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The Stigma of Dementia: Learning to Cope

Caregiving8People stare. Most are not unkind, they are just curious. But when someone "different" from the norm becomes part of their environment, they often gawk without thinking about or understanding how this affects others. Anyone who has cared for a disabled child or has a visible disability of their own knows this. However, people who care for an adult who lives with dementia may have more difficulty coping with the stares of the public because the person they are caring for was once their dignified father, a charismatic mother or our spouse. The pain of seeing others stare, not knowing how this person was robbed of his or her cognitive abilities, has the potential to bring out the defensive little brat that lies within each of us.

Read full article on Agingcare about coping with the stigma of dementia:

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Driving and Memory Loss: Tips to Help Compromised Elders Give Up Driving

Driving2For many of us, a car is a sign of independence. But this emotional connection to our automobiles is part of what makes convincing a person that he or she is no longer capable of driving such a volatile battle. The longer adult children or others wait to discuss driving issues with a loved one, the harder it can be.

Occasionally, people in the earlier stages of cognitive or physical decline will recognize the signs of that decline when they have a close call while driving and scare themselves into giving up their right to drive. More frequently, if the person has developed Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, and the disease has advanced to a point where judgment is affected, a prolonged battle often erupts.

Read full article on HealthCentral to learn tips about how to help your compromised loved one stop driving:

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6 Potentially Reversible Conditions That Can Mimic Dementia

ComfortingWhen dementia symptoms appear it’s natural to fear that the person affected has an incurable form of dementia. Rather than reacting with panic, however, it’s far better to try to remain calm and have a specialist make the determination. Many forms of dementia are incurable, of course, but other conditions can present symptoms that resemble those of dementia but are in fact reversible.
 

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Why People Living with Alzheimer’s May React with Anger

Comfort21Frustrated caregivers often wonder why their loved one who is living with Alzheimer’s sometimes reacts with anger as the caregivers attempt to help. Understanding why a spouse, parent or grandparent behaves this way can help the caregiver limit these stressful, frustrating times. To do that, the caregivers must understand life from the point of view of their loved one.

View full slideshow on HealthCentral about why people LWD may react with anger:

Purchase Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories – paperback or ebook

Minding Our Elders lets you know that you are not alone, that you are not going to be perfect, but you can get the job done, You do the best you can, and that is good enough. We can't be Carol, but we can learn from her going before us. What a friend to have. What a gift she gave us. – CM Jones


Hospice Care: Help During End Stages of Life

ComfortNo one needs to die in pain. That is what the social worker told me as I signed the papers that would put my father on hospice care. That is the mantra of hospice, and it became my mantra as well. I had no choice but to believe it since my dad had suffered so much. For weeks, each time I walked into Dad's room in the nursing home, he would be rigid in bed, up on one elbow and slamming his fist against his hand. Pow! Pow! Pow! Over and over, he pounded fist against hand. I would try to get him to relax; to lie back. He couldn't comprehend. Pow! Pow! Pow! He was trying to knock out the pain.

Read full article on AgingCare about how hospice can help your loved one through the death process:

Purchase Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories – paperback or ebook

An amazing book of stories that will touch your heart and encourage you, especially if you are a caregiver. Carol  Bradley Bursack also has an excellent website devoted to the elderly and their caregivers. - Carol Heilman


Gene Therapy Delivered by Modified Virus Provides Hope for Alzheimer's Cure

BRain15...In continuing efforts to find a genetic route to cure Alzheimer’s, the findings of one study could revolutionize the numbers given above. This study involves a treatment that delivers a modified virus to a gene in the brain that could wipe out the damage being done by developing Alzheimer’s before any symptoms occur. The virus, which is called a lentivirus vector, is already used in gene therapy. Researchers from Imperial College London, have shown how using this modified virus to deliver a gene, known as PGC1-alpha, to the brain cells of mice destroys the progression of AD.

Read full article on HealthCentral a virus that may help the AD fight before symptoms show:

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Dementia: Moving Beyond Diagnosis toward Living with the Disease

Hands-touching-10035106For most anyone who has been diagnosed with dementia, or has loved someone with a type of dementia, the formal diagnosis was a moment frozen in time. A moment where the thought of possibly having a brain-destroying disease became a confirmed reality. That pivotal moment is life changing, however, people can move beyond that moment in time and learn to live with dementia.

For our family, that moment arrived after my dad came out of a surgery that was supposed to repair damage caused by a World War II brain injury. We had seen Dad wheeled into surgery. He’d propped himself up on one elbow and given us a signal that all would be well. That hand sign was accompanied by his signature smile.

Read full article on HealthCentral about living with dementia after the diagnosis:

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What to Say, and What Not To Say, to People Who Are Grieving

Comfort15It’s difficult to know exactly what to say to someone suffering from grief since words or actions that comfort one person can feel like a slap in the face to another. Yet most of us want to offer comfort when a person whom we care about is grieving the imminent death of a loved one, or after such a death has occurred. Following are tips that may help you find the right words, or at least some passable words, as well as advice from caregivers and spouses who’ve been through tough times.

View slideshow on HealthCentral about how to comfort others who are grieving:

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An amazing book of stories that will touch your heart and encourage you, especially if you are a caregiver. Carol  Bradley Bursack also has an excellent website devoted to the elderly and their caregivers. - Carol Heilman


Hospice Care about Re-Focusing Priorities, Not Giving Up

Hands17Our 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.

Read full article on HealthCentral about how hospice is an active choice:

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Parsing Validation: Helping People Living with Dementia Maintain Self-Worth

CaregiverWomanValidation is a term often used to describe different approaches to helping improve the quality of life of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Webster defines the word as “recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile.” I believe that all caregivers who practice any form of validation when caring for a person living with dementia aim for the same result. They want to help the person maintain their sense of self, and they want to lower the anxiety and stress that stems from the person living with dementia losing the ability to readily understand the world around them.

Read full article on HealthCentral about validating the people who have various types of dementia:

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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