Caring for the Caregiver-National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

As National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month come to a close, we thought we would spotlight a very important topic –caring for the caregiver.  With the rising costs of medical care, providing residential support for people with Alzheimer’s disease often falls to those closest to them, both friends and family.

According to the March 2012 Alzheimer’s Association Fact Sheet:

  • In 2011, 15.2 million family and friends provided 17.4 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias – care valued at $210.5 billion.
  • More than 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high; one-third report symptoms of depression.
  • Due to the physical and emotional toll of caregiving on their own health, Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers had $8.7 billion in additional health care costs in 2011.

What can you do to support someone who is providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia?

  • Offer them respite.  Volunteer to be the care provider for a while or assist them in locating someone who can offer supports while they take a break.
  • Connect them with a support system.  Whether it’s by listening to their concerns or connecting them with a local support group, caregivers need to know they are not alone.
  • Support a healthy lifestyle.  Make sure the caregiver doesn’t sacrifice his/her health while caring for others.  Eating healthily, exercising, and rest are important to maintaining their ability to care.
  • Access community resources.  The Alzheimer’s Association and other organizations often have local sites that offer information, support groups, counseling, respite, etc. for those who are providing care.
  • Lighten the load.  While they are caring for the loved one, take on some of the other home or family tasks that they may be struggling to do.  Often assisting with basic daily chores can reduce stress for a caregiver.
  • Offer help then ask “How?”  Caregivers typically try to do it all so they don’t have to burden others.  By knowing that someone is willing to step in, they may be more likely to seek assistance.
  • Consider utilizing technology.  Pairing tools such as GPS watches or monitoring with wireless sensors can often provide safeguards during those “just in case” times, such as during the night.  Technology cannot replace the human touch, but it can offer caregivers an additional set of “eyes and ears.”

Most notably, remind the caregiver that caring for him/herself is just as important as caring for the loved one.  I often tell family caregivers to think of the statement that flight attendants use on an airplane:  “First, put the oxygen mask on yourself so that you can take care of those around you.”  Maintaining good health and getting enough rest isn’t selfish—it only ensures that the caregiver will be able to provide the loving support needed for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Cameron Kempson, M.Ed.

Cameron is the Client Care and Education Specialist with SimplyHome.  She has worked with families in the fields of aging and disabilities for more than 20 years.

Challenges of Saying Good-Bye

 

Alzheimer’s Gets Personal-We are Sharing Our Stories

Thank you ladies for sharing such beautiful stories! It is important to focus on the positive moments when you’re dealing with this disease, and what GREAT stories these are!

Two Generations Shared the Light of Their Lives

When my daughter was young, my grandparents lived in the assisted living wing of a local retirement community. Sharing their apartment pod was a woman who had dementia.  She rarely recognized people who spent time with her regularly–family, caregivers, neighbors.

Hayley and I would visit Pop and Granny several times a week.  We would always say hello to that sweet woman, and she would always ask my daughter’s name, and my little preschooler would shout out, “Hayley!”  One day, we noticed the elderly woman sitting in her wheelchair, head down, disoriented, and moaning. My daughter skipped toward her-her body expressing all the joy that fills a four-year-old’s heart. As the woman heard Hayley’s voice, she looked up, and a grin crept across her face. My young child scrambled up into her lap, and the woman called out, “Hayley!” Hayley gave her a kiss, hopped down, then pushed her chair a bit. The woman began laughing. Hayley giggled then told her, “We’re going to see Granny and Pop.” The lady, warmed by Hayley’s presence, held out her hand and touched Hayley’s shoulder. Regardless of the dementia, in that moment, both generations shared the light of their lives.

~Cameron

Laughter is the Best Medicine

I was fortunate enough to live in the same city as my grandparents and was able to visit them often and get to know them well. My dad’s mother developed Alzheimer’s disease long before I ever knew anything about it. Looking back on it, there were plenty of warning signs (like putting things where they do not belong – burnt-out lightbulbs in her freezer) and the biggest was when she called my uncle from the pizza place down the street from her house, completely lost and scared. She’d lived in that neighborhood for more than 50 years. That’s when we started looking for help and began educating ourselves about the disease and what resources were available.
It’s important to focus on the positive moments when you’re dealing with this disease. It can be frustrating to have to repeat things over and over and over again to someone with Alzheimer’s who has no recollection of a conversation you may have just had with them. That being said, it can also be an opportunity to offer someone joy repeatedly as well. There was this joke I used to tell my Tata (literally over and over again) and it would make her laugh every time, which made all of us laugh with joy every time because she was having such fun!
“Hey Tata”
“Yes, Lovey?”
“How do you make Holy water?”
“How?”
“You boil the hell out of it!!”
I still chuckle to myself when I think about how she used to laugh at that joke, sometimes six or seven times in one visit. It felt so good to make her laugh and while there was absolutely nothing I could do about the course the disease was taking, I was happy to brighten her mood (and my family’s mood) whenever I could. She passed away Christmas of 2006 but I still think of her all the time and cherish the memories I have, while I still have them.
 ~Gabrielle

Are You Aware of How Assistive Technology Can Help Someone with Alzheimer’s Disease?

National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983. At the time, fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s; today, the number of people with the disease has soared to nearly 5.4 million.  Get involved this month, and help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease.

The Facts on Alzheimer’s Disease

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 2012, 1 in 8 adults over the age of 65 will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  Another American develops the disease every 68 seconds, and it is estimated that by 2050, up to 16 million will have the Alzheimer’s.

The estimated costs of caring for this population in 2012 will total more than $200 billion.  In addition, more than 15 million family and friends will provide at least 17 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $210.5 billion.  Clearly, Alzheimer’s disease is not only an emotional stressor for caregivers and families, but a financial one as well.

How Can Assistive Technology Help?

The primary goal for integrating assistive technology into an Alzheimer’s care plan is to offer support to the family members offering care.   Products and services available in the market today can address issues such as wandering, safety, and medication compliance.

At SimplyHome, we work with families and caregivers to develop customized systems of care.  Products range from GPS watches to medication dispensers to our wireless SimplyHome System.  Along with equipment, our services also include:

  • Offering environmental controls to develop independence with home living skills
  • Customizing wireless sensor systems that alert individuals, families or service providers to changes in routines
  • Providing a website that tracks trends in activities of daily living to support skill development, care management and service planning
  • Helping families access other products that address specific safety concerns such as wandering

Assistive technology can be another tool for those who are providing care and monitoring safety.  It can also track changes in physical and behavioral status so that families and health providers can address issues prior to a crisis.  Assistive technology cannot replace the love and support families and caregivers offer.  What it can provide, however, is an affordable solution to concerns that families may have for their loved ones living with Alzheimer’s disease. Visit our website at www.simply-home.com for more information.

SimplyHome Mentors Young Innovators in the Community

Edison Award Finalist SimplyHome teaches children about innovative technology and aging in place.

Asheville, NC (PRWEB) November 05, 2012

When Claxton Elementary decided to participate in the FIRST™ Lego™ League Robotics Competition, they called on SimplyHome. The theme for this year’s Lego competition required the students to design a product that would benefit senior adults, and SimplyHome was honored to encourage the young innovators.

Over eight weeks time, SimplyHome staff shared experience, knowledge and resources to guide the children through their critical problem solving process. In the end, the students expressed an awareness of and appreciation for the ways innovative technology can assist senior adults.

“We started this project focused on what we could teach the students, but left energized and excited by what they taught us,” says Allen Ray, SimplyHome CEO.

Last year, SimplyHome received an Edison Award for innovation in technology. As a finalist the company was encouraged to give back to current and future innovators through storytelling, direct teaching and communication.

The SimplyHome System™ by SimplyHome, LLC was awarded an Edison Bronze Medal for “Best New Product.” The distinguished Edison Awards embody the persistence and excellence personified by Thomas Alva Edison, inspiring America’s drive to remain in the forefront of innovation, creativity and ingenuity in the global economy. The SimplyHome System™ is a winner in the “Lifestyle and Social Impact” category, one of fifteen categories honored by the Edison Awards.

The SimplyHome System™ utilizes multiple sensors to log activities of daily living and proactively notify caregivers and loved ones of changes in behavioral patterns. Text, email or phone alerts can be generated by a single event, an intersection of multiple events or by inactivity. Assigned family or caregivers may log in to their SimplyHome account to view activity and trends in daily living patterns.

Components like motion sensors, door and window contacts, and bed pressure pads address issues including falls, wandering, and sleep routines. The SimplyHome System™ can also monitor wellness priorities ranging from blood pressure and glucose levels, to weight and medication management.

Watch VIDEO Here.

About SimplyHome

SimplyHome designs and installs wireless technology products and related care-focused services. The company is committed to promoting affordable and dignified solutions for independent living – specifically to aging and disabled populations nationwide. SimplyHome is known for its highly-customizable systems that are tailored to meet each customer’s specific needs.

SimplyHome products and services range from voice-activated environmental controls (as shown recently on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition), Personal Emergency Response Systems, GPS watches, motion sensors, and stove monitors to Virtual Care Management® – SimplyHome’s model for client care.

For more information, visit: http://www.simply-home.com.