Convincing some elders to see their doctors for any reason can be difficult. Convincing them to give honest answers to the doctor’s questions can be even more challenging. This is especially true when the elder gets into uncomfortable territory. Areas where they feel they will be judged. The issues that are probably most often covered up are alcohol or drug abuse, but not far behind would be cognitive problems.
People get worried about visiting caregivers. They are concerned about intruding or what to say or do in certain situations. But it is great when someone makes the effort and most caregivers find the contact and support of others invaluable. Here are seven tips to allay your concerns about visiting caregivers to people with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia.
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.
Long-term caregiving can be isolating and lonely which is why peer support is so vital to a caregiver’s mental, emotional and physical health. More than a decade ago I searched for other caregivers with whom I could share my journey and discovered that connecting was difficult. This experience led me to write Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share their Personal Stories. Thankfully, during this past decade, because of technology along with other awareness efforts, caregiver support has exploded with resources and professional help. Still, caregivers long to connect personally with each other and share, on an intimate level, what they’ve learned. The stories below are examples of that sharing spirit. Caregiving will change your life both positively and negatively, but these caregivers make it clear that you don’t have to go through it alone.
In modern U.S. culture, coffee has literally been raised to an art form, with baristas topping complicated coffee-based drinks with drawings that will disappear with the first sip of the brew. Few coffee drinkers, whether they buy their coffee at these high-end shops or perk it at home in a humble pot, are drinking coffee for its health benefits. For the most part, they drink it because they like the taste, because it’s a comforting habit or for its invigorating kick.
News via PBS: "The first-of-its-kind campaign, organized by the AARP Foundation and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, aims to help seniors assess their social connectedness and suggest practical ways they can forge bonds with other people...Addressing stigma will be a priority. ..'Who wants to admit that, ‘I’m isolated and I’m lonely?' said Dallas Jamison, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.'It’s a source of shame and embarrassment.'”
Caring for our aging loved ones can be exhausting, frustrating, demanding and time consuming. Since November marks National Alzheimer's Awareness Month we’re honoring Alzheimer’s caregivers, but November is also National Caregiver’s Month. Thanksgiving, as another November holiday, reminds me to think of ways that caregiving, tough as it can be, also offers caregivers a time to note the special blessings we’ve received when we are open to recognizing the gifts. After all, caring for one another is, in my view, one of the answers to “why are we here.”
DEAR CAROL: My wife has had a stroke that’s left her mostly paralyzed on one side. She can’t speak well and she cries often. We’re in our 70s and have spent our lives as active church people. In fact, we’ve done our share of visiting hospitals and nursing homes representing the church. We’ve told people that what they are facing is their reality and that we will pray for them. We’ve told them to be grateful for what they have. Now, the shoe is on the other foot. I’m having a difficult time feeling grateful for anything at all. Instead, I feel angry, exhausted, frustrated and frightened. How could I have been such a hypocrite all of these years? – Roger
We can’t keep these facts buried. Dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is the leading variety, is a family disease in that it affects family dynamics, family income, and family health. It turns couples into care partners. It turns adult children into caregivers for their parents often during the time that they also are caregivers for their young children, which has created the term “sandwich generation.” 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.
It’s been said that once you know one person with Alzheimer’s, you know one person with Alzheimer’s. In other words: people are unique, and not everyone will respond to a particular treatment. This truth was highlighted in a study based on the combined efforts of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and UCLA Easton Laboratories for Neurodegenerative Disease Research.