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2024 FEB Family Caregivers Blog

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



Renewing a Passport for Dementia Families in Canada

- Even Visiting the Consulate Is Challenging! -

As dementia progresses, everyday tasks become increasingly difficult. For example, Mrs. N's mother accidentally confused toothpaste with facial cleanser, while Mrs. A's mother mistakenly applied zinc cream to her face, resulting in a bright red complexion. Alongside such incidents, going out also becomes challenging. In such situations, Japanese citizens may need to renew their passports. While family members can assist with paperwork, the passport must be collected in person at the consulate for identity verification. It may seem manageable to visit the consulate, but for individuals with advanced dementia, going out and waiting in unfamiliar places can be incredibly challenging. Unpredictable situations happen every day, such as not knowing how long the wait will be, needing frequent bathroom breaks, or suddenly becoming irritable in unfamiliar surroundings. Sometimes, two people may need to accompany them.

Participant A from the support group inquired with the consulate if there was a way for the individual not to go in person. According to the following process, if approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it seems possible to receive the passport without the individual having to visit the consulate:

"Passport receipt exemption is an exceptional measure taken only when it is difficult for the applicant to appear due to unavoidable circumstances. Submit an 'Exemption from Appearance at Delivery' application and supporting documents (such as a doctor's diagnosis). After reviewing the documents, if it is determined that exemption from appearance is unavoidable, either consulate staff can deliver the passport in person or the applicant's representative can receive it. The decision to grant an exemption from appearance is determined by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan. It may take time for approval."

As the review process may take considerable time, it is advisable to apply as soon as possible. Passport renewal can be done one year before the expiration date, so submitting the exemption from appearance application well in advance is necessary.

For more details, please get in touch with the consulate. Hope this helps!


Remote Caregiving - Feeling Guilty Towards Family in Japan

Ms. Y's mother lives in Japan, and her brother lives with her, providing care. Her mother's dementia causes severe forgetfulness, leading to anxiety and restlessness. Sometimes, she gets anxious while waiting for the bus to Day Service and calls a taxi to go there herself, even on days when it's not scheduled. Unable to have someone watch over her all day, her mother stays alone at home during the day. Ms. Y tries to keep in touch by calling her mother every other day and visiting Japan a few times yearly to check on her. However, Ms. Y can't help but feel guilty towards her brother for being unable to provide care while close by.

Many family caregivers may share similar feelings of guilt about the burden placed on families in Japan. Some in the support group have experienced similar situations. The reality is that there are limitations, and sometimes, all one can do is delegate responsibilities to legal guardians and provide support from afar. However, there are still many ways to help, such as listening to the caregiver's stories, offering advice, sharing financial burdens, making short visits to Japan to check on the situation, and more. It's natural for guilt to persist, but remember, caregiving is a natural part of being a family. Sharing these feelings and responsibilities with family in Japan, even remotely, is part of the process. Whether remote or not, questioning what more one can do and feeling guilty towards oneself and others is a universal experience. But remember, everyone is doing their best in their circumstances. Let's not forget that.

Blister Packs Are Convenient, but...

Mrs. N's mother has been finding it increasingly difficult to take medication as prescribed. With multiple medications to take from different bottles, her doctor recommended Blister Packs.

Sample Image of Blister Pack

Blister Packs, as shown in the left image, are organized by day and time to provide easy access to multiple medications at predetermined times.

Not only are they convenient, but they also allow family members to confirm whether the medications are being taken as prescribed. However, Blister Packs can also pose challenges for people with dementia. Mrs. N's mother, being elderly and frail, struggles to push the plastic sections to dispense the medication. Sometimes, the medication doesn't come out quickly, even with force, and other times, trying too hard causes the pills to scatter.

Furthermore, depending on the progression of dementia, using Blister Packs can be difficult for individuals encountering them for the first time due to the cognitive challenges associated with learning new tasks. Even with the introduction of Blister Packs, caregiver support becomes essential. Mrs. N places a cup underneath to catch the medication when pushing it out to prevent scattering. Alternatively, she pre-dispenses the medication onto a small dish, making it easier for her mother to take.

Before feeling completely reassured about medication management with Blister Packs, caregivers must closely monitor their usage for a few days to ensure they are effective. Once familiarity is established, it becomes reassuring. Moreover, confirming whether medications are being taken as prescribed is easy with Blister Packs. Depending on the progression of dementia, discuss with the doctor the timing, effectiveness, and usage of Blister Packs.

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