Enriching Lives As We Age

Archive for the ‘Rosener House’ Category

Fabulous Shopping Experience Returns at Peninsula Volunteers Baubles, Bangles and Bags

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Event is Fundraiser for Menlo Park Non-Profit Dedicated to Providing Quality Senior Services

MENLO PARK, CA – Sept. 19, 2016 – - The eighth annual Baubles Bangles and Bags arrives at the Menlo Circus Club on Monday, November 7, 2016.  Peninsula Volunteers’ signature silent auction is always a shopping paradise with vintage, designer and specialty handbags and baubles, as well as themed gift baskets, mystery boxes, and four special Christmas trees.   There will be some very special handbags available for purchase, including a Judith Leiber Carousel bag donated by Mrs. Diane B. Wilsey of San Francisco, and a very unique Hermes Vibrato Kelly bag.   Other in-demand labels include Yves St. Laurent, Gucci, Prada, Ferragamo, and Stella McCartney.

The day consists of silent auction, champagne and specialty cheeses, seated luncheon and special speakers, including:

Christopher Tattanelli is a member of a four generation Italian family business, Il Fiorentino, that produces high end leather goods for five leading international brands,.  Christopher will enthrall attendees with insider information on how to identify a well made handbag and what “Made in Italy” truly means.

Ashley McCumber, Executive Director and CEO of Meals on Wheels of San Francisco and Chair of the Board of Meals on Wheels America, will be a special guest and will share information about the trends in senior hunger.

Chaired by Mrs. Gidu Shroff of Atherton, the event co-chairs include: Mrs. Gary Carville of Los Altos, Mrs. John Grillos of Sonoma, Mrs. John Jerrehian of Los Altos Hills, Mrs. Bob Sturm of Rocklin, and Mrs. Jim Woodson of Atherton.

Tickets are $175 and are available by calling Cathy Duhring at 650-272-5001.

About PVI – For almost 70 years, PVI has provided high quality and nurturing programs for the aging on the Peninsula. PVI provides programs, support and guidance for seniors in the community to allow them to pursue long and useful lives.  As life expectance lengthens, communities need to embrace both opportunities and challenges to help aging adults maintain their dignity, independence and sense of usefulness. PVI provides innovative services including affordable senior housing, Meals on Wheels, Rosener House Adult Day Services and Little House, the Roslyn G. Morris Activity Center.

www.penvol.org # # #

Peter Olson Appointed CEO for Peninsula Volunteers, Inc.

Friday, September 30th, 2016

Peninsula Volunteers Inc. (PVI), a non-profit organization serving older adults on the mid-Peninsula, is pleased to announce the appointment of Peter Olson as its new Chief Executive Officer.  Serving as PVI’s Director of Little House, The Roslyn G. Morris Activity Center, since 2010, Peter is ideally suited to provide leadership for PVI as it enters into its next chapter of expanding services and evolving to meet the needs of today’s seniors.

As CEO Peter will oversee Peninsula Volunteers‘ four major programs:
1) Meals on Wheels providing over 78,000 hot, nutritious meals yearly to home-bound older adults in San Mateo County;  2) Rosener House , Adult Day Services providing a therapeutic activity program for over 150 clients and respite care for 400+ family caregivers; 3) Little House, The Roslyn G. Morris Activity Center, providing an extensive array of services centered on health, wellness, and social interaction to over 3,500 community members annually; 4) Senior Housing in Menlo Park currently providing 82% of the affordable housing for community seniors;.

“I am excited to lead Peninsula Volunteers into its eighth decade,” said Peter Olson, CEO of PVI.  “Since opening its doors in 1947, PVI has been providing quality, innovative services and housing for the aging adults in Menlo Park and beyond, and it thrills me to carry this legacy forward.”

“We are delighted that Peter Olson has agreed to accept the role of CEO and lead Peninsula Volunteers in addressing the ever evolving needs of our growing senior population,” said Susan Sweeney, outgoing Board Chair of PVI.  “His excellent nonprofit leadership skills, his enthusiasm and ability to work effectively with a wide variety of individuals and organizations, and his vision and breadth of understanding of our senior community and the opportunities ahead for PVI make Peter the perfect leader in moving the organization forward in its expanding community role.”

In addition to his experiences at PVI, Peter has over 25 years of experience working in the not-for-profit sector, specifically older adults, individuals with special needs, and children. Peter’s professional experience includes the Director, Public Affairs and Communications for Easter Seals Bay Area and the Health and Wellness Director at the Easter Seals Timpany Center in San Jose. A graduate of San Jose State University, Peter enjoys the active outdoor lifestyle of the San Francisco Peninsula, spending time fishing, backpacking, cycling and is dedicated to spending time with his daughter.

Started by a group of forward thinking community leaders in 1947, PVI is a pioneer in providing high quality programs for Peninsula seniors, enabling them to maintain their dignity, independence, and sense of usefulness.  During the last year the PVI board and staff have been working with community leaders to align the services of Little House more closely to the needs of a changing senior population.


About Peninsula Volunteers, Inc.
Peninsula Volunteers, Inc. is a pioneer serving older adults. Through its programs – Meals on Wheels, Rosener House Adult Day Services, and the Little House, Roslyn G. Morris Activity Center, – more than $5 million in services are delivered each year to 4,500 households, including 150,000 hot meals to seniors and the homebound.  Peninsula Volunteers Properties (PVP) provides 82% of the affordable senior housing in Menlo Park.

Combatting Senior Malnutrition

Friday, September 30th, 2016

By Holly Kellner Greuling RDN, National Nutritionist for the Administration on Aging

Senior Malnutrition in our country is an epidemic hiding in plain sight. It is estimated that almost 50 percent of older Americans are malnourished. During Malnutrition Awareness week let’s commit to ending this problem.

Many inter-related factors can contribute to malnutrition. Some elderly people may live in a food desert and may not be able to buy nutrient-dense food. Some may not have the stamina to cook a meal or may not want to cook because they are feeling down. Others may not eat because they do not feel well enough to eat.

Many people are surprised to hear that malnutrition in our country is usually not due to a lack of funds to purchase food. But if you know someone who struggles to eat well for financial reasons, help is available. The USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help people determine whether they qualify.

Malnutrition is defined as a nutrition imbalance that affects both overweight and underweight individuals and it sneaks up on people. Because malnutrition generally occurs over time, you cannot suspect malnutrition from just looking at someone. That is why malnutrition hides in plain sight.

Fortunately, there are changes that you can watch for that serve as clues:

  • Unintentional weight loss of 5 percent of body weight or more per month, even if overweight
  • Normally worn clothes looking loose or baggy
  • Eating less at meal time
  • Failing strength, wobbly walking or weakened hand grip
  • Changes in denture fit, or dentures that appear to be floating in the mouth

Malnutrition greatly affects one’s abilities to remain healthy, especially when faced with a serious health situation. In fact, approximately 30 percent of older people admitted to the hospital arrive malnourished and being malnourished while in the hospital will generally increase the length of stay.

The Aging Network created through the Older Americans Act has provided community-based nutrition programs that help sustain the nutritional status of older adults since 1972. The network has the knowledge to address senior malnutrition within the community and can partner effectively with local providers and health care organizations that serve older adults. And we know these programs work: In recent surveys, 76 percent of people who participate in meals programs at senior centers and in other group settings indicated that they eat healthier foods and that their health has improved as a result of the nutrition program. Eighty-four percent of the people who receive home-delivered meals indicate the same.

Want to help decrease senior malnutrition? Please consider the following:

  • If you are concerned about your nutritional status or that of a loved one:
  • If you or your loved one are hospitalized and have been diagnosed with malnutrition:
    • Ask how it will be handled after discharge.
  • If you represent a community-based health care organization, or your program is funded by the Older Americans Act:
  • If you are a health care provider:
    • Add an in-home nutritional assessment and (if necessary) nutritional programs to your services. This one service could help you locate your malnourished participants in enough time to act and prevent further decline.
  • If you are a medical provider or health care institution:
    • Establish protocols for malnutrition screening and offer nutritional interventions during hospitalization and after discharge.

We can make a difference in the fight against Senior Malnutrition. The actions you take now could decrease the incidence, emotional strain, and health care costs associated with this generally treatable condition.

Brought to you by the Administration for Community Living (ACL)

Sequoia Healthcare District Awards Grants to Peninsula Volunteers, Inc. Funding Will Improve Health of Community Seniors

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

June 28, 2016 – Menlo Park, CA  At a luncheon presentation for awardees on June 23, 2016, Sequoia Healthcare District renewed its commitment to the health and welfare of residents of the District by giving Caring Community Grants to 41 organizations, including two programs of Peninsula Volunteers, Inc.(PVI)—Meals on Wheels and Rosener House Adult Day Services.  

Meals on Wheels was awarded $100,000 to assist District residents who are not able to cook and shop for themselves by delivering a hot, nutritious meal every day.  Currently, PVI Meals on Wheels delivers over 1,700 meals weekly to San Mateo County residents.   The Meals on Wheels delivery team are trained to do wellness checks on participants while delivering meals, a vital component of the program.   

Rosener House Adult Day Services was awarded $75,000 to help families in the District access the day program which promotes health, independence, and dignity for older adults with limitations and chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, post-stroke, and Parkinson’s disease, preventing hospitalizations and premature institutionalization.  Family caregivers are provided much-needed respite from their constant responsibilities plus support services.  All PVI programs are designed to help residents age in place.  

The Sequoia Healthcare District is committed to returning to the community 100% of property tax revenue in health-related programs and services.  Its mission is to improve the health of District residents by enhancing access to care and promoting wellness.  In total, District grants and programs directly benefit at least 50,000 residents per year, or about one out of every 4.5 residents.  The District is mindful of the health needs of all residents focusing primarily on vulnerable populations with special attention directed to dental, mental health, the elderly and the young child. 

Contact:  Peter Olson, CEO Phone:  650-326-0665 X 5010 polson@peninsulavolunteers.org www.penvol.org


About Peninsula Volunteers, Inc.

For almost 70 years, PVI has created and provided high quality and nurturing programs for the aging on the Peninsula.  PVI provides programs, support and guidance for seniors in the community to allow them to pursue long and useful lives.  As life expectancy lengthens, communities need to embrace both opportunities and challenges to help aging adults maintain their dignity, independence, and sense of usefulness.  PVI provides innovative services including senior affordable housing, Meals on Wheels, Rosener House Adult Day Services, and Little House, the Roslyn G. Morris Activity Center. 

Rosener House Adult Day Services Hosts 4th Annual Roos-Kates Awards for Caregiving

Monday, March 14th, 2016


Representatives of the Roos-Kates family, Peninsula Volunteers staff, Board members, Rosener House Committee members and friends came together to celebrate the fourth annual Roos-Kates Awards on February 23, 2016. 

Mrs. Patricia Roos Kates established an endowment to recognize the special efforts of two special individuals engaged in direct care for people living with Alzheimer’s disease.  Since 2012, the endowment has allowed this reward to be given to Rosener House staff members.  Mrs. Kates recognized that people with Alzheimer’s disease require special care, and the health care professionals working with them were not often recognized for their dedicated and often challenging work.

The awardees are chosen by voting among the Rosener House staff who are all in a position to know who is making such a positive impact, and the award is all the more meaningful as the selection is made by one’s peers. 

This year’s award recipients are Augusto Manalang, Certified Nursing Assistant and Jette Knudsen, Activity Leader. 

·         Augusto Manalang found his calling as a Certified Nursing Assistant and has been in the field for many years, after deciding on a career to help people.  Augusto has been at Rosener House less than one year, but has had a very large impact on the program.  His patience and willingness to do whatever needs to be done is most appreciated by participants and co-workers alike.  Augusto is dependable, independent, and exceptional in his quality and quantity of work.  He quickly and quietly carries out his duties, and then looks for more ways to help everyone.  His warm and friendly personality make him very approachable.  Congratulations to August Manalang on the Arthur J. Kates Award for Patient Caring Care for 2016.

·         Jette Knudsen has worked as an Activity Leader at Rosener House for 15 years.  Jette is Danish, and she has the Danish sensibility for artistic design.  She helps to make Rosener House attractive with her special displays for holidays.  Jette’s friendliness and sincere regard for each participant is evident in her transactions with participants, and she treats everyone with kindness and respect.  Jette is especially perceptive in knowing when a participant may need a little extra attention and reassurance.  She is supportive of her co-workers and a true joy to work with.  Congratulations to Jette Knudsen on the Irene and George Roos Award for Patient Caring Care for 2016.


Minding Our Elders: Steps to take when planning for future caregiving

Monday, February 1st, 2016

Dear Carol: I’m an only surviving adult child. My parents, who are in their late 70s, have been healthy and active all of their lives. They have no trouble keeping track of their medications. They haven’t fallen and don’t have memory problems beyond what you’d expect with age. Even then, as I see the years pass I know that one day I’ll be a caregiver in that I’ll be making decisions for them. How do I prepare? — Gerald

Dear Gerald: Your parents have been blessed with good health and long lives but, as you’ve acknowledged, few people live with great health until the end of their days. It’s smart and caring of you to want to prepare for the time when they will likely need assistance.

First, it’s essential that you discuss the legal work. Even if your parents have had powers of attorney for health and finances drawn up, these documents need to be re-examined routinely. They likely have each other listed first as their appointed agent, but it’s possible that at this stage of their lives they may want to include you as the alternate if they haven’t done so already. Also, their wills should be written to address what they want done when one spouse dies as well as what they want to happen when they are both gone.

From there, my advice is to have an open, ongoing dialogue with them about their preferences as they age. If you see them often, make it a natural part of the conversation from time to time.  Ask questions about how your grandparents lived their last years. As an alternative, asking questions about their friends who may be facing the same issues as they face can be a good opener for a conversation about your parents’ choices.

Close couples often become like one in their support of each other, filling in gaps in memory and abilities. That’s good. Honor this as part of their marriage. Try to be aware of important changes, though, being careful not to be overly intrusive or overbearing. If your parents stay cognitively sound, respect that fact though you can invite them to ask for your input at any time.

If they are still in their own home and want to stay there, you could investigate home upgrades for elder safety. You also may want to look into retirement-living options with graduated care so that if one spouse needs assisted living and the other needs nursing services they can remain in the same complex. Once you have information on some viable options, you can work the information into the ongoing, flexible conversation.

It may be helpful for you to become familiar with a new government website at aging.gov. Here you’ll find your parents’ state listed and from that point you’ll see that state’s resources. You can explore links at your leisure so that when the time comes that you need helpful resources you’ll be prepared.

Educate yourself about end-of-life care, as well, including how far to take treatments and when to look at palliative care or hospice. Talk with your parents to make certain that they understand the different options.

Most of all, reassure your parents that you want to comply with what they would choose as much as reality will allow. Don’t make promises that you might not be able to keep, but assure them that you’ll do your best to follow their wishes.

Carol Bradley Bursack is the author of a support book on caregiving and runs a website supporting caregivers at www.mindingourelders.com. She can be reached at carolbursack@msn.com.

US deaths from Alzheimer’s disease rise significantly

Monday, December 14th, 2015

From: dailymail.com; by AFP PUBLISHED: 06:19 EST, 9 December 2015

Nearly 10,000 more people died of Alzheimer’s disease in the United States last year than in 2013, a significant rise of 8.1 %, according to US health data released Wednesday.

Global health authorities have warned that cases of Alzheimer’s — the most common form of dementia — would soar along with the aging population in the coming years.

But whether the latest data shows a true rise in Alzheimers death, or just a more frequent accounting of Alzheimer’s as a cause of death, remains a matter of debate.

The 8.1 % rise was the highest seen among the top 10 causes of death in the United States, the report by the National Center for Health Statistics found. 

Alzheimer’s deaths rose from

  • 84,767 in 2013 to 93,541 in 2014, a NCHS spokesman told AFP.

According to Marc Gordon, an Alzheimer’s researcher and chief of Neurology at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York, the data comes from information recorded on death certificates.  “It is unclear to what extent more people are dying from Alzheimer’s disease, or whether Alzheimer’s disease is increasingly recognized by clinicians as a cause of death,” said Gordon, who was not involved in the NCHS study.

An uptick in death rates were also seen for unintentional injuries (up 2.8 %), suicide (up 3.2 %) and stroke (0.8 %). 

  • the leading cause of death — heart disease — fell 1.6 %,
  • while cancer deaths dropped 1.2 % and
  • deaths from influenza and pneumonia fell 5%

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is the only one of the 10 leading causes of death that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed.  One in three seniors will die of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, experts say.

“Alzheimer’s is having a rapidly growing impact on American society,” said Matthew Baumgart, senior director of public policy at the Alzheimer’s Association.  “Alzheimer’s death rates have been rising steadily over the past 15 years –- increasing 40% since 2000, when the new data are included,” he added.  Baumgart said increasing awareness of Alzheimer’s disease has meant more people report it as a cause of death.

Another factor in the increase is “large investments by the federal government in research for other diseases have led to decreases in deaths from other causes,” he told AFP.  “This means more people are living longer and to an age where they are at greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s -– and dying from it.”

About 5.3 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Worldwide, some 46.8 million people currently have dementia, and that number is expected to triple by the year 2050, reaching some 131.5 million, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International.

The disease carries a heavy cost burden, costing the world $818 billion in 2015.

Why sleep may be far more important than you think

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

November 10, 2015

Sleep could be the missing link in dementia

By Mark Taylor, Chicago Tribune


Mom was right. Getting a good night’s sleep may prove even more important to long-term health than our parents advised.

Scientists already have documented connections between sleep loss and memory problems, which explains why many schools are starting classes later. But a growing body of research is exploring links among sleep deprivation, sleep disturbance and Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.

The number of Alzheimer’s patients is expected to double by 2020, due primarily to the increased longevity of the baby boomer generation. More than 50 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, which can be debilitating, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Poor sleep is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s patients, particularly those suffering moderate to severe forms of the cognitive disorder. Physicians treating Alzheimer’s patients say they often awaken in the middle of the night and wander or remain awake at night and sleep during the day. Researchers still haven’t established whether the poor sleep causes Alzheimer’s or is only a symptom of the incurable disease.

But Dr. Erik Musiek, an assistant professor of neurology who practices at Washington University in St. Louis, said there has been a paradigm shift in understanding the relationship between sleep and the incurable disease, which affects 5.3 million Americans.

He said scientists have known for years that people with Alzheimer’s have problems with sleep and disruptions in their circadian rhythms, which are governed by the internal biological clock that regulates the timing of periods of sleep and wakefulness. But he said new research suggests that sleep and circadian rhythm problems experienced earlier in life actually may contribute to the risk of Alzheimer’s and accelerate the disease.

Musiek said researchers have observed that sleep-deprived mice have greater amounts of beta-amyloid plaque forming in their brains. Beta-amyloid and tau are proteins that accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and are toxic to nerve cells. “We don’t yet know what kinds of sleep problems predispose you to Alzheimer’s. We do know that people who sleep too little or too much are at risk,” Musiek said.

Washington University’s center researchers are trying to understand how circadian rhythms control beta-amyloid levels in the brain, he said.”If we can give drugs that improve sleep and lower levels of beta-amyloid, maybe those patients won’t get those harmful plaques or get Alzheimer’s later in life. We’re looking at sleep as a potentially modifiable risk factor.”

Adam Spira, an associate professor in the Department of Mental Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, said research exploring the connection between sleep and Alzheimer’s has grown since 2009, when the key mouse study that Musiek described was published.

But in recent years, studies using wrist actigraphy — medical grade monitoring devices that monitor wrist movement during sleep — and polysomnography, the gold standard of sleep research that measures heart rate, blood oxygen and other measurements, have begun to examine links between disturbed sleep and Alzheimer’s in humans.  “Using these devices and other tools, including PET scans that measure the amount of amyloid in living human brains, researchers are finding those connections between sleep disturbance and the risk of cognitive impairment and decline, as well as Alzheimer’s and other dementias.”

He said that 2009 Washington University study findings were very exciting “because we saw the beginning of a causal link between sleep disturbance and Alzheimer’s.” He said his Johns Hopkins colleague, Dr. Mark Wu, recently showed similar links between sleep deprivation and amyloid deposits in a fruit fly model of Alzheimer’s, providing further evidence that sleep loss may contribute to Alzheimer’s.

Spira said the central goal of researchers right now is identifying ways to prevent Alzheimer’s. He noted that science has developed good treatments for sleep disturbances, and researchers are wondering whether treating disturbed sleep could prevent or delay Alzheimer’s. A 2013 Washington University study showed that people with less efficient sleep — those who spend smaller proportions of time in bed sleeping — tended to have more beta-amyloid in their brain, as measured in their cerebral spinal fluid.

“This was the first objective measure of sleep linking the amount of amyloid in the brain in people who are cognitively normal.”  Spira and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging conducted a study of 70 seniors in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging who reported their sleep habits. Using PET scans, they found that those reporting poorer sleep quality and shorter sleep duration had higher amounts of beta-amyloid in their brains than those who reported sleeping longer and better, he said. An ongoing longitudinal study hopes to explore whether disturbed sleep is associated with subsequent amyloid deposition, brain atrophy and cognitive decline.

“We don’t know whether there is a causal link. More research is needed,” he said, adding, “but sleep is gaining attention as a potential contributor to Alzheimer’s.” New research led by Dr. Maiken Nedergaard at the University of Rochester in New York state may lead to a different approach to treating Alzheimer’s. Nedergaard said sleep alters the cellular structure of the brain. Her lab discovered that the spinal fluid of mice swirled around their brains as they slept, functioning like a dishwasher.

“We found that in those mice beta-amyloid is efficiently cleaned out during the sleep process. This cleaning of the brain is a distinct function not compatible with wakefulness. Our hypothesis is that during sleep, our brains function as dishwashers to clean and clear out beta-amyloids. We observed that when we kept them awake, the spinal fluid did not flow back into the brain.”

Nedergaard said her lab’s findings may open new avenues for targeting and treating Alzheimer’s. She envisions a kind of “immunotherapy.” “I could imagine finding a way to enhance this dishwasher function that would wash away what (plaque) is already stuck there,” she explained, “but we’re a long ways away from that. For 10 years, science has been interested in finding ways to block beta-amyloid production but with little success. This suggests a new approach.”

Dr. Sigrid Veasey, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania‘s Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology in Philadelphia, said there is strong evidence to support the theory that Alzheimer’s can be worsened by sleep deprivation. Veasey said her lab has confirmed that chronic sleep loss causes direct injury to parts of the brain that play essential roles in attention span and memory consolidation. Veasey’s lab is studying whether those injuries could shift the course of Alzheimer’s.

“We don’t yet believe that sleep loss causes Alzheimer’s,” she said. “But if you were predisposed to get it at 85, it’s possible that sleep disturbance might make it likelier that you would get it much earlier, at age 65 or 75.” Veasey said her lab used mice as stand-ins for people constantly scheduled to perform shift work. Over a four-week period, she noted, the sleep-deprived mice lost neurons. And she said those injuries can accelerate beta-amyloid production and cause increased inflammation in the brain.

And she said examining self-reported data from patients enrolled in long-term studies has shown that years of chronic sleep loss have had an impact on cognition. Veasey predicted that researchers are three to four years away from developing molecular models for humans.  “I think we’ll move relatively fast with the luxury of animal models, fruit flies and mice and get to the bottom of this mechanism quickly.”

Healthier sleep means healthier brains

To enhance the health of sleep, get regular aerobic exercise, eat a healthy diet, avoid alcohol, and don’t eat or drink too soon before going to bed.

  • Exposure to light, even from television and cellphones, can impact circadian rhythms and confuse the brain and your body clock, so eliminate as much light as possible in your bedroom.
  • Take sleep seriously.
  •  Organize your next day before going to bed. Look at the humidity and temperature of the room, and adjust accordingly.
  • Cooler is generally better than warmer.
  • If you wake up frequently at night, try to write down your habits and think about what you’re doing, whether it’s napping during the daytime, awakening too early or some other cause. Examine your sleep positions.
  • If you have trouble sleeping attributable to sleep apnea or poor breathing, see a physician.
  • Don’t stay up too late. Aim for a consistent bedtime in a dark room. Bright light in the morning resets your circadian clock, so upon waking, open the windows and turn on the lights.
  • A calorie-rich breakfast helps synchronize your body clock.

One couple’s struggle

Barb Ziemba said that when her husband doesn’t sleep, she doesn’t sleep. Ziemba, 69, of Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood, is caretaker for her husband of 50 years, John Ziemba, 75, a former design engineer diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease four years ago.

“He sometimes awakens in the middle of the night, turns on the lights in the kitchen and bathroom, and tries to start his day,” she said. “I wake up, take him by the hand and lead him back to bed. It disrupts my sleep more than his. I try to catch a nap during the day, but often I can’t and just have to keep going.”

Sometimes, the mother of four said, caring for her husband “is like having a 180-pound baby.” Ziemba, who lost her job with a health care real estate investment trust in 2008 and now cleans homes for extra cash, said she can’t afford to go without sleep. Her husband is one of an estimated 5.3 million Americans afflicted with Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. Most of them — 5.1 million, or 96 percent — are age 65 or older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Physicians treating Alzheimer’s said that in the moderate or severe stages, patients often sleep poorly, awakening in the middle of the night and wandering, or remaining awake at night and sleeping during the day. “If I’m taking a nap and no one else is home, there is an issue of safety, because I don’t know if he’ll roam the streets,” Ziemba said. “So I always have to be on alert, and that’s very stressful.”

Sleep deprivation and disturbed sleep have long been associated with Alzheimer’s and are among the leading reasons for the families of Alzheimer’s patients to seek nursing-home care, said Theresa Dewey, a licensed clinical counselor and care navigator with the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Illinois Chapter at Alexian Brothers Neurosciences Institute’s Memory Disorders Center in Elk Grove Village. Dewey said failure to sleep is one of the top complaints from caregivers.

“They wonder how they can function and continue to care for mom or dad if they’re not sleeping and keeping everyone else awake,” Dewey said. “Their days and nights become flip-flopped.”  Dr. Concetta Forchetti, a neurologist with Alexian Brothers Neurosciences Institute, said many Alzheimer’s patients have sleep apnea, a breathing disorder that causes sleep disruptions.  She said studies have shown people with sleep apnea who average less than six hours per night have a higher risk of developing cognitive impairment.

“When they do awaken at night, it is dark, and there are noises, so some become agitated and frightened. It’s a serious problem often making it unsafe for them to be at home. The reversal of the day-night cycle is common.”  Forchetti, who has treated Alzheimer’s patients for more than 26 years, said falling asleep usually isn’t the problem; it’s having interrupted sleep.

Forchetti said researchers understand that sleep has a restoring function.  “Biologically we don’t still have a comprehensive explanation for why we sleep. This is still an understudied territory.”  But answers can’t come fast enough for Barb Ziemba.

“It’s disheartening,” she said. “It’s scary how many people have Alzheimer’s. And its impact on families can be devastating.”

Sources: Alzheimer’s researchers Maiken Nedergaard, Sigrid Veasey and Erik Musiek.


Rosener House Walkers Tops in Fighting Alzheimers

Monday, October 12th, 2015

Ranked the top fund raiser in California and #12 in the entire nation, Peninsula Volunteers “Rosener House Walkers” team gathered at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Great Meadow on Saturday, September 19th, for the annual Alzheimer’s Association “Walk to End Alzheimer’s®” .

Participants in the walk included members of the Peninsula Volunteers, Rosener House staff members, Rosener House participants and their families, and supporters.  Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, the “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.

For more information, contact Barbara Kalt at PV Rosener House Adult Day Services, 650-322-0126 or www.peninsulavolunteers.org.

Aging in America, Through Immigrant Eyes

Monday, August 17th, 2015

by Chris Kenrick , Palo Alto Online
Monday, August 10, 2015.

In this book on aging, Stanford geriatrician, and his biologist wife, share observations that Americans can learn from more “traditional societies” around the world when it comes to the treatment of older people, says Mehrdad Ayati, a Stanford University geriatrician, who grew up in Iran.

Arriving in the United States with a newcomer’s eyes a decade ago, Ayati was struck by how, in contrast to his homeland, Americans appeared to view aging with fear and shame.

“This is a very youth-oriented, anti-aging society,” he said. “That’s why a lot of older people won’t ask for help, won’t walk with a walker or a cane or get a hearing aid.   “In traditional societies, this is not the case. Aging is always a sign of honor, and the oldest person in a family gets a lot of respect and is considered very sage their words carry a lot of substance. A young person would never get the message that ‘When I get older I’m going to be useless.’”

Negative cultural attitudes toward aging could even explain the loneliness and isolation leading to cognitive impairment that he observes in some of his geriatric patients, Ayati suggests.   “In traditional society, the oldest person is still at the center of the family and society,” he said. “The problem I see here is that when you retire in modern society, you retire to the solitude of your home and, if your partner passes away, you’re just by yourself. And loneliness is one of the major causes of cognitive impairment.”

The importance of social engagement for older people is a recurring theme in the book “Paths to Healthy Aging,” which Ayati recently co-authored with his wife, physiologist and molecular biologist Arezou (Hope) Azarani.   “When people ask me what’s the best climate for elderly people, I say, ‘The best climate is to be surrounded by people who love you and support you,’” he said.

Ayati and Azarani created “Paths to Healthy Aging” in the form of a workbook, each chapter beginning with a list of “questions to ask yourself” and ending with a “take-home message” and an “action plan.” Chapters cover nutrition, mental health, frailty and overmedication.

It’s not unusual for an older person to be taking as many as five to eight medications a day for conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol as well as diseases like diabetes, arthritis or congestive heart failure, Ayati said. Many also take over-the-counter supplements. At the same time, older people are more prone to the side effects of adverse drug interactions.

He cites the example of a patient who suffered a fatal brain hemorrhage following a fall Ayati believes was caused by overmedication a prescription for a cholinesterase inhibitor to treat mild short-term memory loss combined with strong sleeping pills that were added after the patient complained that the cholinesterase inhibitor was causing him to have vivid dreams. When stronger sleeping pills were added, the vivid dreams became delusional-like thoughts, nighttime anxiety and nightmares.

Ayati advises patients to keep an up-to-date list of all illnesses and medications, including dosages, and share them with all physicians and pharmacists; and also to question physicians about any newly prescribed medication and its possible interaction with other drugs.   “Take only what (medications) you truly need,” he said. “Any therapeutic benefit can be outweighed by the potential for drug cascade syndrome (when an undesirable side effect is misinterpreted as a medical condition and results in a new prescription) and other harmful interaction effects.”

Ayati is skeptical of over-the-counter medications, supplements and herbal remedies.   “Supplements can’t replace proper nutrition and should not be taken unless a blood test analysis ordered by your physician justifies prescribing them,” he said.   Most people should be able to get adequate vitamins, including vitamin D and calcium, from food rather than supplements, he said.

Geriatricians are trained to understand the physiology of aging and the medical complexity of the aging process, he said.   “We’re trained to be a good listener, and also to try to find the best way not to make a case more complicated,” Ayati said.

He embarked on the book when he realized the 20-minute office visit was too short to cover everything he wanted to communicate to patients. “They leave my office and they get bombarded by contradictory claims, marketing campaigns and misinformation” about nutrition, vitamins, supplements and brain games, he said. “The way we wrote the book is very simple; we tried not to put any complexity in it so that any person with any level of education can get the message.”

For exercise, he recommends “strenuous” strength training with weights and resistance bands, pushups, pullups and situps at least twice a week, as well as balance training, such a walking backward or sideways or Tai Chi at least three times a week. On diet, he advises people to eat “nutritious foods in small portions more frequently and in good company.”

But Ayati returns, repeatedly, to the value of social interaction for healthy aging.   “You can have the best cheese, the best wine, the best Mediterranean diet and the best olive oil, but if you’re in the solitude of your apartment looking at the window it’s not as beneficial as eating with others,” he said.

He said he frequently sees depression and memory loss among his immigrant patients who have been brought here by their children and spend their days caring for grandchildren.

“Their quality of life is actually worse here because they left behind the social network of their home country,” Ayati said. “You need to have interactions with people of your age and cultural background.”

But “aging can actually be a time of growth and development” for people who keep up friendships and have a positive attitude, he said.

“One of the book reviewers got back to me and said that after reading the book she called her husband because she wanted to ask him, ‘How many friends are we going to have when we retire?’”

Contributing writer Chris Kenrick | ckenrick@paweekly.com.