The Value of a Caregiver Support Group

Are you caring for a loved one or friend that is ill or has a disability? If so, then you join the group of over 75 million unpaid caregivers to someone 18 or older who is ill or has a disability – according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Many caregivers are holding down full time jobs and caring for their own children and sacrificing time for much needed rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. They are “unsung heros” that are devoted to helping out without the benefit of a paycheck or oftentimes even a thank you. In addition, they may be left feeling that no one understands the responsibilities or pressures they are going through and have no place to turn.

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With a support group, caregivers can be part of a forum of others going through similar circumstances to help ease some of the stress that comes from helping out others. Some of the benefits of a Caregiver Support Group include:

  • Offering an outlet to discuss worries, concerns, and struggles as a caregiver
  • Learn more about professional organizations that can provide community support for free
  • Meet new friends that can empathize with your situation and offer helpful suggestions
  • Offer helpful suggestions on how to manage time and resources

It can be very comforting being part of a group on people that are going through what you are at the same time. They can truly understanding what you are feeling and become a friend in time of need.

Enriched Life Home Care Services is committed to bringing awareness to importance and role of caregivers – both paid and unpaid. We are hosting a series of Caregiver Support Groups in the South Eastern Michigan Area to do just that. Please feel free to give us a call at 734-744-6477 to learn more.

Enriched Life Home Care Services  |  www.ELHCS.com

With Dementia…Time is My Enemy

It’s been awhile since we’ve shared a guest blog from Rick Phelps. Rick was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease in June of 2010 at the age of 57. Rick is passionate about bringing awareness to this disease and is the Founder of Memory People, an Alzheimer’s and dementia support and awareness group on Facebook. In the latest blog article, Rick tells us how time has become his enemy with his disease.

“Sometimes yesterday, can seem a million years away.” This is the beginning of “While I Still Can…” a song my dear friend Dan Mitchell penned for me.

He took some of my quotes and put them to music. The reason the first line of the song is about yesterday, is because when you have dementia you have no yesterdays.

I no longer have any concept of time. I can tell time, but there is no concept of it. Ten minutes can seem like an hour. If someone says “I will call you in a half hour” that half hour is long forgotten in just minutes.

Many patients suffer with the loss of time. When you are able to tell time you need a reference point. Take for example, if you know you have to be at an appointment on a certain day, at a certain time, the first thing that goes through you mind is a reference of that time.

If it’s Monday at 3:00pm. you might reference that too it’s your first day back at work, and you have to be there when the kids get of school, at 3:00pm.

This doesn’t work when you have dementia. I can’t keep track of the time of day it is, let alone the day of the week. I have no reference to go by.

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Telling your loved one you will be taking them to the doctor tomorrow, Monday at 1:00pm means absolutely nothing. Chances are they don’t know what today is, let alone tomorrow and if you tell them they will simply forget.

Again because they have lost the concept of time. Not many people talk about losing the ability to tell time or know what day it is, but it is a huge problem for the dementia patient.

Everything you do, everything you have planned from the time you wake up till the time you go to bed at night, dictates because of your reference to time.

Right now I know it’s Wednesday, only because I just looked. I had to fill some paper work already this morning, and did it before Phyllis June was up.

That was a mistake. I put the date as September 31rst. There is no September 31rst. I looked at the calendar and everything, but still wrote in September 31.

She checked it luckily and said its Oct.1, not September 31. She didn’t go into there is no September 31, knowing that it wouldn’t register any ways.

Out of habit, you will tell your loved one about a certain date, or time. And that’s fine. It’s what you have been doing forever. Just try to remember, they have no reference of time, and will likely not remember it in just minutes.

So, if it’s important you have to be the one to make sure they are ready to go or do whatever it is at any given time.

The second verse of the song goes, “Time is my enemy, that’s why I’m living for right now.. Tomorrow just to far to think about, my heart only knows one task.”

Time indeed is my enemy. And it most likely is your loved ones as well…

We’d like to thank Rick for sharing his personal stories with us to bring awareness of this disease to others. To learn more about Rick and his story you can visit his website at http://whileistillcan.net

If you or someone you know has been touched by dementia or you’d like more information, please join other patients, caregivers, and advocates all walking this journey together at the Memory People Facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180666768616259

Do You Know the 10 Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease?

You probably have a family member or friend that has been affected by Alzheimer’s. Over 5 million Americans are living with the disease today. It is now the 6th leading cause of death in the US with 1 in 3 seniors dying from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.1

Hopefully these shocking statistics have gotten your attention.

We have all forgotten things here and there and make jokes about our memory failing us as we get old. However, experiencing the memory loss from Alzheimer’s can be completely devastating to family and friends of loved ones that are affected. Awareness of the disease is key to help with early diagnosis and treatments to help ease the progression of the disease.

Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. The Alzheimer’s association has made note of 10 warning signs and symptoms.1

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1.  Memory loss that disrupts daily life

2.  Challenges in solving problems

3.  Difficulty completing familiar tasks

4.  Confusion with time or place

5.  Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

6.  New problems with words in speaking or writing

7.  Misplacing things

8.  Decreased or poor judgment

9.  Withdrawal from work or social activities

10.  Changes in mood and personality

Take a moment to read these early signs in more detail by visiting www.alz.org®

If you notice any of these warning signs it is advised that you or your loved one see a doctor soon to discuss the possibility of having Alzheimer’s.

Enriched Life Home Care Services is committed to promoting awareness of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. We also provide respite care for friends and family that are caregivers for their loved ones.

1 Source: http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_facts_and_figures.asp

Enriched Life Home Care Services, LLC  |  www.ELHCS.com

Helping Aging Parents with Money Matters

It’s all too common these days that people in their 50s and early 60s notice their elderly parents having trouble with memory loss and with handling finances. In fact, one in eight Americans 65 and over and 43 percent of individuals 85 and over have Alzheimer’s disease.

Financial advisors and accountants say elderly parents and adult children alike are too slow to seek or provide help in the early stages of decline. Denial is part of it. Hoping to stay independent, parents may minimize their difficulties. Adult children hesitate to step in and help out and oftentimes ignore warning signs.

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Reporting in Smart Money, Kathleen Michon, an attorney and editor at Nolo, a provider of legal information and products, says the damage can be dire: closed accounts, damaged credit, money lost to scam artists, even foreclosure.

A mailbox stuffed with donation requests, checkbook mistakes, unpaid bills, and desks and drawers that were once neatly organized now scattered with paperwork, are all signs that help is needed.

Don’t try to suddenly step in and take over. To ease into their financial affairs, begin by offering help with such matters as filling out insurance claims, helping to adjust property tax bills or checking credit card statements.

Enriched Life Home Care Services is passionate about educating families and bringing awareness to issues facing aging loved ones. We are here to help answer questions that may arise as you are caring for your loved ones.

www.ELHCS.com  |  Enriched Life Home Care Services

A Mother’s Selfless Love: Michele’s Story

Enriched Life Home Care Services is grateful for the personal story Michele DeSocio has written about placing her mother with dementia in a care facility. We hope that her story will be a help to others that are dealing with the difficult decision of placing their loved one in a facility versus keeping them at home.

My Mom, Jean DelCampo, was 58 when I got a call asking for help. I picked Mom up and moved her in my home along with my husband and three children. At the time Mom was misdiagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder. 

Several years later my husband and I went away for a weekend, leaving Mom in the capable hands of my sister. The change in environment caused Mom to shake uncontrollably and my sister brought her to the ER. 

After 19 horrid days in a psych ward Mom was finally properly diagnosed with dementia. Mom was still capable of making her own decisions and after rehab Mom insisted on placement. 

Placement was not something my sister or I would ever have considered. We begged her to reconsider, but Mom was firm. She wanted to spare her children, she did not want to be a “burden”. We had no choice but to honor her wishes and mom was placed in a facility. Mom was sicker than we understood. I consider this to be a most unselfish act of love. 

MicheleDesoscio-mom-sister2Much to my surprise, mom was very happy and she settled in rather quickly. Since she was not as sick as many of the other men and women living there, she found purpose and satisfaction in assisting her fellow residents. Always the nurturing person I so adore, mom was so helpful that many people thought she worked there.

Our worst nightmare, placement, was not what we thought it would be. Mom was well cared for by professionals and we visited often, went on many outings and mom spent many weekends in our homes. It was a win/win. 

We did face the many challenges that come with the disease, POA, medical proxy, DNR, battles with medications, and on and on. We road the roller coaster of dementia together. 

It’s now 15 years later, mom is 73 and in the later stages of the disease. 

For those of you struggling with the decision of placement please know it can be the right thing for all concerned. 

Your family member can receive the professional care they need, under your supervision, and live a productive and happy life after being placed in a nursing home. You’ll have more control than you think. You are the advocate. You are still their daughter, son, spouse or friend. Live in the moment and enjoy what you have, not what you are losing.

Mother knows best, always a Mom

For the past 2 years I have been an advocate and Administrator for Memory People, an online support and awareness group on Facebook, founded by patient Rick Phelps in 2010 at age 57.

If you or a loved one is affected by Alzheimer’s or any dementia related diseases please join Memory People.  We don’t have a cure but we have each other. Memory People, bringing awareness, one person at a time…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180666768616259/

Many families are currently dealing with loved ones suffering from dementia. Enriched Life Home Care Services is here to assist or answer questions you may have about caring for your loved one.

Enriched Life Home Care Services  |  www.ELHCS.com

Activities for Loves Ones with Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease

When someone you are caring for is bored or wants to help in some way, here are a few things that could keep those with mild to moderate dementia or Alzheimer’s disease occupied.

Raking and sweeping. If it’s not too cold, outdoor lovers will appreciate being helpful in the yard. Experts at caring.com say it’s also good exercise. An alternate activity, picking up sticks or yard debris, can be satisfying if the patient is physically capable.

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Feeding the birds. It’s an active activity when preparing food, and it’s a passive activity when watching birds out the window. Make strings of birdfeed by threading cereal or pretzels on a length of yarn. Tie the end so the cereal doesn’t fall off.

Make birdseed pinecones. Put peanut butter on a pinecone with a butter knife, then roll the cone in a bowl of birdseed. Tie a string around it for hanging.

Folding laundry. It allows your loved one to feel productive and the repetition can be soothing. Towels are the easiest to fold. Consider buying bundles of washcloths or dish towels.

Keeping tabs on the weather. You’ll need an easy-to-read outdoor thermometer, indoor barometer, weather vane, and a rain gauge. Many people have great interest in the weather. Encourage a loved one to check gauges and reporting what they see to you. You could keep a record book to discuss weather changes later.

Talk about the weather and ask your loved one if they ever experienced a storm, flood, or blizzard.

Coupon cutting. Give them scissors, envelopes and an organizer folder to place the coupons in. It’s a good activity and makes them feel they are contributing. Encourage them to clip coupons for their favorite products.

Inspirational reading. Individuals who have difficulty reading or communicating may enjoy being read to and may be comforted by religious text. Try making a daily reading time so it becomes part of your routine. Talk about what you read and ask questions like whether they would have liked to live in Biblical times.

If you are looking for more activities ideas, Enriched Life Home Care Services can assist. We are very interested in enriching the lives of seniors, especially those that have been affected by Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Enriched Life Home Care Services  |  www.ELHCS.com

Alzheimer’s Took My Mother-In-Law

In this touching story from Leeanne Chames, she brings to light many of the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease as exhibited by her mother-in-law. Enriched Life Home Care Services is passionate about creating awareness and educating families about this disease to help prepare them for the road that lies ahead.

My mother-in-law was diagnosed four years ago with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 74. Her mother had dementia and passed from it. They never did give her mother a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, but looking back, her journey and the journey of my mother-in-law was tragically similar.

We noticed changes in my mother-in-law long before her diagnosis. She stopped cooking much and didn’t make blankets and crafty things anymore. Those were the first signs that made us wonder what was going on.  She had always loved to do those things for her family. We reasoned it away, thinking that she was retired now, and was maybe just tired of doing all of that.

Then she started repeating herself, asking the same question over and over. That’s when we started looking at each other, those looks with your eyebrows raised, and you can’t speak, wondering, what is going on?

Soon after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  What we had been seeing over the last few years began to make sense.  My heart dropped, of all the things that could come into her life, a woman that was so fiercely independent and did so much for her family and others.  We all had a good picture of what lay ahead.

Memory-People-MO-ClipartEventually, she couldn’t even heat a cup of coffee, much less find the microwave, or even know what it was for. Everything was just more and more confusing day by day. It was like she was walking farther into a fog, disappearing from us a little more every day.

It was unbearable to see the pain on my father-in-law’s face as the reality of what she was becoming slowly hit him over and over. If I could beat something up, set it on fire, and send it straight to hell, it would be this disease, for what it was doing to our family.

That was some of the worst. There is a best. After her diagnosis I started researching the internet like crazy. I went online to find out how to help my family. I found many sites and a lot of information, but the most life changing discovery was an online support group that would become like my second family throughout this ordeal.

I found Memory People, an online Alzheimer’s and dementia support group on Facebook founded by Rick Phelps.  Rick is a patient who was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s disease in June of 2010 at just the age of 57.  He knew there had to be others that needed support and information just like he did.

Finding Memory People changed my life and the lives of my family. I began to listen to others caught in this and realized that we were not alone.  It made all the difference. Reading the stories shared by patients and caregivers broke my heart, and they still do, but together we take another step.

The insight I received from the patients in the group made such a difference.  It helped my family and I understand why my mother-in-law no longer seemed to do well in a crowd, and why she got agitated late in the afternoon. When you have a better understanding of those things you can be a better caregiver, you can take steps into their world and meet them where they are. We learned that she could no longer walk with us in our world.

I soon found out what I would not want to know about this disease.  As a caregiver, you carry that knowledge always, that there will be an end.  I learned that this disease is in fact fatal.  No one escapes it, there is no possibility of remission or hopes that with the right medications they may be able to buy you a few more years.

You tuck that knowledge away in your back pocket.  You know that the end is coming, and you take it out every so often to remind you to cherish today.  The phrase, “One day at a time” took on a whole new meaning for me.

Alzheimer’s claimed my mother-in-law on September 12, 2012, with her husband of over 50 years and all of her children gathered at her side.  This disease took it all, to her very last breath.

In the midst of the anguish of losing her there was also a relief that her struggle and torment with this disease was finally over, she had finally found peace and rest.  Seeing her freed from it afforded my heart a measure of peace, also.

Today I am still at Memory People, still helping others as they walk this journey with dementia. To know you’re not alone means the world, even on this side of the journey.

Leeanne Chames is the Executive Director of Memory People, an online Alzheimer’s and dementia support and awareness group on Facebook.  She is also Rick Phelps’ Assistant.  Rick is the Founder of Memory People, diagnosed with Early onset Alzheimer’s disease in June of 2010 at just the age of 57. 

If you or someone you know has been touched by dementia or you’d like more information, please join us at Memory People Facebook page.  We are patients, caregivers, and advocates, walking this journey together.

If you have any questions or comments please email Leeanne Chames at leeannechames@gmail.com. 

Bringing Awareness, one Person at a Time…

Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease – A Day in the Life of Rick Phelps

We have a special guest blog from Rick Phelps. Rick was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease in June of 2010 at the age of 57. Rick is passionate about bringing awareness to this disease and is the Founder of Memory People, an Alzheimer’s and dementia support and awareness group on Facebook. We hope that you will take a few moments to read Rick’s story to learn more about this disease and how devastating the effects can be on anyone that suffers from it.

When you have this disease there are times when you know things just aren’t right. It’s very difficult to explain, but I remember when I woke up one day and could no longer understand the concept of time.

To say it was scary is an understatement. That day changed everything. Everything we do in our daily lives revolves around time. You know when to be somewhere, because your brain has this internal clock that is in the back of your mind telling you, I have to get the kids after school.

Or to lay something out in the morning for dinner that night. The list goes on and on how your brain tells you, “Hey, it’s time to check the roast.” or “I have an eye appointment tomorrow @ 9:00am.”

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When I lost the concept of time I was sure there would be nothing worse that could happen. I was wrong.

For weeks now, slowly but surely I have noticed I can no longer recognize things. I look for whatever it may be that I can’t find, and found I can be looking right at it and not see it.

My brain no longer allows me to understand or recognize what I am looking for. I searched for the tv remote, looked everywhere. Took the cushions off our recliner, moved it thinking it may have fallen under it.

Looked all over the front room, and even some other rooms, thinking I may have had it in my hand and laid it down somewhere. Then hours later, for whatever reason, I seen it.

Right beside the chair I sit in, on the magazine rack right where it is always kept. It had been there all along and I did not see it. Or rather I seen it, but did not recognize it.

We are putting in our old counter tops from the kitchen in our garage, with the guidance of my Uncle who has been doing this type of work his entire life.

I can’t tell you the problems this has created for me. We wanted the sink, counter tops, and we are putting in a couple other shelves for storage. Will be very nice when we are done.

Problem is, I can’t find anything. If I am using my drill, and need to change from a drill bit to a Phillips head, I can be looking right at the case that holds the drill bits and never see it.

Every time I need something, a ruler, a screw driver, hammer, nail, pencil…things you would normally just look at and know it’s what you need, doesn’t work anymore.

This has been an issue for some time. Couple months. But like this disease always does it is progressing, getting worse. I finally broke down last night and told my wife, Phyllis June.

We don’t keep things from each other, but I had this because I knew it would just upset and worry her. I know there’s nothing that can be done. Deal with it, it is my “new normal”.

It’s just something I never really even entertained happening. Or if I did, I had forgotten. Not being able to recognize things is devastating. Not knowing where I put something last.

I can open the refrigerator to get the milk, but once I open it I cannot find the milk that is right there in front of me all along. My next doctor appointment isn’t till Oct., but with this revelation I am thinking of having Phyllis June call and see if I can get in earlier.

But then I think, why? There isn’t a thing he or anyone else can do. It’s just normal that when something like this happens you want to get it fixed. Find a pill or some procedure that will make it possible so I again can recognize what I am looking for.

Wanting things to be normal. That’s what we all want. Instead we have to deal with our “new normal” which is forever changing. I worry, I wonder, what could possibly next?

But deep down I know, that is the one thing I also dread. It is a form of denial. Knowing what is coming, yet saying I wonder. You simply must deal with what you have, or I should say what you used to have.

The worst thing about this disease for me is losing my mind, and knowing it is happening right in front of me. And not one person on earth can slow the progression or stop it all together…

Is it any wonder patients lose their composure? Become agitated over almost anything? Even become abusive, or recluse? I could imagine, except now I am living it.

Daily, hourly, every minute. It’s the disease, it’s always the disease…and some days I can’t take another second of it. Today is one of those days. With many more to follow.

We’d like to thank Rick for sharing his personal story to bring awareness of this disease to others. To learn more about Rick and his story you can visit his website at http://whileistillcan.net

If you or someone you know has been touched by dementia or you’d like more information, please join other patients, caregivers, and advocates all walking this journey together at the Memory People Facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180666768616259

 

Alzheimer’s Apron of Memories

If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia you understand that it is sometimes difficult to find activities for them to do to help occupy their time. This can be especially true if your loved one has difficulty staying in one place for very long.

Creating an Alzheimer’s Apron is a fun activity for both you and your loved one. First, involve them in choosing the color apron they like the best. After you have helped them pick out the color, the fun really begins.

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When you are working on the apron together, there are several things that you can incorporate onto the apron:

  • A clear pocket for a picture of a family, pet, or something that they loved. This is a great way for them to be able to look at a comforting picture while wearing their apron.
  • A large zipper with a large pull-hole. This will be fun for them to be pulling and zipping up and down.
  • Sew some large bright things onto their new apron. This can be fun for them to look at and feel.
  • Attach a large pocket made of a material that they will enjoy feeling and touching. This will also allow them to store objects and things that they like and enjoy.
  • Customize their aprons based on your loved ones’ interests.

The Alzheimer’s apron is a great way to help your loved ones stay stimulated and help families and caregivers with assistance. We hope you decide to create an Alzheimer’s Apron with your loved one…it could really brighten their day!

Enriched Life Home Care Services  |  www.ELHCS.com

 

Sing with Me – Alzheimer’s Music Therapy

Did you know that whether you love to sing in the shower or listen to music while driving, you are helping stimulate your brain and the body-mind connection? This stimulation is powerful and also helps to reactivate speech centers of the brain, trigger memory, and improve your coordination.

More studies show that music can be a great help to those individuals who have neurological conditions – such as Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. The music stimulates their area of the brain helping it to change and respond to the music. So if your loved one has Alzheimer’s Disease the area of their brain that is affected is the area for the direct recall of memories.

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Musical memories are not only associated with the music, but also their experiences associated with the music. When they listen to music it can help to indirectly stimulate partial memories that they otherwise would not be able to recall. This can be very comforting for loved ones with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.

When you are caring for your loved one, be sure to make some time for music! This is a great way to not only brighten their day, but also bring them some fun healthy stimulation. There are many great ways to incorporate music into their day. You can even incorporate the music into their normal daily routines. If your loved one gets frustrated with dressing or bathing, try playing some music to help soothe them. It might help make these activities more fun for them.

Enriched Life Home Care Services | www.ELHCS.com