It's SPRING! My senior mom has started gardening, in spite of the rather erratic weather. (Do you like her faux snake in the corner – great for discouraging the birdies from eating the wrong seeds.) My grandkids and I have been enjoying games of softball and tag. And homes, everywhere, are saying, "Pay attention to my upkeep!" For those of us caring for the elderly parents and relatives in our families, that includes the senior citizens homes as well, doesn't it?
Angie's List has a great article to share with all of us that was of special interest to us in the Sandwich Generation.
Lead poisoning can be devastating to many, but especially our young children and grandchildren! And since many of our elderly parents still live in an old house that may have lead paint problems, it can really have a major impact on all of us in the Sandwich Generation, so I wanted to share it with you:
Important news for boomers and seniors caring for elderly parents who live in older houses:
by Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List
For years, Angie's List has been championing lead safety awareness. Exposure can lead to adverse health effects for individuals of any age, though children ages 6 and younger are especially susceptible to poisoning, which can include permanent brain damage and death.
In 2007, we launched a nationwide lead awareness tour. In both 2007 and 2008, we conducted investigations exposing unsafe industry practices. In 2010, we called on the Environmental Protection Agency for tougher enforcement of contractors who aren’t trained and accredited in proper lead safety techniques.
Though our goal has always been to encourage lead safe practices and help families reduce their exposure to poisoning, the heavy metal unfortunately continues to remain a prevalent public health threat.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 250,000 children between ages 1 and 5 have dangerous levels of lead in their blood, but they often don’t exhibit symptoms that can be directly connected to lead poisoning. In fact, some symptoms can be confused with behaviors that are often characteristic in young children, including hyperactivity, lack of focus and irritability.
Dr. John C. Ellis, a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the medical director for Managed Health Services in Indianapolis, says the only way to tell if a child has lead poisoning is with a blood test. “When you find a kid with elevated levels, they already have [been poisoned],” Ellis says. “Ideally, the doctor should be bringing questions up and screening kids at 1 and 2 years.”
The most common types of exposure come from lead paint dust in homes or child care centers built before 1978; contact with someone who works in a lead-related industry, such as a painter or contractor; soil contaminated with lead gasoline residue; and imported jewelry, toys and even some candies.
If you have concerns about lead exposure, push your child’s or grandchild's doctor to do an evaluation. One of CEO Bill Oesterle’s children was poisoned during a home renovation project. Oesterle had to insist that a pediatrician administer a blood test before his daughter got the treatment needed that’s allowed her to overcome the posoning.
“If we hadn’t persisted, we might never have fully understood why she exhibited the symptoms she did or gotten her the treatment she needed,” says Oesterle, who talks about the issue freely to help educate other parents.
If your child tests positive, identify the source of the lead and remove it as soon as possible. If you live in a home built before 1978, purchase a lead test kit from your local hardware store or hire a professional who can properly test and remove it.
Your doctor should also discuss treatment options. In severe cases, your child could undergo chelation therapy, which involves taking medication to extract lead from the body. If you’re not comfortable with your doctor’s approach, ask to be referred to a specialist in toxicology or environmental and occupational medicine, or seek a second opinion.
Wow! Excellent food for thought, isn't it! Each of you and I certainly all want to protect your family from lead in your home, but knowing how to remove lead based paint is not something most of us can do.
I want to say a huge thank you for the information to Angie's List. I'll be passing this info on to some other friends of mine who are caring for elderly parents in older houses, along with friends renting an older house, that's for sure. How about you?
P.S. If I had a concern about normal or high lead levels in my children or grandchildren, I would consult a doctor immediately and I highly recommend you do the same. If you wanted to start with lead testing kits first, though, Amazon does have several for you to take a look at. Just click here for more information. 🙂