Archive for category Caregiving

Caregiving for the elderly

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Have you ever considered the complex job of being a caregiver for an elderly individual?  Did you know that in the United States, the vast majority of care that allows older people to live at home is provided by family members?

Imagine this scenario:  you are an older adult, doing all the caregiving for a spouse with dementia.  You are trying to keep your life-long partner at home.  You have adult children, but they live hours away, or in a different state.  Your spouse with dementia can no longer drive, manage finances, or cook.  Your spouse is now having trouble with simple tasks, like showering.  To make things more complicated, you just found out you  have stage 1 cancer.  Can you manage alone?  Can you afford paid help?  Are you able to ask others for help?  Below are some of the many tasks caregivers provide.

PRIMARY CAREGIVERS:

-provide personal care (i.e., helping with a  shower)

-do household chores (clean dishes, do laundry & vacuum)

-run errands (grocery shopping, purchasing supplies, clothing)

-cook

-manage all aspect of finances

-complete yard work, and home maintenance

-provide transportation (ie, to the doctor’s office, to church, to the pharmacy)

-keep a calendar up-to-date (this can become complex depending on the diagnosis)

-coordinate or arrange volunteer or paid services (i.e., sitters)

-take time to provide companionship (i.e., going for a ride to get a favorite treat)

-shop for birthday or holiday gifts for other family members

-do end-of-life planning (i.e. creating a Living Will, updating legal documents, or even pre-planning funeral arrangements)

Some caregivers do all of this, with no help at all.  It is easy to see how a spouse who is elderly, could easily become anxious, over-whelmed, depressed, and sheer exhausted- placing their physical or mental well-being on the “back burner”.  Let us all take the time to reach out to the elderly we see at our place of worship, in our neighborhood, through or work, or in our extended community and ask how they are doing?  Could they use some help?  Or perhaps don’t ask, just bring over some cookies and start a conversation to show you care.

 

 

 

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Teepa Snow, Leading Expert on Dementia

 

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This week, I had the opportunity to attend a work shop on dementia by one of America’s leading experts on the topic; Teepa Snow.  It was both informative, and funny as she kept our attention the entire six hours.  Below, is a clip from her site.  She has a great deal of information you can use to improve your care for those with dementia.

http://teepasnow.com/resources/teepa-tips-videos/dementia-101/

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Doll Therapy

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Have you considered doll therapy when working with individuals with memory loss?  This article lists the pros and cons.  Overall, I think the benefits can be tremendous.  I have observed elderly women in long-term care who talk to their doll and care for it.  The doll is very comforting and provides great joy to the patient.

I just recently watched a documentary on adults- both men and women who are serious doll collectors (Barbie dolls and Reborn dolls) and they have no memory loss.  Some women even bring their Reborn dolls out in public and push them in strollers.

I think it’s a great idea.

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/10/03/495655678/doll-therapy-may-help-calm-people-with-dementia-but-it-has-critics

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Eugenia Smiled

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Do you work with seniors who have end-stage (or advanced) Alzheimer’s?  Have you found it challenging to connect to them in a meaningful way?  It can be difficult without knowing something about what they used to enjoy.  Below is a story of Eugenia, a senior who was 100 years old and was told that she didn’t need a volunteer.  Not only did she have an advanced case of Alzheimer’s, she was partially blind and had hearing difficulties.

A volunteer coordinator decided to place a volunteer with Eugenia every day of the week.  Each day volunteers read to her.  Volunteers also oriented Eugenia to her surroundings and the time.  Week after week, Eugenia continued to be unaware of the companionship she was receiving.  But one day, a young volunteer sang his university’s fight song.  Then it happened- Eugenia’s feet began to tap.  She bobbed her head and lifted her eyes.  With all eyes on Eugenia, she looked up and spread her lips and smiled.

It took time and patience.  It took finding what Eugenia needed to connect to the outside world.  Her smile meant so much to those volunteers- they had finally made a connection.  What she needed was music!

http://seniorsmiles.org/about-us/stories

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Pets and The Elderly- Some Considerations

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When thinking about the care an individual needs who has Alzheimer’s, we often forget about the other creatures we should check on too- their pets.  This is never something I considered- until I read this article.

There will come a point in time, when an individual with Alzheimer’s may be unable to care for a pet.  A case example of this, is listed below.  Certainly, caregivers need to do everything possible to ensure that a pet, or pets at home are cared for as long as possible.  Pets can provide tremendous companionship, entertainment, and stimulation to their owners.   However, when an individual with Alzheimer’s, (or other illnesses) can no longer care for the pet and the pet’s well-being is truly at stake, something must be done.

It may be possible to find another loving home for the pet.  Below, is a story of a worst-case scenario of a pet being neglected due to the owner’s illness, but rescued and given proper care.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/12/22/obese-cat-covered-in-pounds-matted-fur-recovering-in-new-home.html

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Human Connection- It’s Vital

This is one of the most touching videos I have ever seen.  It reminds me that there are so many people in our community that are lonely (particularly seniors who live alone) and how much a human connection means.  We all need to “adopt” someone like Dan.

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Hasbro’s Robotic Pet Therapy

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Modern technology has produced something very special- a new companion for the elderly who have Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.  It is a Robotic Pet and it acts similar to a live pet, but it never runs away, has to be fed, or must make an expensive trip to the vet!  These pets give these seniors a true companion and would be terrific for any activity program.  The video is short, but very sweet and shows how these pets can make a real difference to your loved one.  You can find these at Walmart.com.

http://video.foxnews.com/v/5177109640001/are-robots-the-future-of-therapy-animals/?#sp=show-clips

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