It’s not often that we have the privilege of hearing from someone who has dementia, providing us who don’t have dementia, with some caregiving tips. Please take the time to listen to this person’s voice.
Thank you “Let’s Talk About Family” fellow-blogger for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award. That’s the kind of feedback I like! More importantly, everyone should check out her Blog because her insights into the ups, and downs, of caring for parents is very insightful and well worth following.
I have been so blessed by the input I receive from the many Blogs that I follow. I’m going to use this opportunity to make some nominations as well! (I could list many, many more, but to begin with at least, I’ll list just a few that always stand out to me.) First of all the steps that the nominees need to take to award others who are worthy of singling out:
- Thank the person who nominated you for an award;
- Copy & paste the award logos in your blog, as well as in the sections devoted to your nominations, below;
- Be certain to link the person who nominated you for an award; in my case, you’ll see that I’ve linked “Let’s Talk About Family” when I thanked her for nominating me;
- Nominate your own choices for awards;
- Place links to their Blogsites so that others can view their fine work;
- Say a few things about yourself so that others understand a bit more as to where you’re coming from – and where you’re going:
- My first name is Irene and I live in the Seattle, Washington area.
- I’m a Baby Boomer who loves to share knowledge about the challenges, and delights, of being in this age group.
- My working background of the past 20 years includes being a paralegal in law firms as well as for corporations; an Executive Assistant and Office Manager for a senior housing company; a Business Manager in an assisted living/dementia care facility; an Alzheimer’s Association caregiver support group facilitator; and a certified long-term care (LTC) ombudsman for the county in which I live.
- I became a LTC ombudsman in 2008, thereby leaving the senior housing industry, because in my mind one can never do enough for the vulnerable adults who live in long-term care residential facilities. In order to assure that vulnerable residents experience a dignified existence and a high quality of life, I had to switch sides and become their advocate.
- I will always try to write something about which I am familiar and that I have also experienced. I’m not an expert, but my goal is to always provide input that I hope will prove valuable to others.
- My mother died in 1994 and from 2004 thru 2007 I was the primary long-distance caregiver for my father who lived in an assisted living community’s dementia care unit.
Now onto the award nominations!
Versatile Blogger Awards:
Day by Day with the Big Terrible A (Alzheimer’s, of course.) This blog is very reader-friendly. This blogger is a wife who is taking care of her husband. Her mini-entries very clearly reflect the struggles she, her husband, and her family face but she also makes room to celebrate the little victories that sometimes are hidden within the caregiving struggle. I think all of us can find comfort in this woman’s efforts, and her ability to describe those efforts deserve 5 Stars!!!
My Simple C.com. This blog is an online community that seeks to connect professional caregivers with family caregivers. The resources and suggestions are quite good and are provided without the intent of selling anything. Virginia Lynn Rudder works for a company called Simple C, but she clearly has a goal of providing information in an easy to read, comprehensive, and supportive manner.
Elder Advocates. Lark E. Kirkwood experienced something that no one should ever have to experience. A guardianship was put in place limiting access to her father who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and who has subsequently passed on. Please visit her site because she provides many valuable resources relating to a prevailing problem for vulnerable adults: elder abuse & fraud.
BEAUTIFUL BLOGGER AWARD.
Flickr Comments by FrizzText. This Blogger really knows how to take a photo and knows how to find them so that we can take a break in our very busy days and simply enjoy his view on our world. Please make a point of stopping by and you’ll be representing one of the more than 100 countries that partake of his Blog site.
No test for Alzheimer’s disease is fool proof and I would venture to say that ALL tests of this nature aren’t black & white. There are many gray areas when attempting to discern the presence of Alzheimer’s or other dementia in its earlier stages but as is often said, knowledge is power and certainly some information and guidance is better than none. I hope the article linked here will prove helpful to you.
You’ve worked your entire life; you’ve lined up your retirement leisure activities; you’re ready to start the first day of the rest of your life, but instead you start a new job: caregiver to your sibling, spouse, parent, or other family member.
Or perhaps you retired early to take on your caregiver job because there was no way you could do it all: continue your full-time job while moonlighting as your loved one’s caregiver. It doesn’t work or it only works until the caregiver runs out of steam. One way or another, your retirement years sure don’t resemble what you envisioned.
The CNN article, As baby boomers retire, a focus on caregivers, paints a frightening picture but one that is painfully accurate. The highlighted caregiver, Felicia Hudson, said she takes comfort in the following sentiment:
Circumstances do not cause anger, nervousness, worry or depression; it is how we handle situations that allow these adverse moods.
I agree with the above sentiment to a very small degree because let’s face it, the nitty-gritty of a caregiver’s life is filled with anger-inducing depressive circumstances about which I don’t think caregivers should beat themselves up trying to handle with a happy face and a positive attitude. It just doesn’t work that well in the long-term. It’s a well-known fact, and one that is always talked about by the Alzheimer’s Association, that caregivers don’t take care of themselves because they don’t know how, or don’t have the support, to stop trying to do all of their life’s jobs by themselves.
“I’m obligated because my parents took great care of me, and now it’s time for me to take care of them.”
“For better or worse means taking care of my spouse, even though she’s getting the better of me, and I’m getting worse and worse.”
The problem with the above sentiments is that oftentimes the adult child or spouse start to resent the person for whom they are providing care. It’s like going to a job you hate but being held to an unbreakable employment contract; your employer is a loved one with a life-altering or terminal illness; and you’re not getting paid. “Taking care of a loved one in need is reward enough.” No, it’s not.
I’m not bitter, I’m simply realistic. Caregiving is one of the most difficult jobs any of us will hold and we can’t do it all by ourselves. My blog article, Caregiving: The Ultimate Team Sport, encourages each person in a family caregiving situation to create a team of co-caregivers to more effectively get the job done. And please take a look at the other articles found in that same category of Caregiving. I hope you will find encouragement in those articles – some based on my own experience, and some from other caregivers’ shared experiences – especially when a positive attitude and a happy face just isn’t working for you.
This post, from a wonderful Blog about caregiving, http://www.letstalkaboutfamily.wordpress.com provides an excellent idea. It’s never too late to start this project for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementia.
Most people don’t want to talk about end-of-life issues but all of us know it’s a topic requiring early discussion and appropriate timing to be of any use when emotional, and sometimes emergent, decisions must be made.
My siblings and I benefited from my parents’ end-of-life documents that dictated their wishes should we need to become involved. My mother died in her sleep in 1994 so no active involvement was necessary but my father, suffering with Alzheimer’s for five years by the time he died in 2007, gave us a gift by spelling out in detail his end-of-life wishes set in place at least a decade before he died. Think of an Advanced Directive or Living Will as a gift to your loved ones. It certainly was a gift to my siblings and me.
An organization in Washington state, Compassion & Choices, worked with Seattle University Clinical Law Professor, Lisa Brodoff, to create a new advance directive for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementia. This same law professor was instrumental in the passage of legislation in Washington State creating the Mental Health Advance Directive for people with mental illness. This statute is considered to be model legislation for other states wanting to expand the rights and planning options for people with mental illness. Bravo Washington State!!!
Although not yet available, the new Alzheimer’s/Dementia Advance Directive will be based on one created by Professor Brodoff for a 2009 Elder Law Journal article titled (excerpt attached): Planning for Alzheimer’s Disease with Mental Health Directives. The new Alzheimer’s/Dementia advance directive is not intended to replace existing end-of-life documents such as a Living Will and/or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, but is designed to work in concert with those documents to ensure that any issues important to the patient with dementia that are not addressed in standard advance directives are honored as much as possible.
What additional issues are addressed in the new advance directive for those with Alzheimer’s or other dementia?
Potential issues that might be addressed are preferences regarding:
- care in and outside of the home;
- financing of said care;
- caregiver choices;
- involuntary commitment;
- consent to participation in drug trials;
- suspension of driving privileges; and
- any future intimate relationships.
To get on the mailing list in Washington state to receive a copy of the new advance directive contact Compassion Washington: by email, info@CompassionWA.org or by calling their office at: 206.256.1636 or Toll free: 1-877-222-2816. At the very least, regardless of where you live, using their model as a guide when creating your own Advance Directive may be helpful when such Directive affects the life of a loved one with dementia. Being prepared for the unexpected, or even what you indeed suspect might be a future health issue, provide peace of mind for the patient and for his or her caregiver.
That’s a priceless gift to be sure.
Bear with me – don’t judge me quite yet.
If you are primarily responsible for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, or perhaps you assist an elderly relative who relies on you for help, do you find yourself telling little white lies? Do you stretch the truth a bit in order to keep the peace? Without doing any harm to your loved one or anyone else, do those little white lies help you accomplish tasks on behalf of your loved one, thus improving their life? Congratulations – you understand that honesty isn’t always the best route to take and you’re in good company.
How do you jump over the hurdles of negotiating with a loved one for whom you provide care? Here are a few examples that come to mind.
Scenario one: the need to get creative in order to leave the house for personal business. For example, if telling your wife that you’re going to a caregiver support group meeting makes her mad, sad, or distrustful of your intentions, (“I’m sure you’re going to say bad things about me!”), why not tell your spouse that you’re going out with the guys, and you promise you will be back in two hours. Then make sure you’re back on time! If you’re not comfortable with that lie, by all means, every month you can continue to explain how helpful this caregiver support group is to you and how much it helps you be a better husband; and month after month your wife will not understand your rationale and will feel ashamed. Knowing that you’re going to a support group only confirms how miserable she’s made your life. Read the rest of this entry »