Saturday, May 13, 2017

Guest Post: Facing the Challenges of Alzheimer's Disease

Samantha Stein

Alzheimer’s disease has the power to alter the dynamics of the family. As the progressive brain
disorder targets memory, thinking and behavior, this condition can change the roles within the family quickly. Adult children become the primary caretaker of their parents and spouses shift to caregivers instead of partners. These unplanned role reversals can take a drastic toll on all involved.
As family members assume the role of caregivers, they begin to take responsibility for the financial, physical, emotional and mental well-being of their loved ones—while simultaneously trying to maintain their own. And trying to do both requires herculean strength.
Many caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s are at a higher risk of depression. Moreover, if we take a look at the cost of long-term care by state, we can easily see how their finances can also take a huge hit.
Anyone can see how overwhelming the responsibility is. As shown in 18 Enlightening Facts about Caregivers, these individuals sacrifice so much, and they should be appreciated and supported more. It can be emotionally, physically, and emotionally taxing for anyone. Add the various symptoms of Alzheimer’s into the mix, and the situation can turn disastrous.

My Mom, My Shadow
Many caregivers find it especially difficult to cope with shadowing, one of the more pronounced
symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The stories vary: caregivers share how terrifying it was to wake up in the middle of the night to find their loved one inches away from their faces, with eyes bulging as they watch their caregivers sleep. Others feel suffocated and frustrated to find their loved one following them at every turn.
Typically, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease shadow their caregivers because of anxiety and uncertainty. It is a fear-driven act, where they feel that their caregivers are the safe and known aspect of their lives. As they increasingly become disoriented, they may cling to what is only familiar and safe to them and that often means trying to stick like glue to their caregivers.

Dealing with Shadowing
The first step that caregivers need to take? Understanding and acceptance. Remember that reality is a gray area for individuals with Alzheimer’s, and it can be a terrifying situation for them. How a caregiver interprets this behavior can make a big difference. Recognize the reason behind the act, and know that it is not an action done to annoy anyone purposely.
Often, caregivers simply must take a much-needed break and collect their thoughts. Yes, the shadowing makes it challenging to do so, and can leave the caregiver feeling guilty for wanting to make an escape. Caregivers may have to ask for help from other trusted family members or friends. Additionally, they can incorporate engaging activities into the daily routine, designed to capture the attention of their loved one with Alzheimer’s.

Care for the Caregiver
Caregivers should remember to make their well-being a priority, no matter how impossible it may seem. The quality of care depends on the how healthy and happy the caregiver is, and that’s why they must take measures to secure their present and future. That could mean considering long-term care planning for themselves. After all, no one needs and deserves financial security more than these unsung heroes.

Samantha Stein is an online content manager for Association for Long Term Care Planning. Her works focus on long-term care information that covers long-term care insurance, financial planning, elder care and retirement. In line with the organization’s goal, Samantha creates content that helps raise awareness on the importance of having a comprehensive long-term care plan not just for the good of the individual but for the safety of the entire family.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Guest Post: Enjoying Life While Getting Older

By Daniel Lewis

Aging triggers some of the most visible changes in our bodies. The older we get the bigger the changes, meaning that it’s critical to enjoy the process and do what we can to make our later years comfortable. Aging is inevitable. However, we can take steps to live a fulfilling life.

Our minds, bodies and, of course, our metabolism, change as move past the mid-century mark. Common health concerns include arthritis, short-term memory loss, brittle bones and a loss in skin elasticity, among others. While sometimes frustrating, these changes are perfectly normal.

Healthy Living
Taking supplements can help, although these should only be taken under the strict supervision of your physician. Sadly, vitamin deficiencies are common in seniors. Some don’t spend enough time outside, may not be physically active and may even forget to eat or drink water.

It’s never wise for anyone, especially an older adult, to start popping pills at random to fill in the gaps, though. For example, simply because we’ve heard about a magic elixir with 50 vitamins and minerals, it doesn’t mean that it’s what our body needs. And, don’t forget – hydration is paramount. As we get past our 50s, we may not feel hunger or thirst the same. Just because we don’t feel thirsty doesn’t mean our bodies don’t need water.

Drinking eight glasses of water every 24 hours might seem like mission: impossible. Try to keep things interesting while staying hydrated. We can eat more watermelon, or “spice” up” our daily water with fresh strawberries to give it a more pleasant taste.

Another key to a long and happy life is directly linked to diet. We need to keep our metabolism going full speed ahead. The best way to do that is with healthy food. Include plenty of fruits and vegetables into your diet, keep your meat lean and avoid fried and salty foods.

Say Yes to Change
The passing of the years can bring about major shifts in mind, body and spirit. We may have moments of joy, sadness or clarity. The key is acceptance. There’s little more you can do in the present than to live it. Why not make every moment count?

When we focus on what we have right now, we don't let worry ruin our present. Many seniors have difficulties expressing their emotions because they don’t want people to perceive them as being helpless or weak. But hiding vulnerabilities can do more harm than good; eventually seniors may end up developing acute anger, anxiety and depression.

Accept and Move On
Just because we can’t remember where we put our glasses or house keys doesn’t mean we’re suffering from dementia or some other debilitating disease. Forgetfulness is common among older adults. Having trouble getting around the house? Might finally be time to ask for assistance. There are excellent caregivers out there; first, we have to be willing to accept we can’t do it all anymore.

Our bodies are not invincible, no matter how healthy we eat or how much we exercise. The sooner we understand that, the better. We all must accept our own limitations. We shouldn’t feel bad if we need a hand or want the kids to stop by and help around the house every once in a while.

We can’t stop the march of time. But we can make the most of the time we have. Sometimes, we may feel low, or be looking at a period of rehabilitation after a setback, such as a stroke. These are only temporary. With the right mindset and healthier choices, life at 70, 80 and beyond can be nothing short of great!

Daniel Lewis writes about health and fitness-related issues. He has a deep knowledge of the field and is a regular contributor to, which focuses on elder care homes and retirement villages in the UK.