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2023 JUN&JUL Family Caregivers Blog

Family Caregivers' Blog is available to share helpful information to support families caring for those with dementia.

"Even in Facilities, Caregivers Are Busy with Care!"

Today, Mrs. B, whose mother is in a facility, shared the challenges of coordinating with volunteers, their organizations, and facility staff. As her mother's dementia progresses, issues like refusing baths persist. Disrupting the routine of daily activities makes essential personal care difficult, especially in the hot summer months when hygiene becomes crucial. Even if Mrs. B tries to schedule bathing days without activities, it becomes impossible when volunteers arrive and start activities. Adjusting schedules with volunteers and facility staff falls on Mrs. B's shoulders. Communication becomes challenging as facility staff may vary day by day.

Effective care for her mother requires coordination among all involved parties. In today's healthcare system, family members often take on the central role, even when their loved ones are in facilities. The role of caregivers doesn't end when a family member with dementia moves into a facility. Since individuals with dementia often struggle to recognize and express their care needs, family caregivers who know them well must advocate on their behalf. It's essential to communicate a balanced care plan, including activities, to facilities and volunteers. Family caregiving like this continues, and Mrs. B plans to continue meeting with staff and volunteers to ensure her mother's care. Let's keep supporting them along the way.

"Transitioning from Incontinence Pads to Pull-Ups"

As people age or as dementia progresses, urinary and fecal incontinence becomes increasingly common. This can elevate the level of care needed and may even be a factor in transitioning to a care facility. Mrs. N's mother is experiencing frequent fecal incontinence, prompting consideration of switching to pull-up diapers. However, Mrs. N is unsure about the right timing for this change.

Participant Mrs. A shared that when her mother transitioned to pull-up diapers, she sometimes mistook them for regular underwear and would even hide soiled pull-ups in the closet, discreetly disposing of them later. There were instances when she would mistakenly wear the pull-ups inside out, mistaking the seams for the back. Given such experiences, it's essential to gradually acclimate individuals to pull-up diapers. Some suggested introducing them gradually, perhaps starting with nighttime use, to help the wearer adjust. Accidents are inevitable, so it's crucial to help individuals gradually become accustomed to wearing pull-ups.

"The Mental Health of Caregivers"

As society ages and the number of people with dementia increases, caregiver burnout and depression have become significant social issues. Mr. M shared his experience with caregiver burnout. His mother is currently receiving support at home while awaiting admission to a care facility. She often feels down and frequently calls Mr. M for emotional support, as he is the only person she feels comfortable opening up to. While Mr. M understands his mother's feelings, the frequent calls sometimes weigh heavily on him. He worries about his mother's well-being and finds himself feeling down as a result.

Recently, Mr. M has been trying to "brush off" these feelings to avoid being dragged down emotionally. However, he has also started worrying about his own spouse, who has been showing signs of early-stage dementia as pointed out by a doctor. Small incidents during his spouse's driving or instances of forgetfulness make Mr. M wonder if dementia is progressing. This constant state of heightened alertness can contribute significantly to caregiver burnout, as caregivers are mentally engaged around the clock.

Many participants in the support group have experienced similar challenges. They try various strategies such as focusing on activities outside of caregiving, utilizing respite care to take short breaks from caregiving responsibilities, or finding ways to distract themselves. However, there's no simple solution to alleviate caregiver burnout. It often requires a combination of different approaches, experimenting with what works best at any given time. Sharing one's feelings with others might also be one way to cope with the emotional toll of caregiving.

"The Person Seems Happy!"

Mr. N's husband has recently been experiencing more forgetfulness and misunderstandings. Friends and acquaintances have started noticing, and they often call Mrs. N to discuss how to handle situations when he repeats himself or misunderstands things. According to Mrs. N, "He always seems so happy. He doesn't seem to mind the forgetfulness at all." However, Mrs. N herself has been shocked and sometimes finds herself in tears witnessing her husband's changes. They are considering medications to slow the progression of dementia. However, the fact that he seems happy is a comfort. It's also important that those around him are willing to support his happiness. In today's medical landscape, dementia is not a curable condition. It's more important to create an environment where the person can live comfortably rather than trying to change them.

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