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Aging Wisely September 2010 - Aging Wisely

Alzheimer’s Caregivers’ Experiences and Support

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As an Alzheimer’s caregiver, it can be helpful to hear from others who are also caring for a loved one. Caregivers get a lot out of attending a support group, from lessening their feelings of isolation to getting great tips and resources. Some support groups offer respite care so that the caregiver can attend without worries about what they will do with their loved one during that time. Another option is to get online support, via various websites or groups on social media where caregivers share information and concerns.

As you face particular challenges, seeking out professional help and guidance may be the best route for identifying solutions that will work. A professional geriatric care manager can provide advice for your specific situation, or do an evaluation/assessment to give you recommendations based on their professional observations combined with your knowledge as the caregiver.

We offer some recommended reading for caregivers as well, which may help you during your Alzheimer’s caregiving journey. We recently came across a book entitled Staying Afloat in a Sea of Forgetfulness: Common Sense Caregiving by Gary LaBlanc. The book is a compilation of articles written during his caregiving experience. Gary writes with a straightforward approach, and you can read short excerpts as you have time, versus trying to digest a large amount of material.

We asked Gary to share some information on his journey as an Alzheimer’s caregiver in a recent interview:

Give us a brief overview of your background as a caregiver. My Father and I worked side by side for 18 years in our co-owned used bookstore. So I actually got to witness the disease of Alzheimer’s from day one all the way to the devastating end. I became my father’s caregiver for the last decade of his life.

How did you decide to begin writing on the subject and how did the book come about? I was actually working on a third novel of a trilogy, when I briefly started writing short stories about my experiences of caring for my dad. Everyone who I allowed to read them, all said the same thing, “You need to do something with these.” This is what got me to start my column “Common Sense Caregiving,” which has now been published every week for the past two years. After my father past in July of ‘09, I decided to take 65 of my articles, rewrite them with the main goal of making sure they were in a caregiver-friendly manner as possible.

What did you find to be the greatest challenge as a caregiver? I honestly have to say that the delusions and hallucinations my father went through were extremely difficult for me to deal with. But, toward the end of the campaign, the lack of sleep was the hardest physical element I dealt with.

What were some of your rewards or growth experiences as a caregiver? The satisfaction of knowing that by keeping my dad in the comfort and safety of his own home, he had a feeling of content and his demeanor in general was positive. I believe he got the most, out of a horrible situation, and that was rewarding.
As for the growth part, being a caregiver, you well find that there is more endurance inside of you, than you ever believed. Without a doubt, when this crusade is over, you will become a morally stronger person.

What do you think are some of the unique challenges of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of dementia? Learning to have patience and learning to make sacrifices. For example: Putting your social life on hold.

What is your #1 recommendation for caregivers? One word; Routine!

Contact us to find out how we can help you during your journey as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver.

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Sister Companies Add New Team Member

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EasyLiving, Inc. and Aging Wisely, LLC promote Shannon Martin to director of communications; appoint Cynthia Bondell as director of community relations

Clearwater, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2010) – In response to continued growth and increased demands, Easy Living, Inc., a trusted provider of private duty home healthcare for residents of Pinellas County, has announced the promotion of Shannon Martin to director of communications and the appointment of Cynthia Bondell to take over Shannon’s previous role of director of community relations for both EasyLiving, Inc. and Aging Wisely, LLC, a comprehensive care management and consultation company in Clearwater, Fla.

As director of communications, Martin will assume more responsibilities for EasyLiving and Aging Wisely’s communications, as they continue to share their expertise with families and professionals across the country via the Web and other means. Bondell will assume responsibilities for community outreach, marketing and sales for both companies.

“We are pleased to welcome Cynthia to our team. Her experience and knowledge of the Tampa Bay senior and elder care community will certainly be an asset as we continue to grow,” said Alex Chamberlain, executive director of EasyLiving, Inc. “Cynthia’s main responsibility will be to educate the community about our services and make sure the community knows we’re there to help when needed.”

Bondell brings more than 13 years of experience in the Tampa Bay senior housing market to her new role. Most recently, Bondell served as director of sales and marketing for Aston Gardens of Tampa Bay. She received her M.A. in Gerontology from Northeast Louisiana University, now University of Louisiana of Monroe.

EasyLiving, which serves clients in Pinellas and Pasco counties, provides services such as transportation, light housekeeping, errands, household management, assistance with activities of daily living and hygiene, medication management and companionship. With more than ten years of experience, Aging Wisely provides a unique combination of services to meet the needs of caregivers including home safety assessments, care planning and recommendations, coordination of community services, monitoring services and more.

About EasyLiving, Inc.
EasyLiving, Inc. is a fully licensed, private duty home health care company serving individuals and families in Pinellas County, Florida. Our highly trained, extensively screened, and courteous Personal Care Assistants provide clients with the non-medical support they need to have more active, healthy, and meaningful lives and remain comfortably in their own homes. We work with directly with long term care insurance providers to ensure that the hassle of filing paperwork is minimized and our clients have the freedom to focus on the activities they enjoy the most. For more information, please visit www.easylivingfl.com.

About Aging Wisely, LLC.
Founded in 1998, Aging Wisely, LLC is a professional care management and consultation company, serving families faced with illness, disability and caregiving concerns. Based in Clearwater, Fla., Aging Wisely provides expertise, consultation, assessments, advocacy and coordination of services for clients in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties and for families throughout the nation. Additionally, Aging Wisely is often called upon by organizations and publications as an expert resource on eldercare issues and aging. In 2009, Aging Wisely was recognized as a finalist in the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Healthcare Heroes awards. For more information, please visit www.agingwisely.com.

Media Contact:
Shannon Martin
727-744-3379
shannonmartin@agingwisely.com

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Medicare Assistance Available to Help Retirees

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Aging Wisely offers innovative new service to help individuals wade through complexities of Medicare & healthcare reform

Clearwater, Fla. (September 20, 2010) – Aging Wisely, LLC, a local geriatric care management and consultation firm, announces a new service to help individuals make sense of their retirement healthcare choices.

“With the large variety of options available for retirees to get healthcare coverage and more confusion since healthcare reform passed, consumers have been asking us for individualized advice on their best options,” says Linda Chamberlain, President and Founder of Aging Wisely. “We designed this program to specifically address that need and the desire for objective advice from professionals who navigate the healthcare system daily and see the inner workings.”

The Medicare Analysis package uses a personal assessment of the client’s situation, needs, and priorities to identify the best options and educate the client at the same time. Clients that have been benefiting from this service include professionals nearing retirement age, couples who have different employer/retiree options, family caregivers of aging parents, and anyone concerned with the overwhelming costs of healthcare and long term care in retirement. For more information visit www.agingwisely.com, call 727-447-5845, or download the Medicare Analysis flier. Consultation services are available for clients throughout the United States.

About Aging Wisely: Founded in 1998, Aging Wisely, LLC is a professional care management and consultation company, serving families faced with illness, disability and caregiving concerns. Based in Clearwater, Fla., Aging Wisely provides expertise, consultation, assessments, advocacy and coordination of services for clients in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties and for families throughout the nation. Additionally, Aging Wisely is often called upon by organizations and publications as an expert resource on eldercare issues and aging. In 2009, Aging Wisely was recognized as a finalist in the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Healthcare Heroes awards. For more information, please visit www.agingwisely.com.

Media Contact:
Shannon Martin
shannonmartin@agingwisely.com

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Tampa Bay Care Manager Wins National Award

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Julie Scott, Aging Wisely LLC, wins national healthcare award

Clearwater, Fla. (October 6, 2010) – Aging Wisely, LLC, a local geriatric care management and consultation firm, is proud to announce that Julie Scott, Geriatric Care Manager, won the Dorland Health People national award for “Geriatric Care Manager” on Monday October 4th. Julie and other finalists and winners were honored at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Dorland Health, an influential healthcare publishing and educational organization, offers this description: “The Dorland Health People Awards set the benchmark for outstanding patient care and systems delivery achieved across the diverse healthcare team…the Awards honor the diligent, the influential—in short, the special—practitioners who coordinate and provide care.” For more information on the awards, finalists and winners visit http://www.dorlandhealth.com/Dorland-Health-People-Awards/2010-people-awards-finalists.html.

“Julie has worked as a Professional Geriatric Care Manager for Aging Wisely for 9 years and has had a tremendous impact on clients, families, our internal team/colleagues and the other professionals we see as part of our team,” states Linda Chamberlain, President of Aging Wisely, LLC. “We receive many thankful letters from families that Julie helps, but we also see the ways she uses her creativity, knowledge and leadership to help strengthen our team and processes. We feel she is very deserving of this award and are proud that she has been honored as top in her field throughout the nation.”

In addition to her work with older adults and their families, Julie specializes in care management for clients with special needs, Alzheimer’s client and family support and comprehensive assessments for complex cases and legal matters. Julie recently led the development of a new Medicare Analysis program. Last year, she contributed to a chapter on disaster preparedness in a textbook widely used by the geriatric care management profession. To view Julie Scott’s bio: http://www.agingwisely.com/meet-our-team/#julie.

About Aging Wisely: Founded in 1998, Aging Wisely, LLC is a professional care management and consultation company, serving families faced with illness, disability and caregiving concerns. Based in Clearwater, Fla., Aging Wisely provides expertise, consultation, assessments, advocacy and coordination of services for clients in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties and for families throughout the nation.

Media Contact:
Shannon Martin
shannonmartin@agingwisely.com
727-744-3379

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World Alzheimer’s Report 2010: Costs of Dementia

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The total estimated worldwide costs of dementia are $604 billion in 2010, according to the newly released World Alzheimer Report 2010: The Global Economic Impact of Dementia from Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI). Dementia care costs around 1% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). By 2030, worldwide societal costs will increase by 85% (a very conservative estimate considering only increases in the number of people with dementia).

In the Report, costs were attributed to the direct costs of medical care (the costs of treating Dementia and other conditions in primary and secondary care), direct costs of social care (provided in residential care settings and by community care professionals), and informal care
(unpaid care provided by family caregivers and others).

“This report clearly illustrates that dementia is already affecting health systems around the world, and for the families who are forced to face Alzheimer’s the anguish is universal,” said Harry Johns, Alzheimer’s Association President and CEO. “The World Alzheimer Report 2010 urges all countries – including the U.S. – to develop national plans to deal with the disease.”

In the U.S., according to the Alzheimer’s Association’s Alzheimer’s Disease Facts & Figures 2010, there are as many as 5.3 million Americans living with the disease and every 70 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer’s. In 2010, there will be a half million new cases of Alzheimer’s. By 2050, there will be nearly a million new cases of Alzheimer’s every year. Nearly 11 million U.S. family members and other unpaid caregivers provided 12.5 billion hours
of care for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, valued at $144 billion.

Every day, we see the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease on individuals and families, from the emotions of seeing a loved one deteriorate to the stress of caregiving and financial sacrifices. We are offering a series of blog postings and caregiver tips through our social media pages to address different aspects of Alzheimer’s caregiving and provide expert tips. Our goal is to assist Alzheimer’s caregivers to reduce the stress of trying to find high quality information that really helps. Visit us on Facebook or Twitter for these tips and the latest news.

We also offer one-on-one caregiver consultations for family members caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of dementia, or anyone concerned about memory loss.

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Senior Health Topics: Fall Prevention Day

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The first day of fall, September 23rd, has been declared National Falls Prevention Awareness Day. The goal is to promote and increase public awareness about how to prevent and reduce falls among older adults. Many states, organizations and local falls prevention coalitions will honor this day with awareness campaigns, education and other activities.

Any organization working with older adults, especially those who are frail or ill, can help in falls prevention efforts. It is important not only to implement internal procedures and assessments, but to understand the impacts of falls on individuals and society. Aging Wisely not only provides professional falls prevention, home safety and comprehensive assessments, but also joins in community efforts surrounding falls prevention and education. We invite you to visit the Pinellas County Falls Prevention Coalition website, which Aging Wisely co-founded. Community collaborations such as this help to share efforts and resources, and therefore strengthen each organization’s falls prevention strategy. Check out some of the great links and resources available there.

If you care about an aging loved one, there are some great resources to do a basic checklist and take some simple steps toward fall prevention (our fall prevention checklist). Our professional care managers provide in depth assessments and reviews with personal recommendations, which can also be helpful if you are concerned about convincing your loved one to make changes. We can also help identify potential causes and solutions, when multiple medical problems or more complex issues exist. Our knowledge of resources saves you valuable time and money, especially when you consider the devastating impacts falls can have.

We have also included a handout about falls and Osteoporosis, which highlights the risks and concerns as well as some valuable tips.

osteoporosis_falls_and-broken-bones

Let us know if your organization or community has activities going on for Falls Prevention Day and we’ll be happy to help get the word out!

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Alzheimer’s Caregivers: Words of Wisdom

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Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease brings its own unique challenges. The process of caregiving in general can be draining and overwhelming, but Alzheimer’s caregiving is like learning a whole new profession, sometimes each and every day. Just as each moment may be new for the person with Alzheimer’s disease, each moment may be something new to face for the Alzheimer’s caregiver.

We have provided some information in the past that many family caregivers shared was helpful to them. If you are involved in Alzheimer’s caregiving you may wish to review our post on Sundowner’s Syndrome/Sundowning for tips and hints on the issue of “sundowning” in Alzheimer’s patients (the phenomena of disturbed behavior and agitation late in the day). We also provide one on one consultations with our expert geriatric care managers, who can help you troubleshoot ways to build routines and overcome challenges involved in caring for a loved one who has dementia. Sign up for our email newsletter for additional tips, or contact us today at 888-807-2551 for immediate assistance.

We will be interviewing Alzheimer’s caregiver Gary LeBlanc in future blog posts. Gary is the author of Staying Afloat in a Sea of Forgetfulness: Common Sense Caregiving, a book which brings together his wisdom and writings from his years caring for his father. Here are some words of wisdom from some of Gary’s articles, that may help you as a caregiver:

“The dread of failure is every caregiver’s nightmare. Try to relax and observe your loved one closely. Learn as much as possible day-to-day. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Remember every Alzheimer’s patient responds differently in most instances.”

“Personally watching a loved one dissolve in front of your eyes is one of the hardest undertakings a caregiver must endure.”

“You will go through stages when you feel strong and you are. It requires a special individual to be caregiver to a mind-impaired patient. Anticipate that you will get worn down. That burn out stage does absolutely nothing but cause harm for everybody. So put your pride aside and let others help. This is a job that can’t be done alone.”

We look forward to sharing more words of wisdom from Gary and other Alzheimer’s caregivers, as well as providing good professional advice on caring for a loved one with dementia.

Our goal is to share worthwhile information at a time when information overload is the last thing you need as a caregiver. We offer quick caregiver “tips of the week” via Facebook and Twitter as well, so we invite you to follow us there, or sign up for our email newsletter.

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Mission Statement

Our goal is to enable every individual we work with to live the most fulfilling life possible, with utmost dignity, focusing on their physical, mental, spiritual, family and financial wellbeing.