I've found in my experience that it isn't always the elders who shy away from end-of-life talks. Some do, of course, but many would like to discuss the arrangements they've made for finances, as well as their opinions about what measures they would want taken if they needed someone to make their decisions if they can't, however the adult children often find excuses to put off that particular "talk."
... metabolisms slow naturally as we age, which can affect digestion, but when things come to a screeching halt, it can cause discomfort and anxiety. Although most people prefer not to talk about their bowels, if this issue does not resolve on its own or worsens, it can lead to serious health problems like impaction, anal fissures and bowel incontinence.
Dear Carol: I’ve cared for my wife who has dementia for several years but now she’s begun wandering and needs constant supervision. Our kids think that both she and I are both better off if we place her in a nursing home, so we are on two waiting lists. One of the homes that we're considering has a rule that the family isn’t supposed to visit for the first two weeks after the person is admitted, and after that visits should be infrequent. They say that family visits disrupt the routine that they are trying to put into place for the elder and that seeing family members simply confuses them. The other home welcomes visits from the start, saying that while they hope that the family feels comfortable leaving their loved one in their care, they like to have families help with getting the person settled and as comfortable as possible. I hate the idea of leaving my wife in a new place and not being with her to help her settle in, but I want what is best for her. CF
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?
...These statistics should make it glaringly obvious that family caregivers are indispensable to our nation as well as the rest of the world. Without this so called free care, global health systems would be in far worse trouble than they currently are. I am one of that army of caregivers. Over the span of two decades I provided primary care for a total of seven elders, four of whom had dementia of different types. Therefore, I know intimately the toll that years of caregiving for someone with dementia can take.
Most of us dread the thought of moving a loved one into a skilled nursing facility, and this sentiment doesn’t change for those who are fortunate enough to have a selection of stellar facilities to choose from. We know that we are giving up a certain amount of direct oversight, which can be hard even though we are well aware of our limitations as individual caregivers. We also know deep down that this move is an admission that a loved one has passed a certain point in their health where returning home or resuming even a few aspects of self-care is no longer a possibility. In other words, this transition is a direct dose of reality.
Dear Carol: I grew up with my grandparents because my parents were killed in a car accident and they both loved me a lot. My grandmother died seven years ago when I was 23. I’d been on my own for a few years, but I moved back in with grandpa after he had a stroke. Things have gone fairly well with me working part time jobs and spending a lot of time with him. Lately, though, his memory has gotten very bad and he’s become stubborn about taking his medication, which he was always good about before. He’s also having more trouble getting around. I’ve finally started a good job with prospects for a future, but I can’t leave grandpa alone for long. My friends, as well as grandpa’s friends, tell me that he needs to go to a nursing home. They think it’s better for both of us but I feel like I should stay and take care of him like he took care of me. If I stay, I can’t take the full time job which I really want. I’m so confused. What do you think I should do? TK
It seems shocking to hear people ask whether dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s since it’s the best known, is as hard on the caregiver as it is on the person with the disease. After all, developing dementia of any kind is one of our greatest fears, even overtaking cancer. A caregiver who asks this question must be incredibly heartless and selfish, right? Yet, people who've never been a caregiver for someone with dementia need to think this through. When a loved one develops dementia, both the care receiver and the caregiver have entered an incredibly challenging time of their lives.
After decades of caregiving I’ve experienced some negative effects as noted in 5 Negative Effects of Long-term Caregiving. However, I've also experienced positive effects that continue to give me pleasure and enhance my life. I saved the positive aspects of caregiving for the second article because, having recently written about the ill effects on our health caused by negative thinking, it seemed more authentic to me as a writer. Also, as a person, when possible I like to concentrate on the positive. Below are a few of the many things that I feel I have gained, and still am gaining, from long-term caregiving.
A study published in JAMA Neurology reports that participants with evidence of preclinical Alzheimer's experienced worse sleep efficiency than those with no evidence of potential Alzheimer’s. One hundred forty five people between ages 45 and 75 took part in the study conducted by researchers at the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, Washington University School of Medicine. While none of the study participants had any cognitive concerns, once their spinal fluid was analyzed test results showed that about one-third of them were very likely to have Alzheimer's-linked Amyloid plaques in the brain. Amyloid plaques are generally considered to be a sign of preclinical Alzheimer's.