Have you ever gone to leave the house and searched forever to find your car keys? Yup! Happens to all of us, we place something in a specific place and then later when we go to find it we cannot find it.
Normally, for most of us this happens on occasion but for someone with dementia this may be an everyday occurrence, possibly multiple times a day. When we go to help a family member with dementia in their home it is often to help them find these missing items, which are often right out in the open or in the most obscure location imaginable.
Sometimes when our loved one with dementia misplaces something they will start accusing people of stealing from them. Family members or complete strangers are all potential suspects and these accusations can be emotionally very painful. As painful as it may be to have your loved one accuse you of stealing from them may be it is important to keep in mind that it isn’t really THEM making the accusation, it is the DISEASE.
Dementia destroys the brain and especially in the beginning it destroys not only memory but also the ability for rational thought and logic. So when they can’t find something they want (memory problem) and they know they didn’t do anything with it (again memory problem) then it is obvious that someone stole it even if no one has been in their home (logic problem) and if you happen to come into their field of vision or thought then you are the guilty party (rational thought problem). This is all symptoms of the disease, the same as a rash is a symptom of an allergic reaction.
The best thing you can do during these times is to reassure your loved one that you will help them find whatever they are looking for, and don’t blame them for anything. You will need a lot of patience, love, understanding and patience. (Yes, I did put patience twice.)
Check in often, I will post more about patience and loving while caring for a family member with dementia.
I must admit that social media came into my life at a time where I had already learned some understanding of what should and should not be publicly shared. I also had learned from a young age to follow the golden rule.
So, when I read about the idea of nursing home caregivers posting pictures to social media showing seniors in their care in deplorable conditions or being abused I was beside myself in outrage. This level of cruelty and depravity cannot be understood or explained away.
Sadly, it is also a symptom of the nursing home industrial complex we have here in the United States. In a country where the monthly costs of such care can run as much as $10,000 and there are little to no regulations as to caregiver to resident ratios it is unsurprising that those caregivers who really care about the seniors in their care burnout and quit the field entirely. This leaves behind those who could care less about those in their charge allowing such heinous acts to be committed.
While corporate big-wigs reap huge salaries, overworked and understaffed the caregivers can barely make a living wage. They often do not have the supplies on hand to provide proper care (gloves, cleaning supplies, adult briefs to mention a few).
Imagine the pain in the heart of a good, caring caregiver who has to show up to work day after day knowing they will never be able to interact with their charges as the human beings they are. That they will never be able to adequately provide even the minimal amount of daily care because they are stretched so thin among all their charges. While doing your job you will be barely earning enough to keep yourself housed and fed with your heart being torn out with each moment of heartbreaking toil there is little wonder that they burn out.
The regulations regarding the posting of demeaning photos on social media by caregivers are sadly necessary at this time, but I feel that it would be a better use of Congress’ time to search out what is causing the climate of unfeeling caregivers to propagate. Perhaps requiring higher staffing levels and allowing the resident to caregiver ratios be based upon resident needs rather than straight numbers will allow the good caregivers to wish to remain in the industry and weed out the bad apples in the bunch.
Here is an article in NPR regarding the posting of demeaning photos on social media:
Exploitation on social media is a form of abuse
When caring for someone with dementia or any other illness that robs a person of being able to do for themselves you really sign on for a job that’s 24/7/365.
You help with bathing, dressing, grooming as needed. You make sure meals are prepared and hope they’re well received. You make sure doctor’s appointments are made and gotten to on time. You make sure that doctor’s orders for treatments and medications are followed. You keep your loved one safe from others and often themselves. You are their protector, shoulder to lean on, and champion. You give wholly of yourself for their welfare. Your entire focus is on their needs. You are their hero.
This is the life of a caregiver. This is part of the reason I love what I do. I get to be the hero to the caregiver. I come along side them and offer them a chance to recharge their batteries. I step in for a few hours to take some of the burden from their shoulders. I look them in the eye and say, “I’ve got this, go take some time to be good to yourself.”
For a caregiver to have a few precious hours to take care of themselves is huge. It is a chance to breathe. It is a chance to connect with the outside world. It is an opportunity to decompress from the stresses of life.
So, dear caregiver, here’s hoping you have someone in your life who can say “I’ve got this for a while, go take some time to be good to yourself.”
For those of you who know a caregiver, could you think about coming alongside them? Even a few hours can make a huge impact on the caregiver’s ability to continue.
These four short videos contain important information for adult children of aging parents! Tools and tips to helping your loved one to age in place.
A caregiver is someone who gives from the heart to the point of forgetting about their own needs. A caregiver will miss out on sleep, ignore their own health needs, miss out on time with friends and other family and basically put all their needs on the back burner.
Taking care of yourself as a caregiver is very important. This means doing what you can to get enough sleep, take care of your own health and take time to have some personal time. In caring for yourself as a caregiver you are making sure that you will continue to be able to provide excellent care.
This is easier said than done. Believe me I know! As a caregiver it is easy to get caught up in the needs of your loved one and forget your own needs.
You need to create a support system of family and friends who will step up and give you a break, even if it is only for a couple of hours a week. If you don’t have the kind of relationships where you would feel comfortable asking for this help, there are companies that specialize in providing respite care.
If you know someone who is a caregiver ask them if there is anything you can do to help. It can be something simple like helping with yardwork or housework. You can offer to visit with their loved one so the caregiver has a chance to run some errands or go out for coffee with another friend.
You don’t have to be a professional caregiver to help care for a caregiver, you just need to be willing to step in and offer your support.
This question is sometimes talked about, but when push comes to shove what would you really like to do as your time comes to an end?
For most of us it would involve an activity we enjoyed, perhaps where we felt the most peaceful within ourselves and with the world.
This Vietnam vet requested to do just that … he wanted to go fishing one last time. I’m sure it took some inventive thinking and extra effort on the part of this man’s family, friends and caregivers but they made sure it happened for him.
Why? Why do this? Simply for this reason: make every moment count. Take every day you have whether 1 or 100,000 or 1 million and find joy in the living of that day.
We’ve seen this over and over again, patients being prescribed medications because the doctors are being encouraged by the pharmaceutical companies to prescribe. Right now it’s some of our most vulnerable who are being prescribed medications that may or may not be safe for them. PBA (pseudobulbar affect) is a real condition, but is rare and usually affects those with MS or ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) but a surprisingly large number of dementia patients in nursing care facilities are being prescribed this medication often without the knowledge of their medical power of attorney.
It is being used as a behavior modification medication. There hasn’t been sufficient studies to determine if this medication is; a) safe for use in dementia patients, b) actually works across the board as an effective treatment for behavioral outbursts or c) drug interactions with other medications typically prescribed for dementia.
This article goes into quite a bit of detail about the disturbing practices of the drug’s manufacturer, prescribing physicians receiving kickbacks for prescribing it and the fact that a medication designed to treat a rare condition specifically related to completely different diseases there are a large number of patients (especially in nursing facilities) being dosed with it. Read here.