Research shows that approximately 17% of American adults age 60 and over misuse alcohol and prescription drugs, but substance use disorders in this population are often undiagnosed and untreated. Symptoms of substance abuse may go unrecognized because they mimic the symptoms of other medical and behavioral disorders, such as diabetes, depression, and dementia. In addition, older adults who are no longer employed, are perhaps socially isolated, and drive less (or not at all), can more easily conceal the signs and symptoms of alcohol or drug dependence, such as cravings, blackouts, physical signs of withdrawal, and neglecting responsibilities.
Sometimes hoarding starts after the person has experienced trauma or a stressful life event, such as divorce or the death of a spouse. It is more common in older adults, and sometimes develops when a person has Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Many people who hoard are socially isolated, or become isolated from family members out of shame and embarrassment at the condition of their homes.
Guardians are expected to act in the best interests of the incapacitated person. While guardianship removes certain rights and privileges from the ward, the intent is to preserve as much of the person’s independence and decision-making as possible. In Texas, the two types of guardianship are Guardian of the Person, whose responsibility is to take care of the ward’s physical well-being, and Guardian of Estate, who is appointed to manage a ward’s assets. Both types of guardians may be appointed by the court and can be the same individual or entity.
Care managers can guide families and caregivers through the realities of aging and chronic illness by preparing them for what to expect, and helping them locate the resources that may be needed down the line.
Care managers, who have often “walked the walk” of caregiving themselves, are familiar with the struggles families face. They know that caregiving has its rewards but also, can take a serious emotional and physical toll. Without frequent respite from relentless pressures and responsibilities, caregivers can wind up suffering from depression, anxiety, and physical illnesses. Care managers can set a positive tone by helping caregivers understand what to expect with their loved one, focus on the positives, and learn to accept a new reality.
June was Pride Month, which brings awareness of the impact and the contributions that LGBTQ people have made throughout history. While it has been 47 years since the first Gay Pride marches took place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City, the fight for equality and for communities and workplaces, free from discrimination, continues. Care options for LGBTQ older people are no exception.
With people’s expectations of immediate answers to anything and everything, and pharmacology and medical technologies that promise the moon, it’s no wonder that healthcare decisions are often made in haste and with a bias toward taking action.