Caregiving Feed

Old movies, Old Music: Not Just Nostalgia

Open-mind-10021499Old movies via DVDs, as well as CDs of big band music or other favorites of our elders’ generation have long been used as a diversionary tactic. Now, Artists for Alzheimer’s (ARTZ) is spotlighting a new way that movies can be used to enhance the lives of people with Alzheimer's disease. ARTZ is a nonprofit based in Woburn, Mass. that creates cultural opportunities for people with dementia and their caregivers. 

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Coping with Criticism from the Loved One You Care For

CryingWomanOne day my dad, who had dementia caused by a failed brain surgery, said to me, “You used to be a better office manager,” (one of my validating roles for him).  I choked back tears as I said, “Dad, I’m doing the best I can.” He looked up at me, his eyes suddenly clear and lucid, and said “Yes, I know.” Then, he quickly returned to his world of dementia. I keep that precious moment tucked away in my heart to bring forth when I, myself, need validation that at the bottom of it all, my loved ones knew I did my best. 

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Proper Dementia Diagnosis May Require Referral to Specialist

GrandparentDaughterDear Carol: My 81-year-old grandma has been healthy all of her life. Her only doctor is a family physician who is very nice but nearing retirement himself. Grandma has been getting forgetful and has had a few episodes of confusion. She is much closer to me than she is to my mother, who is her daughter. Mom tells me that the family doctor says Grandma is just getting older but she’s fine. I’d like Grandma to see a specialist. How do I convince them both that Grandma’s reliable family doctor who has been fine all of these years may not be the person to diagnose dementia? Niki

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Caregiving Rewards Can Outlast Challenges

LookingDistanceCaregivers of elderly or disabled loved ones work hard. There’s no getting around the sacrifices of time, energy, private life and often financial wellbeing that caregivers, be it family or professional, often make. However, the rewards that accompany this self-sacrifice can be priceless.   With a caregiving history involving decades of caring for multiple loved ones, I know quite a bit about the hard times as well as the blessings of caregiving. Yet, because I’m an eldercare columnist, I receive letters from individuals who have caregiving responsibilities far beyond anything I’ve ever imagined. 

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“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer


Tales From a Veteran Caregiver of Multiple Elders

LakeIt’s been nearly a decade since I began sharing my personal caregiving stories with the public, first via the book “Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories” and later through a newspaper column, on my own blog and then contributing to major websites such as Healthcentral.com.When I first started sharing my stories and looking for others who had similar tales to tell, people tended to be reticent about speaking up. Now, sharing caregiver “in the trenches” stories has become a major part of caregiver self-care and even survival.

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“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer


Dementia Caregivers Grief Soul Deep, Defies Labeling

ChurchWhen a beloved elder dies, we may have varying reactions, frequently changing moment by moment. Naturally, there’s grief and the realization that we’ve seen the last of our loved one’s physical presence. Often, however, if the death follows a long illness or significant pain, we can also feel a sense of relief that their suffering is over and we can get on with healing. It’s often the in between time – the caregiving years – that are the most difficult to label. 

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“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer


Overly Emotional Responses Upsetting To Stroke Victim's Family

StormywaterDear Carol: My father was always quietly supportive. He loved his family but showed little emotion. Six months ago he had a stroke and is now in a nursing home. His speech has been affected and he has trouble finding the words he wants to use. He’s receiving therapy but will likely be wheelchair bound the rest of his life.  We have a large family and we all visit often. Mom practically lives at the nursing home with him.  He can seem fairly content but then out of nowhere he starts to cry. I know that these changes in his life have to be terribly depressing, but there doesn’t seem to be any logic to his crying spells. What can we do to help him? - Sandra

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Managing Diabetes Helps Prevent Cognitive Decline

BlueberriesHugeAn article on the UCSF website reports on a 9-year long study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the San Francisco VA Medical Center. The Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study enrolled 3,069 adults over 70 at two community clinics in Memphis, TN and Pittsburgh, PA beginning in 1997. All the patients provided periodic blood samples and took regular cognitive tests over time. 

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Loneliness May Increase Dementia Risk, Heart Attacks and Stroke

LonetreeA study published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry has found that people who feel lonely are significantly more at risk for developing dementia. The study, headed by Tjalling Jan Holwerda of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, found that participants who reported feeling lonely, no matter how many friends and family surrounded them, were more likely to experience dementia than those who didn’t feel lonely. 

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Exercise May Be One Key To Alzheimer's Prevention

RunningA paper published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry reported on some encouraging results about the benefits of exercise. Researchers at Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan concluded exercise is something we can do right now to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. While the study was done on mice, the researchers feel strongly that people will show similar results. 

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“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer