How To Find Quality Care For An Elderly Parent

“Recently, I was interviewed by Dana Anspach, a Phoenix financial advisor, and author of the column Money Over 55.  She wanted to know what I search for and my process for finding quality care for my clients seeking assisted living.  Here is the link for that article…    ~ Becky

http://moneyover55.about.com/od/postretirementplanning/a/How-To-Find-Quality-Care-For-An-Elderly-Parent.htm

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Caring For The Caregiver

Daily, I work with families that are in need of finding assisted living for a loved one and I have identified a very common trait that runs in almost every group of people encountered.  There is always one primary caregiver and that person has reached the end of their rope.  They are in crisis mode every bit as much as the person they are caring for.  Part of the reason they are in a personal crisis is that they have forgotten to take care of themselves.  In order to provide care for their loved one, they have sacrificed their own well-being.  My colleague, Jane Davis who is a licensed professional counselor, has written a wonderful list of suggestions for caregivers and I wanted to share it.  Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself, who will take care of your loved one when you’re unable to?    ~ Becky

Caring for Caregivers

I don’t think there’s any more appropriate use of the  airplane metaphor–the one about placing your own oxygen mask on your face before your child’s — than that of being a caregiver.   Caregivers often forget to breathe deeply.  Caregivers have high rates of both physical and emotional dis-ease.  And it’s no wonder.  It’s exhausting and demanding.  But like other life challenges, it’s also an opportunity for growth.  Whatever else it may be (and each person’s situation is unique), to be a caregiver, to take on the responsibility of managing many aspects of the life of a parent, especially when one feels overwhelmed by other responsibilities, requires self care.   The following list provides some suggestions:

-Physical self care. Exercise, eat healthy meals and get plenty of sleep; have regular check-ups with trusted physicians and dentists and attend promptly to any necessary treatments and procedures.
-Spiritual Conditioning.  Nurture a faith life.  Utilize prayer, meditation or twelve step programs.
-Address your emotional needs.  Use counselors and therapists to help work through past resentments, to cope with a wide range of emotions, to set limits, and to learn some new skills. Use a spiritual director or clergy person to help deepen your faith life.
-Develop a trusting relationship with a financial advisor (and your parent’s financial advisor) and be sure your own fianances are well managed.  Have a financial plan that includes long term care insurance and know what your reasonable limits are for assisting family members.
-Be sure you have your own will and trust in order, and educate yourself about your parent’s will.  If they haven’t put their “affairs in order”, your doing yours is a good time to discuss their doing theirs.  Even if you have prepared well for end of life, seek expert advice about putting closure on all the details.
-Educate yourself about whatever disabilities or diseases your parent may be suffering; learn how to prevent a medical crisis and about resources available to you –online resources, agencies, health care providers, etc.
-Be aware of the signs which indicate it might be time for your parents to downsize.  If and when it is time to consider moving into a retirement community or assisted living facility, utilize the expertise of a professional specialist who can not only provide a wealth of information about communities, but can help address many aspects of this major life transition.
-Keep connected to a caring community–church, synagogue, neighborhood, club, etc.
-Make time for other relationships which nurture you and let go of relationships that drain you.  If you are in a couple relationship, be sure to “protect” it by setting aside specific time for relaxation and play.
-Share meals with friends!
-Identify people, places and activities which bring you joy. Make them priorities.  You NEED these in your life!
-Hire help for what you can afford and don’t have to do yourself.  This includes cleaning, cooking, laundry, etc.
-Set limits with other people regarding what you are able to do.
-If there are other family members involved in sharing responsibilities, be collaborative, organize family meetings and provide a structure for ongoing communication.
-Push yourself out into new places or your world might become too small.  Find places to awaken your spirit and sense of adventure.
-Laugh, Breathe……

Jane Davis, licensed professional counselor
9260 E. Raintree Dr. Ste. 130, Scottsdale, AZ 85260
480-443-2566

 

Caring For An Aging Parent? Worried About Your Own Future?

Pet Enrich The Lives Of Our Elderly

I am a committed animal lover.  I cannot imagine a life without my furry loved ones any more than a life without my human loved ones.   During my years working with the elderly and helping them find assisted living, I have often seen families dealing with the trauma of moving a loved one to assisted living and knowing that they will have to separate that person from their beloved pet.

Thankfully, I have seen a very positive trend in assisted living communities during the past few years.  Communities are recognizing this important, life enhancing relationship and, more and more, are becoming pet friendly.  Allowing a person to keep their pet, which they almost always identify as their child, gives them a sense of hope and purpose.

If you are considering moving a loved one to assisted living and they own a pet, please do your research and try to locate an appropriate community that will allow them to keep the pet.  It will do wonders for their qualify of life!    ~ Becky

Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, What’s The Difference?

I cannot tell you how many times I ask a client if their loved one has a dementia and am told “No, they don’t have Alzheimer’s Disease.”  So many people don’t understand that dementia is really a symptom or presence of symptoms caused by many different circumstances, including Alzheimer’s Disease.  Here is a great article that defines dementia and what can cause it.   ~ Becky

Dementia – Beyond Alzheimer’s Disease                                           Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, but it’s not the only one.  From Parkinson’s disease to stroke, find out which other conditions are associated with dementia.                                                                                             By:  Madeline Vann, MPH                                                                                   Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH

Alzheimer’s disease causes up to 75 percent of dementia cases – but even though the two conditions are often associated, dementia is not always related to Alzheimer’s disease.

“Dementia is just a fancy word for memory loss,” says Raj C. Shah, MD, medical director of the Rush Memory Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.  “It doesn’t tell you what the cause is.”  In addition to memory loss, dementia also causes difficulty with thinking, reasoning, and decision making.

A dementia diagnosis is based on the presence of certain symptoms, which are then categorized to determine the stage of dementia and the appropriate dementia treatment.  There is no cure for dementia, which is by definition a fatal, progressive disease, meaning dementia symptoms will only get worse over time.  Dementia treatment, however, can help slow the progression of symptoms in some cases.

Possible Causes of Dementia

If someone is diagnosed with dementia, the possible causes include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare brain disorder sometimes referred to as mad cow disease that kills most patients within a year
  • Frontotemporal dementia, a condition in which parts of the brain shrink, affecting either behavior or speech
  • Strokes, in which cause brain cells die because their oxygen supply has been cut off or from bleeding in the brain, sometimes resulting in a condition called vascular dementia
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Lewy body dementia, a common type in which Lewy bodies, a type of protein, build up in the brain, causing cognitive and other types of problems
  • Parkinson’s disease, which occurs when nerve cells in the brain lose the ability to make a chemical transmitter called dopamine, causing difficulties with movement, as well as dementia.

The Worst Form of Dementia?  Because Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause and the most often studied, people may believe it to be the “worst” form of dementia.

Arizona Resource for Families Dealing with Alzheimer’s

I have been working with individuals or families seeking solutions to their questions regarding assisted living for almost six years now and have assisted nearly 600 cases.  One thing I have noticed is that the majority of my clients are dealing with some level of cognitive decline.  One of the questions I always ask is “Has there been a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.”  Many do not understand that there is a difference between types/causes of dementia.  I find this very interesting!  I would like to share a resource here in my home state of Arizona that would be a valuable organization for any local family dealing with Alzheimer’s.  While the organization is geared towards those afflicted with Alzheimer’s, I believe it could be of benefit for those who are dealing with other types of dementia.  That organization is The Alzheimer’s Association Desert Southwest Chapter.  Their website is http://www.alzdsw.org/.  They offer many interesting articles and resources and I highly recommend subscribing to their newsletter.  Below is a recent article from the Connections Newsletter:

New Guidelines for Diagnosing Alzheimer’s
New criteria and guidelines published

Two years ago over 40 researchers and clinicians around the globe began work to update the guidelines for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease. By incorporating research advances made over the last three decades they have released the first new criteria & guidelines to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in 27 years.

These new guidelines update, refine and broaden the widely used guidelines originally published in 1984 by the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institute of Neurological and Communication Disorders and Stroke.

Two of the key points to the new guidelines are:

·         Refinement of the guidelines for diagnosing mild cognitive impairment or MCI. Patients with MCI experience a decline in memory, reasoning or visual perception that while noticeable and measurable is not severe enough to be diagnosed as Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Researchers now believe that everyone who develops Alzheimer’s goes through this stage of impairment, even if it is undiagnosed in most people. However not everyone who suffers from MCI will develop Alzheimer’s disease. The new guidelines designate the minimal impairment that precedes Alzheimer’s as “MCI due to Alzheimer’s disease” and defines four levels of certainty for arriving at this diagnosis.

·         The new guidelines propose that Alzheimer’s begins with a long period during which changes are happening in the brain while patients may have no outward symptoms. This stage of the disease is defined as a “preclinical” stage that could eventually be diagnosed with the use of biomarkers. A biomarker is something in the body that you can measure that reliably indicates the presence or absence of disease, or the risk of later developing a disease. Biomarkers used to indicate the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease so far are brain imaging and spinal fluid chemistry. Biomarkers of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease are still being validated so they are not currently being used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. A research agenda has been proposed to validate the application of biomarkers.

To view the new guidelines and criteria for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease please visit our website here.

For information on how you can participate in Alzheimer’s research studies please visit our TrialMatch page here, or call 1-800-272-3900.


EVEN IN THE ELDER YEARS, LIFE REQUIRES US TO MAKE BIG MOVES

Are you one of the many who are faced with the fear that moving your parents to a care community will disrupt their lives and make them unhappy?  Do you worry that you are altering their lives in a way that reduce the quality of life?  I helped a woman who is a life coach with finding a care community and moving her parents from New York to Arizona.  As always, there was a great deal of concern whether she was doing the right thing and whether her parents would adapt and embrace the change.  Recently, she has been writing a series of articles about this process and the most current shares the big move.  If you are struggling with the decision to provide more care for your loved one and that means moving them, please read this positive true story and know that it can be the best thing in the world for your loved one.    ~ Becky

http://home.ezezine.com/25_3/25_3-2011.04.05.05.30.archive.html