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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Helping Our Alzhemier Clients: Do They Experience Hallucinations ?

Today is a rainy cold day and I am off work, so I don't have to be at mom's today. So I thought I would share with you and interesting bit of information I have just learned about Alzheimer's clients.

Most mornings I will listen to NPR (National Public Radio). This week there was a piece on about Alzheimer patients and hallucinations. The report tracked a patient with Early-onset Alzheimer's disease, who is using a tape recorder to journal his experiences as he travels this very scary and unfamiliar road. A road which many of us may one day travel ourselves.

Salvador Dali: Persistence Of Memory

What I find interesting as a caregiver is how this piece of information may in some ways help us understand our clients better. One case in point I can think of is showers. If you have the responsibility of showering a client with Alzheimer's you know it can be a very trying experience for both you and your client. My clients physician once told me that they don't see the shower for what it really is, and may perceive it as a threat of some kind. He had a patient who thought he was being asked to get into a boat and he thought the boat was sinking. That of course made him very fearful. Could it be that he was hallucinating at the time? Well maybe so.

There are other times when our clients behavior may seem odd to us, however if they are seeing things that are not there it would explain a  lot about their actions. This is just one more bit of information that we can have in our data banks to help us deal with the day to day issues that we face when caring for an Alzheimer's patient, whether it be a client or family member.

"Up to 50 percent of people who have Alzheimer's disease experience hallucinations, delusions or psychotic symptoms, recent research suggests." - National Public Radio

On a similar note my mother has severe macular degeneration, and it is common for patients with this disorder to see strange things also. I will share some insight on that with you tomorrow. And also I will have some links to information on just what it is they see, because believe it or not, when they tell about their visions - or draw them if they able there is a common thread...... so unusual you wont believe it.

Until tomorrow Take Care

Ruth Anne

Friday, May 29, 2015

Jeb Bush - Family Touched by Alzheimer's Disease

Every one of us can be touched by Alzheimer's disease. And at anytime.

A good thing is when a person who has the ability to get to a large audience, does something to get out the message: "We must get serious about treating and curing Alzheimer's Disease!"

Just the other day, Presidential contender Jeb Bush said that his mother-in-law, Josefina Gallo Esquivel, is living with Alzheimer's. He asked for people to email him if they have ideas or suggestions as to how to deal with this growing issue. Regarding dementia, Mr. Bush is quoted as saying:  “It’s not uncommon, I mean this is a huge problem.”

Well we are all glad he gets the fact that it is a huge problem, and God bless him. Just as good is that others are joining in on getting the message out.

One person that responded to his request, and is known by many, was Ms. Maria Shriver and she had four suggestions for Mr. Bush that may have some weight. Ms. Shriver has talked about the growing concern we all must have with the disease, among other things producing a PSA on the subject "We Challenge You to Help Us Wipe Out Alzheimer’s Now". She has also lent her support to the not-for-profit Alzheimer's Association.

An outline of four of the suggestions she had and has published for Mr. Bush are:
  1. Make Alzheimer's disease and the need for increased federal research to find a cure a centerpiece of your Presidential campaign.
  2. Become a champion for FDA reform of the drug trial approval process, ensuring that our government reduces the time it will take for safe and effective Alzheimer's drugs... 'to get into the hands of American families.'
  3. Much like President Kennedy launched an expedition to the moon, why not...tap the best and the brightest to join you. Parkinson's, depression, Autism, PTSD, ALS and so many other diseases are ravaging our brains as well. Let's all come together to try and find cures. 
  4. Talk about the role of caregivers in our society and their importance. Make sure that those who find themselves in a caregiving field as a career make a living wage... They need support.
The fourth suggestion to Mr. Bush I have listed is the one I would like to here emphasize. Ruth Anne has posted here in the past about becoming a Personal Caregiver, not only out of love, but as a career. Many people are lucky enough to do what they love for a living. However most of us have to be practical, and in order to accomplish this as a goal, if you desire to become a caregiver as a living, you must be able to make it a sustainable living.
Ask Those Who Have A Voice:
a Caregiving Career a Living Wage Career".

Today, for most people who are caregivers as a means of living, the fact is they are not making a sustainable living. Many find that though they love the field of caring for someone and enhancing the lives of people in their later years, the practical reward - the money - is not a living wage. It is rare for one to say that caregiving supports oneself in a good way of life. Some find a second income a necessity.

As caregiving for those in later years of life becomes increasingly in demand, this may change. In the mean time don't wait if you choose this as a career. Do some things to make a difference, to make caregiving a rewarding career in all the ways you desire. Check out one post Ruth Anne has written on the subject of your resume and what you can do to highlight your qualities as a caring and competent professional.

Independent Caregivers: Beef Up Your Resume'

Thank you,
Will Branning

You can read the New York Times article with Jeb Bush's announcement online here at : 
Jeb Bush Opens Up About Mother-in-Law’s Alzheimer’s

You can email Mr. Jeb Bush here at:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Caregiver Survival In The ER: How It's Done

Here we are again. Back in the ER in Henry Ford Hospital - West Bloomfield.

I cannot tell you the amount of hours I have spent here with my mother. Today she has been having swelling in her legs so we went to visit her doctor. The doc wants to rule out blood clots, so what started out as an in office doctor visit instead turns into a whole ER Adventure!

If you care for a parent or a patient/client then you know an ER visit is never quick. I have never been here for less than 4 hours - usually longer. I have gone through entire nurse shifts here! But this is what we do for our loved ones. We put aside our desires our plans and do for them what needs to be done, because we love them and we want the best for them. Does it get frustrating? Yes sometimes it does, but then life is full of frustrations and that's just the way it is.

In the next room a young man is sitting with what looks like his mother or grandmother. He has obviously been through this before because he is working on his laptop; he came prepared. If you do this once then you learn how to prepare for the next time and the next.. Like me, you may even put together an ER bag with snacks, Sudoku puzzles Tylenol,  because if your are a caregiver you will learn the drill and do it often.

How Do You Survive All Those Trips To The ER ?

Share your ER survival tricks with me. Personally I make sure I have phone charger, food and my 'meds' because, I may be here a long time!

Take care and please share,
Ruth Anne

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wills, Advanced Medical Directive & Power of Attorney

Do you have all of your proper paperwork completed and ready?

Today I watched a new series on PBS titled "Your Turn to Care". It is a four part series on caring for our aging parents which touches on some of the things we as caregivers face.

One segment touched on the need to have all the proper paperwork completed in advance of any issues arising so that we are, as the one gentlemen put it, " proactive instead of reactive". If we are properly prepared for what we know will in time come up, we can be much more relaxed and confident that we can handle any situation to come up. There are three very important pieces of information that ALL adults should have completed, not just the elderly. They are:
  1. A Will
  2. Advanced Medical Directive / Advance Health Care Directive
  3. Power of Attorney
Today I will talk about the Will. Many people have the mistaken view

Monday, May 18, 2015

What is An Advanced Medical Directive? Who needs one?

Lets now talk about that second document every adult should have "THE ADVANCED MEDICAL DIRECTIVE"

What is it and why is it important?

Your Advanced Medical Directive, your AMD, is another tool that allows you to make your wishes known in advance of a medical emergency so you get the care you want and do not leave your loved ones grappling with the hard decision of guessing 'what does mom or dad would want us to do?'. There are two main areas that you are going to cover with this directive.

1. End of Life Decisions:

You will be electing to either prolong your life at all costs, such as being put on a ventilator or other machine to keep you alive when you can no longer sustain life on your own, or you may chose Not to prolong life if  certain circumstances occur: an example would be

Monday, May 11, 2015

Today Is Another Family Caregiver Day

This morning I don my family PAL hat, as opposed to my professional PAL hat.


Monday is one of my days to care for mom. So up at 5:30 a.m. to be to sisters by 8:00. Mom needs to go for blood tests today and can't eat, so we're going to get an early start... well so I thought.

Mom is getting very slow these days so I need to be super patient which isn't always easy. Most of us are so used to doing things fast - just donning our clothes and jumping in the car. Not so when you are a person of 91 years. An hour to dress an then 15 minutes to load into car before we can go. But that is just the way it is, we must move at their speed, we cannot hurry the family member we care for.

After blood tests mom wants to go to lunch. I can't say no, she doesn't get out much and lunch out means so much to her, and its worth the effort. I then spend the rest of the day with her at my sisters house while my sister is at work. I know how stressful this is becoming for my sister and I try to do as much as I can to lighten the load. Tomorrow I have my client I care for but must spend some time looking into a place for mom. Will update you on the search process and how it all progresses.

Until then Take Care

Ruth Anne

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Caring for Mom and Dad

Dear Friends,

Did you see the recent PBS show entitled: Caring For Mom & Dad ?


Until now my blog posts have been about being a professional caregiver. However today I want to switch gears a bit and talk about being a PAL caregiver for a family member. You see I have done both. If you have read my posts you know  I have worked for other families caring for their loved ones, however I have never posted about caring for a family member as I have done for many many years. I can tell you from experience that they are in so many ways very different

My father passed away in 2001 suddenly, leaving my mother, who has severe macular degeneration, to live alone. My siblings and I did not feel that it was safe for her to live alone as she was about 45 minutes away from both my sister and I  and could not drive or care for other needs on her own. She was 77 at the time. Without hesitation we decided to have mom move in with us and she lived with my husband and I for 9 1/2 years. She has now been living with my sister for the last 4 1/2 years and is now 91.

The stress of having someone else in your household is heavy. The decisions you have to make for a family member such as a mom or dad are complicated and not always easy.