For our third and final column about the rewards and challenges of caregiving, we will shift our focus to long-distance caregivers: the caregivers who live over one hour from their loved one.

Studies show that 15% to 20% of our nation’s estimated 34 million caregivers are helping from a long distance—that’s as many as 5–7 million people. 

Last month, we discussed the rewards and challenges associated with caregiving. Given the importance of this topic and the millions of caregivers who do such important work, we thought we would continue the discussion this month with a focus on caregiving for individuals with memory impairment or dementia.

Last month, we discussed the rewards and challenges associated with caregiving. Given the importance of this topic and the millions of caregivers who do such important work, we thought we would continue the discussion this month with a focus on caregiving for individuals with memory impairment or dementia.

With age comes wisdom. But regardless of how much wisdom you’ve gained or how much life experience you’ve had, little can prepare you for the enormous stress of being a primary caregiver for someone with a chronic, progressive, or terminal disease.

“Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it. Let’s do it, let’s fall in love…”

The very best investment you can make in your short- and long-term health is engaging in physical activity. The benefits are extraordinary and range from prevention of heart attack, stroke, and dementia to better sleep and bone health. Despite increased awareness of this, active seniors remain a minority.

Last month, I wrote about how not all memory loss is dementia and not all dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. This month, let’s explore what we can do to prevent and even treat conditions associated with memory loss and signs of dementia.

One area in health that is both anxiety-provoking and confusing is the topic of memory loss, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia often evokes more fear among seniors than heart disease and cancer. 

Living freely without limitation is a fundamental goal for us all and a basic aspect of maintaining independence is having control of our bladder function. Urinary incontinence or loss of bladder control is remarkably common, with one out of three older women and a significant number of men being affected.

Today, medication is often the cornerstone of health care treatment for many conditions, and in some instances, it seems miraculous that we can effectively treat or cure diseases once thought of as terminal.

Nutrition is one area of healthy living that creates wonderful possibilities. Our understanding of food has grown substantially, and dietary recommendations have evolved from the grain-based food pyramid to a healthy plate emphasizing fruits and vegetables.

One important step we can all take to maintain our health and well-being is preventing falls. This is highlighted by the fact that up to 30% of seniors who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries, including lacerations, hip fractures, and head trauma. These injuries can make it difficult to live independently and can also increase your risk of early death.