Happy birthday to us! TMC for Seniors celebrates 30 years of serving older adults

BDP40936.jpgArt and movement classes. Social connections. Fitness activities and balance work. Lecture series. Caregiver support.

TMC for Seniors touches lives in the community every day – and has for the past 30 years.

As a nonprofit community hospital, Tucson Medical Center has always served the population, including maturing adults. By the 1980s, it became evident that a more focused response was needed.

Americans were living longer – and at the same time, using more medical services.

In response to that need, Tucson Medical Center in 1988 launched the TMC Seniors Program, the result of a year-long study by a task force and rooted in the need to provide health and wellness programs designed for older adults.

“The echoes of those earlier services have resonated through the years, and today TMC for Seniors is a place that offers a variety of free classes and workshop to keep us well as we age, such as brain health, exercise, art, advance care planning, nutrition and socialization,” said Maya Luria, director of TMC for Seniors. “We are pleased to play a role in helping seniors live more active, engaged lives.”

A celebration Friday thanked three previous directors for their work in shaping the program: Jan Sturges, Lorraine Glazar and L’Don Sawyer.

BDP40880.jpgEach was presented with a rock, hand-painted by senior volunteers with messages of gratitude and hope, as part of the TMC Kindness Initiative. Each month, seniors paint the rocks to lift and inspire others in need and then place them at TMC patios for patients and families.

TMC for Seniors continues to grow as it ages – watch next year for Dream Makers, which will fulfill an end of life dream for those with life-limiting illnesses.

For more information, check out TMC for Seniors’ current calendar of events and activities.

Could you be a friend for a senior?

SeniorHomeVisitsThere are seniors in your area who are waiting for a visit right now.

In just an hour each week, you could make a difference in the life of an older adult.

Senior Home Visit volunteers provide a friendly face and supportive listening to older adults who may not see anyone else during the week.

Volunteers can make a positive difference in the lives of others, particularly for those who are socially isolated, since loneliness can lead to depression and worsening health conditions.

If you are 50+ and are interested in volunteering, please contact Anne Morrison at 324-3746 or anne.morrison@tmcaz.com to find out more.

Learn more about the advances in hip and knee treatment with Dr. Dalal

Join Dr. Ali H. Dalal from the Tucson Orthopaedic Institute for a free interactive discussion highlighting current advancements in treating joint pain – from non-surgical treatment options to the latest Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted technology.

El DoradoFaster recovery and increased mobility are more accessible than ever before!

If you or a loved one is suffering from joint aches and pains and thinking about seeing a specialist – this discussion is for you.

The presentation and discussion will be held at 1400 N. Wilmot (El Dorado plaza) on April 12 at 5:30 p.m.

Attendance is free, but you must register by calling (520) 324-1960 or you can register online at TMC for Seniors. See you there!

 

Dalal3Dr. Dalal is a fellowship-trained hip and knee replacement surgeon at Tucson Orthopaedic Institute. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA with a Bachelors of Science in Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology.  He received his M.D. from the University of California San Diego and completed his residency in orthopaedic surgery at the University of Illinois Chicago.  He completed a fellowship in hip and knee replacement at the Florida Orthopaedic Institute.

 

 

Dementia: Starting the conversation

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Few things are more frustrating than misplacing the car keys – again. It is normal to forget things from time to time, like those keys, a wallet or that extra item on the grocery list. Even though this amounts to a mild inconvenience, it is aggravating and even distressing to have a lapse in memory.

Can you imagine how frightening it would be if you couldn’t remember the week-long vacation you just went on, as if the entire memory was erased? No matter how much you focused or concentrated you couldn’t remember taking that vacation. This is not an inconvenience; this is a symptom of dementia. dementia7

Dementia effects more than memory and can make everyday-life a struggle. Having a basic conversation is exhausting because every time you try to say a particular word, another comes out. You might read the simple instant-coffee directions over and over, but they never make sense. Easy tasks like buttoning your shirt seem impossible – as though your body isn’t doing what your brain is telling it to.

There are many aspects of dementia, and many misunderstandings. TMC is beginning a three-part blog series to discuss the definition, behaviors and treatment of dementia. This is the first blog, defining dementia and outlining its basic affects and characteristics. It might surprise you to learn all that dementia entails.

What is Dementia?
Dementia is a broad term for the diseases (or conditions) that cause nerve cells (neurons) in the brain to stop working or malfunction.

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Symptoms
When the nerve cells in the brain cease, a person will experience a decline in memory and the ability to think clearly and rationally. In addition, many experience changes in behavior, vision and motor function. The most common symptoms of dementia are:

•  Memory loss (affecting daily life)
•  Impaired judgment
•  Inability to reason
•  Problems focusing or paying attention
•  Confusion with time or place
•  Challenges completing familiar tasks
•  Problems finding the correct word(s) in speech and writing
•  Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
•  Frequently misplacing things – inability to retrace steps
•  Changes in mood or personality

What are the causes?
The common causes of dementia are:

How does someone get a dementia-related disease?
Medical science has made significant advancements over the last thirty years, and dementia continues to be a dynamic research field. There are still many mysteries about the brain and it is not yet known, conclusively, what causes many dementia-related diseases.

Age is the greatest risk factor for acquiring dementia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10 percent of individuals over the age of 65 experience a form of dementia. Although the risk increases with age, not every senior will experience dementia.

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Family history is another strong risk factor. An individual is at higher risk if a sibling, parent or child has experienced dementia. Certain genes have been identified that indicate an increased risk for specific dementia-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

Sudden or gradual?
Dementia symptoms progress slowly over several years. Many forms progress in stages:

  • Early Stage (Mild)
    • Recent memory loss
    • Difficulty managing money, driving, or handling social situations
  • Middle Stage (Moderate)
    • Difficulty with language
    • Problems keeping track of personal items
    • May need help with grooming
  • Late Stage (Severe)
    • Long- and short-term memory affected

If dementia symptoms are sudden and acute, it could suggest a reversible medical cause such as:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Metabolic changes (Thyroid)
  • Nutritional deficiencies (Vitamin B12)
  • Tumors

The symptoms of dementia will drastically improve or alleviate when the reversible medical cause is treated. If sudden and severe symptoms arise, contact your doctor right away.

Behavior
Dementia can cause strange and unexpected behavior, which can be one of the most challenging symptoms for individuals and their caretakers. Like most chronic conditions, dementia can affect every person differently. Some of the more common behaviors are:dementia9

  • Repetitive actions, such as hitting, wiping surfaces, making noise (clapping, etc.), rocking
  • Wandering and pacing, not able to sit still
  • Going to the door often, trying to open locked doors, trying to leave when visitors leave
  • Boredom, lack of purpose, looking for something lost
  • Anxiety, stress, fear
  • Hunger, thirst, bathroom needs
  • Wanting to go home (even if at home)

Assisting a friend or family member who has dementia can be exceptionally challenging because symptoms can be severe and persistent. Often, a caretaker will have to repeat things several times – even within the span of a few minutes. The affected individual will usually respond negatively if someone tries to convince them that their thoughts or actions are irrational. The symptoms may become so acute that constant monitoring is needed.

Sound like it would be pretty hard to be the caretaker? It is, however, we must recognize the person’s behavior is beyond their control.

“If you are going to help a person with dementia, you must understand they cannot think, reason or remember,” said Terri Waldman, former director of memory and dementia care at Handmaker/Tucson Medical Center. “You have to let things go, and refrain from challenging their misconceptions.”
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What can we do?
Consult a physician who specializes in dementia-related illness. “It is important to get a diagnosis,” Waldman said. “A diagnosis will determine the most effective medical treatment(s) and will help the individual and their family develop the best care plan.”

 

Medical specialists will perform:
•  Mental status test (memory, reasoning, visual-motor skills)
•  Physical examination (lab tests, brain scan, test for other disorders)
•  Psychiatric evaluation (rule out emotionally related symptoms)
•  Family interviews (get more information about behavior and symptoms)
What treatments are available?
Currently, there is no cure for dementia and all dementia-related conditions are degenerative, meaning they will get worse over time. There are medications that can control or reduce the severity of symptoms, and there are medications that can slow the progression of dementia-related diseases. Medication therapy can help with behavioral and cognitive challenges, and improve the quality of life for some individuals experiencing dementia.

More than memory loss
Dementia is more than memory loss, and the numerous life-changing symptoms have a detrimental impact on individuals and families. Treatments are available, and it is important to know what symptoms to look for and who to talk with. Medical research continues to move quickly, in hope of finding a conclusive prevention and cure.

 

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461