Taking care of concerns, such as a family member’s safety, nutrition and health, can be difficult when you live in another city, state or country. But getting organized and being prepared can go a long way in helping coordinate care from a distance.
Taking care of concerns, such as a family member’s safety, nutrition and health, can be difficult when you live in another city, state or country. But getting organized and being prepared can go a long way in helping coordinate care from a distance.
Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease affect millions of people worldwide. Alzheimer’s disease alone afflicts more than 5 million Americans and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Biomedical investigators have long tried to understand why certain brain regions are vulnerable to neurodegenerative diseases but not others. Dr. Marc Diamond believes he may have found the answer: understanding how the tau protein aggregates in brain cells. Read more about Dr. Diamond and his team’s research at UT Southwestern here.
Caring for a loved one or family member can be physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging. But you are not alone. Our Family Caregiver Support Group is a safe place where members can share experiences, insights, advice and encouragement.
Lisa Shardon, Home Health Companions president and Aging Life Care™ certified professional, will lead the Family Caregiver Support Group in various caregiving topics each month, along with ways for caregivers to respond to a loved one needs. If you are searching for resources in caring for a spouse or family, this is the place for you.
Join us the first Friday of each month from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Space is limited. Please call (214) 295-8213 to reserve your spot.
Friday, July 7
Friday, August 4
Friday, September 1
Friday, October 6
Friday, November 3
Friday, December 1
Cancer never strikes at a good time, but for Seth Goldsmith and his wife, the diagnosis occurred at a particularly poignant moment — their twentieth wedding anniversary.
For the next five and a half years, Seth and Sandra struggled with hope, disappointment, fifty hospital admissions, two other major surgeries, countless minor procedures, and two changes of physicians. And throughout those years until her death, they had to function as a family; work, pay bills, go to school, be effective parents to two teenage son, assist aging parents and a disabled sibling—in other words, live life. For significant periods during those years, Seth became Sandra’s primary caregiver.
We all want to stay in our own homes for as long as we can. However, it’s not always in their best interest to do so. How do we talk with family members about the realities and dangers of staying at home once health is failing, and how do we convince them that a move to an assisted living center could be a very good, and positive option?
Admitting the need for help and accepting assistance is not easy for people as they age. The responsibility often falls on family members to recognize the signs that an aging loved one might need support in completing daily living tasks.
How do you know if it is time for in-home care? Look for the red flags listed below.
A recent survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education found that seven in 10 adults say they have difficulty talking to their families about who will make financial decisions for an aging family member who loses the ability to safely handle their money.
Part of the problem is the aging parent. Many elders have an attitude of secrecy about their financial situation. Deeply ingrained attitudes are not going to change. You need to work with them, by offering reassurance that you are not trying to take advantage of your parents, or take control over their lives. Reaching this emotional level in the conversation works far better than making an argument that “it’s time, and you’re getting old”. That line just might exacerbate their fears of losing control over their lives. Secrecy is often based in these fears.
Each year over 43 million Americans provide unpaid care to a family member, usually a parent. But caregivers should carefully consider their own financial situation before they chose to leave the workforce to care for a family member.
Most of the time adult children can manage medical appointments and financial obligations. Often, the caregiving required extends beyond this investment. What most caregivers usually don’t consider is the financial impact caregiving has on their own monthly budget and retirement funds.
University of Michigan researcher Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy, a professor of chemistry and biophysics, made a breakthrough in his research on age-related diseases, and he and his team have received a grant from National Institutes of Health to conduct further studies.
The team has discovered a protein that appears to be significantly linked to the cell death that causes memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients. They are working on discovering how this protein and the cell’s membrane interact to cause this cell death.
It may seem as though Parkinson’s disease (PD) and art cannot coexist. Engaging in art-related activities has been shown to help people with PD feel less isolated and be able to fully express themselves.
How can people diagnosed with a disease marked by limb tremors and muscle rigidity be drawn to creative pursuits that require on hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity?
Numerous studies have shown art and the disease share an intimate, if obscure, interconnection. Many clinics and adult day centers have adopted various forms of art therapy programs for people living with PD. Painting in particular is now recognized as one of the most effective art therapy programs in the world for people with Parkinson’s.
Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the U.S. It affects more than a million people, and that number is expected to double by 2030. For the last several years, research and testing with dopaminergic drugs has revealed a few surprises.
The real-life people living these seemingly singular situations have one surprising thing in common: Parkinson’s disease.
Do you or a loved one with Parkinson’s disease (PD) feel physically or mentally exhausted? This could be fatigue — a feeling of deep tiredness that has no apparent explanation, and does not improve with rest. About half of people with Parkinson’s disease report that fatigue is a major problem, and a third say it is their single most disabling symptom.
Fatigue is common early in the course of PD, but it can occur at any point and can happen whether movement symptoms are mild or severe. It is sometimes confused with other symptoms that can make a person sleepy or tired, like sleep disturbances or pain. Fatigue also is a symptom of depression, but a person can be fatigued without being depressed. Stress can make fatigue worse.
Parkinson’s disease patients are known to be at a higher risk of falling, due to the changes in the brain caused by the disease. A recent study found that exercise may be beneficial in preventing future falls.
Researchers found that 25% of recently-diagnosed Parkinson’s patients suffer a fall in their first year of living with the disease. The finding is a surprise because one would think falls would increase during later stages of the disease.
Memory trouble, excessive sleeping, decreased interest in hobbies and activities, social withdrawal—all of these are symptoms often exhibited by a person who is suffering from depression.
They also happen to be hallmark signs of many dementias, including the two most common forms: Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
The undeniable connection between these depression and dementia has ignited a firestorm of research in recent years. Much of the scientific debate centers on a quintessential chicken and egg dilemma—which comes first: depression, or dementia? Can being diagnosed with dementia cause someone to become depressed, or is depression a harbinger of cognitive impairment to come?
As any veteran caregiver can attest, dementia has a nasty way of making a difficult situation even more challenging.
So, when you combine dementia and depression together in a single elderly loved one, it can be especially hard for a concerned family member to know how to make things better.
Anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety medications—which of these (if any) is right for an aging adult with depression and dementia? Is there a way that I can I help my loved one without putting them on high doses of medication?
Does pain cause depression, or does depression cause pain? Many research studies have been conducted trying to establish and analyze the connection between pain and depression. A review of several of these studies concluded (in part) that there was more pain found in those seeking help with depression and more depression in those seeking help with pain than when either condition was examined individually.
The two common medical conditions frequently occur together, respond to similar treatments, share the same brain chemistry pathways, and can become worse when not treated as co-existing diagnoses. In spite of this, underlying depression is seldom recognized by the physician or the patient when pain is the reason for the office visit.
Have you ever agonized over what gift to give your mom or dad or elderly relative? If you’re like most of us, then the answer is: Yes. I remember so clearly wondering what to buy, so I put it off because I didn’t know—and Bob, (my former father-in-law who I cared for) already had everything, not to mention that he didn’t do much of anything, so what could I possibly give? I would give anything now if I had just one more birthday or holiday to shop for him. Sometimes lessons come to us when it’s too late.
I am here to tell you—it doesn’t matter. Stop agonizing and enjoy the process of giving a gift to someone you love. It doesn’t matter if your gift never gets used. It doesn’t matter if you don’t receive accolades for the gift. What matters is the giving. What matters is a beautifully wrapped gift which speaks LOVE.
When families live far away from one another, the holidays may be the only opportunity that long-distance caregivers and family members have to personally observe older relatives. Age-related decline can happen quickly. Family members who haven’t seen their aging loved one since last year may be shocked at what they see: a formerly healthy father looking startingly frail, or a mom whose home was once well-kept now in disarray.
And the number of caregivers considered long distance is significant. According to a study conducted by the National Alliance of Caregiving, in collaboration with AARP, 15% of the estimated 34 million Americans who provide care to older family members live an hour or more away from their relative.
The holidays are meant to be a joyous time for families to gather and celebrate. As we head into this holiday season, these usually happy occasions can be challenging for families with aging parents and loved ones.
Older adults with mobility issues, or conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s can start to feel isolated during the holiday season when everyone is getting together for celebrations and family visits. The holidays can disrupt familiar routines, or may require difficult travel, which can sometimes make an aging individual feel like a burden.
Season greetings! I’m Mary Blazek, M.D., a geriatric psychiatrist at the University of Michigan. I specialize in care of people with dementia and their families.
As we head into the season of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and the New Year, I’ve observed that family members can be surprised that what were once joyful holiday traditions can be distressing or taxing for a person with dementia. I thought it might be helpful to share some of my experience in successful approaches to the holidays.
Changes in posture and gait (walking pattern) are common with aging. The skeleton provides support and structure to the body. Joints are the areas where bones come together. They allow the skeleton to be flexible for movement. In a joint, bones do not directly contact each other. Instead, they are cushioned by cartilage in the joint, synovial membranes around the joint, and fluid.
Muscles provide the force and strength to move the body. Coordination is directed by the brain but is affected by changes in the muscles and joints. Changes in the muscles, joints, and bones affect the posture and walk, and lead to weakness and slowed movement.
We are in the middle of an opioid epidemic. Nearly 25.3 million adults suffer from daily (chronic) pain, according to the CDC. Yet a large number of patients, many of them seniors, need help managing pain. Are there alternatives to these medications, which may cause addiction and dangerous side effects?
Physical therapy is one of the non-opioid alternatives recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in recently released guidelines that urge prescribers to reduce the use of opioids for most long-term pain management. The guidelines indicate that while prescription opioids are appropriate in certain cases (such as cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care), non-opioid approaches are preferred, given the damaging potential side effects of opioids, which include depression, overdose, and addiction, plus withdrawal symptoms when stopping use.
Osteoarthritis, by far the most common form of arthritis among older people, is a condition brought on partly by aging and long-term wear-and-tear in the joints. After years of use, the cartilage that cushions the joints can break down until bone rubs against bone. Spurs often grow on the sides of the affected bones, which only adds to the pain.
Osteoarthritis is rarely crippling, but it can have a major impact on a person’s life. Many people miss work days or skip favorite activities when the pain flares up. The condition is responsible for more than 7 million doctor visits per year and is the number one reason for joint-replacement surgery.
Osteoporosis (Degenerative Arthritis), or porous bone, is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, leading to frail bones and an increased risk of fractures of the hip, spine, and wrist. Men as well as women are affected by osteoporosis, a disease that can be prevented and treated.
Once a diagnosis is made, the first question that comes to mind is, “What type of treatment is available?” Is there medication? Is there a cure? These are common concerns once dementia enters the picture.
Although current medications cannot cure Alzheimer’s (AD) or stop it from progressing, they may help lessen symptoms in some people, such as memory loss and confusion, for a limited time.
We have gathered information from the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institute on Aging regarding drugs that are approved by the FDA to treat AD.
Whether indulging in a morning cup of coffee, or going for a lunchtime walk around the block, daily routines provide us with a sense of comfort and control over our otherwise hectic existences. The relieving nature of a regular routine can be even more potent for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
People suffering from memory loss “thrive on familiarity,” says Holly Hart, L.V.N., director of residential health services at Claremont Manor, a CCRC in Claremont, California. “Familiar faces, a familiar environment, even familiar food—anything they can use as a touchstone.” This comforting sense of familiarity is so helpful because dementia gradually impairs a person’s ability to plan, initiate and complete an activity.
It is instinctive for humans to want a roadmap or some sort of guide to help get us through a journey or a difficult situation. Where is the next turn? What is the next step? It is a basic human thought pattern. We strive to know what lies ahead to help ensure that we are adequately prepared.
After we find out that a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or any other disease, it is only natural to explore the subject with some research. What can we expect and when can we expect it?
If the healthcare industry tracked the costs of addressing medication related problems (MRPs) it would be the fourth most costly “disease” after cancer, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease. This cost reflects only the direct healthcare costs, those costs paid directly to prescribers, hospitals, rehab/emergency care/ long-term care services and for medications, anything billed or paid for by the healthcare system and consumer.
Caregivers and seniors often find themselves inundated with messages touting the benefits of this cancer detection test, or that diagnostic exam.
And, for those over 65, Medicare offers about a dozen free screenings—from bone density measurements to mammograms.
But, are all those tests really necessary?
The honest answer to this vital question is, regrettably, very complex.
Many health organizations, including, the American Cancer Society (ACS), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), use age-based cut-offs to determine recommendations for certain screenings.
In the interest of promoting more robust discourse around the importance of regular vaccinations for serious but preventable contagious conditions, MHA@GW is hosting a guest post series in honor of National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). AgingCare.com has paired with MHA@GW to encourage people of all ages to receive the proper vaccinations in order to protect their health and others’. Read more about this project here.
For many people, the topic of vaccinations evokes childhood memories of anxious trips to the doctor for shots. However, keeping up with recommended vaccine schedules through adulthood and old age is just as imperative as receiving those initial doses in childhood.
Over the span of two decades, author, columnist, consultant and speaker Carol Bradley Bursack cared for a neighbor and six elderly family members. Her experiences inspired her to pen, “Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories,” a portable support group book for caregivers. In this post, she interviewed Kathryn Kilpatrick for insight into aphasia. Kathryn has been a speech-language pathologist for over four decades and is the author of the popular 5-volume Therapy Guides for Language and Speech Disorders workbooks.
The only experience I’ve had with the speech and language problem called aphasia was after my uncle had a series of strokes. This was a man who had lived for reading and word games. The worst part of watching him struggle to find words was that he knew the words he found were wrong. He was not only frustrated, but humiliated too.
When it comes to stroke recovery, the healing power of music may have its roots in rhythm and long-term memory, according to recent research.
For people who have lost their powers of speech due to a stroke, regaining the ability to talk can be a daunting task. Occupational therapists use a variety of different methods to help stroke sufferers speak again.
Many of us are coping with elders who can no longer communicate. Whether from a stroke, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or for some other reason, they have lost their ability to talk or seemingly respond in any manner to their loved one’s efforts to communicate.
Caregivers want to communicate with them, but when they visit their elder and see them in this non-responsive mode, they tend to sit there uncomfortably watching the clock – putting in time, so to speak. There’s a feeling, for many of, “what’s the use?”
As people age, their diets may need to change, especially if their diets are not well-balanced. Generally, doctors will recommend a well-balanced diet for older adults, meaning that they should eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins and whole grains to maintain and improve overall health. According to Ruth Frechman, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, in addition to eating a healthful variety of foods, there are specific things a caregiver can incorporate into their their loved one’s diet to boost his or her health.
Proper nutrition is vital to your parent for maintaining health, retaining and building bone mass and, importantly, to enable medications to work effectively in the body — and possibly with fewer side effects.
But, what if Mom or Dad won’t eat whether properly, or won’t eat enough? This creates an added challenge to you as caregiver. There may be valid reasons that your parent may shy away from dining. As the caregiver, you want to uncover the reasons why your parent is not eating, and try to address the underlying issues. Here are 10 reasons why seniors sometimes don’t eat properly, according to the National Institutes of Health and its National Institute on Aging, plus augmented in one-on-one-interviews of professional caregivers.
While there is some small comfort in knowing that the pressures you feel are shared by many others, the bottom line to this very personal matter is simple: finding the time and services that can help make your life and the lives of your aging parents a little easier. As you care for your elder (either living with you or still in their own home); find the balance you need each day to continue to provide great care for your loved one and yourself.
In order to be appropriate for home health or hospice services paid for by any payor, including the Medicare Program, patients must either be able to care for themselves or they must have a primary caregiver. Patients’ family members or others may be willing to fulfill this role on a voluntary basis. If not, discharge planners/case managers should offer patients and/or their family members the option to pay privately for a primary caregiver who can meet patients’ needs in between visits from professional staff from home health agencies and hospices. These types of services may be referred to by post-acute providers as private duty home care services.
A stroke can happen to anyone and at any age, but, according to the American Stroke Association, 75 percent of all strokes in the U.S. occur in people over the age of 65. Stroke recovery can be especially daunting for family caregivers and can cause high levels of emotional, mental, and physical stress for both the stroke survivor and their caregiver, says the National Stroke Association.
To help a loved one get back on track quickly with less stress, you may want to look into temporary or longer-term assistance from a local licensed homecare agency, a skilled nursing provider, rehabilitation facility, and/or therapists. For example, when someone experiences a stroke, recovery often involves a family member, spouse or friend helping their loved one to communicate after a loss of speech or re-learn balance, movement and mobility skills with weakness or paralysis on one side of the body.
Each year in the United States, there are more than 700,000 new strokes. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the country, after heart disease and cancer. And stroke causes more serious long-term disabilities than any other disease. Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65. And the risk of having a stroke more than doubles each decade after the age of 55.
Due to advances in modern medicine, a stroke may not always be a life-threatening episode. The large majority of people who suffer from a stroke continue to live for 10 or more years.
However, stroke does often result in significant mental and physical limitations that produce a loss of function and significant reduction in the person’s quality of life. These changes may also adversely affect the quality of life for caregivers and other family members.
In many cases, the results of a stroke are chronic conditions that may change over time. Rehabilitation providers, including physical, occupational and speech therapists, can teach the patient how to improve flexibility, strength, balance and endurance. These therapists can also improve patients’ ability to walk, communicate and manage day-to-day life as their needs change over time. Rehabilitation is not only beneficial for the acute phase of recovery immediately following the stroke, but also helps as the patient and family adjust to any long-term effects a stroke may have.
Parkinson’s Disease is progressive and symptoms may come on in stages. Difficulties increase as the disease progresses. Learning how to continually adapt not only the home environment, but also daily living processes that take into consideration a gradual decline in health and abilities should be the main focus of caregivers.
Adapting the home environment to not only deal with the challenges that Parkinson’s disease presents, but also to everyday routines easier– such eating, bathing, and dressing helps to lengthen quality of life.
Shaky hands, an unsteady walk, limbs that unexpectedly freeze in place; these symptoms are practically synonymous with Parkinson’s disease (PD). It is a devastating and complex disease that interferes with movement. As it progresses, it produces a wide range of other problems. The neurological condition also has a lesser known (but no less challenging) symptom called Parkinson’s disease Psychosis.
“Parkinson’s disease psychosis is a common and very disabling non-motor feature of this disease, and patients have a substantial risk of eventually having this problem,” says Richard B. Dewey Jr., MD, professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics and Director of the Clinical Center for Movement Disorders at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Every person will probably take medicine at some point. As people accumulate medical problems, the number of medicines they take is likely to increase too.
Understanding your treatment is an important aspect of maintaining your overall health and well-being. And there are questions you need to ask your doctor to determine whether the benefits of taking your medicine outweighs the risk of taking it.
It is a concern many caregivers have: “Should I encourage my parents to get more help? The last time I visited, my mom seemed very confused, like she just wasn’t quite there. Dad didn’t seem to notice and didn’t want to talk about it when I asked him.”
If you do not see your parent often, changes in his or her health may seem dramatic. In contrast, the primary caregiver might not notice such changes, or realize that more help, medical treatment, or supervision is needed. Sometimes a geriatric care manager or other professional is the first to notice changes. For families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, it can be easier to “cover” for the patient—doing things for him or her, filling in information in conversations, and so on—than to acknowledge what is happening.
Sudden cardiac arrest may not be as sudden as doctors have thought, researchers report.
Roughly half of cardiac arrest patients experience telltale warning signs that their heart is in danger of stopping in the month preceding their attack, new study findings suggest.
Those symptoms can include any combination of chest pain and pressure, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and flu-like sensations (such as nausea, back pain and/or abdominal pain), the researchers said.
Medication doesn’t do much good when it never leaves the bottle. And yet the American Heart Association estimates that 12 percent of all Americans don’t take their medication after getting a prescription. Another 12 percent don’t fill their prescriptions in the first place. And many more quit getting refills: A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that five years after seniors were prescribed cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, only 26 percent of seniors were still taking them.
When it becomes clear that an older member of the family is no longer able to live alone entirely unassisted, that individual and family members may need to make care choices to improve the quality of life. It can be difficult to know what kinds of services are available in the community to provide that needed care. That’s where a geriatric care manager can be an lifeline for selecting the appropriate level of care.
A geriatric care manager is a valuable resource to help manage and balance concerns about the appropriate level of care when caring for aging family members get complicated. She can schedule in-home care assistance and communicate with all the family members on the care required.
Michelle Booth of Foster City, California, moved in with her parents 10 years ago, her three-year-old daughter in tow. Her parents were both in their late 70s, but they had the strength and the good health to be helpful, doting grandparents. That was years before her father suffered several strokes and before her mother developed Alzheimer’s disease.
Booth still lives with her parents, but she’s the one providing all the support. “They were a great source of help to me,” she says. “Now the roles are reversed.”
If you’re caring for a chronically ill or disabled friend or relative, you’ve joined one of the biggest — and most important — workforces in the country. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA), an estimated 44 million Americans have taken on this vital job. They fix meals, make doctor’s appointments, do the laundry, and generally make sure their frail or sick relatives or friends can live as well as possible for as long as possible.
Caregivers have every right to feel proud of their role. Without them, untold numbers of people would have to move to nursing homes or other facilities. Of all of the adults who receive long-term care at home, nearly 80 percent depend solely on the help of friends and family members. And without caregivers, the health care system would likely collapse from the financial burden. As reported by the FCA, it would cost over $375 billion each year to pay for the services that family caregivers provide for free.
As Americans get ready to visit family and friends over the upcoming holidays, a survey reveals experts’ top tips for overcoming a common and difficult family problem—aging parents resisting the help they need. Experts surveyed by the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) say that emphasizing to aging parents that receiving assistance can help them maintain self-sufficiency and continue living independently is the best strategy.
This release came on the heels of related findings from ALCA (formerly the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers), finding that 80% of care managers reported regularly encountering cases where seniors are resisting needed help or declining assistance from their children or loved ones. ALCA also reported that the three types of help aging life care professionals most often find seniors resisting or declining are: decisions about whether to continue driving (cited by 67% of those surveyed), getting needed home health care (62%), and assistance with household chores like cooking, shopping and cleaning (60%).