Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s disease

The Power of a Hug

older-couple-in-loveJanuary 21st is National Hug Day, an unofficial event created by Rev. Kevin Zaborney in 1986.  Although it is not a public holiday, it is worthy of celebration.  The idea behind National Hug Day is to encourage people to reach out and hug a family member, friend, or maybe even a stranger more often.  No matter whom you decide to hug, the mental and physical health benefits are the same to all involved.

Rev. Zaborney realized that after the holidays, many people suffered from low spirits.  Therefore, he selected January 21st because it fell between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and Valentine’s Day.

Studies have shown that there are many health benefits related to human contact.  These studies have found that human contact improves both psychological and physical development.  Human contact, especially hugging can:

·      Help build a good immune system

·      Decrease the risk of heart disease

·      Decrease pain

·      Enhance alertness and performance

·      Decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol in women

In a study of couples, a couple that hugs for 20 seconds has a higher level of oxytocin, which acts as a bonding hormone, than those who don’t.  According to the American Psychosomatic Society, a hug with a romantic partner can reduce stress and its harmful physical effects. 

Tiffany Field, PhD, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, has studied the benefits of touch for many years.  Dr. Field found that in a study where elderly volunteers who were trained to give massages to infants experienced improved mood with less anxiety or depression, decreased levels of stress hormones, more social contacts and fewer doctor visits after just three weeks of contact.

 In another study, it was found that adults who had no human contact had higher blood pressure and heart rates.

So how many hugs does a person need?  Researchers suggest:

·      Four hugs a day for survival

·      Eight hugs a day for maintenance

·      Twelve hugs a day for growth

So what about seniors, those who live alone or are housebound?  How about a pet?

Older Man Hugging a CatIn a three-year study at Baker Medical Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, of almost six thousand people, pet owners had lower blood pressure, triglyceride and cholesterol levels than non-smokers.  Pets have a calming effect.  People with pets do a better job of recovering from serious illness or injury and managing chronic conditions.  Pets depend on us to take care of them and to love them.  All of this takes attentions away from ourselves.  We are not only a source of love and comfort to our pets, but all that love and comfort is returned unconditionally.

Especially for the elderly, disabled, terminally ill, long term care residents or caregivers, the gift of touch is the most powerful healing you can offer another and give to yourself.  So what’s stopping you?  Start hugging!  It’s free and so easy to give. 

 

Advertisements

Baby Boomer Tsunami

I had the pleasure of being the guest on Hello, Dr. CJ’s radio program today and we had a very informative discussion on baby boomers and assisted living.  If you are struggling with a declining loved one or are in need of assisted living yourself, please click the link below and listen in.  You will hear some very insightful advice!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/hellodrcj/2013/04/05/hello-dr-cj-whats-life-about#.UV9eES4lku0.facebook

Hello Dr. CJ

How Do I Know It’s Time For Assisted Living?

KissingCouple_000These are a few of the most important questions I ask families when we are conducting an evaluation on a client that may need assisted living.  If you are still unsure as to whether they need in-home care or an assisted living setting, please feel free to call me to discuss the situation.  With just one phone call, I can help inform you on your options and possibly help with any necessary resources.  (480) 419-4202   http://www.assistedlivingadvantage.com

If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, it is time to consider assisted living…

Can they respond appropriately in an emergency to help themselves or others?

Do you worry that they can no longer determine if they are in danger and would not know how to react appropriately?  For instance, if there were a fire in the home, would they alert everyone, call 911 and get out?  If you are a married couple and you are the caregiver, do you trust that your spouse would be able to assist you and get help if you had a heart attack or some other catastrophic incident?

Do they need 24/7 care?

If this is the case, it is obvious that they need assistance.  However, do you understand that the costs of bringing 24-hour care into a private home are often considerably more than moving them to an assisted living community?  It is in your best interests to understand the costs of all options available to you.

Are they able to manage their own medications?

If the answer is no, then this could be a life or death situation.  You don’t want to wait until they end up in the hospital because they overdosed or forgot to take a life-sustaining medication.  An option you would want to consider is a community that would manage their medications and make sure they are taking the proper dosages and at the scheduled times.

Are their cognitive skills such as the ability to reason or their judgment impaired?

Are they making decisions in their best interests?  Are they putting themselves in danger or vulnerable situations?

Is their short or long-term memory impaired?

This can greatly affect their quality of life, especially if they are living on their own.  It can also affect those around them when repeated phone calls are made for the same questions or emergency trips occur to check in with your loved one because they can’t remember if they’ve eaten, taken their meds, etc.

Are they frequently confused or afraid to be alone?

Do they swear that nobody has visited them in a long time when you know a family member was just there yesterday?  Are they oriented as to where they are and what day it is?  This could very well be memory loss.

Are they increasingly becoming isolated from social functions?

This is another question that could be related to memory loss.  Perhaps they can’t follow conversations at the dinner table any more so they refuse to go to family get-togethers.  Maybe they recognize the faces at their weekly Bridge game, but can’t remember the names, so they are embarrassed and quit going.  When a person becomes isolated, their physical and mental health declines much more rapidly.

Do they have an unsteady gait or frequent falls?

You don’t want to wait until there is a fall and they seriously injure themselves.  I’ve had clients that were fall risks but insisted on staying home because they hadn’t fallen yet.  Then they fall one day, end up in the hospital, only to be told that the injuries are severe enough they cannot go back home.  This is devastating!

Do they have an increasing need for help with bathing, dressing, or other personal activities?

Are they no longer able to cook, clean or shop without assistance?

Do they wear the same clothes over and over again?  Are their clothes dirty?

With assisted living, these will all be taken care of for them.  They will be able to have help with their personal hygiene, laundry and housekeeping.  Meals will be provided for them and they won’t have to worry about cooking or grocery shopping.

It’s always difficult to suggest to a person that they are no longer able to care for themselves and that they need to move to an assisted living community.  But trust me, their safety and well-being must come first.  With these questions, you can rest assured that you are evaluating critical issues and warning signs and should be able to discuss them with you loved one, their doctor or anyone else involved in their care and reach the right decision!

Trip For Caregivers Is Offered

There was an important announcement in the Arizona Republic today for all local AZ caregivers.

Caregivers who need some time off can take advantage of a low-cost weekend at a rustic church camp in Show Low on June 1-3.

A $34 fee covers all food, lodging and activities.

Participants will carpool June 1 in Mesa.

For more information, call Tina Coffman at 480-464-1061 or 480-969-9582.

Programs For Family Caregivers Of Those With Dementia Or Memory Loss

The Alzheimer’s Association’s local chapter has announced several free programs designed for family caregivers of people in any stage of dementia or individuals who are in the early stages of memory loss and their care partners.

The Desert Southwest Chapter has shared this valuable information with me and I would like to pass it along to those in the State of Arizona.  However, for anyone throughout the United States, The Alzheimer’s Association is a fantastic resource for support and information.    For more information on any of these programs, please call (602) 528-0545.

Connections Plus:  This program is intended to empower people with early dementia through social connections with each other.  Connections refers to individual matches between a person with early stage memory loss with another person who is also in the early stage, to facilitate one-to-one informal social interactions and support.  Plus refers to scheduled group social outings in the community for participants in the program and their care partners.

Early Stage Partners In Care – EPIC:  This program is intended to assist people with early stage memory loss and their care partners by providing free early stage related education and training workshops designed to reduce stress.  The EPIC program is a series of seven workshops (one a week for seven weeks) for people in the early stages of dementia or memory loss and their care partner.  Participants will learn about early stage memory loss and its impact; how to mange concerns, stress, and distress; how to prepare for changes because of memory loss; and how to stay engaged and plan for the future.  This program is researched based out of ASU.  Theis program is intended for people in the very early stages of dementia and their care partners.

Care Partners Reaching Out – CarePRO:  This program comprises of workshops and support calls to teach family caregivers the skills to handle the stress and frustration related to caregiving.  Five workshops are held over ten weeks (one every other week).  Respite and transportation assistance may be available to assist caregivers attend the workshops.  This program is for caregivers without the person they are caring for.  To be eligible, caregivers must provide at least four hours of supervision or direct assistance per day for a family member with dementia or memory problems.  Please not that the workshops are intended for family caregivers, not caregiving professionals.  Caregivers will learn about dementia and its impact; how to manage frustration, irritation, and stress; how to communicate with their loved one; and how caregivers can take better care of their own health.  This program is researched based out of ASU.

Please call Mindy at  (602) 528-0545, extension 210 for more information or to start the enrollment process!

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

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