celeb focuses attention on Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s Disease: Thoughts of Those Close To It.

William BlackerThis post references to two individuals who are very close to Alzheimer’s Disease. One of these individuals is Sandy Halperin, DDS, an Alzheimer’s sufferer who has recently published a book on his real life experiences with the Disease. The other is Seth Rogen, who recently addressed the US Senate on the subject. Mr. Rogen’s  Mother-in-law suffers with the Disease. The idea of having a well known celebrity discuss such an important topic certainly brings needed attention to the subject. Also, when a book on an important issue is published, this too can muster needed attention. However, what about the other 5 million sufferers in the USA? For the most part, these folks only have their families, caregivers and physicians advocating for them. We can only hope that the important messages of Dr. Halperin and Mr. Rogen reach many with the intention of informing, fund raising, and research. Once our elected officials classify this insidious disease with the same priority of other diseases, Alzheimer’s may receive the necessary attention and funding it so deserves.

VIDEO: Seth Rogen Brings Attention to Alzheimer’s

Please share a comment with William below. If you have your own story, click here.

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the grief of Alzeheimers

Lisa & her Mother

Lisa & her Mother

IS THIS THE LONG GOODBYE ? My best friend’s mother recently passed away, after suffering from Alzheimer’s for several years. As she sat by her mom’s bed, watching her fade away, I could not stop wondering what it will be like for my mom when her time arrives. As I received the news, uncontrollable tears ran down my face. I knew a great deal of the sorrow that I was feeling in that moment was connected to my own personal grief.

At the Alzheimer support group, which I have been attending for almost three years, our leader has been telling me that I was in a grieving process. The first time she said this to me, I responded that I was not, because my mom was not dying. Now I understand!

It’s odd because just the other day one of mom’s nurses reassured me, with delight in her voice, that my mom was doing great. She shared with me how blessed my mom was and that she’ll be around for quite a while. After hanging up the phone my emotions, thoughts and feelings ran rampant.

Yes, I understand that I am lucky to still have my mom, yet I also know how much more Alzheimer’s can rob from her. Just thinking of how much worse she could become, as this disease progresses, leaves me feeling nauseous and sick to my stomach.

I must confess, that at moments throughout the years, knowing that there is no cure, I have wished that my mom could just close her eyes and go to sleep. I know that if she understood or could see what was happening to her, she would also wish for the same.

Today, I am in mourning for my best friend’s mom and maybe also grieving for mine. For now I know that I must express what I am feeling to free myself from these haunting thoughts.

Maybe for my mother and our family this will be a long goodbye. Whatever it is I need to get back into the space of feeling grateful. In less than two weeks I will be going with my son to visit her. As long as I can see her smile and hear her say she loves me, I will push myself to come from a place of being thankful. Yet for now, I can only feel saddened.

Lisa Hirsch is the author of the book: MY MOM MY HERO: Alzheimer’s-A Mother & Daughter’s Bittersweet Journey. If you have a comment for Lisa, please share it below.

If you have a story about Alzheimer’s you would like to share, do so here.

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is your senior being scammed?

Curtis-Bailey-Portrait LR BW-2Scammers are at it again: Betty is a 76 year old widow living in a small Illinois town. She was married to her high school sweetheart, Arthur, for 50 years. Arthur died last fall after a courageous battle against cancer. Betty’s oldest son lives in the same town and checks on her frequently. Betty stays active in her church and has lunch weekly with a group of friends. Two days ago, Betty received a call from a man who informed her that he was calling from the FBI. She was immediately concerned as no one from any law enforcement agency, let alone the FBI, had ever called her. The caller went on to say there was an outstanding warrant for her arrest because of an unpaid debt. The caller offered to take care of this matter for her to make sure she was not arrested. All she had to do was wire $250 and he would handle the whole affair. Betty was very alarmed and a bit ashamed even though she could not remember having any unpaid debts. She did not want to tell her oldest son because she was afraid he would try to take over all of her finances so she agreed to wire the money to the caller.

Alert:  how can we protect our loved ones from this kind of scam?

First and foremost, knowledge is key. Staying abreast of the current scams and being watchful will go a long way to being able to prevent a senior from being scammed. The old saying “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” is definitely applicable here when dealing with scams and fraud.

Second, always, always, always be suspicious of receiving unsolicited telephone calls. As Art Maines, says in his book, Scammed: 3 Steps to Help Your Elder Parent and Yourself, “Do not let yourself be chosen; Always do the choosing.” In other words, if the senior wants to donate money or buy something, the senior should initiate the contact. If the senior is receiving unsolicited telephone calls, then the warning signal should be flashing.

Finally, encourage the senior to reach out anytime they receive an unsolicited call. You as the caregiver cannot help if you do not know there is a problem. Make sure you remain calm and supportive so that the senior feels comfortable to bring problems to you. Encourage the senior to talk to family, friends, even legitimate law enforcement, so that word can be spread about this scam. Remember, scammers like to operate in the dark and in secret. The more we all communicate to alert others, the less likely the scammers will be successful in stealing our loved one’s money.

Curtis Bailey is an elder law attorney with Huffman Law Offices, PC in Southern Illinois.  He is licensed to practice law in Illinois and Missouri. Curtis is the co-founder of the Senior Scam Response Team that is dedicated to teaching seniors, their families and professionals how to recognize, prevent and recover from fraud and scams.  For more information, he can be reached at cbailey@huffmanlawoffices.com

If you have a comment for Curtis or the Senior Scam Response Team about scamming seniors, please post below. Also, if you would like to share your own story, do so here.

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a caregiver’s changing relationship with elderly parents

Joanne-I UnderstandMy mom and I were close when I was a kid…then again when I was a teen…and yet another time when I was a young mother. She made all the difference to me. She was the buffer and the lighthouse. “Look this way!” “Don’t worry about that.” She was busy with her own life and her energy was boundless. Sometimes, I felt overworked and would escape with my dad to the fields or to the barn and loved his simple methodical way of living life. She was not simple. Mom had high expectations…of herself, of me, of her students. I got tired of hearing about the next place she was pushing them in achievement. I got tired of hearing her judgements about how they spent their time, their values. Sometimes, I felt judged because over the years, I had failed and seen the brink of failure so many times. I couldn’t tolerate her philosophy of being a “human doing.” It felt foreign and aggressive to me. Her presence the last 15 years, as I began my aging process has not felt like support but it felt like a challenge … like pressure. I would escape with my dad into conversations about humanness and coping with life and challenges.  We became very close and I led the team of people who lovingly walked with him in his last days. My mom was the primary caregiver. Seemed like she was always angry and impatient with my dad. Seemed like she didn’t understand the emotional and spiritual pain that he was in. I was steadfast in supporting him … even if she didn’t understand. I told myself that I wouldn’t even miss her when she was gone. That finally the pressure would be over. My dad died a month ago … my mother got very real in the last 4 days of his life.  Got in touch with his gifts and what she loved about him and depended on him for. Then she made a poor decision and hurt herself a month after he died. She was insane with pain … needed care. Needed to let go of control. She changed before my eyes & became someone who was not a director. Someone who trusted and valued me. Someone who regretted every stress mark on my face. I found myself becoming tender towards her, compassionate. She is on the fence. Will she get better? Maybe. Maybe not. I find myself in another journey, not sure where it will end. How long? Will I be able to withstand this? I will spend the next 48 hrs with her as I have completed my work week. I will finish grading papers, run home to post final grades, run back to make sure she is OK, send in my student loan deferment papers & run back. But somewhere in there, I need to be present to just listen. To share. To ask questions. And I will. But will it ever be enough? I think not.  Enough maybe to keep guilt at bay but never enough to give honor to our love and our relationship. The best I can do is drag myself down there, support her as she is, support myself and trust that God’s hand is on all of us. And my dad is there supporting me as I try to find ways to be present and to “help” the woman who wanted “no help.” He understands. And I am starting to know that I can love without understanding.

If you would like to share your thoughts with Joanne, do so below. If you have your own story to share, do so here.

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caring for seniors

Jacqueline Chiodo

Jacqueline Chiodo

What a deceptively simple title for this brief written piece. I left a long career in banking to start my own company to protect seniors personally and to restore their dignity. I wanted every day to be a hands-on, watchful, action taking experience with one overriding goal: my client’s happiness. There are too many issues to address in this story, so let me say what is most important:

America’s seniors are our national depository of experience and wisdom.

They are entitled to the best care-giving.
They deserve to be independent, as long as possible.
They deserve and need to be financially safeguarded.
And here is what we can do together to make sure this is a reality:
Be watchful. Anyone can be a self- assigned protector: a neighbor, friend or doorman.
Are they isolated? Is their weight fluctuating? Do they leave their apartment?
Do they have home health care? Are caregivers seen outside an elder’s  front door, talking on cell phones and chatting? Is the Senior proud? Too proud to tell his/ her adult children their needs are not being met? Observe their home. ASK if their bills are being paid. Is there any reason–the slightest reason— to believe they are being exploited? ( $700 million dollars in Florida alone was sent this year by the elderly to phone scammers).Is their paperwork organized? Bills left unopened? Valuables locked?
Home health care is more than changing sheets, walks and doctor visits. It is a holistic approach to the elderly that maintains or restores their dignity and ensures their happiness.
written by: Jacqueline Chiodo, Founder, Elder Services of Florida
Leave a comment for Jacquie below. Or if you have a caregiving story of your own to write, click here.
 
Jacque  561 379- 2773
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do you have a medical power of attorney & health care directive?

Perhaps a function of age and time in life, but in recent years I have had the opportunity to experience and witness much illness and death in the lives of those close to me. One of the hardest to wrap my head around has been the motorcycle accident of a dear friend last October. He did not die, but remains in a mostly vegetative state with little hope of meaningful recovery. This loss, coupled with the impact on his wife and daughters, has been emotionally devastating. http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-medical-image6360616Realizing that something like this can(and does) happen to us and to those we love, lead me to look for practical ideas to reduce the suffering of others.

Everyone should carry designated “in case of emergency”(ICE) contacts identified in their cell phones and in manual paper form–laminated wallet card.  This makes it easier and faster for emergency responders to know who they are authorized to contact if you are not in a condition to tell them.

Everyone should have a medical power of attorney and a health care directive signed and in a known location for family. These documents are typically done, along with a financial power of attorney, as part of an estate planning package.These documents may be more useful to your family in time of crisis than almost anything else you can do.

These items are not overly time consuming or expensive. Neither of them will ease the pain of losing someone you love. They can be useful tools to reduce stress and frustration in an extremely difficult time. They may also provide loved ones with peace to know that they are acting on your wishes and comfort to know that you cared for them enough to prepare these frquently overlooked details on their behalf.

Share your thoughts with Yvonne below. If you would like to write your own story, do so here.

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making memories with mommy

MillieI’ve never read the last chapter of a book first or read the newspaper from back to front but in this case I have to write the last chapters of the story before writing the beginning. As you read my blog you will understand why.
You see .. I am a Caretaker or a Caregiver (whichever word works for you) .. not a Caretaker for hire but a Caretaker for LOVE. I am my Mother’s Caretaker. Just as she cared for me all those years, I now care for her.
Since my Daddy died in 1987, Mommy became basically MY responsibility (even though I have siblings). At the time he died she was only 62. She could have started her life over but never ever had that thought. She became my responsibility because I was “THE BABY”, the one left at home so my life basically became hers in part.

Being “almost from the South” .. there’s a lot of Southern in her (and in me I might add) and a lot of C-O-U-N-T-R-Y! .. and that’s a good thing. She (and my siblings) felt it was my responsibility to take care of Mommy because as I said .. I was The Baby .. the one left at home .. I had never married .. and “had no family” as Mommy puts it. When I have pointed out to her that I have siblings (names will be changed to protect the innocent) .. Mommy pointed out that Homer and Lou have families of “their own”. They couldn’t be bothered with taking care of her and since I didn’t have a family of my own .. it fell to me. I’ve pointed out to her that I might not have a “family of my own” but I do have a life of my own .. or want to.
Tonight was a harder night than usual. I am having a little sick spell myself. It was hard for me to stay up, so I tried a new trick. I normally can not get her to go to bed until 3 or 4 a.m. Yes, she really does stay up that late … however, she does a lot of dozing! Tonight feeling so bad, I wanted/needed/yearned for my bed. I woke her up at 1:00 a.m. told her it was 4:00 a.m. and led her off to bed like a little lamb! I don’t feel guilty. She needs the rest and SO DO I!

I have so many, many wonderful Mommy memories and I intend to take advantage of the time she has left to make more. Maybe I shouldn’t have told her it was 4:00 a.m. We could have made another memory or two!!
My name is Sue Ann & I write a blog makingmemorieswithmommy.com. Share a comment with me. If you would like to share your own story, do so here.

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choosing a home care company for your aging parent

Michael & Patty Davis

Michael & Patty Davis

If you are a son or daughter or family friend who is considering hiring an in-home care company for an elderly parent you need to know there’s an “X-Factor” that should be a part of your decision: You should approach the process as if you’re hiring a family friend.

Your main point of contact with a care company should get to know your family quite well. This person (we call them a care manager) is the go-between your parent’s caregiver and you. Sometimes our care manager will go to a doctor’s visit with the caregiver and your parent. Many times our caregivers call the care manager to discuss unusual happenings with your parent. We encourage our caregivers to be as open with us as possible and we will always inform you of the important things.

However, this gives us and the care manager a surprising view into your parent’s family life. The best way to illustrate this might be through a story:

Some of our clients live in retirement communities. One client (we’ll call him Joe-the-dad) was visited by Frank-the-son while our caregiver was there. Our caregiver noticed that during Frank’s visit, Joe-the-dad became increasingly agitated. Joe has light dementia and couldn’t put into words what was bothering him, but our caregiver saw what was happening and even checked his blood pressure while Frank was there. Sure enough, Joe’s blood pressure was elevated and the caregiver called us about it. We called Sue-the-daughter and told her that while Frank was visiting Joe became agitated and his blood pressure started rising. Sue told us that Frank is a bit of a “black sheep” of their family and he and dad never really got along all that well. Sue put a call into the retirement community’s management and told them that when Frank visits from now on he can ONLY see dad in the common areas, NOT in his apartment.

When we first met Joe and Sue none of this came up in our discussions. Sure, we knew they had a brother Frank and another sister in eastern Washington, but that was the extent of the family history. Even after they hired us they didn’t mention any of the internal family politics. They probably thought it wouldn’t come up, but they liked Patty, they appreciated the recommendations they heard about our service and so they hired us. Now that we know a lot more about their family politics, Sue and the other sister treat Patty as a family friend and Patty responds in kind by keeping Sue up to date on the little things in Joe’s life so that Sue can maintain or even build on her relationship with her dad.

In short, when hiring a care company, if you’re a son or daughter or family friend, ask who your main contact will be. Ask to meet that person (if they’re not already there) and then ask yourself if you think that person could become a trusted family friend.

If you would like to share your own story on this topic, do so here.

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