Category: Caregiver

Grief and Dementia

Grief is not the most festive topic for this time of year, but ignoring it actually multiplies its impact. We in memory care world have learned more than one blog can capture. As the pandemic winds down, we are confronted by a disproportionate amount of loss and grief. Grief and dementia have long been a subject of research. Early comparison of grief from cancer caregivers and dementia caregivers found that post-death dementia caregivers experienced more relief than grief. Some have called the dementia journey a long good-bye. The counterparts are those who reference the long hello. This difference in approach…

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Are You Catching It?

No I do not mean COVID, I mean the changing season. Are you feeling a difference in the air temperature? A renewed desire to bake or take a run or hike? Fall is in the air, no matter where you live. It is simply more nuanced in the warmer climates.Here at the McHop MD home we have a third batch of sourdough starter; an on-going eye on putting the garden “to bed”; new tires on order and, believe it or not, some window washing.As we move into autumn, I am reminded of how the seasons’ characteristics are like the stages…

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Seeking Support while Safe at Home

As dementia caregivers, many of us had some external support systems in place before the Safer at Home mandate. With support groups, memory cafes, senior centers and adult day centers closed, we are struggling to find replacements. Adapting to a new in-home routine has its challenges. Limited outdoor spaces for exercise, and increased isolation has added a new dimension to our dementia caregiving. Many are adapting to technology in order to seek support and guidance. But how effective is internet-based interventions? Research looking at psychological interventions for dementia caregivers identified four types of caregiver intervention: Psychoeducational Counseling and psychotherapy Multicomponent…

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Springtime Light

As Spring gets closer, we see changes in light. Whether it is Daylight Savings Time and springing forward or a subtle change in trees budding—our world is moving toward more light. As our care partner’s brain changes, we must change to give care. That change can bring up feelings of resentment, anger, guilt, shame, loneliness and depression. Even as the natural world gets brighter, our path may feel full of shadows. Spring light holds a lesson for caregivers.  A gardening resource explains that light comes in colors.1 In Spring, red light provides the energizing chlorophyll to make a plant green….

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Not There Yet

This is a common refrain. A caregiver asks Dr. Cate for dementia guidance. I answer a specific question and then outline strategic plans they may want to consider. The response is always “We are not there yet.” The question to ask yourself is “where is there?” When your relationship is enough overwhelmed with brain change to ask for help—where are you? As a caregiver myself, I hear myself saying “not there yet”. This is an answer that comes from my desire to be anywhere but here—and my fear of there. It is my fear of financial struggle, and my fear…

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As a business owner, a woman, an individual, a mother, a caregiver—sometimes I forget who I am. I have found the anecdote is daily time in nature, practicing mindfulness. The beauty of this is I am gentle enough with myself to allow this to not include a certain place, pose or structure. This morning’s church was at Lee’s Travel Park pool. By myself, with the company of a mockingbird. Back floating, water-bugging, floating and watching this fella belt out one tune after another. A repertoire fit for a king or queen. Perhaps he was waiting for a drink, or maybe…

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The “We’s” Have It

Whether you are introvert, extrovert, caregiver or care recipient one variable that proves powerful in health research is social support. As the national and international discussion swirls around the dangers of the “lone wolf” the value of spending time with select others is reiterated. In Alzheimer’s research this has been particularly emphasized. Alzheimer’s caregivers who have social support report higher confidence in their caregiving and higher life satisfaction. Yet having been a family caregiver, I have experienced the drop-off of friends and family when I needed them the most. How do I gain or maintain social support in the face…

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Caregiving and Exercise

Traditionally January is a month of reflections on the old year and resolutions for the new. Fitness and nutrition are key elements of many resolutions. But families caring for a loved one with dementia are often overwhelmed, particularly after the holidays. Research shows that both Alzheimer’s caregivers and their loved one with dementia greatly benefit from twenty to thirty minutes of moderate intensity walking five times a week. Benefits of this simple plan include: • decreased caregiver stress, burden, depression • a slowing of Alzheimer’s disease in the early stages • improved overall quality of life A similar study looked…

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Denial and Isolation

Well, I humbly come to you no longer from the sidelines but from the field. Dr. Cate, Dementia Coach has been forced to put on a helmet and uniform. Yet even as I write this I question if indeed I am exaggerating. Just because my spouse has said for the past three years that he is having processing problems. Just because he emits off the scale anxiety around any new process, including opening a new piece of equipment . . . I do not have a diagnosis. Maybe it is all in our heads. Maybe he is just crying wolf…

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Not All Specialists Are Special

We were recently referred to a neurologist based on my husband’s feeling that he was losing his memory. At the age of 64, his general practitioner agreed that it was an issue worth investigating. This is a life curve that provides me with an insider view resulting in quandary and possibly denial. It is like walking through steady fog, I think I see clearly but maybe I do not. So the dementia coach in me was in absentia when I scheduled the second neurology appointment in three years. Despite the many family caregivers who had expressed that the best evaluation…

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