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January 2011 Feed

Direct link to elder care assistance at your fingertips

Dear Readers: Recently, I renewed my acquaintance with one of the most helpful Web sites around. While I’ve frequently recommended to column readers the Web site www.ltcombudsman.org, which is the National Long-term Care Ombudsman Resource Center, I haven’t taken time to explore the depths of this site until a few weeks ago when I interviewed Becky Kurtz, Director of the Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs.

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Can a Mediterranean diet help prevent Alzheimer’s disease?

The Mediterranean diet is hard to beat for health reasons. In the article Is Heart-Healthy Good for the Brain? the Mediterranean diet was addressed because of the “healthy fats” from fish and olive oil, as well as the dependence on vegetables as a key staple. This diet is a “dream diet” from the standpoint of many nutritionists.

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“Share Why You Care” contest entries are all winners

Caregivers, you did it! You wrote your stories to inspire others and to help lift their days. You voted for the stories that moved you the most. You’ve picked the “Share Why You Care” contest winners, but you are all winners – every one of you. The world needs you to pass on your wisdom, your courage and your love. Our deepest gratitude to you all.

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What Do We Do When Our Elder's Behavior Is Beyond Our Ability To Cope?

Caregivers are only human. We generally get into caregiving for our elders because of our love for them. However, diseases such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease and strokes, can take such a huge toll on the elder that we barely recognize the  personality of the person we are caring for. They can become so difficult to manage, care can be so exhausting, guilt over not being able to make things better for them can be so overwhelming, that we don’t know where to turn. How do we cope when we can no longer cope?

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Caregiving Comes From the Heart but Education Helps

Most family caregivers take on tasks as they see fit. Sometimes a parent has a stroke and suddenly needs care. Other times dementia enters the picture and the need for help progresses slowly. Few caregivers immediately think that they need to get educated about how best to care for their elders. But education does help, if only because it shows the caregiver that there are options.

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Hardcore brain training may not be all that helpful

It's no surprise to most people over 30 that a trend toward brain games has become nearly an obsession with many competitive boomers. The availability of such games can be a source of guilt for boomers like me who, well, hate games. My mom was different. She loved crossword puzzles. I think they are excellent for the many people who are, to quote some, addicted to them. I can see the draw. I'm a "word" person, or at least one would think so, since I'm a professional writer, so that has doubled my guilt about not enjoying crossword puzzles.

Read more about games, word drilling and aging:

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Consistent Assignment Of Caregivers Is A Huge Plus For Elders

Think of it this way. A person comes to your door or into your room if you are living in a care facility. You’ve never met this person, but he or she announces that it’s time for a bath. The person proceeds to help you get ready for your bath, while you remain confused and frightened. Who is this person? Why do they want to give you a bath? What would you do? Likely have the “fight or flight” response which is wired into human brains, right? The modern approach of consistent assignment, which means that the person needing care is assigned a specific caregiver, is a big step forward in this regard. A care receiver is much more likely to respond well to a person they know and like.

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Chronic Falls Need Attention

Dear Carol: My mother lives alone. I visit her daily and help her around the house, plus I get her medications ready. The problem is that she has fallen many times. Fortunately, each time has been shortly before I’ve arrived at her apartment, and she hasn’t been seriously hurt. However, it’s very hard for me to get her up. I’m afraid I’ll hurt her. She seems too healthy for a nursing home, but I’m not sure what to do and I worry she’ll fall and have to lie on the floor all night. Worry Wart 

Dear Worry: Your dilemma is familiar. My mother fell at least once a week, and I had a very hard time getting her up. I had to call for emergency help far too often, and that isn’t really what 911 calls are for. I’ve joked, with a hint of seriousness, that every city needs one trained person on call 24/7 to help pick up elders who have fallen.

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Television news and dementia

Few people would argue that news – whether delivery is in the form of a newspaper, television or an Internet site, is generally led by catchy and often sensational headlines. Television, however, is the news-delivery system that has the most power to confuse elders with dementia, since the images an elder sees, often misinterpreted, can be stressful and painful. TV images, easily viewed out of context, make reality difficult to discern.

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Pets Can Be Therapeutic For the Aging Population

Numerous studies have shown that pets can increase the quality of life for our aging population. The unconditional love of a dog or the soft purring of a snuggly cat can be helpful for many people, even in later stages of dementia. Many nursing homes, notably those based on The Eden Alternative, have found animals including dogs, cats and birds, along with plants and other natural surroundings, to be soothing and beneficial to people in nursing homes. My personal experience with several of my elders showed me that pets can make a difference.

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