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Caregiver

Responding to Confusion in Dementia

Submitted by Maria Jose Chaves on 14:16

confusion dementia

Caregivers are life jugglers. When they care for a person living with dementia (PWD) they certainly need to know how to respond to dementia and confusion that comes with it. It seems a little hard to know the tips and tricks of this job description, which is why it is important to be constantly reading about the subject or talk to other fellow caregivers.

Let’s try some empathy, get in the shoes of a PWD… You wake up in a place that seems like your home, although looks like someone painted the walls overnight and moved some furniture, looks good but it would have been nice to be notified about these sudden changes. You find you have some difficulties moving around, you feel more tired than normal… Then things tend to get a little weirder, you walk into your living room and the TV is gone, now there is this strange-looking screen placed on the wall like if it were a painting, everything is starting to get more and more confusing… You walk into your kitchen for a glass of water and you encounter a familiar looking lady who says “good morning Mom!, did you sleep well?”, Mom? Whose mom? Your child is only 12 years old and should be getting ready to go to school! Now everything is a blur, what is happening?!?

How to give a bed bath & beyond

Submitted by Pablo Retana on 12:51

bed bath beyond

Caregivers sometimes have to give immobile patients daily or weekly bed baths in order to address skin health, odor control, and comfort. Additionally, a bed bath is a great opportunity to check the care receiver for redness and sores, especially in skin folds and bony areas. Certain supplies need to be gathered and instructions followed to provide a successful and safe bed bath.

Caregiver charts for the transfer of bariatric patients

Submitted by Pablo Retana on 13:05

baratric patients

Caregivers sometimes feel like they carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, especially if they have to transfer an overweight patient. Maybe the following tables can be the proverbial lever that Archimedes spoke of. 

What is the National Caregiver Support Program?

Submitted by Pablo Retana on 13:03

The National Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) is a congressional initiative created in 2000 to offer grants to States and Territories and enable family and informal caregivers to provide care for their relatives at home for as long as it is possible. Through the NFCSP, States offer caregivers five different types of services:

  1. Information about available services.
  2. Assistance in accessing those services.
  3. Individual counseling, support group organization, and training.
  4. Respite care.
  5. Supplemental services (on a limited basis).

Understanding Sundown in Dementia

Submitted by Maria Jose Chaves on 12:52

Sundown in dementia

“Don’t let the sun go down on me; although I search myself, it’s always someone else I see… I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free, but losing everything is like the sun going down on me…”

It is through this song by Sir Elton John that I’ve come to understand sundown in dementia. It is a point of confusion that often happens at the end of the day usually when the sun goes down. According to Dr. Glenn Smith from the Mayo Clinic, it comes in a variety of behaviors like anxiety, aggression, confusion, pacing, wandering and not following directions.

This condition is not a disease but has come to be known as a syndrome related to dementia patients in a specific time of the day; the exact cause is still unknown to experts on the field.

Some studies suggest that the person’s biological clock that regulates the times of sleeping and waking up is linked to the way our body responds to the levels of energy needed throughout the day and therefore manages our behavior. In people living with dementia this clock is somehow shifted and makes them more prone to reacting in the ways mentioned above when sundown happens.

What does a caregiver do on an off day? Take a day off.

Submitted by Pablo Retana on 13:06

caregiver day off

How does a caregiver caring for a person with dementia reset their levels of stress? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Taking a day off – or even just the perspective of one – can return caregivers’ stress to normal levels, according to a study published recently in the journal The Gerontologist. Much has been said about the positive effect that respite care can have, but this was the first time that the levels of the stress hormone cortisol have been measured shortly before and during a group of caregivers’ days off. And the best part is that they didn’t even have to go on an escapade through the landmarks of downtown Chicago.

Previous research has suggested that getting time off can significantly relieve the stress caregivers feel – the levels of which can reach stratospheric heights, as has been very well documented too. That was the starting point for study author Laura Cousino Klein from Pennsylvania State University, who monitored 158 people caring for a relative with dementia for eight days, including at least two days in which the care receiver went to an adult day center. The participants reported stressful events and their moods by phone once a day, and collected their own samples of saliva five times per day to be measured for cortisol.

Art therapy and Alzheimer’s

Submitted by Alberto Chaves on 11:09

The mind, there are ways to breakthrough the walls and breach through to shine a light to that part within where our true self lies.  Dementia patients might be stripped of their skills to communicate verbally, therefore hindering the ways they have to express how they are feeling. Art therapy provides them with a non-threatening outlet, it can bring a way to be able to reach to the inner fiber of their being and be able to breakthrough. Art Therapy has been demonstrated to be effective in getting patients to unravel and come out of their shells by the process of art making. Whether it is painting, sculpting or drawing.  

Art Therapists unanimously report that by providing a form of channel of expression for Alzheimer’s patients, can ring wonder to the well being of the patient. And adjacently, it helps the patient’s families as well. For example, art making allows or a way of interaction and bonding between a dementia patient and children relatives, who might be frightened by their condition. Therapists, who have employed this method, state that the patients experience joy and fulfillment of being able to create something.

The activities that are more effective with dementia patients are drawing, painting and sculpting. Other activities like music or writing tend to be more complicated for them to accomplish in most cases. When creating art, it is most beneficial and effective if the patient is encouraged to evoke memories of their past. It is important to point out that dementia patients at times might behave like children, and like children, you should taken proper precautions and always provide them with safe and harmless materials.

It is crucial to remember and let the dementia patient know that these are no-failure activities, and always provide them with positive reinforcements and compliments for their efforts. Therapists explain that when Alzheimer’s patients dedicate themselves to art making, they are able to tap into their true self and it will allow us to take a peak into their mind. 

Entertainer of the Year: Caregiving Activity Ideas

Submitted by Maria Jose Chaves on 14:06

entertainer of the year

The goal is to have a good time, that both you and your care receiver spend a good time together. So why not come up with fun, creative caregiving activity ideas. A great and infinite resource is the internet, simply type in “caregiving activity ideas” and your screen will be filled with titles and lists of topics related to your search. Another nice tool is Pinterest, which lets you “pin” any good idea to your virtual “corkboard” to have ready for your next activity.

A place that took their time to come up with 101 activities is the Alzheimer’s Association, which along with other tons of useful information made it available for all its viewers. Some may not apply for your specific case, which is why it is good to plan ahead and personalize the activity according to the care receiver’s liking.

Five-Star Nursing Homes, Zero-Star Caregivers?

Submitted by Pablo Retana on 12:52

zero star caregivers

The Medicare rating system for nursing homes is just about as legitimate as the MPAA film rating system, according to an article published in the New York Times. For the past five years Medicare has been giving nursing homes star ratings, with five stars being the highest mark that any such establishment can aspire to. Only 3,000 of more than 15,000 nursing homes in the United States have a perfect rating, but the way the system work it’s a wonder that number isn’t larger. As it turns out, of the three criteria upon which ratings are based, two are self-reported. The annual health inspections the government conducts are the basis for the overall rating, but when the other two criteria (staffing levels and quality indicators) are accounted for, “the share of homes with the better ratings has increased to nearly half,” the NY Times reports.

In addition to being mostly based on self-reported data, the ratings do not take into account negative factors such as fines and enforcement actions applied by state as opposed to federal authorities. The article singles out Sacramento, California’s Rosewood Post-Acute Rehab nursing home, a five-star establishment as per Medicare, but which has been the target of 102 consumer complaints and reports of problems according to the California Department of Public Health, and of 164 complaints according to California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. Moreover, the home has been sued about a dozen times by patients and their families for below-average care. “It looks nice when you walk in,” Bonnie Nathan said. Mrs. Nathan put her mother in Rosewood in 2010 mostly on the strength of Medicare’s five-star rating. She’s currently suing the home because its workers allegedly did not treat her mother for a respiratory condition that resulted in her death.

How much does a caregiver spend a year in caregiving costs?

Submitted by Pablo Retana on 15:54

caregiver spend

Almost half of family caregivers spent more than $5,000 in medications, medical bills, in/home care, and nursing homes the past 12 months, according to Caring.com’s latest Usage and Attitudes Survey measuring how the finances of family caregivers of older adults in the United States are faring. Eleven percent of the caregivers who spent over $5,000 spent $10,000-$19,000; 7% spent $20,000/$29,000; 5% spent $30,000-$49,000; and 7% spent $50,000 or more. Additionally, 32% spent less than $5,000 and 21% didn’t know how much they spent. The survey also found the following:

Pharmacy spending (prescription or OTC drugs, personal care products, home healthcare products)

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