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ComfortCare Homes Wichita Blog

Caring for a Spouse with Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia

Thursday, November 30th, 2017 5:27:14 PM
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As the disease progresses and Alzheimer’s symptoms change – your relationship will too

When any friend or family member receive an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, it can be challenging to accept. When this person is your husband or wife, the impact is especially difficult. You may find yourself taking on the role of caregiver or begin to notice changes in your relationship. Memory care specialists are uniquely aware of the way ever-changing Alzheimer’s symptoms impact you, your spouse, and your marriage.

It is common for a spouse to assume the role of caregiver when their husband or wife receives an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. A spouse is often the first to recognize Alzheimer’s symptoms in their loved one, including behavioral changes, forgetfulness, confusion, and even depression. These changes in your spouse are bound to change your relationship, family life, and careers.

Caring for a Spouse: Stephene Moore and former U.S Rep. Dennis Moore’s Story

Dennis Moore is a lifelong Kansan, having served six terms in the U.S House of Represented for Kansas’s 3rd District. His wife Stephene has worked as a nurse, focusing on women’s health, for more than 25 years. In 2012, Dennis was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

After his diagnosis, Dennis retired from his position to focus on his health. He and his wife spoke with local radio station KCUR 89.3 to discuss the Alzheimer’s symptoms he experiences, his diagnosis, and what it means for them. To listen to their complete interview, visit KCUR by clicking here.

What We Can Learn

Dennis and Stephene’s experience with Alzheimer’s is unfortunately not an uncommon story. However, there is plenty that spouses and families can take away from the Moore’s story and apply to their own situation.

1. Recognize and report Alzheimer’s symptoms

You know your spouse better than anyone else. If you begin to notice changes in their behavior that are related to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, don’t be afraid to speak up. While your loved one may deny any changes or symptoms, speak with a medical professional about your concerns. An early diagnosis can often help you both prepare for the future.

2. Make the tough decisions early on

While it is not always possible, an early Alzheimer’s diagnosis can help you and your spouse make plans for the future. Talking to employers and family members about the diagnosis is important. You can decide together when the best time to stop working will be. Investigate insurance and other financial aid benefits available. Although it is difficult, making decisions about palliative and hospice care while your spouse is still well enough is essential. Making these tough decisions early on will be helpful for you both as the disease progresses.

3. Support for your changing relationship

Cognitive regression, behavioral changes, and need for outside care assistance will inevitably cause changes in your relationship. You may find yourself grieving for the loss of your spouse as their memory worsens. Talking with family, friends, and even professionals can help you cope. Local support groups offer resources such as support groups for the family members of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease.

[Alzheimer’s Association Resources]

Caring for a loved one, especially a spouse, with Alzheimer’s is a challenging and often stressful responsibility. Know that you are never alone. There are professionals trained and experiences in providing Alzheimer’s care and support available to help.

For more information about memory care services provided by Comfort Care Homes, please call our office at (316) 444-0532 or visit our website: http://comfortcarehomeswichita.com/

Why I Walk – Pam Crawford

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 2:51:46 PM
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I walk for my Father who had Parkinson’s Dementia and for my Grandmother.

My memories of my grandmother as a Pastor’s wife are full of feeding us gum and candy bars in church to keep us kids quiet. She loved to cook and believed any ailment you had was remedied by food. Every one of us grandkids knew we were loved immensely and enjoyed the twinkle in her eye and laughter as she watched us eat together as a family. Memories of picking veggies from the garden and her canning – always remember her homemade Apple Butter.

Last but not least, was her legacy to us of her beautiful crocheted blankets, tablecloths, baby hats, doilies, etc. This was my fondest memory, of watching her sit for hours to make beautiful things that made others smile. It was extremely difficult to realize she could no longer remember how to crochet. Those treasures I keep close to my heart as does my daughter now that Grandma is no longer with us.

I struggled as my Grandmother began to lose her memory over time. I knew Grandma was still there even when she could no longer live at home. When her natural inhibitions no longer worked because of this illness, it was difficult to watch. Nevertheless, we wanted her to know she was loved in any way that we could. Watching my family struggle with this illness also wasn’t easy. You can’t argue with someone with this illness and when she began to live in her past thinking it was the present, it was difficult to watch my family try to persuade her. While we all learned over time the right way to react and interact, those struggles are so real. I am comforted to know that we had each other through the entire journey with my Grandmother.

My father’s journey with Parkinson’s dementia was different and yet equally as challenging. When you know someone who was so full of life and opinions, with a contagious unique laughter who served his country and loved his God with all his heart and then…….you see loss of independence in every facet of life, you cry a bit inside each time knowing that this could be you one day.

Watching him lose his ability to get his words out, lose his strength to sing and praise in church and even eat much, it hits your heart hard. What was so sweet to watch was putting on music he loved or having musicians come to play old hymns, he could still tap his foot and use his hands to show you that it was soothing to him. Even when he couldn’t eat much, you knew a soft Reeses peanut butter cup would offer him some enjoyment and of course, we all have his love of Reese to take with us.

There is not a lot in the way of medications to truly help a person with dementia who develop behavioral challenges. It pained me to see him have to be so medicated at times to finally allow him some inner peace. Watching his struggle to the very end until he took his very last breath, knowing that he was surrounded by family who sang/talked to him until that very last moment…..is another reason I walk.

Though I am so grateful we all had each other – there is still so much more to be discovered to help those who suffer with the illness and their families who have to endure along the way.

Help Pam by making a donation to the Comfort Crusaders Team – Click here to make a donation.

For more information about The Walk to End Alzheimer’s and how you can get involved, please visit our event page here. If you have any questions, feel free to call our office at 316-267-7333.

                

Early-onset Alzheimer’s Symptoms: Know the Signs and Find the Help You Need

Thursday, August 24th, 2017 8:24:32 PM
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Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are not new illnesses. Before the findings of modern medicine, Alzheimer’s patients were often misdiagnosed as senile and memory loss was just an unfortunate symptom of aging. Today we know more than ever about dementia and Alzheimer’s symptoms and continued research works to find the cause and cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

A specific type of Alzheimer’s, known as Early-onset or Younger Alzheimer’s affects adults under the age of 65. Typically, adults with early-onset will display Alzheimer’s symptoms in their 40s and 50s. Their disease typically goes either unnoticed or misdiagnosed by primary physicians, who attribute symptoms to stress or other neurological factors. Dementia may be common among elderly adults, but younger adults are at risk as well.

What is Early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is split into three general stages: early stage, middle stage, and late stage. The disease affects each person differently in each stage and the symptoms vary. Alzheimer’s typically progresses slowly over time in adults over the age of 65. What makes early-onset dementia unique is that it occurs in younger adults.

Doctors do not know why early-onset Alzheimer’s symptoms appear in such young brains. There have been studies that indicate several genetic mutations that directly cause Alzheimer’s. For this reason, early-onset Alzheimer’s is often referred to as “familial dementia.” These genes account for 60-70% of early-onset Alzheimer’s cases.

[http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/in-depth/alzheimers/art-20048356?pg=1]

Genetic testing for these mutations is available, but talking extensively with a doctor is recommended as a good first step. Getting an accurate diagnosis for early-onset Alzheimer’s can be difficult and require many neurological exams, brain mapping, and extensive tests. If you suspect you or a loved one are experiencing early-onset Alzheimer’s symptoms below, consult with a medical professional immediately.

What are Early-onset Alzheimer’s Symptoms?

Alzheimer’s symptoms focus on memory loss that disrupts daily life. This can include challenges in planning or solving problems, difficulty completing familiar tasks at home or work, misplacing things, and changes in mood and personality.

[http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_early_onset.asp]

Early-onset Alzheimer’s symptoms typically introduce new problems at work or at home for younger adults. Talking with a doctor is essential to determining the true cause of these symptoms and whether or not they are related to early dementia.

There are some major differences between forgetfulness and dementia. Read our “Forgetfulness vs. Alzheimer’s of Dementia” to learn more!

How to Plan for the Future

If you have been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, know that you are never alone. Below are some steps suggested by the Alzheimer’s Association for coping after a diagnosis:

  1. Educate Yourself on the Impact of the Disease on Your Life

Early-onset Alzheimer’s and dementia will inevitably have an impact on your life as a spouse, parent, and employee. It is normal to grief over anticipated changes. Taking care of your emotional and physical needs is essential. Educating yourself as much as possible about your disease and utilizing support groups can help your entire family move forward after a diagnosis.

  1. Make Plans for Your Financial Future

Many times, early-onset dementia impacts a young adult’s ability to work. Talking with your employer about the limitations of your disease is important. You should be open and honest about how you see your professional future fitting into your disease. Your employer may offer benefits such as disability insurable, early retirement, family and medical leave, and other health insurance benefits. View a detailed brochure about financial and health care benefits for Alzheimer’s patients here: https://www.alz.org/i-have-alz/if-you-have-younger-onset-alzheimers.asp

  1. Plan for Future Care

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, you are able to put critical plans into place. This can include the type of care you want to receive in the later stages of Alzheimer’s. Talk to your doctor about participating in a research study. Explore long term care options and assisted living facilities in your area. While it will no doubt be difficult, choosing how you want to spend your life with Alzheimer’s will make coping with the disease manageable for you and your family.

  1. Live Well

Early-onset Alzheimer’s presents a variety of unexpected challenges. The silver lining lies in your choice of how to live. Take care of yourself by maintaining your physical, emotional, social, and spiritual health. Find activities or professionals that help you reduce stress. Taking each day as it comes is important to coping with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Download the Alzheimer’s Association’s brochure on younger-onset Alzheimer’s Disease here.

 

To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia and how specialized care can help, please call ComfortCare Home of Wichita at (316) 444-0532 or visit our website by clicking here.

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I will always be grateful for the founder’s presentation to Downtown Wichita Kiwanis 20 years ago. His (Charles Stark) comments stayed with me, making the choice of care providers easy for me. Smaller really is better. I am familiar with several “retirement” communities and “memory care” services. Very few match the quality of care provided my ComfortCare Homes. Thank you.

- Barrick Wilson

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