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Caring For An Elder From Far Away: Geriatric Care Managers

by Terry Weaver

As an adult, balancing work and elder care can be a challenge whether your parent lives next door or out of state. Add children to this, and the situation becomes compounded. Legal, financial and long-term planning for elder care is crucial, and long distance caregivers need to prepare for travel and time off from work. Face the facts, most older adults want to stay right where they are. They do not want to relocate, even if it means being closer to family. If this is what the elder wishes, as the child, you must respect their wishes.

For people who work and care for an aged family member, (particularly when that family member lives far away), one solution is to hire a professional geriatric care manager. A geriatric care manager is a professional who specializes in assisting older people and their families with long-term care arrangements. Care managers have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or substantial equivalent training in gerontology, social work, nursing, counseling, psychology or a related field.

Prolonged illness, disability or simply the challenges of aging can significantly alter the lifestyle of older adults. Daily responsibilities can become difficult. Efficient coordination of medical, personal and social service resources can enhance the quality of life for older adults and their caregivers.

Geriatric care mangers assist older adults in maintaining their independence at home and can ease the transition to a new setting, if needed. Geriatric care managers also help:

  • Conduct care planning assessments to identify problems, eligibility for assistance, and need for services.

  • Review financial, legal, or medical issues and offer referrals to geriatric specialists to avoid future problems and conserve assets.

  • Act as a liaison to families at a distance, making sure things are going well and alerting families to problems.

  • Assist with moving an older person to or from a retirement complex, assisted living facility, or nursing home.

  • Offer counseling and support.

  • How do you know when it is time to call a professional? Look for these signs.

  • Is your loved one losing weight for no known reason? Do they fall?

  • Is the home unkempt and becoming unsafe? How are meals made? Who pays the bills?

  • Are they able to(and do they) maintain a neat appearance? Has drinking become a problem?

  • Is it safe for your parents to drive? If not, who does the driving for them?

  • Has there been a sudden memory loss or increased confusion?

Of course in order to answer these questions, you’ll have to pay a visit to your long distance loved one, or rely on information from a relative or friend who is close to that loved one.  There is no reason to feel guilty about being far away as long as you are doing everything that you can to help.  In Raleigh, NC, visit Raleigh Geriatric Care Management, www.rgcmgmt.com 

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The New Female Problem

by Patricia Grace

In the halls of the nation’s businesses, the hushed whispers which were once reserved for gossip and Monday morning quarterbacking now echo the despair stressed out women are feeling in their role as caregivers. While men do represent a growing percentage of today’s caregivers, the role is still largely filled by women. In what could be considered the new “female problem” in the workplace, male management does not have the tools to adequately discuss and remedy this female ailment.

Caregiver Stress Defined

An individual’s face may not readily give away clues that they are suffering from caregiver stress, but a quick look at their employee attendance record will reveal absenteeism due to their work as a caregiver for an aging loved one. The fact that this individual has a higher utilization of the healthcare benefits and increased prescription plan participation for stress-related disorders may also warrant their classification as a caregiver.

Stressed out caregivers are susceptible to a whole host of problems as their immune system becomes compromised under the weight and associated guilt of caregiving. Migraine headaches and GI disorders are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the impact caregiver stress has on individuals. Caregivers overwhelmed by stress are also highly susceptible to depression. Individuals need to learn to recognize when their caregiving duties are getting the best of them.  Identifying community resources that offer services to caregivers and their loved ones can be just the prescription needed to bounce back.

Businesses and the overall economy are negatively impacted by caregivers who are emotionally drained by the burden of their role. The financial component of caregiver stress is far more reaching than that individual’s wallet. The trickle down effect of the disorder hurts all of our pockets as it robs employers of nearly $ 33.6 billion.

The Role of a Geriatric Care Manager

A GCM is a professional with expertise in geriatric or aging issues. They are a local resource with firsthand knowledge of the services available in your community.  Boomers living at a great distance who are concerned if their parent is safe in their own home can avail themselves of geriatric care management services for peace of mind with ease. Often the task of navigating the maze of senior housing and financial options associated with eldercare can put a strain on the parent-child relationship. A GCM can bridge the gap and facilitate discussion that leads to decision-making.

Geriatric care managers can assess, facilitate and
coordinate placement while providing family members the education they need to make informed decisions.  This education not only gives individuals a better understanding of the process, but it enables them to overcome the guilt and stress they may be carrying. Professional geriatric care managers consult with the family members and take into consideration their psycho-social and clinical needs, financial concerns and geographical desires.

Focus on Funding

Gaining an understanding of the finances associated with eldercare can cause a caregiver’s stress to reach an all- time high level.  Working with a geriatric care manager can put the funding solution you were looking for right at your fingertips. Aging specialists are experts on the VA Aid and Attendance bill as well as astute in Medicare and Medicaid issues.  Certified geriatric care managers can dispel any funding myth you may have heard and give you an indication of your eligibility for assistance.

 

In Raleigh , NC, Geriatric Care Management is provided by Raleigh Geriatric Care Management

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Alzheimer’s Information for Care Givers From Raleigh, North Carolina

As Alzheimer’s, a progressive disease, worsens, it robs the ability to have conscious awareness. What does that mean for caregivers?
In early/mid stages of Alzheimer’s:
Most people are aware of initial cognitive changes in themselves (whether they say anything about it or not).
Self awareness doesn’t disappear overnight. Research has shown that many people are relieved by a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, rather than upset, because they finally have a logical explanation for something unnerving that’s dogged at them.
What helps: Taking action. Take expressed concerns about memory loss or other mental-functioning changes seriously. Recommend an evaluation, given that early interventions can help slow Alzheimer’s progress. With someone already diagnosed, press the importance of making decisions regarding the future handling of health and legal affairs while the person is still able to express preferences.
The sense of self struggles to understand the changes, at first.
Some people try to explain it away: “I guess I’m getting old” or, “I never did have a good memory for detail.” Some people willfully ignore changes, to the point where they don’t seem bothered by them at all. Others actively and pragmatically work around failures of memory or cognition: They write notes, cede tasks that are too difficult, work crosswords or buy computer games to stimulate their brains.
What helps: Empathy and understanding. Don’t pooh-pooh such observations. Look for ways to support the person’s shortcomings: More clocks, a notebook in every room for keeping track of things, multiple pairs of sunglasses or tissue packs, or whatever seems to get misplaced often.
Awareness of the dementia effects can come and go.
Like my dad, one day, the person may seem quite out of it, but the next be more engaged and “like his old self.” Sometimes he used to catch himself, as if he realized this was the fifth retelling of an anecdote (though then he’d tell it anyway!).
What helps: Knowing these fluctuations are normal. Just because the person had clarity one moment, doesn’t mean it will persist. Although the disease is progressive, it brings good days and bad days, a graph that would look more bumpy than slanted down a bit more each day.
In later stages of Alzheimer’s:
The person is often or always oblivious to their condition.
The excuses or justifications fade away as self awareness fades. This can be a dangerous thing (as in the person who continues driving) or a blessing.
What helps: Trust your gut. If the person seems content and uncomplaining, he or she may indeed be content, living in the moment. If the person is oblivious to the dementia but a threat to himself or others, you can’t wait for clarity to kick in; you have to take action.
Emotional responses flatten or become misplaced – but remain.
There is amazing strength and importance of emotions in those who suffer with Alzheimer’s, even for people deep into the disease process. You don’t have to be aware of your limitations to be depressed or frustrated by them.
What helps: Physical contact. Touch is a messenger of reassurance and love. Offer a hug. Touch the person on the back or knee before you speak to avoid alarming them. Advanced Alzheimer’s patients often find it soothing to stroke a tactile stuffed animal or hold a blanket.
Social skills and inhibitions fade as the social self unravels.
As a growing child learns what’s socially appropriate, he shows fewer problem behaviors, like stripping off clothes on a whim or saying whatever pops into one’s head. For someone who has Alzheimer’s or, in particular, frontotemporal dementia, the opposite occurs. The social self unravels. A sense of what’s appropriate or other sensibilities one once believed disappear, causing the person to say or do things that distress (hypersexual behavior, accusations of stealing, etc).
What helps: An ongoing social life. Even when it gets trying because of social inappropriateness, maintaining a social life (visits with relatives, conversation, the companionship of a pet) is important. Many researchers believe social connections help slow the disease process. It’s not a cure, obviously, but like hugs and understanding, it never hurts.
adapted from  Paula Spencer at caring.com

As Alzheimer’s, a progressive disease, worsens, it robs the ability to have conscious awareness. What does that mean for caregivers?

In early/mid stages of Alzheimer’s:

Most people are aware of initial cognitive changes in themselves (whether they say anything about it or not).
Self awareness doesn’t disappear overnight. Research has shown that many people are relieved by a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, rather than upset, because they finally have a logical explanation for something unnerving that’s dogged at them.
What helps: Taking action. Take expressed concerns about memory loss or other mental-functioning changes seriously. Recommend an evaluation, given that early interventions can help slow Alzheimer’s progress. With someone already diagnosed, press the importance of making decisions regarding the future handling of health and legal affairs while the person is still able to express preferences.

The sense of self struggles to understand the changes, at first.
Some people try to explain it away: “I guess I’m getting old” or, “I never did have a good memory for detail.” Some people willfully ignore changes, to the point where they don’t seem bothered by them at all. Others actively and pragmatically work around failures of memory or cognition: They write notes, cede tasks that are too difficult, work crosswords or buy computer games to stimulate their brains.
What helps: Empathy and understanding. Don’t pooh-pooh such observations. Look for ways to support the person’s shortcomings: More clocks, a notebook in every room for keeping track of things, multiple pairs of sunglasses or tissue packs, or whatever seems to get misplaced often.

Awareness of the dementia effects can come and go.
One day the person may seem quite out of it, but the next be more engaged and “like his old self.”
What helps: Knowing these fluctuations are normal. Just because the person had clarity one moment, doesn’t mean it will persist. Although the disease is progressive, it brings good days and bad days, a graph that would look more bumpy than slanted down a bit more each day.
In later stages of Alzheimer’s:

The person is often or always oblivious to their condition.
The excuses or justifications fade away as self awareness fades. This can be a dangerous thing (as in the person who continues driving) or a blessing.
What helps: Trust your gut. If the person seems content and uncomplaining, he or she may indeed be content, living in the moment. If the person is oblivious to the dementia but a threat to himself or others, you can’t wait for clarity to kick in; you have to take action.
Emotional responses flatten or become misplaced – but remain.
There is amazing strength and importance of emotions in those who suffer with Alzheimer’s, even for people deep into the disease process. You don’t have to be aware of your limitations to be depressed or frustrated by them.
What helps: Physical contact. Touch is a messenger of reassurance and love. Offer a hug. Touch the person on the back or knee before you speak to avoid alarming them. Advanced Alzheimer’s patients often find it soothing to stroke a tactile stuffed animal or hold a blanket.
Social skills and inhibitions fade as the social self unravels.
As a growing child learns what’s socially appropriate, he shows fewer problem behaviors, like stripping off clothes on a whim or saying whatever pops into one’s head. For someone who has Alzheimer’s or, in particular, frontotemporal dementia, the opposite occurs. The social self unravels. A sense of what’s appropriate or other sensibilities one once believed disappear, causing the person to say or do things that distress (hypersexual behavior, accusations of stealing, etc).
What helps: An ongoing social life. Even when it gets trying because of social inappropriateness, maintaining a social life (visits with relatives, conversation, the companionship of a pet) is important. Many researchers believe social connections help slow the disease process. It’s not a cure, obviously, but like hugs and understanding, it never hurts.
Contact Lauren Watral, Raleigh Geriatric Care Management, lwatral@rgcmgmt.com or 919-803-8025 for information about clinical trial studies for patients with Alzheimer’s Disease in the Raleigh/Durham area.  Join the fight against Alzheimer’s!

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Filed under Alzheimer's Disease, care giving, dementia, elder care raleigh nc, Geriatric Care Management, NC, Raleigh