Holiday season stressful for Alzheimer’s patients, caregivers

The holiday season is officially upon us, and for most people, it means a time filled with joy, cheer, and family. But for many seniors, especially those living with Alzheimer’s disease, the holidays can be stressful — for the very same reasons it brings happiness to most others.

People with Alzheimer’s disease thrive on familiar routines; adding guests, loud conversation, and activity can be disorienting to Alzheimer’s sufferers. Wrapping gifts can be a soothing activity for Alzheimer’s patients.The stress isn’t limited to the person with the disease, however.

Caregivers and other family members often become concerned and worried whether their loved one will be uncomfortable with guests, overwhelmed by activity, or feel isolated. Even young children can become confused if a loved one no longer recognizes them or mistakes them for someone else.

Anxiety is often amplified if the person is traveling to stay with other relatives during the holidays; removing Alzheimer’s sufferers from their familiar environment can be stressful. This is true both for those living at home and individuals residing in assisted living facilities and nursing homes, who often stay overnight with loved ones over the holidays.

via Holiday Season Tough on Alzheimer’s Sufferers « SeniorHomes.com.

10 Signs of Caregiver Stress

Caregiving is stressful, and sometimes that stress sneaks up on you. Here, the blogger at Sunflower Ranch has a useful list of 10 Signs of Caregiver Stress. Read the list and watch for the signs. Caregiver stress is bad for your health!

Caregiving is one of the toughest jobs you’ll ever have. Many are called to perform these duties — but few people want to do them. No one wants to see a loved one slip away physically and/or mentally. Certainly the loved one does not want to be put into the situation. I know, I’ve been there as a caregiver. And it’s not easy. But what can happen to the caregiver is like the storm on the horizon — a tremendous potential for danger and long-lasting effects.

I wish I’d had this list when we started caring for my Dad. He’s been gone now for almost two years, but the feelings can linger long after the whole episode is finished. This list and the links below are very helpful in understanding just how tough caregiving can be.

via Sunflower Ranch: 10 Signs of Caregiver Stress.

When boomers get dementia; Caregiving, stress and other costs

The New York Times’ Room for Debate blog looks at dementia, Alzheimer’s and caregiving this week with interesting views from experts on aging and health care. Read on:

But as the United States population ages, the number of people with Alzheimer’s is projected to double from the current 5.3 million in the next few decades. Who will provide the care? What social policies might be needed to help the U.S. deal with growing numbers of older patients?

via When Boomers Get Dementia – Room for Debate Blog – NYTimes.com.

CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen writes about caregiving, early-onset Alzheimer’s

Emmy Award-winning CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen shares his journey into life as a caregiver to his wife, Jan, diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease at 55 in Jan’s Story: Love lost to the long goodbye of Alzheimer’s.

via YouTube – Jan’s Story: Love lost to the long goodbye of Alzheimer’s..

Spouses face challenges in caring for themselves and their ailing partners

They met on a blind date in 1949 and married two years later. They lived in the same Cape Cod-style house in Silver Spring for nearly 50 years. So when Leonard Crierie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2005, there was no question that his wife, Betty, would take care of him at home for as long as she could.

Betty led him into the shower, helped him dress each morning and took him everywhere with her because, once he started wandering, as some dementia patients do, she dared not leave him alone. She learned how to change the colostomy bag he wore since he’d survived rectal cancer years earlier. She slept, fitfully, with a monitor by her bed so that she could respond if he needed her at night.

“It was difficult, but I was able to take care of him,” says Betty, now 80. “Because it happens slowly, you don’t realize how bad it’s getting.”

She agreed to have Leonard attend an adult day program at nearby Holy Cross Hospital — he enjoyed socializing there — so that she could get a few hours’ break several times a week; she found a Holy Cross caregivers support group very useful. But she refused the pleas from her three adult children to hire an aide to help at home. “I always felt like I had it under control,” she explains, though her children thought the $18-an-hour cost also troubled a frugal woman who shops at dollar stores.

As the months passed, “we could see the stress level affecting her,” recalls her daughter Linda Fenlon. “The frustrating part was, we wanted her to have some independence, some quality of life. But she saw it as her duty in life to take care of him.”

For four years, Betty Crierie rarely asked for or accepted her family’s help, until a Wednesday last June. As she left her support group meeting, she remembers, “I got this funny feeling in my chest.” It worsened on the 10-minute drive home. She called her daughter and said, “I’m calling 911. I think I’m having a heart attack.”

via Spouses face challenges in caring for themselves and their ailing partners.

Caregiver stress hits doctor-parents of autistic child

They are both Harvard-educated and in their late 30s – he a cardiologist, she a pediatrician. They have three children, a boy and two girls, with a fourth on the way. They have a spacious home in Sacramento’s Pocket neighborhood.

Such a charmed life. Such blessings to count. Such a model family.

What you wouldn’t know until you cross the threshold at Howard and Tracey Dinh’s home is the stress that colors their existence like dreary wallpaper, the challenge of making it through each day with at least one nerve left unfrayed, the anxiety that takes hold whenever they try to exhale.

The Dinhs are the parents of an autistic child, Austin, 7. They love him dearly, care for him constantly and see cognitive improvement almost daily.

But they know Austin won’t live a life like Allie, 4, and Anna, 2. Which means their family life – not to mention their careers – never will be quite what they pictured as a couple starting out. Which is fine. They came to terms with that long ago.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t stress. There’s plenty of it. “It’s one of those things that’s all-consuming,” Tracey says.

via Blessings to count – Sacramento Living – Sacramento Food and Wine, Home, Health | Sacramento Bee.

Alzheimer’s & Dementia:Night-time wandering

What do you do if your husband just wants to go outside at night all the time?

For your husband’s safety and your own piece of mind, your best bet is to ensure that your home is locked up tightly at night so that your husband cannot easily leave. For this, deadbolts that lock from the inside are useful, so long as your husband does not have access to the key. Windows will also need to be secured by some sort of locking mechanism for which only you have the key. Hang bells or other noisy things on the door handles, to alert you if he is trying to open a door. If your husband’s vision is poor, you can also try placing rugs with large dark-colored block designs in front of door exits. Dementia patients with poor vision can mistake the 2-dimensional floor objects for solid 3-dimensional objects or holes in the ground, and are deterred from crossing them. Motion-activated lights, such as are often installed outside, can be used indoors as another deterrent for the door exit area. However, it is important to keep in mind that these measures, while deterring your husband from exiting, may also serve to confuse or agitate him. So you may still need to guide him safely back to bed after he has “triggered” a safety mechanism.

10 for 10: Feel-Good Dementia Caregiver New Year Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions about how you ought to start another diet and ought to be nicer belong back in the Aughts ’00s. For this new decade, caregivers looking after someone with dementia are better off focusing on tasks that will help them power through another demanding year.The following resolutions may be unexpected, but they’re heartfelt and truly helpful:

via 10 for 10: Feel-Good Dementia Caregiver New Year Resolutions.

Time Management for Caregivers

Finding More Time in Your Day: The Secrets of a 36 Hour Day

No matter what your age or what you do with your life, there are just never enough hours in the day. 24 hours don’t feel like enough, and that rings particularly true with working caregivers who find themselves with the weight of the world on their shoulders every single day, and more to accomplish than there are hours to get it all done. Between caregiving responsibilities for an elderly loved one, a family life at home caring for children and spouses, a career, and the general management of day-to-day life, working caregivers may feel like they never have enough time to check everything off of their “to do” list every day.

via Caregiver | Self-Care | Time Management – Caregivers, Stress, Help, Time-Managment.

Caregiver’s stress: How to Care for Yourself While Caring for Others

One quarter of adult Americans are presently caring for an aging parent or relative. 45% of these people are providing care for their spouse.

While family caregiving is commonly extraordinarily rewarding and a bonding experience, it can also be a strain and cause stress within families.

According to a new survey by Home Instead Senior Care, 31% of family carers admit they’d like more help, and 25% resent other members of the family who don’t help out more.

via Caregiver’s stress: How to Care for Yourself While Caring for Others in Caregiver Stress and Self-Care.