As the Baby Boomers turn 65 (at the rate of one every 10 seconds), more and more Americans will find themselves with senior-aged parents and faced with some potentially difficult realities. Among those, recognizing when Mom or Dad need help at home. Aging parents are often in denial that there is a problem and, often, the kids either don’t see it, or are also in denial. After being independent for so long, it can be difficult for someone to admit they need help.
The burden of recognizing the signs that an aging parent may need help with daily living tasks often falls on the children. It is important to communicate with your parents and let them know why you are worried and that you want to help. The best solutions will be the ones worked out together.
Here are some signs that may indicate your parent needs help:
Are appointments missed or bills not getting paid? Are common objects being put in illogical places (i.e. car keys in the freezer). Perhaps medication is being incorrectly or not at all.
If you notice any of these, an assessment (both medical and cognitive) may be in order to determine what is going on and to start to come up with some options. Knowing the cause of the condition means effective treatments can be put in place and your loved one can be kept safe.
- Difficulty Getting Around
Are your parents having trouble moving around or getting in and out of chairs? If so, having a two-story house could be problematic and put your parents at a much higher fall risk. Check for slippery tiles and furniture that creates obstacles.
Providing them with a cane or walker may be all that is needed. Or, modifications to the house may be possible, allowing them to remain at home. Your parent may be reluctant to leave their home of 30, 40, 50 years, and that’s okay. The goal is not get them to leave the home, but rather to come up together with viable options that keep them safe.
- Unusual Amount of Clutter
Is there dirty laundry or unopened mail in a home that is historically meticulously clean? Does the lawn need mowing? This could be a sign of cognitive decline, or simply that the house is getting to be too much for your parents to handle. A conversation with them could help determine what is needed: a housekeeper, gardener, or a more significant geriatric makeover.
- Change in Personality
Are there changes in your parents’ personality? Are they speaking too loudly or softly? Are they accusing people of taking their things, or exhibiting other paranoid behavior?
This could be a sign of dementia. An appointment with a medical doctor for a cognitive assessment could be important to establish a base line from which to gauge any further decline. If there is a diagnosis of dementia, that in itself does not mean that your parents cannot participate in the decision-making process; the severity of the dementia will have more of an impact on their inclusion in the conversation. However, dementia will mean that at some point they will not be able to make decisions and now is the time to make certain all legal and medical documents are in order.
It is important to remember that needing assistance does not necessarily mean leaving the home. It may be that extra help in the home environment is all that is needed to keep your loved one safe and healthy. A care manager may be able to assist with determining what extra services are needed and where to look for help. If you are concerned with a family member and would like to speak more about this, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would be honored to sit down with you and discuss your situation in more detail.
Gray Matters Consulting
For more information:
9 Signs Your Parent Needs Help
Signs Your Senior Parents Need Help
Signs Your Parent Needs Help
I wanted to share with you an opportunity for those with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s to participate in a clinical trial in Medford. It is believed that the drug being studied may actually restore synaptic structures and functions damaged by Alzheimer’s, resulting in improved cognition and memory, and therefore overall quality of life, for Alzheimer’s patients.
I have attached some information about the study. If you are interested in learning more, you may reach out to Sunstone Medical Research directly, or email me with your name, email, and phone number and I will happily pass it along to them. Please feel free to share this information with everyone you know.
Sunstone Medical Research: Sunstone Research Website; Sunstone Research Email; (541) 973-2080
This is the first time clinical trials for an Alzheimer’s drug has been available in our area and we would love the opportunity to do this again in the future!
Gray Matters Consulting
A few weeks ago (2/9/16), I wrote about the power of music and how it activates all parts of the brain, unlike any other activity. I am thrilled to report that the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis will collaborate with the California Association of Health Facilities (CAHF) to conduct research to improve dementia care.
The three-year project is called “CAHF Improving Dementia Care through Music & Memory” and will use iPods with nursing home residents as a way of re-introducing them to their favorite, personalized music to improve their daily lives. As seen in the documentary Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory, creating personalized playlists for nursing home residents reawakened them like nothing else had prior.
The focus of the study is to determine if familiar tunes can reduce the need for medication and improve the quality of life for the residents. While many short-term studies suggest positive outcomes, this 36-month study will help determine if the practice can be sustained and works longer term and reduce the use of antipsychotic medication for people with dementia.
The program received a $1.4 million grant to distribute Music & Memory iPods and personalized playlists to 4,500 residents across 300 nursing homes in California. Funding for the grant comes from civil monetary penalties and fines collected in California for nursing home violations.
There are three parts to the study:
- Evaluation by the UCD team to determine if the program works and how nursing homes implement it.
- Independent testing by researchers of two to three Quality Assurance Performance Improvement tools to support implementation of the program. This is essentially a roadmap required by nursing homes to improve the quality of life, care, and services.
- Study, documentation, and reporting on organizational factors present in the success or failure of the adoption and sustainment of Music & Memory in the participating facilities.
According to Debra Bakerjian, one of the UCD researchers, “California is a microcosm of the rest of the nation in terms of diversity, its population of older adults and the number of nursing homes that operate throughout the state,” making it an ideal place to conduct the study. Music & Memory has programs to help set up their system in both private homes and in assisted living facilities. Of course, you may also contact me – I would be honored to help you in any way I can through your journey.
Gray Matters Consulting
For more information on the study, and to learn more about Music & Memory:
UCD School of Nursing Study
Music & Memory