Saturday, June 30, 2012

When It Is Time To Move

Recently I wrote about the stress involved with moving.  This stress is very real even when the move is to a much anticipated new home.  My daughter has just made such a move, and she is now seeking all the sleep she can gather to recover from said move.

For many of us, the time arrives when our parent, or other family member, must move from the family home to a home that offers professional care.  Making the decision on when, where, what type, how much to spend, etc., etc., etc. can be overwhelming, to say the least.  There are many issues to consider when making this decision.

Assuming the decision to move has already been made, don’t move to the first place you visit.  Investigate your options.   In my town, there are many different types of group living arrangements, and they each offer a variety of services.

Does your Dad like to socialize?  Then a group home with thirty people might be just perfect.  If he is more of a loner, than a small setting might be more effective.

Think about their daily activities.  Does your Mom like to walk for exercise and stimulation?  If so, make sure the environment you choose offers room to allow for her to do so.
There is much to think about, and the decisions can be difficult.  Senior Life Journeys is here to help walk you through the process.  Let us be the sounding board for your thoughts and emotions, as well as a source of information.  Together, we can make a great move a reality.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What Did You Have For Lunch?

What did you have for lunch?  That is a question I ask Momma quite often.  It really is a crazy question to ask her.  She has dementia, and she usually does not remember.  I ask hoping to hear she actually ate something – anything!  You see, Momma has appetite issues.   One of her medications for dementia is stealing her appetite.  This is a common side effect, and it can be a real problem.  In addition to her lack of appetite, Momma has problems with esophageal  spasms.  When the attack strikes, it puts her in unbelievable pain.  She can go from totally relaxed and happy to doubled over in pain and covered in sweat in about thirty seconds.  These spasms can be brought on by stress and certain foods.  In Momma’s case, fruit and coffee are two things we know she must avoid.  Would you care to guess what her two most favorite food items in the world might be?  You guessed it – fruit and coffee.  Momma was most happy when my Dad would awaken her with a cup of coffee in one hand and her hair brush in the other.  If she could then have fruit for breakfast, she would consider the day off to a good start.

Now, Momma forgets to eat.  She doesn’t listen to the cues her body is giving regarding its need for food.  And, unfortunately, she has to deal with these spasms.  Be aware of your loved one’s appetite.  Alzheimer’s causes the metabolism to increase.  When the average person sleeps, they burn 200 calories.  When someone with Alzheimer’s sleeps, they burn 600 calories.  So, making sure your loved one is getting proper nutrition is very important.  For Momma and me, it is a full-time job.  However, it is like I tell her all the time.  She is worth the effort, and she is so CUTE!

Monday, June 11, 2012

They Are Peculiar People

We had spent the day driving to Florida, and finally had stopped to rest for the evening.  Upon arriving at the hotel, my cell phone rang.  It was our daughter saying my mother-in-law had called and was worried about us.  It seems she felt she should have heard from us earlier in the evening, and she was worried we were lying dead somewhere along the roadway.  My daughter told her grandmother she could call our cell phone and talk with us.  She said, “I wouldn’t do that.  They are peculiar people.”  That statement made my daughter laugh, and it cracked me up!  While I appreciate her concern for our well-being, we did not feel the need to check in with either of our mothers.  After all, we are well beyond the age where our Momma’s need a progress report of our day.  Oh well, I still think the declaration of how peculiar we are is priceless.  To tell you the truth, she is absolutely correct.  We ARE peculiar people.  One of us is more peculiar than the other, but I’m not calling any names!  This concept of being peculiar, or different, doesn’t bother me.  All of us are different, and we all are special in our own way.  This is no different when dementia is part of the picture.  Just because dementia is changing our loved ones doesn’t mean they are not special and important.  They still have so much to offer and add to life.  Yes, they might be peculiar – just like me – but they are wonderful people who need a little extra attention.  OK – maybe they need a lot of extra attention, but they are worth the effort.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Reversing Dementia

Before you get too excited about reading my blog, take a moment and re-read the title.  It is “Reversing DEMENTIA”.  It is not “Reversing Alzheimer’s”.  While I would be thrilled to write with news of such an event, this is not the case.  Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.  It is the only cause in the top ten reasons for death that has no cure, no treatment, and no means to slow its progression.  In other words, it is the pits!  Grandma Carpenter died with Alzheimer’s, my Momma was diagnosed with it in 2006, and an additional 5.3 million Americans are facing life with this disease.  Now that I have thoroughly depressed you, let me give you some good news.  Recent studies have shown that exercising at an aerobic level 3-5 times per week can actually reverse the symptoms of dementia.  Let’s review the definition of Alzheimer’s and the definition of dementia.  Alzheimer’s is most easily defined as a disease of the brain.  Dementia is simply put as an inability to think clearly which affects the activities of daily living.  If dementia can be reversed, the quality of life is greatly increased.  I am happy to hear this report, but I am happier to report first-hand experience.  My Momma is working with a personal trainer twice per week.  He has her doing things I would have bet big money she would not have been capable of completing.  I remember trying to get my Mother to go for a walk with me.  We were still within sight of my home when she ran out of energy.  Now she is doing mountain climbers, squats, push ups, and I don’t know what all.  Then, and I am still amazed at this, she walks three laps around the campus of her assisted living.  After completing those three laps, she will grab a partner who needs the exercise but walks much more slowly, and back to walking she goes.  The added bonus is she is remembering things.  This amazes me.  If exercise can make this kind of difference in an individual with dementia, how much more can it do for those of us who are living with healthy brains?  Makes me wonder why we don’t take better care of ourselves.  Do your part today to fight dementia.  EXERCISE!