for an aging parent is a complex task, but when dementia is part of the
picture, it becomes even more difficult. Cognitive
and behavioral changes
may occur unpredictably, and parents may resist
care. If you are the caregiver for a loved one who suffers from dementia, the
most important thing is to first understand the disease.
Although Alzheimer’s disease is just one type of dementia, it is the one with the most pronounced stages. Becoming familiar with these stages will help you identify the behaviors your loved one is exhibiting, learn how to address them, and update his or her primary care physician. The National Institutes on Aging defines the three stages of Alzheimer’s disease as:
Mild:The disease begins with memory loss and small changes in personality. The person may forget recent events, the names of familiar people or things and may no longer be able to balance a checkbook. Those with Alzheimer’s slowly lose the ability to plan and organize and may have trouble making a grocery list or finding items in the store.
Moderate:In this stage memory loss and confusion become more obvious. People have more trouble following instructions and may need help getting dressed. They have trouble recognizing friends and family members. They may not know where they are or what day or year it is. They may lack judgment, begin to wander and become restless. In the moderate stages people may make threats, accuse others of stealing, curse, kick, hit, bite, scream or grab things.
Severe (late stage):This is the last stage of Alzheimer’s before death. People often need help with all their daily needs, may not be able to walk or sit up without help. They may not be able to talk and often cannot recognize family members. They may have trouble swallowing and refuse to eat.
Caring for someone with dementia is much more intense than caring for an older adult with other health issues. You can care for the physical needs of your loved one by closely coordinating care with his or her physician. Just as important is the ability to remain a caregiver for the long term. That requires a clear understanding of the role and strategies designed to protect the well-being of you and your family.
1. Caregiving demands will increase over time.As the disease progresses so will the needs of your loved one. By the advanced stages, caregiving will become a full-time job. Knowing this will help you to plan your work/life schedule in a realistic manner and seek help with caregiving responsibilities.
2. Dementia caregiving requires special skills.Caring for someone with dementia may not come naturally. It isn’t intuitive. In fact, sometimes the logical thing to do is the wrong thing. For example, insisting that they eat may be the wrong thing if they have developed swallowing or chewing difficulties. Learn about the disease and its treatment. Consult with your loved one’s physician and ask advice for caregiving.
3: Talk with your family and children about caregiving.Be honest. Children are very intuitive. They will know that their grandparent, aunt or uncle are changing and that their behavior is odd. Explain the disease and that loving the senior loved one is most important. Engage them and empower them to be part of the caregiving process. Younger children may read to the senior or help with chores. The family will be less stressed when the situation is discussed openly.
4. Have regular family meetings.Sit down on a regular basis to talk about how caregiving is impacting the family as a whole. Talk about the impact of the senior’s condition on the family and address stress points and difficulties. Meet with a therapist or case manager if that will help to solve grievances.
5. Pay attention to family needs.Caring for someone with dementia can quickly be the focus of attention for the household. Young children and spouses may feel excluded and left behind. Take time to schedule activities for just the family by asking a family member or professional caregiver to stay with your loved one. Encourage the caregiver to bring special activities so it also is a fun evening at home for your loved one.
Do you care for a parent with dementia? Have you found strategies that work for you and your family? If so, we would like to hear from you. Senior care is a special community. By sharing information, we can help one another to provide meaningful care.
(San Francisco, CA—June 1, 2017) Today Home Care Assistance , the leading provider of in-home care for seniors, released a study they commissioned through Research Now illuminating the emotional impact of dementia caregiving in the United States. With one in four adults serving as a caregiver for an aging loved one and with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia surging among our rapidly aging population, the unrelenting stress and emotional toll of witnessing the “long goodbye” stands to pose a health care challenge of its own.
With roughly 5.5 million Americans living with dementia, the illness actually costs more to care for ($259 billion) than cancer ($77 billion) and heart disease ($102 billion) combined . Behind these numbers lies a hidden, but very real, emotional cost to family caregivers who help those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias manage daily living.
Based on an analysis of 670 family caregivers in the U.S. surveyed between May 8 and 11 of this year, the following results were concluded:
Dementia caregivers experience higher rates of physical, emotional and mental burnout. Often referred to as “caregiver burnout”, the survey found that dementia caregivers were seven times more likely to experience daily physical, emotional and mental exhaustion from caregiving than non-dementia caregivers. The survey also found that dementia caregivers were three times more likely to feel extreme stress from their caregiving responsibilities than other types of caregivers.
Dementia caregivers feel the most stress from watching their loved one decline, while other caregivers are most stressed from juggling work and care responsibilities. In contrast to other types of care that may have a focus on recovery and rehabilitation, caring for someone with dementia can oftentimes be more challenging since the person is facing a long, inevitable decline. Based on the survey results, 38 percent of those caring for a loved one with dementia feel the most stress from watching their loved one decline, while 33 percent of those caring for a loved one without dementia feel the most stress from having to juggle their job and caregiving responsibilities.
When looking at gender breakdowns of stress, the survey showed that male dementia caregivers were 21 percent more likely to feel stressed from having to juggle their job and caregiving responsibilities than female dementia caregivers.
When it comes to managing child and senior care, female dementia caregivers experience higher rates of caregiver guilt.Numerous studies have shown the disproportionate impact Alzheimer’s and other dementias have on women. Not only do women make up two-thirds of Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s , but they also make up two-thirds of the dementia caregiver demographic. Furthermore, researchers at Stanford recently discovered that women are at higher risk “for lowering or exiting their career trajectory owing to caregiver demands.”
According to Home Care Assistance’s survey, female dementia caregivers were twice as likely to feel extreme guilt for not tending to their own family and children’s needs than male dementia caregivers. More so, there were some significant discrepancies seen between females that were caring for a loved one with dementia and females that were caring for a loved one with another disease. Female dementia caregivers were 61 percent more likely to feel extreme guilt for not tending to their own family and children’s needs than non-dementia female caregivers.
“We’re facing an impending health crisis not only for the tens of millions living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, but also for the loved ones that care for them,” said Lily Sarafan, CEO of Home Care Assistance. “Reliable data on the spectrum of family caregiver experiences, as well as solutions for caregivers to effectively manage their own health and wellness, are essential components of the broader care ecosystem. Our hope is that breathtaking scientific advances and lifespan gains are accompanied by thoughtful leadership and policies to address the realities of caregiving.”
In acknowledgement of the heightened stresses of dementia caregiving, Home Care Assistance will be awarding respite care grants to 60 family caregivers. The program was launched in conjunction with its partnership with Maria Shriver’s Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement and Move for Minds, and is open to caregivers across the country. To learn more or apply for a respite care grant, visit: http://homecareassistance.com/moveforminds .
To view the complete findings around the emotional cost of dementia caregiving, download the full report here: http://homecareassistance.com/emotional-costs-dementia-caregiving .
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Research Now on behalf of Home Care Assistance from May 8th-11th, 2017 among 670 family caregivers aged 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighted variables, contact Grace Zavolock at email@example.com .
About Home Care Assistance
Home Care Assistance is the leading provider of in-home care for seniors serving the United States, Canada and Australia. Its uniquely integrated, science-based approach to aging directly supports individual lifestyles and quality longevity, enabling seniors to live happier, healthier lives at home. Named an Inc. 5000 company eight years in a row and one of the 50 fastest growing women-owned companies worldwide in 2017, Home Care Assistance has been recognized as a 2017 Endorsed National Provider by the home care industry’s leading research firm, Home Care Pulse. Home Care Assistance CEO Lily Sarafan was also named Health Care Executives’ 2016 Woman of the Year. For more information about Home Care Assistance, visit www.homecareassistancecleveland.com .
Home Care Assistance Cleveland is located in Solon, Ohio at 33790 Bainbridge Road. Call us at 440.332.0170.
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Great News!! The Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM) are celebrating the announcement that Congress will pass a $400 million increase for Alzheimer’s research funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the FY2017 budget. Read the full article: http://www.alz.org/news_and_events_104864.asp?WT.mc_id=enews2017_05_05&utm_source=enews-aff-113&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=enews-2017-05-05
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I'm participating in the Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's® because I'm committed to raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer's care, support, and research. It is scheduled for October 7, 2017 at the Great Lakes Science Center. More information is coming in the future. I'm leading the way to Alzheimer's first survivor — but I need your help!
Will you help me reach my fundraising goal of $500.00 by making a donation today? Visit my personal fundraising page to make a secure, tax-deductible donation or download and print the paper form on my page to mail in with a check. All donations benefit the Alzheimer's Association — and every dollar makes a difference in this fight.
Together, we can end Alzheimer's disease!
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