Archive for the ‘Wellness’ Category

Advocating & Combating Ageism

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

 Combating ageism and advocating for the  elderly are issues that I am passionate about!  Health is what what my long nursing career has been focused on.   In order to address  physical health  and wellness of seniors, I realize that it is necessary to destroy or at least scale, the walls of ageism.  In order for the elderly to attain wellness , (the highest state of general health possible for them), we must be prepared to advocate for or “actively support”  them in doing so.  It will not just happen.  It’s a new year and many people have  already made resolutions.   Though I certainly need to exercise, eat better and relax more, I resolve instead to be a better advocate for the frail elderly and advocate for them at every opportunity I encounter or can create. 

Ageism is a phenomenon that is prevalent in our culture.  It is a general term defined as discrimination based on age.  Commonly applied to discrimination against the elderly,  it may apply to any age group.  Ageism towards the elderly manifests itself in many forms, some of which are blatant but others more subtle and disguised.  Jobs may be denied to senior applicants  because of their age, gray hair or older appearance.   The elderly are often not included in conversations or ignored when in public.  The perception of younger people may be that seniors are not computer savvy, or intelligent.  They are often treated with disrespect, even annoyance by all ages of society.   Ageism may appear as quite innocent behavior like  referring to older people as “sweetie” or “honey” rather than by their names but doing so can be patronizing to an older person.  They should first be asked how they would like to be referred to.  At times, ageism presents itself in very unlikely places.  Shockingly, I have even heard doctors and  nurses complaining that it was ridiculous to order physical therapy for an eighty-seven year old,  because he was ” too old”.  Interestingly, that eighty-seven year old had been very active prior to having had gall bladder surgery.  He would again be very active after recovering and physical therapy would certainly prove to be beneficial, (even cost effective), not ridiculous!  Lack of respect- Assumption- Ignorance- Generalization- Intolerance-Fear  All of these either contribute to or are results of ageism towards the elderly. 

My youngest daughter was part of a multi-age modern dance company from the time she was seven years old until the time she was an adult.  Even as a child, she was  treated as a  contributing member of the troupe and her  input was valued as much as the older dancers’ opinions and contributions were.  I think that her experience in that company contributed to the fact that she has always treated everyone respectfully whether they were five years old or eighty-five years old.  I wish that more people in our society could have similar  experiences.  Perhaps, if we were all valued, we would be more likely to value others for who they really are,  rather than seeing their thinning gray hair, wrinkles  or slow gait and assuming that they have nothing worthwhile to offer society.  Seniors are a treasure chest filled with unexpected wisdom and insight.

Combating ageism against the elderly is a battle that should begin (or continue) with each of us throughout this new year.  There is no place in our society and especially in the senior care industry for ageism!  All of us who work in healthcare, or any other industry that serves seniors, should resolve to be more aware of and less tolerant of ageism.  Seniors should have the same rights as people of all ages.  They should be treated with the same respect that all people deserve! If vulnerable, they should be protected.  They should be viewed as individuals and their problems approached as such.  I have no doubt that quality of life for the elderly would improve tremendously if ageism declined.  Health would improve as well and it would be more cost effective.  I challenge you to join me in my resolution to look for and create every opportunity possible to advocate for the elderly and defeat ageism.  It may seem like a huge feat but I believe even the smallest efforts can make a difference!  In the past, other walls have been toppled…

Wellness Wishes for the New Year!

The Gift from the Caregiver

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Over the past month, I have heard the Christmas classic , “The Little Drummer Boy”, played hundreds of times on the radio.  I  enjoyed it every time.  I think it defines the “gold standard” for gift giving.  It is the story of a small, poor boy,  simply and honestly giving of himself to a very important recipient.  The magnitude and value of that small gift is evident in the song.  Many of us hustle around looking for the ultimate gift for those we care about, but there are  others who are quietly giving that gift year round.  They are the caregivers providing physical care, support, and love to family members, friends, church members and even clients.  Many of them feel inadequate and overwhelmed by the needs of their family or cares but strive to provide more care for them as their needs change.  These caregivers not only address the physical needs of their loved ones but also needs in all areas of life and wellness…spiritual, emotional, intellectual, social, environmental and the person’s need for  purpose.  Often, caregivers  do not consciously realize the scope of their role.  They do it out of love and intuitively.  It can be extremely difficult.  I hope these caregivers realize what an incredible gift they are giving their loved ones.  It is a gift of  self, love, respect, time and support.  It is the gift that allows the person to be; as healthy as they can possibly be, as autonomous as they can possibly be, as creative as they can possibly be and as happy as they can possibly be.  It is not a gift that can be purchased. 

 Many adult children of seniors are faced with difficult decisions.  Considering options and all the needs of their senior is so very important.   Sometimes there is a seemingly easy solution but it is often not in the senior’s best interest.  Giving the situation loving attention and energy to find the best solution for the senior and the entire family is the greatest gift an adult child or other family member can give! 

For the people who may not be able to express their thanks and for those who do not even realize they have the ultimate gift, I personally thank all of you caregivers for your gifts to your family and cares.  Daily, you bring gifts and you honor those to whom you give.  You are truly giving the greatest gift of all!  Knowing that you have done so is your gift to yourself as well.   Cherish it and hold it gently, close to your heart so you can bring it forward whenever you need it.  Bless you.

The Power of Wellness

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Hello, my name is Carol Long.  I am a gerontological nurse who is beginning a new practice in senior wellness and geriatric care management.  In my years of nursing practice, I have had the opportunity to work with many seniors.  Each has enriched my life in a unique way and taught me valuable lessons.  I hope to be able to share these experiences through my business, community activities and this blog…I invite and welcome your input.  You are the ones who hold the wisdom and inspire me and others in healthcare.

Through SOZO Senior Wellness, my new business, I hope to empower seniors in their journey through aging and the families walking with them.  I want to shift the concept from “taking care of” to “supporting and partnering with”.  The connotation of care-giving can be nurturing and positive but it can also  diminish a senior’s power if they are not given choices or their wishes are not honored.  Through wellness concepts we are able to build on a client’s  strengths.  We address the challenges of aging from a different perspective.  We can provide tools, resources, education and support for the journey.

Wellness can be woven gently into the senior years.  It should be personal and individual, not a cookie-cutter program forced on someone.   Dimensions of Wellnessphysical, mental, spiritual, social, emotional, vocational and environmental describe all aspects of our lives. By appreciating the connection between body, mind and spirit we begin to see that wellness is more than the absence of illness as once thought.  It is striving for the highest level of health possible and living life to its fullest.

I invite you to share your thoughts on incorporating wellness into a senior’s life.