Every day, millions of Americans take prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines to treat a variety of ailments ranging from incontinence, to depression, to allergies and more. New research, however, shows that previously unknown risks associated with certain associated drugs may be contributing to elevated rates of dementia in aging adults.
Today, dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are at near epidemic levels. They currently affect over 50 million people worldwide, and about 10 million more people are diagnosed every year.
Millions of Americans and their families have also been painfully impacted by the devastating effects of dementia. These can include, but not be limited to, severe memory loss and deteriorating judgement, decision making, and behavioral functions. Alzheimer’s Disease alone is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and there is no known cure.
Several groundbreaking studies in recent years have shed light on the issue by establishing a compelling link to a class of drugs known as “anticholinergics.” These include highly technical drug names like amitriptyline, dosulepin, and paroxetine, for example, and others like oxybutynin, solifenacin, and tolterodine.
In plain English, these are are used to treat depression and the loss of bladder control.
Other conditions regularly treated with anticholinergic drugs include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and Parkinson’s disease. Some studies include diphenhydramine, an anticholinergic ingredient in many commonly used antihistamines. Common medicines containing diphenhydramine include Benadryl, Motrin, Midol and Robitussin — although it’s important to note that these medicines have not been shown to cause dementia, only that diphenhydramine has anticholinergic effects. Anticholinergics work by blocking a chemical messenger, or neurotransmitter, called acetylcholine that carries brain signals for controlling muscles.
A new British study found that long-term use of certain anticholinergics is significantly linked to dementia, especially those used to treat depression and Parkinson’s disease. But unlike other studies, it did not find a connection between antihistamines and dementia.
Shockingly, in some cases, a link was established for study participants who took anticholinergic drugs 15-20 years before being diagnosed with dementia. Scientists concluded that such cases reduced the possibility of mere correlation between these drugs and dementia.
While there’s much research to be done, every new study advises both physicians and patients to be vigilant about the use of anticholinergic drugs. We know just how hard it can be when a loved one faces a diagnosis like this. Do not wait to contact our office on this issue or any elder care issue you or a family member may be facing.
When it comes to planning for an aging parent’s long-term care needs, few legal documents are as important as a durable power of attorney. Simply put, a power of attorney grants a designated person, known as the attorney-in-fact or agent, with the legal right to make decisions on the aging parent’s behalf. Through the durability of this document, should the time come when the parent is unable to make decisions, this authority can include assisting the aging parent with financial and legal matters.
With aging adults, a sudden illness, dementia or simply the aging process itself can lead to a situation where they become incapable of managing their own affairs. When a Florida durable power of attorney is in place, an adult child, or whomever the designated attorney-in-fact is, can step in and seamlessly continue paying their bills, handle their investments, and even make long-term care decisions.
Unfortunately, if this type of planning is not in place, any number of challenging situations can arise, including the need to file a court action to obtain a guardianship. This can be time consuming, expensive, and emotionally burdensome during a difficult period. Further, with a guardianship in place, the adult children may not be able to protect the aging parent’s money from the high costs of long-term care.
Planning ahead in this regard can make a huge, maybe even critical, difference. Despite the obvious benefits, many aging Floridians do not take the necessary steps to protect themselves, their assets, and their family from long-term care costs. Long-term care costs are a reality today. Research continues to show that the majority of seniors over age 70 will need some type of long-term care in the future.
Despite this continuing trend, many aging adults do not think about a future that could include long-term care. This could be for any number of reasons including a genuine fear over how to afford future care and that the senior will be in a position of vulnerability. When the aging adult’s planning is not completed in advance of a crisis, however, the durable power of attorney becomes the family and the senior’s best protection from this uncertainty.
Through the Florida durable power of attorney, the agent will be able to care for the elder in a way that makes sense for him or her. The agent will be able to find good care and determine the best way to pay for it. This could even include hiring an elder care attorney to help with the process.
If you’re aging parent is resistant, we encourage you to talk to them sooner rather than later. The durable power of attorney in Florida is your family’s best ally when it comes to crisis planning for the long-term care costs that may be needed in the future. We know this article may raise more questions than it answers and are here to help you as an elder care resource.
The older one gets, the more they tend to appreciate the relationships that matter most. In many cases, it’s loving and appreciating aging parents. It’s only natural that we want to take care of our parents, especially as they age. The question becomes: How can well-meaning adult children provide support and care when they don’t live in the same area?
It’s a dilemma that countless people face and our clients frequently ask us. Luckily, it is not one without any solutions. Although regularly stopping by to see them might not be an option, with a little information and some extra effort you can do a lot for your parents.
Let us share five ways you can provide support for elder parents no matter how big the distance.
1. Create a “Care” Notebook. This is a tool that has never been more manageable than in our current digitized world. Create an online notebook you can share with your aging parents and siblings that lists key contact, health, calendar, and other important information that may need to be available at a moment’s notice.
You may want to go a step beyond sharing it. Consider allowing family and friends to have the ability to add to it. This shared project can be a great way to infuse a network of support with updates and happenings about your elderly loved one.
2. Regular Conversations. The best practice is to call regularly and visit whenever you can. Encourage others to do the same, and be sure to make the most out of each opportunity. The easiest way to feel a connection might just be calling and saying hi, then listening. Other occasions might require leading questions and some gentle probing. For example, “What’s on the agenda for this afternoon?” or “How’s Dr. Smith?”
3. Build a Local Support Network. If you live far away, you obviously can’t just pop by when you need to. In the case of a health issue, or an emergency, this can a serious problem.
One way to hedge against such scenarios is to develop a list of key individuals such as neighbors, care providers, doctors, and others who can pitch in during an emergency. Be sure they have your contact information to facilitate an efficient two-way communication and ultimately know who is in charge pursuant to your parents’ Florida estate planning.
4. Daily Assistance. Long distance relationships by nature are void of daily appearances. Don’t wait to make sure your potentially isolated parents have continuous interaction. Work on coordinating with various organizations and individuals to schedule frequent assistance such as meal deliveries, check-ups from home health aides, and others.
5. Involving Family Members. No one wants their adult parents to be alone, but that doesn’t mean you have to be alone either. Spread the love and share the burden together. Involve other family members to assist in communication, and other important health, financial, social, and legal considerations.
Often family members with the closest geographic proximity are relied upon the most, but with involved family members there doesn’t have to be any undue burdens. Work together on the elder care issues facing your aging parents as a team. Don’t forget, we are here to help and would love to discuss the planning you need for success.
Depending on your relationship, it may be uncomfortable to approach your aging parents about their end-of-life choices, but do not put off his conversation. As our parents age it is critical we foster open communication on who they want to take care of them, how care should be provided, and the legacy they wish to leave.
Your parents will almost certainly have ideas and wishes to fulfill. You can help them ensure their goals are met but also can take the time to make sure they are prepared for an uncertain long-term care future.
When it comes to Florida estate planning, there’s a lot to consider. Offering support could be exactly what the situation needs. Whatever the case, starting the conversation is step one. This is only the start though. Your goal is to ultimately plan for how they will find good care should they need it and know how they will be able to afford it.
The earlier you can have this conversation the better. Let us share one way to break the ice:
“Mom, or Dad, would it be okay if we talked for a minute? I feel like it’d irresponsible of me if I didn’t ask you about your estate plan and future health decisions?”
Simply put, an estate plan includes anything the aging person owns and it puts into writing how they would like to distribute any available assets after they pass. It also can include a financial power of attorney and a healthcare power of attorney. Both are documents allowing a named individual to make financial and healthcare decisions on the person’s behalf should he or she become incapacitated.
Consider continuing the conversation with this:
“Your estate plan is important to me, but it is more than that. I am worried that you may one day need long-term care. I think we need to start talking now about how we will find good care and be able to afford it.”
This conversation may catch your parents by surprise. Reassure them. Let them know that you are not trying to pressure them into making an immediate decision but you do want to open the conversation. Discuss with them how this type of care, which could become necessary in the future, can be expensive, and involve considerable inconveniences during an emotionally difficult period.
Share with them that if they do not have Florida estate planning documents that contemplate future elder care needs, much of the planning they need may not be possible. In fact, they may be at risk of not being able to save any of their assets from being depleted on the cost of a nursing home. Encourage them though that together you can create a plan with their elder care attorney to ensure that they are provided for under any potential future circumstance.
It may not be easy to talk to your aging parents about their estate planning and elder care needs, but with love and support it can alleviate worry and bring about peace of mind. Consider it an opportunity to be of service to your loved ones who once took care of you. Do not hesitate to ask us your questions.
Hurricanes are massive storms with winds that can reach upwards of 150 miles per hour, spawn tornadoes, create storm surges along coastal areas, and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall.
Perhaps the deadliest hurricane complication is flooding. Floods can affect anyone, anywhere and at any time. They can also happen quickly and be all-encompassing that there is literally no place to run.Flooding, for example, caused incalculable losses to property and human lives during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005.
If you are a senior or having an aging parent living in Florida, safety during storm season should be a top priority. Bear in mind, flooding concerns are not limited only to Florida seniors living at home. Even for seniors who are now living in long-term care facilities or independent living, understanding the crisis plan for storm season is critical. You do not want to wait for a storm to determine how to make your home safe or to know how a facility will operate in a crisis.
We want you to develop your own plan to ensure you or your senior loved ones are safe. Let us share a few key tips to help you, and especially your aging parents living in Florida, to be prepared for hurricane-related weather conditions.
Ways to Prepare Before a Potential Flood
Make copies of all important personal and legal documents. Put the originals in a safe place away from the home – like a safe deposit box – and the copies in the home within a waterproof container. Talk to the attorney you work with about the documents you should take with you should evacuation be necessary.
Take photos of valuable possessions – like jewelry, art and furniture – and compile receipts. Place the photos and receipts with other important documents. Putting these photos on a USB thumb drive would take up the least amount of space but be sure to take it during evacuation.
Review the flood insurance policy and make sure you understand it. Call the insurance agent to verify you are sufficiently covered.
Take inventory of the medication supply. Do you or your aging parents have enough to get through a storm if roads are impassable to get to a pharmacy? Talk to your doctor to ensure you have what you need.
Where will you or your aging parents evacuate to or be evacuated to? Learn this early. You do not want to be evacuated to a shelter that will not be able to provide for necessary health care.
What to Know While Flooding is Occurring
Store a radio with extra batteries in order to receive weather and safety updates in case electrical power is out.
Keep away from power lines and electrical wiring. Electrocution is one of the main causes of death during flooding.
Do not drive through a flooded area. Water is incredibly powerful. Only two feet of moving flood water can sweep away an average car. Surprisingly, more people drown in their cars than anywhere else during flooding.
Do not walk through flooded areas. It can take as little as six-inches of water to knock someone down.
Commit to communicate with family and loved ones as much as possible during this time.
After the Flood is Over
Remember, just because the water is gone, doesn’t mean that danger has passed.
If evacuated, do not return to your home until local authorities have declared it is safe to do so.
Determine if structural damage has occurred before entering your home. A partial collapse could be fatal.
Wear gloves, protective clothing, eye protection and boots to clean and disinfect your home.
Check for local announcements about the water supply. Do not assume it is safe to drink.
These are just a few of the tips we have to keep you or your aging parents safe during storm season. We know this article may have raised more questions than it answered. Do not wait to ask us. Let us help you ensure you have the Florida planning you need to stay safe during storm season and well into the future.
There is a lot more to Alzheimer’s Disease than just forgetfulness. It’s actually the sixth leading cause of death in the United States annually, with more than 5 million people currently living with the disease.
Nearly every American family has been touched.
While there is currently no cure, there is much you can do to be prepared should you or someone you love be affected.
The first step is awareness. This is where the old adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” comes into play. According to the Mayo Clinic, certain activities are thought to contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease, such as lack of exercise, high blood pressure, poorly controlled diabetes, poor diet and lack of social engagement. These are things you can proactively address, or not do as the case may be, to help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Other risk factors, are largely out of your control. Understanding them, however, can help you be prepared for the future. In fact, the greatest known risk factor for Alzheimer’s is increasing age. The vast majority of people with the disease are age sixty-five or older. One in nine seniors in their sixties and seventies have Alzheimer’s, and nearly one-third of all people age 85 or older have the disease.
Family history and genetics are other major contributors. Those who have a parent or sibling with Alzheimer’s are much more likely to develop it themselves. New research suggests a strong link between serious head injuries and the future risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, especially when head trauma occurs repeatedly over time. Buckling your seatbelt, wearing a helmet when engaged in sports, and fall-proofing your home, or the home of a loved one, are simple preventative measures.
Should you or someone you know be diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s, an important area to get acquainted with is medical treatments. There are both drug and non-drug treatments available to help with cognitive and behavioral symptoms of the disease. Knowing your options ahead of time can prepare you to make choices that can alter the course of the disease and improve quality of life.
What is most important, however, is to plan as soon as possible. This includes not only your Florida estate planning but your long-term care planning. You need to be thinking about the future for yourself and your loved ones well before any illnesses should occur and how you will be able to afford future care needs. While we do help families at all stages of their lives and diagnoses, the sooner we plan the more options can be available. Does this blog raise more questions than it answers? Do not wait to schedule a meeting with our office to discuss what you need right now.