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September 2012 Feed

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. 

Deciding when to act

Healthy aging brings with it some losses, but if seniors have a mate, they often can live independently for a longer time as they fill in the gaps for each other. Dad’s hearing is getting dim, but Mom coaches him and he does okay. Mom’s driving is questionable, but Dad does most of the driving when they are in high traffic areas, so she still gets around fine.

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Caregivers Coping with Criticism from the from the Care Receiver

Each care situation was different. I started with an aged neighbor, then moved on to a childless aunt and uncle, my in-laws and eventually my parents. All of them appreciated me. However they each had moments when, because of their own misery, they’d lash out at me in some way.

When I returned to full-time outside employment, I was still caring for three elders, though they were in a nursing home. I’d spoiled my elders by being with them every day no matter how much outside help they had. With full-time employment mixed in, I still visited almost every day and attended to every request. However, from my elders' perspective, my nearly exclusive attention from my pre-employment years was missed and noted.

Read more about coping with criticism from our loved ones:

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The “Hidden” Costs When We Quit our Jobs to Care for Our Loved Ones

I don’t need a study to tell me that leaving the workforce to become a family caregiver has cost me, financially. All I have to do is look my puny projected Social Security. Over two decades of my adult “productive” years have been spent caring for elders and children while not working at paid employment. Eventually, I did go back into the workforce, even though I was still a primary caregiver for three elders and one young adult with health issues. While I certainly was aware that I wouldn’t get any Social Security or retirement benefits for the years outside the traditional workforce, I also knew that our family didn’t have the money to pay agencies to do what I did for my loved ones.

Read more about the hidden fiancial burden of caregiving:

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FTD Rare Form of Dementia: Could be Treated With Malaria Drug

Accepting that a loved one has any type of dementia can be difficult. When someone we care about develops frontotemporal dementia, the shock can be particularly hard to absorb, because one of the defining characteristics of frontotemporal dementia is personality change. Spouses of many years will often feel that their husband or wife has totally changed, and they are at a loss to explain the "stranger" their spouse has become.

Frontotemporal dementia is thought to be caused by a breakdown of nerve cells in the fronto-temporal lobe of the brain.  The early personality changes can help doctors differentiate between frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer's, since memory loss is often the earliest symptom of Alzheimer's  disease, while personality change is generally evident from the start of frontotemporal dementia.

Read more about FTD and a potential treatment:

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Internet Series “Ruth and Erica” Focuses on Family Dynamics and Alzheimer’s

 “Ruth & Erica” launched this week on the YouTube Internet channel WIGS, which, according to the press release, is now the most popular channel for scripted drama on YouTube. The show portrays the dynamics of a family facing the challenges that often accompany aging and ill health.

When I asked author and director Amy Lippman (Party of Five) what prompted her to write a drama about aging, she told me, “Over the past few years, I've become increasingly aware that my conversations with my friends were veering away from our usual talk about our kids to talk of our parents, how they were aging, and how their aging was affecting us. We were constantly seeking advice from each other: what were our responsibilities toward our parents?

Read more about "Ruth and Erica" and the drama of aging and Alzheimer's:

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Management Sundowning in People with Alzheimer's without Drugs

Sundowning, sometimes called Sundown Syndrome, is the label given to late day anxiety, irritability, disorientation and general agitation in people with Alzheimer’s. Sundowning frustrates home caregivers and professional care staff alike, as they often feel completely unable to comfort the person affected. Researchers and care staff alike are looking for answers. One nursing home in particular has made some dramatic changes in end-of-day care, resulting in a major reduction in the need to medicate residents for late day anxiety. Home caregivers can learn from their work, as well.

Read more about managing Alzheimer's sundowning without drugs:

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Time to examine Medicare Plans

DEAR READERS: Whether for yourself or to assist your parents or other elders, it’s time to review Medicare options if you want to make changes from the 2012 policies. Medicare annual open enrollment begins Oct. 15 with new benefit choices taking place Jan. 2013.

During the Medicare annual enrollment period, which is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, all Medicare beneficiaries may change their Medicare coverage for the coming year. This includes anyone enrolled in traditional Medicare, Medicare D (prescription drug coverage) or Medicare Advantage. No action is necessary if you are happy with your coverage as it stands.

Read more about open enrollment and your Medicare plans:

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Tips on How To Cope With Elder's Eating Problems

Often, whether from physical problems or lack of appetite, eating loses its appeal to frail elders. Regardless of the reason their loved one has for not eating well, caregivers can be stressed by the situation. We know the value of nutrition. We know the feeling of hunger. We want to help them stay nourished.

Professional caregivers, such as those in nursing homes, also struggle with the issue. However, nourishment needs to be provided in the right way, which often depends on why the person has trouble eating.

Read more tips about coping with elder's eating problems:

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Reminiscing Powerful Treatment for People with Dementia

I love stories. When I was a teenager, I’d encourage grandparents to relate stories of their young years struggling to survive on the wind-swept prairie. When I grew older, I was fascinated by the stories my parents and in-laws told of their early years of growing up during the Great Depression. Little did I know at the time that peoples’ stories would become the springboard for my life’s work. Now there is mounting evidence that encouraging our elders to reminisce about their past is therapeutic as well as enjoyable. 

Many people around the country are now recording, or even videotaping, their elders as they tell stories about their past. This works for some. However, you need to know your loved ones. Not everyone wants to be onstage, so to speak, and preparing to record, even discretely, could take the spontaneity and fun out of the experience for some. Others may love it.

Read more about reminiscing as a way to treat dementia:

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Is it Dementia or Something Else Entirely?

Is it Alzheimer's disease? As people age, the rapid mental recall of youth often fades. Yet most aging adults have wisdom and life experience to share and are cognitively sound. With increased awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, however, has come an increased fear that every mental glitch we experience as we age is a sign of AD. So, what is Alzheimer's disease and what could these disturbing symptoms be if they are not AD?

 

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that gradually destroys memory and thinking skills. Eventually the ability to carry out simple tasks is also lost, as is the ability to recognize family members and communicate one’s needs.

Read more about Alzheimer's symptoms that could be something different:

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