Caregiver Grief – A Practical Discussion

Caregiver grief photo illustration

Caregiver grief is real & it’s not just something you can “power through”.

The loved one you’re caring for is still around yet you feel their loss. Some think this is depression but it’s actually a form of caregiver grief. It’s commonly referred to as anticipatory grief and it’s very common when caring for someone with an incurable disease.

This kind of grief can hurt as much as what you feel when your loved one dies. Sometimes, it’s more. You can’t ignore what you’re feeling and hope it goes away. Allow yourself the time to process what you’re feeling and appreciate the time you have left.

In this episode, two caregivers talk to a grief counselor about their unique struggles and feelings. It’s a discussion about those feelings and how to move forward with them.  Each caregiver’s situation is different and so too are their emotions. It’s useful to bring in someone with training and experience to help us navigate our emotions.

If you enjoy this episode and find it helpful, please leave us a 5-star rating and a review. This is how new people find the show and we’d be eternally grateful!

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Want more? Check out Caregiver confessions! 

Raising An Aging Parent

How to Raise an Aging Parent

Raising an Aging Parent

At what point did we become the parent to our parents? For some of us, this transition happened slowly over time. Others have been thrust into the role because of a crisis. Regardless of how the role-reversal happened, it comes with a host of challenges we may not be ready for.

How could this transition be easier? By learning how to raise an aging parent! In his book, Dr. Ken Druck outlines the many ways we can improve our conversations to better help us live the second half of our lives.

The three cornerstones of Raising an Aging Parent are strengthening the bonds between adult children, children and, their aging parents. Forging collaborative relationships between siblings and establishing a new norm for the second half of life.

In Raising an Aging Parent readers will learn;

  • Steps for clearing the air & moving forward with siblings
  • How to support/help aging parents transform adversity (i.e. change loss & decline into opportunity
  • What to do when an aging parent resists change

Despite coming from a family of poor communicators and caring for a Mom who can’t communicate well anymore, I found this book very helpful. At some point, we need to learn to express our wishes to our families in a loving way. In turn, they need to learn to hear our hearts, not just our words. That is what I took away from this book. I’m confident that you will gain something useful too.

 

Estate Planning for the Sandwich Generation

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Alzheimer’s Trippin’ With George

Susan & George Straley of Alzheimer's Trippin' with George

When your spouse is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s do you run for the hills or plan a cross country trip? Alzheimer’s Trippin’ with George.

Alzheimer’s Trippin’ with George, a novel.

When your spouse is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, do you run for the hills or plan a 10,000-mile trip? Thankfully, today’s guest planned the trip, blogged about it and turned her experiences into two books!

After caregiving for her Mom, Susan was ready for freedom.  When she married George, it was with the understanding if something serious happened to either of them, she was OUT! George was diagnosed with progressive dementia, likely Alzheimer’s just before their 40th anniversary. He asked her to stay until after that date. Naturally, Susan planned a cross country trip.

Susan has always been a wanderlust personality. Even at the tender age of three, she’d take off to “parts unknown”. Understandably, she caused her family a great deal of worry.

Alzheimer’s Trippin’ with George is a brutally honest journal. In it, Susan describes the challenges they faced after his diagnosis.  Many people along their journey encouraged this openness knowing it would help others.

Living with Alzheimer’s

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Avoid the Isolation Danger Zone!

Dangers of Isolation

Isolation can cause health and mental issues.

 

Research has linked social isolation to higher risks of physical & mental conditions; Alzheimer’s & death are just two of them.  Becoming isolated frequently happens “naturally” and there are many ways to combat this issue.

Discussing senior isolation came naturally with my guest, Rebecca Graulich. She’s a past guest who started a foundation to cope with senior issues. Recording this episode of the podcast was originally intended to be an update but turned in to much more.

During our conversation, we discussed ways to prevent senior isolation. Some of them are easier than others. Regardless, we need to do what we can. The first prevention is something we all need, a sense of purpose.

Having a sense of purpose makes us less likely to succumb to the negative effects of social isolation. Hobbies are an easy way to have a purpose in our senior years. Volunteering is another method of preventing isolation by giving back.

Having access to transportation is also important. If driving is no longer an option there are many options in addition to relying on family. Public transportation is one option but it’s not always convenient.  Many communities have volunteer organizations that can drive our loved ones where they need to go. It may take some creativity to solve this issue but it’s worth the time it takes.

Caring about someone or something else will always give us purpose. There are many things to keep in mind when considering a pet.  

If a pet isn’t practical, perhaps volunteering at a shelter or helping a neighbor with their pets is an option. Pet therapy can actually lower blood pressure and stress. Caring for a pet is fun and rewarding for anyone who needs companionship.

More Ways to Avoid the Isolation Danger Zone!

These are just a few ways to avoid the dangers of loneliness. This blog post lists many others.

 

A Fuzzy Way to Prevent Isolation

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The “Match.Com” of Eldercare

Eldercare consultant

Eldercare consultants are like “Match.com” for finding care services.

When it comes to eldercare we frequently need a partner. Even for those who plan ahead, making decisions for our loved one is a huge challenge. For those living with memory loss, it’s nearly impossible to know what they’ll need, when they’ll need it and how we’ll provide the care.

Enter and eldercare consultant.  What does an eldercare consultant do?  They provide a professional assessment of the needs and strengths of seniors and their families. They also provide immediate solution option so you get relief and support. Additionally, they can provide guidance about the most appropriate and affordable options. Lastly, they can then arrange for your chosen services to begin saving your hours of time.

Frequently, eldercare planning becomes a priority when an emergency has occurred. Obviously, this is not the ideal time to undertake such serious decisions. Additionally, for many of us, we aren’t even aware of what services may be needed or what’s available.

This podcast episode will introduce you to a consultant, what she can do and why you should consider hiring one.

Eldercare Consultant Website

When & How to Choose In-Home Care

 

Where Else To Find Fading Memories

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You’re Too Good Looking to Have Alzheimer’s!

Early onset Alzheimer's pie charts

“You’re too good looking to have Alzheimer’s” does not protect you from early-onset Alzheimer’s.

“You’re too good looking to have Alzheimer’s.”  Imagine hearing this from your doctor. The disbelief that someone could actually look vibrant, strong and healthy yet have Alzheimer’s makes diagnosis more difficult.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s is an uncommon form of dementia that strikes people younger than age 65. Of all the people who have Alzheimer’sdisease, about 5 percent develop symptoms before age 65. If 4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, at least 200,000 people have the early-onset form of the disease.

Imagine being in the prime of your life, close to the top of your career when suddenly you’re having issues at work. Your boss is upset that you didn’t follow through on the action items that were assigned to you. You’re certain that this assignment was never discussed.

Now imagine being tested for depression, hormone imbalances all kinds of issues and not getting the answers you need. What is wrong? Is it you, the world, are you going crazy? That’s the world that some people with early-onset Alzheimer’s experience.

It’s commonly assumed that it’s the elderly who end up with Alzheimer’s. While that is normally the case, there are many people living with the disease who may still have children at home. Due to the rarity of early-onset, we are less aware of this version of the disease.

Inherited Alzheimer’s

The movie “Still Alice” (released in 2014) portrays Alice Howland, a 50-year-old professor of linguistics. Alice discovers that she has a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease. She has to think about what her future will be like with diminished cognitive capacities, and must face difficult conversations with her children, who might have inherited the disease.

In the movie, Alice has Familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD).  This a rare form of Alzheimer’s that is entirely passed down through genetics. FAD accounts for 2-3% of all cases of Alzheimer’s and usually has a much earlier onset than other types of Alzheimer’s, with symptoms developing in people in their 30s or 40s

Alzheimer’s disease isn’t fully understood. Scientists believe that for most people, the disease has genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. There may be a hereditary component to Alzheimer’s. People whose parents or siblings have the disease are at a slightly higher risk of developing the condition.

Regular listeners know, my Mom and Great grandmother had dementia or Alzheimer’s. It’s possible that my maternal grandmother had Alzheimer’s as well. That puts me in a higher risk category. I cannot change my genetics so I focus on making the best lifestyle choices I can.

Doing What We Can to Avoid Inherited Alzheimer’s

Lifestyle choices, all the things we know we should do but somehow manage to avoid doing. I exercise regularly, eat as cleanly as possible and I make getting the best sleep I can. Other lifestyle improvements include stress management.

Some examples of stress-management techniques include:

  • Meditation
  • Guided Imagery and Visualization
  • Hypnosis
  • Deep Breathing
  • Massage
  • Prayer

Trust me — it is not necessary to lock yourself into any of one of these stress relaxation techniques. Rather, it’s best to feel free to explore any or all of them to see which technique works best for you. Simply start with any of these techniques for a few minutes a day and you’ll quickly begin to experience better brain function. Then, find the techniques you tend to enjoy the very most and you’ll begin experiencing a whole new and improved — and less stressed — you!

With this in mind, my main sources of stress management are exercise, playing with my dogs and focusing on the beauty around me. As a result of producing this podcast, I am able to talk to many people who also help me with my caregiving journey.

Fading Memories is a place where you can get stress relief. Each guest offers a lot of inspiration and practical ideas. Best of all, there are a lot of laughs despite the serious topic. Browse through our growing library of episodes to find the topic you need to hear next.

Where Else To Find Fading Memories

Be sure to share this podcast with other caregivers! Thanks. You can find us on social media at the following links.  Facebook    Instagram    Twitter

Also, check out our new YouTube channel where you can see us in action!

 

Nutrition & Brain Health (podcast episode)

Exercise & Brain Health (podcast episode)

When & How to Choose In-Home Care

Choosing in-home care suggestions for caregivers.

 

When should we consider in-home care for my loved one? How do we find the right help and where do we start?

First, if your loved one is struggling to perform basic activities of daily living it’s probably time to get help. Part-time help to start might be the best way to go in the beginning.

Basic ADLs consist of self-care tasks that include, but are not limited to:

  • Bathing & showering
  • Personal hygiene & grooming (including brushing/combing/styling hair)
  • Dressing
  • Toilet hygiene (getting to the toilet, cleaning oneself, and getting back up)
  • Functional mobility, often referred to as “transferring,” as measured by the ability to walk, get in and out of bed, and get into and out of a chair; the broader definition (moving from one place to another while performing activities) is useful for people with different physical abilities who are still able to get around independently.
  • Self-feeding (not including cooking or chewing and swallowing)

Asking why the owner is in the caregiving business is a great place to start. You can train people on caregiving but you can’t teach them how to care. The next place to look at is third party review sites.

Specific Questions to Consider

What specific services do you offer?  Some agencies do personal care as well as companion care but you may need nursing services. Caregivers can’t administer medications. Knowing exactly what you need in terms of help will help guide you to the right company.

Additionally, other questions to ask could be; ” What is the minimum number of hours of care provided?  Is there a daily minimum? What are the rates, are they different at night or on weekends?”  It’s helpful to know that the shorter number of hours makes it difficult to get a high-quality caregiver. Finding other chores they can do might be useful for you to have completed.

When you’re working with an agency it’s their responsibility to;

  • cover a shift if a caregiver is sick
  • provide insurance coverage for the caregiver
  • replace a caregiver if they aren’t a good fit
  • Conducting background checks, etc.

Even though you’re doing your best having in-home care allows you to maintain your relationship. As much as you want to be able to do as much as possible, getting help is likely to become necessary.

In-Home Care Self Assesment

Private Caregiver Site

Related Information (Long Term Care Insurance episode)

Where Else To Find Fading Memories

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Giving a Caregiver Help

Giving a caregiver help helps prevent burnout & disease.

Providing caregiver help isn’t easy. Asking for help is just one more task in a long list of tasks.  Learning how we can provide help is the topic of this podcast.

Because of their ever-increasing workload, 65% of caregivers are hospitalized or die before their loved one. For that reason, finding ways to provide help that works for them is crucial.  Many caregivers don’t ask for help for lots of reasons. Certainly, we can offer assistance without robbing them of their sense of self-reliance.

Help is frequently refused when adult children are offering. Although this is true, we can see that help is needed. Providing help in a way that will be accepted is our challenge to solve.

My conversation with Barbara Ivey was very insightful. Here are some of her tips.

  • Always make explicit, direct requests for help
  • Be reasonable
  • Take what you can get
  • Respect your potential helpers
  • ALWAYS let your helpers know how much you appreciate them
How To Offer Help

Finding ways to offer support starts with observing. Equally important would be listening. Hearing and seeing tasks we can help with should make acceptance easier. Many of the easiest ways you can help will mean the most to an exhausted caregiver.

Once an assessment of needs is made, make a list of who you can call on for help. You can find the right person for each task when you keep this list in mind. For example, I am not good at dealing with bureaucracy. Two minutes of “this is how it’s done” and I am ready for murder. Thankfully, my husband has much more patience than I do and can tackle bureaucratic phone calls for me.

Handling tasks that a caregiver isn’t good at can be a lifesaver. Certainly, it helps keep caregiver stress under control. Another method would be to find ways to allow a caregiver time to do what they enjoy. Barbara’s Dad liked to do yard work. Visiting her Mom while he worked in the yard solved two problems. Dad was able to tackle the yard work without the worry that Mom would have a problem.

If You Know a Caregiver that Needs Help

Call or stop by rather than sending an email. Bring along something that will jump-start the help, like a meal. Instead of saying “let me know what I can do” ask “what can I do right this minute to improve your day?”.

Set up a time to work with them on an exhaustive list of everything they do on a daily basis. Prioritize the list then ask if they know anyone who could tackle some of the tasks listed.

None of us plan ahead for the day we’ll become a caregiver. Many times this happens because of an emergency, leaving us unprepared.  Knowing ahead of time what services are available will make reaching out for help much easier.

When Your Parent’s Won’t Ask For Help (Article)

Reinforcements – How to Get People To Help You (book Barbara recommended)

It Takes A Village – (Senior Social Program with Kids)

Where Else To Find Fading Memories

Be sure to share this podcast with other caregivers! Thanks. You can find us on social media at the following links.  Facebook    Instagram    Twitter

Also, check out our new YouTube channel where you can see us in action!

Bonus – Live Episode on Driver Safety!

Senior Driver Safety image

When is the lack of driver safety an issue?

When is it Time to Take Away the Car Keys?

Driver safety is important. When to take away the car keys is a difficult yet important decisions.  It’s not to do and should not be made lightly. Most seniors see giving up their cars as the total loss of their independence. Solving this concern will go a long way in aiding them in maintaining driver safety.

The ability to drive helps older adults stay active and independent. However, the risk of being hurt or hurting someone else in an accident increases dramatically as we age.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 500 older adults are injured every day in crashes.

According to the NHTSA here are 20 signs we should watch out for.
  1. Drifting into other lanes.
  2. Straddling lanes.
  3. Making sudden lane changes for no reason.
  4. Ignoring or missing traffic signals or stop signs.
  5. Becoming confused in traffic.
  6. Braking or stopping abruptly without any reason.
  7. Hitting the accelerator suddenly without any cause.
  8. Coasting nearly to a complete stop in the midst of moving traffic.
  9. Presses on the brake and the accelerator at the same time while driving.
  10. Difficulty seeing pedestrians, objects, or even other vehicles.
  11. Getting more and more nervous when driving.
  12. Drives at a significantly slower speed than the posted speed or the general speed of surrounding vehicles.
  13. Backs up after missing an exit or road.
  14. Has difficulty reacting quickly as they process multiple images or sounds.
  15. Has problems with neck flexibility in turning to see traffic on the left or the right.
  16. She gets disoriented or lost easily, even if she is in familiar locations.
  17. Fails to use turn signals or even keeps the signal on without changing lanes.
  18. Has increased near misses on the road.
  19. Has been issued two or more traffic tickets or warnings in the past two years.
  20. There are dents or scrapes present on the car or on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, or even on curbs and very little understanding of how they got there.
How do we begin monitoring driving behavior?

Here are some questions you can ask your parent to help determine if they need to stop driving;

Can you read the street signs easily?

Do you have trouble looking over your shoulder?

Do you have difficulty moving your foot from the gas to the brakes?

How well do you see at night?

Are you comfortable with passengers or are they distracting?

Being honest with our loved ones goes a long way when determining if their driver’s safety is questionable. Services like Uber and Lyft will allow our loved ones to stay independent. Help them learn how to navigate these apps.

Sometimes, we have to be the “bad guy” and physically take away the car. If our loved one is determined to drive despite our serious concerns it may be necessary. Other options are to get a letter from their doctor stating that driving is no longer safe. You can also contact your local DMV and let them know a driver is unsafe.

My Dad told Mom one day that they were giving her car to my brother-in-law. For a long time, despite Alzheimer’s, Mom was still pretty angry over this “injustice”. Because of her Alzheimer’s she saw no logical reason she couldn’t drive anymore. It’s unfortunate that she was unable to enjoy the Karma when we took Dads’ car away.

Ensuring driver safety isn’t easy. A willingness to do all we can to aid in this transition is important. Having a discussion about their fears, struggles and how to address them might go a long way in getting compliance. Keeping in mind that losing even some independence is difficult is also important.

 

Assisted Living – Good Things To Know

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Be sure to share this podcast with other caregivers! Thanks. You can find us on social media at the following links.  Facebook    Instagram    Twitter

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Walk To End Alzheimer’s – All About Fundraising & More

Each Walk to End Alzheimer’s flower color has a special meaning.

Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. The walk is held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, In talking to Ginny Roth, walk coordinator for a Northern California walk, I learned about the importance of the fundraising in helping find a cure.

In the United States, someone develops Alzheimer’s every 65 seconds. Currently, there are more than 5 million people living with the disease. Additionally, there are over 16 million unpaid family caregivers supporting them. In 2019, Alzheimer’s disease will cost the United States $290 billion. This number is projected to rise to more than $1.1 trillion in 2050.

Tune in to this conversation, you’ll learn exactly what is done with the money raised. Fundraising is important, checking out this podcast is even more important.

Getting involved with the Alzheimer’s Association started with joining one of their support groups. I had attended a grief support session after my Dad died but that group didn’t cover everything I was going through. A Google search for support groups led me to the Alzheimer’s Association.

After I started my podcast, I interviewed Pam Jarvie, one of the legislative advocates. She persuaded me to join her advocacy team and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. Attending my first state advocacy day this year (2-5-2019) was an interesting eye-opener.

Having very little interest in politics, I found it odd that I was now lobbying politicians on behalf of people like my Mom. Alzheimer’s is no way to live the last years of your life so I do all I can to help find a cure. Lobbying politicians for money is one of the most important activities we can do.

Why I’m Walking

However, not everyone can take the time to go to their state capital and spend the day telling their stories. For those that would rather do anything else, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is an easy way to help. Early autumn is prime “walk season”. Most walks are easy enough that everyone can manage one. The walk I’ll be attending is flat, allows dogs, and has ample parking so even mobility challenged folks can easily attend.

After my talk with Ginny, I decided on a modest fundraising goal. I’m also going to do as much recording and live streaming for the podcast as possible.  Generating as much awareness as possible is part of the mission statement I have for my podcast.

Feeling ashamed with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is a stigma that needs to end. Interviewing guests living with Alzheimer’s or dementia allows me to knock down some of that shame. Showing the joy and camaraderie that people at the Walk experience will help grow my local walk.

We must find a cure for this disease. Alzheimer’s disproportionately affects women, and I’m sure women will find the cure.  Please make a donation to advance the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. Thank you for joining the fight against Alzheimer’s!

Where Else To Find Fading Memories

Be sure to share this podcast with other caregivers! Thanks. You can find us on social media at the following links.  Facebook    Instagram    Twitter

Also, check out our new YouTube channel where you can see us in action!

Be sure to tune in to our YouTube and Facebook pages for live streaming of this great event.

 

 

Learn more about the Alzheimer’s Association

Living With Alzheimer’s