Hospice care is palliative care, but palliative care is not hospice. The difference between these two types of care is something that I have found difficult to clarify myself let alone explain to others. However, this care is a fundamental part of treating any chronic or terminal illness.
New rules for the protection of nursing home residents have been implemented as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Many of these rules provide answers to concerns that have troubled families with loved ones living in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), generally called nursing homes. I emailed Medicare expert Ginalisa Monterroso for an update on these rules and what they mean for nursing home residents and their families.
The stories in this fine book showed us how others have gone through similar things with their families and that is somehow reassuring. There are some helpful suggestions but mostly there is the recognition that others went through the same thing. All we can do is our best. That is greatly reassuring during these difficult emotional times. If you are a caregiver, this is a must read. - Delores Edwards
Dear Carol: My mother lives in an assisted living facility. She has arthritic pain and is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, but she usually does well with the support that she has. When I visited her last Saturday evening she seemed upset and confused and she told me that she didn’t feel well. I suggested that she rest and reminded her that I’d see her in the chapel the next day for services. The next morning it seemed like a lot of the residents in the chapel were disgruntled, including Mom, who hadn’t improved overnight. We’d had a huge air pressure change in the last day, and I began to wonder if weather causing problems with health is myth or fact. I even mentioned it to one of the nurses after I escorted Mom back to the common room. The nurse nodded her head and said, “Oh, yes. We sure see it here.” She said that a full moon affects the residents, too. Now I'm beginning to wonder if there is something to this idea. What do you think? Jen
...Also, Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers had $9.3 billion in additional health care costs of their own in the same year. Nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high, and more than one-third report symptoms of depression. Remember, this is just the cost for caregivers.There’s also the possibly bankrupting cost of medical and other care for the person with the disease to consider. The Alzheimer’s Association and the ADEAR Center, which is the Alzheimer’s research arm of the National Institute on Aging, have suggestions that can help.
When it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, a number of researchers think that it’s time to reconsider the idea of infection as a root cause. Scientists are now pointing to studies that reveal the presence of a microbe as a possible trigger for the disease. The theory is that microbes "find their way into the brain via the bloodstream and lie dormant until triggered by aging, immune system decline or by different types of stress…once they are activated, the microbes then damage brain cells - either directly or via inflammation.”
For years the Alzheimer's Association has made good use of the catch phrase "what's good for the heart is good for the brain." As additional research is conducted in both areas, that simple phrase is proving to be solid thinking. The startling admission of notable researchers who attended the 2014 Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Copenhagen that a healthy lifestyle is, at this point, the best hope we have to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s symptoms underscores this concept. Not surprisingly, the lifestyle recommended for preventing Alzheimer’s disease is also the lifestyle that is recommended for staving off heart attacks and stroke.
Dementia care demands incredible creativity. The ever changing needs of the person who has dementia challenges family caregivers and professionals alike. One particular frustration is getting important medications into their loved ones who either can’t or won’t cooperate when it comes to taking pills. As Alzheimer’s spreads throughout the brain, logic departs. The ability to understand one’s world disappears, understandably being replaced by fear and suspicion. These emotions are often blamed by caregivers when the person that they love refuses to take needed medications.
Tai Chi, an ancient Chinese practice, is a self-paced system of movement where you perform a series of postures in a slow, graceful manner. This form of gentle exercise helps lower stress levels and encourages focus. Recently, the National Institutes of Health has said that tai chi has the ability to help reduce falls in older people, as well.
Wouldn't it be nice to be a caregiver who had only loving thoughts every moment of the caregiving day? Maybe there are caregivers like that. If you are one of them, I truly congratulate you. Most of us who have been through years of caregiving will not fall into that category. Here's a sampling of caregiver thoughts that I've heard people talk about. You'll likely feel better just reading them.
Dear Carol: My mother’s memory has gotten very poor, her arthritis puts her at risk for falls, and she has severe asthma, so she decided that she’d be better off in assisted living. My brother and I were in agreement and we went with Mom to look at available facilities. We were thrilled with what we thought was the perfect home. Since the move, though, Mom has lost interest in everything. She won’t do her once cherished crossword puzzles, even when I bring the newest ones published. Her magazines pile up unread. She won’t participate in any of the interesting activities that the facility offers and has to be begged to go to group meals. It’s like she pulling in on herself. We have to sell her house to continue paying for her assisted living, but now my brother and I feel guilty. What if she wants to go back to her old home? She says, no, that’s not what she wants. She likes feeling safe. Yet she shows no interest in life. To be fair, this was coming on long before the move, but it’s worse now. How do we handle the situation? Tim