Caregiving with Advanced Illness

Personal Care Agreements

How to Compensate a Family Member for Providing Care: Introduction

Many families reach a point when they recognize that an ill or older relative needs help. There are usually warning signs: difficulty with daily activities; memory problems; trouble with banking and finances; multiple falls; problems with driving; forgetting medications. Sometimes an elderly or ill loved one needs more than occasional assistance — they need full-time care.

Incontinence (for dementia)

Talk to the physician to see if medication, enlarged prostate or a urinary tract infection might be causing the problem, especially if there is a sudden onset of incontinence.
 

Dressing and Grooming (for dementia)

  • Simplify clothing choices by putting out an outfit for the care receiver to wear, or give an option of two outfits. Do not ask open-ended questions like, "What do you want to wear?"—this kind of question can overwhelm someone with dementia.
     

Dental Care (for dementia)

  • Dental hygiene is important for overall health. Poor dental hygiene may lead to heart disease, gingivitis, stroke, osteoporosis, and respiratory disease. In addition to causing bad breath, inadequate dental hygiene can also affect one's ability to eat, chew, and talk. Certain medications can cause "dry mouth." Dry mouth makes it more difficult to eat and swallow, produce saliva, and causes tongue irritation.
     

Here But Not Here—Finding Hope When a Loved One Has Memory Loss

(Aired: November 14, 2007)

Practical Skills Training for Family Caregivers

An overview of the day-to-day, hands-on strategies and skills caregivers need to maintain a frail older or chronically ill individual at home.

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Grief and Loss Along the Way

Someone once said that aging is a narcissistic wound, meaning that the changes and losses that come with aging—our own or someone’s we love—affect us deeply in ways that are sometimes hard to deal with. This doesn’t mean that there are not positive parts to aging, but when we experience these losses, we sometimes need to stop and reflect on them. Many losses are subtle or ambiguous.

Grandma doesn't remember me

How does having a family member with dementia affect children? The answer: It depends on the age of the child, the severity of the memory loss and the child’s relationship to the person with dementia. The better you understand how the disease affects your loved one, and how you handle your own process of loss and adapting to change, the better you can help your child.

Caregiverʼs Guide to Medications and Aging

Medications: A Double-Edged Sword

“Any symptom in an elderly patient should be considered a drug side effect until proved otherwise.”
Brown University Long-term Care Quality Letter, 1995

Dementia and Pain Management: A Personal Story

My father was screaming in the nursing home. The staff had tried changing any number of his medications, but nothing stopped his agitation until the physician ordered Vicodin, a strong painkiller. I called the physician and asked him to assess what might be causing my father’s pain. The physician suggested it might be arthritis. In a calm voice, I suggested that perhaps the pain was from something more serious—would he please do an evaluation? He told me that this would be hard to do since my father has dementia and can’t tell him what hurts.

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