April Caregiving Tips:
Wandering at Night
COMING IN MAY ISSUE:
Restlessness at night is common for persons with dementia. Your loved one/client may find it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep for any number of reasons; typically, the person thinks she hears and sees things in the dark. Second most common difficulty is confusion regarding the time, causing the person to think it's time to get up. While this sleeplessness has an impact during the daytime on your loved one/client, it unleashes consequences for you, the caregiver, for whom caregiving is but one of many responsibilities. Here are a few suggestions for managing this sleep issues that may lead to subsequent wandering:
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NEW FEATURE: Readers Ask
Question: I've seen TV news reports that indicate using antacids such as Pepcid, Zantac, and Tagament, etc. cause Alzheimer's. Is this true? If so, should I stop using my antacids?
Response: First let me say that I'm not qualified to answer this kind of question. These issues are always more complicated than they seem, and require a full understanding of your medical history. However, having witnessed the harm drugs can do to the elderly, I tend to be quite cautious about their use.Having said that, here's some of the information I gleaned from online:
WebMD, a reasonable online resource, indicates in a 2007 report that over-the-counter and prescription acid-blockers “may contribute to age-related mental decline”. They cite the observations of Dr. M. Boustani, who said elderly patients using antacids or antihistamines report feelings of confusion. After conducting a study (see resources below to read it online), Dr. Boustani found that elderly persons who continually used these had “2.4 fold higher chances” of incurring permanent cognitive damage. Further research was recommended.
In a 2015 online review of older articles, Dr. Marc Hyman sheds some light on what may be at work here. He finds that older persons using antacids are at risk for changes in their levels of calcium, magnesium, and especially of vitamin B-12. This puts elders at risk for any number of possibilities including cognitive decline, bone loss, hip fractures, kidney stones, kidney issues, and heart issues.
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Being a caregiver is a tough job, one we can do,
especially when we have the right support.
As Christopher Robin tells Pooh:
"Promise me you'll always remember:
You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think."
So are we.
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TOGETHER WITH ALZHEIMER'S:
CARE AND SUPPORT FOR THE CAREGIVER
Meets every Wednesday, from 7:00-8:00
To discuss our experiences with caregiving and share information and resources
within a supportive and caring environment.
Sacred Heart Parish Center,
326 Main St, Yarmouth, Maine
All are welcome to attend at no charge.
Impacts of Dementia on Intimacy and Sexuality
APRIL 2016 ISSUE
Dear Fellow Caregivers:
As gut wrenching as it was to see my mom confront the challenges of her brain failure, it was equally heartbreaking to share my father's grief at the gradual loss of his lifelong love. As much as we, his kids, tried to get him to participate in a support group, this medium fell outsdie his comfort zone. Ultimately, he struggled through this painful loss alone, yet tried to make her happy; he “found” small ways to comfort her: back rubs, gentle touches to her cheek, excursions through the woods, which she loved. And let's not forget how he stocked the freezer with her favorite treat, ice cream. We were proud of him and his enduring efforts.
Since that time, I've met many spouses who were or are caregivers. Their stories of working through the lows dementia brings and embracing its unexpected but welcome highs continue to inspire me. These are brave persons who share their journeys as caregivers with others in the same situation, members of their support group. If you've not yet joined a support group, I urge you to give it a try.
Alzheimer's disease/dementia affects many aspects of the personality, which results in changing the way in which we caregivers address the important issues of sexuality and the need for intimacy. This is such a private issue that caregivers will often avoid it until it demands attention.
As with all things having to do with brain failure*, we understand it best when we put it into context. When it comes to sexuality this sounds especially challenging. Let's see if we can break it down into smaller, more observable symptoms.
Before we begin, it's worth repeating an adage we've discussed in past issues: all behavior has meaning. When what appears to be sexual behavior emerges, we will need to determine what our loved one is trying to tell us with his behavior.
The range of behaviors may progress from fear to anxiety, depression to low self-esteem to excessive dependence or child-like, clingy behavior. Our loved one may not recall the life he had with you, his wife and family, or he may fall in love with another person. As hurtful as these circumstances are, let's keep in mind that our loved one/client's behavior is the product of brain failure*, a brain that is no longer functioning the way it once did.
Disrobing In Public:
Okay, be honest: that subtitle caused your anxiety to jump a tad, right? This completely understandable reaction is important to recognize in ourselves. Should we encounter this, the outcome will depend on whether we react or respond.
If we react, we risk escalating the confusion that contributed to this inappropriate behavior into an out-of-control incident in which our loved one/client, and/or we as caregivers might be injured. Our goal is to respond thoughtfully and gently. To do so, we need to stay calm and keep our emotions in check; this will allow the rational side of our brains to decide how best to get our loved one to dress.
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