Posts Tagged caregivers

Play with a Pet

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You probably know that pet therapy is an emerging area of research and application in care of people with dementia. While therapy dogs have special training and certification, any well-behaved dog cat, or rabbit can potentially bring a little joy and a lot benefits to a person with memory loss. While companionship is an obvious benefit, pets may also help with agitation, depression, and anxiety. It’s not uncommon to watch someone transition from emotionless to animated or from agitated to calm when a pet enters the room, especially if it triggers pleasant memories. However, keep in mind that the opposite reaction is possible as well!

Of course, to some caregivers, the idea of adding another thing to care for, no matter how cute and cuddly, sounds pretty overwhelming, so don’t feel as if you have to adopt a pet to get the benefits. Even having a friend bring a well-behaved pet for a visit is a great option. Of course, it’s important to be mindful of the pet’s temperament and energy level. In general, too much jumping and/or excessive barking may do more harm than good. Also, be sure that the animal is a good “match” for the person with memory loss. A 90 pound woman who’s unsteady on her feet probably shouldn’t walk an excitable St. Bernard; someone with thin skin and on Coumadin might want to stay away from a cat with sharp claws; someone who throws things when angry should probably be supervised around a small yorkie…you get the idea. Of course, animals are unpredictable, as can be people with dementia, so supervision if probably wise, especially in the beginning while everyone is getting to know each other.

Other tips for success:
1. People in the later stages of the disease may respond better to animals that remind them of animals that remind them of former pets. But be warned: they might not like having to leave the “family dog” behind when they leave!
2. People love to feed animals, so be sure to have appropriate treats available for the person with dementia to feed the pet or you might find that they get a lot of people food!
3. Even those in the late stages of the disease can enjoy petting a soft dog, cat, rabbit, gerbil, etc. Even just hearing a cat purr across the room can be soothing, so don’t feel like the animal has to be right next to the person to have a positive effect.
4. Don’t forget to reminisce!

More information about pet therapy can be found at:
http://www.everydayhealth.com/alzheimers/how-animal-therapy-helps-dementia-patients.aspx

http://www.alzheimersproject.org/About-Us/News-Photos-and-Calendar/Latest-News/Pets-and-Dementia

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Our Story to Diagnosis on the Alzheimer’s and Other Dementia Roller Coaster

Hello, readers! I am excited to share a post with you that was written by a guest contributor. This caregiver’s journey toward getting a diagnosis for her husband was quite the roller coaster and took many twists and turns. Please read on to learn more about her and her spouse’s experience, and her advice for other caregivers. 

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It all began in August of 2016, when after answering the same question for the fifth time in as many days to my husband of 26 years I decided to keep track of things I thought might not be normal. In mid-October I sat my husband down and told him I was going to go to with him to his annual check-up in November. He asked “Why?”.  I simply stated that I had noticed some things that concerned me about his cognitive state. He looked puzzled but agreed.

On November 22, 2016, with a little over two pages of notes and the Alzheimer’s Association’s Preparing for Your Doctor’s Visit sheet in hand, we were ready for our visit.  Dr. H. came in after reviewing the documents, sat down across from us, and said he would like to do some testing. Dr. H. administered a mental status exam, and unfortunately, the test results indicated that my husband was cognitively impaired. With a series of blood tests and a CT scan scheduled to take place before our next appointment in December, we left the doctor’s office with our heads swimming!  I asked my husband, through tears, if he was mad at me. I told him it was ok to be mad at me.  This is not what I wanted, but I couldn’t stand by with my head in the sand and pretend that nothing was wrong!

During this time, I was watching my husband go to work and come home with nothing left to give because he was trying so hard to keep it together at work. I decided that we needed some advice so I called the Alzheimer’s Association Helpline on a snow day off from school. They helped to talk me through the situation and even talked to my husband

As roller coasters do, ours was about to take a plunge down a steep hill!  At our neurology appointment in April, we were wretched about the tracks as Dr. R. told us he feels certain that Jack does NOT have Alzheimer’s but another form of dementia, possibly Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD). Dr. R. explained that my husband’s behavioral changes and his age were indicative of FTD.

One of the hardest things about dementia and especially the one we may be facing is:

  • That family and friends don’t understand he looks healthy and can hide it well for short periods of time.
  • They don’t see this man sobbing because he’s afraid he’s going to forget you and he does not want to be alone going through this.
  • They don’t see the fear in his eyes when he can’t figure out how to turn the shower off.
  • They don’t see the agitation that he can’t explain.
  • They don’t see how much you just want your old life back.
  • They don’t see that you will go to the ends of the earth for this man to keep him safe and at home with you.
  • They don’t understand how isolating it is for us both.

I know that one day this roller coaster ride will be over but for now it’s the ride we’re on. And it’s definitely not one to be on alone!  So friends, if you are on a similar roller coaster ride, pick up that phone and call for help!  You are not alone! Call the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline at 1.800.272.3900 for support.

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Calling All Caregivers…You’re Invited!

2017 Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum

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The Alzheimer’s Association will soon be opening registration for the 2017 Advocacy Forum, and we would like to invite you to join us. The Alzheimer’s Association’s Advocacy Forum is a unique opportunity for Alzheimer’s advocates from across the country to gather in Washington, D.C. to directly appeal to their members of Congress about Alzheimer’s disease. Caregivers, persons with the disease, and those that have lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s receive training and embark on Capitol Hill to tell their story and ask for policy change to support our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s. In 2016, over 1,100 people from across the country (24 from Michigan) participated in this event.

Participants of past Forums have raved about this event as an empowering experience. After the Forum advocates feel charged up and ready to tell their story and make change happen. The helpless feeling that often accompanies Alzheimer’s for many is changed into a feeling of power and an opportunity to improve the lives of others.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s Advocacy Forum is also highly impactful for Members of Congress. In our experience, legislators listen intently when their constituents travel to our nation’s capitol to speak with them.

Alzheimer’s is a triple threat, with soaring prevalence, lack of treatment and enormous costs that no one can afford. If we’re going to address this triple threat, action must be taken by all levels of the government. Attending the Advocacy Forum is one way to take action, and we’d love to have you join us!

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About the Alzheimer’s Association’s Advocacy Forum

The 2017 Alzheimer’s Association’s Advocacy Forum will take place March 27-29, 2017 at the Marriott Wardman Park, Washington, D. C. To register and for event details like schedule, location, travel, and more, visit http://www.alz.org/forum or contact Lindsay Brieschke at lbrieschke@alz.org

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2016 Metro Detroit Fall Conference: A Meaningful Life with Alzheimer’s Disease

Early bird registration for our 5th Annual Metro Detroit Fall Conference “A Meaningful Life with Alzheimer’s Disease”, done in collaboration with Wayne State University’s Institute of Gerontology, is now open! The conference will bring together healthcare professionals, caregivers, family members, and individuals living with the early stages of memory loss on Friday, November 18th at Schoolcraft College’s VisTaTech Center in Livonia. Registration includes an entry to the conference, breakfast, lunch, as well as five continuing education credits for professionals.

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We are pleased to announce this year’s keynote speaker will be Beth A. D. Nolan, Ph.D.

Dr. Nolan serves as a Lead Mentor Trainer and Coach and directs research for Positive Approach to Care (PAC). Formerly an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health, Dr. Nolan received her Ph.D. in applied gerontology. She has worked with a variety of human services agencies to implement evidence-based programs for behavioral health, criminal justice, medicine, and senior living, and now works to help move caregivers to become carepartners.

Conference attendees will gain powerful insight into the true experiences of living with dementia as well as practical applications for implementing person driven care and methods to enhance quality of life. You will hear from individuals whose lives have been personally affected by this disease, engage in interactive activities and discover new resources and tools to assist families through their dementia journey.

 

To learn more visit

alz.org/gmc

or call our 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900

We hope to see you on November 18th!

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This conference is sponsored in part by Schoolcraft College.

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Register with Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch

Clinical trials are essential to advancing Alzheimer’s disease research at a time when Alzheimer’s is reaching epidemic proportions. Through clinical studies conducted over the last 20 years, scientists have made tremendous strides in understanding how Alzheimer’s affects the brain. It is only through clinical studies that we will develop and test promising new strategies for treatment, prevention, diagnosis, and ultimately, a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

To learn more about how to participate in clinical trial, watch the video below about TrialMatch (a free, clinical-trial matching service).

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Join a Support Group

Have you ever thought about attending a support group but were reluctant to give it a try?

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Support groups are a safe place to share feelings and experiences, and many people find them to be invaluable resources.

A support group is a place to:

  • Exchange practical information on caregiving problems and possible solutions
  • Talk through challenges and ways of coping
  • Share feelings, needs and concerns
  • Learn about resources available in your community

All of our support groups are facilitated by trained individuals. In addition to caregiver support groups, we also have support groups designed specifically for people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. We are currently offering early stage support groups in Birmingham and Taylor (and soon, in Sterling Heights too!). To learn more or to register, please dial our 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900.

Want to find a Alzheimer’s Association support group near you? Click here. Prefer to get support online? Join AlzConnected, our online community.

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Register for the Longest Day

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