Archive for September 2011

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Alzheimer’s Caregivers: Ten Ways to Be a Healthier Caregiver

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

In my last post I listed ten signs of caregiver stress. Today I’m listing ten ways to address this stress and be a healthier caregiver, taken from the Alzheimer’s Association Website – www.Alz.org.

Please visit this site for a PDF brochure that contains far more detailed information about each of the ten items below. It also has a wallet card with the symptoms of stress so you can do a daily stress checkup. The other side of the card has the Alzheimer’s Association phone number to call for reliable information and support. (1-800-272-3900)

Ten Ways to Be a Healthier Caregiver

1. Understand what’s going on as soon as possible.

2. Know what community resources are available to you.

3. Become an educated caregiver.

4. Get help.

5. Take care of yourself.

6. Manage your level of stress.

7. Accept changes as they occur.

8. Make legal and financial plans.

9. Give yourself credit, not guilt.

10. Visit your doctor regularly.

Alzheimer’s Caregivers: Ten Signs of Caregiver Stress

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Today’s post of Ten Signs of Caregiver Stress Comes from the website of the Alzheimer’s Association (www.Alz.org). In my next post I’ll list ways to address stress and become a healthier caregiver.

If you experience any of these signs of stress on a regular basis, make time to talk to your doctor.

1. Denial about the disease and its effect on the person who’s been diagnosed. “I know mom’s going to get better.”

2. Anger at the person with Alzheimer’s or others, anger that no cure exists or anger that people don’t understand what’s going on. “If he asks me that question one more time I’ll scream!”

3. Social Withdrawal from friends and activities that once brought pleasure. “I don’t care about getting together with the neighbors anymore.”

4. Anxiety about facing another day and what the future holds. “What happens when he needs more care than I can provide?”

5. Depression that begins to break your spirit and affects your ability to cope. “I don’t care anymore.”

6. Exhaustion that makes it nearly impossible to complete daily tasks. “I’m too tired to do this.”

7. Sleeplessness caused by a never-ending list of concerns. “What if she wanders out of the house or falls and hurts herself?”

8. Irritability that leads to moodiness and triggers negative responses and actions. “Leave me alone!”

9. Lack of concentration that makes it difficult to perform familiar tasks. “I was so busy I forgot we had an appointment.”

10. Health problems that begin to take their toll, both mentally and physically. “I can’t remember the last time I felt good.”

“Silly Saturdays:” Ed’s Tricky Way to Try to Get Vodka in the Nursing Home

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

Alzheimer’s is a deadly serious topic, but sometimes laughter is the best medicine. So I’ll make a “Silly Saturdays” post weekly with some amusing story about Ed, giving us a chance to smile in the midst of our somber life situation. Please send me your own “silly” stories and I’ll post them, too.

As I was walking with Ed to the front door of the Alois Center on my way out the third day he lived there he sweetly said, “Kitty, please. Bring me two bottles of Popov tomorrow.”

“Kitty, I can’t,” I said. “You’re not allowed to have vodka here.”

“What do you mean, I’m not allowed vodka to have?” he asked incredulously. He stopped walking and stared at me. “This is America! I’m allowed anything I want to have!”

“I’m sorry, Ed,” I said. “I can’t bring you any. That’s the rule here.”

He became upset and told me, “Fine. I will find someone else to get it for me.”

I had no idea how he’d find anyone to buy it for him, but despite his dementia he tricked me into helping.

A few hours later he called and cheerfully asked me the address of “this place where I am ‘leev-ing.’” I was pleased. I thought it was a good sign that he wanted to be oriented and know where he was.

I told him the address and he repeated it one letter and number at a time, leading me to think he was writing it down, which I also thought was a good thing.

The minute I hung up I got it.

Oh, shit! He’s going to call his driver to take him to Kroger’s to buy vodka.

I dialed his driver’s cell as fast as my fingers would move and explained the situation. The driver, Mr. Ellington, promised to tell Ed his cab had broken down and it would take him a few days to get there.

I must admit, however, I was pleased Ed was still alert enough to try this ruse. I checked with Mr. Ellington later that evening and laughed out loud when I found out Ed had indeed called him!

Alzheimer’s Caregivers: Resources for You

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

The Alzheimer’s Association, the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research, has a wealth of helpful information for you on its web site (www.Alz.org). Check out the following parts of the web site that are relevant to caregiver stress:

1. Caregiver Stress Checklist and Resources (www.alz.org/stresscheck/): This is an 8-question quiz to help you evaluate your stress level. For each symptom you answer “yes” to, the site directs you to helpful resources tailored specifically to that symptom.

Just a few of the 19 resources are: a Respite Care Guide, Ways to Be a Healthier Caregiver, Talking to Kids and Teens about Alzheimer’s, Grief and Loss, and Telling Others about an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis.

2. Coping (www.alz.org/living_with_alzheimers_coping.asp): This section explains some common physical and emotional changes experienced by Alzheimer’s caregivers and ways to cope. It also has brief articles about managing the holidays and caregiver depression.

3. Online Community (www.alz.org/living_with_alzheimers_message_boards_lwa.asp): The Online Community has more than a dozen Message Board Forums with over 14,000 registered members. One of the forums’ most important benefits is simply letting caregivers share their experiences with others in the same situation.

A few of the Forum topics of particular relevance for caregivers are: Caregiver’s Forum, Spouse/Partner Caregiver Forum, Caregivers Who Have Lost Their Loved Ones, and Success Stories.

When Grandma Has Alzheimer’s: How to Help Your Child Cope

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Children with grandparents who have Alzheimer’s may become afraid, confused, sad, angry, frustrated, guilty, worried, and/or embarrassed. Children typically fear:
1. The grandparent doesn’t love them anymore
2. It’s somehow their fault
3. They may catch the disease
4. Their parent(s) may get it

A child who is having a hard time might do one of the following:
1. Withdraw from or lose patience with the person
2. Do poorly in school
3. Express physical pain, like a stomachache or headache
4. Spend more time away from home
5. Stop inviting friends to the home

How You Can Help Your Child Cope:
1. Explain the disease in simple terms your child can understand.

2. Encourage your child to ask questions. Answer them honestly and simply.

3. Set aside time to be together when your child can feel safe to talk about the situation.

4. Have your child make a box filled with items that will remind them of special times spent with the grandparent in the past.

5. Read with your child books written especially for children on Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association’s Web site has an annotated list of such books.

6. Encourage your child to spend time with the grandparent. The Alzheimer’s Association Web site has a list of 101 ways to spend time with a person with Alzheimer’s disease.

7. In the later stages of the disease if your child strongly resists spending time with the grandparent it’s probably wise not to force the issue.

You can get more information on this topic at:

The Caregiver’s Bill of Rights

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

I have the right:
1. To take care of myself. Caregiving is not an act of selfishness. It will give me the capability of taking better care of my loved one.

2. To seek help from others even though my loved ones may object. Only I can recognize the limits of my endurance and strength.

3. To maintain facets of my life that do not include the person I care for, just as I would if he or she were healthy. I know that I do everything that I reasonably can for this person, and I have the right to do some things just for myself.

4. To get angry, be depressed, and express other difficult feelings occasionally.

5. To reject any attempts by my loved one (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through guilt, and/or depression.

6. To receive consideration, affection, forgiveness, and acceptance for what I do, from my loved ones, for as long as I offer these qualities in return.

7. To take pride in what I am accomplishing and to applaud the courage it has sometimes taken to meet the needs of my loved one.

8. To protect my individuality and my right to make a life for myself that will sustain me in the time when my loved one no longer needs my full-time help.

9. To expect and demand that as new strides are made in finding resources to aid physically- and mentally-impaired persons in our country, similar strides will be made towards aiding and supporting caregivers.

This Bill of Rights has been circulating on the internet for some time and is attributed to various persons on different sites. This version is taken from www.caregivers/utah.gov, where it is attributed to Jo Horne.