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The Unique Challenges Faced by Millennial Caregivers

Older teenagers and young adults in their 20s aren’t the people we picture when we think of “caregivers.” Often we think of older adults, caring for much older parents. But it’s becoming more and more common for the younger generation—some not yet out of high school—to step in as caregivers for aging and ailing parents and grandparents. Read...

Help End Alzheimer’s on The Longest Day

On the longest day of the year — the summer solstice on June 21 — you’re invited to team up with the Alzheimer’s Association to help end Alzheimer’s. The Longest Day is an event all about love. Love for those affected by Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association invites you to join with family and friends across the country and the world to raise funds and awareness to help end Alzheimer’s disease. More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s today. By 2050, this number could rise as high as 16 million, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Together, with the Alzheimer’s Association, you can help raise awareness for care and support while advancing research toward finding a cure. Why June 21? The duration of the sunrise-to-sunset event on the longest day of the year symbolizes the challenging journey faced by those living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. Teams are encouraged to turn their passions and hobbies into unique experiences they can share with others as they participate in The Longest Day to honor those living with the disease. Here’s how you can participate: Select an activity you love. Do something you love — or honor a caregiver, someone living with Alzheimer’s, or someone you’ve lost by selecting his or her favorite hobby. Pick a way to participate. Start or join a team, host an event, or register as an individual. Choose the way that works best for you! Raise money to move the cause forward. To advance...

Mental Health Awareness Month: Depression and Dementia

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we would be remiss if we didn’t take some time to discuss how mental health issues can affect those living with dementia and their caregivers. Depression is commonly associated with Alzheimer’s. Experts estimate that up to 40 percent of people living with Alzheimer’s disease suffer from significant depression. Identifying depression in someone living with dementia or Alzheimer’s isn’t always easy, but it’s important that family and caregivers keep an eye out for the symptoms of depression and seek help if they suspect their loved one may be depressed. Many symptoms of Alzheimer’s mimic the symptoms of depression, such as apathy, social withdrawal, isolation, difficulty concentrating, and loss of interest in activities. Someone with dementia who is also suffering from depression may experience sadness, hopelessness and guilt, among other feelings, but they will often find it difficult to articulate these feelings due to cognitive impairment as a result of the dementia. Depression in someone with dementia may be less severe, or have symptoms that come and go. No matter how severe, if you notice any signs of depression in your loved one, discuss them with your loved one’s primary care provider. Diagnosis and treatment of depression can be especially helpful and may improve your loved one’s ability to function and overall sense of well-being. Talk to your loved one’s doctor about getting a referral to a geriatric psychiatrist who specializes in diagnosing and treating depression in senior adults. Diagnosing Depression in Alzheimer’s According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in order for a person with dementia to be diagnosed with depression, he...

The Role of Occupational Therapy in Dementia Care

People living with dementia experience impaired cognition which may be seen in decreased short-term memory, decreased problem solving skills, decreased perceptual skills and personality changes. While there is no “cure” for dementia, various types of therapy may help an individual with dementia live independently as long as possible. April is Occupational Therapy Month and we want to recognize the ways in which occupational therapists can help those living with dementia. First, occupational therapists can educate family members, caregivers and those in the early stages of dementia about the disease and its functional implications. “Although remediation of cognitive performance is not likely, the person may demonstrate improved function through compensation or adaptation. Occupational therapy practitioners also assist care providers to help them cope with this difficult, and yet often rewarding, role.” (aota.org) Through an evaluation of the environment and certain adaptations, occupational therapists can assist someone living with dementia to live in their own homes as long as possible. For those living in long-term care and adult day health settings, occupational therapists can help individuals retain existing function for as long as possible. According to The American Occupational Therapists Association (AOTA) there are various approaches an occupational therapist might use to aid an individual living with dementia. These include: Health Promotion. Focusing on strengths of clients and promoting wellness of care providers to promote maximal performance in preferred activities. Remediation. Restoration of physical skills (range of motion, strength, and endurance) Maintenance. Identify what is working well in the daily routine of the person living with dementia and provide supports to help the individual maintain skills for as long as possible...

Hospice Care: Understanding Your Options

As a caregiver of someone who is living with dementia, you will experience a variety of different care options at the different stages of your loved one’s disease. In the beginning, you may be able to provide care for your loved one in his or her own home. There may be times where you encounter a need for a temporary care arrangement so you can get some rest or take a vacation. Respite care and day respite care are some options that may be available to you. After time and as the dementia progresses, it may become necessary to move your loved one into a residential care facility where your loved one can receive individualized care. In the final stages of dementia, you may encounter hospice as a final care option for your loved one. While it may be unsettling to consider hospice, it can help to understand what hospice is and how it can help your loved one. Hospice is a type of specialized care for individuals facing a life-limiting illness, their families and their caregivers. Hospice care addresses the patient’s physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs and helps the patient’s family and caregivers provide the care needed. It focuses on comfort and quality of life rather than a cure. The ultimate goal of hospice care is to enable the patient to have an alert, pain free life while living each day as fully as possible. Hospice is a sensitive subject, and understandably so. Despite the growth in awareness in hospice care over the last several years, there continues to be huge misconceptions about hospice. Hospice can improve...