When your loved one is facing the end of their life, there are some conversations that need to happen. The AARP recently came out with a great article about how to talk with your loved one about end of life issues, offering suggestions about questions to ask, as well as the legal back up to make sure that wishes are met.
In addition, there are conversations about the end of life that your loved one will want to have.
Our seniors each have their own personal history, filled with anecdotes, stories, proud moments, and lessons learned. When they are facing the end of their life, a valuable gift that you can give to your loved one is the chance to relive some of their favorite memories. To draw those memories out of them, and remind them of a more carefree time, you can ask questions like:
* Who influenced you most in your life? What did they do or say that guided you?
* What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
* When was your favorite vacation? Where did you go, who were you with, and what did you do?
* What games did you play when you were a child? How did you create your own fun?
* What did you like to do when you were in your twenties?
There is nothing more valuable, though, then sharing some of your favorite memories of them, reminding them about the fun you've shared, the lessons they've taught you, and the legacy that they're leaving. Listening to the stories that you tell can take them back to a time in their life less frequently visited in their minds.
Summer is time for fun in the sun; beach trips, barbecues, and ice cream. And when you're caring for a senior, summer is also time to make sure you're keeping your loved one hydrated while they enjoy the warm weather.
Older adults tend to get dehydrated more easily and the impact of dehydration greater. Many of our seniors are on multiple medications. Dehydration can change the way a senior's body metabolizes medications putting them at greater risk for side effects.
For some, potential embarrassment due to incontinence keeps them from filling their lemonade glass. Other seniors may have physical limitations like difficulty holding a glass, making them avoid an unpleasant situation.
Keeping your loved one hydrated may require small, clever ways to ensure that enough water is consumed. Serve your senior plenty of fruits and vegetables, such as melons and jicama, with high water content. Instead of a glass of plain water, consider getting some carbonated water, putting a slice of citrus or other fruit in to make it a little tastier and more festive. Or, appeal to the child in them by keeping their freezers well stocked with popsicles, encouraging them to eat as many as they like.
As with many things, the best cure is prevention. With just a few small steps, you can ensure that your loved one is getting the fluids they need.
Whether traveling to see relatives or just going on a summer vacation, traveling with the seniors in your life can be very rewarding. To prepare, we've come up with a few tips on how to cherish the time you have together.
1) Plan thoroughly
Whether going on an outing by car, or on a trip by train or plane, think through the plan for the day, including meal stops, restroom breaks, and rest time
2) Research Senior Discounts
When planning your itinerary, make sure to book flights using senior discounts. When you arrive, make sure to find restaurants that cater to seniors.
3) Allow extra time
Nothing creates stress like rushing to catch a train or make a reservation. Make sure to allow more time than you think you need to get ready for each outing.
4) Bring a deck of cards
When you allow extra time, sometimes you'll have time on your hands. Playing cards are compact, and can allow for multiple people, even from different generations, to engage in the same activity.
5) Consolidate travel documents
Make sure that all of the travel documents are organized by date, consolidated, and easy to access in carry-on baggage.
6) Pack light
You may need to help seniors with their bags, so it is especially important that you all pack only what you need.
There are over 5.2 million Americans that now suffer from Alzheimer’s. With this horrible disease, there are many researchers working hard to find solutions to address Alzheimer’s and put research into practice. While progress can never be quick enough for those afflicted, important discoveries have been made that will help diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s in the near future.
Some interesting research is focused on early detection of Alzheimer’s disease potential in the brain. Using PET Scans, researchers can identify if there is Beta-Amyloid present in the brain, a known component of the plaque found in brains of Alzheimer’s patients. These scans can identify people who could potentially develop Alzheimer’s, but currently do not exhibit any symptoms. Once identified, treatments are being tested to try and slow the progression of the disease. Bending the curve of onset by 3-5 years would have a significant impact on the medical costs of the disease as well as the quality of life for those afflicted.
At Caring Hands Caregivers, we have several clients who live with this disease, and have developed an expertise in caring for Alzheimer's patients. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and need care for a loved one with Alzheimer's, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are learning more about how to work with the difficult behaviors associated with dementia. Dr. G. Allen Power talked about his unique way of working with people who have dementia by really trying to figure out why are they doing what they are doing. By changing the way we describe behaviors it forces us to take on a different paradigm. Wanderers are really seekers with a purpose. Our goal is find that purpose and address the underlying reasons. Dr. Powers just came out with a new book called "Dementia Beyond Drugs". I have just ordered it and will have my staff read it as well.
At Caring Hands Caregivers, we aim to preserve our clients' dignity through quality in-home care. When we're better able to walk in their shoes, that makes us even better equipped to take good care of them. If you or a loved one in the Bay Area need a caregiver, call us at 650.943.2313 to schedule a free care options review.
As Linda Bernstein mentioned in her article, 8 Things Not to Say to Your Aging Parents, dealing with aging parents as their memory fades can prove frustrating. Despite our best efforts, we sometimes lose patience while listening to the same stories over and over, trying to track when conversations 'go rogue', and teaching the same skills repeatedly.
Here are a few tips that we've learned, while caring for older adults, for how to handle these situations in a loving and compassionate way.
When hearing the same story for the umpteenth time
Say "I remember you saying that before, which lead to..." This lets them know that you've listened to them, and allows them to leap forward and add additional details or a relevant connection to the current conversation.
When teaching a technology skill
Instead of just showing the skill once, create a document with screen shots that can be referred back to when your parent attempts the task on their own.
When reminding about a name or elusive word
Ask them for a description instead of the exact word or name. Often, they can come up with "Edith's son", but not the name. Or, they can come up with the usage of a spatula, for example, but not the label.
I hope that these suggestions help you to turn your best intentions into reality when dealing with your aging parents.
Many caregivers observe that their loved ones or caregiving clients become more agitated and more confused and disoriented in the late afternoon or early evening, corresponding with the sun going down. This phenomenon is common enough to have been given the name “Sundowning Syndrome”.
The exact cause of this syndrome is not well understood; however, the trigger for the behavior seems to be fading light. As a result, we have some practical advice for how to ease your loved one through this difficult time of day.
Change the scene
Anticipate the setting sun, and create a more smooth transition by turning on lights before the sun goes down. You can also close the drapes
Keeping a consistent schedule will help keep your loved one or client sleeping better at night. Taking long naps in the afternoon often delays the onset of regular sleep, and increases the behaviors triggered by the fading light.
Keep caffeine at breakfast
Caffeine can disrupt the body’s natural rhythm, and should be avoided during the afternoon and evening. You can also provide a larger meal mid-day, and a smaller supper in the evening as a way to ease into sleep. Providing calming activities such as listening to relaxing music or playing a familiar game to keep your loved one positively engaged.
At Caring Hands Caregivers, we provide caregivers and loved ones the information and resources they need to better help the seniors that they care for. We can also provide back up for you or your caregiver, only at night. Feel free to contact me if Caring Hands Caregivers can help you or your loved one.
Researchers all over the world have been working hard on immunotherapy approaches for treating Parkinson's disease.
The Irish biotech company Prothena announced that its vaccine to slow the progression of Parkinson's disease was safe and tolerable in a Phase I study. That marks a second vaccine milestone within the past year. Last July, an Austrian biotech company, AFFiRiS, funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation reported similarly promising results.
According to a the Michael J. Fox Foundation blog, both vaccines take a similar approach, introducing an antibody against the protein alpha-synuclein. That protein clumps in the brain cells of people with Parkinson's Disease, leading researchers to believe that clearing out the clumps of alpha-synuclein will protect the brain cells from further degradation caused by Parkinson’s.
While each of these therapies have only completed the first phase, further testing with Parkinson's patients is planned for early 2016. If you would like to read more articles like this, follow us on Facebook , on Twitter, or on LinkedIn
While it was once thought that dementia sufferers did not always feel pain, research has concluded that this is not the case. However, sufferers of Alzheimer's disease and other dementia have limited ability to understand and communicate about what they are experiencing.
That makes it more important for in-home caregivers to look for non-verbal cues to detect pain. Alzheimer's Australia published a helpful Q&A that helps caregivers to assess and manage pain for Alzheimer's and dementia sufferers.
Here are some non-verbal cues that the Q&A said to look for:
They point out that these can also be signs of other issues, pain should be considered as a potential cause.
For more information about how to assess and manage pain for Alzheimer's and dementia sufferers, click here for the full report. If you would like to read more articles like this, follow us on Facebook or on Twitter.
Movement problems experienced by people with Parkinson's disease are caused by a shortage of an important chemical messenger found in the brain called dopamine.
As a result, exercise can be an important part to producing good outcomes for Parkinson's patients. Exercise can improve gait, balance, tremor, flexibility, grip, and motor coordination. In addition, researchers at the University of Southern California (Fisher et al.) who, when looking at the brains of mice, found that while exercise didn't change either the amount of dopamine or the number of nerve cells in the animal's brains, the mice that had exercised had brain cells that were using more efficiently.
Examples of people with Parkinson's that are deriving benefits are well documented, including these five inspiring people and people in Texas who take a ballet class specifically designed for people with Parkinson's.
At Caring Hands Caregivers, we work with our clients to develop activity plans that suit their specific needs. If you or a loved one has Parkinson's disease, and would like to hear more about our services, send me an email. We can schedule a care options review at your convenience.