Caring for the aging loved ones is a catch 22, of the sorts, difficult to do but difficult not to do. Mixed feelings and the call of duty leave family caregivers with a constant stress and a lot of guilt. Carol Mithers, a Los Angeles-based journalist, found a different edge to this duty. In her article Suddenly, They’re gone, published on March 22, 2013, in the New York Times old age-blog, she talks about the other side of care-giving for the elder and that side is the sense of loss after they passed. She says “… When you care for the old, life can go on unchanged for years. Then suddenly, without much warning, everything shifts… after (they) passed … I have my life back now, but that fact is less simple than it was before. When I look at the mementos I’ve inherited, the crumbling photo albums, cookbooks that smell of cigarette smoke, ’50s furniture and cut glass, I also see where they used to sit, in other places and rooms. I miss the quiet afternoons, the houses that eventually came to feel like home, in cities I’ll never again have reason to visit. I miss it all. I miss them…” Read the full article
‘Caregiver and family support’ Posts
Marguerite Manteau-Rao a San Francisco Bay Area licensed Clinical Social Worker, and co-Founder of Presence Care Project, works with family and professional caregivers and front-line workers teaching them how to unfold the truth people with dementia have problems expressing. She says “…People with dementia often express themselves in uncharacteristic ways such as a burst of anger, accusations or repetitive actions. Traditional approaches deal mainly with the symptoms, which results in no profound changes to the underlying cause … [Instead there needs to be a focus] on everything that happens below the surface for the person with dementia where we find the true reasons behind their behavior — the five universal emotional needs … These needs are universal and do not change. What does change is the opportunity to have these needs met — especially for people with dementia or anyone else living in an institution where the focus is on tasks and routines rather than on the social and emotional wellbeing of the individual…” Read More
Marguerite Manteau-Rao warn us about caregivers’ burn out. She says on the Huffington Post: “…For the 15 million in this country who are caring for a loved one with dementia*, this is what life is like — according to the Alzheimer’s Association 2012 Report:
- 61 percent of dementia caregivers suffer from high emotional stress
- 33 percent report symptoms of depression
- They experience caregiving strain regarding financial issues (56 percent), and family issues (53 percent).
- 43 percent experience high physical stress
- 75 percent are concerned about maintaining their health.
- Dementia caregivers are more likely to have adverse physiological changes such as high levels of stress hormones, reduced immune function, increased hypertension, coronary heart disease.
- 37 percent rate stress as their greatest difficulty.
- In the last year of their loved one’s life, 59 percent feel they are on duty 24 hours a day.
- 72 percent of caregivers express relief after their loved ones die.
When it comes to care for our loved ones, we worry about falls, their being alone and injured, time response to a crisis and most of the times, our alternative is moving them to an institution. Living Well Assisted Living at Home believes that there are options to give choices to the elders and peace of mind to the family members. Aging.com reported on 10 secrets that our aging parents keeps from us and some ways to deal with and approach them. I couldn’t help but think of all sorts of technology solutions (remote monitoring like GrandCare, Internet technology, etc.) that could assist in dealing with these 10 “secrets” shared in the story. Of course, technology is only one piece to the puzzle. Read More
In an article in The Daily by James Vlahos, we learn that the elder-friendly robots are here to engage and to help burnout caregivers. Vlahos says: “…Robots may be our best option to pick up the slack — or so say the pioneers of eldercare robotics, which is being pursued by corporations from Toyota to NEC as well as university robotic labs worldwide…”
New York Times Knowledge Network – This course will simplify the maze of procedures and paperwork confronting children and friends who care for aging loved ones. Taught by a journalist who is a leading expert in this field, and who created the popular blog “The New Old Age” on nytimes.com, this course compresses vital information into two weeks, because time constraints are urgent for most people in this situation.
March 30 – April 13, 2011 Instructor: Jane Gross
MINNEAPOLIS, MN, January 10, 2011/ Troy Media/ –
Studies have shown nursing home residents with dementia spend 70 to 80 per cent of their time with nothing to do. “I’m dying of boredom” was the statement made by a gentleman living in an Alzheimer’s care unit to Wendy Wood of Colorado State University Head of Department of Occupational Therapy.
According to research conducted by Wood and published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy in May 2009, the remaining cognitive, social, and emotional capabilities of persons with dementia living in Alzheimer’s units were rarely tapped into, promoting “excess disability” or disability beyond what is directly attributable to the disease itself. This could lead to a more rapid decline.
Because concerns about the use of certain medications to manage behaviours in persons with dementia are being raised, new approaches – such as music, dancing, art, and storytelling – are being tested and have been found to be effective in the care for persons with dementia.
The common element in all of them is engagement – or doing. Even routine tasks are beneficial for persons with dementia. Having the person help with dressing, setting the table, getting the mail, or answering the door are all tasks that can be assigned, as long as directions are also given. Targeted care incorporating daily engagement is key and has many benefits.