Question: My doctor has me taking 81 milligrams of aspirin a day to cut the risk of attack and stroke. Would an equivalent amount of ibuprofen do the job? A preliminary study of long-term ibuprofen use showed it delayed Alzheimer’s disease, and I’d like to have a shot at preventing all three conditions with one pill.
Answer: Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin-IB) doesn’t have anywhere near the anticlotting effect of aspirin, so it won’t necessarily help prevent heart attack or stroke. And it’s premature to take ibuprofen or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in hopes of warding off Alzheimer’s especially since regular use of those drugs can pose significant risks.
Caring for the caregiver
I still make house calls. Ok, not that many, and usually only when the patient is bedridden and can’t easily get to my office or the emergency room. One such patient is a 78-year-old for-mer car dealer who suffered a massive stroke some 15 years ago. The stroke caused complete paralysis of his left arm and leg, loss of speech, and abrupt overall mental decline. I see him at his home two or three times a year.
But this column is not about him, it’s about his wife. Now age 68, she has devoted a substantial portion of her life to car-ing for her invalid husband. “I could have put him in a nurs-ing home years ago,” she once told me. “But I couldn’t bear the thought of someone else taking care of him. If the situa-tion were reversed, I know he’d do the same for me.”
She’s fortunate that their finances permit her to live out that decision. But the years of intensive hands-on care have had more than a monetary cost. Hospital paraphernalia has taken over what was once their living room. She spends long days tend-ing to his needs and many sleepless nights answering his calls for assistance. In addition to constant worry and frayed nerves, she has developed symptoms of heart disease and chronic diar-rhea. In many ways, she’s become sicker than her husband.
The stress of caregiving
Her predicament is far from unique. Similar stories are played out in some 22 million households in the U.S today nearly triple the number of just over a decade ago. About three-fourths of the caregivers are women, usually caring for their husbands or, less often, a parent.
The constant burden on the caregiver can result in a great deal of psychological distress including anxiety, depression, and crushing guilt. More difficult still may be the emotional stress of watching a loved one deteriorate physically and mentally.
The there’s the financial crunch. Many people lack long-term insurance for a chronic debilitating condition. With lim-ited Medicare coverage and seemingly limitless expenses, few people in such a situation can withstand the economic pres-sure indefinitely.
Some evidence suggests that all the compounded stress may contribute to the development of physical illness. Certainly, the relentless physical demands of caring for an aging or ailing relative can be exhausting as well. Especially for an older care giver, lifting, bathing, toileting, and dressing a near-helpless adult can lead to sprains and strains, even falls and fractures.
Sooner or later, most caregivers realize they need help. A good way to start tracking down resources is to contact a social worker in a local hospital or call your state or county health department—specifically, the agency on aging or the division responsible for social services. Those sources can point you toward helpful programs and groups. Some agencies, for example, offer financial advice, assistance with tax and Medicare forms, and help in locating special-needs housing. They may also administer services that provide transportation and meals.
Often, a caregiver’s most pressing need is simply some rest or a chance to get away from all the responsibilities for a few days. Many programs can now satisfy that need, including “respite care” programs offered by nursing homes and other for-profit agencies. In addition, less expensive adult day-care programs are increasingly offered by community organizations such as local Y’s, churches, and synagogues. Depending on sponsorship, the cost may be based on a sliding scale or may even be free. However because there’s often little regulatory oversight, you have to scrutinize such programs before relinquishing care of your loved one for even a few hours. Visit in advance and ask lots of questions.
Caregivers who need more than an occasional hand may have to hire an aide to help out in their home regularly. To find such an aide, you can either hire someone yourself or rely on a home health agency. In either case, don’t hesitate to shop around until you find a person you like and trust.
At some point, it just may not be feasible to continue caring for a chronically ill or disabled person at home. Then you’ll want to look into institutional care. The options range from residence centers for ambulatory patients who need limited assistance to nursing homes for bedridden patients who need continual medical and personal care. You can get a list of licensed facilities from your local agency on aging. Or get recommendations from friends or professionals.
To function as an effective caregiver, it’s important to look after your own needs as well. Be sure to let family members and friends know that you’d appreciate their help from time to time. Consider joining a caregiver support group, if there’s one in your community. And give yourself a break: Go on a much-needed vacation—even if only for a few days. You’ve got to take good care of yourself if you’re going to take care of someone else.
Health handbook introducing you to read the article: Allergic To Makeup?
Copyright ownership rights: The Best of Health – Consumer Reports