Dear Carol: I’m moving my mother from another state to a nursing home near where I live. I’d like her closer to me and I also feel we have access to better nursing homes in my community. Her mind is quite good, but she’s 83 and has several health issues. Since she’s been in assisted living for a few years she doesn’t have a problem with the plan, but I want to select the home carefully. I know another move won’t be good for her. How do I rate homes so we can decide? Lyle
Frequently, I hear from people with a family history of Alzheimer’s who fear that they will also develop the disease. Naturally, they are anxious about their future and hope that a new drug will soon be found that can prevent or cure the disease. Unfortunately, a cure could be a decade or more away.
Research has repeatedly shown that people with diabetes have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, some studies have demonstrated that intra-nasal insulin, sometimes used to treat diabetes, may help improve memory in those already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.This background of knowledge prompted a group of researchers from the University of Arizona to conduct their own research to see if high blood sugar levels in people who have yet to develop diabetes may also increase their chances of developing Alzheimer's. The results have shown that this is likely the case.
...The National Institute on Aging suggests additional causes for the discomfort that can trigger agitation or aggression. Depression and stress lead the list, but too little rest, constipation, soiled underwear, a sudden change in routine or surroundings, too many people around, or being pushed by others to bathe or to remember things beyond their grasp can all cause this distressed behavior. Loneliness and interactions of medications are also possibilities.
...Study participants were asked to keep a sleep diary which tracked when they went to bed, when they awoke and when they took naps. They also wore wrist sensors that could detect movement as well as determine whether they were awake or asleep during the movement. The monitoring took place over a two week period of time.
Few of us like to consider the fact that our parents will die. However they will. Nothing will change that fact. Good medical care, solid healthful habits, a pleasant social life – all of these may extend our years, but in the end, we will die. With this in mind, it is to everyone's advantage to discuss the details at as early a stage as possible. As I told my kids when I had my own legal papers drawn up, "Let's do all of this and then get on with the business of living." We did just that, and while my sons didn't find the prospect of my death fun to talk about, they dutifully listened to what I had drawn up and where I keep my papers.
Merry Christmas to all of my wonderful readers! I can't say Merry Christmas to caregivers any better than I did in 2010, so I'm linking back to that article. It is, afterall, Christmas.
Many people are celebrating Christmas Day, today, December 25th. Caregivers may find the word "celebrating" a little over the top, but try not to be too dismissive. If you are caring for a parent or spouse who doesn't recognize you for who you are, that doesn't mean your efforts are unappreciated. Know that on some level, your love is understood. Celebrate that.
Dear Carol: I dread Christmas. My husband died last summer and this is my first Christmas without him. He’d been sick with cancer and then Alzheimer’s, and part of me is happy that he was finally able to let go. Other times, I’d give anything for him to be here, which is actually selfish considering his obvious misery. I have wonderful children and friends and I have a church family where I feel I belong. Still, I sometimes feel angry that my husband left me alone. It’s a confusing holiday season for me. Why can’t I remain grateful that my husband isn’t suffering? Grace
Even when we have had the appropriate conversations with our loved one about his or her wishes under certain definable circumstances, life is rarely so neat that we are presented with clear choices. For this reason, caregivers often need to make tough decisions under sometimes murky conditions.
It may sound selfish to some, but to caregivers who dove into caregiving with full hearts and no planning, then ended up sustaining this life-altering mode for months and often years, it's a perfectly rational question. People put their lives, as they are living them, on hold in order to care for others. That's good. But when "hold" becomes the new norm, there's a mental adjustment to go through. And sometimes that includes dealing with resentment.