Forgiveness nearly always changes lives for the better, even if one of those lives is about to end. Whether we are the forgiver or the person being forgiven, the blessings flow both ways. To me, forgiving one another for being flawed human beings is an important key to a reasonably serene life. However, this mutual understanding is not always easy to come by.
Exhausted caregivers often say that one of the hardest things for them is that they can’t get quality sleep. Even caregivers who have loved ones outside of their homes can have problems since they are still on call day and night for frequent emergencies. However, it’s the Alzheimer’s caregivers who have the hardest time since Alzheimer’s disease can cause severe sleep disruption. Experts still aren’t sure about all of the reasons for the poor sleeping patterns of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Doctors feel that there may be some change in the brain, perhaps the same as with other aging people but more intense, that cause this distressing situation.
Many aging adults spend the bulk of their time just managing to get through the day. They take care of life's basics but often don't leave their home, assisted living center or nursing home, except for doctor appointments and an occasional holiday. Families and friends might like to take a senior out for some fun but they don't know how to go about it. Even seasoned caregivers can be stumped for ideas, so here are a few to get started:
A recent survey by the Alzheimer’s Association revealed that over half of our Alzheimer’s caregivers are cutting back on everyday necessities to cover the cost of Alzheimer’s care. To gain further insight into the findings of the survey, I interviewed Beth Kallmyer, Vice President of Constituent Services for the Alzheimer’s Association, along with Paul Hornback who attended the enormously successful conference in Washington, D.C. held by Alzheimer’s advocates to draw attention to the need for significantly more funding for Alzheimer's research.
A frequent problem expressed among adult children is that their parents aren't truthful with their doctors. While the parent may complain at home of pain, exhibit memory problems and accuse family of theft when he or she can't locate a commonly used item, the moment the parent faces their doctor a change occurs. Like an actor on stage, the person sitting in front of the doctor becomes animated and charming.
...Capgras is a type of delusional misidentification syndrome (DMS) that may present due to any number of neurological diseases or psychiatric disorders. Although the exact prevalence of this disorder is unknown, a 1999 study estimates that it is present in between two and thirty percent of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
Dear Carol: My dad is 88. Though he’s had times of remission, he’s struggled with bipolar disorder since he was young. Dad’s been good for the last year, but now seems to have relapsed so his doctor is trying a new medication. What bothers me is that, since starting the new medication, Dad has developed anger issues. This, along with Dad’s age, has led the doctor to add Alzheimer’s to Dad’s diagnoses. I realize that at Dad’s age dementia is always suspect, but this seems to be a sudden diagnosis since he’s been seeing this doctor for years. Is dementia something that is just assumed because of age? I’m not sure where to go with this since there isn’t much that can be done about dementia anyway, but I’m uncomfortable with this diagnosis. His doctor is a psychiatrist. What do I do? Greg
It's a human tendency to get stuck in a rut as we carry out life's demands, and caregiving is no exception. With spring nearly upon us, it's a good time to take a fresh look at our caregiving lives to see if there are areas that need improvement or at least a fresh approach. Making pro and con lists of what is working and what is not working is an effective method of examining anything from budgets to weight loss. It can be just as effective for caregiving. Below I've provided a template for a hypothetical caregiver we'll call Ann. If you're up for a little self-reflection, Ann's list could help you jumpstart your own self-improvement project.
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.
...Deep inside their gut, they harbor the outdated image of an "old folk's home." They consider a move from the family home one more step away from independence and one step closer toward death. They think a move to assisted living signifies to the world that they now have the proverbial "one foot on a banana peel and one foot in the grave."