There’s a chill in the air and the trees are almost bare. Here in New England that’s a clear sign that fall is upon us and soon the Thanksgiving holiday will be here. Where ever you are and whatever your situation is, Thanksgiving is a perfect time to give thanks!
Personally, I’m thankful for my wonderful family, my health, my spouse, my caring co-workers, my two dogs and many many other things. I urge you to think about what you are thankful for and to let those people (and pets!) know how much you appreciate them.
As a company, we here at SafetyNet sincerely appreciate our close nit community. Our customers, followers and supporters have played a massive role in our growth and we truly appreciate and want to thank all of you.
It’s a great feeling for us when we hear about success stories like this and this, which proves our efforts to bring loved ones back home with our SafetyNet service really do work and we are in fact saving lives.
As the Thanksgiving holiday comes closer, here are some links that may be helpful to you:
Congratulations to the Marathon County (WI) Sheriff’s Office! They were the first public safety agency in Wisconsin to use SafetyNet’s state-of-the-art technology and safely rescue a missing person who had wandered and went missing.
A 71-year-old woman with dementia wandered away from her Wausau, Wisconsin residence and went missing late last week. Just 30 seconds after deputies with the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the missing woman’s residence (her point last seen), they located her using SafetyNet’s Search and Rescue Receivers. The woman was located behind a building near her residence.
A deputy with the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office was pleased with the speed and efficiency of the SafetyNet-enhanced search and rescue, as was the woman’s family!
At SafetyNet, we were all thrilled to hear about this terrific story. And, we want more caregivers to have an opportunity to try the service for themselves. Now through September 30th October 15th, 2011, we’re giving caregivers and parents the opportunity to try the SafetyNet service for free for six months. If during the first six months you or your loved one is not satisfied with the service for whatever reason, you are not obligated to pay anything. To learn more about this special opportunity, please visit https://www.safetynettracking.com/.
This Senior Savvy column addresses the important issue of dementia and nutrition:
Q: My mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, lives in a nursing home. She is not eating well. She does not feel hungry and cannot be coaxed into eating. I have gone in to feed her, but she takes one bite and spits it out at me. I worry if she doesn’t eat enough, she will lose weight and become malnourished. Is there anything more I can do?
A: As dementia progresses, decreased food intake is common in later stages. Speak with the staff about your concerns. Also, feel free to speak with her primary care physician about your worries. It is important to eat and take in a certain amount of calories. The nursing home can weigh your mother weekly for weight loss. They can offer your mother high-caloric drinks, high-caloric cereal and other foods. These high-caloric items have vitamins and other important nutrients.If your mother enjoys picking up food and putting it in her mouth, consider having available a sandwich cut into bite-size pieces when you visit. Hand your mother a piece and give her time to eat it at her leisure.
The world today remembers Sargent Shriver, founder of the Peace Corps, former ambassador, and Special Olympics Chairman of the Board Emeritus, who died Tuesday at 95.
Sargent Shriver was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 20003, and his daughter, Maria Shriver, became a visible Alzheimer’s activist. His late wife, Eunice Shriver, founded the Special Olympics, and Sargent Shriver was a leader the Special Olympics, as well, helping it to grow into an international organization. Special Olympics athletes who are trained as public speakers are given the special title Sargent Shriver International Global Messengers.
R. Sargent Shriver, the Kennedy in-law who became the founding director of the Peace Corps, the architect of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty, a United States ambassador to France and the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1972, died on Tuesday in Bethesda, Md. He was 95.
His family announced his death in a statement.
Mr. Shriver was found to have Alzheimer’s disease in 2003 and on Sunday was admitted to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, where he died.
Five of the six members of the Memory Ensemble were gathered in a nondescript conference room at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, ready to begin their weekly improvisational acting workshop.
“Where’s Irv? We need Irv,” one said.“Oh, he’s always late,” said another. “He’s very dependable that way.”
At first glance, they could have been any group of energetic older Americans dipping their toes into amateur theater. But it was soon evident that this was not a social event: Ensemble members exhibited pronounced physical and verbal tics, abrupt lapses in conversation and other telltale signs of the cognitive disorders that characterize dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
A collaboration between the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and the Lookingglass Theater Company, the Memory Ensemble is what organizers believe is a first-of-its-kind program that seeks to improve the quality of life for people dealing with the early stages of memory loss.
The seven-week pilot session is designed to give newly diagnosed participants a “safe and supportive environment where they can challenge themselves but still feel secure,” said Christine Mary Dunford, an ensemble member at Lookingglass Theater.
There are several iPhone apps that help individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their carers. Alzheimer’s Cards is an Alzheimer’s iPhone app that displays images of foods and objects. iAlz Pro is an Alzheimer’s disease assessment app.
Robert Monroe is 68 years old. He has had brain surgery and now suffers from dementia-like symptoms. On Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m., he left his house in the Sullivan Ranch neighborhood of Mount Dora, Lake County. But his normal walk turned out to be anything but for whatever reason.
Monroe just kept walking and walking and walking. In 5.5 hours, he walked 9.5 miles. He wound up at the J&M Convenience Store in Apopka off of Highway 441.
Store owner Julio Garcia immediately gave Monroe water for his apparent signs of dehydration.
“I asked him where he comes from. He didn’t know. I asked him where he slept last night. He didn’t know. I asked him where he was going. He said he was going to Orlando. I asked how he could go to Orlando on a highway like 441,” remembers Garcia.
Little did Garcia know that the Lake County Sheriff’s Office was just minutes from rescuing Monroe from his wandering walk. All thanks to a little gadget called the SafetyNet Bracelet.
Knowing that he was wearing the bracelet, Monroe’s wife had called the Sheriff’s Office to report him missing. In turn, they powered up a bunch of receivers in a helicopter and patrol cars that use radio frequency that can communicate with Monroe’s bracelet. Once they got a general idea of where he was, they got more specific pings with a hand-held receiver.
“Sometimes you might look for someone who does not have this equipment, doesn’t have a transmitter, it might be days before you locate the person,” says Sgt. Karen Lovelace of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
This post from Notes for Dementia Caregivers is written by a businessman in India, but he has a lot to share with the families of caregivers everywhere. It’s entitled “Supporting the primary caregiver: Mistakes made, lessons learnt, tips shared.” Here, he looks back on some of his early “mistakes.” Follow the link to read his lessons and tips to help the dementia caregivers in your life.
My mother-in-law suffers from dementia, and my wife is the primary caregiver. Nowadays, I introduce myself as a secondary caregiver, but I did not always see myself in this role. After my mother-in-law was diagnosed, and my wife took over the role of the primary caregiver, I failed to support her for many years because of ignorance and some incorrect attitudes.
Briefly, I did not try to learn about dementia or its caregiving after the diagnosis and had no idea of what to expect. I think I expected no impact I underestimated the caregiving load and did not appreciate that my wife could be overwhelmed physically and emotionally.
I perceived her as “negative” when she looked worried or asked me to reduce travel overseas because she would not be able to handle emergencies.
Most people in India treat dementia patients as they would treat any other elder. Close relatives egged my mother-in-law to show more “willpower” and criticized and mocked her for her “dependence” on my wife. They also blamed my wife of negligence and ill-treatment of the dementia patient based on the patient’s confused statements and their own faulty perceptions. I knew this was unfair. But I told my wife and mother-in-law to “adjust” or “ignore” critical comments instead of explaining facts to relatives. My wife was completely isolated by my relatives.
I think, subconsciously, I viewed caregiving as just doing a set of home-based tasks, and easier than “professional work”. This unexamined assumption of mine affected my attitude and decisions for many years.
As my wife’s time and energy were diverted into caregiving, she had to give up the professional work she loved, and also her social life, her friends, and her hobbies. It was a loss of identity for her. I did not realise that she needed emotional and functional support, and that she needed time off from caregiving I think, subconsciously, I viewed caregiving as just doing a set of home-based tasks, and easier than “professional work.” This unexamined assumption of mine affected my attitude and decisions for many years.
Carolyn Rosenblatt of AgingParents.com says she learned a lot while listening to a discussion of family caregivers at the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern California event. She blogged for Forbes.com on advice from experienced family caregivers. Here are some of the caregivers’ answers when asked, ““what advice would you give to other families who may be just starting out as caregivers?”
One woman said that she hesitated too long in asking for help. She thought she could do it all. It just got too difficult eventually, and she found a great resource in the Alzheimer’s Assn. support groups. She still attended them weekly. She got respite care for her husband, too.
The man who was caring for his mom said he wished that he had more help from his family, but none was forthcoming. He finally also swallowed his pride and asked for help outside his family. He got it, though he had to also learn to deal with his very difficult and unpredictable mother.
Another woman on the panel said she wished doctors and others would stop telling her “take care of yourself”. She said she was always doing the best she could. She took care of herself when she was able to do so, and her job as caregiver allowed only a little of that.
Renee Packel used to have a typical suburban life. Her husband, Arthur, was a lawyer and also sold insurance. They lived in a town house just outside Philadelphia, and Mrs. Packel took care of their home and family.
One day, it all came crashing down. The homeowners’ association called asking for their fees. To Mrs. Packel’s surprise, her husband had simply stopped paying them. Then she learned he had stopped writing checks to his creditors, too.
It turned out that Mr. Packel was developing Alzheimer’s disease and had forgotten how to handle money. When she tried to pay their bills, Mrs. Packel, who enlisted the help of a forensic accountant, could not find most of the couple’s money.
“It just disappeared,” she said.
What happened to the Packels is all too common, Alzheimer’s experts say. New research shows that one of the first signs of impending dementia is an inability to understand money and credit, contracts and agreements.