Alzheimer Disease

The tethered caregiver

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Painting courtesy of Mary Riesche Studios
Painting courtesy of Mary Riesche Studios

Imagine that you are the primary family caregiver for a loved one with dementia in your home.  You have no time to yourself while in the house so how can you possibly find the time to leave your loved one alone to complete some pressing errands?

But you do leave the house and you do leave your loved one alone at home, because you haven’t figured out how to get someone else to do those errands for you, or you don’t know how to secure someone else to watch your loved one while you do the errands.  I favor the latter option because a 24/7 caregiver absolutely must get out of the house and feed her soul while crossing items off her To Do list.

I went to Staples office supply store yesterday to pick up three items for my writing quest: a new thumb drive that I can trust to store my magnificent masterpiece of a manuscript; a new mouse pad because my right wrist and hand have worn out the previous one; and a ream of lined filler paper for taking notes and drafting new ideas.

Because it is currently back-to-school shopping time, Staples was crazy-busy yesterday.  The checkout line was very long and directly behind me was a young mother with a shopping cart filled with supplies for her two school-aged children.  An older woman with two items asked if she could please go ahead of her because she had a sick husband at home; the young mother graciously agreed to let her do so.  When it was my turn at the register, I turned to the older woman and asked her to go ahead of me to which she responded, “Oh thank you so much, you see I have a situation at home and I need to get back quickly.”

Have any of you been there – done that?

Do you know someone who has?

The following advice goes to those of you who know someone in a similar predicament as the woman at the Staples store: be the respite that person needs.  Don’t wait for them to ask for help – they won’t ask you; you must make the first move.  Put yourself in that someone’s shoes and imagine racing through your errands, all the while freaking out wondering what’s going on in the house while you’re away: the person with dementia wandering away from the house or falling down in or around the house, turning on the stove or running the water without turning either off, or letting someone inside the house who should not be inside the house.

Now it’s your turn: imagine the worst-case scenario and apply it to this situation.

Now do something about it.

Other articles to inspire you:

Solo Caregiving; Helping an Alzheimer’s Caregiver; Caregiving: Grief, Guilt, Exhaustion, and Discrimination

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Driving under the influence of dementia

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It’s the not-so-new DUI that is becoming as rampant as are the increased incidences of Alzheimer’s disease in the world.

danger-147333_640Are you enabling someone in your family by not having the difficult, yet necessary, conversation about driving safety?  “She only uses the car to drive to the grocery store, eight blocks away.”  Oh, is that all?  Well then, nothing could possibly happen that might harm/kill her or harm/kill another innocent driver or pedestrian, or child on his bicycle zooming out of a driveway and into the street.  Right?

In the attached article, Driving with dementia: the dangers of denial,  I go into detail about the hazards inherent with driving under the influence of dementia, so I won’t repeat its content here, but I encourage you to take the time to give it a look-see.  I’m readdressing this issue because of what I witnessed today:

  • A car making an unsafe switch of lanes, barely missing the huge SUV in front of which she maneuvered her car;
  • Then I witnessed this SUV – certainly not understanding the circumstances surrounding this affront to his driving – quickly passing the woman and doing the same to her as had been done to him – abruptly changing back into her lane with nary a few inches to spare between his back bumper and her front bumper;
  • Now I’m behind the impaired driver who stops suddenly at an intersection (we have the green) and she puts her left hand turning indicator on, only she’s not in the left hand turn lane – she’s in the through lane and she’s risking a multiple-car pileup by her actions.  I could not move to the left or right to avoid her so I laid on the horn and fortunately, she proceeded straight ahead, not making her left turn;
  • Further down the road she managed to get into the left-hand turn lane and as I passed her, I clearly saw an impaired and confused woman in her 70’s who appeared unaware of where she was or where she was going.

I was in no position to follow her to assure that she was okay, but I did throw up a prayer that she would get safely to where she needed to be – without harm to anyone else as well – and that her family or someone close to her would do what was necessary to take away her car keys.

Denial about this issue doesn’t solve anything.  Please make the decision today to remove the keys from a person who absolutely should not be driving because of his or her dementia.

You just may save someone’s life.

Evil undercover: Alzheimer’s, Abuse, and the Elderly

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Alzheimer’s and the Elderly.

I’m attaching the above article from a fellow blogger.  He, like so many of us, find it difficult to fathom how anyone would take advantage of a vulnerable human being.  The very unsettling fact, however, is that incidents of abuse of the elderly occur and are far too common.

Whether the abuse is instigated by family members upon the elderly in the privacy of their home, or by “professionals” in long-term care settings such as assisted living facilities, nursing homes, or group homes – it happens.  Oftentimes such incidents go unchecked for months, or years, and are discovered only when a death occurs, or when someone with a conscience steps forward and complains to the authorities.  Those being abused either don’t have the ability to complain or they fear that doing so will make matters even worse for them.

Worse?  Residents fear that if they complain, they’ll be thrown out of the place in which they live – the place in which they receive the abuse.  I know that you and I are quick to say, “Fantastic!  What a great relief that would be if the person no longer lived with his or her abusers!”  We say that because we have not experienced what they have experienced; we have not heard the threats and vicious statements directed towards these vulnerable human beings.  These violated human beings don’t understand that abhorrent behavior is not normal because it’s all they’ve known.

These are older human beings who at one time were innocent children showing up on their first day of school; worried teenagers fretting over what to wear to the prom; young adults heading off to college and/or a career; husbands and wives, moms and dads … people just like you and me.  Now they’re nothing but broken, barely alive bodies who have been treated worse than a junk yard dog.

That makes me mad.