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April 2013

Not Every Adult Child Can Be a Caregiver

Dear Carol: I feel guilty because I don’t want be a caregiver for my elderly mother. I’m an only child, and since my father died she’s come to rely on me more than she needs to. She’s healthy and has plenty of money. She has friends, though she seems to prefer leaning on me. She was controlling and emotionally abusive when I was growing up, so we don’t have a great relationship, but I’m willing to help her out, and naturally I am on call for emergencies. I just don’t want to become her sole caregiver.

Read more about feeling resistance to becoming a caregiver:

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Going Public with an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Sadly, even after years of work to educate the public about any illness that affects the brain, a stigma remains. No matter that most if not all mental illnesses have some biological basis. No matter that people aren’t any more responsible for a brain illness than they are for other bodily illnesses. Whether the illness that affects the brain occurs at a younger age in the form of depression or bi-polar disease or an older age in the form of Alzheimer’s disease, people with brain illnesses are often reluctant to acknowledge their illness for fear of being treated differently than others.

Read more about the stigma of Alzheimer's and other brain diseases:

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How Involved Should Family Be In Your Elder's Senior Living?

...The nursing home staff would occasionally confide in me about families who "took over" the nursing home. The families came on like they owned the facility and their loved one was the only person who mattered. They cornered every staff member they could find and talked to them either with the attitude of a good neighbor who had all the time in the world, or as an adversary who needed constant monitoring. Neither attitude is good.

Read more about how involved families should be in facility care:

 

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Making Caregiving a Team Effort

...During my years of caregiving, one incident in particular made me realize that in order for caregivers to keep their sanity, they have to eliminate that "I" by building a support team. What happened that led to my epiphany?

Read about building a caregiving team to help everyone get by more easily:

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Option of Hospice Care Freeing for Many

People who read my work on a regular basis know that I am grateful to hospice for the care of both of my parents. Without the skilled, compassionate care of the hospice staff, both of my parents would have suffered far more than they did. As it was, they’d both had long, slow declines and pain had become the focus of their days even though they received excellent care in the nursing home. When Dad and Mom qualified for hospice care, meaning that their physician considered their conditions terminal, I filled out the paperwork for each of them.

Read more about hospice and what they do:

 

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Caregiver's Often Use Humor to Survive

...Though we may be emotionally shredded by the changes in our loved ones' physical and often mental health, we soldier on daily trying to help them maintain some quality in their lives. This can drain us of energy and devour our time to where we have little left to give to our friends, so those who don't understand the challenges caregivers face often drift away.

Read more about using humor to get throught the challenges of caregiving:

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What Makes You a Caregiver?

...Caregivers can get drawn into their own version of the "mommy wars" if they start to compare time spent in the presence of the care receiver to quality of care. We need to be careful to avoid nit picking and support each other as caregivers no matter what the differences in our situations may be.

Read about becoming a caregiver:

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Infections May Speed the Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease

Last December, a team of scientists working collaboratively under the guidance of the University of Bonn and the University of Massachusetts discovered that there was an association between chronic inflammation and the death of brain nerve cells. This discovery led them to theorize that chronic inflammation could possibly lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. A different study now underway is focusing on a similar theory. The new study, initiated in January of this year, is led by Delphine Boche, Lecturer in Clinical Neurosciences at Southampton, England.

Read more about how infections speed progression of AD:

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Elderly Mom Losing Appetite and Weight

Dear Carol: I’m worried about my mom. She’s 89-years old and has very little appetite. At one time she was quite heavy and ate as much as my dad, but now she says just looking at food fills her up. She’s in a good nursing home and she goes to their dining room for three meals a day. They also offer snacks between meals. She’ll sometimes eat the snacks, but she just picks at her main meals. Granted, the meals are rather institutional, but they try to present them well and the atmosphere is friendly. The nurses hate seeing Mom lose weight, too, and they all encourage her to eat. Her health problems don’t explain this loss of appetite. What more can we do? Robin

Read more about helping people with poor appetites eat better:

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HRT May Prevent Accelerated Biological Aging for Alzheimer’s Gene Carriers

A little more than a decade ago, most physicians considered hormone replacement therapy an important part of treating postmenopausal women because of its ability to help control hot flashes, maintain bone health and lower the risk of colorectal cancer. Their enthusiasm for this treatment came to a halt in July of 2002, when the same physicians took their patients off HRT nearly across the board.  An article in the New York Times explains what happened.  “A rigorous study found that the [HRT] drugs, a combination of estrogen and progestin, caused small increases in breast cancer, heart attacks, strokes and blood clots.”

Read more about Hormone Replacement Therapy and Alzheimer's gene carriers:

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