Dementia 101

Dementia: A usually progressive condition (as Alzheimer's disease) marked by deteriorated cognitive functioning often with emotional apathy.  To many this is a terrifying diagnosis.  True Alzheimer’s Disease begins at an early age (50’s) while Dementia typically occurs in the elderly. AD actually is just one of many diseases that can cause dementia. Other conditions are Vascular dementia, Dementia with Lewy body’s, Parkinson’s disease, Progressive supranuclear palsy…and more.  In the past, it was called Hardening of the arteries, Atherosclerosis, Old Age, Senile Dementia.

What are some early symptoms of AD?  1. Misplaced keys, glasses or other items; 2. Look up a recipe but are unable to follow it; 3. Start something and forget to finish it; 4. Difficulty with numbers/paying bills/writing the correct amount on a check/mailing the bills; and many others. 

What are some do’s and don’ts for dealing with dementia?  Some do’s: be flexible; spend time with them; keep trips short and simple; enjoy the moments…  Some don’ts: Don’t take good or bad behavior personally; don’t raise your voice or scold the person as you would a child; don’t argue, correct or try to reason with them…to name a few.

For more complete help go to YouTube: Biblical Caregiving and listen to the session on Dementia.

REMEMBER:  The changes in how they act are caused by brain damage.  They cannot control how they act. It is part of the disease.

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Many places this April have had a never-ending winter.  However, the flowers are still peeking through the ground and warmer weather is coming!  During the long winter of day-in and day-out of caregiving, we know it will not last forever!  What are some things you can do to ‘enjoy’ the journey?  Number one: daily devotions, read scripture to your loved one and play the old hymns regularly.  Number two: ‘choose joy’.  Caregiving can be boring and busy at the same time.  Embrace the challenge! What will your adventure be today? You are doing a great job – stay with it even as the seasons change!

He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

The fact that He is risen should give us, as caregivers, tremendous hope.  There is hope for the future where all caregivers will be out of a job!  For many that thought is “Hallelujah, it can not come too soon!” …for others it is “bittersweet.”  Caregivers often do not want to be there, but neither would they be anywhere else.  Stop what you are doing, take a deep breath and realize you are one day closer to being finished with this current, difficult lifestyle! Rejoice and Rest in  Hope!

Hope with Hospice

Hope with Hospice

In light of Rev. Billy Graham’s homegoing, I would like to address the topic of Hospice.  Hospice focuses on relieving symptoms and supporting patients with a life expectancy of months, not years. It involves a team-oriented approach to give expert medical care, pain management and emotional and spiritual support not only to the patient but also to their caregivers. In most cases, this care is provided to a patient in his or her own home. However, it can also be provided in a freestanding facility, the hospital, or a nursing home.

It can be frightening if you dwell on the fact you may be alone with your loved one as they are facing the end of life.  “What will I do? Who can I call?” are a couple of the questions most caregivers think about.  Hospice can provide a tremendous amount of support and comfort.  Specialized nurses prefer to accept new patients into the program who are not imminently facing death.  They will provide care for up to six months and renew it every six months as needed.  Knowing someone will be there for you and help you with pain management, respiratory care, bowel and bladder care or other issues will never be a waste of time! 

In some areas, there are multiple agencies providing this care.  If you happen to not like the first agency, do not be afraid to talk to your doctor and request a different agency. 

Philippians 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Love for those with Dementia

February is called a month of LOVE. I was asked in the past, “What do you do when your loved one acts like a child?”  My response was, “You treat them with respect as your elder”.

What are some ways to love the person with dementia?  All senses are altered, and it is difficult for the brain to process the changes.  Reaching out and touching, hugging, or holding hands can go a long way in calming an agitated loved one.

Playing old hymns or other soft music of their era will sometimes provide comfort and calm. 

It is never easy for the caregiver, but showing love in facial expressions and actions can go a long way in maintaining a peaceful environment.

If you are in the Clemson, SC area, I will be teaching a course titled “Dealing with Dementia” at

OLLI (Clemson’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute)

OLLI - CHEEZEM EDU CENTER (map)

100 Thomas Green Blvd.
Clemson, SC 29631

Phone: 864-633-5242

Wednesday, February 21 at 11 AM - 12:30 PM

Sign up at www.olliatclemson.org – Limit 20

2018!

I have said many times “The days are long, but the years are short” and never is that more apparent than at the start of a new year!  About halfway through last year, I adopted the phrase “Choose Joy” as my theme for the year.  (James 1:2-3 “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”). 

I am trying to decide what theme will help me serve and encourage other caregivers as well as myself on our caregiving journey.  Below are some options.  What do you think?

1.     Choose Joy

2.     No Fear

3.     Trust God

4.     Making Memories

5.     No Regrets

6.     Accept Help

7.     Stay Faithful

8.     Other: _____________

I would like to challenge you to choose a theme for this year and select a scripture verse to back it up.  Also, ask someone to hold you accountable for your choice. You are welcome to share below your choice and/or thoughts as we Stay Faithful to what God has planned for 2018. (Comments only require Name and Email address)

1 Thessalonians 5:23-25, “ And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”

 

Merry Christmas, 2017!

Merry Christmas!

Another year has come and gone.  How much TIME have you spent with your senior loved ones this year?

Time is the number one gift you can give, but what are some other gifts you can give to the elderly in your care?  There are many gifts I would NOT recommend: perfume, powder, makeup, knick-knacks, new ‘techno’ gadgets to name a few.

What are some good gifts?  Fuzzy socks with rubber dots on the bottom, a twin-size electric blanket, flowers are ok – but make sure they are not overly fragrant, a new pillow and sheet set, or new towels.  Please note: if you purchase a new towel and washcloth for the elderly, make sure it is “thin” but soft.  Thick and luxurious towels are only wonderful for non-arthritic hands.  Pre-made meals for one (one cup size for one person) to put in the freezer are always welcome.  Sugar free cough drops or candy are great to place near their chair or bedside.  Light-weight drinking cups with a lid and an optional straw are wonderful to prevent spills from shaky hands.  Christmas mail is also wonderful.  I have seen many seniors who still love to get mail.  (That is snail-mail not email).

Love your senior adults, spend time with them and live with NO REGRETS!

Choose Joy and Give Thanks!

November, 2017

Fall, cool weather, sweaters, coats, electric blankets, etc, etc, etc.

Oh the joy of changing seasons!

As your house gets cooler and the thermostat goes higher so will your power bills. One way to keep your loved one warm (without roasting everyone else), is to purchase a twin-size electric blanket and use it not only for the bed but also for them as they sit in their chair during the day. Heat their clothes in the dryer (not the microwave) before dressing for the day or for the night. Warm, fuzzy socks are always appreciated but this time of year, you can purchase them with rubber dots to prevent falls. Stock up on them to use all year!   

As you plan for Thanksgiving, remember to CHOOSE JOY!  Many stressors will come and go throughout the month with additional family, friends and food.  Don't let it get you down!  Choose to give thanks and rejoice in the position God has given you!

To insist or not to insist...?

I have recently been asked, on several different occasions, the following question:

“My “Mom or Dad” does not want to get out of the house.  How important is it to get them up and moving and out socializing or is it ok to let them sit at home all the time?”

The answer is either one!  It is important to help keep their mind active by getting out of the house and interacting with other people.  This can be done by going shopping, going to the hairdresser, going to a senior center for entertainment or attending a movie.  It is also important to take them to their church or attend an event in the community such as a play or a concert.    Old hymns and music will quickly soothe an agitated mind. Be sensitive to the stamina and health of your loved one if you do take them out of the house.

On the other hand, it is your loved ones’ choice to go out or stay home.  After 70+ years, they have earned the right to do nothing if that is their choice.  My sister is a retired librarian and she now loves to sit and read all the books she never had time to read while she was still working. 

Whether you go out of the house or stay at home, there are ways to stimulate the body and mind through walking, reading, and playing games with your loved ones.  Playing older music or hymns, providing the newspaper, puzzle books or even adult coloring books will also provide stimulation.  Time spent with your loved one is never time wasted!

Please comment on your tried and true method of stimulation for your loved ones.

Write it down!

Write it Down!

My heart goes out first and foremost to all those affected by Hurricane Harvey!  The images are devastating!  What will be salvaged from the partially to wholly flooded homes?  Last month I wrote a ‘to-do’ list before taking a vacation from your loved one.

This month I would like to recommend an activity that means a great deal.  My father was a WWII veteran but never spoke of the war.  After my mother died suddenly, to help pass the time, my father wrote his autobiography including his time in the war.  He always wanted it published in book form but the best I could do was get it spiral bound on 8.5 x 11 paper.  He is now deceased, but I would like to encourage you to get your loved ones’ stories ‘down in writing’ and produce a book not only to preserve your loved ones memories but to also pass their stories to the next generation and beyond.

With that in mind, there are several internet options to facilitate the book and you can even go to your local office or printing store and they will help.  However, compiling a book and gathering pictures can seem very overwhelming.  I was introduced to one option, www.catchmystory.com, and am impressed with their ease of use and encouraging simplicity in the collection of your story!  From the owner of the website: “I invite you to visit CatchMyStory to watch the video and click on HELP to see the tools that make it fun and easy to do. Please feel free to contact me via email: david@catchmystory.com or 704-698-5948 with questions, comments, or to share your story.”  Coupon Code: BCG (David Holton)

Let me know if you use this service or something else but most importantly “write it down”

I will also be teaching a class for caregivers, September 27 from 9-10:30 at OLLI in Clemson, SC.

Click on this link to register:  https://reg138.imperisoft.com/ClemsonUniversity/Search/Registration.aspx