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2024 APR Family Caregivers Blog

Updated: Jun 4


Family Caregivers' Blog is available to share helpful information to support families caring for those with dementia.ファミリーケアギバーの会ブログページ

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Family caregiving is a 24-hour job! Taking breaks is essential, too!

Mr. A cares for his spouse, who lives here, and also provides remote care for his mother with dementia, who lives in Japan. Primarily, Mr. A's father takes care of his mother in Japan. Recognizing the importance of his father taking a break from caregiving, Mr. A brought his father to Canada for a two-month respite. They seem to be enjoying activities like watching baseball games in LA. Meanwhile, Mr. A's mother is being looked after by a friend with caregiving experience who stays overnight to assist her, and she seems to be enjoying her time with her friend.


Family caregiving is indeed caregiving around the clock without breaks. It involves not only bathing, changing clothes, and meals but also tasks like shopping, laundry, scheduling appointments with doctors, interacting with external individuals, setting reminders for daily tasks (such as brushing teeth, bedtime, etc.), ensuring safety (checking for water left running or sources of fire), and even assisting with remote use of devices like TVs. Family caregivers cannot take breaks for 24 hours. Therefore, it's crucial to take short breaks away from caregiving while receiving support from those around you. This applies not only to those providing care at home but also to families whose loved ones are in care facilities.


Negotiating care arrangements, communication with the facility, decision-making, and other caregiving tasks continue even after transitioning to a care facility. It might be worrisome to rely on others for caregiving, but it's important to switch gears mentally and take a break from caregiving.


Huh? A Rib Fracture... But It Doesn't Hurt!

Ms. M's mother lives in Japan and has dementia. Ms. M provides remote care and talks to her mother over the phone every other day. According to her mother, she's feeling fine with no particular issues. However, Ms. M's brother, who lives in Japan, mentioned that their mother had a rib fracture. It's unclear if she had a fall, but it seems that there is indeed a fracture in her rib. Despite it being painful, she hasn't mentioned anything about it to Ms. M. There could be a possibility that she doesn't want to worry Ms. M or, due to dementia, she might not be able to recognize where the pain is.


As dementia progresses, it becomes difficult to discern where the pain is, and only discomfort might be felt. This could lead to sudden changes in mood, irritability, or even aggression. The same applies to symptoms associated with inflammations like urinary tract infections. Furthermore, with diminished sensitivity to temperature, there's a higher risk of heatstroke due to delayed hydration in summer, and inadequate protection against cold in winter could lead to conditions like colds or pneumonia. Caregivers need to understand these diminished sensations. If the person receiving care becomes irritable or exhibits sudden unusual behaviors, it's essential not to attribute it to dementia progression immediately. Instead, consulting a doctor to check for pain or inflammation is crucial.


That said, Ms. M's mother seems to go about her daily life despite the rib fracture comfortably. Perhaps the pain isn't too severe after all.


Let's Walk! The Brain is Part of the Body, Too!

Mr. M loves visiting VanDusen Garden to see the gardens and enjoys walks and hikes. Daily walks are essential for him. Mrs. M also enjoys walks and hikes, keeping up with her husband. Aerobic exercise is recommended to reduce the risk of developing dementia. Since the body and brain are interconnected, reducing conditions like hypertension and diabetes and improving circulation throughout the body, including the brain, can help activate the brain and reduce the risk of dementia. Walking, brisk walking, running, hiking, or any aerobic exercise done daily or regularly is crucial. Moreover, exposure to sunlight while outdoors increases the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that enhances mood and helps prevent conditions like depression.


While stimulating the brain with puzzles and cognitive exercises is crucial for dementia prevention, physical activity is equally vital. Let's get outside and engage in light exercise regularly.


The Story of Brushing Teeth

Mrs. A's mother lives in a care facility and has neglected her dental hygiene lately.


Upon closer observation of her mother's room, Mrs. A noticed no cup where the toothbrush and toothpaste tube are usually kept. For her mother, the absence of the cup signifies a deviation from the norm, which might be why she stopped brushing her teeth. While the familiar caregiver may notice and place the toothbrush and toothpaste in the cup, introducing new caregivers may disrupt this routine. Such environmental changes can be significant for individuals with dementia, causing even their regular habits to deteriorate.

Even after entering a care facility, family caregivers bear the burden of recognizing and communicating with the facility about such environmental changes. Collaborating with the facility becomes essential in providing care even after transitioning to a care facility.

Another lesson from Mrs. A's mother's experience is that dementia care is not about changing or curing the person with dementia but about creating an environment suitable for them. It involves understanding the person's previous environment and daily habits and incorporating them into their care.


In addition, participant N recently attended a workshop on "Navigating the Dementia World" (available in Japanese) and learned a lot about dementia and caregiving. "Navigating the Dementia World" is a book that offers insights into the world as seen by people with dementia, enabling us to understand their perspective and caregiving needs better.

While there are many books on dementia written by medical professionals and researchers, gaining insight into the daily lives, environments, and social perceptions from the perspective of people with dementia is crucial. There's much to learn.


YouTube resources are also available for reference.

 


Check out "Navigating the Dementia World Dialogue" and the Card Game Kit:

 





"Navigating the Dementia World" (available in Japanese) YouTube video:

 

 





Useful Gadgets

Introducing Amazon Alexa, recommended by Mrs. A. If your family sets it up in advance, even individuals with dementia can enjoy saying, "Alexa, play the Apple Song," and the song will play from Amazon Music or a connected music app. It also supports the Japanese. It's easy to listen to Japanese songs, too. Listening to music alone can improve mood, activate the brain, and help individuals with dementia spend their daily lives calmly. Give it a try!



Here's the link for more information:




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