Community Stress-Busting Program for Family Care Givers

Do you provide care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia?  You are not alone!

Please click the flyer link below for more information on this valuable training program that will help teach family caregivers invaluable stress management, relaxation, and coping strategies.

Click here to view the flyer (PDF)

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Is It Time To Move?

Is it time to Move?

When is living alone not an option?  This is the question many families are asking themselves today about their loved ones.  The following may help you decide if living alone should be reconsidered.

Needing assistance in areas of daily living (cooking, bathing, and dressing) does not mean you must move from your home.  You can have caregiver services come into your home to help.  However, feelings of loneliness and depression; forgetting to take medications; inability to move through your home safely; your inability to clean and do laundry; and/or lack of nearby family with whom you regularly interact with; may be indications that it is time to move to a more helpful setting.

Moving may be a good choice but where to go may be a challenge.  Your choices may include living with a relative, moving to an assisted living facility or a nursing home.  While these may be good choices for some, what is the best choice for you?  Something smaller, more personal, with 24/7 on staff care may be just right for your loved one.  Residential assisted living and personal care homes are small, providing personalized attention in a home like setting.

These residential living homes range from older residents who need meals prepared and a safe place to live, to those who may need help with bathing and medication monitoring.  As the resident ages, their needs change.  The home is able to personalize their attention; therefore the resident is able to age in place.  The residential home provides the resident with loving and lasting relationships that includes their family.

Regardless of what your need, there is a home that is right for you.  An elder placement specialist from STAC can help evaluate your needs and choices. Whether you require a large facility or a small home, you can walk your road less traveled with confidence knowing you have someone to walk beside you.

Written by Valerie Taylor, RN, BSN

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Memory Checklist

This questionnaire will determine if your loved one may have some form of dementia.  You must answer all eleven questions.  Your answers do not mean the person has Alzheimer’s disease, but that a doctor’s visit is needed for the proper diagnosis.  The results of this questionnaire should be shared with the MD.

1.  Does the person often repeat him or herself or ask the same questions over and over?

Yes  No  Don’t know

2.  Is the person more forgetful or having problems with short-term memory?

Yes  No  Don’t know

3.  Does the person need reminders to do things like chores, shopping or taking medications?

Yes   No  Don’t know

4.  Does the person forget appointments, family occasions, or holidays?

Yes  No  Don’t know

5.  Does he/she seem sad, down in the dumps, or cry more often than in the past?

Yes  No  Don’t know

6. Is the person having problems doing calculations, managing finances, or balancing the checkbook?

Yes  No  Don’t know

7.  Has he/she lost interest in his/her activities such as hobbies, reading, attending church or other social activities?

Yes  No  Don’t know

8.  Has the person started needing help eating, dressing, bathing, or using the bathroom?

Yes  No  Don’t know

9.  Has he/she become irritable, agitated, suspicious, or started seeing, hearing or believing things that are not real?

Yes  No  Don’t know

10.   Are there concerns about his/her driving?  For example getting lost or driving unsafely, or has had to stop driving?  If the person has never driven, answer “no”.

Yes  No  Don’t know

11.   Does the person have trouble finding the words he/she wants to say, finishing  sentences, or naming people or things?

Yes  No  Don’t know

Totals:     Yes No Don’t know

Be sure to take this test and a list of questions with you when you take the client to the doctor’s office.  The test may help the doctor make a diagnosis.  In addition to this test, the doctor will ask for a complete medical history.  The doctor will usually do a physical examination and lab tests.  The MD may order an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), a CT (computerized tomography) scan or additional memory tests.  Ask the questions that matter the most to you first.  Be open and honest.  Don’t be afraid to ask for clearer answers from the doctor, when necessary.  The doctor may order new medications for the client.

Computer Link for Test:

http://www.alzheimersconcern.com/memory1.php

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Caring at a Distance

Living in a mobile society, we often do not live where we grew up.  Mom, dad or other loved ones may live across the country when emergencies arise.  Relocating them at these times may not be practical or they may refuse.  So, what do you do?  How do you care for a loved one at a distance?

Jim Comer, “Parenting your Parents” stated, “Your parents may stretch your comfort zone, test your patience and strain your diplomatic skills.”  However, through a network of services, you can find appropriate long term care and provider/agencies for your loved one.  Services provided by an elder attorney, a geriatric care manager, geriatric specialty doctor, home health and hospice agencies, in-home assistance/companion services, and a placement specialist are available to assist you.

Some good ideas for distant caring from the National Institute on Aging include:

  • Learn as much as you can about your loved one’s illness and treatment.  This will help when talking with the doctor and making necessary medical decisions.  Be sure there is a designated person responsible for medical and financial information.  Discuss and complete an advanced directive to know your loved one’s wishes before a crisis occurs.
  • Plan regular visits to be aware of declining memory or deterioration in health.  If you are not available, have a relative or neighbor keep you posted on your loved one’s well being. Be sure they have important emergency numbers.
  • Regular contact with doctors, assisted living facility team or nursing home staff will keep you informed with up to date information about your loved one’s health and progress.

( A copy of “So Far Away: Twenty Questions for Long-Distance Caregiver” can be obtained free of charge National Institute on Aging Information Center, P.O. Box 8057, Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057, www.nia.nih.gov)

As Long distance care giving becomes more common, there are those who can assist you as you journey on your road less travelled.  There is comfort knowing you’re not walking alone.

Submitted by Valerie Taylor, BSN, RN, Elder Care Specialist for South Texas Alternative Choice, LLC.

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So, what’s the Scoop about Residential Home Care?

Residential home care is becoming a great choice for families wanting more   personalized care for their loved one.

What makes this a great choice?    One provider said “Your loved one will get the care they rightly deserve.”   Let’s look at three areas:  1) Community 2) Medical Issues and 3) Hospice and end of life issues.

Residential care homes are a smaller community more like home.  Moving your loved one from their home is a big adjustment, but easier when changing their address from one home environment to another.  The larger environment can cause anxiety to those with memory issues as they are faced with the challenge of navigating to the dining room and back, confused with dealing with new staff as shift changes; waiting for assistance to the bathroom, or needing assist to change a brief.  The cost of service is usually less than the larger facility and no need for a personal attendant.

One on one interaction with staff helps the resident maintain the highest level of mental function and decreases depression, allowing them to participate in the everyday activities in the home.  To keep the residents oriented to their surroundings, the family is encouraged to bring familiar items such as pictures, a favorite chair, and a bed.

The kitchen and home cooked meals are just steps away.  Fresh fruits and veggies are a hallmark of the homes whereby keeping the residents regular.

Complex medical issues may not have to be treated at a long term care facility (evaluated individually).  Most homes use a physician service which serves to decrease trips to the doctor office.  Rehabilitation services, X-ray, blood draws, podiatry, etc., are available in the homes.

Finally, end of life issues and hospice.  Hospice is a wonderful service that assists individuals face end of life with dignity and respect.  They are a welcomed service to the homes, assisting individuals during their end of life journey.  This allows residents to continue to age in place with the providers they have come to love and trust without having to move to another facility.

Residential home care truly is a wonderful choice that can meet individual needs so your loved one will continue to age gracefully, with dignity and honor.

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