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Caregiver

Caring for someone with MS

Submitted by Maria Jose Chaves on 10:09

When it comes to caring for someone with MS involves moments of high stress and a top level of physical and mental strength for the caregiver. It takes guts and bravery, someone determined to face the unknown with a fierce gaze. To be a caregiver is not for those faint of heart.

One important aspect to always keep in mind when caring for someone with MS is the relevance of staying calm and assess the situation as it happens to the patient. Multiple Sclerosis can be unpredictable and both patient and caregiver might not know what to expect from one week to the next. The patient could confront intense mood swings and physical challenges that might lead to necessary changes in their surroundings.

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord nerves. MS damages the myelin, which is the protein layer that protects and assists the nerve fiber to send electrical signals from the brain to the rest of the body. This disruption can come to cause a large list of symptoms such as fatigue, balance and coordination difficulties, uncontrolled spasms and even loss of vision.

One thing that most caregivers overlook (no matter the condition of their patient) is their own well being. As the National MS Society puts it on their Caregiver guide booklet:

“Realize that for you to take care of yourself is not an act of selfishness. You deserve to be healthy and feel well.”

“Maintain facets of your life that do not include your loved one, just as you would if he or she were healthy.”

Caring for an MS patient is an intriguing task most of the time, but as the previous example. There are many organizations that specialize in providing all the pertinent information in regards to this specific condition and offer many resources as well as online forums and support groups.

The most common physical symptoms seen on an MS patient are:

  • Loss of bladder control: (neurogenic bladder), which can be very frustrating for the patient as the nerves controlling the urinary muscles become damaged and fail at their job, causing it leak or on the contrary make it difficult to start urinating. Experts recommend starting using the proper incontinence products available for the patient as well as consult with the attending physician to consider alternative remedies or even more invasive solutions.
  • Mobility difficulties: As the person living with MS suffers a loss of muscle control, it becomes harder to get around properly. Analyzing the progressiveness of these difficulties can lead to the proper decision of what is the best mobility aid for the patient as well as daily living aids to make things more easy and manageable around the house.
  • Sharp pain: This could be felt in many places of the body and very quite sudden in most cases. Pain sensations such as:

o    MS hug: described by most patients as an uncomfortable numbness or burning sensation that wraps them around the waistline (also seen on feet, legs and arms).

o    Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN): often caused by grinning or yawning, is a sharp facial pain. Has been described as aching, muscle cramping or a burning sensation on the entire area.

o    Lhermitte's sign: also known as the barber chair phenomenon, patients describe it as an electric shock sensation that travels from the head to the spinal area.

Those in charge of caring for someone with MS must stay up to date in all medical advances done for the disease as well as to have regular checkups on themselves to be always able to care for their loved one. Caregiver burnout usually creeps in for those who least expect it and are not taking good care of themselves. Watch out for any burnout signs and look for those great sources of comfort that can come from friends and family.

Related Read:

The Truth about Multiple Sclerosis

Caring for Someone with Depression or Anxiety

Submitted by Mariela Miranda on 12:30

caring for someone anxiety

Caring for someone with depression or anxiety can be very difficult yet not impossible. Every person is different, meaning that not everyone will be affected by depression the same way. The person you are caring for is an individual with specific symptoms; their symptoms. There are however things that you should always keep in mind when you are caring for someone with this condition that will be the same despite the personal differences the patient has.

How to tell children ‘Grandpa has Alzheimer’s disease’

Submitted by Pablo Retana on 12:30

Grandpa-has-Alzheimers-disease

It’s best to keep it simple. For instance, you could tell a young child that “grandpa has a disease that makes it tough on him to remember things,” as opposed to, say, the Merriam-Webster definition: “a degenerative brain disease of unknown cause … that results in progressive memory loss, impaired thinking, disorientation, and changes in personality and mood, that leads in advanced cases to a profound decline in cognitive and physical functioning, and that is marked histologically by the degeneration of brain neurons especially in the cerebral cortex and by the presence of neurofibrillary tangles and plaques containing beta-amyloid.”

This intelligence can sadden and anger the child, and even make him or her feel guilty that something he or she did may have harmed his or her loved one. Comfort the child and assure them that their relative’s condition is not their fault. A child should not be expected to be a caregiver for a person who has Alzheimer’s disease – they should be able to play and study and have their own interests and needs. Speaking of which, you should make an effort to set aside your caregiver duties for a while and spend quality time with the child, so that he or she does not feel they are being neglected on account of their ill relative.

Can coping strategies improve caregivers’ mental health?

Submitted by Pablo Retana on 12:29

Can-coping-strategies-improve-caregivers-mental-health

Coping strategies therapy can relieve stress and anxiety in caregivers of dementia patients, and at no further cost than usual care. Researchers from the University College London in the United Kingdom enrolled 260 depression-free family caregivers in either an 8-session program called START – Strategies for RelaTives – or usual care including medical, psychological and social services for the patient with dementia. The START program was administered by non-clinically trained psychology graduates, who worked on a personal basis with family caregivers at home to identify issues and begin coping strategies, such as helping with accessing emotional support and relaxation.

At the same time, the researchers – led by professor Gill Livingston – assessed anxiety and depression with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) as well as cost-effectiveness for 24 months. The caregivers in the START group had a 2+ point improvement in their HADS score, as compared to the control group in both the short- and long-term. Moreover, START was not costlier than traditional care. Livingston said this “new cost-neutral program is an effective way to support carers and improve their mental health and quality of life and should be made widely available.” Professor Sube Banerjee of the University of Sussex added in a linked comment that the program should be accessible “to all family carers of people with dementia as part of the support with a timely diagnosis.” 

When to take the car keys from your aging parent

Submitted by Pablo Retana on 12:33

When-to-take-the-car-keys-from-your-aging-parent

There is no set age at which you can go ahead and go Driving Miss Daisy on an aging parent. It’s not as if the older you get, the worse you drive. If anything, it may be the other way around. “Seniors as a whole are the safest age group on the road, the least likely to speed, the least likely to drink and drive, and the most likely to use seat belts,” director of traffic safety advocacy and research for AAA Jake Nelson said on Today.com. According to Nelson, the at-fault crash rate doesn’t begin to increase until people reach their mid 70’s – even 80+ drivers have lower crash rates than teenagers by about 50%. Unlike Sammy Hagar, seniors have no problem driving 55.

The overall health of the elderly person does have lot to do with whether they can drive anymore, though. An obvious example is vision problems. Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have special license requirements for seniors, ranging from vision testing to more frequent renewals. And there are many other conditions related to the aging process that can impair a person’s driving skills. How these conditions are managed also influences driving privileges. However, the best way to assess the situation is to literally go on a test drive with your aged P.

Managing the Holidays and Dementia

Submitted by Maria Jose Chaves on 12:28

Managing-the-Holidays-and-Dementia

It is that time of the year, a time to look back and be thankful, and a time to look forward and still be grateful. Give thanks for all the good, and the bad, the necessities that have made us look deeper and appreciate even more what we learnt during those difficult moments. A time to gather as a family and celebrate the holidays.

In all shapes and sizes of families, we see that all have that peculiar aspect that differentiates them from the family next door. For some families, that little detail is Dementia, a condition that seems to be spreading as the generations grow older in the world. Have you thought how you would plan your holidays if one of your loved ones had dementia? Many families do, and here are ways on how they still make these celebrations memorable and happy occasions.

Caregiving A to Z

Submitted by Pablo Retana on 16:23

caregiving a to z

One can’t help but wonder how the first caregiver ever managed to cope, but fortunately there is now a wealth of knowledge and experiences that new caregivers can draw from. As a matter of fact, the first things you should if thrust upon a caregiving situation are:

  1. Learn as much as you possibly can about your relative’s condition, and
  2. Connect with other, more experienced caregivers.

Types of Elderly Abuse and Recognizing It

Submitted by Mariela Miranda on 16:45

elderly abuse

It might seem obvious to understand when elderly abuse is taking place, however you would be surprised of how this problem is on the rise and how much it needs to be talked about.  Unfortunately, these abuses will even take place at nursing homes where our loved ones are supposed to be under care and comfort. Learning to recognize the signs can save your loved one’s life.  The types of abuse that have been seen and documented against elderly are:

1 in 5 Americans are long-term caregivers

Submitted by Pablo Retana on 09:02

1 in 5 americans

Approximately 20% of Americans are or have been long-term caregivers, according to the Northwestern Mutual Long-Term Caregiving Study. Nearly twice as many people are not sure how they would handle long-term care or are not planning to address their potential long-term care needs. 

Alzheimer’s Diagnosis: What’s next?

Submitted by Maria Jose Chaves on 11:45

November marks the month in which many people around the US gets to continue the efforts on raising more awareness around this growing disease. It also is a special month in which we celebrate those silent heroes that look for no recognition for their daily tasks, those who express their love and care in what they do, the amazing caregivers.

According to an excellent video message spread by the Alzheimer’s Association says that more than 5 million Americans are living with this cognitive condition and that every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops the disease. It also mentions that more than 60% of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers are women.

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