I was a part of the sandwich generation before the term was ever coined. I was also a people pleaser. And never was that combination more apparent than during the holidays.My mother had always loved holidays and made a big deal out of them. When I had children, I followed in her footsteps. So, when my kids were very young, they had Christmas at home and two Christmas celebrations at their grandparents' homes. Then the elders' health started failing.
Books keep pouring in, and I try to write about the best of them, since many of us gain comfort, as well as knowledge, from books. Many that I read are purely informational. Then there are some that are mixes of stories intertwined with tips and resources for handing the situations most of us as caregivers or people facing dementia are faced with.
http://www.healthcentral.com/alzheimers/c/62/52837/voices-series-read I feel quite comfortable with my chances of getting good, factual information, or a least guidance on finding what I need. What I can't get enough of, however, is personal stories.
If any of you aren't getting alerts, one of my e-mail addresses (or both) has been hijacked by a spammer. I think my computer is secure now, but the damage is done. If you aren't getting mail you've signed up for, that's the reason. Spam filters aren't letting it through.
I'm sick about it. Please keep checking the blog and I'll try to figure out what I must change to get this resolved.
Nursing home administrators are worried, and for good reason. The new Medicare nursing home comparing site at Medicare.gov/nhcompare has gone live. Nursing homes are given ratings, from one to five, in four categories. This is a simple rating system for complex elder care centers. Please use this as a tool, but use it with great care.
AgingCare.com featured an excellent article on mental health by Sherry Myers, RN. I think it is something many of you will find interesting.
From AgingCare.com: "Edith stopped off at her dad’s condo, and they chatted about her day. For several weeks, she had been updating him about a video she was making for a company board meeting. That morning was the big presentation and it went well. She was thrilled to share her good news with her supportive father.
Just a few minutes after their conversation, “Edith’s” dad asked her something that created a pit in the bottom of her stomach. He asked how her day was, specifically if anything interesting had happened at work. That forgetfulness was a sign that “Edith” had been dreading. It meant that her beloved father’s Parkinson’s disease was progressing to include dementia, a symptom that his doctors had warned her could materialize."
One of my favorite bloggers and one of the wisest, more courageous people I've know is Leah, who suffers from dementia, as well as the challenges of coping with several family tragedies. Here, Leah speaks about dementia and the holidays:
"The holidays are rapidly approaching, and I am not the only one having trouble keeping up, I am sure. Ten members of my family, including myself, will be having a real Christmas dinner this Sunday at my house. I have had to enlist the help of my housekeeper this year. (My helper usually comes just one day every two weeks for four hours and cleans the “public” areas of our home.) My dementia doesn’t allow me to be able to handle all the excitement of a dinner party; I want to be able to talk and be with the family without worrying about the final heating of food and putting the food on the table. This Christmas is very special; my little eight year old nephew has been living with a brain tumor since early summer. St. Jude’s has helped reduce the tumor a little, but there is not a lot of hope that he has many years left. We need to build memories NOW."
Inside Assisted Living is a site I'll be referring to often. Ryan Malone has created a site, book and overall product that is not only informative and professional, but has heart. This particular article, on assisted living and nutrition, is important and I want to pass it along to all of you.
From Inside Assisted Living: "As a resident of an assisted living community, maintaining good nutrition is one of the most important ways to insure a long and healthy life. Food, for better or for worse, is the fuel we run on. Just like vehicles, bad fuel can cause us many expensive and troublesome problems, especially as we age. Unfortunately, even with this knowledge, nutrition inside many assisted living communities can be more of an afterthought than a norm. Assisted living communities are not federally regulated so each state develops its own regulations and this can be challenging when choosing a new home. Nutrition, foodservice, and sanitation guidelines can vary widely across the country."
Both of my parents' death certificates cited the cause of death as organic brain disease, which basically means dementia. They each had dementia, though each of them suffered from a significantly different type. Dad's was dramatic. It was the result of surgery that was supposed to prevent the mental decline he would eventually suffer as a result of a World War II brain injury. Something went wrong in the surgery, and he came out of that surgery totally demented.
Researchers around the world are working feverishly to develop a drug that will prevent or cure Alzheimer's. There's a lot of pressure to do so, and only some of the pressure is a financial windfall for the company who develops the first drug with one of these effects.
I received a note from Helene Moore about her Adopt A Caregiver non-profit project. Here's an except:
"Alzheimer's disease is not contagious, yet the caregivers are usually left alone without the support of friends and neighbors, even family. This disease can last for many years, leaving the caregiver worn out and alone.
Adopt A Caregiver is my unique way of giving back. All you have to do is check your neighborhood, your social clubs, church, synagogue, your doctor's office, the Alzheimer's Caregiver's message boards, and the Mayo Clinic message boards.
Just send an email or phone the person who needs a friend, listen and come back often to let him/her know you care and are thinking of them. Just being there to listen is a huge help.
Adopt a Caregiver. Give something back: Contribute to the well being of people who are so busy caring for others."