Heatwave Safety Tips for Protecting the Elderly

choclateicecreamRecord temperatures are being recorded in the western states and these sweltering summer days can kill.  That’s why it’s critical we protect our elderly and make sure they are keeping cool while the Fahrenheit rises well past 110 degrees.

1. Do wellness checks and stop by a senior’s house to make sure the air conditioner is working properly.  You can quickly spot potential a/c problems by checking the filter.  If dusty, change it.  A fresh new filter helps keep air conditioners running properly, especially if they are having to run constantly 24/7 during the heatwave.  It’s a small thing to do, but from our experiences as landlords it cuts way down on our a/c repairs.

2. If the air conditioner is not working or may break down, get the older person out of the house and to a cool place immediately.  That may mean forcing the person to leave, which is not easy with seniors who want to stay in their houses.

I had the same problem with my elderly parents last summer when our electricity went out.   They would not go to a motel.  But there is a lot of difference in the  temperatures  we were experiencing  in the 90’s  and the  thermometers now  reaching over 110 degrees.  We were miserable, but some seniors  in the west could possible lose their lives this summer.

Continue reading “Heatwave Safety Tips for Protecting the Elderly”


A long Convalescence Begins

We are now into day five of my Dad’s recovery from his last fall.

It has been a roller coaster ride of sorts and we have experienced quite a few ups and downs as we care give ourselves.  In spite of it all, we have had success but we measure it carefully, just in case anything else may happen to set him back.

One of the worst moments was last Saturday night, as I was standing in line to get Dad’s prescription filled.  I received a phone call from my brother.

Moment Crisis Hits Bottom

“What are we going to do?”

“I don’t know.”

“We’ve never been in a situation like this before,” he said.

The tone of his voice kind of alarmed me.  He had always been the older strong one in the family; a take charge kind of guy, not easily rattled.  But this time he sounded stumped.

“We’ll have to figure it out as we go along.  We’ll have to take it one hour at a time,” I said as felt my phone hand shaking.

Actually, what were we going to do?  Dad was going to need constant care.  It would either have to be a nursing home or we’d have to do it ourselves.   Either option was not good.

That was then and this is now.  It’s amazing how far you can go in only a few days.

We are figuring it out

That’s probably because we didn’t have a choice.

But now we’re getting used to our new schedule.  We have the toilet set up even though he doesn’t like it.  Thanks to the toilet liners changing a bed pan is now into the 21st century.   It has really improved from what it was over 30 years ago when we took care of my grandmother.

I’m still concerned about his bed which I think is  too high.  He wouldn’t allow us to lower the mattresses on the new bed frame I had bought.  ( I got it for $50 instead of $100.) So we’re saving it for later when he changes his mind.  And I also worry about new things such as will he forget to put the brakes on his wheelchair?

We’ve had friends who have  called  and a few have visited.  It means a lot.  We know they care and small kindnesses go a long way.  I’m finding out how important such small remembrances are to people in a crisis.

One of the most meaningful calls came from a tenant who found out Dad had broken his arm.   She gave me encouragement and told me not to get discouraged.  She has been caregiving  at least two of  her relatives for years.  I felt much better after talking to her.

Future Care Giving Options

We’ve been given a name of a lady and her daughters who can come to do only the tasks we specifically may need.  That’s an improvement over the agencies which insists you order care by blocks of time.  In other words, you’d have to order a caregiver for at least four hours at at time which would come to about $100 per visit.  It can certainly add up very quickly.  That’s a little too corporate for my tastes, but so far we’re doing okay on our own.

However, it’s going to be a long winter and my Dad will not be free of his cast until around April.


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Do Bats Hold the Key for Longevity?

There is new evidence lowly bats may have a gene which slows down their aging process and grants them a long life.

Bats have excellent immune systems which can not only fight disease but can also control inflammation.  This helps them live for an average life span of 20 to 40 years.   That’s extraordinary for the small cave creatures.

According to Professor Lin-Fa Wang of Duke-NUS

English: Little brown bat with white-nose synd...
English: Little brown bat with white-nose syndrome in Greeley Mine, Vermont, March 26, 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Graduate Medical School in Singapore, bats are expert infection fighters.  Their immune systems attack disease and not their own tissue.  This is significant because bats have a gene which helps them repair DNA damage.

Scientists believe bat studies may help us discover how to slow down the aging process in people as well as how to treat cancers.

Here’s more information about bat health discoveries

However, one important point was brought up in a comment that bats do suffer from white nose disease here in the U.S.  This disease is killing large numbers of bats and a cure is yet to be discovered.

Bats can also be nuisances when they take up residence in your attic, as was the case at my house the summer before last.  Many of those bats arrived from the caves in Alcoa, Tennessee.  They come as far as Nashville to have their offspring.  After their young reach maturity they head back to the caves.  Meanwhile, they can help you get rid of mosquitoes if they don’t scare you to death as they fly around your house at night.

There is still quite a bit to learn from them and  maybe the scientists are on to something.


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Is Deep Brain Stimulation the Alzheimer’s Answer?

English: A healthy brain compared to a brain s...
English: A healthy brain compared to a brain suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Doctors have implanted pacemakers into the brains of Alzheimer’s patients in a new experimental treatment at Johns Hopkins.

The procedure is a deep brain stimulation and is very similar to treatments already being practiced on Parkinson’s patients.

Holes are drilled into the skull and wires are attached  into the fornix of the brain.  The fornix is your brain’s main highway which brings information to your learning and memory center, the hippocampus.

The wires are attached to the device which stimulates the brain with electrical impulses at a rate of 130 times a second.  This mild electrical current can not be felt by the patient.


Right now, patients undergoing the revolutionary treatment are subjects in a study.  They have been carefully chosen and are in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s.  What is important to note is they still have their minds and the ability to decide if they want to be a part of the study or not.  Their disease is not so advanced that they are not aware of what is going on.

The devices will be turned on two weeks after implantation for half of the participants.  The other half will be turned on one year later.  Doctors will not be told which patients fall into which group.

I think this is significant because the treatment has already had some success with Parkinson’s patients.  80,000 patients have had the similar procedure for Parkinson’s over the last fifteen years so there is somewhat of a track record.  Question is, will it work for Alzheimer’s?

We won’t know for a while until the study, which is somewhat complicated, is completed.   What we do know is that we’d better be finding a cure for Alzheimer’s fast since there sill be 11 to 16 millions Alzheimer’s patients by 2050.  That’s only 38 years from now.

Here’s more about the John Hopkins Alzheimer’s Deep Brain Stimulation Study.

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