It’s no surprise that the holiday season can bring the passage of time into focus. As we catch up with relatives and friends we may not have seen over the course of the year, we notice the small changes in them that come with age. Even for those who see their family members regularly, the contrast of this year’s celebration to the last can make us all realize that we’re not getting any younger. And the older memories of childhood and holidays past usually contrast with the way things are today.
As a nonprofit leader in the field of aging, focusing on senior living communities, health care, teaching and research, Hebrew SeniorLife possesses a wealth of expertise and a broad range of services to support families facing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Whether it’s a fall, a wandering episode, death of spouse, or loss of a dependable caregiver, too many families find themselves making decisions about assisted living in “crisis mode.” Up until turning points like these, there is often some level of denial about the possibility that a more supportive living environment could someday be needed. Yet beginning a search for assisted living at such a moment is far from ideal. Any preparation you can do in advance is a gift you provide for your family, whether planning for yourself or for a loved one’s potential future needs.
As parents, watching our children take their first steps is one of the proudest, most gratifying moments imaginable. As adult children, watching our parents begin to lose their footing is one of the most concerning. Those who find themselves at this juncture are often left wondering what to do and where to turn for more information.
To help with this dilemma, we’ve asked Timothy Parke, Rehab Clinical Supervisor at Orchard Cove and a Board Certified Specialist in geriatric physical therapy to answer some fundamental questions about assistive devices.
Delirium is a state of confusion that develops suddenly, often following an acute medical illness, a surgical procedure or a hospitalization. Although delirium is estimated to complicate hospital stays for more than 2.5 million older adult patients in the U.S. each year, this common condition often goes undetected. The end result can be serious complications with sometimes devastating consequences for vulnerable hospitalized elders.
Dementia is one of several medical conditions associated with increased rates of depression. Depression in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common form of dementia, occurs in up to 25 percent of patients, and is more frequently diagnosed in patients with mild to moderate AD. Even higher rates of major depression have been linked to dementias associated with Parkinson’s disease and strokes.
I recently sat down with Bill Taube whose mother, Esther, blossomed as a patient at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Dedham (HRC Dedham). Bill’s mother moved to HRC Dedham three years earlier and was at the time, “Angry at the world and depressed.”
Before moving to HRC Dedham, she was so depressed that she would not even visit the hairdresser, a long held Saturday morning ritual. Bill was concerned that perhaps his mother would not adjust well to a move and grow only more despondent. Carol Westheimer, Esther’s geriatric care manager, pushed for the change and recommended HRC Dedham as a good match. “Carol was right,” says Bill.
Taking care of a family member with Alzheimer’s disease and/or a related dementia can be as exhausting as it is meaningful. Both physically and emotionally, caregiving takes a toll that we can all appreciate. Occasional breaks – whether for a few hours, a day, or a week or more – are important in order to recharge. Family caregivers need rest and support in order to continue to provide the best possible care to loved ones.
There are many supports available for family caregivers: