premature death associated with chronic loneliness!!!
All of you who are feeling lonely know how much of a toll this takes on your spirit;
and now we’re learning it takes an actual toll on your life span!!
What can YOU do to be less lonely?
1. Remind yourself of some people you already like and, even if it’s been a while, reach out to contact them.
2. Take advantage of so many online ways to “meet up” with new people who share your interests. Even if there’s no romantic interest, you can find some worthwhile companionship to undermine your loneliness.
3. Remind yourself of activities you’ve enjoyed and go do the things you already love to do. Probably you’ll find others there who are also doing what they love; maybe you can join in with them.
4. Find a way to get out of your house daily and maybe even reach a bit beyond your comfort zone by reaching out to someone — at a coffeehouse, a museum or the line at the market.
What do you really have to lose but your loneliness?
Just had to stop to share the positive light with our beloved POP community. Here, in one short paragraph, is chronicled what science teaches us about LOVE AND ITS IMPACT ON OUR HUMAN BODIES AND MORE …
“This kind of loving support induces and sustains the self-healing mechanisms of the body. It reduces inflammation, the final common pathway for virtually every illness, and increases human growth hormone, which knits up the “raveled sleeve of care,” to use a Shakespearean phrase. It even knits up the raveled sleeve of DNA. When the body makes cancer cells, for instance, human growth hormone can prevent some of those mistakes in DNA replication. Love increases not only endorphins and endogenous cannabinoids, but it increases the secretion of nitric oxide—no, not laughing gas, that’s nitrous oxide. Nitric oxide allows your arteries to relax to reduce your blood pressure and improve your circulation. At the same time, love enhances your motivation for well-being, living a good life, making positive choices, and taking care of yourself.”
It’s a challenge to all concerned when a loved one’s needs — or your own — result in having to enter a nursing home, whether temporarily or for the indefinite future. One of our biggest collective fears is how will the senior manage the transition from home to a new place.
Traditionally there were so many rules and regulations in many nursing homes that it was often difficult to know whether your loved one’s best interests were being heard, understood and affirmatively responded to by the nursing home. To alleviate some of these concerns, the federal government’s Health and Human Services has put into effect a series of new regulations that must be followed lest funding be cut to noncompliant nursing homes.
The new regulations are now in effect and their focus is on giving more power to the residents of nursing homes, allowing them to make more of their own decisions. For example, resident can now:
decide what and when to eat and make their own decisions on having outside foods and snacks.
decide when they would like to have visitors.
choose their roommates.
The new regulations also provide added legal protection for the residents, such as:
have a staff member whose purpose is to work with residents when there is a complaint. When the final decision is made, it must be in writing.
protections against unjust discharge, such as a discharge during the time when a resident has applied for Medicaid, and is simply waiting to hear back.
Additionally there is now additional training and protection from elder abuse, in that:
staff is given adequate training and qualifications, including extra qualifications for working with individuals with dementia.
the facility must reach certain proportions of staff to residents deemed “enough competent staff.”
With these new regulations in place, there is greater accountability to residents and their families and physicians, allowing us to feel more comfortable knowing that our loved ones are able to express themselves more effectively and be better protected.