|November is National Family Caregivers Month. This is the perfect time to celebrate the contribution of those volunteer friends and family members who support a loved one with their health or managing a disability. We’re thankful for the contributions of the more than 44 million Americans who care for a family member, friend, or neighbor. Join us as we salute and celebrate all caregivers with my official launch of “An Unlikely Gift: Finding Inspiration Caring for My Father with Dementia.” My book is now available in paperback and as an e-book on Amazon.com. https://amzn.to/2Rvw2mH.
I wrote “An Unlikely Gift” to let the world know more about my father. We were always close and I wanted his legacy to live on. I did that and I am very proud of that. Along the way, I also realized that I wanted to help caregivers who are on a similar journey as mine. I wanted to provide guidance and inspiration to them and help them embrace the road they are on. I sincerely hope this book is successful in that way.
Read my book to learn how you can make today great. Come learn with others how to survive this journey, and even thrive. Books signings and events continue to be planned but one I have on my calendar now is with OASIS Rochester this Friday, November 9 at 1:30pm. I’m calling this a Caregiver Conversation where we’ll be discussing mindset and care-giving strategies in an effort to make this road a little bit easier. This will be held at Lifetime Care at 3111 Winton Rd. South in Rochester. This is a free event with a book signing immediately following. Books will be available for sale at a discount.
Please visit https://www.oasisnet.org/Rochester-NY/Classes (class #533) for more information. Registration for this event is FREE. Signing up with Oasis Rochester is FREE. You have nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.
Take a moment and thank a caregiver in your life. Thank them for being the gift that they are.
Thank you to all who have purchased my book, “An Unlikely Gift: Finding Inspiration Caring for My Father with Dementia.” Thank you to all who have read it and are now providing feedback to me. I cannot thank you enough for sharing your experience with me. Thank you taking time out of your busy day to do this.
Recently, I’ve noticed a pattern in your comments that I just have to talk about. Just this week, four of you came forward to say that you loved the book so much that you passed the book on to a caregiver whom you thought might benefit from it.
Just this morning I received a note that said, “I’m going to loan the book to a friend who has her grandmother living with them. Hope she can get something out of it to help. Again, WELL DONE!!”
Some authors cringe at pass-along readership. I consider it a compliment, and a generous one at that. So, I want to go on record and encourage you to pass along my book to others you think will benefit from it. If some buy it, thank you in advance. It’s about helping others. You have stories, too. I know because I’ve heard them. Thanks for sharing them with me and share them with other caregivers, too. Be a blessing to others. Your stories are powerful and they can help others know they are not alone.
Pass it on.
November is National Family Caregivers Month. This is the perfect time to celebrate the contribution of those volunteer friends and family members who support a loved one with their health or managing a disability. We’re thankful for the contributions of the more than 44 million Americans who care for a family member, friend, or neighbor. Join us as we salute and celebrate all caregivers with my official launch of “An Unlikely Gift: Finding Inspiration Caring for My Father with Dementia.”
Books signings and events continue to be planned but one I have on my calendar now is with OASIS Rochester on Friday, November 9 at 1:30pm. I’m calling this a Caregiver Conversation where we’ll be discussing mindset and care-giving strategies in an effort to make this road a little bit easier. This will be held at Lifetime Care at 3111 Winton Rd. South in Rochester. This is a free event with a book signing immediately following. Books will be for sale at a discount.
Please visit https://www.oasisnet.org/Rochester-NY/Classes for more information. Registration for this event is FREE. Signing up with Oasis Rochester is FREE. You have nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.
Pass it on.
If you know of any groups or organizations who would benefit from my message, please let me know. I’d be happy to arrange a Caregiver Conversation with them too. This is about sharing. This is about coming together – coming together to help each other.
Please celebrate with me and share my book with a caregiver you know. Be a “gift” to others. Spread the word so that other caregivers can better understand this message and be inspired – just like you. We are not alone and we are stronger together.
Pass it on.
By Nancy Alexander, PT
Just never give up.
That’s what Bonnie André from Victor NY would tell you. At aged 60 she experienced what she describes as her defining moment. It was a horrendous car accident that few could survive. She did survive and because she did, she lives with a passion to be active and healthy and encourages others to do the same.
Her accident was 12 years ago and she still remembers it well. It was in 2006 and she recalls she had a new grand-daughter. She was coming home from her hairdresser. She was driving up a hill and then lost consciousness. She drifted into the other lane where she crashed into another vehicle. “They say the combined effective speed was about 80 mph,” said Bonnie. She regained consciousness briefly after the collision when they were cutting the car apart to get her out. It had collapsed around her. She opened her eyes, and she saw her arms up in the air. Her right arm had an obvious open forearm fracture, with a lot of exposed bone. She remembers the ambulance taking her to the hospital. She had multiple fractures: both bones at her right forearm, every rib, and sternum. She also had a separation of the left clavicle at her sternum. In addition, she had a collapsed lung. The most serious injury was a transecting aorta (otherwise known as an aortic rupture), the result of the abrupt deceleration from speed to stop. Fortunately, it was slow to develop and was repaired with a stent. This was the first time a stent was used for an accident repair and was 100% successful. Bonnie is a walking miracle.
Bonnie said she drew strength from her family and friends. “I had some very dark times,” she said. Recovery was complicated by developing Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome (RSD) which is a complex and chronic regional pain syndrome that affects limbs after injury, surgery, a stroke or heart attack. She had to have injections to get through the pain of being stretched and ranged as part of her rehabilitation. There was emotional pain too. Bonnie learned the other driver survived and was grateful for that. “That haunted me,” she said.
“So many people give up – it’s easy to do,” Bonnie added. “The medical professionals who worked with me said I would never be able to rotate my right forearm again. I can. Their prognosis made me more determined.” Since her accident, Bonnie has had both her knees replaced due to arthritis. About 6 weeks prior to the accident, she had both big toes surgically fused as developing arthritis had made any movement there very painful.
“I didn’t give up then and I don’t want to give up now,” Bonnie said. “There’s so much living yet to do. Life is great as long as I can be active.”
Bonnie admits that she got very depressed during the long recovery and enforced inactivity. To go from being very active to sitting in a recliner 24/7 was incredibly depressing for her. “I got the idea that I had to let the bad feelings out from time to time or go crazy,” Bonnie said. “I started having what I called pity parties. I would look at the clock and say to myself: You’ve got 10 minutes, then you’re done. Scream, cry, do whatever you want, then go back to being positive and upbeat.” “Make sure you are alone when you do this,” Bonnie added with a half-smile. Bonnie wants to remind others that they are human. “You’re going to feel sorry for yourself. But you also need to set limits for this.”
More importantly, Bonnie focuses on what she can do. Among her many interests and activities, Bonnie loves to travel and just recently returned from a trip to Scotland with her sister. Bonnie has been active for years with equestrian events and is a “would-be” competitive dressage rider. She bikes and enjoys Yoga and Pilates classes. She is a certified level 2 alpine ski instructor and currently teaches skiing at Hunt Hollow Ski Club. She is also a senior level ski patroller. She ran a marathon at age 52 in Dublin, Ireland (which she said was one of the biggest challenges she has ever done).
I asked Bonnie what’s on her bucket list and her first response was, “It’s big.” She said she is continuing to train her 10-year-old horse, Laddie, on higher level dressage movements. Unfortunately, developing arthritis in her hips is making riding painful. “There will be hip replacement(s) in the future,” Bonnie added.
Bonnie’s face lit up when she said to me, “Oh, this is so exciting! I’m transferring a lot of what Laddie is trained to do under saddle to being driven.” She plans to do their first Combined Driving Event in September. The sport is relatively young on the world scene. It is a very technical and demanding sport with a lot of memorization involved. She said it is as much mental as physical and requires a real partnership between horse and driver. “I like that,” she said. She will be doing this with her husband of 48 years, Bob, who will serve as a navigator. Her passion runs deep.
Bonnie said her recovery from her accident lasted about one year and that the only limitation from it is that she can’t completely straighten her fourth finger on her right hand. That is remarkable by any standard. “If I had not been in that good a shape when it happened, I was told I may not have survived,” Bonnie said.
“One reason I survived this accident is to encourage others,” Bonnie added. “I believe that, I really do,” she said. “Never give up! Stay healthy and keep moving. Find challenges mentally and physically. Find challenges that are achievable and meaningful,” she added. “Face your struggles head on.”
Just never give up.
© 2018 Aging Well Now. All rights reserved.
By Nancy Alexander, PT
When I teach my exercise classes to adults over 50, I frequently ask how many of them have had a bone density scan done. Thankfully a large majority of them raise their hands – as many as 80% of them. Then I ask how many of them know their numbers. The results change significantly. They stop and think. They look at one another and then lower their hands. Typically, only 20-30% of them say they know. Knowing your numbers can be crucial to your health. I’ll explain why.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), 10 million Americans have osteoporosis: Another 34 million Americans have low bone density or osteopenia. About nine million Americans over the age of 50 have osteoporosis. One half of women and two in five men will develop osteoporosis during their lifetime. Osteoporosis is the underlying cause of approximately two million fractures every year.
Unfortunately, people with low bone density are more likely to break a bone compared to people with normal bone density. Without a scan and without knowing your numbers, you cannot possibly undergo treatment for this disease. Which, in turn, is risky.
I want you to meet Sam. He is a former patient of mine (name has been changed for privacy). He came to me at an outpatient clinic recovering from breaking his shoulder blade when he fell skiing. As a physical therapist and skier, I was interested in how he fell to cause this. Sam proceeded to tell me. Later that day I was thinking about what he said. I was left with the feeling that I could not see how such a fall could produce a fractured bone. I began wondering about his bone density. He was an active man in his early 50’s. During his next visit I shared with him my concern. A half smile crossed his face and he said, “You know… my wife and I just had this same discussion last night.” I asked him if he had ever had his bone density assessed. He hadn’t. By the end of the visit, he was planning to schedule it. Turns out, Sam had osteopenia or low bone mass. This is often considered the early stage of osteoporosis. Thankfully he was not more seriously injured and healed well. Even more importantly, Sam discovered this disease and was able to begin treatment right away while incorporating some lifestyle changes to help improve it.
As an aside, rates of osteoporosis among men are rising, projected to increase 50% in the next 15 years. That seems quite remarkable but it is also true that with increased awareness now, more men are being scanned.
The DEXA Bone Scan is considered the gold standard for measuring bone density. The World Health Organization (WHO) Classification for bone density is called the T-Score. This is the number you are given as a result of your scan. Lower scores (more negative) mean lower bone density:
Here is the breakdown of key levels:
- -1 to (+) = healthy bone
- -1 to -2.5 = osteopenia
- <-2.5 = osteoporosis
Consider also Kim’s story (again name has been changed for privacy). She said she was last scanned over four years ago and was diagnosed with osteopenia. She started thinking about it again and thought she should get a follow-up scan. She promptly scheduled one. She was screened and now has “severe osteoporosis” at several locations in her body. Her lowest number is -3.6 at her fourth lumbar vertebra. Remember -2.5 is the level at which osteoporosis starts. How could this be? When she inquired about her numbers from four years ago, she found out they were -2.4 – just .1 point from osteoporosis. Knowing that may have brought about treatment options she and her physician didn’t otherwise consider. In the end though this is not about placing blame. This is about learning the importance of getting scanned and knowing your bone density score so you can make the best choices for you at the time.
Here’s another example: Linda (again name has been changed for privacy) had her bone density checked about three years ago and discovered she had osteoporosis. She was given her scores at that time. She immediately began treatment and engaged in multiple exercise classes incorporating strength training and impact exercise. She also began a walking program. Three years later, her numbers revealed only osteopenia, not osteoporosis. Her numbers improved. This is huge! This can mean the difference of not having to take prescription medication for osteoporosis (which is often not appealing) vs opting for more conservative treatment of vitamin supplements and exercise programs as noted above.
Getting scanned and knowing your numbers can lead to better health. True these are only examples and do not in any way illustrate what can happen to you and to others. Always consult with your physician for treatment options and other recommendations and always consult with them prior to starting any new exercise program. Other health concerns may also need to be considered.
It is important to remember that bone remodels throughout our life… it is a continuous process. We can strengthen our bones at any age. Here’s how it works: After the active skeletal growth phase in youth, and after menopause in women (a bit later in men), the remodeling process becomes unbalanced and we begin to lose more bone than we replace. This results in a net decrease in the total amount of bone. Still, osteoporosis doesn’t have to happen if we have enough bone mass. And you can build bone mass at any age with treatments such as prescription medications, vitamin supplements (Calcium and Vitamin D), weight bearing exercise and resistance training. With respect to exercise, bone get stronger with impact and bone gets stronger at muscle/tendon insertion points with resistance strength training.
Exercise is important and fall prevention is especially critical for those with osteoporosis. Research shows that fractures are more common in bones with low bone density vs normal bone. Fall prevention must include movement and exercise to maximize range of motion, strength and function. For those with osteoporosis or osteopenia, seek out safe bone strengthening strategies that integrate alignment and balance techniques. Even if you don’t have osteoporosis or osteopenia, strengthening your bones is important and can and should be done at any age.
In summary, movement and exercise on a regular basis is critical for your overall long-term health, fitness and quality of life. Building strong bones may not be at the top of your wellness list, but perhaps it should be. Get scanned, know your numbers, and act now to improve your health and wellness.
© 2018 Aging Well Now. All rights reserved.
By Nancy Alexander, PT
About a month ago, I slowed down my pace a bit. Earlier this year I was working part time, growing my business, planning a major fundraising event, writing a book, yada yada yada. You get the picture. I couldn’t think straight. I put off so many things. And I couldn’t get to things I really wanted to do. My house was a mess. I was spread too thin. Time for a change… or really a major overhaul. I loved what I was doing but I wanted to focus more on where my heart was. I want to do a few things well , not a lot of things mediocre.
Today, I’ve downsized to growing my business and publishing my first book. I’m also taking more time for me. I think summertime is the perfect time to do this. So here we go…
16 ways to decompress, recharge and renew
- Clean – I mean really clean, top to bottom. Target a room and have at it. So maybe I’m just a little late with my spring cleaning. Still feels great.
- Declutter – my home office featured a white folding table which was completely covered with stacks of file folders on it. Bookshelves were crammed with items I couldn’t find a home for. I could not see the top of my desk. This was also covered with folders, with additional loose pieces of paper and Post-it notes. Oh, the Post-it notes. The number of Post-it notes stuck everywhere is directly proportional to the clutter in my head. Not any more. Files not needed are now stored neatly in bins under the table or in a storage closet. Ones I do need frequently are more organized together in two bins on the table. I reach into these daily. I have more space to work now and my head doesn’t feel so cluttered now either.
- Morning coffee on the deck – or back patio depending on the heat. The only noise I hear are the birds and I’m learning what kind they are by their song.
- Sit outside and read – I do this later in the day in my comfy chair under the deck and out of the hot sun. I enjoy a cool drink and travel to wherever my book takes me.
- Exercise – I have a stationary bike and a treadmill. I do some cardio, core work and stretch every day. Stretching is like dessert – a treat I give myself.
- Play golf – a great way to be outside while exercising. Still looking for my first birdie this year.
- Meet a friend for lunch – love catching up with friends to see what they are up to. I do this about once a week. It’s one of my new favorite things.
- Have fun in the kitchen – meal prep for the week. I like to try new recipes. Fun, fun.
- Use herbs and tomatoes – from my deck garden to make healthier meals.
- Journal – I imagineer my dreams every single morning.
- Write – my book or my blog. Just write. Writing helps me make sense of my life.
- Pull weeds – very therapeutic. I have several perennial gardens and love to get out there and pull the weeds or prune back old flowers. Pruning trees is one of my favorite things to do.
- Ride my bike – my dad used to say when I was a kid I rode my bike all the time… everywhere. I’m getting back on it.
- Fire pit – I love sitting by the fire pit with my husband after dark on a cool summer night. Listening to music. Looking up at the stars and identifying them.
- Travel – get out of dodge so to say. Even for a day… a change of scenery does wonders for the mind.
- Meditate – Just be… enjoy the moment. Be more mindful. Create a grateful heart in just minutes.
There you go… 16 ways to renewal. What are some of your ways?
Make it a great summer!!