How to care for someone with Alzheimer’s without losing yourself

If you’re caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, read this great advice from the Geriatric Care Management blog. It may change your caregiving experience for the better — for you and your loved one.

There are many things to be struck by whenever I meet with the daughter, son, spouse or friend of someone with Alzheimer’s. Strong, compassionate, patient – these words describe but never capture the essence of the person in front of me.

And as we talk, I’m invited into their unique experience of the illness. They share the good days with me and offer up the parts they wouldn’t change for anything.

But something else emerges too.  It’s a sense of being lost – unable to tell any more where their needs begin and the needs of the person they are caring for, end.

Multigenerational Homes on the Rise

Multigenerational homes – when three or more generations are living together as a single family – are again on the rise. More and more, middle generations find themselves caring for young children (or even adult children) and their parents at the same time. This trend is the result of a poor economy, in which many families find the costs of long-term care overwhelming, and many families opt to have aging loved ones move in with them to ease the financial burden.

The arrangement is full of both challenges and opportunities. Some families hesitate to take on such a big responsibility, fearing a loss of privacy and increased stress. Another consideration for families contemplating a multigenerational living arrangement is cost.

On the surface, moving mom or dad in might seem like a money-saving opportunity, but one spouse may have to cut back on hours or even quit a job altogether in order to provide care. Financial stress can take a toll on families already struggling with the unknown terrain of caring for an aging loved one.

via Multigenerational Homes on the Rise |

Mothers of children with autism pay price in workplace

VANCOUVER, Wash.—Mothers of children with autism see their careers disproportionally affected as they confront greater demands on their time, inflexible workplaces and increased medical costs, according to a new study by researchers at Washington State University Vancouver.

The study, based on a survey of 326 families in Washington and Oregon, found that slightly more than half the women worked fewer hours to accommodate the needs of their child and three out of five had not taken a job because of their child’s autism. To care for the child, one-quarter had taken a leave of absence and nearly as many had not taken a promotion. Nearly 60 percent had suffered financial problems in the past year.

via WSU researchers find mothers of children with autism pay price in workplace.

Taking a break, giving breaks; Autism and respite care

Here’s a good post from Our Journey Thru Autism on  respite care. It includes a list of ways non-caregivers can give caregivers a little break. So, if you need a break – please find a way to take one. And if you can give a caregiver a little break, offer some help.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about caregiver fatigue and burnout. As caregivers, it is important to be sure to take a break OFTEN enough to maintain a healthy balance between caregiving and personal needs. Many times, people want to help, but they don’t know what to do that will help. And many times, we simply don’t ask for help because we don’t have the time to ask.

via OUR Journey Thru Autism: Taking a Break, Giving Breaks…Respite Care.

Moms take family approach to autism support

For the first two years of his life, Isaac Dority wouldn’t look people in the eye. Rebecca Dority, Isaac’s mother, said his speech was minimal, too. Isaac would only repeat the last thing he heard.

She and her husband, Patrick Dority, just thought he was a quiet child, but after a friend from their preschool told them Isaac wasn’t acting like the rest of the kids and wasn’t playing with toys like the other kids, the two parents went to the Kansas University Medical Center to find out what could be wrong.

“I kind of thought it could be autism, but I didn’t know how bad it was,” Rebecca said. “After a half a day of being observed, the doctors pulled us into a room and handed us a box of Kleenex and told us, ‘Your son has autism.’

“I can’t describe when you are given that diagnoses and how that affects your whole world,” she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one out of every 110 has an autism-spectrum disorder. And behind most of those children is a family that will have to learn how to live with this disorder in the family. That’s where the Eudora Autism Community Education and Support Society comes in.

Earlier this year, a group of mothers with autistic children, including Dority, gathered together at the Pyramid Place Early Education Center in Eudora, 1904 Elm St., to form a family support group for children with autism.

“Our goal really is to educate parents and give them tools so they can help their children,” Dority said. “We want them to learn about early intervention and to find the best therapy that will work for their child.”

Dority said this group is different from other autism support meetings where a lot of information is given to parents, but there is nobody there to help them make sense of it all.

via /.

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 –

High divorce rate in autism families is a myth

Parents of autistic children often hear that the divorce rate in families with autism is 80%, but a new study debunks that figure as a myth.

”There really weren’t any significant differences in terms of family structure when you consider children with autism and those without,” says study researcher Brian Freedman, PhD, clinical director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.

via Autism Families: High Divorce Rate Is a Myth.

Life with this autistic teen: Constant vigilance, unconditional love

Fifteen-year-old Sean Walsh paces in a robotic loop around the lower level of his family’s Camelot Drive, Howell, home.

He circles the table in the family’s great room, pauses by his sister Shannon, then punches her in the head.

“I can’t fight back,” she says later. “How are you going to punch an autistic kid in the nose?”

Only minutes later, Sean hugs his mother, Michelle, and his 17- year-old sister. He tussles with his father, Howell Mayor Robert F. Walsh, and laughs.

via Constant vigilance, unconditional love | | Tri-Town News.

‘Sandwich generation’ stressed over looking after kids and aging parents

OTTAWA — Kathyrn Harrison was watching her mother tear pages out of magazines to make collages when it hit her.

Bonnie Harrison was a former real-estate agent. She’d run an inn with her husband, Now, in the throes of dementia, she was participating in art therapy that often saw her filling in colouring books.

“My mom wasn’t even aware that there was something wrong with her,” said Harrison, a 41-year-old from Toronto.”I started crying,” she recalled. “She came over and hugged me.”

Harrison is part of a group of Canadians that has been dubbed the Sandwich Generation, because they are caught between the needs of their own families and children, and the needs of their aging parents.

via ‘Sandwich generation’ stressed over looking after kids and aging parents.

15 Lessons From the Clergy / Caregiver of an Elderly Parent

Here’s a post from The Connection, the blog at the Clergy Health Initiative, which is a program intended to improve the health and well-being of the 1,600 United Methodist elders and local pastors serving churches in North Carolina. Partners of the initiative include Duke Divinity School and The Duke Endowment.

John M. Crowe: 15 Lessons From the Caregiver of an Elderly Parent

Our guest blogger, Dr. John M. Crowe, offers this advice to pastors who are caregivers for their own parents, recipients of care from their own family members, or counselors to congregants in the caregiving role. This advice comes from my own experience over the last year and a half plus being part of the online support group. 1. Before their health starts down a slippery slope, make sure you or a sibling has both Durable and Medical Powers of Attorney POA.

via The Connection: John M. Crowe: 15 Lessons From the Caregiver of an Elderly Parent.