Swallow your pride and ask for help: The challenge for family caregivers

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.

via Swallow Your Pride and Ask for Help: The Challenge For Family Caregivers – Carolyn Rosenblatt – Aging Parents – Forbes.

Ohio woman learns to be caregiver to mother with Alzheimer’s disease

There are four books on the table beside Theresa Hawk’s bed: What to Expect When You’re Expecting, What to Expect The Toddler Years, Alzheimer’s Early Stages: First Steps for Families, Friends and Caregivers, and Regina Brett’s latest book, God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours.

These are not books prescribed to her from her book club or The New York Times best seller list, as if to suggest Theresa, a Mayfield Heights resident, has time to belong to a book club or even read The New York Times. Rather these books are required reading for a set of life circumstances that she never expected.

Around the holidays in 2008, Theresa and her family began recognizing the fact her mother, Virginia, was having some real cognitive problems including memory loss. The problems came to a head when Virginia wanted to get a relative’s telephone number and went to call information. Instead of dialing “411″, she dialed “911″.

When the police arrived to investigate the call, Virginia had no recollection of using the phone at all. Theresa began to seek a diagnosis of her mother’s growing problem. Virginia was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2009 at age 60.

via Mayfield Heights woman learns to be caregiver to mother with Alzheimer’s disease | cleveland.com.

Survey: Alzheimer’s caregivers’ concerns

Family caregivers’ greatest concerns about the progression of a loved one’s Alzheimer’s disease are memory loss 41 percent, personal safety 33 percent and confusion 27 percent, finds a new survey.

The poll of 524 caregivers also found that 67 percent named at least one cognitive or thinking skills’ change in their loved one as a main concern; 55 percent said caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s has taken a toll on their own health; and 60 percent said they felt overwhelmed.

via Survey Reveals Alzheimer’s Caregivers’ Top Concerns.

Shriver Report examines impact of Alzheimer’s on women as caregivers and patients

California first lady Maria Shriver is harnessing the power of her prominent California Women’s Conference to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and its impact on American women.

California’s first lady uses the awards ceremony to honor humanitarian efforts.

In the lead-up to her annual conference on women’s issues, on Oct. 15, Shriver will join with the Alzheimer’s Association to release a comprehensive study detailing how the devastating disease affects women as caregivers, advocates and patients.

Featuring essays written by personalities from the worlds of politics, entertainment and media, “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s” gives an honest and diverse look at the personal, professional and policy dimensions of the disease.

via Shriver Report Examines Impact of Alzheimer’s on Women as Caregivers and Patients – ABC News.

Seven easy ways to help a family diagnosed with autism

From The Huffington Post’s Elaine Hall, a thoughtful post on how to help out a family with an autistic child or adult. Autism caregivers will probably appreciate your help!

We’ve all heard the news: one in 91 children are now being diagnosed with autism in the United States alone. This is staggering. Today, almost everyone knows someone with autism. And yet, with all the talk about cures, causes and concerns, there is rarely any information on how we can support a family with this diagnosis. All too often, because folks don’t know what to do, they do nothing! Even to the extent of avoiding the family out of fear, or just out of not knowing what to do or say. In this post, I hope to show how simple acts of kindness can make a world of difference for families who have children with autism.

Elaine Hall: 7 Easy Ways to Help a Family Diagnosed With Autism.

Adult night-care service for Alzheimer’s patients who may wander

Nighttime is when some Alzheimer’s patients are most restless, creating an anxious, sleepless time for caregivers who worry about their loved ones wandering.

“It is common for them to get their circadian rhythms off,” said Jean Van Den Beldt, administrator of Byron Center Manor, which plans to begin a new dawn-to-dusk activity program called Twilight Care.

The dementia-care and adult-day services community at 2115 84th St. SW is starting the program, which will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m., to keep restless patients in a safe, stimulating environment. The cost is $120 per night.

via New service keeps restless Alzheimer’s patients busy at night | MLive.com.

DVD on fall prevention for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, family caregivers

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America AFA recently released “Preventing Falls: Practical Steps to Reduce Fears and Risks,” the latest DVD in AFA’s “Your Time to Care” series of educational programs for family caregivers, in the hopes of helping caregivers reduce their own risk of falls and prevent their loved ones from falling.

Falls are a very common and life-threatening occurrence and are particularly worrisome for caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, a brain disorder that primarily affects people older than 65. In fact, according to federal government statistics, one out of three individuals over the age of 65 will experience a fall, resulting in 20,000 deaths annually.“What’s really important to know is that a fall is preventable,” said Laura N. Gitlin, Ph.D., one of the experts featured in the DVD and director of the Center for Applied Research on Aging and Health, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia.

With this in mind, “Preventing Falls” provides insight into why dementia intensifies the incidence of falls and offers practical strategies from experts and family caregivers on how to reduce risk factors, including communication techniques, home modifications and lifestyle changes.

via Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Releases New DVD on Preventing Falls.

Caregiving spouses of Alzheimer’s patients put own health at risk

Jackie Hackbart is a caregiver under stress.

She can’t leave her husband, Bob, 82, who suffers from dementia, alone in their Citrus Heights town house – and she can’t leave him with a sitter, because he forgets where she’s gone and gets distressed.

Since the retired chemical engineer’s diagnosis in 2005, dementia has robbed him not only of memory and cognition, but also of independence. In many ways, it’s robbed his wife of her independence, too.

“The past five years have been a challenge,” said Hackbart, 78, a retired dietitian. “Mostly, I try to keep a stiff upper lip.”

But the stiff upper lip exacts a steep toll: Hackbart has been hospitalized twice in the past year for gastrointestinal bleeding, most recently in March.

via Caregiving spouses of Alzheimer’s patients put own health at risk – Sacramento Living – Sacramento Food and Wine, Home, Health | Sacramento Bee.

Alzheimer’s experts: Don’t hesitate to get paid help

Marilyn Blum is like a lot of wives with a retired husband around the house. She loves the man she has been married to for 33 years but says, “It’s just not normal to be together 24/7.”

Blum’s comment is more poignant when she explains that her husband, Steve, 65, has had Alzheimer’s disease for five years and needs help dressing, grooming, eating and using the toilet.

“I wish I had gotten paid help right away. I waited two years,” says Blum, 61, of Owings Mills, Md.

Now Steve participates in an adult day care program. A paid companion, Evadne Cummins, visits the house three times a week to keep Steve company, make lunch, go on walks and help with basic grooming.

via Alzheimer’s experts: Don’t hesitate to get paid help – USATODAY.com.

‘How to Be a Sister’: Autism and hard-won love

When Margaret Garvin was 3 years old, she was diagnosed with severe autism. Her sister Eileen was about to be born.

“Throughout the course of my life, I’ve only been certain of two things: I am the youngest of five children, and I am my sister Margaret’s older sister,” Eileen Garvin writes in “How to Be a Sister: A Love Story With a Twist of Autism.” “Even though she was born three years earlier than I, I was the caretaker, the dependable one, and, as far as I can see, always will be. Instead of growing up in the protective shadow of my big sister, I often found myself dodging things she was throwing at me or chasing that shadow through a crowd of people as my big sister took off on some crazy escapade.”

via ‘How to Be a Sister’: Autism and hard-won love | OregonLive.com.