Helping a loved one suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other memory care issues can be one of the most stressful task you might ever face. Your CarePatrol Senior Advisors have the compassion and experience to help calm the chaos so that you can navigate make the best decisions for your loved one. Learn more about Memory Care with these insightful articles.

The Real Need in the Healthcare System

When my Care Patrol office first got a call from Sarah, her husband Mike (not their real names) had been diagnosed with aphasia and dementia. They made the rounds to the specialists, ran all the recommended tests, took the meds, did their online research – and then she freaked out.  

She was fearful, frustrated, angry and defeated – and I couldn’t blame her. She reached out to the best doctors at the best hospitals in one of the biggest cities in the world. And while they did an excellent job of diagnosing the disease, they did little to help her with the next chapter in her life. What was she supposed to do with the list of resources handed to her? How was she going to manage a husband that was losing his ability to talk and comprehend simple commands? Could she afford to quit her job to be a full time care giver? How was she supposed to deal with toileting, grooming, dressing? What about the suffering and symptoms her husband was experiencing?  How was she supposed to respond to her family that was quick to criticize and give her advice when they had no idea what she was experiencing? 

Sarah realized there may not be a cure or an appropriate treatment for her husband’s condition, but she needed additional support for the chronic maladies that would affect the rest of their lives.  She was fortunate to find Care Patrol. As Sara’s senior care advisor, I was able to focus on what her and her husband were experiencing. I could sympathize with the long waits to get doctor’s appointments, the expensive drugs that did not have the desired effects, the office staff that stared indifferently, the embarrassment when her husband could not control his bowels in public, or the horror she experienced when he ran into traffic.  

Our American healthcare system excels at curing acute problems. It fails miserably transitioning from telling people what made them chronically sick, to how to deal with the experience of dealing with being sick and what comes next.  Families must usually rely on their own wit and resources and wing it as they go through this next chapter in their life. 

Care Patrol is here to help families make the transition from the disease diagnosis to managing the long-term care.  We do this by helping to set realistic expectations, educating, listening, and creating a care plan that often involves options for assisted living, memory care, and in-home care.  Sarah and Mike are another Care Patrol success story. We were able to find them a memory care community that is allowing Mike to thrive and giving Sarah the freedom to be a wife instead of a full time caregiver.

If you or someone you know needs help with the next steps in senior living care, please reach out.  We are a free service and are here to help.

Horror Stories Out Of Florida

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The names have been changed to protect the privacy of the participants, but these stories really happened in Florida. Most could happen anywhere in the country. It is universally accepted that the stress on everyone that accompanies any form of dementia is extremely high. There are actions that can be taken to increase or decrease the stress, however. The participants in these stores are probably just like your family.

#1 – Bill found out from his wife’s doctor that she was being referred to a neurologist on their 40th wedding anniversary. The initial visit indicated Alzheimer’s and within weeks he discovered her behavior in the evening became bizarre and her sleep patterns changed. Friends, doctors, and a placement agency suggested memory care. His choice to care for her (we’ll call her Doris) at home rather than place her would have ramifications he never dreamed of.

Bill was physically attacked by Doris one evening and in protecting himself left bruises on her wrists but managed to get her to calm down and sleep. The next morning when he left for a short jog, she called the police and said he had attacked her.  When he arrived back home, he was arrested. His children came from out of state, but he was given a restraining order by the court. The children placed Doris in a memory care community so Bill could live in his house.

#2 – Jane was concerned about her husband, a second marriage for both. They had been married for 17 years but each had two children from previous marriages. His name was Clyde and his diagnosis of dementia with Lewy bodies included a warning from his neurologist that it often has severe psychiatric indicators including delusions and hallucinations. When she notified his children about it, they asked her what she had done to him.

Jane was taken aback but explained to them about the disease. They assured her that her role was to take care of him and never “institutionalize” him. To make peace she agreed. After a couple years her children called a placement agency to relieve her of the incredible stress. She refused, but sadly the following month during an hallucination Clyde stabbed her with a kitchen knife, and she died. His children placed him in a local memory care community.

#3 – Mary’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis was a surprise to her adult son (named David), who called her every Sunday from his out-of-state residence. When he found out from local authorities that it was diagnosed over 5 years ago, he was shocked. The authorities were called by neighbors when Mary stood outside in a thunderstorm, and the deputies that responded called a placement agency due to the unlivable condition of the house, full of feces, but without food.

The placement agency was able to get Mary into a community immediately for her safety while David made travel arrangements to fly to Florida. He discovered upon arrival that he had no legal authority to deal with her finances since she had no power-of-attorney. He had to spend an additional month going to court to become her legal guardian, a very expensive process. Then he discovered the reverse mortgage that Mary had on the house, leaving no assets.

These three stories are just an example of the millions that probably take place across America. Each one illuminates what everyone in the professional placement business knows. Delays in placement have a very high cost. 63% of caregivers for dementia patients pass away before the patient due to the stress. Family members, usually adult children, get left to deal with the holistically awful mess. Safer senior living NOW. Your goal, OUR MISSION.

“My Brain Is Falling Apart”

 

When we bring families together to talk about next steps in the senior living process for a loved one, it is often the first time the family has all been in the same room, at the same time, having what can be a very difficult conversation. At times, dysfunctional family dynamics can become apparent, and a lifetime of emotions can surface. Other times, something wonderful happens and children come together to support a parent in a way that can make even experienced senior advisors cry.

When a family recently contacted their local CarePatrol office, they knew that Dad could no longer live at home, and that the family, although willing, was not equipped to provide the necessary care. When I asked Dad about how he felt about moving out of his home and how he was navigating the activities of daily living, he told me he felt like his brain was falling apart. Alzheimer’s can be terrifying for everyone involved. Families watch their loved ones waste away and patients dread what they may become.

Currently there is no way to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s. The disease affects not only the patient but also the family that has come together to support them. As the ability to think, reason, recall and navigate daily life deteriorates and becomes more apparent to outsiders, the family starts to feel the affects of the disease. How do you respond when Dad does not recognize you? Do you tell them that the friend they are looking for died many years ago? How should you feel when Mom is confused and can’t find her way home?

It is very noble to want to take care of a parent. Parents take care of us for the first 20 years of our lives, and we should be prepared to take care of them for the last 20 year of theirs. However, there does come a time when it is best to allow professionals to take care of them. CarePatrol is here to help guide seniors and their families to safe living options such as assisted living and memory care communities and in-home care professionals that are dedicated to providing the care that they will need and the support that families crave.

If you need free advice on how to care for a loved one with dementia, please call your local advisor.  CarePatrol is here to help!

An Accidental Death Sentence

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43 million family caregivers provide $500 BILLION worth of unpaid care every year in the USA. Our entire healthcare system is dependent on this. That may be the reason that statistics are hard to find about the damage to the health of the caregivers that results. Stress kills and caregiving causes various levels of stress. Stress is often called a contributing factor because it taxes the immune system resulting in other complications.

63% of caregivers for dementia patients pass away before the one they are caring for. That death sentence was not on purpose but an accidental result of not knowing what stress does to the health of the caregiver. Unlike caregivers in other settings, the family caregiver rarely has shifts where they go home to a less stressful existence. A cottage industry is available to assist caregivers in dealing with situations but not the chronic stress.

Assisted living communities across the country are responding to the memory care needs of dementia patients. They provide professional programming, 24/7 care, and staffing to watch over the daily activities of those with cognition concerns. The family still plays an important part in the life of their loved ones, but not at the cost of their very life. Especially when the caregiver is a spouse, it allows them to be the spouse again.

After working with thousands of families we know the toll on the health of caregivers. Often, we are asked “when is it time for placement?”. The answer is no later than the first sign of health deterioration of the caregiver. High blood pressure, lack of sleep, headaches, kidney disorders, and breathing problems are just a few of the more common symptoms stress can cause. We often sadly meet caregivers at Emergency Rooms.

Other family members are often unaware of the stress effect and add to it with their own expectations regarding placement. Sadly, if they become caregivers upon the passing of the member who was providing care, their perception changes. A family discussion with professionals in the industry providing facts is helpful in both the short-term and long-term. The financial options should be considered early as well.

Far too often the caregiving falls to the spouse whose health is already compromised. This accidental death sentence can and should be rejected. We can relate story after story, many that helped cause that statistic that 63% of caregivers pass away first. Placement in a local memory care community, chosen with the help of a CarePatrol placement professional, dramatically reduces hospital visits as well.

A strange phenomenon is that healthcare professionals who know the most about the effect are the hardest to admit it affects them. This proves it is not just the knowledge, but also the willingness to accept help. Those who counsel others to get help often find it harder to accept help personally. Caregiver stress effects everyone, and it has a negative health effect on everyone. We can help. Contact us today.

So, What Exactly is Memory Care?

A couple of weeks ago I had a client tell me that her mom had dementia and that she wanted her to move into a memory care community. The client then asked “What exactly is a memory care community?” I realized that I couldn’t answer the question because, as I looked at all the assisted living facilities and nursing homes that I’ve worked with in Northeast Wisconsin, I could only recall one that would say “no” if someone walked in their door and said, “Do you offer memory care?”

Without industry standards, memory care is open to interpretation. There are “memory care” units that are locked, those that are delayed (15 second) egress, and some facilities with doors that open freely. There are assisted living facilities that provide “memory care” as part of their standard care service to any senior, or small 4–16 resident communities that offer their own version. There are large apartment buildings providing meals and medication administration, facilities that provide specialized activities to seniors with early to mid-stage dementia, others that specialize in later stage dementia, and those that serve residents with behavioral challenges — all offering “memory care” services.

So, how does one find the right “memory care?” It’s important to not get hung up on the words and, instead, focus on finding the right care for your loved one. In the case of my client, I explained that we needed to work together to understand her mother’s care needs today and, in the mid-term, to understand her social preferences, work within her budget and clarify the expectations of the family and POA. These factors will be critical in finding the safest and most appropriate “memory care” for this individual, no matter how we chose to define it.

Knowing When To Get Help For Your Loved One With Dementia

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It’s not always obvious when to ask for help, or when to make changes to the care that the person with dementia is getting. Providing good care means meeting the needs of the person receiving care. Depending on preferences, needs and abilities, it may be appropriate to look for more assistance, a dementia care plan, or different care choices.

How much care a person needs depends on how independently he or she can walk, eat, use the restroom and bathe.

If you are not sure if it’s time to get additional help, ask yourself a few questions:

Safety

Is the person with dementia safe? What type of supervision is necessary? Does the person require supervision for some activities such as cooking or using certain appliances? Does the person need 24-hour supervision or care?

Health

Does the health of the person with dementia require specialized care? Does he or she require help with medications? Is the health of the person with dementia or the health of the caregiver at risk?

Care

Does the person with dementia need more care than he or she is receiving right now? Does the person need help toileting, bathing, dressing or grooming? Is caring for the person becoming difficult for you? Can you physically manage providing the care needed?

Social Engagement

Is the person with dementia engaged in meaningful activities during the day? Would spending time with other people with dementia be beneficial? Does more focus need to be placed on memory care?

What is Memory Care?

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It is no surprise that as we get older, we progressively find it harder to remember things. Some older people have no trouble with their memories, however for some it is more than the normal aging process. As we age, we begin to process information more slowly. Others can become afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. But this is the exception. Alzheimer’s does not necessarily occur in all older people. ‘Risk factors include heredity, age, ethnicity, gender, and poor intellectual ability and the accompanying difficulty with complex thinking. Women in general are at greater risk than men of developing AD.

A Memory Care Community is a facility that cares for people diagnosed with memory conditions such as Alzheimers and dementia. They find or their loved ones are aware that the condition is affecting their daily living and they are unable to care for themselves without assistance. Facilities designed for Memory Care were created with the sole purpose of caring for patients individually while promoting socialization during meal-times and set activities.

The Memory Care facility usually consists of units within assisted living communities, which offer patients 24-hour support and programs that ensure their safety and quality of life. Residents are housed in private or semi-private rooms and are involved with a number of supervised activities and programs specifically created to enhance their memory. Many are furnished in such a way as to create a home-like setting, encouraging people to treat it as their home, rather than a facility. Larger facilities are secured.