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As our parents get older, it can be increasingly difficult to manage their needs, our schedules, and our children’s understanding of what is happening to Grandmom or Granddad. It can be scary for everyone when your mother or father doesn’t recognize you for the first time, or if they slip in and out of recognition because of Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. Unfortunately, Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease continue to be on the rise, impacting people at younger and younger ages. It’s not uncommon to hear about people developing early signs of Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease in their late 50s or early 60s. If your mother or father have been diagnosed with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease and you have been struggling to figure out how to explain the “forgetful” disease to your children, here are some simple ways to approach explaining the conditions to the grandchildren of those affected.
Speak to them About Forgetfulness
One of the most important parts of explaining any condition to a child is to not “sugar coat” it. You don’t need to bombard them with cold, hard, facts, but you should be frank about the condition with which your mother or father currently suffer. If your mom or dad has Dementia, it’s important to tell your child that their grandparent, or grandparents, may have a hard time remembering who they are. Take the time to talk through that with your child and remind them that it is not the person’s fault. You can explain that as we get older, our brains start to change and some people forget things they used to know. Be sure to explain that it does not mean that the grandparent doesn’t love the child anymore, but that they cannot help themselves.
Talk About Wanting to Remember
Another key thing to talk about with your child is that your parents do not forget them on purpose. They want to remember them. Nobody likes to forget. When it comes to dealing with the ins and outs of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, some people can move between “lucid” states and “unknowing” states, which can be scary for younger children who know something is wrong, but aren’t sure why Granddad can’t remember how to eat or forgot to button his shirt today, but can suddenly remember something that happened 10 years ago. The entire experience is frightening for everyone, but be sure to talk to your children about how people with Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease try hard to remember.
As Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease take hold and become progressively worse, it can become more and more difficult for young children to be around their grandparents. Some people become violent, and others become scared of what is happening to them. As the disease continues to worsen, some people will become bedridden and unable to care for themselves. It’s important to talk to your children about what they can do to manage their feelings as they have to say goodbye to their grandparent. It’s never an easy thing, but if you approach it from a place of helping them understand that death is a part of life and that it’s important to celebrate the life that once was, rather than focus on the end, it becomes easier. In many cases, people see death as a release from the suffering, and if you believe that, then it’s important to talk to your children about that point of view as well.
Many families are impacted by Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Some families have multiple people suffering from the conditions, and many often die from the disease. While the diagnosis, management, and death of a person with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease are hard on all family members, it can be especially hard on young children who can feel detached from the grandparents they know and love. Keep the lines of communication open and be sure to ask questions and encourage questions of your child to help them through such a difficult time.
Kristen is a passionate writer, teacher, and mother to a wonderful son. Currently volunteering at Freedom Care, a company that helps with New York’s CDPAP program. She finds great joy in being able to share her passion of writing with others. When free time presents itself, you can find her tackling her lifelong goal of learning the piano!
Roughly 3.5 million Americans over the age of 40 years face some kind of vision loss due to age related conditions. These people don’t go blind directly but gradually over a period of time as they experience a slow loss of vision.
But it is your responsibility as a caretaker to be aware of the warning signs of age-related eye health problems that can cause vision loss. Most eye diseases don’t have any symptoms and may tend to develop without being noticed. Having regular eye checkups done will increase your chances of detecting diseases which can improve your chances of taking safety measures.
Here are 4 common age-related eye diseases:
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
This is an eye disease which affects the macula of your eye and causes central vision loss. Although this is a small part of your eye, the macula is a part of the retina that gives you the ability to see fine detail and colors. Basic day-to-day activities like driving, reading, watching TV and recognizing people requires good central vision which is provided by the macula.
Cataracts form over time as cloudy areas in the part of your eyes that are meant to remain clear. The location and size of the cataracts can affect your normal vision. Cataracts tend to develop in both eyes but one eye usually has a worse case of cataracts than the other. Cataracts are responsible for decreased contrast sensitivity, sensitivity to glares, dulling of colors and blurry vision.
This condition is most common in people that suffer from diabetes. This is due to a gradual damage to the small blood vessels that nurture the retina. Over time, the damaged blood vessels begin leak blood and other fluids that cause the retinal tissue to swell and cloud your vision. The instability of a person’s glucose intake can also increase or decrease the impact of the condition. Diabetic retinopathy is capable of causing blindness if not treated in time.
Glaucoma leads to a loss of both side and peripheral vision which is caused by optic nerve damage which is usually associated with high eye pressure. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the US and can affect people of all ages but is usually the most common in elderly people. It is vital that the symptoms of glaucoma are caught early on through screening by an eye professional to avoid total blindness.
5 Ways You Can Prevent Blindness for Your Charges:
Don’t Allow Them to Smoke
Smokers stand a greater chance of developing cataracts, age related macular degeneration, uveitis along with other eye problems.
Make sure that your charges always wear safety glasses when working with tools or playing contact sports that can injure their eyes and cause permanent loss of vision.
Feed Them a Healthy and Balanced Diet
Research indicates that consuming antioxidants can reduce the risk of cataracts. Antioxidants can be obtained by eating a diet made up of fruits and vegetables.
Studies indicate that consuming fish which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids reduces the chances of developing macular degeneration. You can also opt to add eye vitamins to their diet to ensure that they get the nutrients they need.
Keep Their Diabetes Under Control
Make sure to book regular physical exams as leaving your eye problems untreated can lead to grave consequences and complete loss of vision.
Visit an Eye Care Professional for a Comprehensive Dilated Eye Exam
Both the eyes are closely inspected for any signs of common vision problems and eye diseases which don’t give any early warning signs.
These dilated eye exams are recommended once a year and it is pretty important if your charge is an African American over the age of forty due to them having a higher risk of glaucoma.
Ensure They Exercise Regularly
According to research, some studies state that regular exercise-even walking reduces the chances of going through age-related macular degeneration by up to 70%.
You as caregivers need to gather as much information as you can about vision loss, and then share and implement that knowledge on the people you are caring for.
Vision changes tend to occur as your patients get older, but these changes don’t have to affect their lifestyle or their family’s lifestyle either. Knowing what to expect and when to seek professional care can help you safeguard your patient’s vision.
Aaron Barriga is the online marketing manager for Insight Vision Center. With a knack for understanding medical procedures, and an interest in eye and vision health, Aaron loves to share what he knows and what he learns. He blogs with a mission of informing readers about the latest eye care technology and other topics related to eye care especially LASIK. He loves collecting coasters from the different bars and restaurants he visits during his travels.
Holidays of any kind can be a difficult time for a family living with Alzheimer’s disease, or any memory loss issues.
Father’s Day is no exception. No one wants to ignore the special day, or the love they still feel for their Dad. Yet we’re mindful not to cause any additional anxiety or distress. And while others around us share their fun days and loving words on social media it can only serve to make us feel sad or grieve for those family traditions that we are losing.
However it is possible to celebrate the national day, if we just approach it in a different way. Here, Olympic Lifts take a closer look at how you can still enjoy the day with your father, without confusion or distress.
If you do want to give a physical gift, then it’s quite easy to keep this tradition and simply augment it from what you would usually do. So for example where once you might have bought a new tie or a golf glove, now it’s about the old rather than the new. Tapping into older memories is a great way to help your Dad feel comfortable and remember good times.
Old favourite DVDs are good to sit quietly together and watch. But if you want to encourage conversation, think about creating a memory book or bringing an old item - like a golf club - and asking questions about the sport and your Dad’s favourite moments. A lot of memory loss illnesses begin by taking the most recent memories first so the older ones are often still there and joyful to talk about.
Gifts, and indeed material things of any kind, become less important when you’re facing a life altering condition like Alzheimer’s or Dementia. People can become lonely, withdrawn or confused. That is why the greatest gift you can give is your time. Simply sitting with them without judgements or questions can be a comfort, even if they can’t explain who you are. Your Dad will know that he is loved by people and he is not on this journey alone.
A great way to engage in conversation without distress is to ask for guidance on things that they still do have the answers to. Perhaps gardening, or car mechanics. If you’re a parent yourself it can be wonderful to ask your Dad about his experience of parenthood. Memory loss may take their recent recollections first but it doesn’t take their wisdom and they will enjoy being able to speak confidently and authoritatively again.
The senses have a profound impact on the brain and stimulating the right ones can trigger reward centres and just generally make us feel calmer. Listening to your Dad’s favourite music is a lovely experience, and it’s not unheard of for people with memory loss to recall the words to entire songs from long ago. Dancing too releases stress and creates a new connection between you. Cooking an old favourite meal is another cool thing to do together, a sociable activity with a purpose that isn’t too stressful to do. Smells and tastes can be enjoyed while you talk about food in general or reminisce about old memories of meals shared.
Touch is another powerful sense that is often lost to Alzheimer’s as people become more physically distant than they once were. Even if hugging seems uncomfortable or strange, a simple touch of the hand or on the shoulder can show your Dad that you care. Just sitting close and holding eye contact can be helpful, too. Affection in any form is a beautiful connection between two people.
Small physical activities are a fun way to spend time together on Father’s Day. Maybe your Dad enjoyed chess, pool, darts or playing cards. All of these activities can be adapted for many of the stages of memory loss. But also, a lot of the memories related to them remain because of simplicity or procedural memory.
When conversations are hard, asking questions around an activity or favourite sport is a great way to get chat flowing and allow your Dad to immerse himself in his favourite pastimes of old. If your Dad is already in an assisted living home, they may be organising games and activities on Father’s Day already, so ask about them and get involved.
Of course Alzheimer’s and other memory loss illnesses don’t always leave us in a place of postcard-perfect moments. Sometimes there are very real issues that get in the way of your ability to spend time with your Dad. Whether its hallucinations, anger, or serious physical decline, these symptoms can make spending time together increasingly difficult for your Dad, and you. In those times, Father’s Day can seem painful.
But if you can’t be together, it’s important to spend time healing yourself. Look at photos, recall happy memories, talk to someone. But this time, instead of working through what is challenging or hurting you, make an effort to focus on the positive when you talk. To remember your Dad for who he was, and remember the happy times together. To strengthen the respect and love for him through your pain. Those memories will power you through as you care for your Dad.
Overall, just focus on what he can do, and what you can still enjoy together, not what he can’t do. Try to be mindful of the timing of your plans (so avoid early morning and late evening when fatigue can be setting in). Sensitively approach the day with respect to routine and not overwhelming your Dad with commotion in a sensory way. And simply try to avoid negative feelings like resentment towards others who aren't facing your challenges. Embrace your new normal, find the joys in the little moments and appreciate that you still have this time together where others don’t.
All those things together should help to make for a more enjoyable time together for you and your Dad with Alzheimer’s on Father’s Day.
Olympic Stairlifts were the first company to be awarded Stannah’s Certificate of Excellence, assuring customers of the high standard of safety management and training they have provided over the last 30 years.