Safety tips for traveling alone

I came across this article on the AARP website. It must be a frightening thing to drop off a loved one with dementia at the airport, not knowing what is going to happen until they are picked up on the other side. This article is about making it as safe as you can for loved ones with dementia who are traveling alone. The tips can help the travel go smoothy and safely.  Hope these tips can help!

7 Tips for Safety When Loved Ones Travel Alone

If your older loved ones are traveling alone, there are precautions and services you, as their supporters and caregivers, can take advantage of to ensure their safety.

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10 Lessons Learned Through Caring

I found this article on the Alzheimer’s Speaks blog. If you are interested in dementias, and especially in dementia care, check out their blog and website – they have some great information. This article is written by one woman, sharing her lessons learned through her experiences of caring for her mother dementia.

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10 Virtues of Caring

I came across this post on Huffington Post. I think this is a great article! Great advice and given from someone who is living it. At the end, she says she’s no expert, but many would beg to differ. An expert, by definition, is someone who is knowledgeable about or skillful in a particular area. I would say her direct experience as a caregiver would at least qualify her as an expert in her own mother’s dementia. And she conveys her information in an easy-to-understand way – also an important quality that experts should have.

Go ahead, have a read, and let me know what you think in the comments. Do you find these also to work for you? Do you have other “virtues” you would include in the list? Don’t be shy, let us know what you think!

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4 tips for caregivers

I came across this post on Huffington Post today. They are some general tips for caregivers. I didn’t like their title, though. There is debate in the field of Gerontology about the phrase “successful aging,” which implies that there are also UN-successful agers, or that one can somehow fail at aging. This title also implies that you need these strategies to become better at caregiving, and that there is some difference between successful and unsuccessful caregivers.

In the beginning, the article states, “Armed with these tools, any person can find themselves better prepared to handle the challenges that come with being an Alzheimer’s caregiver.” And in closing, it states, “… and these simple tips can help anyone improve their work as an Alzheimer’s caregiver.” I would have expected a little bit more caution and sensitivity from the Chairman of the Alzheimer’s Global Initiative and the President and CEO for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA).

Reading these 4 broad tips will not automatically make you a better caregiver. I’m sorry to disappoint you, dear readers, but these tips are not so simple – they actually require quite a bit of work, including some soul-searching and long-term commitments. I think the article gives great advice, and advice I would also give if I were writing to the general public and not a specific situation… which is why I share it here 🙂 I just want you to proceed with caution.

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Camp for Dementia

I came across this post on the NPR website. You can also listen to the 8 minute audio report here. It’s a story about Camp for Caring, a camp put on by the non-profit organization Family Caregiver Alliance. Their website states,

Camp for Caring is for care receivers and is one our most popular weekend retreats for adults suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and other brain impairments. Campers spend the weekend (Friday-Sunday) in an attractive camp or retreat setting so that their caregivers can enjoy a much needed 48-hour respite from caregiving.

The success of this camp is attributed to Camp for Caring AAA’s—Activity, Affection and Attention. The activity program is highly structured with outdoor activities, arts and crafts, singing and dancing, low impact exercises, group games and hand massages.There is close supervision by paid professionals and volunteers who provide around-the-clock care, a 24-hour on-site nurse and night attendants.

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Aging and the Life-course

Report on life-course theory

I was asked to attend a WHO meeting on life-course theory as part of my internship with the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe. While I was there, I was working on the topics of eHealth and the Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities (and trying to bridge the two). I was working in the Division of Non-communicable diseases and health promotion – Ageing, disability and long-term care. The team I was part of worked on the full spectrum of life, from before conception to aging, all with a focus on health promotion and reduction of non-communicable diseases.

This particular meeting was a brainstorming session on how the WHO is using the life-course perspective to address health promotion. I was particularly excited to attend because of my background in psychology and gerontology, where life-course theory has it’s roots.

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Film review! “Still Alice”

Still Alice

The film “Still Alice” premiered in Denmark on March 5, 2015. I went to see it the following Sunday. It was a really sunny day, so it was kind of a shame to spend it inside a theatre, but I will say it was so nice to come outside into the sunshine afterwards.

While I have seen that there have been many reviews of the film, I was careful not to read them until I had seen it for myself. I think it’s nice to come in with a fresh set of eyes and to not be influenced by other people’s opinions until after forming some of my own.

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Drugs that can cause memory loss

Drugs

10 Drugs that can cause memory problems

For a long time doctors dismissed forgetfulness and mental confusion as a normal part of aging. But scientists now know that memory loss as you get older is by no means inevitable. Indeed, the brain can grow new brain cells and reshape their connections throughout life.

Most people are familiar with at least some of the things that can impair memory, including alcohol and drug abuse, heavy cigarette smoking, head injuries, stroke, sleep deprivation, severe stress, vitamin B12 deficiency, and illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression.

Forgetful? Your prescription meds could be interfering with your memory. — Larry Williams/Corbis

But what many people don’t realize is that many commonly prescribed drugs also can interfere with memory. Here are 10 of the top types of offenders.

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Conversations with Dada

I came to know Eddy and Dada through a facebook group called Memory People. It is an online support network, started by Rick Phelps. Its a place where anyone who has memory issues, works with someone with memory issues, is a caregiver, is a former caregiver, or is otherwise interested in dementias and memory disorders can come together in a support group consisting of thousands of people from all around the world. What is discussed there is private, meaning that only other people in the group can see what is written and respond. It’s also a great source of support, where we can ask questions, share knowledge, and be understood by others who have been/are in a similar situation.

Eddy would post videos of his conversations with his father, whom is lovingly called Dada. It is easy to tell that both of these gentlemen have big personalities. I have been following Dada for the past few months, and also follow him on his own facebook page (Conversations with Dad).

These videos help to make dementia real. A face is put on it. A name is put on it. A voice is given to it. Dada probably doesn’t realize the influence he is having on the world. That a woman in Denmark can be watching a video of him taking a walk in the United States, laugh with him, cry for him, and think about him and how he is doing. It’s amazing and moving that people all over the world are getting to know this wonderful man.

I think that what Eddy is doing is wonderful. He is sharing his caregiving journey with us, he is sharing his father’s life with us, he is sharing himself with us. And when people honestly share like this, it is touching and it is powerful enough to change the world.

If you get a chance, I highly recommend to check out Eddy’s page and get to know he and Dada.

UPDATE:  I am sorry to inform you that Dada aka Captain Jack passed away on February 24, 2015. There are still the posts, pictures, and the great videos on the facebook site if you want to like the page and check them out. I still recommend it, Dada has a lot to teach us and I promise you won’t be disappointed. Eddy, the son who has been documenting and sharing Dada with us, is in my thoughts and I still find myself thinking about them almost daily. I wonder if he knows the gift he has shared with the world.

The Future of Robot Caregivers

I came across this opinion piece on The New York Times, you can read the original article here. I think that Louise Aronson brings up a really good point when there are discussions of the ethics of using robots as caregivers, and the effect on future generations:

As Jerald Winakur, a San Antonio internist and geriatrician, put it, “Just because we digitally savvy parents toss an iPad at our kids to keep them busy and out of our hair, is this the example we want to set when we, ourselves, need care and kindness?”

It’s a point I hadn’t thought of before, and I think she brings up an even better point as she is weighing the effect of not pursuing the use of robots as caregivers:

In an ideal world, it would be: Each of us would have at least one kind and fully capable human caregiver to meet our physical and emotional needs as we age. But most of us do not live in an ideal world, and a reliable robot may be better than an unreliable or abusive person, or than no one at all.

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Technology and Independence

Tech Advances Will Give Aging Baby Boomers More Independence

A notable trend is medication reminder functions increasingly found in mobile apps as a value-added feature that is free of charge. Medication reminders used to be marketed as a subscription service, but health-focused smartphone apps are integrating the reminder function with other health and wellness features, such as Personal Health Record, symptom checker and daily activity tracker.

By Harry Wang  You can read the original article here.
10/01/14 7:14 AM PT

The U.S. is facing a retirement wave. Seventy-six million Baby Boomers are beginning to hit the 65-year-old mark. By 2025, the number of people between 65 and 85 will account for 16.6 percent of the total population, compared with an estimated 12.5 percent in 2013, an increase of 18 million. In the U.S., the elderly prefer aging in their own home, but living at home has potential risks.

Connectivity and technology advances are enabling more sophisticated devices and tools — including personal emergency response systems, medication management, home safety and activity sensors, and GPS and location-assistance solutions — to help consumers and caretakers manage risks at home.
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Real stories of dementia adventures

I was searching for stories of dementia adventures online, and I was led to a discussion thread on Alzheimer’s Society’s website. It helps to hear what others have been through and how they handled it. Feel free to read their stories and share one of your own. Click on the title below to go to the site.

Dementia adventures…

I just thought I’d create a thread where we can write about the ‘adventures’ we’ve had with our loved ones that have dementia. The thread can be useful for others who can use view it as tales of caution, and a stress relief for the others, because I don’t know, I get a weird need to giggle when you have one of these ‘adventures’ and survive it unscathed!

Lewy Body Dementia and an Adventure Attitude

I came across this book while browsing online. It’s one woman’s account of being a caregiver for her husband with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD). You can purchase a copy of the book on Amazon.

Living with Lewy Body Dementia: One Caregiver’s Personal, In-Depth Experience

By Judy Towne Jennings PT MA

What worked for us was assuming an “Adventure Attitude.” As we negotiated our way through the onslaught of LBD problems, we also created a memorable story. We took three cruises in five years, two of which were in Europe. We loved to travel and didn’t let LBD stop our trips all over the country.

We set a goal to be honest, loving, considerate, and accepting of each other. I am not saying that living with LBD is easy, but with the choice to use a great amount of love, with an even greater amount of humor, we made the most of our days.

Reviewing my years of notes allowed me to see both the successes and the mistakes that my husband and I made. Our successes were impressive; we turned a tragedy into an adventure that left positive memories. We are not super special people. Deciding to fight for quality of life can happen for anyone. My hope is that this story of our adventure will make the path for others a bit wider and less rugged.

I haven’t read the book yet, so can’t give a proper review. But it is on my radar, and my list of books to read! If you have read it, please leave a comment and let us know what you thought of it!

Redesigning dementia care

This is a re-post from Crisis Prevention Intervention. Amy Schoenemann gives some great insight into design considerations for care!

Spotlight on Design for Dementia Care: An Interview With PDC Midwest’s Amy Schoenemann

By Terry Vittone | Posted on 06.04.2014

Spotlight on Design for Dementia Care: An Interview With PDC Midwest’s Amy Schoenemann

CPI recently had a chance to catch up with Amy Schoenemann, Director of Design Development and Project Architect for PDC Midwest, a Wisconsin-based architect-led design-build firm that specializes in senior living.

Throughout the last 18 years, PDC has been commissioned by regional and national senior care owner-operators to provide nearly 490 senior care projects in 27 states, and they are on the forefront of the trend in memory care facilities toward designing environments that engage and support residents.

Firms like PDC Midwest are of special interest to CPI’s Dementia Care Specialists, because we believe strongly that physical environments are critical components of successful memory care programs, where the combination of specialized care and environment create an optimum level of function, safety, and quality of life for those living with Alzheimer’s/dementia.
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