What is the difference in caring for elders with Alzheimer's or other similar forms of dementia. or even people affected by other types of illness or disability, These illnesses are complex and may take different paths in different cases. A recent research reiterates what many care givers know, caregiving in these situations is a very stressful. The report is available on the Carer's Trust website. The progression of the disease is unpredictable. Caregivers may need to understand the issues and need support at various levels. Counseling, medical advice, social support and sometimes even legal and financial advice are important. .Caregivers are at a greater risk for depression. Family members and medical professionals need to understand this and extend their support.
I was reading an interview with Ms. Jennifer Block, 49, a Buddhist chaplain who is is helping develop a new, Zen-inspired senior living community in Florida. She says, “Caregiving can be really gratifying. It’s an expression of our values and identity: the way we want the world to be. So, I try to teach people how this role benefits them. Such as learning what it’s like to be old. Or having a close, intimate relationship with an older parent for the first time in decades. It isn’t necessarily pleasant or easy.” Those who are facing such situations may read the article here.
Caregiving can also bring a lot of stress. Caregivers need to understand this and plan for it. They need to understand that they may need to structure their time, and sometimes lives around the caregiving tasks. I sometimes feel that it is like the time and energy which necessarily needs to be put aside for children, where their activities need the involvement and time of a parent. However there are many salient differences which I will devote an entire article to later.
The point is that caregiving should not be taken lightly by those who are primary caregiver, they need to plan and manage the lives of their charges and their own! The latter sometimes soes not happen and the resultant stress affects the tasks. Others in the family should also understand the enormity of the issue and provide support, not just helping out where possible, but providing emotional support too. Help in care taking, help that would make the caregiver’s day easier, or just acknowledgement that a great job is being done!
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Our society is ageing, the numbers are out! And they have been noted by our business media as this image from the Economic Times shows.
The demography of aging societies, the changes brought about by the increase in life expectancy and the decrease in the number of children being born is something that we need to understand. This will help us to plan for the need it will create, at the personal, community, and national level. The biggest structural component of a population is age and that is changing. The effect is already seen in other countries, we should learn early and well from them.
As you reach 65 years of age there may be a 10% chance of developing dementia during your remaining lifetime. If it is possible to diagnose dementia in the early stages when patients may still have the capacity to understand the disease and to make important decisions about their future care, plan for eventualities and manage interventions.
The knowledge that one may lose their normal 'selves' and become dependent also brings painful emotions and even depression or anger. Diagnosis may lead to denial of the problem or even relief at having identified the reason for symptoms.
Sometimes families and individuals try to hide the fact as it may be perceived as embarrasing or there may be some stigma attached to it. However it is better to be prepared. Legal, financial, domestic and family issues need to be resolved. An article from Johns Hopkins, Facing Dementia discusses some typical behaviours and reaction. Awareness is the first step to better management.
Daksha Bhat is interested in the management of ageing. As our society ages we need to create structures that will support the needs of the ageing population. We need to talk about the issues, understand them, and create the social environment that will lead to better services for the elderly. This website is a small attempt to be part of a bigger solution.