Posts Tagged ‘quality of life’

Communication with an Alzheimer’s Patient

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

It is a common symptom for an Alzheimer’s patient to get confused or forget words as the disease progresses. They may also speak less clearly in general. Understanding the needs of these patients can become challenging for caregivers as well as loved ones. The patient may also have difficulty interpreting the communication style of others. It is important to practice verbal and nonverbal techniques which take into consideration a patient’s unique circumstances; this can help break the communication barrier.

At the start of the conversation, identify yourself by name AND the loved one as well. This sort of to-the-point clarity can be soothing to Alzheimer’s patients as many experiences difficulty in identification of people as the disease progresses.

Always use a quiet and relaxing tone of voice when speaking to your loved one. Speak slowly and enunciate clearly. When asking a question, asking ONE question at a time, insuring to use the same wording if the patient asks you to repeat. Avoid references that may be confusing to the patient such as pronouns; avoid metaphors as well since the patient might interpret as literal.

It is important to approach an Alzheimer’s patient in a way that is non-threatening. This is a basic way to improve communication between you and the patient. Simply approaching the patient from the front rather than from behind removes uncertainty the patient may have regarding you and the general environment. Try to maintain calm and peaceful surroundings with a minimal amount of background distractions; this is to help avoid disorder or chaos. When speaking to your loved one, demonstrate sincerity by talking face to face, maintaining eye contact and using facial expressions to reflect the sentiment behind your conversation. Smiling, hugging or touching is EXCELLENT non-verbal communication that is gentle and should be well-received by the patient.

While visiting with the patient, be careful not to startle him or her; move about slowly and clearly explain what you are doing. Try to be sympathetic to what your loved one is trying to say to you through words and expressions.

Caregivers and loved ones of Alzheimer’s patients sometimes feel weighed down by the extreme personality and mood changes that are affecting the patient. Effectively dealing with these changes involves being instinctive and adjusting your own communication style to accommodate the changing needs of your loved ones.

Always remember that when speaking to an Alzheimer’s patient to speak clearly and concisely and be calm.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Having a clear understanding of what Alzheimer’s disease is and how it affects your loved ones is the first step in learning to cope with the diagnosis.

Alzheimer’s disease often begins with a progressive memory loss, followed by an increase in disorganized thought and speech patterns. There is a continual deterioration in the brain and this enables the disease to progress to a point in which the person becomes helpless and is no longer able to care for themselves. The disease eventually results in death. The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown, though there are known genetic and environmental factors that contribute to the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease affects about four million people in the United States.

It is important to get medical attention for this disease AS SOON AS POSSIBLE; this helps prolong the quantity and quality of life. Finding a doctor who is familiar with Alzheimer’s disease is important although, you might want to consider a doctor who is specifically trained for treatment in the diseases of the elderly. Other doctors that can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease include neurologists and psychologists. Be aware though that there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease; however there are medications available that can help treat and slow down the progression of the disease. It is also helpful to have a good support system. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease is at times overwhelming as well as devastating. Your local Alzheimer’s Association is a good starting point. They are extremely helpful and can offer a lot of advice on caring for your loved one as well as personal coping strategies. They can also direct you to local support groups and organizations. You might want to also locate extra help with the care of your loved one if things become too consuming.

Often, it becomes too much to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.  As the disease progresses, your loved one needs more care and it can become difficult to consistently be there to care for your loved one alone. If this should happen, be sure to find an appropriate facility that is skilled at caring for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Research your options before it becomes necessary to that you are prepared to make an informed decision.

It’s important to remember that caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease is an emotionally stressful experience; you need to remember to take care of yourself as well. Take time out for a break and to meet your needs as well so that you can be at your best to deal with your loved one. There are many options such as day facilities that can care for your loved one when you need a respite. Also, educate yourself about the disease; there is a lot of information available on the internet and in libraries on Alzheimer’s disease; education will help you be better prepared of what is to come. Being prepared will help reduce the stress involved if you are better prepared.

Erectile Dysfunction

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Many men experience erectile dysfunction at some point in their life. A large percentage of these men are age 55 and over. Sadly, only a small percentage talks with their doctor about this problem.

Impotence can happen at any age, however, most men feel that it is an age-related problem and that it is normal to have an simply do not talk to their physician. And let’s face it, it’s a personal matter and embarrassing to some, so men just avoid the subject all together for the most part. In a survey of men age 60 or over, 61% reported being sexually active, and nearly half derived as much if not more benefit from their sex lives as they did in their 40s (About.com: Health Topics A-Z, 2010).

Erectile dysfunction in elderly men is more of a side effect with disease than age. Older men are more likely to have conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure than younger men. Sometimes, these conditions and/or some of their treatments (medications, etc) are in fact to blame for impotence.

There are in fact, many physical and psychological reasons that can cause brief periods of impotence; this should be considered as normal as getting a cold. To be honest, getting a cold could be a common reason that could cause temporary impotence. Most men do experience this from time to time in their life. Persistent problems should be discussed with a physician, particularly since it is treatable. It may also be a symptom of another type of problem. When in doubt, speak with your doctor (About.com: Health Topics A-Z, 2010).

Works Cited

(2010). Retrieved October 3, 2010, from About.com: Health Topics A-Z: http://adam.about.com/reports/000015_1.htm

Pet Therapy

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

For many years, dogs have been trained to aid the blind. Now, in more recent years, animals are being trained for other medicinal purposes such as for those with seizures and the elderly.

Therapy animals are specifically chosen to visit nursing homes, senior centers, day care centers, hospitals, prisons, and children’s homes in hopes of bringing physical and emotional comfort to people. Oftentimes, these animals are just your everyday ordinary animal who has an owner who is willing and able to volunteer their time with their pet to those in need of some sort of comfort. Ideally, for an animal to be considered for an activity such as this, the animal should be sociable, gentle, friendly, not afraid, and has the ability to get along with anyone.

Many scientists and doctors alike believe that the mind-body connection is closely related. For example, those individuals who feel isolated (as many elderly do) have a tendency to give up on life. Also, people who are sick are more likely to heal and get well if they are happy and comfortable. This is where animal therapy comes in. There are many advantages of this type of non-conventional therapy, ranging from physical to emotional.

Therapy animals have been known to:

  • Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Increase physical motivation
  • Decrease pain
  • Encourage speech
  • Make patients more receptive to medical treatment and eating
  • Generally increase a patient’s will to live

Therapy animals affect people of all ages in a positive way. The animals bring a myriad of emotional and physical benefits to those in hospitals, nursing homes, and other places. These animals are reported to save many lives and also provide love, kindness, and comfort in the finals hours of life for many individuals.

Ways To Improve Heart Function

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

As people get older, body systems do not seem to work as well as they did at a younger age. This makes it important to take care of ourselves the best we can; diet, exercise, and rest will all help to keep our bodies working well. Unfortunately, sometimes no matter how well we take care of ourselves, illness and disease can take hold of us. In the elderly, it seems that heart problems are prevalent.

Here are a few tips to help keep your heart in tip-top shape:

  • Loose weight~Your heart will not have to work as hard to send blood to all parts of a slimmer body.
  • Avoid hard exercise~This puts a sudden pumping demand on your heart.
  • Engage in mild exercise~Walking or joining a doctor approved cardiac rehab program could help strengthen your heart.
  • Wear loose clothing~Wear clothing that encourages good blood flow in the legs; tight socks or hose with tight tops could slow blood flow to your legs thus causing clots.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures~The body works harder to keep the body temperature normal when you are too hot or too cold.
  • Avoid colds/flus~Try to stay away from those who are sick; also ask your doctor about yearly flu shots and the pneumonia shot.
  • Limit alcohol~Talk with your doctor about how much alcohol is safe for you (though it should be avoided altogether) as alcohol weakens the heart; heart failure could improve if alcohol is eliminated.
  • Get plenty of rest~Your body needs 8 hours of sleep a day.
  • Drink plenty of water~8 (8oz) glasses per day is recommended.
  • Keep legs elevated when sitting~This will help to increase circulation. Having your legs hanging down for extended periods of time can cause the blood to pool in your lower extremities thus putting you at risk for blood clots.
  • Most importantly, LISTEN to your body and on days you feel well, do more and on days you feel sick, do less.

Easy Craft Projects

Monday, September 27th, 2010

There are many easy projects that can be found for the elderly to do; however, it’s important to remember not to have a lengthy project to complete but to have one that can be completed in a relatively short time period.

Use your imagination! Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Make a collage. Have the individual look through magazines to see what pictures catch their attention or see what pictures can describe them. Also look for things that the person likes or possibly has a touching memory for them (for example, for me, fall images—leaves, pumpkins, etc. always give me a warm feeling). Cut out the pictures and glue them all to a piece of poster board. Use a glitter pen to decorate (mark their name at the top, etc.). Also using foam cut-outs (available at any craft store such as Michaels, AC Moore, Hobby Lobby, and even Wal-Mart) to help decorate would be fun and many of the foam cut-outs are now self-adhesive. This is to be a sure hit! Allow them to assist as much as possible.
  • Make some greeting cards. Left over craft items (beads, cut-outs, etc.), card stock, colored markers and glue is all they need to create a card for any occasion!
  • Make some sugar cookies and decorate them! Not only is this fun but they get to eat what they created. Pass the milk…

These are just a few ideas. Motor skills and abilities might be impaired but with a little help, the possibilities are endless!

How Can I Help?

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

There are many ways to help the elderly. Many are so simple, yet many people do not think of them. Take a look at the list and see what you can do to help an elderly neighbor, relative, friend, or even a complete stranger. Do something—it will make you feel great!

  • Stop and Visit~Senior Citizens get lonely no matter where they are…home, nursing homes, assisted living. It only takes a few moments to stop in and say hello. It’s surprising how much of a difference this makes to senior citizens.
  • Do a Household Chore~Dust a high place that an elderly person might not be able to get to safely, scrub a floor, take out the trash…the list is virtually endless.
  • Read~Oftentimes, the elderly cannot see well any longer or at all and they want to know what is happening in the world. A book on tape is also a great little gift.
  • Cook a meal~The elderly have special nutritional needs and often they do not think about them. When you cook the next time, take a meal to an elderly person.
  • Check on them in bad weather~The elderly may not be able to get out.
  • Transportation~Give an elderly person a ride to the grocery store, bank, or medical appointment.
  • Play a game~The elderly enjoy playing cards and board games as it can give them a feeling of being young again. And that is an awesome feeling to have!
  • Make a phone call~Spare just a few minutes for a senior citizen and see how they are doing or just say hello. It helps the elderly not feel so alone and forgotten.
  • Check detectors~Make sure the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order; replace batteries.
  • Home Repairs~Check for small repairs that you could do such as patch a hole in a wall, wire an outlet, or fix a leaky sink.

This list is not all inclusive. There are many ways you can help out an elderly person. Check out your neighborhood or your local senior center to see what you can do to help!

Is It Depression?

Saturday, September 18th, 2010
Grief
Image by RedJinn: Closed for Repairs via Flickr

Depression can come from loss, be it loss of mobility, the death of a spouse, or the loss of livelihood. While it should go away after a mourning period, if it doesn’t it can become more severe than sadness over the loss of something dear to someone.

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5 Questions If You Suspect Elderly Abuse

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

If you suspect that an elderly family member is being abused financially, there are five questions you are able to ask (posted by the popular consumer website Consumerist) that may be able to give you a better feel for their situation.

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H1N1 No longer a Pandemic, Vaccine Still Recommended

Sunday, September 5th, 2010
1976 Swine Influenza outbreak. A/New Jersey/76...
Image via Wikipedia

While last year the main public health concern was the H1n1 Flu (or, as it was more commonly called the Swine Flu) strain, officials are now saying that it is no longer the pandemic that is was. Cases have been reportedly dropping, and while some are still coming down with it, it’s not the threat many feared it would be.

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