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March 2012

How a family mediator can help you over the rocky road of caregiving

Even siblings who grew up together with fondness for each other often have different ideas about what the right care for aging parents incorporates. When siblings have clashing personalities, or family issues have driven them apart, finding middle ground on anything can be extra challenging. However, the reality is that for many families the time eventually comes when adult children must make decisions for their parents’ living arrangement, medical care and even end of life treatment. We have more options for care than we did a couple of decades ago, but with options comes the need to make decisions. 

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Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t just affect the aged

Receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis at the age of 75 can be a crushing blow. Imagine, then, what it would be like to receive such a diagnosis when you are 35, 40 or 45-years-old? You’re at your prime in many ways because you’ve got experience in your work, yet are nowhere near retirement. You have children, maybe yet in grade school. You’ve got a mortgage, car payments and plans to travel when your kids are older. You’re on a roll – until you realize that you are forgetting things. Important things. Eventually, you see a doctor and the diagnosis is early on-set Alzheimer’s disease.

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Elders covering for each other can hide dementia symptoms

Long married couples are often said to “finish each others sentences.” They work as a unit, and friends and family members are used to this interaction. This ability to work as a team is a wonderful thing until one of the team isn’t functioning well and the other is in denial. When couples cover up for each other, precious time can be lost. So, adult children need to be on the lookout for signs that things aren’t going well. When do we step in?

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How significant is “gapping out” a face or an event?

Nearly anyone over the age of 50 has experienced some frustrating moments of memory lapse that younger society calls “gapping out,” and older society calls “senior moments.” These memory lapses, or slowed recall, can send some people into a panic, particularly if they have a relative with Alzheimer’s disease.

Read more about "gapping out" or "senior moments" as we age:

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Training frontline caregivers essential to care and can be cost effective

My reason for bringing these posts back to your attention is this: recently a very good article about long-term care facilities investing in frontline staff training was published. This article makes a great point in that while long-term care has traditionally relied on drugs and other methods to “control” patients, trained front line staff, who are usually Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), can make a huge difference in the behaviors of people with dementia. 

Read more about training frontline caregivers and family to care for those with dementia:

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Dealing with dementia and the loss of a spouse

Dear Carol: My grandparents had been married for 63 years. Two years ago, my grandmother’s general health started to decline and she has recently been diagnosed with moderate dementia. My grandfather seemed in excellent health considering his age, but a few weeks ago he died of a sudden heart attack. He had been my grandmother’s primary caregiver and her whole world had always revolved around him. She now feels that Grandpa abandoned her, maybe for another woman. Normally, when Grandma is caught up in her delusions or whatever her mind is telling her is real, my parents and I just agree with her. But her inability to understand the reality of Grandpa’s death is breaking her heart - and ours. We have tried to remind her that Grandpa had a sudden heart attack and died, but she just says, “No, that can’t be. He left me.” What do we tell her? - Roger

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Watch over-the-counter drugs for memory loss side effects

Most of us have grown used to taking over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, even if it's a daily aspirin now prescribed to many people as they age, or allergy medications for hay fever or animal allergies. In general, these drugs have been proven safe when taken as directed, or they wouldn't have gained approval to be sold without a prescription.

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Eating disorders can affect middle aged women; could caregivers be at risk?

Middle aged women who have become caregivers report many health issues because they feel that their lives are spinning out of control. Depression and weight loss, or weight gain, are common symptoms reported. Could the recurrence of a previous eating disorder, or the development of a new one, be far behind?

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PBS documentary shows Alzheimer’s from a unique perspective

When Scott Kirschenbaum, who has long been an activist for elders, met Lee Gorewitz, something compelling happened. Kirschenbaum felt drawn to the still dynamic resident of Traditions Unit, a care facility for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Their meeting, combined with Kirschenbaum’s need to show the world what the life of one person who has Alzheimer’s is like, resulted in the PBS documentary “You’re Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don’t.” 

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Double the stress: having two parents with Alzheimer's

Many of us feel alone when we are trying to care for our aging parents and there are no siblings to help, or if siblings won't help with caregiving. When we have one parent who has dementia, it is hard. When we have two, it is often nearly unbearable.

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