Posts Tagged dementia

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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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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Possible Link Between Calcium Supplements and Dementia

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According to a new study, “calcium supplements may be associated with an increased risk of dementia in older women who have had a stroke or other signs of cerebrovascular disease. The research is published in the August 17, 2016, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.”

This article goes on to explain, that the study was small and does not state that there is a direct link between calcium supplements and dementia, however it does say there may be a link and that more research needs to be completed.  For more information, see the article below.

https://www.aan.com/PressRoom/home/PressRelease/1487

 

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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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Time To Stop Driving?

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Everyone enjoys independence and one of the greatest marks of independence, is being able to drive.  It gives an individual great freedom; freedom to work, shop, and socialize with others.  But if you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, this topic can be a tricky one- full of legitimate concern.

The question is: “Does mom or dad still have the cognitive ability to drive safely (keeping him or her safe, as well as others)?”

Here are two links that will help you answer that question.  The first link is terrific and it lists important facts you should consider- such as having a diagnosis of dementia, taking medications that may affect reasoning, and other issues that may make driving more difficult like vision and hearing loss.

http://asps2besafe.com/ROADparents.html

http://www.alz.org/georgia/in_my_community_16195.asp

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Suing A Nursing Home Could Get Easier Under Proposed Federal Rules

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Source: Suing A Nursing Home Could Get Easier Under Proposed Federal Rules | Kaiser Health News

This is an article about a woman who wanted to file a claim against a nursing home and her experience.  It can be very difficult to prove the case of abuse and neglect in a long-term care facility without the use of technology (a video camera) because while abuse occurs, falls and other incidents of accidents also occur.  While it can be challenging for a family member to prove abuse, it can be even more so, to prove neglect.

In this article, a case is described where a man with dementia who had a history of wandering was placed in a nursing home, only to die within a month of complications from dehydration.  Is it possible the CNAs didn’t offer him enough to drink?  Yes, this is possible.  But did you know, some dementia patients who pace burn many calories (causing significant weight loss), while at the same time refuse to eat or drink enough to survive?  Many patients with dementia who pace could use the benefit of additional calories through a feeding tube (G-tube), but they are so restless or agitated, that in some cases a G-tube can’t be inserted due the the dementia patient being at high risk for pulling it out.

Monitoring the delivery of good patient care can be challenging.  I would like to hear your thoughts on this issue.

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