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Category Archives: elder care

The New Old Age Blog

I recently ran across this New York Times blog–The New Old Age.

The blog is dedicated to Baby Boomers and issues they will be facing. You should consider adding this blog to your reader.

I will also be adding it to my Blog Roll (Weblogs) for your convenience. I included the link and the description in the clip below.

About The New Old Age

Thanks to the marvels of medical science, our parents are living longer than ever before. Adults over age 80 are the fastest growing segment of the population, and most will spend years dependent on others for the most basic needs. That burden falls to their baby boomer children, 77 million strong, who are flummoxed by the technicalities of eldercare, turned upside down by the changed architecture of their families, struggling to balance work and caregiving, and depleting their own retirement savings in the process.

Jane Gross on eldercare

In The New Old Age, Jane Gross explores this unprecedented intergenerational challenge and shares the stories of readers, the advice of professionals, and the wisdom gleaned from her own experience caring for her mother in her waning years. You can reach Ms. Gross at newoldage@nytimes.com.

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Alzheimer Disease Behavioral Symptoms Protocols

I found this very informative and valuable handout for caregivers on the Indiana University Center for Aging Research website. The opening webpage is titled Alzheimer Disease Behavioral Symptoms Protocols. On the right hand side of the page you will see a link entitled View Behavioral Symptoms Protocols and this will take you to the handout. If you prefer you can get to the PDF by clicking on this link, Behavioral Symptoms Protocols.

Please pass this information and link on to others. Please consider subscribing to our email or list or added our RSS feed to your reader.

 

Alzheimer’s Communication, Take a Few Deep Breaths

When my mother would say something mean, nonsensical or just downright crazy it would bring up emotions like anger in me immediately. Imagine a person being very mean to you and how you might feel. Since I was raised in a feisty Italian-American family it was not unusual for my “temper” to flair.



Alzheimer’ and Communication, Take a Few Deep Breaths

When I moved to Delray Beach, Florida to take care of my mother one of my most difficult problems was learning how to communicate with her. If you are caring for a person suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia you know how difficult this can be.

When my mother would say something mean, nonsensical or just downright crazy it would bring up emotions like anger in me immediately. Imagine a person being very mean to you and how you might feel. Since I was raised in a feisty Italian-American family it was not unusual for my “temper” to flair. If I reacted the way I had in the past my mother would either get “meaner”, or she would go into her room and stay there for hours on end often refusing to speak. I would end up with a pain in my stomach and a range of feelings that included a sense of hopelessness. I realized during those first days that I needed to learn how to deal effectively with this new, unfamiliar, communication with my mother.

The first thing I decided to do was work very hard to learn a new set of skills to deal with these situations. I learned to label (identify) and accept my initial feelings. What was I feeling: anger, frustration, confusion, sadness or a combination of all of these feelings? I found that by identifying my feelings I could corral and contain them. Then, I could deal effectively with my mother and the situation at hand. Once I had my mother settled I would go into a separate room and let my feeling come to the surface. First identify, second feel, and third dismiss these feeling as part of the sometimes craziness called Alzheimer’s disease. I know my mother didn’t mean what she was saying and I knew from my previous 50 years with her that she would never say or do the things she was doing if she could help it.

As I was learning this new behavior, I read an article about taking a “few deep breaths”. I tried it. Before I knew it, I was able to use this technique to blow away all the bad feelings and find myself relieved. I also learned to take a few deep breaths once the communication episode with my mother was starting. This really helped put me in focus and remind myself about what needed to be accomplished. The task at hand.

So my advice to you is to learn how to take a few deep breaths. Nice and slow, deeper and deeper breaths. It works. You might also envision yourself blowing away big dark clouds and replacing them with nice big white puffy clouds.

I learned to accept my initial reaction to these situations as part of being human. In other words, I came to understand that it was OK to have my feelings, my emotions. I also learned that I needed to keep these feelings in check and find a way to diffuse the anger within me. I came to understand that my mother was now evidencing behavior that was a result of her own confusion and the deterioration taking place in her brain. I came to accept the Alzheimer’s disease for what it is–something mean and sinister that was not going to go away. I learned to take control of the situation at hand.

You can do it too, I know you can.

I want to add something here. As a result of developing new communication techniques, acceptance of the situation, exercise, good nutrition, and the introduction of alternative medicines my mother is no longer malevolent–mean.

Original source: I am an Alzheimer’s CareGiver

 

Alzheimer’s Communication, Take a Few Deep Breaths

When my mother would say something mean, nonsensical or just downright crazy it would bring up emotions like anger in me immediately. Imagine a person being very mean to you and how you might feel. Since I was raised in a feisty Italian-American family it was not unusual for my “temper” to flair.



Alzheimer’ and Communication, Take a Few Deep Breaths

When I moved to Delray Beach, Florida to take care of my mother one of my most difficult problems was learning how to communicate with her. If you are caring for a person suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia you know how difficult this can be.

When my mother would say something mean, nonsensical or just downright crazy it would bring up emotions like anger in me immediately. Imagine a person being very mean to you and how you might feel. Since I was raised in a feisty Italian-American family it was not unusual for my “temper” to flair. If I reacted the way I had in the past my mother would either get “meaner”, or she would go into her room and stay there for hours on end often refusing to speak. I would end up with a pain in my stomach and a range of feelings that included a sense of hopelessness. I realized during those first days that I needed to learn how to deal effectively with this new, unfamiliar, communication with my mother.

The first thing I decided to do was work very hard to learn a new set of skills to deal with these situations. I learned to label (identify) and accept my initial feelings. What was I feeling: anger, frustration, confusion, sadness or a combination of all of these feelings? I found that by identifying my feelings I could corral and contain them. Then, I could deal effectively with my mother and the situation at hand. Once I had my mother settled I would go into a separate room and let my feeling come to the surface. First identify, second feel, and third dismiss these feeling as part of the sometimes craziness called Alzheimer’s disease. I know my mother didn’t mean what she was saying and I knew from my previous 50 years with her that she would never say or do the things she was doing if she could help it.

As I was learning this new behavior, I read an article about taking a “few deep breaths”. I tried it. Before I knew it, I was able to use this technique to blow away all the bad feelings and find myself relieved. I also learned to take a few deep breaths once the communication episode with my mother was starting. This really helped put me in focus and remind myself about what needed to be accomplished. The task at hand.

So my advice to you is to learn how to take a few deep breaths. Nice and slow, deeper and deeper breaths. It works. You might also envision yourself blowing away big dark clouds and replacing them with nice big white puffy clouds.

I learned to accept my initial reaction to these situations as part of being human. In other words, I came to understand that it was OK to have my feelings, my emotions. I also learned that I needed to keep these feelings in check and find a way to diffuse the anger within me. I came to understand that my mother was now evidencing behavior that was a result of her own confusion and the deterioration taking place in her brain. I came to accept the Alzheimer’s disease for what it is–something mean and sinister that was not going to go away. I learned to take control of the situation at hand.

You can do it too, I know you can.

I want to add something here. As a result of developing new communication techniques, acceptance of the situation, exercise, good nutrition, and the introduction of alternative medicines my mother is no longer malevolent–mean.

Original source: I am an Alzheimer’s CareGiver

 

Book Review: The 36-Hour Day

The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People with Alzheimer Disease and Memory Loss in Later Life

This best-selling book is the “bible” for families caring for people with Alzheimer disease…offering comfort and support to millions worldwide. In addition to the practical and compassionate guidance that have made The 36-Hour Day invaluable to caregivers, the fourth edition is the only edition currently available that includes new information on medical research and the delivery of care.

The new edition includes:

new information on diagnostic evaluation-resources for families and adult children who care for people with dementia-updated legal and financial information-the latest information on nursing homes and other communal living arrangements-new information on research, medications, and the biological causes and effects of dementia.


Tami Greene said…

This book has been the single most helpful tool my family has been given to help us help my mother as she progresses with Alzheimer’s Disease. While other books have touched on many of the topics in this book, no where else have we found as much practical information on how to avoid confrontations with her; ways to improve her daily living; ideas to keep her involved with us and to provide meaning to her life; questions to ask her doctors; types of resources that are available (depending on your area); what to expect as the disease progresses; and how to help each other as we take on the many different roles needed to provide care for her.

I highly recommend this book to others; in fact, I have purchased multiple copies to share with family members and donate to my local library – that’s how helpful and important this book is!

Arthur Jones said…

This is a excellent book and reference for those learning to deal with Alzheimer. Plenty of resources and ideas of what to look for when caring for someone with this disease. You can get a good idea of what to expect and how to help those suffering with this devastating disease. Easy to understand and read. Can’t recommend this book enough.

 

Caregiver Resources


The list on the follow page is a comprehensive list of caregiver resources. It is well worth copying for future reference.

AARP: This organization supplies information about caregiving, long-term care and aging, including publications and audiovisual aids for caregivers. The free online seminar Planning for the Care of Aging Parents is just one example of the educational resources provided.
(800) 424-2277

Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline: Referral and support.
(800) 272-3900

Benefits CheckUp: This Web site, operated by the National Council on the Aging, identifies federal and state assistance programs for older Americans in each community.

Caregivers Marketplace: A free service for family caregivers that offers savings and education on a wide range of goods and services for anyone who “gives, gets or needs care.”
(866) 327-8340

Caregiving Online: The site pulls together other sites that offer information on maintaining caregiver health

Caregiver Survival Resources: The site aims to help others cope with the demands of caregiving.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: The official U.S. government site for people on Medicare.

Children of Aging Parents: A nonprofit, charitable organization whose mission is to assist the nation’s nearly 54 million caregivers of the elderly or chronically ill with reliable information, referrals and support, and to heighten public awareness that the health of family caregivers is essential to ensure quality care of the nation’s growing elderly population.
(215) 945-6900 or (800) 227-7294

ElderCare Online: An online community designed to provide comprehensive information and support for those caring for aging loved ones, especially those coping with Alzheimer’s.

Eldercare Locator: A national directory of community services.
http://www.eldercare.gov/eldercare/public/home.asp
(800) 677-1116

Family Caregiver Alliance: Tracks action on key legislative issues of concern to family caregivers and offers advice on how to get involved in advocacy efforts.
(415) 434-3388

Family Caregiving Guides and Directories: A Department of Health and Human Services directory of Web sites for caregivers.

First Gov for Seniors: A Web site maintained by the Social Security Administration to provide an up-to-date overview of health, wellness and financial issues of interest to older persons and their families.

Healthy Caregiver: A magazine and online community dedicated to the issues and interests of contemporary adults caring for aging parents.

HomeCare Online: The National Association for Home Care’s virtual headquarters. NAHC is committed to representing the interests of the home care and hospice community.


Hospice Net
: Organization provides information and support to patients and families facing life-threatening illnesses. Hospice Net is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization working exclusively through the Internet.

National Alliance for Caregiving: The NAC is dedicated to providing support to family caregivers of older persons and the professionals who help them and to increase public awareness of issues facing family caregiving.

National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers: Care managers are professionals who coordinate caregiving services. They can be helpful when family members are not able to play an active role.
(520) 881-8008

National Family Caregivers Association: NFCA is dedicated to making life better for all of America’s family caregivers. Family caregivers focus on their loved ones’ needs; NFCA focuses on family caregivers.

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization: The largest nonprofit membership organization representing hospice and palliative care programs and professionals in the United States. The organization is committed to improving end-of-life care and expanding access to hospice care with the goal of profoundly enhancing quality of life for the dying and their loved ones.
(800) 658-8898

Today’s Caregiver magazine: A print and Web magazine dedicated to those caring for loved ones, written for caregivers by caregivers and dealing with topics like stress and depression management, financial, legal and medical advice, housing and incontinence.

U.S. Administration on Aging: The federal agency that develops programs and information resources for the elderly and their families.

Family Caregivers Online Newsletter: Online educational resource with practical information for family caregivers.

——————————————————————————–
Leah Dobkin is a freelance writer based in Shorewood, Wisconsin. She has more than 30 years’ experience working in the field of aging. She has prepared educational materials and articles for family caregivers, businesses and nonprofit organizations on this subject, has spoken at conferences and has conducted training for employees, employers and community service providers throughout the U.S. E-mail editors@workforce.com to comment.

“caregiver resources”, “robert t demarco”, alzheimer’s, blog, caregiver, caregiver resources, dementia, elder-care, family caregiving

 

I Missed the Early Signs of Dementia in my Mother

Looking back, there is little doubt in my mind I should have realized my mother was suffering from dementia sooner. Sadly, I didn’t have the proper education, information, or frame of reference. Most people tend to ignore the early symptoms of the disease believing they are simply signs of “old age”. Anyone who ends up in my shoes knows and understands that a person in the early stages of Alzheimer’s can function normally–even drive a car. Only when they deteriorate or some “event” takes place do we wake up to reality.

Behavior changes slowly in the elderly and as they begin to suffer cognitive impairment these changes are hard to detect. Sometimes these changes can be quite subtle but if detected raise a “red flag”.

If my mother had been enrolled in any of the studies listed below, I feel certain she would have been diagnosed sooner. This would have allowed me to get her in an exercise program, get her proper nutrition, and insured that she was taking her medication as prescribed. I learned in the last four years how important these factors are in the quality of her life.

The woman in the picture is my 91 year old mother (yes the picture is current). She suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. I am her CareGiver.

Sensors could help catch first signs of dementia
Monitors and online tests track subtle changes in daily mobility, behavior

Source Associated Press and MSNBC

WASHINGTON – Tiny motion sensors are attached to the walls, doorways and even the refrigerator of Elaine Bloomquist’s home, tracking the seemingly healthy 86-year-old’s daily activity.

It’s like spying in the name of science — with her permission — to see if round-the-clock tracking of elderly people’s movements can provide early clues of impending Alzheimer’s disease.

“Now it takes years to determine if someone’s developing dementia,” laments Dr. Jeffrey Kaye of Oregon Health & Science University, which is placing the monitors in 300 homes of Portland-area octogenarians as part of a $7 million federally funded project.

The goal: Shave off that time by spotting subtle changes in mobility and behavior that Alzheimer’s specialists are convinced precede the disease’s telltale memory loss.

Simple early signs

Early predictors may be as simple as variations in speed while people walk their hallways, or getting slower at dressing or typing. Also under study are in-home interactive “kiosks” that administer monthly memory and cognition tests, computer keyboards bugged to track typing speed, and pill boxes that record when seniors forget to take their medicines.

More than 5 million Americans, and 26 million people worldwide, have Alzheimer’s, and cases are projected to skyrocket as the population ages. Today’s medications only temporarily alleviate symptoms. Researchers are desperately hunting new ones that might at least slow the relentless brain decay if taken very early in the disease, before serious memory problems become obvious.

So dozens of early diagnosis methods also are under study, from tests of blood and spinal fluid to MRI scans of people’s brains. Even if some pan out, they’re expensive tests that would require lots of doctor intervention, when getting someone to visit a physician for suspicion of dementia is a huge hurdle. And during routine checkups, even doctors easily can miss the signs.

Bloomquist, of Milwaukie, Ore., knows the conundrum all too well. She volunteered for Kaye’s research because her husband died of Alzheimer’s, as did his parents and her own mother.

“It’s hard to know when people begin Alzheimer’s,” she reflects. “Alzheimer people do very well socially for short periods of time. If it’s just a casual conversation, they rise to the occasion.”

‘Typical’ days monitored

Measuring how people fare at home — on bad days as well as good ones, not just when they’re doing their best for the doctor — may spot changes that signal someone’s at high risk long before they’re actually demented, Kaye told the Alzheimer’s Association’s international dementia-prevention meeting last week.

“If you only assess them every once-in-a-blue-moon, you really are at a loss to know what they are like on a typical day,” Kaye explains.

High-tech monitors under study:

Researchers at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine are heading a study that ultimately plans to recruit 600 people over age 75 to help test in-home “kiosks” that turn on automatically to administer monthly cognitive exams. A video of a smiling scientist appears on-screen to talk participants through such classic tests as reading a string of words and then, minutes later, repeating how many they recall, or seeing how quickly they complete connect-the-dot patterns.
An Oregon pilot study of the motion sensors tracked 14 participants in their upper 80s for almost a year. Half had “mild cognitive impairment,” an Alzheimer’s precursor, and half were healthy. Impaired participants showed much greater variation in such day-to-day activities as walking speed, especially in the afternoons.

Why? The theory is that as Alzheimer’s begins destroying brain cells, signals to nerves may become inconsistent — like static on a radio — well before memories become irretrievable. One day, signals to walk fire fine. The next, those signals are fuzzy and people hesitate, creating wildly varying activity patterns.

Study receives unique grant

The pilot study prompted a first-of-its-kind grant from the National Institutes of Health to extend the monitoring study to 300 homes; 112 are being monitored already, mostly in retirement communities like Bloomquist’s. They’re given weekly health questionnaires to make sure an injury or other illness that affects activity doesn’t skew the results.

In addition, participants receive computer training so they can play brain-targeted computer games and take online memory and cognition tests. The keyboards are rigged to let researchers track changes in typing speed and Internet use that could indicate confusion.

Finally, a souped-up pill dispenser called the MedTracker is added to some of the studies, wirelessly recording when drugs are forgotten or taken late.
Electronics giants already sell various medical warning technologies for the elderly, including dementia patients, such as pill boxes that sound reminder alarms at dose time. And the Alzheimer’s Association and Intel Corp. are jointly funding research into how to use television, cell phones and other everyday technology to do such things as guide dementia patients through daily activities.

The next step of companies selling early symptom monitoring isn’t far off, and unbiased data on what really helps will be crucial, Kaye warns.

 
 
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