For the past five years, Niki Barr has worked at the Edward A. Myerberg Center as a personal trainer for older adults.
My sister and I had traveled home to give my brother a break. We were with my mother at her primary care physician’s, technically a licensed nurse practitioner whose manner is part game show host, part private investigator. We all love her. After the good news –physically Mom was in top form — Lynne shifted gears, getting to the real reason we were there.
Have mom or dad begun forgetting things? If so, it could be a sign of a larger issue, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s natural to forget things here or there, but if it begins happening often, consider taking notes. Keeping a detailed log can illustrate if there is a problem. You can also present your findings to a doctor to ask for their input or use it to help persuade your loved one there may be a problem.
Moving homes is nearly always challenging – it’s a process full of difficult decisions and exhausting logistics. For older people moving into independent, assisted or memory care living facilities, the process can be especially tough. Paula Sotir, BSN, MGA, CSA, and her company CarePatrol, can help.
If you have children, no doubt you have experienced parental guilt. Loosely defined, it’s the feeling of angst that comes with knowing that you have not been the best possible parent and that your child will be permanently damaged because of it. Today, that type of guilt is taking the backseat to a different kind of “parental” guilt–the overwhelming feeling that you have not done enough for your aging parents or cannot be with them in their final months or days.
Both types can be consuming and leave you exhausted and miserable. Unfortunately, there is no beating the guilt game. When it comes to your parents, it is difficult to reconcile their needs with the demands of your own life. If you have an ounce of love for your parents, you will feel the guilt that comes with the constant balancing act required to keep them as happy and healthy as possible. That’s human nature. Just remember, you don’t have to succumb to the guilt, just stop fighting it and look for an upside.
These are givens: Your visits will never be long enough, and your phone calls will never be frequent enough. Do what you can to remain in contact given your hectic work and home schedule and congratulate yourself for doing what you can.
Dementia and illness can make even the most pleasant person irritable and demanding. Caretakers and loved ones often feel underappreciated and frustrated with the elderly parent. Those feelings are normal, and it helps to talk about them from time to time with other family members, friends, or even your parent.
Acknowledge that no one wants to be a burden to their children, and your parents never intended to put you in this situation. On both sides of the fence, parents and adult children feel guilty that the situation is beyond anyone’s control and cannot be fixed. Sometimes there is very little to be done to improve their lives other than be sure your loved one is comfortable and surrounded by people who truly care about their well being.
Lisa Vogel is the owner of The Lisa Vogel Agency, a home health care agency providing custodial care on a live-in or hourly basis for clients who require long-term care, rehabilitation care, or hospice care. Learn more about to relieve your parental guilt and ensure your loved ones are well taken care of by contacting the Lisa Vogel Agency at 410-363-7770.
10401 STEVENSON RD. STEVENSON, MD 21153 410-363-7770 • F: 410-363-7771
Researchers at Wake Forest University and the University of Southern California have created a brain implant that has been proven to restore lost memory data and to improve recall of fresh information…in lab rats. Though it’ll be a long while before the smart device is ready for human use, this study equals potentially brilliant news for people with dementia and those who care for them.
In a series of experiments, as reported in The NYTimes last week, Sam A. Deadwyler (at Wake Forest) trained rats to remember which of two identical handles to pull to obtain drinking water. Without the memory implant, which is analogous to healthy brain tissue, the rats struggled; with it, they scored the sip.
“Though still a long way from being tested in humans, the implant demonstrates for the first time that a cognitive function can be improved with a device that mimics the firing patterns of neurons,” writes wonderful Benedict Carey, the regular medical and science reporter who makes the most complex information accessible to English majors.
Reading about this inspiring study, I imagine a better version of our world, in which my boyfriend’s mother, who suffers from early dementia, can remain in her beloved house, rather than relocating to an assisted living center–something she very much fears. Perhaps she can continue to feed her patio squirrels their peanuts and acorns, remember how to prepare her Banquet frozen dinners, dish her cat’s tuna, and work her elaborate remote control. Like all of us, she never forgets how much she likes hanging out at home. Here’s hoping the implant can, sooner rather than later, help people dwell years longer in familiar comfort.
Would you pursue advanced technology to help your elderly parent–or yourself, for that matter–live peacefully at home additional months or years?