North Central 8

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Are you an Invisible Patient?

“Are you an Invisible Patient”

After reading “Seeing the Invisible Patient” in the New York Times (11/17/2014, Jane Gross), I realize that caregivers are often invisible patients.  A caregiver often cares for others because it is what is expected.  Regularly it is the doctor, nurse, and home health workers that fail to recognize the warning signs that the caregiver is overburden, stressed and needing support and help.

The caregiver is often overwhelmed and immobilized with responsibility, which results in self- neglect.  Doctor appointments are dismissed, they eat on the run, sleep deprived, depressed, and lack of social interactions.  This results in their suffering in silence, which is not intentional; it is a way of life.  If the caregiver does not take care of themselves and get the support they need silent suffering may eventually culminate in a major catastrophic illness.

You may ask “How do I take care of myself and get the support I need?”  Great question!  First, keep your doctor and dental appointments (you must stay healthy).  Take your medications as ordered.  Exercise on a regular basis-walking IS a form of exercise.  Have a list handy of things friends and family can help you with.  For example: they can sit with your loved one once a week while you go to lunch with a friend, church, go shopping, doctor appointments, cut the grass, mail packages, etc.

Secondly, keep a journal and take it with you to their doctor appointments.   This will help you remember behaviors or situations that are difficult to manage.  Be sure to note time of day, new medications, or increased stimulation to give a clearer picture.  Ask your medical team for resources to help at home.   There are respite services available to provide you with the needed break to get refreshed.

Letting people know what you need will EMPOWER you, lighten your burden, decrease feelings of loneliness and relieve symptoms of depression.  You will be invisible no more.

Editor’s Note:  Submitted by Valerie Taylor, RN, BSN, CEO and founder; Elder Placement/Referral Specialist for South Texas Alternative Choice, LLC.  She may be reached at 210-239-1167, or visit her on the web at www.gostac.com

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Dementia…Now What?

Dementia…Now What? 

Dementia appears to be the new cancer for the 21st century.  Although there are different types of dementia such as Alzheimer’s, Vascular dementia, Lewy body, etc. they all share a common problem …Memory Loss.

What do you do when you get the diagnosis?  No secrets.  Talking about the diagnosis helps the family support the person and allows them to be active in their care.  It is common for depression to set in.  Many issues must be considered such as driving, continued work, safety issues at home, etc.

Can I care for my loved one at home?  You certainly can!  However, keep in mind as a caregiver you must care for yourself!  Caregiving can be very stressful.  A senior center that specializes in memory care can be a helpful activity for those with moderate dementia.  Resources such as the Alzheimer’s Association offer valuable advice for difficult behaviors and classes to increase your knowledge about the disease. Personal attendant services are available to give you the much needed caregiving relief.

What options do I have for placement?  The stage of dementia will determine the most appropriate placement.  In the early stages, home may be the best place.  During the middle stages, a Memory Care Unit or a Residential Care Home may be appropriate.  In the final stages of the dementia when more care is required, a Residential Care Home for more personalized care or a Nursing Home may be the most appropriate placement.

Advanced planning?  Advanced Directives are written instructions the individual wants to have happen for future medical care if a person becomes too ill to make decisions.  Power of Attorney (Medical/Financial) allows people to make decisions for your loved one when they cannot.  Hospice is an end of life service.  However, a person does not have to be ready to pass, to benefit from their services.  Hospice is there to support your loved one in their health decline with their team of doctors, nurses, aides, chaplain’s, etc.

Finally, you are not alone.  Make the choice and allow others to join and support you on your road less travelled.  

 

Editor’s Note:  Submitted by Valerie Taylor, RN, BSN, CEO and founder;Elder Placement/Referral Specialist for South Texas Alternative Choice, LLC.  She may be reached at 210-239-1167, or visit her on the web at www.gostac.com

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South Texas Alternative Choice supports the Alzheimer’s Association

The mission
To eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s™ is the nation’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, this inspiring event calls on participants of all ages and abilities to reclaim the future for millions. Together, we can end Alzheimer’s disease, the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death.

 

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Trading Places: 5 Tips to Parenting Your Parents

What do you remember about your parents?   Their strength and ability to endure; keeping things together regardless of the circumstance; and always knowing the right answer? Regardless, they did a great job raising you!  As an adult your life is filled with responsibilities, a demanding career, children in college, and looking forward to the day when it is just you and your spouse-no parental responsibilities-the good life.

 Then…you get THE call from a neighbor or the doctor about your PARENT/s!  The conflict begins whether the issues are medical or memory; you are thrust into a new arena of life “Parenting your Parents”.  It is not a science but an art form like doing the tango.  There is no step by step blue print that can be followed to make the job easy.  This is On the Job Training at its best!
These are issues that cannot be avoided.  The issues may be met with some resistance but the reality is we can not ignore the elephant in the living room.

Now What?

  1. Anticipate an immediate or near future living situation change. Don’t beat yourself up if you choose not to be the caregiver.  Be the best family member you can be and visit often.  If they are able to live independently encourage the investment in a first alert system.
  2.  Learn all you can about the illness your loved one is experiencing.  This will help you understand what to expect.  Join a support group.
  3. Have the TALK…it is a must to talk about the hard stuff like a Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney, burial arrangements, who gets what, finances and financing their care.
  4. Listen and allow your parents to express their fears and concerns. Trading places is not easy for them either.  Acceptance of their feelings will bring you into a closer relationship with them.
  5. If you have become the primary caregiver, remember to take care of yourself.  You are only as effective as your health allows.  Remember on an airplane when the oxygen drops, put your mask on first so you can help the one next to you.

Trading places is not easy and can be inconvenient at times.  Remember it is not forever.  As your parents did the best they could for you, be the best you can be for them.  Finally, allow others to join you on your road less travelled as an effective and loving caregiver.

Submitted by Valerie Taylor, RN, BSN, Senior Placement/Referral Specialist for South Texas Alternative Choice, LLC.  She can be reached at 210-239-1167 ext. 801 or visit her on the web at www.gostac.com

(March 2012)

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