The dog days of summer can complicate caregiving. For my 90-year-old dad, whose progressing Alzheimer's disease makes him sensitive to extremes in temperature, the typical 110-degree Phoenix weather is too hot to go outside, but an overly air-conditioned room is too cold. The result for my father is low motivation, appetite and activity levels that aren't good for his health. Here are some of the creative ways I use to keep up with my dad's health care, socialization and exercise needs during the extreme heat of summer, even as Alzheimer's is changing his capabilities:
I recently had the great pleasure of returning to Indiana, the state of my birth, to speak at three local AARP Indiana Caregiver Connect forums in Ft. Wayne, Indianapolis and Merrillville. It was a bittersweet experience. My parents were with me on my last visit to Indiana, where they both were born and raised. But now travel would be very difficult for them, so most likely they won't return to Indiana until they are gone from this earth. As a Hoosier, it was so good to be "back home again" in Indiana ... but hard to be there without my parents.
I've been writing about the landmark gaming study by Dr. Jennifer Jacobs Henderson, associate professor and department chair, and Dr. Aaron Delwiche, associate professor, of the Department of Communication at Trinity University. Their study is based on over 32,000 users of Wizard101, an online multiplayer game that surprisingly has a large number of 50+ users. One of the biggest surprises to us at AARP are the findings that show gaming benefits for caregivers and those who have gone through a challenging life transition.
I returned home from an extended business trip last night and, as I feared, I'm not sure my beloved Dad remembered me. As Alzheimer's continues to slowly take over his brain, Daddy's ability to remember key people in his life has been fading. But there are two people he still knows without fail. I guess I should say two souls really, because one is his dog, Jackson. The other is the love of his life, Patricia - my Mom. Dad is devoted to Mom with all his heart and soul. And he has stayed by her side through many an illness and hospitalization.
I've worked on caregiving issues for AARP for five years now. I started as an erstwhile online producer for AARP.org wanting to bring great family content to the website. (Read: wanted to boost sex and pets content since they get the most clicks, right?)
Anyone who has or may someday have family in a nursing home, take note: A mandatory arbitration agreement is probably not in your loved one's best interest. Though such agreements are becoming increasingly common at nursing homes and assisted living facilities, there's good reason for family members of residents not to sign.
Living in a nursing home is not easy. When you are gay, it can be so much more complicated. Unless you're at a progressive long-term care facility, staff (and fellow residents) may act less than warm and fuzzy, the Nursing Home Reform Act notwithstanding.
Some call it the "bonus years," others call it a challenge. Either way, we're living longer lives (in 1900, the average life expectancy was about 47...now it's about 78) and more than ever we want to remain active, healthy and most importantly independent . And for most, that means one thing: AARP research indicates 9 out of 10 people want to stay in their own homes as they age. With retirement lasting as much as 20, 30 or even 40 years for some, how will we pull off this lofty goal?
With a shortage of caregivers, some researchers and healthcare professionals are turning in a new direction: Robots. A recent Wall Street Journal article discusses the value of Paro, a robot that looks like a baby seal. It's being tested on dementia and autism patients in long-term facilities, but could also be used at home. That is, if you have $6,000.
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