Living with Dementia -6 Tips for Caregivers

…a 3 min read

Caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia it’s like an Iron Man race you can’t train for, and where tempo and speed shift on you with no heads up, warning, and you have to be ready.

Needless to say caregiving for someone with dementia will either evolve you as a human being, or it will consume you.

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How To Deal With An Exceptionally Difficult Parent

…a 2 minute read

difficult parent

Before we start let me make this point first…

EMPATHY (…the rare ability some humans possess to walk in someone else’s shoes) will always, always be your most effective weapon against the negativity, toxicity, anger, and personal attacks that may come your way from an elderly parent or a loved one you’re caring for.

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Florida Families Find Hope In The “RAISE” Family Caregivers Act

…a 1 minute read.

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RAISE Family Caregivers Act – Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage.

Over 37 billion hours of care to loved ones were provided in 2013 by family caregivers… an estimated value of $470 billion.

Here’s the thing, of those 37 billion hours of care, almost 100% were provided out of love, necessity and obligation, but none of them had any productivity value, on the contrary. All those hours were taken away from someone else’s job, time with family, and lifestyle in general.

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CAREGIVING STATS AND FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW IF YOUR PARENTS ARE OVER 75 YEARS OLD

a 1 minute 45 sec read…

caregiving

Let’s start with this quick fact, which I find critical in understanding a future that may very well resemble yours.

“When asked if they had a choice in taking on the responsibility to provide care for their loved one, half of caregivers self-reported they had NO choice in taking care of their caregiving responsibilities.”

But what’s this got to do with you?

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SEVEN TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR DOCTOR VISITS MORE PLEASANT

doctors visit

Accompanying elderly patients to the doctor can be challenging if you’re not prepared. Here are some recommendations for making you a pro at doctor visits.

IT’S LIKE TAKING YOUR KIDS TO THE DOCTOR

My role as a caregiver to my parents began gradually. At first, I started accompanying them to their doctor visits and eventually, I became their sole medical historian and health surrogate.

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The Art and Science of Medication Management for Seniors

dreamstime_l_9027708Medication management for both seniors and caregivers can be overwhelming. In this series, we’ll look at ways to make the process less daunting. Here are some tips to get you started.

As a primary caregiver to my parents, I never imagined I’d become a medical historian, health surrogate and patient advocate — that’s quite a few shoes to fill! — all of which required me to learn a great deal about medication management when they could no longer handle their own healthcare.

[Read more…]

Caregivers: The Mind Doesn’t Ever Think it’s Old… and you are not dead yet!

caregivers

I don’t believe we grow old …I believe our body does, then it tells our mind we are, and then our spirit believes it, which is totally backwards if you asked me!

Caregivers, more than anyone else, you need to know the following:

Your mind should be calling the shots… not your body. Sure there are things in the physical realm that we don’t do as well as when we were younger… That’s Ok …I can live with that!

What you shouldn’t live with is the defeatist mindset that comes with getting old by saying, I’m too old for this sh**t, or I’m too old to try new things… And I totally hate the saying: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”

Every time I hear that one I feel like shipping that person to a nursing home in Siberia myself!

Check these extreme seniors out!

  • Sydney Frank created Grey Goose Vodka at 74
  • Doris Self. At 81 years old, at the Twin Galaxies 1984 Video Game Masters Tournament, Doris was able to clench a world record with 1,112,300 points on Twin Galaxies’ Tournament Settings (TGTS) — which is the most difficult settings in the game.
  • 96 year old Mohr Keet…but he still took the plunge and entered the Guinness world record as the oldest bungee jumper ever. As if that’s not enough, Mohr jumped from South Africa’s Western Cape which is a 708ft drop!
  • Dorothy Davenhill Hirsch of 89 years and 109 days visited the north pole while aboard the Russian Nuclear Ice Breaker Yamal.
  • Smoky Dawson, was an Australian country music performer who at the age 92 years and 156 days released a collection of original songs in an album entitled “Homestead of My Dreams” making him the oldest person to release a new album.

There are 20 more examples you can read about …check out their stories here!

Yes you feel freaking old, everyone’s getting old everyday, and on top of that you care for someone who’s very sick and needs you everyday …that’s life, but you got A LOT still left to do…

Pick a goal, summit a mountain somewhere, hike a trail, swim a channel, bike across states, start a business …I don’t know what floats your boat …BUT YOU ARE NOT DEAD YET!

If you liked this piece, I would really appreciate if you shared it …Thank You!

320x320_crop_claudiopic –Claudio Alegre is the Chief Content Writer for Angel Home Care Services on the Web and Patient and Family Relations Advocate off the Web. He lives in Miami with his wife and 3 boys.

How to Use Twitter to Learn About Caregiving

How to use twitter

 

Social media “tweetchats” on caregiving offer a platform to connect with others and find countless resources on elder care.

As an avid, frequent user of social media, I regularly employ a great online community tool that improves my access to information on elder care. In two previous posts, I wrote about the importance of caregiver support groups and also listed some online resources for those involved in caring for seniors. Today, I’d like to go into further detail about the advantages of connecting with other caregivers on Twitter.

A TWITTER PRIMER

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the social network, here’s some Twitter basics.

Twitter is a web and mobile application where you can post 140-character messages, which are called tweets, to share with followers. When you tag a posted message with a particular word or phrase – a “hashtag” using the # sign – you can search for others tweeting about the same topic.

For my purposes as a caregiver, popular tags to follow include #caregiving, #eldercare, #aging, #alzheimers and #dementia, but there are many more.

Just today – as I wrote this post — a quick search on #caregiving yielded hundreds of tweets on the topic. I found out that Amy Goyer, AARP’s Family and Caregiving expert, was on the NBC’s Today Show earlier this morning, so I could click on a link and see a recording of the televised segment. I also discovered an audio podcast about elder care called The Aging Boomers –which I could listen to for free with one click on Twitter — as well an article about who will provide caregiving for childless baby boomers on Forbes.

I found all this with just one quick glance!

Consider the hashtag on Twitter a very powerful tool; it’s a living library of resources and information on the world wide web, but you can also search locally. By allowing Twitter to know your location, you can also find out who’s tweeting near you about caregiving.

TWEETCHATS

You can dive even deeper into the social network and get to know others who are caregiving through a scheduled tweetchat, which takes place when a group of people gather virtually online and use the same hashtag to track each other’s tweets. Tweetchats are usually one hour in length.

A Twitter chat, which is easy to follow on applications such as Tweetchat, usually features a moderator and poses a series of numbered questions followed by participants’ numbered answers. For example, when a moderator posts a question labeled “Q1,” participants answer by writing “A1″ before their tweet.

Another advantage to participating in Tweetchats or following specific hashtags is that you become familiar with service providers and retailers who cater to caregivers. As well, you might even pose a question and get an answer from others following the same hashtag — a strategy known as “crowdsourcing.”

All in all, it’s an easy way to network from the comfort of your home.

MY FAVORITE TWEETCHATS ABOUT CAREGIVING

One of my favorite tweetchats is hosted by Denise Brown (@caregiving on Twitter), founder of Caregiving.com. Every week, she goes online and moderates a chat where I get to “talk” with others interested in caregiving by following the conversation with the #carechat tag.

Sometimes tweet chats can be very specific and turn into a roundtable discussion on a particular subject. Last week, I participated in a Tweetchat focused on the hashtag #trackstress, which shed light on the amount of stress caregivers experience in their role. The conversation added momentum to the movement around a petition that encourages the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to track family caregiver stress and its source.

During the #trackstress chat, many caregivers from around the U.S. related to each other’s experiences as we tackled the question: “how does caregiving stress affect you?” I was able to connect with other caregivers, all of whom were in different stages of the process. To find a transcript of this and other tweetchats, click here.

(There are other chats organized by Caregiving.com, but not all involve Twitter. For more information, click here to visit the chat schedule page.)

LIFE EDUCATION THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA

If you’ve never tried Twitter before and aren’t able to get out much because of caregiving, you can use the platform to share concerns with others who are dealing with the same daily challenges.

No one ever goes to “family caregiver school,” which is a life education movement that I’m working on and that I’d like to see become reality so we can train on all levels of care — from what wheelchair to buy to what foods to feed to what home care service to hire for assistance — and so much more.

None of us are really prepared to become a parents to our parents. While there are so many resources with information, the process of sorting through all of it is overwhelming. Twitter and specific hashtags can provide some focus in the challenging process of caregiving for our elders as we create our own “education” online.

maria de los angelesMaria de los Angeles is an award-winning writer based in Miami who became a caregiver to her parents in 2008. Since then, she has been a passionate advocate for eldercare and caregiver issues.

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ATTENTION! Free Report Reveals Secret Formula For Getting Elder Care at Home …without going broke in the process!

We find ways to help families get the personal care services at home they need and deserve regardless of the insurance landscape or personal situation!

Call us With Your Questions or Concerns and Get Rid of All That Doubt and Uncertainty! 

CALL:   305-220-4544   [Miami Dade Area]

1-877-746-8908   [For Out of Area Families]

 

Noise Pollution: A Health Hazard in Elder Care

noise pollution

Be aware of noise pollution when caring for the elderly.

In my last post, I wrote about music as a beneficial form of therapy for the elderly who suffer from memory disorders, which begs the question: what about the sounds of everyday life?

The Environmental Protection Agency explains the consequences of unwanted and disturbing sound, which is the basic definition of noise pollution — an environmental stressor we cannot taste, smell or see: “Sound becomes unwanted when it either interferes with normal activities such as sleeping, conversation, or disrupts or diminishes one’s quality of life.”

Noise pollution can lead to health problems, too. “Studies have shown that there are direct links between noise and health.  Problems related to noise include stress related illnesses, high blood pressure, speech interference, hearing loss, sleep disruption, and lost productivity.”

Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are particularly sensitive to stimuli that a healthy person can normally filter. In creating a safe and comfortable environment for my parents, I found myself thinking like a parent creating a healthy environment for her children: routines, which are so important for kids to feel stable, are just as important for the elderly. A typical day for my parents revolved around “quiet” time and “noisy” time.

As caregivers, we shouldn’t take any of the five senses for granted when developing strategies for care — including hearing. Patients will react differently to auditory input and so we should be keenly aware of sound “hazards” in the patient’s surroundings.

NOISE POLLUTION AS ENVIRONMENTAL STRESS

When I was caring for my mother, I noticed that some ordinary sounds – such as a loud TV — were particularly disturbing for her. She would grimace and want to retreat to what I can only describe as her “safe space” where she detached from the world.

To help her, I avoided over-stimulation without completely dulling surrounding noises. Agitation and discomfort might otherwise have affected her cardiovascular health and emotional well-being.

I knew my mother well and so I could gauge what I thought she would like or wouldn’t like based on how she reacted to the world before Alzheimer’s disease. Neurologists had no answer for me, but all I really needed to know was old-fashioned common sense. In short, just keep the patient comfortable.

Sound is energy and vibration. While an Alzheimer’s patient may not be able to cognitively understand a sound — a spoken word may be interpreted as just that, a sound with no meaning — they may certainly be able to “feel” it, which explains the positive effects of music.

CONVERSATION AS NOISE POLLUTION

Noise pollution isn’t just about unwanted sounds; it’s also about conversation. I would always ask our health aides to refrain from any conversation when standing within earshot of my father, who was then in the beginning stages of dementia and my mother, who had advanced Alzheimer’s.

Imagine being surrounded by negative conservation or even a pleasant chat that your brain can’t process for context. Eventually, the meaningless “sound” may become jarring. You’re powerless to make it go away if you’re “stuck” in your body.

In one instance, my father overheard one side of a stressful conversation an aide was having over her cellphone about money. Because he was confused at that moment, he couldn’t properly interpret what he had heard. Later, he spoke to me as if he had been involved in her dilemma, which was a needless source of stress and anxiety for him and for me as well, as I had to go to great lengths to clarify that no one was stealing his money. (This is a major stressor for the elderly who perceive they are “losing” their possessions as they gradually let go of what they once managed.)

It’s crucial, then, to watch one’s words when speaking in front of dementia patients who are still aware of surroundings.

In my mother’s case, it was impossible to tell in the advanced stages of the disease if and how her brain could interpret sound. I erred on the side of caution: even in a state of stupor in which she was completely unresponsive, I encouraged everyone who came near her to keep unpleasant sounds and conversations at bay.

While it may seem obvious that no patient or even a healthy individual would want to tolerate noise pollution, consider this: the elderly in many nursing homes who do not enjoy private rooms must endure an almost constant stream of distracting and unpleasant noises that interfere with peace and quiet: working staff, sick roommates and their visitors, loud television sets, beeping medical equipment and other sounds create a cacophony of noise.

This situation is yet another reason to consider in-home healthcare alternatives for the elderly where caregivers can control the environment.

Some Alzheimer’s and dementia patients tend to yell or wail loudly when they feel nervous, which is a whole other aspect of elder care. My parents were relatively quiet but in all cases, it’s imperative to be conscious of noise levels. (Read what worked or didn’t work for some caregivers at Caring.com’s support group.)

In my experience, I simply tried to imagine how I would feel if I were sick and bewildered, not just for the sake of empathy, but also to gauge what would be an appropriate level of noise for my parents.

If you found this post of interest and value, kindly click your favorite social button below and share.

maria de los angelesMaria de los Angeles is an award-winning writer based in Miami who became a caregiver to her parents in 2008. Since then, she has been a passionate advocate for eldercare and caregiver issues.

ahcs1

ATTENTION! Free Report Reveals Secret Formula For Getting Elder Care at Home …without going broke in the process!

We find ways to help families get the personal care services at home they need and deserve regardless of the insurance landscape or personal situation!

Call us With Your Questions or Concerns and Get Rid of All That Doubt and Uncertainty! 

CALL:   305-220-4544   [Miami Dade Area]

1-877-746-8908   [For Out of Area Families]

6 Positive Thoughts on Caregiving to Welcome the New Year

CaregivingCaregiving seems overwhelming when you’re caught up in the daily routine. As we head into 2016, here are some thoughts on how to experience caregiving with a positive attitude.

In 2015, I transitioned from a full-time caregiver back to a somewhat “normal” life with my dad now in a nursing home. Although caregiving was challenging, to say the least, it was a phase of my life I’ll never regret. As a caregiver to my elderly parents, I evolved spiritually and deepened the special bond between parent and child. My mother is no longer with us, but the love my parents and I shared — expressed in their care of me when I was a child and in my care of them when they became my “babies” — is one of the greatest gifts of my life.

While I was caregiving, I was too caught up in the daily routine of constant worry to truly reflect on what was happening to me as an adult child caregiver. Now that I can look back, distancing myself from the constant, immediate medical needs of in-home care, I can see it as a beautiful part of the life cycle that no one should ever fear. It’s an honor to take care of your parents.

Here are six positive thoughts to help you stay the course through the often arduous journey of being a parent to your parents.

CAREGIVING LESSONS FOR THE NEW YEAR

1. Be a witness to your own actions. Every phone call to a doctor, every medical question, every diaper you change, every meal you prepare, every tear you might cry in frustration or sorrow, every little thing that fills up your day while caregiving — it’s not you postponing something else you could be doing — it’s you living life in the moment just as it should be. You’ll never have another chance to love your parents this way. They never gave up on you as a child. Don’t give up on them.

2. Don’t forget to breathe. Sometimes, that’s all you need and that’s all there is. Knowing this, accepting this is very liberating. Feeling desperate and fatigued, it was hard for me to just surrender and accept the circumstances during many hospital emergencies. “Not this again,” I’d tell myself. But it did happen. Again and again — and so what? Be in the moment when you’re caregiving. You’re stronger than you think.

3. Fear is an illusionIf you live in fear of so the many “what ifs?” of caregiving — will my parents be OK? will they fall? will they get the right medication? will they remember me? — and on and on, you’ll never truly enjoy caregiving. It may sound contradictory to think you can enjoy something so challenging, but that’s only because for most people, like myself, caregiving showed up like an unexpected pregnancy. Nobody gave parents a manual; nobody gave caregivers of the elderly a manual, either. Proceed with confidence, not doubt. Fear will hold you back and keep you from experiencing joy. Fear doesn’t help you or your beloved elderly parent.

4. The world isn’t ending. Although I’d do it all over again if I had to without an ounce of regret, I sometimes felt as if I was missing out on life. I thought life was passing me by but in reality, I couldn’t have been living life more to the fullest. Sure, this meant that my friends could go out and enjoy themselves more often than I could. There were many events and career opportunities that slipped by, jobs lost and relationships damaged. But that’s only because I didn’t see that it was my job, my duty and my honor to be a caregiver. Our society doesn’t always see caregiving as a natural life obligation. You certainly wouldn’t tell a parent that they’re missing out on life, because parenthood is life. So is caregiving. Caregivers don’t need pity. They need support and understanding. If you’re caregiving, own it and be proud, knowing that it’s just a phase in life.

5. It’s all in the details. I could repeat so many clichés about living life with a positive attitude: “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” But it’s true. When I was caregiving, I took time for self-care in the minutest details that most of us take for granted. I relished little moments in my day like putting on a favorite scented lotion before bed, watching I Love Lucy reruns with a bowl of popcorn, buying flowers to brighten up the home every week, wearing a nice sundress at home instead of drab sweatpants and t-shirts. Long conversations with friends on the phone were a treat. Caregiving is overwhelming but don’t let it literally overwhelm you. More often than not, I’d slack on self-care. “What’s one more thing going to help?” But believe me, all these tiny gestures add up throughout the day. If you’re caregiving, think of all the little ways you can add joy to your life, as in another motivational saying: “Happy people aren’t those who have everything, but those who are happy with everything they have.”

6. Caregiving is spring-cleaning time. By putting the hold button on my personal and career life, I had a chance to focus on other aspects of my life that needed work. One of them was seriously evaluating all the toxic relationships in my life and moving forward. Think of caregiving time as a gift to work on any aspect of your life that may need to evolve. So, you see, my life really never was “on hold,” it only felt that way. My only duty was caregiving and so, in fact, I had the opportunity to reflect on who and what was actually in my best interest and in the service of a life filled with love and peace, not anger and resentment. Yes, while emotions run high during caregiving, it’s possible to see that as a blessing and a huge benefit.

As I ring in the new year, I feel stronger in spirit and happier than ever. I encourage anyone who is caregiving to adopt a positive outlook on their important role in life. I often shrugged off positive thinking with an “easier said than done” attitude. As I’m coming out of caregiving, life has changed for better to “there’s no challenge I can’t face” attitude. Caregiving makes you stronger and give you the opportunity to be the kindest and most compassionate person you could be. In the end, it’s all about the love you share and that’s all that really matters.

 

maria de los angelesMaria de los Angeles is an award-winning writer based in Miami who became a caregiver to her parents in 2008. Since then, she has been a passionate advocate for eldercare and caregiver issues.

ahcs1

ATTENTION! Free Report Reveals Secret Formula For Getting Elder Care at Home …without going broke in the process!

We find ways to help families get the personal care services at home they need and deserve regardless of the insurance landscape or personal situation!

Call us With Your Questions or Concerns and Get Rid of All That Doubt and Uncertainty! 

CALL:   305-220-4544   [Miami Dade Area]

1-877-746-8908   [For Out of Area Families]