Caregivers often find that many of their superficial friends drift away over time because the caregiver is too busy to have fun. These friends are not bad people. They simply don't know what to do to help the caregiver and they find it easier to share their time with people whose lives are less complicated. Are you this kind of friend?
Flu isn't just an inconvenience, especially among the elderly population. For expert information on how caregivers can help their elders stay healthy and if possible avoid the flu, I reached out to Martie Moore, R.N., MAOM, CPHQ, who is Chief Nursing Officer, Medline Industries, Inc. for some answers.
Much like an adult who realizes that he or she has a "wounded child" living inside – a child who suffers from unearned self-blame or low self-esteem because of life events – many adult caregivers carry the guilt from their "infant" caregiving years to their grave. They spend precious time thinking about how they should have understood someone's needs better, could have been more patient, would have done any number of things better, if only they knew then what they know now.
Dear Carol: My parents had been married nearly 60 years when my mother abruptly died from a heart attack. Dad held up well during the first weeks. He’d say that he was glad that she didn’t have to suffer a long time like so many people do. But after a couple of months, Dad started to develop strange habits like humming tunelessly to himself and mumbling gibberish. He also seems to have lost his appetite and has had several falls. I notice more memory lapses than before, as well. I know that spouses of long marriages have a tough time adjusting to their loved one’s death, but this is not at all what I expected. Could these happenings be from something else or does this stem from my mother’s death? RCD
Dear Carol: Can illnesses like a bad cold, the flu, a urinary infection or other common ailment make someone with Alzheimer’s worse? My mother had been diagnosed to be in quite an early stage of Alzheimer’s disease but she still got along very well. She then developed a cold which was followed by a UTI and then pneumonia so we had to have her hospitalized. The whole experience was terrible. Mom’s physical issues were eventually taken care of by antibiotics and she seems alright physically, but she’s gotten much more confused and her short-term memory has deteriorated markedly. I’m wondering what caused this big change so quickly. The doctor said that since Alzheimer’s is progressive it’s hard to tell. He’s guiding us toward looking for a memory unit for Mom since she lives alone and I can’t quit my job to take care of her at home as progresses to the middle stages of the disease. This stage now seems much closer than a month ago before she got sick. Is this a common situation? STC
...The question that travels hand in hand with these studies is who should start these drugs if they do prove to be effective? It’s not prudent to simply give the drugs to the whole aging population.We may soon have an answer to that question. A study that shows differences in biological aging vs. chronological aging could help us find a way to differentiate between those for whom early treatment should be considered and those who aren’t likely to require the drugs.
The type of heat exhaustion or mild dehydration that a middle aged caregiver may feel during a heat wave is uncomfortable, but the same occurrence could be deadly for an elder. Because of the seriousness of overheating, some older people take a prescription drug that helps increase blood flow to the skin which in turn helps them cool off. Recently, Penn State researchers published information suggesting that folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, may be an inexpensive alternative for prescription drugs for the elderly during heat waves. Folic acid also increases skin blood flow and has been shown to reduce cardiovascular events, as well.
One of the many clues that my mother-in-law was ready to move across the avenue from her condominium to a wonderful nursing home was her response one hot summer to an intense heat wave we had here in the Dakotas (yes it gets hot on the prairie). She would have every window shut tight and her fan and air conditioner turned off. No circulation. No cool air. Nothing but dead heat.I'd get the Ac and fan turned on - not too cool, but some air moving - before I left her from my daily visit. Sure enough, when I'd get back the next day her condo was like a hot tomb. Suffocating.
Our culture is steeped in language that makes accepting the terminal diagnosis of ourselves or a loved one more difficult to accept than it needs to be. Doctors say, “I’m sorry, there’s nothing more we can do. You might want to look into hospice care.” Patients tell their doctors that they want “aggressive treatment,” until there is nothing else that can be done, then they will go on hospice care. The crux of these conversations is that medicine will do everything possible and then when you give up you will go on hospice care.
Forgiveness, or the lack thereof, can loom large in the life of a caregiver. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. That is rule number one for people to remember when they are working toward crafting better relationships with family members and others whom they care about. Forgiveness can have enormous benefits for the health of the person who does the forgiving. Considering that negative thinking can be disastrous to your own health , you may want to work toward the positive habit of forgiveness. Here are some people that you may need to forgive along with reasons why you should.