Category Archives for Dementia & Alzheimer’s

Support the Caregiver You Know

Do you know someone who takes care of a patient? Do you call to check on them?

They may not look like they need or want help, but they could use your aid. Caregivers need qualified individuals available to relieve them and provide support. A daily thirty-minute break or someone to talk to can help tremendously. Caregiving is an enormous responsibility and even the best caregivers become overwhelmed. 

Caring for anyone is stressful, more so when your patient requires care seven days a week, around the clock. Caregivers exert themselves mentally, emotionally and physically all the time. Sometimes they are the only option for family members suffering from symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease or other debilitating conditions.

If you have a family member, friend, coworker, or neighbor who is a caregiver, give them support. Thoughtful gestures and small favors make a difference; when you offer to assist them, keep your word and deliver upon the agreement. 

Everyone’s life is hectic and constantly changing, what is unimportant to one person is a big ordeal to someone else. You forgetting to pick up their prescription or gallon of milk may seem insignificant to you, but would it be insignificant if someone forgot to feed your pet or pick up your child after school? You may think those are different circumstances but they're not. The milk could be for their child and the prescription could be an inhaler, insulin, or heart medicine. Something required for them to function. The point is when people decide upon verbal agreements they expect someone to fulfill them. Don’t offer them help only to disappoint them.

I know people want to give a lending hand but don't know how to help without feeling like a nuisance or intruder. Many caregivers are stretched to their limit and short on time, anything you can do to alleviate either is beneficial. If you have strict time constraints don’t offer to cut their grass knowing you barely manage to cut yours. Start with small task.

If you are a caregiver who rejects help because of experience or pride, then you’re making an extensive mistake. I have too much pride, something I’m working on but even I yearned for help when caring for my mother. My mother was diagnosed with dementia and lost both legs due to poor circulation after her diagnoses. Please learn from my struggles and don’t go at this alone.

Take the time to research and join a support group specific to your patients needs. Most likely the problems you are facing, someone in the group has experience with and can share their knowledge. If not, the group can help you come up with a solution or provide an ear while you vent your frustrations.

Before we part, I would like to suggest way's you can help the caregiver you know. The following suggestions allow you to help without making the caregiver feel indebted to you or too much to ask of you if you’re sincere. Each person's situation is unique, so after reading the idea’s I’ve provided, it may spark others within you.

Suggestions:

  • Let them know you are there for them and mean it.
  • Make routine visits to check on their well-being. 
  • Grocery shopping or picking up their groceries. They can place their order online since most markets have pickup options and you can pick it up for them. 
  • If you have a garden, and you can spare an extra tomato, pepper, cucumber or whatever, give it to them.
    If you’re handy with tools, offer free maintenance service.
  • Wash or vacuum their car. 
  • Yard work. Water their plants, cut their grass, pick up leaves or shovel their snow. 
  • Volunteer to read or sit with their patient for 30 minutes, maybe longer while they catch up on another task. Maybe get well-deserved time to themselves. 
  • When you’re at the grocery with extra money, buy a thoughtful treat. Such as their favorite dessert, beverage or flowers.
  • If you know each other well enough and you’re a decent cook, prepare them a meal. Best to discuss preferences and food allergies before you waste time and resources preparing food they don’t eat. This could be a huge help to a caregiver short on time and finances.

Suggestions for those with limited time or resources:

  • Check on them and ask how they are. 
  • Send daily motivational text; words of encouragement.
  • On garbage day, set out their trash when you set out yours.
  • Offer to walk their dog or feed their pets.
  • Every week you could offer a housekeeping service such as vacuuming, helping with laundry, or dishes. 
  • When you go to the store, pick up items for them. Such as the pharmacy, pet store or other places the caregiver visits along your route.

These are just suggestions and ways to show the caregiver you know support. I am sure once you set your mind to helping someone deserving you will come up with your own idea’s.

Everyday People Become Caregivers for Dementia Patients

Needed: Caregivers for dementia patients!

Imagine you awake one morning in an unfamiliar room; missing the details of your arrival. Besides amnesia, you suffer from disorientation. Your body is not functioning and aches everywhere. You try to speak but words are missing from your vocabulary. The first person you meet, you have never encountered. Throughout the day more strangers enter the room and you realize you are in a nursing facility being treated for a disease. The doctors and nurses say you have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.

A disease you don’t recall having. You stare at them in disbelief as you contemplate their words. You last remember being in your safe, secure environment. Now you're surrounded by strangers and forced to spend the rest of your life in a constant state of confusion and uncertainty. How pleasant and welcoming would you be with this new reality? Especially if you don't understand what's happening to you.

Your mind, which operates your body, is foreign to you. And each day, your mind slips further and further away. Who can you trust in this critical time of need?

Out of the millions diagnosed, a limited few can afford to live in sufficient nursing facilities. Some patients may not want to which is one reason more people are thrust into the caregiver role. Hopefully patients have a compassionate, considerate, caregiver as a viable option for long-term care. If not, dementia patients may isolate themselves from the world. Suffering through their condition with inadequate care.

It’s estimated, 16.1 million Americans provide unpaid care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. According to Alzheimer’s Association, in 2017 caregivers provided about 18.4 billion hours of care to people living with dementia. People who never realized they stepped into the caregiver role the moment they provided care for their child or an adult unable to care for themselves. Regardless of the relationship, unpaid relatives are caregivers. Caregivers can be the spouse, partner, friend, or a stranger to the person diagnosed with dementia. Not all caregivers are professionals. Many are everyday people caring for their loved ones.

Before my mother was diagnosed with dementia, she made her children promise to never admit her to any long-term care facility. If we did, she would come back and haunt us. Not wanting to find out if she could uphold her promise, we honored her request but more because we loved her. We believed no one could care for her better than her family.

However, us every day people need guidance and instructional material. Providing care for dementia patients is a little more challenging than caring for someone diagnosed with other ailments. It requires someone with knowledge of the disease. Able to identify the three stages if the person has Alzheimer’s disease. The ability to explain things in a way the patient can understand. And by diverting disagreements and confrontations with the patient.

The caregiver cannot help their patient if they don't know how to communicate or treat them. You cannot expect someone to comprehend what you are saying if they do not recognize or know the definitions of the words being spoken. When caring for any patient, a caregiver should be able to understand body language and facial expressions. Is the person experiencing discomfort or pain and unable to communicate? Can the caregiver tell if the patient understands the explanation of treatment and medication administered to them?

It's plausible the caregiver will care for their patient through the stages of the disease. The caregiver and person being cared for will build a relationship. As the patient, you want to feel comfortable with your caregiver. From that relationship, trust and respect will develop between the two of you.

As a caregiver, it’s important to remember your patient is suffering from a brain disease which decreases their mental and physical capacity over time, so patience and humility are good traits to have. It doesn't hurt to have a thick skin to endure abusive outburst that can become violent on days your patient is frightened and lashing out. And always treat anyone under your care with dignity. 

6 Risk Associated with Dementia

This is a continuation from the previous weeks post.

As you may recall, I am not a medical professional. We are social media friends and I am sharing a post on ways to decrease your chances of developing dementia.

1.) Eat Healthier Foods

Drop processed foods from the menu. Eat foods which help build a stronger healthier cerebrum. Foods containing antioxidants and help with inflammation like leafy vegetables. Doctors and scientist believe certain foods cause our brains to shrink and boost our risk of dementia.

Start your day with a nutritional breakfast and not one consumed with sugar. Stop setting yourself up for afternoon failure by choosing unhealthy choices. Also, limit salt and sodium intake which increase your risk for other long-term concerns besides dementia such as heart disease or stroke.


2.) Manage Blood Sugar & Health

You can lower your risk of getting diabetes by eating more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods. Eat fewer foods filled with empty calories (sugar) and exercise daily.

I have heard people state we as humans need sugar to live. WRONG. The human body needs glucose and insulin to live and a healthy human body can produce both. Glucose is our main source of energy and its carried through our bloodstream. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas which allows glucose to move from our blood stream into cells, muscles and fats. Our livers produce the correct amount of glucose and releases it as needed for us to function and maintain our blood sugar levels. When we eat and ingest more than the required daily dose, our bodies stop producing. Trying to limit how much is in our body.


3.) Avoid Chronic Inflammation

Inflammation is a defense mechanism our body activates when bacteria is inside the body, an infection or anything causing the body harm. If the inflammation defense system is disabled, damaged cells and tissue cannot heal from infections or wounds. When the body forgets to deactivate the defense system, and it's stuck in active mode all the time, it becomes an issue. It becomes chronic inflammation and will last for years if untreated.

What happens if the defense system stays active? Depending on the area affected chronic inflammation can become very painful, cause swelling and immobility. Doctors believe chronic inflammation can cause rheumatoid arthritis, certain variations of cancer, and damage brain cells by interrupting the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain.

4.) Eliminate Chronic Stress

There are two types of stress, acute and chronic. From my understanding, acute stress is normal. You drop your new phone and crack the screen, or you oversleep and late for work which makes your blood start pumping. You are feeling the pressure. The pressure you are feeling means your stress hormones are working. How you respond to any situation determines if your acute stress transforms into chronic stress.

If your stress level never decreases and stays activated on the time, then your stress hormones will never deactivate. Your acute stress becomes chronic stress. This means your stress hormones are getting overworked. Eventually you’ll develop an anxiety disorder, depression, high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease. All linked to dementia.

5.) Eliminate Depression & Anxiety

We hear those words often, but what is depression? For the few I spoke with, depression is an illness which fills them with feelings of melancholy so strong they can't move forward. Nor be bothered with their children, spouse or anyone. Solitude is their preference, so they can sleep and continue their depression. Let their thoughts of sadness, failure, worthlessness and death torture them right out of their minds.... because that's what's happening.

According to a psychologist, depression is more than overwhelming sadness. It's a sickness which causes the millions of people living with the disorder excessive suffering. Feelings must be present daily for a few weeks before it's considered depression. In our crazy society, a few weeks can have a year worth of drama. Two weeks filled with problem after problem can become fatal to a person living with depression or even anxiety. How about when we notice the behavior after a few days we get involved?

Don't let family members, friends, neighbors or coworkers suffer. Get them help or put them in contact with someone who can assist them. Check on them frequently. Depression is a serious issue and people are suffering unnecessarily.

6.) Stop Smoking

Smoking is addictive and the sooner you start the more damage you cause. When a person smokes their defense system (inflammation) tries to protect tissue in the lungs. If the defense system doesn't turn off, then the smoker risk severe damage to their lungs. Smoking is linked to heart disease. As we are learning, anything that interferes with our breathing or forces the heart into overdrive mode increases someone's chances of dementia.

Are you at risk of developing dementia?

Did you know dementia damages the cerebrum years before someone's diagnosed?

So, wouldn’t it make sense to prepare now and not after the cognitive decline?

When a tornado or hurricane is headed to your home, you don't wait until the disaster is on your doorstep before getting to safety. You take preventive measures before it's too late.

This same logic should apply to your brain and overall health. By the time we reach our fifties or sixties, our health is declining, and we most likely live with ailments and diseases which contribute to our declining health and fuel this deadly disease.

By now you're wondering, who is at risk for developing dementia?

Any person carrying the gene responsible for creating the protein called apolipoprotein E (ApoE) which can increase a person's risk of getting Alzheimer Disease.
Anyone living with diabetes because research has shown insulin deprivation may cause dementia.
Anyone not achieving 7-8 hours of sleep.
Anyone suffering from a head or brain injury, caused by a car accident or sports-related injury.
Anyone suffering from Chronic Inflammation.
Anyone suffering from Chronic Stress.
Anyone suffering from depression and anxiety.
Anyone who has a heart condition or heart disease.
Anyone who has suffered a stroke which interrupts blood flow to the brain.
Anyone who is an alcoholic or suffering from alcohol dependency. Also binge drinkers.
Anyone who is physically, mentally and socially inactive.
Anyone who smokes.

Now I have your attention, do you see the theme for who's at risk for developing dementia? Anyone.

Doctors and researchers have identified several causes and people living with diabetes, binge drinkers, smokers who deny their brains much needed blood and oxygen, people making unhealthy food choices and consistently eating processed fast food or at risk for developing dementia.

We can't exclude regular drug users. Yes, this includes drugs prescribed by the doctor, over the counter (OTC) or ONLY taking for recreational use. The things I have mentioned are linked to dementia and people making poor lifestyle choices are the most at risk.

Don’t just take my word for it, do your own research. I am not writing this, so you believe everything I say. I want you to experience doubt because doubt is good. Doubt convinces you to find out the truth and conduct your own research. Don't trust one source, research several credible sources.

Remember, the human brain is priceless and worth saving.

6 Misconceptions Associated with Dementia & Alzheimer’s

As human beings, we display ignorance when it pertains to the human brain and our bodies. If we're educated on this amazing masterpiece, we'll understand our capabilities and stop destroying ourselves. We sometimes care more for materialistic possessions instead of the one thing we cannot live without, our brains.

Name one thing you cannot be without. Without this object, person, whatever, you're devastated, and the world is momentarily frozen while you mourn the loss. Imagine you are the reason this whatever is no longer in existence. You have poisoned, harmed and damaged it beyond recognition and over time it's reduced to useless matter and it's your fault.

Back to reality, this occurs every day to our brains. For most of us, it's not too late to change our habits. The sooner we change our lifestyle, the sooner we stop the progression of dementia. If we continue to believe the antiquated information, we join the masses fighting for space in the overcrowded nursing facilities. My purpose is to point out the most common misconceptions we have regarding the human brain and our body.

  1. Dementia is an old person's disease. FALSE: This is the most common misconception. Thirty has become the new sixty. There are cases of young adults in their late twenties or early thirties diagnosed with dementia. Don't panic and get on social media and cause an uproar. Don't assume you have dementia or your absent-minded relative who forgets everything is in the early stages. It's rare getting diagnosed with dementia at such a young age, but possible.
  2. The human brain is supposed to deteriorate as we grow older. Memory loss is just another side effect of old age. FALSE: Why does it have to? When our latest smart phones and computers become slow and outdated, we want to upgrade it the newest and most improved version. We expect the manufacturers and programmers to figure out how to make it possible and make it happen. Well, our brains work similar and you have the most important job of all. You are the programmer of your brain and it's up to you to make sure your brain is the newest and most up-to-date version it can be.
  3. There's a cure, right? FALSE: I wish that was true. There is no cure to date that can stop or reverse the effects dementia has on the brain. With new advancements in science, we can slow down the mental decline. Everyone should take time to learn the long-term effects of dementia because they are permanent and irreversible.
  4. Dementia is just memory loss? FALSE: Memory loss is one of the many symptoms. The symptoms depend on the dementia because each type damages the brain and body in various ways.
  5. It's too late to change my lifestyle, bad habits or exercise my mind. FALSE: It's never too late to save your most valuable asset, your mind. New medical research shows certain damage to the brain can heal. If we decrease the damage while we are young and change unhealthy lifestyle choices, we have a chance at limiting our risk of dementia.
  6. There's medicine to prevent or cure dementia. FALSE: As I write this post there is no medicine or treatment to prevent dementia from progressing or cure it. The current medicine and treatment help to manage the symptoms.

          Your brain is worth saving, so put forth the effort to change your lifestyle. Live a little longer and die as yourself. Not as the outer shell of a person you once were before dementia stole your life.