...The whole procedure became so stressful that we made a mutual decision for me to care for her hair in her own home. I'll tell you upfront that I'm not good with hair. For the most part, I'm a minimalist. Alice had perms, but her hair still needed washing and a daily curling to arrange it nicely. Over time, and with lots of humor thrown in, I did learn a few things over the years.
Frustrated 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’s impaired mind.
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
Many people have heard of hospice care but they mistakenly think that it’s just a way to help cancer patients be more comfortable at the end of their lives. Fewer people have heard of palliative care, and they may have no idea what it is. The truth is that hospice and palliative care are related but used for different reasons at different times, and everyone should be well-versed in what they offer. Here, we’ll clarify some points of confusion.
Typically, when we think of the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease we think of memory problems. Words go missing, names escape one’s grasp, daily tasks are forgotten. Now, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have shown that making mental maps of where we have been and where we are going is a process the brain may lose before memory problems begin to show. People with these early symptoms can no longer navigate even a familiar area as they once did.
It’s been known for years that women are more at risk for Alzheimer’s disease than men. Now, there’s even more evidence of gender differences. A new study has found that among those who've been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), women show a much faster rate of memory loss than men. The 2015 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference took place recently in Washington, D.C. While many topics were covered, including some drugs that are showing promise, this study about women has attracted its share of attention. Earlier studies showing that more women developed Alzheimer’s than men concluded that this statistic simply reflected the fact that women live longer than men. Since age is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, it would stand to reason that more women would develop the disease. #WomensHealth
A 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. The team focused on approximately 2,200 older adults living in Amsterdam, ages 65 to 86. None of the participants exhibited signs of dementia and none of them lived in facilities such as nursing homes. The researchers visited the elders two times over the course of three years. About half of them lived alone, with 20 percent reporting feelings of loneliness, even if they were married or lived with family.
For most seniors, moving from their home of many years into an assisted living facility is difficult. For some, it's nearly paralyzing. Even if they are moving to a very nice assisted living environment, the move will likely mean a significant loss of space, especially if they are leaving a house. Downsizing – the term often used for weaning ourselves from long-time possessions – can be hard for anyone. When it's more or less forced upon someone because of age or infirmity, the process becomes even tougher.
Dear Carol: My dad is 81 and lives alone in his small home that he loves. What he can’t do, he hires done. He’s a positive person who is fun to be around, but he’s also proud. While his memory recall has slowed, that seems normal. He writes himself notes to remember to do what needs to be done. Still, I don’t see that he has a huge problem living relatively safely and well. I go with him to his doctor and the doctor seems to think that Dad's doing extremely well. The issue is my brother. He lives 1000 miles away and only occasionally visits. When he was last here, he saw Dad’s notes and told me that I need to confront him about his memory and get him moved to some kind of care. He says it’s for Dad’s safety. I hate to see Dad’s spirit shattered, and a confrontation like this would do that. I want Dad safe, but I also want him happy. Who is right? Jenny
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
Pain management can be a problem for aging bodies. With the current focus on removing opioids as a go-to solution, doctors are working hard to provide alternatives for their patients. Dr. Denis Patterson is a Board Certified Pain Medicine, Physical Medicine, and Rehabilitation physician and he is the founder and owner of Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists in Reno, Nevada. I’ve had questions for some time about what doctors are suggesting for pain management for aging bodies that may be suffering from old injuries or current issues such as severe arthritic pain, so I asked Dr. Patterson if he would be willing to provide us with information from the perspective of a specialist. He did so in this email interview.
For 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.