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July 2013

Outside Activities Essential to Caregiver Mental Health

CaregiverCan caregivers get so drawn into the world of the care receiver that their mental health  is at risk? I received a private email from a reader that made me think more deeply about this possibility.The reader said she’d been caring for her mother in her mother’s home for three years. The mother has middle stage Alzheimer’s and can be quite “creative” about reality.

Read more about caregivers and fragile mental health:

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Alzheimer’s and Communication: Some Suggestions

DaughterDadSince communication is vital to quality of life, we who care for those with Alzheimer’s or other diseases that make understanding language difficult need to learn unique methods of coping with the challenge. It’s not easy. When your wife thinks you are her brother, when your dad thinks his best friend is robbing him, when your 75-year-old mom insists that her baby is in danger – it will be your challenge to try to find words or actions that will calm your loved one and redirect his or her thinking.

Read more about communicating with someone with Alzheimer's: 

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Daughter Dreads Nursing Home Visits

Dear Carol: My mom is in a nursing home because of mid-stage dementia and other health issues. I love her dearly and visit often, but I feel guilty because I dread my visits. It’s not that I don’t want to see her, it’s that I don’t know what to do while I’m sitting there with her. Do you have any suggestions to pass the time without so much awkwardness? - Lee Ann

Dear Lee Ann: First, you needn’t feel guilty. Many people in your situation feel at a loss when it comes to how to spend visiting time at the nursing home.

Read more about things to do when visiting someone in a nursing home:

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Caring for More Than One Generation

...For five years, the kids and I were Joe's family. He had a son across the country and scattered grandchildren. I was his in-town lifeline. I made phone calls to his son, so Joe could talk. I would write down the answers for Joe to read, and then he'd talk again. It was a three-way conversation, but he looked forward to each Sunday call. My kids and I rescued his old bottle-brush Christmas tree from his attic and decorated it each Christmas.

Read more about the hectic life of the sandwich generation:

 

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Taking Care of Parents Who Abused You as a Child

...As Nancy talked, she described the turmoil she is facing as her parents age. I was able to assure her that she is not alone in her feelings. She grew up with an abusive mother. The abuse was physical as well as emotional. Her father was gone much of the time, doing what most men of that generation did.

Read about caring for parents who didn't care for you:

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How to Convince a Parent to Move From a Cluttered, Unsafe Home

...Then there's the other side. Many seniors are living in the same home they raised their children in. These homes are modest, but worked well for raising their family and even for the early empty nest years. Often, however, they are two-story cottages, with the bedrooms and the only bathroom up a long flight of stairs. They have small closets and full basements, generally stuffed to the rafters with things they've forgotten but feel they can't live without. 

Read more about how to get an parent out of a dirty, unsafe home:

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Alcohol and Seniors: An Often Overlooked Problem

During the time I was caring for Joe, I'd set up a personal alarm system, so he would get help if he fell or needed assistance for any reason. He had the necklace variety, and generally wouldn't wear it until I hung it around his neck during my daily visit, generally around the noon hour. Many times I was grateful for that alarm, as Joe would fall often, due to his early deafness and accompanying ear problems, and of course, also due to his alcohol consumption. When he fell, he knew to push the button on his alarm.

Read more about alcoholism and elders:

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Convincing a Parent to Bathe or Wear Fresh Clothes

...Another factor is control. As people age, they lose more and more control over their lives. But one thing they generally can control is dressing and showers. The more they are nagged, the more they resist. "This younger generation is trying to take over everything. Well, they aren't telling me when to shower, that's for sure. Besides, I'm just fine!"

Read more about the battle to get elders to bathe:

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Mom Needs Better Pain Management

Dear Carol: My mom is nearly 87, lives in a nursing home, has mid-stage Alzheimer’s, advanced arthritis, and is nearly blind.  She hates to get out of bed because of pain and eats very little. Her memory is poor and she doesn’t want to take part in activities. The medication that the doctor gives her for her arthritis doesn’t come close to controlling her pain. I’ve asked her doctor about hospice care but he says that she doesn’t qualify because she’s not considered terminally ill. I say her quality of life is so poor, and she has all of these problems, that at her age she should qualify. From what I understand, hospice could give her much better pain control. What can I do? Cheryl Lynn

Read more about qualifying for hospice care:  

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Old-Old and Young-Old Clash in Nursing Homes

...Not only is it a good thing for the very old elderly who are still living in nursing homes. It's a good thing for the "young old," seniors who are more demanding. Yes, because of the leading edge of the baby boomers, and better health care for the very old – letting them live to be even older – many people in nursing homes are nearly a generation younger than the very old people (in their late eighties and nineties) with whom they share the home. And let me tell you, the music, the culture and the expectations of these younger elders are quite different than the older ones. Hence, a sort of culture clash.

Read more about nursing home culture clash:

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