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Caring Committee


Needy Classmates/Widows

Establish guidelines for qualifying those who are needy, and to determine how to identify and contact those individuals.  Further, to establish criteria for determining the level of support that the foundation should provide.

 

Caring

Establish a network of classmates with a variety of the necessary skills needed to provide counseling at no charge to classmates/widows who need help and advice regarding medical, health, financial, etc. problems in their lives that is not readily available through normal channels. Please click here for more information.


 

Caring Committee Zoom conference Call 5/2/2022

 
The seventh conference call sponsored by the Caring Committee of the class of 1961 , entitled “Covid 19: Past,Present, and Future,” was held utilizing Zoom technology on 5/2/2022. [A special thanks to Ev Prather for coordinating the technology.]
 
In attendance were Bob Pickens, Len and Doris Berton, Gil Omenn, Ed Lewin , Liz Koprowski, Ev and Joe Prather, Pat Davidson, Richard Manning, Joan Wilk, Frank Novak, Peter Pettibone, Peter Vanderwicken, Paul Earle, Bob Epsen, David Wells, Joe McGinnity, Bill Ramsay, Roger Bermas, Carol Wojciechowicz, and Ed Diener
 
Bob Pickens introduced the speakers: Gil Omenn, MD, PHD, and pediatrician Ed Lewin who brought participants up to date on the past, present, and predicted future of the current COVID pandemic in adults and children. Liz Koprowski added commentary on the psychological toll of he pandemic.
Numerous questions were raised and discussed, predominantly about the need for additional vaccinations in the future.
 
The zoom conference call was ended at 2:00pm.
Respectfully submitted,
Bob Pickens for the Caring Committee
 

 


A Zoom conference call sponsored by the class of 1961 “Caring Committee “ dealing with an update on the current Coronavirus pandemic was held on October 29, 2020 at 1:00pm EST.

Participating were:

Bob Pickens, chair
Woody Andrews
Frank Alexander
Grace Alexander
Len Berton
Fred Bishop
George Brakeley
Steve Dana
Patrick Davidson
Diane Davidson
Paul Finch
Vance Finch
Dave Forney
Jerrold Graber
Elizabeth Koprowski
Richard Manning
Rachel Manning
Tim Mygatt
Gil Omenn
Peter Pettibone
Jean Pettibone
Joe Prather
Ev Prather
Phil Pritchard
Larry Tornek
Peter Vanderwicken
David Wells
Carol Wojciechowicz

Bob Pickens, Chair of the Caring Committee, welcomed 28 classmates and spouses to the sixth conference call in the committee’s series devoted to promoting good physical and mental health as we age. Today’s call was a first for the committee in that it successfully used Zoom technology to bring everyone together. Bob pointed out that it was six months ago to the day that our previous conference call on the COVID 19 pandemic started with a statement that there was a lot we did not know about this disease and there was a lot to learn. We find ourselves in the very same situation today.
 
Classmate Gil Omenn, MD., PhD., was introduced as our expert on the subject. He is the Harold T. Shapiro Distinguished Professor at the University of Michigan. Gil is broadly educated and brought a wide range of scholarly perspectives on COVID 19 to the discussion. He answered questions ranging from accepted strategies for prevention to predictions about the timetable for development and distribution of vaccines and their effectiveness in quelling this current pandemic.*
 
Bob reminded us that it was exactly 100 years ago that 1/3 of the world’s population was infected with the “Spanish Flu” with upwards of 50 million deaths. He recounted the story of the deaths of both of his paternal grandparents with a father who was orphaned at age 14. He is ever more grateful and in touch with the struggle his father endured to make a meaningful life for his family.
 
The Zoom conference call was terminated at 2:00pm with an appeal from the Caring Committee for suggestions for future conferences.
 
Respectfully submitted,

Bob Pickens,Chairman

 

*Dear ’61 Classmates:

   Bob suggested that I summarize highlights of my remarks a month ago for our Caring Committee call about the Covid-19 Pandemic.

      Regrettably, the resurgence of infectious cases we noted has swept across the country, affecting people in every state, with most at their highest numbers of new cases, and two weeks later hospitalizations, and then fatalities.  It has been 9 months, with a failure of leadership or useful direction at the federal level.  I was elected to the Board of Directors of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (www.fnih.org), which enables public/private partnerships between the NIH and biopharma companies. We have projects to accelerate research on Alzheimer disease and other diseases.  A special initiative this year is ACTIV, Accelerating Covid-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines.  A large number of therapies and vaccine strategies were reviewed. The most promising were organized and funded, and then linked with the Administration’s Operation Warp Speed and the Gates Foundation funding to prepare manufacturing capacity for the most promising vaccines in hopes of delivering safe and effective vaccines much faster than historically.  Now in November the first two vaccine candidates have been reported with impressive initial results and the prospect of a set of major immunization campaigns within a few months.  

      For the present, however, the broad public health advice of wearing masks, keeping physical distance, and avoiding even small crowds remains the most effective actions individuals and families can take everywhere.  The impacts on the economy and on large numbers of people have been severe, but ignoring such advice has now led to severe further consequences.

     The stories of infectious diseases and vaccines are some of the great adventures of public health, including smallpox, polio, measles, hepatitis B, and many others.  In fact, in my weekly individual calls with my four older grandchildren (ages 12-15), in our conversations about the virus and vaccines I learned that they had never heard of measles or polio!  Those vaccines proved so effective that the diseases that had caused so much havoc when we were young were nearly completely eradicated.

     Not all vaccine efforts are so successful.  After decades of effort, we still have no vaccine for malaria and no vaccine for HIV/AIDS.  The vaccines each year for influenza must chase an evolving flu virus, so that each year we must modify the vaccine and still have only modest benefit some years.

    Finally, we have a massive effort to develop therapies for patients who are active cases of Covid-19.  Dexamethasone, a synthetic version of cortisol, definitely helps in early stages of severe disease.  Remdesivir, a drug developed against Ebola, had a modest benefit in one good trial, but none in other trials; the one positive result generated an emergency use approval from FDA, with lingering uncertainty about benefit.  Meanwhile, the political campaign for hydroxy-chloroquine turned out to be a hoax, with more harm than benefit. 

   As Thanksgiving Day approaches, we owe a great debt of gratitude to the huge numbers of first-line workers who have risked their lives to help others and who should be first in line for vaccines.  We appreciate state and local officials who have taken heat over trying to protect the people in their jurisdictions.  We thank the volunteers who have participated in trials of vaccine candidates testing whether the vaccines are effective and safe.  And we hope the population at large will be eager to be immunized against the SARS-Cov-2 virus that causes Covid-19.

    We need to stay vigilant, comply with the public health guidelines, line up for the vaccines if they are shown to be effective and safe, and help to restore the economy and overcome the fractures in our society. Quite an agenda!

    My best wishes to you and your families and communities. Stay safe and keep well.

    I hope we can get together in Princeton in late May 2021 for our 60th Reunion.

          Gil

 

P.S. We may have to meet up in 2022.

 



Whitey Finch was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) in 2012. Like many, his diagnosis was a whirlwind of tests and doctors’ appointments. The good news is that he underwent experimental procedures that worked, and he's doing well today. 

Later, Whitey saw a notice from Bob Pickens about the Princeton Class of 1961 Caring Network and it helped him significantly, as it has helped many others. 

To read the full story, click here.

 

 



 

GUIDELINES ON CARE FOR THE CAREGIVER

by Lucille H. Deutsch, CALA, CMC

 

Caregiving can be a labor of love but, at the same time, it can be one of the most emotionally overwhelming and time-consuming responsibilities you will ever take on. Providing care for a spouse or a loved one can be very rewarding, but it can also lead to ongoing high levels of stress.

 

If you are a caregiver, you're pulled in so many different directions. So, who comes last? You usually do. Because of the sacrifices you make, taking care of yourself is probably the one thing you fail to do - when, in fact, it's the most important thing you can do - both for yourself and your loved one.

 

Your very first order of business needs to be your own physical and emotional well being so that you can be there for those you love.

 

Here are seven quick tips to help you avoid caregiver burnout and take good care of yourself in the process:

 

#1: Understand, when it comes to providing help, more is not necessarily better.
The key to providing proper care is knowing just how much to give. Evaluate your loved one's strengths, not limitations. Focus on what they can do and encourage them to do it.

 

#2: Accept and deal with what is, rather than what you'd like things to be.
We have no control over things like illness, dementia, and the frailties of aging. Don't waste energy worrying about circumstances you cannot change.

 

#3: Ask for and accept help from others.
And, learn to say Yes to offers of help. It will not only lighten your "to do" list, but it will give someone who cares about you the satisfaction that they are supporting you.

 

#4: Reach out and develop a support network of family and community resources.
Most caregivers have friends, family, or faith groups who are ready and willing to lend a hand. Use this available support to maintain your health and relieve stress.

 

#5: Educate yourself about and take advantage of caregiver resources.
Local Area Offices on Aging, the Aging Life Care Association, local illness-specific agencies (like the American Cancer Society), caregiver support groups, caregiver websites (e.g. www.aarp.org/caregiving) are all excellent caregiver resources.

 

#6: Take care of your own health.
Don't ignore your doctors' appointments. Be sure to eat right and get some exercise. It's amazing how proper nutrition and physical exercise can renew your energy and outlook.

 

#7: Pursue your interests.
Hobbies, sports, spending time with friends and other such activities are not frivolous pastimes. Clearing your mind of your worries, even for brief interludes, will allow you to regain balance and energy.

 

Setting limits and coping with the stresses of caregiving take discipline and practice. As a caregiver, you make a unique difference in the life of your loved one that no one else can make. To continue to make that difference, take time to breathe and take care of yourself!

 

Lucy Deutsch is Founder and President of LHD Eldercare Solutions, a geriatric care management and eldercare education agency.


 

 

IS IT FORGETFULNESS – OR IS IT ALZHEIMER’S?

 

by Lucille H. Deutsch, CALA, CMC

 

Did you ever walk into a room and forget why?  Have you ever forgotten where you put the car keys?  Did that memory lapse ever frighten you with the thought that you might be experiencing early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease?

 

Rest assured, forgetfulness affects us all.  We actually begin to lose brain neurons to the process of aging at the tender age of 20.  By 75, nearly one-tenth of the neurons we were born with have died.  I don’t know anyone who has not misplaced their car keys at some point.  But, if when you do find the keys, you can’t remember what they’re for, well, that’s another subject.

 

According to The Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 Warning Signs that memory loss may be related to Alzheimer’s Disease or some other form of dementia:

 

#1:  Memory loss that disrupts daily life

 

Forgetting newly learned information is one of the most common early signs of dementia.  Others are consistent short-term memory loss (resulting in asking the same questions over and over), and increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g. reminder notes, electronic devices) for things you were always able to handle on your own.

 

       What’s a typical age-related change?

 

       Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later   

 

#2:  Challenges in planning or solving problems

 

Changes in your ability to develop and follow a plan, or work with numbers, may be a signal that something is wrong.  Maybe you’re having trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills.  Difficulty concentrating or taking much longer to do things than you did before could be signs of a problem.

 

       What’s a typical age-related change?

 

       Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook

       Forgetting an item on the grocery list

 

#3:  Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure

 

People with dementia often find it challenging to complete tasks that were once simple: things like driving to a familiar location, managing a budget, or remembering the rules of a favorite game.  They may become unable to carry out familiar routines or follow instructions.

 

       What’s a typical age-related change?

 

       Occasionally needing help to record a TV show or use the settings on a microwave

 

 

#4:  Confusion with time or place

 

What’s today’s date?  What season are we in?  How long have you lived here?  These are difficult questions if you have dementia.  If you don’t know where you are or how you got there, it’s a problem.

 

       What’s a typical age-related change?

 

       Getting confused about the day of the week, but figuring it out later

 

#5:  Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

 

Sometimes, vision problems can be a sign of dementia.  If you have difficulty reading, judging distance, or determining color or contrast (which may also cause problems with driving), it is a good reason for further testing.

 

       What’s a typical age-related change?

 

       Vision changes related to cataracts or other eye-specific diseases

 

#6:  New problems with words in speaking or writing

 

People with dementia struggle with vocabulary and can be challenged to follow or join a conversation.  They may stop in the middle of a sentence, with no idea how to continue, or they may repeat themselves.  Often, they will use totally inappropriate words (e.g. “I’d like to have a dinosaur sandwich for lunch.”)

 

       What’s a typical age-related change?

 

       Sometimes having trouble finding the right word, but knowing it when you hear it

       (Nouns, by the way, are the first to go!)

 

#7:  Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

 

If you put things in unusual places – like the cell phone in the oven, or cereal in the bedroom drawer, it is not a good sign.  You may lose things and be unable to go back over your steps to find them, again.  Sometimes, those with dementia may accuse others of stealing when things can’t be found.  This may occur more frequently over time.

 

       What’s a typical age-related change?

       Occasionally misplacing things and retracing your steps to find them

 

#8:  Decreased or poor judgment

 

Poor judgment or decision-making refers to things like giving large amounts of money to telemarketers, paying less attention to personal hygiene or grooming, wearing mismatched or soiled clothing, keeping rotting food in the refrigerator.  Non-compliance with medication regimes is a particularly dangerous sign.

 

       What’s a typical age-related change?

 

       Making a bad decision once in awhile  (Unfortunately, we all do that.)

 

#9:  Withdrawal from work or social activities

 

People with dementia may begin to remove themselves from social activities, hobbies, even work activities, or sports, often because they realize they cannot participate as they once did.  They may have trouble following a conversation, keeping up with a favorite sports team, or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby.

 

       What’s a typical age-related change?

 

       Sometimes just feeling weary of family and social obligations or activities

 

#10:  Changes in mood and personality

 

Moods can change quickly – within minutes – if a person has dementia: from confused to suspicious to elated to depressed to fearful to giddy to anxious. Someone who has always had a sweet and docile personality may become aggressive, loud, and profane.  The opposite may also happen.

 

       What’s a typical age-related change?

 

       Developing very specific ways of doing things

       Becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted

 

As our bodies and our minds age, we inevitably face challenge, change and decline.  The best way to counter the speed at which these things happen is to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible: exercise, plan for proper nutrition, get enough sleep, and see the doctor when you experience pain or cognitive change.  Remember, the brain is a muscle too, and it needs exercise and nurture.  In order to stay as mentally healthy as possible, you may want to engage in brain exercise and adjust your lifestyle.  (You can google-search topics like First Steps to Brain Health, Brain Exercises That Boost Memory, and Mental Exercise and Dementia for some ideas.)

 

Note, too, that Alzheimer’s Disease is only one form of memory loss that falls under the umbrella of the term “dementia.”  There are many other causes for memory loss, and some are actually reversible.  If you notice any of the 10 Warning Signs in yourself or someone you know, don’t ignore them.  Schedule an appointment with your doctor, preferably either a board-certified geriatrician or a geriatric neurologist.

 

With early detection, you can explore treatments that may provide some relief of symptoms and help you maintain a level of independence longer, as well as increase your chances of participating in clinical drug trials that help advance research.

 

 

Lucy Deutsch is Founder and President of LHD Eldercare Solutions, a geriatric care management and eldercare education agency.

 

Thanks to the Alzheimer’s Association for providing much of the information provided for this article.   


COMMON AILMENTS AFFECTING OLDER ADULTS

by Andrea Gosselin, PT, DPT

 

There are many common conditions that can affect the function and quality of life of older adults.  These conditions are typically managed through a combination of medication, life style changes and physical therapy.  Physical therapy can involve use of modalities such as heat, ultrasound and electrical stimulation to reduce pain.  A physical therapist may also perform soft tissue or joint mobilization to increase flexibility and instruct patients in exercises to improve strength, range of motion and balance.

 

Some of the common conditions that can be helped with physical therapy include:

 

1: Poor balance.  Balance has been shown to decline with ageAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1  out of 4  adults over the age of 65 fall each year, and falling once doubles your chance of falling again. Decline in balance can occur for many reasons including vision changes, dysfunction of the inner ear system,  neuropathy, loss of strength, and slowed reaction time.  Many medications commonly used by older adults also have side effects  effecting balance including dizziness, lightheadedness and blurred vision.

 

Strength and balance exercises can help improve reaction time and increase the strength required to keep your body upright, as well as help compensate for any irreversible changes in vision, inner ear function and neuropathy.

 

2. Osteoarthritis.  Osteoarthritis is a condition in which the cartilage of one or several of your joints degenerates which can cause pain, swelling and stiffness. These symptoms can negatively impact your quality of life and make daily tasks more difficult. There is no cure for osteoarthritis but there are several treatment options.

 

Weight loss and proper exercise are good first steps and often have a significant impact in reducing or eliminating pain and restoring function.  When weight loss and exercise alone are not effective people suffering from osteoarthritis may also be given anti-inflammatory medications, topical creams or undergo injections into the affected joint.

 

3. Pain.  Pain can occur in any region of the body. According to an American Geriatrics Association report 50% of older adults living at home suffer from persistent pain. When not addressed  persistent pain can lead to anxiety, depression,  disrupted sleep and social withdrawal.   

 

If your doctor has determined that your pain is of a musculoskeletal or neuromuscular origin he may prescribe physical therapy to help ease the pain through a variety of modalities including heat, ice, massage, stretching, muscle stimulation and exercise.  

 

4. Recovery after broken bones. Accidents and injuries occur commonly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 3 million older adults are treated in the emergency room each year due to a fall, and that 1 out of 5 of these falls results in a serious injury such as a fractured bone.

 

If you suffer a broken bone you may undergo immobilization or require surgery. Both immobilization and surgery  result in stiffness and loss of strength and function of the affected area.  Once your doctor has approved physical activity you will need to perform stretching and strengthening exercises to  help restore your prior level of function. 

 

5. Generalized weakness. Physically inactive people can lose up to 3-5% of their muscle mass each decade after the age of 30. Even physically active adults will have some loss of muscle mass as they age, though to a less extent than an inactive age matched individual.

 

However, muscle mass can be improved  at any age through progressive resistance strength training.  Progressive resistance training involves working your muscles to fatigue causing them to respond by growing stronger.  It is important to progress gradually so that the muscles have time to adapt to the new demands placed on them through exercise.

 

6. Parkinson's Disease.  Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects movement.  Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease can include slowed movement, tremors, decline in balance, muscle rigidity, and difficulties with speech and fine motor skills.

 

At this time there is no cure for Parkinson's Disease. Treatment involves  medications that can reduce symptoms and performing a structured daily exercise program to  maintain strength, balance and function.

 

7. Osteoporosis.  Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become thin and weak which makes them fragile and more susceptible to fractures. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men over the age of 50 will suffer a fracture due to osteoporosis.

 

Along with a healthy diet and medication, regular weight bearing exercise can help build bone density and improve balance to prevent falls which can cause a fracture.

 

If you suffer from any of the above conditions your doctor may prescribe medication and suggest lifestyle changes such as weight loss, quitting smoking and changes in diet. He or she may also prescribe physical therapy so that a physical therapist can guide you through an appropriate exercise program and help manage pain. 

 

Andrea Gosselin is a licensed physical therapist with a doctorate degree from University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

 


EXERCISE AND PARKINSON’S DISEASE - written by Lynne Applebaum, Senior Director of Wellness, Somerset Hills YMCA, certified Delay the Disease™ - Exercise for People with Parkinson’s Disease Instructor

 

When I first started teaching the Delay the Disease™ class in 2012 to people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), it seemed to be a daunting task. I don’t face the challenges that people with PD face every single day.  Each participant presents symptoms differently. One person can have a tremor in their hand and nothing else, while another person may exhibit poor gait, the “mask” of Parkinson’s, and other physical signs that are consistent with people with PD.

 

What is actually happening inside the body of a person who has been diagnosed with PD?   Simply put, certain brain cells stop producing a substance called dopamine.  This lack of dopamine affects an individual’s movement, strength and balance.  While it is a progressive disease, the positive effects of exercise has been shown to help those with PD live a better life, and possibly even slow down its progression.  Another benefit is that a regular exercise agenda may provide stimulation to the neurological pathways and once again, may slow down the disease’s progression.

 

Delay the Disease™ was created by fitness trainer David Zid, along with Jackie Russell, a registered nurse who had witnessed the challenges of the disease firsthand, with a family member and a colleague. Together, David and Jackie developed this program which is now known as OhioHealth Delay the Disease™ as the program was recognized and adopted by this large hospital system.

 

Delay the Disease™ is offered at YMCAs around the country, as well as senior centers, hospitals and other venues.  Having personally been involved with this program for seven years, it has been one of the most meaningful experiences I have had in my over 20 years in the Wellness field. It’s a diverse program that enables us as instructors to incorporate our experience in the fitness field with the exercises that are designed to work on PD specific symptoms.  Everyone who takes the class can get something out of it, as it is inevitable that one or more of their symptoms will be addressed, in a fun, creative and warm environment.

 

Not to be overlooked is the social benefit of attending a program such as this.  There is a comfort amongst the participants that can only come from being around people who are experiencing a lot of the same challenges.  Having the class in a YMCA setting is uplifting as well, as we are known for welcoming everyone into our facilities. 

 

If you have, or know someone who has PD and is looking for an exercise program, Delay the Disease™ is a great choice.

 

For more information about the program, go to the Delay the Disease website at http://www.delaythedisease.com/default.aspx.

For information about the Somerset County YMCA, please visit our website at www.somersetcountyymca.org

 

 


A conference call sponsored by the Princeton class of 1961 “Caring Committee “discussing issues surrounding the current Coronavirus pandemic was held on 4/29/20 at 3:00 pm EST.

 
Participating were:
Bob Pickens,chair of the “Caring Committee “
Liz Koprowski, facilitator
Len Berton
George Brakeley
Steve Dana
Paul Finch
Vance Finch
Phil Johnson
Kathy Johnson
George Morris
Gil Omenn
Phil Pritchard
Joe Prather
Ev Prather
Peter Pettibone
Steve Roberts

Carol Wojciechowicz

 

As chair of the Caring Committee Bob Pickens presented an overview of our current understanding of the scope of the current pandemic with information about the virology, epidemiology, social and economic factors. It became apparent that there is a lot we still do not know about this disease and a lot to learn.

 

An important concern for today’s participants was the reality of the greater morbidity and mortality from the viral infection for an older population. This has been attributed to immunosenescence, the aging of the immune system, which offers less rigorous protection from infectious disease.
 
The focus of the conference call quickly turned to individual stories and experiences related to the pandemic. Stories of the brave caregivers who are on the front lines were shared. These heroic caregivers are openly exposed to the disease and then go home to their families with the fear of infecting them. In the morning they are up again going into battle. The tragic suicide death of Dr. Lorna Breen, head of emergency services at Columbia was highlighted.
 
As all of us are affected, socially, economically if not medically, ways of coping, and dealing with stress are essential. Numerous personal stories and suggestions for coping in this new environment were forthcoming. All of them focused on the fundamentals of maintaining good health: healthy diet, good hydration, weight control, physical activity, sleep, stress relieving activities, nonsmoking, and maintaining a positive attitude.
 
The meeting was adjourned at 4:00pm with a shout out to Angelina Friedman, the 101 year old woman in the news, who has fought the virus and recovered.
 
Respectfully submitted,
Bob Pickens

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