Posts Tagged ‘Family Caregivers’

How Can I Tell if my Dad has Alzheimer’s?

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Does Dad Have Alzheimer’s disease?

“I’m so worried about my Dad. He is forgetting things lately and seems confused. How can I find out if he has Alzheimer’s? And if he does have it, what do I do?”

As a geriatric care manager, I frequently receive calls just like this. Fear of the unknown can be the most troublesome part of caring for someone you love when they begin to demonstrate changes in behavior. The following information can decrease your stress and help you ensure that mom and dad get the best care possible.

Each year a million people start a mental decline called mild cognitive impairment (MCI) with memory loss somewhere between normal aging and Alzheimer’s. Although Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in the U.S., there are many reasons why someone’s memory can decline. Some of these causes are treatable. Generally, Alzheimer’s disease has a gradual onset of symptoms over months to years and a worsening of cognition. If the memory loss or confusion comes on quickly, this could indicate that something other than Alzheimer’s is going on. You’ll want to ask for a thorough evaluation by someone who specializes in memory impairment as a first step – this could be a psychiatrist, neurologist or a geriatrician.

The evaluation will include testing for conditions that look similar to dementia – but aren’t, such as:

  • Delirium (sudden onset confusion due to infection, medication, acute illness)
  • Depression (which can sometimes include memory problems)
  • Thyroid problems, metabolic abnormalities (abnormal glucose and calcium, kidney and liver failure)
  • Vitamin B 12 deficiency, symptoms of a progressing chronic disease (low oxygenation due to lung disease, anemia or heart disease).
  • Urinary tract infection (the symptoms of which can appear like dementia).

Imaging the brain can also be helpful to check for a tumor, stroke, or increased pressure on the brain. These tests can help determine the cause of memory loss, and if it’s treatable.

Once dementia is confirmed, the next step is to determine whether it is Alzheimer’s. (There are different kinds of dementia, other causes of memory loss and then there are declines that are still considered “normal aging.”) If it is Alzheimer’s, there are medications that might be helpful in slowing the progress of the disease. People with Alzheimer’s may do better in the long term if they have early intervention. And do stay in touch with your loved one. If they exhibit any of the behaviors listed here [http://www.agingpro.com/articles/article.php?id=10126], it may be time to consider getting them live-in help or moving them to an assisted living facility.

This may be a difficult time, but there is information and loving support available for you and your loved ones. There are books, support groups, websites, geriatric care managers and others who have gone through this before you to guide you every step of the way.

Remember, take care of yourself!

Alzheimer’s Disease: Share your caregiving story!

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Are you caring for someone with ALZHEIMER’S disease? SHARE YOUR STORY! I’m creating a documentary series about the affects of Alzheimer’s disease on caregivers, and families. I’m offering free professional assistance for those willing to share their story! Please be a part of raising awareness of this mind-blowing disease. Thank you!

10 Tips to Successful Caregiving

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

10 Tips to Successful Caregiving

1)  Learn About the Resources Available to You. Consult books, websites, workshops and eldercare professionals. (Hint: You can find leads to many of these, including the latest caregiving information, at our website, www.agingpro.com.)
2)  Educate Yourself About Any Disease Involved. Education can relax your fears and give you clarity and strength.
3)  Take Care of Yourself First. Maintain your own physical and emotional health.  Avoid caregiver burnout – your family needs the caregivers to be healthy!
4) Learn Caregiving Techniques. Learn about topics such as: communication and organizational skills, managing the physical needs of your loved one, safety and emergency preparedness.
5)  Exercise Your Sense of Humor. Smile. You can go through difficult situations laughing or crying. If it’s going to be funny later, it can be funny now.
6)  Communicate with Doctors. Get to know your loved one’s physicians.  Ask questions, express concerns and discuss treatment options.
7)  Keep a Positive Focus. We can’t think positive all the time, but holding a positive focus about the strengths of your loved one and the blessings in the situation will help your attitude and emotions to stay “up.”
8)  Discuss the Situation With your Loved Ones.  Support and honesty are essential in navigating long term care.
9)  Look for the Blessings.  You might be surprised at the hidden gifts that caregiving brings – keep your eyes open. You find what you focus upon.
10) Ask for Help. You don’t have to be alone. www.AgingPro.com offers many free resources for caregiver support nationwide, to assist you.

Family Caregivers are Answering Obama’s Call to Service

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Are you making you making your community or world a better place by being of service? President Obama has made national service an important cause – and wants to make it possible for all Americans to serve their country.

34 million family caregivers have already been answering Obama’s call to service. A study by AARP (“Valuing the Invaluable”) shows that family caregiving the U.S. reached $375 billion in 2007.  That exceeds the $311 spent by Medicaid last year!

Family caregivers also give an average of $5,531 of their own money to care for their parents. They tend to struggle with physical and financial issues of their own, and be more stressed.

Many times, family caregivers could use to be of greater service to themselves, while taking care of others.  Access to needed resources, self-care and health promotion and having a support system to talk to about the challenges of caregiving is critical.  www.AgingPro.com offers the national resources, education and community to help caregivers reduce stress and increase peace of mind.

Family caregivers – thank you for your service!