As we come to the close of 2013, I pray that you are taking care of yourself. The holidays are really hard for some in different ways. It always astonishes me when I see family members acting
as caregivers and the amount of time it takes to actually live for two people.
When someone is sick for two days, that is bad enough. However, when someone has a chronic illness, like cancer, diabetes or leukemia, life becomes quite difficult when you become the caregiver. I
have written about caregiving before but now it is not just about being taken care of as an elderly person but also that other issues maybe impacting that relationship. For example, I have been speaking to more and more people regarding taking care of parents with Alzheimer's or dementia.
My heart would ache at the idea that the body is fine but the mind is leaving or fleeting.
Caregivers in general experience a high stress level. Not dealing with the stress level may impact you,
your family and the person who you are taking care of. It is good to know what resources are available to you such as in-home assistance or visiting nurses.
Caregivers should not even try to do everything on their own. It is just too much.
During the holiday's it can be especially stressful because you may want to travel.
Make sure that before you go anywhere, get a clean bill of health. Being healthy is good for everyone involved. Travel with friends or family members, especially if they ask to accompany you. They have probably been by your side from the onset anyway.
Be mindful that changes in environment can trigger wandering. According to the Alzheimer's Association, even for a person in the early stages, new environments may be more difficult
to navigate. Keep the person safe by taking precautions, such as enrolling in MedicAlert® + Alzheimer's Association Safe Return®, Comfort Zone® or Comfort Zone Check-In®.
Below are explanations of programs:
MedicAlert® + Alzheimer's Association Safe Return® is a 24-hour nationwide emergency
response service for individuals with Alzheimer's or a related dementia who wander or have a medical
emergency. We provide 24-hour assistance, no matter when or where the person is reported missing. Comfort Zone Check-In lets families monitor a person
with Alzheimer's using on demand "Find Me" and "Follow Me" sessions, while receiving daily scheduled
Here are some helpful travel tips also from the Alzheimer's Association:
• Have a bag of essentials with you at all times that includes medications, your travel itinerary, a
comfortable change of clothes, water, snacks and activities.
• Pack necessary medications, up-to-date medical information, a list of emergency contacts and photocopies of important legal documents.
• Create an itinerary that includes details about each destination. Give copies to emergency contacts
at home. Keep a copy of your itinerary with you at all times.
• If you will be staying in a hotel, inform the staff ahead of time of your specific needs so they can be prepared to assist you. Travel during the time of day that is
best for the person with dementia.
Even though you may not have someone in your household with dementia, you may know someone who does. Dementia is the decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities.
Get your loved one checked if you find that these symptoms sound familiar.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday and remember your co-workers, family and friends who are taking care of others. They could use a,helping hand even if it is just,you bring a bag of groceries,or a gift certificate for a half,hour massage. Be mindful of what you can do to help someone else.
There are indeed many other issues during the holiday season that may negativity impact people you care about. Grief and denial may follow many of the issues that may otherwise make the holidays very painful for some. Keep people motivated and uplifted. In your everyday life try to be positive to all, you never know how your positivity will change someone’s life for the better.
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This was printed in the December 15, 2013 - December 28, 2013 Edition