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Culture Change Througout Aging Services

 

FROM, FOR & ABOUT CAREGIVERS & CONSUMERS

Getting to Know You

(Source:  By PAULA SPAN, newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com)

If you have a relative in a nursing home, you’ve probably had variants of these conversations:

Visitor: How’s my father doing today?
Aide: Which one is your father?

Or:
Visitor: Is my mother’s appetite better today?
Aide: I’m not sure; I wasn’t here yesterday.

Or:
Visitor: How’s my aunt getting along with her new roommate?
Aide: I’m sorry, I don’t know. I usually work on the third floor.

The problem isn’t that certified nursing assistants, who provide the great bulk of hands-on care in nursing homes, are as a group callous or unobservant.  It’s that they typically rotate through the facility, moving from one floor or unit or shift to another as needed, which rarely allows them to truly know the fragile old people in their care.  The idea that the same aides should care for the same residents, day after day, has come to be known as “consistent assignment.” It hardly seems a radical proposition.

The Commonwealth Fund’s ongoing national campaign to improve nursing home quality recommends that no more than eight staff members care for a single resident in a month. (Six would be better, but because administrators have to cover three shifts each weekday and three more on weekends, and to find substitutes when aides take sick days or vacations, eight seemed a reasonable goal.)

Nearly 43 percent of nursing homes have signed on to the Advancing Excellence in America’s Nursing Home campaign, which began four years ago. Yet Dr. Mary Jane Koren, the geriatrician who chairs the campaign, estimates that only a quarter of homes practice consistent assignment on weekdays and perhaps only 10 percent for all shifts on all days.  “Estimate” and “perhaps” are the operative terms; nobody really knows how many nursing homes meet this standard. But life could be so much better for residents and staff if they did.  MORE

Consumers Are Blogging About The Nursing Home Bill of Rights:

Review the nursing home resident’s bill of rights.

(Source:  by Joy Loverde, Elder Care ABC

Under federal law, all nursing homes must have a written description of the rights of the residents. A copy of the Bill of Rights must be made available to any resident and family member who requests it.

READ FULL POST HERE  

National Consumer Organization Expands Project Dedicated to Achieving Quality Care for Older Adults

 (Source:  The National Consumer Voice)

WASHINGTON – January 6, 2011 – The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (formerly NCCNHR), also known as the Consumer Voice, is pleased to announce the expansion of its project Consumers for Quality Care, No Matter Where into California through support from The SCAN Foundation. In California, the Consumer Voice will partner with state and local organizations to develop strategies to address key public policy issues and to enable a strong consumer voice around the need for accessible, well-coordinated, quality care.

Consumers for Quality Care, No Matter Where, is a three-year project (also funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies – see September 29 press release at http://www.theconsumervoice.org/media), expanding the organization’s national grassroots advocacy network to focus on health care issues faced by older long-term care consumers requiring care in their homes or communities. As part of the grant, the Consumer Voice will develop models for engaging consumers through five state pilot projects, including California. The project will also facilitate collaboration among national organizations to implement health reform, create a consumer perspectives report with policy recommendations responsive to the needs of a diverse, aging population and provide training and funding for consumer advocates.  LINK HERE

Dealing With the “Difficult Family Member”

(Source:  by Carmen Bowman, Owner, Edu-Catering: Catering Education for Compliance and Culture Change, in The Western New York Alliance for Person-Centered Care Blog)

Won’t each one of us be a “difficult family member?”

So many labels in long term care. Thanks to the culture change movement and the Eden Alternative, we are all watching our language and changing it. They say if you change language first, practice will follow.  I just wonder why we got so good at labeling people? Does it go along with the fact that in institutional care the task comes before the person?  Did labeling just come naturally along with task-doing?  I’ve heard it said that in order for caregivers to endure the dehumanizing ways they treat people they had to de-personalize the person.   Otherwise it is too heart wrenching to think about how we make people do things they don’t want to do, such as get up when they would rather be sleeping, eat even though they are not hungry — the list goes on and on.

We label by diagnoses: “the hip” in room 200, the Alzheimer’s resident and the diabetic. We label with some undignified terms such as “the frequent faller,” “the wetter,”  “the screamer.”  It is so sad.  I would like to ponder the label “difficult family member” here.

I often ask the long term care audiences when speaking, how many of you will be a difficult family member?  Most of us raise our hands and of course we laugh a little.  But we know we would advocate for a parent, family member or friend. Absolutely. Of course we would and no one would get in our way.

So then I say, “I invite all of us to never ever refer to a difficult family member in that way again.”  With tears in my eyes I honestly say we need to thank God those residents have a “difficult family member” looking out for them.  And then I propose we embrace, instead of avoid them.  The Eden Alternative has brought us the new language of “care partner” to stress how we are equal partners in all this, no lines of demarcation or differentiation.  Let’s extend that title of honor to the “difficult family member.”

Now, let’s ponder “difficult.”  What does that mean anyway?  I think we would agree it means one who is willing to speak up for their resident relative or friend.  But you know what I think it really means?  Riddled with guilt.  Please, let’s just all remember the guilt family members feel and that by being “difficult” or really just advocating and speaking up for the resident they are trying to deal with their heavy guilt.  Won’t we too have guilt when we help one move into a nursing home?  When you see a “difficult” family member coming down the hall, try to train your brain to see what you can do to help them relieve a little guilt, ask them if all is well, ask them what you can do better. “Strike while the coals are hot” in the sense of embracing them as a care partner and their expertise in knowing the person.  Partner means you need them and they need you. Let’s act like it. Let’s embrace each other. Let’s continue to flip how we do everything including from negatively labeling to positively embracing those who really just care as much as we do.  LINK HERE

10 Caregiver Confessions: Secrets We Aren’t Proud Of

(Source:  Carol Bradley Bursack, www.AgingCare.com)

Wouldn’t it be nice to be perfect? Wouldn’t it be nice to be a caregiver who had only loving thoughts every moment of the caregiving day? Maybe there are caregivers like that. If you are one of them, I truly congratulate you. Most of us who have been through years of caregiving will not fall into that category. I don’t. How about you? Here’s a sampling of “caregiver confessions” that I’ve heard. You’ll likely feel better just reading them.

Some Non-Angelic Caregiver Thoughts

  1. I have no life of my own and I’m sick of it.
  2. Mom acts like my boss even when it comes to what I eat.
  3. How much longer can I keep this up? There is no light at the end of this tunnel.
  4. Dad has no clue what I give up to do this. He thinks his care is routine.
  5. Everybody wants a piece of me – there’s nothing of myself left for me.
  6. I can’t even take a bath without someone needing me.
  7. Nothing I do pleases them – they are never happy.
  8. I just want to scream, run away, hide somewhere, or change my identity.
  9. Maybe if I just take all of Mom’s sleeping pills I won’t have to wake up to this again.
  10. She is suffering so much. She’s been half dead for months. Why can’t she just let go and die?

Obviously, some of these thought are more serious than others, however what is most important is the frequency of the thoughts and the duration. Let’s look at them more closely.  LINK TO ARTICLE HERE

(Source:  by Chris Cooper, CFP® | November 22 2010)

This week many of us will be making the "pilgrimage" home to see our family members, such as mom, dad, and elderly relatives. And for many of us, what we will find after not having been home for a year since the last Thanksgiving holiday may be surprising, alarming, or downright frightening.  Over the past 12 months, we have all gotten another year older, and so has our mom, dad, or other elderly family member. A lot can happen in a year, and it is precisely at this time when adult children become aware that they elderly loved ones may not be doing okay and might need assistance with everyday living.

In the long-term-care industry, the Friday after Thanksgiving is known as the busiest day of inquiry by family members searching for nursing homes, assisted living communities, home care agencies, and elder law attorneys. The telephone rings constantly (and you thought everyone was out at the shopping malls). These inquiries often come with unrealistic expectations, i.e., "Can someone come out and help my mom today or over this weekend, as we will be leaving Sunday to go back to…" Hopefully, you are getting my drift.

There is no way any professional or service organization can "fix" in an hour or a weekend the problem that your elderly relative has had 80-plus years to create. It is this Friday after Thanksgiving when reality sets in—that mom or dad cannot safely be left alone anymore and it is going to take a lot of time, particularly your time, to help manage this situation. Also, modern Western medicine, despite all its advances and costs, still has not come up with a “pill” one can take to be young again or to cure dementia or other diseases…. 

While I hope that no one ever has to deal with all of these issues, we all know most of us will either be the caregiver or the care recipient at some time in our future. Longevity is both a blessing and a curse. If none of the things that I have outlined here is happening in your family, I am happy for you. It is time though, to talk about these things with your elder family members so that they can be ready and so can you….  LINK TO ARTICLE HERE

Talking With Justice Sandra Day O'Connor: Battling Alzheimer's

(Source:  by Paula Spencer, Caring.com senior editor)

November is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month -- and this week (November 11) marks one year since Alzheimer’s made a widow of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. She and her late husband, attorney John J. O'Connor, had lived with his diagnosis for almost two decades.  Seeing little progress against what she calls "this dreadful disease," Justice O'Connor is calling for the country to commit to developing a national strategy against Alzheimer's, with the goal of finding a breakthrough by 2020.

She stepped down from the high court in 2005 to help relocate her husband to a care facility. As his condition deteriorated, she and her family coped with many common Alzheimer's effects, including his failure to recognize them and his developing romantic attachments to fellow residents.

"I suspect that you will not hear from many of my fellow caregivers directly," Justice O'Connor testified before Congress in 2008, her first public remarks about her story, "simply because they do not have the resources to take time away from their loved ones in order to come before you."  READ THE INTERVIEW HERE  

Families Struggle to Care for Veterans

(Source:  By PAULA SPAN, newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com)

 When Jim Hewes, a San Diego painter and Vietnam veteran, received the diagnosis of colorectal cancer in February 2008, his wife, Libby, suddenly became his aide, therapist, homemaker and advocate — his everything. Through long months of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, she dressed wounds, changed colostomy bags and tried to hold onto her own equilibrium.  “That first year, I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, asking the social worker for a support group, some help, anything,” she said.

Spouses caring for cancer victims endure such trials. But a new report suggests the job can grow still more complicated and demanding when the people they care for are combat-era veterans with service-connected illnesses or disabilities.   READ ARTICLE HERE  

 

Government Releases Funding to Help Older Adults Navigate Long-Term Care

(Source:  McKnights)

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Monday said $68 million in grant money is available to help seniors, the disabled and their caregivers better understand options for long-term care.  The funding, which is a result of the healthcare reform law, is designed to aid families in deciphering Medicare and Medicaid benefits. It also should assist patients with the transition between skilled nursing care and home care, according to an HHS release. Among the disbursements: Twenty-four states will receive grants designed to strengthen the role of Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ARDCs) in the Money Follows the Person program, which helps with the transition between care settings. All 50 states, along with 125 tribal organizations, will receive funding to help educate beneficiaries on the benefits for which they are eligible.

“Our health care system can offer many options to meeting those needs from traditional nursing home care to home and community-based services,” said Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Don Berwick in a statement. “These grants will help families make informed decisions and make sure patients have more control over their own care.”  LINK HERE  

For more information on the dispersal of these grants, visit this site

Advocacy Group's Initiative to Examine Consumers' Needs Across Long-Term Care Settings

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care has launched a three-year project to focus on healthcare issues faced by older long-term care consumers in various care settings.

The initiative represents the advocacy group's new effort to represent consumers in settings other than nursing homes. The project will develop models for engaging consumers through state pilot projects and facilitate collaboration with national organizations to implement health reform, Consumer Voice said. It will culminate in a report with policy recommendations to respond to the growing long-term care needs of a diverse aging population. The Atlantic Philanthropies is funding the project through a three-year grant. Consumer Voice was formerly known as NCCNHR.

"Our organization has had much success in advancing consumer advocacy for nursing home residents and will continue to move forward on those efforts," Executive Director Sarah F. Wells said. "Consumers for Quality Care, No Matter Where presents a new opportunity to advance the goals we developed through our strategic business plan, reflecting our commitment to meeting the changing needs of long-term care consumers."  LINK HERE

2010 AAHSA Consumer Research Digest:  Issues That Older Consumers Will Face in 2016 and Beyond

(Source:  www.geron.org)

This collection of resources, compiled by the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, contains credible and informative research that can shed light on the issues that older consumers will face in 2016 and beyond. Those future consumers will differ in important ways from current consumers. Resource categories include: characteristics of the future aging population, financial well-being of the future aging population, future retirement lifestyles, health status of the future aging population, and meeting future needs for long-term services and supports.  LINK  

(Source:  By C. J. Pittsburgh, www.alzheimersreadingroom.com)

This is a good description of a day in the life of an Alzheimer's caregiver. Spoken in her own words.  LISTEN HERE

‘If You Send Your Parents to a Nursing Home, You are Sending Them to Die’

(Source:  Erin Anderssen, The Globe and Mail)

The alarm went off on her mother’s bedroom door, and Thuy Nguyen-Crawford got up, as she often does many times in a night, to see what was wrong. Her mom regularly mixes up the clock – thinking it’s morning, when it’s really midnight, not registering the darkness outside her window. Sometimes, she doesn’t make it to the bathroom, and Thuy, already exhausted, has to change the sheets, just as she’s done for her three young children.

Her mother often hallucinates during those early morning wake-ups, imagining the cat trapped outside or her daughter sitting at the end of her bed. On this summer night, Tuyet Nguyen was convinced that she saw Thuy’s father climbing the lamp post in the driveway. Her daughter coaxed her back to bed. “That’s okay, mom,” she said. “I’ll go and get him down.”

The next morning, she remembered enough to ask: Was he okay?   Thuy’s explanation satisfied her: “Dad was fine. I told him not to do it again.”

Caring for her mother part-time is a struggle itself, but a diagnosis of dementia has also caused tension in her family over how to provide care, and what should happen in the future. Thuy shares the duty right now with her father, who at 82 watches her mother and handles her hygiene for long spells on his own.

Her parents have an apartment in her brother’s house, but she worries that something will happen while everyone is at work. Her father has refused outside help – in Vietnamese culture, families handle the job alone. But he has his own health problems; two years ago, he passed out at home from a bleeding ulcer and her mom was able to call Thuy for help. “Now she can’t even dial the phone. If that happened today, he would bleed to death.”

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

Thuy was shocked when her mother wasn't able to perform simple tasks. With practice, however, she relearned them.  Thuy knows that, at some point, a nursing home will have to be a consideration but it’s not a subject easily raised with her siblings. In Vietnam, she says, “if you send your parents to a nursing home, you are sending them to die.”  READ MORE HERE

 

New Family Council Brochure

(Source: The Consumer Voice)

The Consumer Voice has created a new brochure to help educate on the topic of empowered, effective and independent family councils. The brochure contains information on what a family council is, rights and best practices, resources and grant opportunities, and examples of family council activities. This is an excellent resource for current family councils or those interested in starting a council. Check it out to learn more

Series Overview: Growing Old, At Home

Where We Age

(Source: by NPR Staff)

Only 5 percent of Americans ages 65 and older live in group quarters like nursing homes. In recent years, this share has been steadily declining (based on 2008 American Community Survey data). Numbers do not total 100 due to rounding.

Source: AARP/U.S. Census Bureau

The aging of America is about to pick up speed. Next year, the first of 78 million baby boomers will turn 65. That means the number of seniors will more than double in coming decades — in what's been dubbed a "silver tsunami."

One thing that's not expected to change: The overwhelming majority of the elderly will want to grow old in their own homes. Nine out of 10 seniors stay where they are when they retire, according to AARP.

While many elderly are in better health than previous generations, it will be a challenge to keep living independently as Americans also live longer than ever. This will be a societal challenge: The number of people ages 65 and older will grow from 13 percent of the current U.S. population to 20 percent by 2050, according to the U.S. Census. That's an even greater share of the population than seniors now make up in Florida.

In a series of reports, NPR explores the quiet revolution — both high-tech and low — that aims to make it easier for seniors to age at home.  MORE

StoryCorps

(Source: youtube)

Danny Perasa and his wife, Annie, came to StoryCorps to recount their twenty-seven-year romance. As they remember their life together from their first date to Danny's final days with terminal cancer, these remarkable Brooklynites personify the eloquence, grace, and poetry that can be found in the voices of everyday people when we take the time to listen.  YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS

CaringBridge: Connecting Family and Friends When Health Matters Most

CaringBridge is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit providing free websites that connect family and friends during a serious health event, care and recovery.  A CaringBridge website is personal, private and available 24/7. It helps ease the burden of keeping family and friends informed. The websites are easy to create and use. Authors add health updates and photos to share their story while visitors leave messages of love and support in the guestbook.

  • Each day, over half-a-million people connect through CaringBridge.
  • More than 1 billion visits have been made to personal CaringBridge websites.
  • The CaringBridge community includes authors, visitors and/or donors in all 50 states and more than 225 countries/territories around the world.

CHECK IT OUT

Baby boomers signal shift in what aging means

(Source: acreamer@sacbee.com, The Sacramento Bee)

MANNY CRISOSTOMO / mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

Luiz Martinez, 65, of Vacaville, far left, twirls Carole Chilimidos, 66, of Fair Oaks to the sounds of a five-piece band at Mission Oaks Senior Center in Carmichael on Friday afternoon. The center is already adapting its services in anticipation of the first of the baby boomers turning 65 on Jan. 1, officially becoming seniors.

As director of Carmichael's Mission Oaks Senior Center, Terri McAdam has made it her business to become familiar with what motivates the baby boom generation, the eldest of whom begin turning 65 in January.  They want to have choices. They want to make an impact on the world around them. But most of all, just right now, they want the center's shuffleboard court removed to make way for an updated fitness room.

"Shuffleboard was very popular with seniors here 25 years ago," said McAdam. "And there are still a few of them left who like to play, so this is a rough transition for them. But we already have martial arts going into that room."

Not to mention Zumba and yoga classes – and maybe the occasional weeknight couples dance.  The boomers – the postwar generation born from 1946 to 1964, some 77 million strong and not shy about demanding a little attention – are coming of age.  It's not an overstatement to suggest that the lifestyle of aging is about to undergo a revolution.

Along with deep concerns about the increasing need and, in many cases, declining resources for in-home assistance, stable retirement income and reliable health care funding, the so-called silver tsunami also brings with it an enormous shift in what aging in America means.  As Eskaton vice president Lynette Tidwell said: "The buzzword is culture change. It really is that. And some people are going to get culture shock."  MORE

Alzheimer's Disease The Emotional Roller Coaster Ride

In other words, I need to remind myself to blame Alzheimer's disease and not my mother.....

(Source:  By Bob DeMarco, Alzheimer's Reading Room)

 

It is difficult to describe the range of emotions an Alzheimer's caregiver might feel or experience in a single day. Imagine being happy and then sad, caring then angry, focused then frustrated -- an almost endless stream of feelings and emotions that conflict.  The caregiver lives an anxiety filled life day-after-day. I doubt that many people outside "the front row" think about or consider this. Those outside the front row are normally too busy living their own life.

Take me for example. I doubt that I communicate the amount of anxiety I feel in any given day to many people. Oddly, the only way most people could find out the way I feel and the way I think is by reading this blog. I say odd because it is likely that the people that read this blog on an ongoing basis know more about me than my close friends and people I see daily.

One reason why this happens is because I am reluctant to be an alarmist and I make a conscious effort not to be too negative. I certainly don't want to overreact within my own self. In others words, I don't want to turn me into a negative person by constantly obsessing on the negative.  But the point here is that Alzheimer's cargivers experience a tremendous amount of anxiety.  Lets take an example that is small but real.  READ MORE

Lessons learned from elder friends

(Source: by Jim Farnham, www.democratandchronicle.com)

This is written about two women who I know well. One is 95, living in a Rhode Island assisted living facility. She was once the best friend (along with her late spouse) of my mother and father. The other is my sister-in-law, now 71 and living in an Alzheimer's treatment facility in Rhode Island.

Since my wife and I come from Massachusetts, we go back frequently to visit family. We were there recently for a holiday and made it a point to see both of these women. Neither visit was easy to handle.  MORE

A carer's story

(www.news.bbc.co.uk)

Social care and how to fund it are high on the political agenda.  John Miles, from Bath, describes the 24-hour care of his wife Margaret who has Alzheimer's disease.   MORE

(Source: By Bob DeMarco , Alzheimer's Reading Room)

At the beginning of my travels with Alzheimer's, I had to get over the shock when the diagnosis of dementia came. That took what seemed like a minute, but it was over a year. 
It is not easy to do this. You have to work on this consciously. Pretty much every day. There aren't any shortcuts.

Many of you know the feeling of abandonment that comes with Alzheimer's disease.  Family, friends, they run away. They disappear. This is easy to understand. Let's face it, it is easier to put your head in the sand.

When they run away it is hard to accept. Don't take it personally.  Assume its easier for someone to put their head in the sand and let it go at that.  A simple fact of life.

You are the one that received the call. It is your calling. Answer the call and get on with it.

It is time to become the best Alzheimer's caregiver you can be. You'll do this by taking one tiny step at a time. You'll learn as you go and you'll get better at it each day.

After all.  You are the ONE.

Repeat after me.

I Am an Alzheimer's Caregiver.

I Am not Alone.

I Am the One.

My name is Bob DeMarco, I am an Alzheimer's caregiver. My mother Dorothy, now 94 years old, has Alzheimer's disease.

We live our life one day at a time.  If you do not see the podcast button -- go here to listen.  LINK http://networkedblogs.com/7Q0vX

 

Study: Nursing Home Residents View Facilities Differently Than Five-Star System

(Source: McKnights, July 19 2010)

The Five-Star Quality Rating System devised by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services bears little relation to the actual views of residents, family members and staff at the facilities it ranks, according to a new study. Holleran, a senior-living research firm, found a large disconnect between the way the five-star system ranks facilities and the way residents and families view those facilities. Under the five-star system, a one-star facility is meant to be of inferior quality to a five-star facility. Holleran researchers found, however, that residents and families at one-star facilities were actually more likely to say they would choose their facility again compared with other facilities.

The five-star system relies on submitted data for its ratings, which researchers say contributes to its flaws. Simply tweaking the system to include satisfaction surveys could go a long way toward improving the system, according to Holleran, which released its study July 12.   MORE

How to Implement a True “Voice of the Customer” Strategy

(Source: www.linkedin.com)

Voice of the customer….. Engagement ….. Loyalty.  What do these buzzwords mean?  How do we use them to drive value? 

These often-used terms have connotative and denotative meanings that can be quite different depending on who uses them and how they are used.  Loyalty 360 – The Loyalty Marketer’s Association continues to see uncertainly about loyalty, engagement, and voice of the customer.  Questions posed by our members and partners about these buzzwords keep coming fast and furiously. 

The confusion indicates that in this challenging economic environment, the focus on loyalty and engagement is becoming ever more important. Customers, clients, employers, brands and channel partners believe that voice of the customer, Web 3.0, the Groundswell, etc. can give them a well-needed competitive edge.  Yet, they don’t know how to execute these initiatives effectively. They’re looking for best practice examples of groups creating engagement, excitement, and commitment to help the answer the overriding question:  HOW? 

The answer is two-fold…  MORE

Facing Reality: Caregiving Has Changed Your Life

(Source: By Carol Bradley Bursack,  www.agingcare.com)

One question that is often asked on the Agingcare.com forum is, “How do I deal with the reality of leaving behind the life I had in order to become the primary caregiver to my parents?” The words used vary by the questioner, but the question is essentially the same. How do we cope with this major change in our lives?

It may sound selfish to some, but to caregivers who dove into caregiving with full hearts and no planning, then ended up sustaining this life-altering mode for months and often years, it’s a perfectly rational question. People put their lives, as they are living them, on hold in order to care for others. That’s good. But when “hold” becomes the new norm, there’s a mental adjustment to go through. And sometimes that includes dealing with resentment.

MORE (Be sure to check out parts 2 and 3)

Start Planning to Help Your Elderly Parents
SENIORS | Examine best options for caregiving, housing, medical costs

(Source: BY CELESTE BUSK cbusk@suntimes.com)

The increasing number of Baby Boomers caring for their elderly parents need to take steps to avoid it becoming a depressing, full-time endeavor, an expert warns. "Taking care of your parents happens before many of us even realize it. First, we're shopping for them. Then we're taking them to doctors' appointments," said personal finance expert Eric Tyson, based in Connecticut. "And then we're helping them find a place to live and making sure their bills are paid and their finances are in order. "Like raising your own children, caring for aging parents can present a number of challenges and obstacles," said Tyson, co-author of Personal Finance For Seniors For Dummies (Wiley, $21.99).


Photo: Dom Najolia/Sun-Times

"Taking care of my mother was very much a strain, but now that I got help, my life is much more manageable," said Judy Westerberg, with her 92-year-old mother Mary Westerberg, who now resides in a North Side nursing home.

Chicago resident Judy Westerberg, 60, knows the strain of taking care of elderly parents. She has been caring for her 92-year-old mother, Mary Westerberg, for several years. "My mother had her own apartment up till a year ago. I had to go to her apartment every morning, give her her pills and make sure she had breakfast and then go there every night to make sure she was OK," said Judy Westerberg, a sales manager for a senior condo development in the South Loop. "I'd be concerned all day at work wondering if she was OK," Westerberg said. "I wasn't strong enough to lift her, so I had to keep finding caregivers to come and help me. But in the end, in-home care was not affordable." Today, Westerberg's mother lives in a nursing home on the North Side.

"Taking care of my mother was very much a strain, but now that I got help, my life is much more manageable and my friends have started to like me again," she said.  READ MORE

Tailored Activity Program (TAP) Minimizes Disruptive Behaviors In Dementia Patients Living at Home and Caregiver Burden
The study furthers previous findings that purposeful activity is a safe, healthy alternative to pharmacological approaches in minimizing disruptive behavioral occurrences associated with dementia, such as agitation and aggressiveness.....

(Source: By Bob DeMarco, Alzheimer's Reading Room)

This is interesting research that I intend to look into in more detail. The findings seem to indicate that this approach could be an alternative to placing Alzheimer's patients into nursing homes or other types of Alzheimer's care facilities. I am particularly interested in any approach that is an alternative to "drugging up" Alzheimer's patients that evidence aggressive, mean, or unruly behavior.

One of the questions being raised is whether or not Alzheimer's caregivers would be willing to pay for this service. If it turns out that it would cost less then "institutionalization" the answer could be yes. Perhaps the Federal government could run additional studies to determine if this kind of education is a cost effective solution for Medicare and Medicaid. Both Medicare and Medicaid will be forced, sooner or later, to start discovering effective solution that keep Alzheimer's patients home. They will need to start following the model that is available in states like Vermont.  MORE

The Cost of the War on Alzheimer's Terrorism -- $24 a Day
By the time you finish reading this article you will be wondering -- why aren't we doing this, why isn't my state offering this program?....

(Source: By Bob DeMarco, Alzheimer's Reading Room)

Why not declare a war on Alzheimer's terrorism? Seems like a good idea to me. The best part is it wouldn't be hard to measure the tangible benefits. What would be more desirable: a war in Irar, a war in Afganistan, or a war on Alzheimer's disease? How would we fight the war on Alzheimer's terrorism?

By paying each Alzheimer's caregiver that keeps the Alzheimer's patient at home and cares for them at home -- one dollar an hour. That's twenty four bucks a day. Think of it as paid army of Alzheimer's caregivers. MORE

Older African-Americans and Latinos with Cognitive Impairment Live Longer than Whites; Less Likely to be in Nursing Homes: Great need for culturally-appropriate Alzheimer care resources & home-based services -

(Source:  Alzheimer’s Association)

Honolulu, Hawaii; July 12, 2010 – Racially and ethnically diverse older adults are one of the fastest growing population segments in the United States and new research presented today at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease 2010 (AAICAD 2010) in Honolulu reveals that older African-Americans and Latinos with significant cognitive impairment have a lower likelihood of nursing home placement and longer survival than White older adults in the study.

"These results have significant implications for caregiver burden and community resources," said Maria Carrillo, Ph.D., Alzheimer's Association's Senior Director of Medical and Scientific Relations. "If, as the study suggests, more African-American and Latino families are taking care of their loved ones with significant cognitive impairment in their homes for longer periods of time, there is a greater than anticipated need for culturally-appropriate dementia care resources and home and community- based services for these populations."

"These findings are particularly compelling since we found that African-Americans are about two times more likely and Latinos about one and one-half times more likely to develop Alzheimer's and dementia," Carrillo said. This was reported in March in the Alzheimer's Association's 2010 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report, a comprehensive compilation of national statistics and information on Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.

Another study reported today at AAICAD 2010 suggests that the bereavement process and mourning experience for Alzheimer caregivers after the death of their loved one varies greatly among different racial and ethnic groups. A third research report suggested that cultural and spiritual beliefs of African-Americans, American Indians and Whites greatly influence how long it takes for a family to seek a medical diagnosis of Alzheimer's.

"Alzheimer's leads so many families through unfamiliar territory. The need for education, information, supportive services is paramount," Carrillo said. "The more we learn about the similarities and differences that exist in how various groups perceive and experience Alzheimer's, the more effective we can be in developing culturally-appropriate information, services, and tools that are respectful of these perceptions and closely held values, and that contain authentic relevance that empowers families." MORE

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A new Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA) report summarizes the results of the association’s survey of 962 caregivers.  The report highlights the wide range of challenges families dealing with Lewy body dementia face, and caregivers’ experiences of the medical system as inadequate to meet their needs.  The LBDA hopes the report will serve as a “blueprint for action” for providing more information and education for families and physicians, as well as increased physical, social and emotional support for caregivers. MORE