How Older Men with BPH Can Appreciate Life During the Pandemic

Although it’s not just older men with BPH (prostate enlargement) who are going through the pandemic, our awareness campaign wants to bring this condition to the public eye. BPH or benign prostatic hyperplasia is a common condition in older men in which the prostate grows to a larger size, potentially interfering with the urinary system (bladder, urethra and kidneys). Symptoms include frequent urination and struggle to urinate smoothly. Among men’s health talks, we might not hear about BPH by name but we are familiar with men going to the bathroom more as they get older as well as prostate jokes (BPH is no joke, though).

Anyway, now that we got the awareness part up there, let’s talk about the global pandemic we are going through alongside our senior men with BPH. This pandemic has taught everyone, including those men with BPH, that life is precious and we should enjoy the gift of life by protecting it for ourselves, our loved ones, and others. Yes, some of us may have daily struggles related to livelihood and other health problems aside from the fears of the pandemic, but there’s something to be said about being able to go to sleep at night and wake up again the next morning. There is something profound about life that we hope many can come to understand. As we work to get our health in order, we hope that managing the health conditions and ailments that affect us and our loved ones can bring us together and motivate us to find solutions to prolong and improve quality of life.

For men with BPH, practicing good nutrition and physical activity as well as voiding techniques to facilitate and cope with the symptoms of mild BPH are one step in the right direction. Advice from doctors and medical support groups can help. Trying safe and natural solutions that have been studied and consulted with their doctors could be another path.

If you are reading this, you are living- we hope that as March comes to a close, in these troubling times you are still gripping firmly on hope, positive sentiments and the gift of your precious life. The spring season has come to grace us with flowers, warmer weather, and rain for the plant life. We can also awaken like the flowering buds in our newfound appreciation for life! 

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Institute on Aging’s mission has always been dedicated to preserving the dignity, independence, and well-being of aging adults and people living with disabilities. It has been our focus for over 40 years.

Today, we suddenly find ourselves in a whole new world full of uncertainty and constantly evolving questions, with a global pandemic that our core audience is most susceptible. We aren’t just helping people with well-being and independence anymore; we are helping them protect themselves, survive mentally, cope with social isolation, and manage day-to-day living in unprecedented times.  

The Incident Command Team of the Institute has been monitoring the situation since the first case appeared in the US. Throughout this rapidly evolving period, we have relied on information provided by the CDC, World Health Organization (WHO), Department of Public Health (DPH) in all operating counties, as well as partner organizations and funders. This team meets multiple times daily to assess changes and developments. In addition, there is a team who monitors changes throughout the day.

As shelter-in-place mandates have led us to suspend services such as enrichment day programs and limit access to community-based meals, we find ourselves stepping up in other areas that fit with social distancing guidelines, such as offering Home Care Services and increasing activity with our nationally recognized Friendship Line. We are, and will continue to be, a valued resource to at-risk seniors, as well as aging adults who may be feeling especially anxious, lonely and depressed during this time period.

More Help at Home

Many are wondering what will happen to our seniors ages 65 and older — the most vulnerable to medical complications as a result of coronavirus – if they are alone and without help. IOA’s home care program can help provide a bridge until daily life returns to normal. We provide personalized care for aging adults in their own home. We have licensed, bonded, and insured caregivers who can be scheduled to meet specific needs and we have hourly or 24/7 live-in care and overnight assistance. Just some of the many things we help with:

  • Companionship (even for just several hours a day)
  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s care
  • Home safety evaluations
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Escorted transportation, errands, and accompaniment & light housekeeping

To find out more, please call our CONNECT line at 415-720-4111, or 650-424-1411.  

A Warm, Friendly Voice for Those Feeling Isolated

Our Friendship Line, which was founded 47 years ago by Dr. Patrick Arbore, is the only accredited crisis line in the country for people age 60 years and older and adults living with disabilities.

Volunteers who staff the linesassist clients, caretakers or anyone else in the community with social isolation questions, especially ones surrounding coronavirus. As participation in social activities wanes due to lockdowns, social isolation, loneliness and anxiety for seniors may increase. The Friendship Line can be a much-needed support service to aging adults at this time – we encourage you to provide the Friendship Line number to seniors who need a connection or a listening ear. Please note that our volunteers are not equipped to provide medical advice.  

We anticipate a large increase in volume in calls due to COVID-19 forcing more and more seniors to be isolated. As such, we are ramping up staffing and partners to be able to meet this growing need.

The Friendship Line was recently featured on ABC7 and featured on KQED Newsroom (IOA segment starts at 20:45).

The Friendship Line operates 24 hours a day with support in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese. 800-971-3073 (toll-free).

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It shouldn’t come as a surprise that in the weeks following the holidays, there is typically a spike in dementia diagnoses. People tend to spend more time with family members during the holiday season than almost any other time of the year, and so it’s more noticeable when Mom has trouble remembering where the napkins are, even though she’s stored them in the same place for years, or Dad has difficulty finishing a sentence or telling a story without rambling.

Alzheimer’s (and other forms of dementia) is all around us. The number of Americans being diagnosed with dementia is rising so rapidly that it’s inevitable that most of us will experience being in contact with a family member, friend or acquaintance of someone who has been diagnosed at some point in our lives.

Friends abandoning friends who have been recently diagnosed is more common than one thinks, according to this article in The Wall Street Journal. Friends of those who are diagnosed the disease either simply don’t know what to say, or worse, say nothing at all and disappear. Sadly, this happens whether it is a new friendship or a 30-year bond.

How to handle the situation? “First off, don’t disappear,” says Alison Moritz, Program Director for Institute on Aging’s Enrichment Center which offers social day programs for adults with dementia. “Hold the diagnosed person close and listen to them. Offer a sense of normalcy, such as going to the movies with them or having lunch together. Everyone involved needs to hold onto familiar rituals and a sense community, because they are collectively experiencing a loss.”

Adds Moritz, if it’s a parent of a friend who has been diagnosed, “don’t tell your friend it’s a ‘blessing’ to get to take care of their parent, or worse, share horror stories of what you’ve personally experienced. Let your friend ask for advice in his or her own time.”

Some other suggestion for interacting with a newly diagnosed friend:

Don’t Joke About Forgetfulness       

While you don’t want to come off as overly serious, there is a line between that and being too light about things. Making jokes in front of the person about their tendency to forget things is insensitive.

Listen, Listen and then Listen Some More

Matthew*, whose mother was diagnosed, shared that his friends either disappeared or said dismissive things like “well, at least you still have your mother” or “you’ll be good at this” or “everything happens for a reason.” In this case, the friends could have just listened to what he had to say or let him vent his feelings.

 Don’t Forget to Take Care of the Caregiver

When Rebecca* found out about her husband’s diagnosis, it was a dark and scary time for both of them and also a point when friendships became even more important to the couple. She also discovered she needed to be specific about her needs as her husband’s caregiver when friends offered to help, such as requesting that they take him out for a walk or to lunch when she needed a break. 

*names have been changed to protect privacy

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Story Time: The Partners of Men with BPH

BPH stands for benign prostatic hyperplasia. It’s the enlargement of an older man’s prostate due to age. Although this condition commonly affects older men worldwide, they’re not alone in feeling the impacts of BPH. A bigger prostate could mean more bathroom trips in the middle of the night. Men with BPH may be waking up many times a night, and if their partners (wives or husbands) are light sleepers, this could be doubly affecting sleep. Frequent bathroom trips could also affect plans to go out and spend quality time together.

When men don’t want to admit they are having urinary issues due to BPH, sometimes all it takes is a push of love and encouragement from their partners to get BPH treated. This is why it’s important not only for men with BPH to be aware of this condition but also their partners.

Partners might be looking online and consulting with fellow partners of men with BPH to get support and find what others are doing for their condition. They might be searching e-stores and physical stores for natural treatments or tips on managing mild BPH symptoms. These partners might also be the ones who help men get to the doctor’s office when men aren’t keen on going to the doctor.

Don’t underestimate the power of a partner to perceive that their man is feeling frustration over BPH. They want to give their man a better quality of life and find a solution to their problem. This is why it’s important for both the patient and their loved ones to know more about BPH. Let’s continue reading and sharing information about BPH to men and their partners!

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Isn’t it wonderful to know that love can bloom at ANY age? Valentine’s Day is here and love is in the air for everyone. In these modern times, there are so many interesting ways to meet new people and no matter your age it is smart to practice safety.

Online dating can be tricky! A caution about online dating from Shawna Reeves, IOA’s Director of Elder Abuse Prevention, “No sites vet their users, and it is impossible for a person to vet on their own due to the minimal amount of information available to users.” She adds, “All dating sites are ‘user beware’ at this time.” Reeves urges seniors to use caution and common sense, as there have been incidents of sex offenders registering on certain dating sites. Some simple rules to follow when meeting someone from an online site for the first time: set up the date in a public place such as a restaurant or coffee shop, don’t give out personal information right away (and keep it off your profile, as well as check your online privacy settings), and do a quick search on the person you are meeting beforehand.

As always there’s the old fashion way to meet potential dating partners too – through family and friends, through activities such as sporting events and singles clubs, and through religious organizations such as churches or synagogues.  

AARP has a great guide to “what to expect on your first date” when meeting someone new for the first time. The fun part of dating is experiencing feelings of nervousness and giddiness, like you did as a 13-year-old, if the date is going well! AARP also cautions that seniors should also be on high alert for warning signs such negative comments or an unwillingness to be forthright that could indicate the person is not a good match for you.

You’ve met someone that you enjoy spending time with. Great! But don’t go flinging fast-forward into a relationship without keeping your eyes open. Seniors can be one of the most vulnerable groups for online romance scams that can leave them feeling helpless, robbed or worse. Among other things, experts advise that older adults should ensure that their finances are safe and secure, especially if marriage or co-habitation is being discussed. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) offers these guidelines to avoid the Sweetheart Scam.  

While there are definitely several precautions to take, dating at an older age can be FUN and rewarding, and give seniors a new and refreshed outlook on life!

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Men With BPH Need Love, Too

The best type of support is the one that is there through thick and thin, good and bad. Men with BPH want to enjoy the best times of their lives, but life isn’t full of 100% good times. BPH is a condition in older men where the prostate enlarges, usually interfering with the urinary system in the form of frequent urination at night, struggle to urinate, poor urinary flow, stopping and starting, inability to void completely, sensation of not fully voiding, incontinence, etc.

Prostate enlargement is not just an old man’s issue. Their loved ones are affected, too. When a man with BPH cannot hang out with his friends and family due to frequent urination troubles, he is losing out on significant social experiences like outings, birthdays, parties, and reunions. When he has to get up to go the bathroom many times a night, he is losing out on a good night’s rest to keep his mind clear and stress free. He is also potentially having trouble with his partner in the bedroom, especially if he’s on medication with sexual side effects.

Some men are walking around with an enlarged prostate who don’t even know the term “BPH!” It’s usually not until they are told by their doctor what it is that they first discover how a prostate grows in age. How can we make sure men know more about their bodies and do more for their BPH? Loving them and showing that love by responsibly sharing information that is as accurate as possible. Bringing awareness to BPH to the public will help us show more love for our older men, our fathers, our grandfathers, our brothers, and our friends.

For men with mild BPH, consider how a natural clinically proven treatment, as well as healthy lifestyle modifications and practices, could help you reduce the negative impacts of BPH.

Stay informed, love yourself, see your doctor, and live a healthy, happy life free from worry of BPH!

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Men Don’t Like Doctors, but They do Like Freebies

Men generally go less often to the doctor. Whether it’s fear of getting a bad diagnosis, embarrassment to discuss sexual and urinary symptoms, or thinking they can handle health issues on their own, the numbers say time and time again that men aren’t really a fan of going to the doctor. So what’s a good way to get men to care more about their health, especially older men with a prostate enlargement called BPH who should see a doctor?

Try health fairs. Health fairs can be a great way to instill awareness and initiative in men, as they can serve as a midway point between a man’s home and his doctor’s office. Health fairs have booths with freebies (flyers, health brochures, knickknacks, snack samples, coupons, etc.). Doctors, nurses, pharmaceutical companies, alternative and natural health practices, and exercise studios also host screenings, activities, games, and more. The environment is more relaxed than a doctor’s office, so it can give men time to prepare before they approach their doctor.

Men’s health fairs are especially good opportunities to bring awareness of BPH to attendees. Some men might not even be familiar with the acronym BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia), but they might very well be aware of symptoms like getting up many times a night to go to the bathroom, poor urinary flow, sensation of incomplete voiding, urges, struggle to start urinating, and incontinence. And because these symptoms can be shared among other prostatic and bladder health issues, it is important for men who don’t know their diagnosis to confirm their condition with their doctor. When some men prefer natural treatments, it is also good to go to a health fair and see what new options are out there, as well as learn about the tried and true treatments.

Health fairs aren’t as stressful, so if you’re a man, you can enjoy the fair environment with friends, family, and fellow men while also empowering your health with knowledge and initiative!

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As the famous chef Julia Child once said, “People who love to eat are always the best people.” At Institute on Aging, we’d like to add to that by saying, “People who love to eat and support their community are the best people.”

A time-honored tradition, Dinner á la Heart returns on February 4, 2020 for its 37th year in support of IOA. It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year and taps into what people already love to do—share a great meal with their friends and loved ones. We carefully curate a group of the Bay Area’s fine dining establishments, all of which offer either a prix fixe dinner or lunch that includes wine and coffee or tea. Tickets for the meals (purchased in advance on our site) range from $85 to $250 per person. Some of the iconic restaurants participating this year include Harris’ Steakhouse, Farallon, Le Central Bistro, Epic, One Market, Waterbar, Perbacco, and Sushi Ran.

Along with the restaurant dining series, IOA hosts a special dinner at a San Francisco venue on the same evening, which features a special guest of honor. This year, the dinner will be held at the St. Francis Yacht Club, where we will recognize Dinner á la Heart honoree Rita Semel, a longtime San Franciscan known for her humanitarian work bridging people from different backgrounds and faiths.

Rita is a longtime supporter of IOA and a dear friend of Lawrence Feigenbaum, MD, who originally founded the nation’s first geriatrics/adult day program at Mount Zion Hospital, a program that eventually evolved into the Institute on Aging. She is perhaps best known for her humanitarian work as the 25-year coordinator of the San Francisco Conference on Religion and Race, and the co-founder of the San Francisco Interfaith Council. During her time with both organizations, she worked tirelessly to promote equality and establish guidelines under which people from all backgrounds could be treated fairly. She also currently serves on the boards of Clinic by the Bay, Congregation Emanu-El, and Grace Cathedral; she was also appointed by former Mayor Edwin Lee to the Human Services Commission. Rita’s continual advocacy and contributions to the San Francisco community align with Institute on Aging’s mission to enhance the quality of life of aging adults and enable them to maintain their independence, well-being, and participation in the community.

Please join us on February 4 by taking part in Dinner á la Heart. Your stomach will thank you for a memorable dining experience, and your heart will thank you in making the difference in the lives of those around you.

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Lorna Prendergast, at 90, received a Master’s Degree in Aging from the University of Melbourne, having pursued her studies online for the most part. Her accomplishment just goes to show that seniors, although not brought up in the age of technology, are every bit as capable as younger generations to use technology to accomplish their dreams.

For Lorna, her interest in music and aging began when she visited her husband in a nursing home the last few years before he passed. She always loved and had great appreciation for music, but only after observing residents in the nursing home and their reactions to music that Lorna became intrigued with the potential of music’s positive influence on Alzheimer’s and related disorders. With that, she decided to learn more about it, and here she is, a new graduate, ready to use her skills and training to benefit others.

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