4 Disturbing Dementia Behaviors and How You Can Go From Frustration to Connection — The Imperfect Caregiver

This blog post by Bobbi Carducci is a good reminder on how dementia caregivers must learn a new way to connect and communicate with their loved one, as verbal skills begin to decline. She offers good tips on how you can manage some of the most difficult dementia behaviors.

Often the behavior of someone with dementia is so changeable and unpredictable it’s almost impossible to figure out what is going on, leaving the caregiver confused and frustrated. Why is your spouse confused with you and so alert when someone comes to visit? Why does your mother, who is usually calm and agreeable, suddenly become […]

via 4 Disturbing Dementia Behaviors and How You Can Go From Frustration to Connection — The Imperfect Caregiver

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January 31, 2019 · 9:19 pm

New study suggests link between gum disease, Alzheimer’s

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I typically don’t put much credence in the latest health study. In my field, we are flooded with studies every day. For example, the one that was trending today: eating fried chicken on a regular basis is bad for you. Wow, what a shocker. They had to do a study to determine that fried food isn’t good for you?

I know there is a lot of good work being done by hardworking researchers, whose goal is to find the cause of Alzheimer’s so that an effective treatment and/or cure can be developed. One such study this week did pique my interest, because it touched a nerve, pun intended.

The study suggests that there may be a link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s. I have gum disease, and even though I’m vigilant about my dental care, I have a couple of concerning pockets that are going to need scaling and root planing (it’s about as fun as it sounds.) My parents had major dental issues, and I feel like lousy teeth is just something I inherited. As I get older, I have become more concerned about my oral health, because gum disease has been linked to diabetes which is prevalent on both sides of my family.

The latest study, which focuses on Porphyromonas gingivalis, the bacteria that causes periodontal disease, involves both human and mice testing. Scientists found that P. gingivalis can be found in the brains of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, not just in their mouths. Applying P. gingivalis to the gums of healthy mice for several weeks led to increased amyloid production and damaged tau protein. The proteins are believed to create the tangles in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s that leads to cognition issues.

Other scientists in the field were less convinced that there is a direct cause between gum disease and Alzheimer’s. As is with all of these studies, there is much more research to be done. But tending to your gum health, especially if you have periodontal disease like I do, is wise whether or not the connection to Alzheimer’s proves to be true.

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#WeKnowYouCare recognizes male caregivers

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In a week in which a razor ad triggered an online discussion about “toxic masculinity,” a new campaign is highlighting an often overlooked group of caregivers: men.

Caring Across Generations launched the “We Know You Care” campaign, to raise awareness of the loving devotion of male caregivers, along with the unique struggles they face. I’ve met many wonderful male caregivers through my years of caring for my parents. From professional caregivers to devoted husbands and fathers, men have proven that they are tough enough and compassionate enough to handle the role of caregiver, in spite of lingering stereotypes that assume only females can provide care.

As Caring Across Generations’ co-director Ai-jen Poo points out, approximately 40 percent of caregivers are male.

Meet Ivan, who shares his caregiving experience. I appreciate his honesty, and his ability to be vulnerable when admitting the ares of caregiving that are a struggle for him. I certainly could relate. My struggles inspired my book, The Reluctant Caregiver.

The movement was prompted by the film, On the Basis of Sex, which looks at a case involving a male caregiver named Charles Moritz that a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued and won, long before she was appointed as a Supreme Court Justice.

While women have long assumed the caregiving role, and been expected to, we are moving into a period in which more people, both men and women, will need to serve as caregivers. Our population is rapidly aging and there are not enough caregivers in the workforce to meet the demand. It’s time to break down traditional stereotypes and equip everyone, regardless of gender, with the tools and support they need to be the best caregivers they can be.

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Odds and ends on grief — Views and Mews by Coffee Kat

I relate to this post so much. We all have our individual ways of coping with grief, but there are some emotions surrounding grief that many of us feel. I’m sharing this post from a fellow blogger who recently lost her beloved cat. Whether pet or person, losing a loved one is hard. If you are struggling through the grieving process right now, you are not alone. Be kind to yourself.

I forgot how much grief hurts. Sounds stupid but it’s one of those pains I try not to remember. It’s both physically and emotionally exhausting, sucking out joy wherever it goes. It’s not always about death. We grieve many things but the commonality is that it is permanent. We don’t grieve the temporary. There are […]

via Odds and ends on grief — Views and Mews by Coffee Kat

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January 10, 2019 · 1:36 pm

Make 2019 a year for caregiver intentions

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For caregivers, a new year doesn’t always feel like a new beginning. The grueling 24/7 responsibilities of caring for a loved one can temper the enthusiasm for a new year.  Caregiving can be isolating, especially during the winter months, and its easy to feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. New year, same old blah.

If you are caring for someone nearing the end of their life, it also can be difficult to embrace the optimism that a new year is supposed to bring.

While I can’t guarantee that your caregiver journey will be better in 2019 (I wish I could!) there is one thing you do have power over, and that is your mindset. I know the last thing I wanted to hear when I was a caregiver was well-meaning advice about taking charge of my attitude. When I talk about mindset, it’s not about finding the silver lining in everything or making lemonade out of lemons or whatever tired cliche you want to choose.

This is where setting intentions come in, versus the typical new year resolutions. Instead of making a hyper-specific goal, such as losing 20 pounds, you could set an intention for eating healthier food in 2019. This could include things like cooking healthy recipes at home, going to a farmer’s market, or tending to a garden at home.  By setting this intention and taking action on it, you may discover that you lose a few pounds along the way. If not, that doesn’t mean you failed. Eating more nutritious food has benefits beyond what you find on a scale.

You don’t need to attach numbers or due dates; intentions don’t expire but are often lifelong aspirations worth the time and effort invested.

For those caring for a loved one with dementia, consider an intention centered around collecting memories, which could include filling out the family tree and creating scrapbooks.  Self-care is another important intention that all of us should focus on in the new year. It’s one of those annoying buzzwords, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that caregivers have to find a way to recharge.

Those embarking upon the end-of-life phase as a caregiver may find that an intention centered around what a good death means to your loved one and family is useful during this challenging time.

Whether you call them intentions or resolutions, I hope that 2019 treats you and your loved ones well.

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Happy holidays

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Mom and Dad at Christmas, circa mid-1980s.

The holidays can be stressful for caregivers, but they also offer moments of magic and the potential to create memories that you will cherish for the rest of your life.

I hope that you enjoy the time spent with family and other loved ones over the holidays. For those of us remembering those who have departed, it can be a comfort to reflect upon happy moments and favorite memories.

And if you feel yourself being overworked or stressed out, don’t be shy about asking for help!

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Dad gone 7 years now

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Today marks seven years since my father died. The weather today in Atlanta, a steady chilly rain, is exactly the same as it was on that day in 2011, when I took a call from my mom in the newsroom of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She rarely called me at work. I expected the worst, and received it.

That moment, and those right after receiving the devastating news, are forever burned into my memory and play in slow motion. The week after, viewing Dad’s body, trying to be there for my grieving mother but finding that we were clashing, making a desperate attempt to return home in the middle of a freak snowstorm, getting stranded in Roswell, New Mexico for Christmas … are memories I’d like to forget.

But some good did come out of the sadness. While I was stranded in that hotel room in Roswell, eating a microwave dinner, I created this blog, The Memories Project. And over the years, this blog has served me well. Initially, it helped me through the grieving process, and over time, it has become the foundation of my caregiver advocacy platform. Regular writing and exploring ideas helped me publish The Reluctant Caregiver. I’ve made so many wonderful connections over the years through this blog. From appreciative readers to those who have reached out for interviews, I am eternally grateful.

 

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