July 2012

Volume 6 Issue: #6


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In This Issue 

National Senior Health & Fitness Day
History of Memorial Day
Arthritis Hurts
National Skin Cancer Awareness Month
Provider Profile
Book of the Month

This Month 


July 4

Independence Day

July 1 - 31
UV Safety Month
Prevent Blindness America


July 1 - 31
International Group B Strep Awareness Month


July 28
World Hepatitis Day

 July 12

Cheer Up the Lonely Day


July 30

Father in law Day

Connect With Us 

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AWG Care Connection Blog

Are you a caregiver? Join the conversation and connect with others who are facing similar challenges. This popular blog won the 2011 "Top 100 Senior & Boomer Blogs & Websites" award.


National Senior Care Examiner 

AWG Founder Patricia Grace writes a column on aging topics. This month's topic: "Mom what's wrong with Nana?"


VA Aid & Attendance Self-Help Guide

The "Cliffs Notes" for the VA Aid & Attendance Benefit Process


Aging in Place Support Systems

Learn about programs to keep your loved one safe at home. Special AWG member pricing.


American Seniors Association  

Learn how it provides seniors with the choices, information and services they need to live healthier, wealthier lives.


SGIA Retiree Support Center

The Medicare pages on this insurance company website provide a clear summary of Medicare Parts A, B, C and D.


Books & Videos 

Beyond Driving with Dignity

A workbook by Matt Gurwell for the families of older drivers. Special AWG member pricing.


Hospice Myths

A free video from VITAS Innovative Hospice Care that you can view online.


Thinking Well: Drawing on Thoughts that Change Behaviors

A book by aging and wellness expert Dr. Wayne T. Phillips. You can read a sample and buy it online.

Message from Patricia ...  


Patricia Grace, Founder

I hope everyone enjoyed their July 4 festivities. Again this year my family gathered to celebrate Independence Day and my mother's (91) birthday. Like many families across the country we ate hot dogs, hamburgers, watermelon and chocolate cake...yum!

Hopefully the blistering heat wave that many parts of the country have suffered with is over. Please remember to check in with your elderly friends and neighbors. If possible go the extra mile and offer to walk the dog or pick up a few groceries. You will be surprised at how good this will make you feel!

Looking forward to your vacation at the beach, lake or mountains but not sure who will look in on mom or dad while you are away? Aging with Grace has a robust network of non-medical home care providers. Please check them out.

Stay cool and safe...



Sunglasses, More Than a Fashion Statement


We all know the importance of using sunscreen to protect our skin from the sun's harmful rays, but what about protection for our eyes?

July is UV Safety Month and eye doctors across the nation are urging Americans to protect their eyes and their children's eyes by wearing sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats.

Recent studies have shown that prolonged exposure to the sun's invisible, high energy ultraviolet rays without protection may cause eye conditions that can lead to vision loss, such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. During the summer months the level of ultraviolet radiation is three times greater than in the winter.

Sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat are the best defense system for your eyes against sunlight and harmful UV rays. To be effective, both must be worn every time you're outside for prolonged periods of time, even when it's overcast.


But what type of sunglasses should you buy? The most important thing is to purchase sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B ray. Don't be misled by the color of the lens or the price tag dangling from the frame.


The ability to block UV light is not dependent on the darkness of the lens. UV protection can come from adding chemicals to the lens material during manufacturing or from a chemical coating applied to the lens surface. And as for the cost, many $10 sunglasses provide equal or greater protection than a $100 pair. With expensive sunglasses, you're paying for style, frame quality and options such as scratch-resistant coatings, and not necessarily protective UV ray blocking ability.


In addition to the damage caused by repeated sun exposure overtime, you need to protect your eyes from acute damage caused by a single day in the sun. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet light reflected off sand, snow or pavement can burn the eye's surface. Similar to sunburns, eye surface burns usually disappear within a couple of days, but may lead to further complications later in life.

Medications That Can Lead to Chronic Fatigue

Do you feel weak or tired - sometimes to the point of exhaustion - much of the time? If so, you're not alone. Chronic fatigue accounts for more than 10 million visits to family doctors every year.

Chronic fatigue has many causes, including illnesses such as anemia and multiple sclerosis as well as depression and other psychiatric disorders. But it's also often a side effect of drugs previously prescribed for other conditions. (I'm not talking here of the complicated disorder known as chronic fatigue syndrome, whose cause is unknown. This condition is characterized by extreme fatigue that can't be explained by any underlying medical condition.)

Could one or more of the medications you're taking be making you feel listless or lethargic? Read below to learn about the major classes of drugs that can cause chronic fatigue. If you suspect that your symptoms might be linked to a medication you're taking, talk to your doctor or health care provider right away. It's important that you do not discontinue them on your own.

1. Blood-pressure medications - may slow down the pumping action of the heart as well as depress the entire central nervous system, or, in the case of diuretics, deplete vitamins and minerals that your body needs for energy.

2. Statins and fibrates - studies show that statins stop the production of satellite cells in the muscle, stopping muscle growth. Some researchers have also suggested that statins interfere with the production of energy at the cellular level in the same way that they interfere with the production of cholesterol.

3. Proton pump inhibitors - are used to treat gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and other similar disorders. More than 20 million Americans take prescription PPIs, including esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec) and pantoprazole (Protonix), some of which are available over the counter.

Patients who take PPIs for as little as three months are at risk of low blood levels of magnesium, which can cause loss of appetite, fatigue and weakness, among other symptoms.

4. Benzodiazepines - commonly known as tranquilizers, are used to treat a variety of anxiety disorders, agitation and muscle spasms, and to prevent seizures. Because benzodiazepines have a sedative/hypnotic effect, they are sometimes used to treat insomnia and the anxiety component of depression.

Commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan) and temazepam (Restoril).

It's important to remember that it takes older people up to three times longer than younger people to flush these drugs out of their bodies. The ensuing buildup of the drug in the body puts older people at a much higher risk for experiencing fatigue and for developing physical or psychological dependence.

5. Antihistamines and antidepressants

Antihistamines - are used to relieve or prevent the symptoms of allergic disorders (such as hay fever) or the common cold. Some antihistamines are also used to prevent motion sickness, nausea, vomiting and dizziness, and to treat anxiety or insomnia.

Older people generally should not use diphenhydramine (Benadryl) - found in any sleep aid with a name ending in "PM" - because of its powerful sedative effects, which dramatically increase the risk of falls and bone fractures.

Fatigue is also a listed side effect of fexofenadine (Allegra), another popular antihistamine. Older people generally should not use this drug because their renal systems are unable to efficiently clear it, allowing the drug to build up in the body.

Antidepressants - while antidepressants are typically used to treat depression, they're also frequently prescribed for anxiety disorders, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, chronic pain, smoking cessation and some hormone-mediated disorders, such as severe menstrual cramps.

There are many different kinds of antidepressants, including tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), dopamine antagonists and lithium, among others.

Commonly prescribed antidepressants include duloxetine (Cymbalta), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), and venlafaxine (Effexor).

5. Antibiotics - are used to treat health conditions caused by bacteria, including ear and skin infections, urinary tract infections, food poisoning, pneumonia, meningitis and other serious illnesses. They're also used to treat or prevent infections that can complicate surgery or other medical procedures.

Commonly prescribed antibiotics include amoxicillin (various brand names), azithromycin (Zithromax), ciprofloxacin (Cipro) and levofloxacin (Levaquin).

6. Diuretics - sometimes called water pills are used to treat high blood pressure, glaucoma, edema and other conditions.

Diuretics can interfere with the balance of electrolytes - the major ones being sodium, potassium and chloride - in your body. Electrolyte imbalances can cause serious health problems, including extreme fatigue, muscle weakness and achy joints, bones and muscles (along with many other symptoms not related to fatigue).



Many seniors are buried in debt. Six steps to dig out.


Nearly 4 in 10 seniors carry a mortgage, almost double the rate in the mid-1990s. With no boost in housing prices or Social Security benefits, indebted seniors face a squeeze.

A significant number of senior citizens are buried in debt, especially with their mortgage. A recent study by the Strategic Business Insights' MacroMonitor found that 39 percent of the homes where the head of the household was between 60 and 64 years old had primary mortgages, and 20 percent had secondary mortgages. In 1994, those figures were just 22 percent and 12 percent respectively. Mortgage debt accounts for a very large share of these senior citizens' income. The future doesn't look very bright since home values are still depressed due to the housing collapse.

The golden years of retirement have turned into a major struggle for many seniors. Here are six tips for senior citizens trying to climb out of debt:


1. Get a part-time job if you are healthy enough to work. Bringing in additional income can help you pay down your debt or offset some of your living expenses.

2. Cut down on the number of credit cards. You only need one or two to make everyday purchases. Too many seniors have many more cards than they need. It is too easy to charge things you can't afford if you have multiple cards.

3. Do not use home equity loans to pay off credit card debt or to buy things that depreciate such as trips, cars, and appliances.

4. Stay away from debt-relief companies that promise to cut your credit card bills and other monthly payments. These companies charge high up-front fees and can put you in a worse financial situation.

5. Protect your finances against possible fraud or abuse. If you have someone else handling your bills, let a trusted third party monitor your bank account and credit activity. Consider giving power of attorney to a trusted person who can oversee your financial affairs if you are unable to do it.

6. If you feel you need a debt counselor in your area, contact the National Foundation for Credit Counselors.

How to Pick Blackberries

 Karen Everett Watson, Certified Gerontologist


 If you've never tasted a warm homemade blackberry cobbler fresh from the oven, you really haven't lived. Put a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and you'll think you've arrived at the pearly gates.


Country people know not to buy their berries at the market and spend over a dollar for a small basket. The best berries are picked with our own fingers!


I've been picking blackberries for over thirty years. I was a young mother living in the city when I first went berry picking. My surrogate grandfather, Floydie, took me just out of town to the river and we picked along the banks. Here in the Sacramento Valley, like most of the United States, blackberries grow in abundance. Floydie said, "By the Fourth of July, there's enough berries for a pie." He's gone now, but especially around this time of year, I think of him and his true saying.


 I've lived in the country for over 20 years and blessed (some would say cursed) with an abundance of blackberries on my homestead. This has given me the opportunity to hone my picking skills. When the blackberries start getting ripe, I try to go out each morning and pick enough for a pie.


Learn Karen's picking secrets...




Provider Profile-


Wesley Enhanced Living is a non-profit organization founded in and committed to the tenets of the United Methodist Church to serve the aging population.


Wesley Enhanced Living, has developed a unique approach to senior living. Their staff is committed to nurturing the distinct social, educational, recreational, social, and spiritual pursuits of each resident. All of their communities offer welcoming living spaces, delicious dining options, and outstanding amenities.


In the spirit of full disclosure my aunt Betty Mock is a resident at Wesley Enhanced Living Upper Moreland and she loves living there!




Book Review
The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers: Looking After Yourself and Your Family While Helping an Aging Parent  


Author: Author Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D.


"The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers helps you make sense of the turmoil and teaches you ways to cope with competing loyalties, role reversals, and the vicissitudes of illness."


Patricia Grace