At What Point Do Dementia Patients Need 24 Hour Care
When living at home is no longer an option There may come a time when the person living with Alzheimers disease or dementia will need more care than can be provided at home. During the middle stages of Alzheimers, it becomes necessary to provide 24-hour supervision to keep the person with dementia safe.
Widowhood May Raise Dementia Risk
22 March 2011
SAN ANTONIO, Texas Being widowed and never remarrying may raise the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study of genealogical data.
The research, presented Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, found that widowhood nearly doubled the risk of dementia in Utah citizens born between 1895 and 1930. The risk of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, was 2.17 times higher in people who had been widowed and never remarried.
The results are preliminary and many questions remain about how other life stressors play a role in dementia, study researcher Maria Norton, a professor of family, consumer and health development at Utah State University, told LiveScience. But research on animals suggests that accumulated stress over the lifetime may speed cell death in the hippocampus, one of the brain’s memory centers. That might make the brain more vulnerable to the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, Norton said.
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 5.4 million Americans currently have Alzheimer’s disease, which is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. The disease is marked by memory loss, disorientation and behavior changes. No one knows why Alzheimer’s develops, but abnormal protein deposits called plaques and tangles seem to play a role in killing brain cells.
For the surviving spouse, “this was something that wasn’t a conscious choice,” Norton said.
Can A Person With Dementia Lash Out At Their Spouse
People with dementia often take on new personalities and may lash out at their spouses and caregivers. Not taking these behaviors personally is difficult, but necessary. Understanding the cause of the aggressive behavior may help you to not become offended by your spouse, and help them in the process.
In addition, a conservatorship for someone with dementia may allow a person to control the finances of an incapacitated person and make sure that they do not squander his/her savings in a scam. Often, the same person applying for court conservatorship acts as both conservator of a person and their finances.
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Alzheimer’s Onset Linked To Signs Of Stress Grief And Sorrow
Hypertension, diabetes, advanced age or a mentally and physically inactive lifestyle are known to increase an individuals risk of developing Alzheimers disease, the most prevalent form of dementia in the world. Now, researchers in Argentina say that stress may possibly trigger the disease.
The study, conducted by Dr Edgardo Reich, was presented at the 22nd Meeting of the European Neurological Society in Prague.
4.7 million people in Europe were suffering from Alzheimers in the year 2000 and this figure is expected to increase to 8 million by the year 2030 and to 12 million by the year 2050.
Dr Reich explained:
It is true, of course, that more people are affected because more people reach old age. But you do not necessarily get Alzheimers because youre over 80. Clearly, its appearance and course are not only dependent on biological determinants. Environmental factors such as stress may play a role.
In order to determine whether the onset of Alzheimers disease is associated with stressful life events, Dr. Reich and his team examined 107 patients who had been diagnosed as possibly having Alzheimers disease in a mild to moderate stage. The average age of study participants was 72 years old.
The team compared the Alzheimers patients to a control group of healthy individuals. The researchers asked participants in both groups whether they experienced particular stresses and strains in the three years before they were diagnosed.
Dr Reich said:
The researchers found:
Spouse’s Illness Can Be Deadly To You
Caretakers of Ill Spouses Have Greater Risk of Death
A groundbreaking new study shows that caring for a sick spouse can raise the caretaker’s risk of death. For some particularly disabling illnesses — dementia, in particular — the toll on the caretaker is worse than the toll of a spouse’s death.
It’s been known for more than 150 years that the death of a spouse ups the surviving partner’s risk of death. Now it’s shown that illness, too, can break your heart.
“We showed you can die of a broken heart not just when your partner dies, but when your partner falls ill,” researcher Nicholas Christakis, MD, PhD, said in a news conference. “We showed it is not just death that can give you a broken heart, but illness — even when the spouses don’t die.”
Christakis, professor health care policy at Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues report the findings in the Feb. 16 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.
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How To Help A Grieving Person
The most important way to help a grieving person is to be present. You can show your support by simply being there and letting the person know that you want to be there.
Listen with compassion. Make your time together about the grieving person and not about you. Let him talk about his loss and the person who died as many times as he wishes.
There are practical things you can do too. Help with laundry or “cleaning up,” go grocery shopping, look after pets, or suggest going for a walk together.
Holidays and birthdays will be difficult so make a note and offer your friendship on those days with a note, card or visit.
Lonely And Disappointed But Still Bound
Ian Tait, who lives in China Grove, NC, has spent more than three years caring for his wife, Cynthia, 62, who was diagnosed with frontal lobe dementia, and who has experienced delusionary thinking. Tait, 55, recounts her saying nonsensical things like, Little girls come into the house, and the man behind us had pooped in her pants. She can no longer distinguish between such musings and reality, her husband believes.
As a result, Tait now speaks of his spouse and their marriage in the past tenseyet shes still alive, and they still share a home. Married for 21 years, he offers the following frank admission: Shes no longer the vibrant woman I married… I love her, but most days I dont like her. This is not the person I would have chosen to spend my golden years with.
He says he eventually found a sense of community through Facebook groups, specifically the Alzheimers and Dementia Caregivers Support group, which has 53,000 members, where he can post his query and get immediate responses from strangers who are walking the same walk. Its incredibly isolating, Tait says of the caregiving experience, but when you mention a problem and those in the support group say, this happens all the time, it provides a sense of community. It prepares you for it.
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Can Dementia Get Worse Suddenly
Dementia is a progressive condition, meaning that it gets worse over time. The speed of deterioration differs between individuals. Age, general health and the underlying disease causing brain damage will all affect the pattern of progression. However, for some people the decline can be sudden and rapid.
What Foods Are Bad For Dementia
New research finds that its not only what you eat, but also how you combine certain foods that can increase your risk of developing Alzheimers and other forms of dementia in later life. The foods most strongly associated with this risk were sugary snacks, alcohol, processed meats, and starches like potatoes.
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What Is A Dementia Caregiver Support Group
A caregiver support group offers education, guidance and emotional support in a safe, non-judgmental space. HopeHealth offers Alzheimers educational support groups and a general caregiver support group in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
You can attend while caring for someone with any stage of dementia. Some group guests are at the beginning of their journey, while others have been at it for a while.
In a support group youll find other dementia caregivers who understand the basic outline of your daily challenges. Finding people who get it is a pretty big deal.
Support group is a place to share joys and fears and to laugh and crybut only if you want to. Just listen if thats your preference.
Knowledge is power for any caregiver. The more that you understand the illness, the better you can face reality and solve problems.
For example, say your loved one routinely gets tired and agitated in the afternoon, which is a phenomenon called sundowning. Sure, you could read a pamphlet or seek advice online, but do you have time for that? Do you even want to?
More helpful might be a real-life conversation about what did and did not work for others.
Another example: A retired nurse in support group shared a problem she couldnt figure out. Over and over her husband would ask where his mother was, and shed answer, Oh, honey, your mother has been dead for forty years. He would cry, and theyd both get upset.
Interested in caregiver support groups? Contact us at 671-HOPE or .
Memory Loss Complicates The Grieving Process
Another difficult decision arises when the surviving spouse cannot retain the news. Grief is natural and normal following the loss of a loved one, but dementia complicates this process. Whether you continue to remind a dementia patient that their significant other has passed away is entirely up to you.
Different approaches work better for different people, depending on their cognitive abilities. For a parent who is in the beginning stages of the disease, it will likely sink in that their spouse is gone. Moderate impairment is more of a gray area. Perhaps reminding them for a few weeks afterward is a good place to start. If the person reacts intensely to this news each time and it affects their mood, behavior and health over the long term, then it may be wise to reconsider this approach after a certain trial period. Remember, you cant make a dementia patient remember something no matter how hard you try.
In the end, you know your loved one best and the choice is yours. I encourage caregivers to tell their family members the truth as much as possible. But if the loss of a spouse affects a dementia patients health and quality of life and hinders your ability to care for them, there should be no shame in trying everything you can to minimize their pain.
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Related Help And Advice
This year World Alzheimers Day falls on Saturday, 21 September 2019. An international campaign, the day exists to raise awareness and highlight the issues people across the world affected by the disease face.
Current figures place over 850,000 people living with the disease in the UK but that figure is expected to rise to over 1-million by 2025. As more people face the disease, there is an inevitable increased impact on relationships, particularly couples and marriages.
We asked Rachel Roberts, Managing Partner, at the Stowe Family Law office in Leeds, who has experience of working on divorce cases where Alzheimers has been a factor, to explain some of the things you need to consider.
Alzheimers and divorce
Whilst we vow to stay together through sickness and health living with someone with Alzheimers and the behaviour that this can sometimes result in, is extremely difficult and can be heart-breaking to deal with.
The clients that I have advised who are spousal carers are often in a state of absolute despair. Torn between extreme guilt of wanting to walk away and the many difficulties that they face if they stay, they are often feel trapped and must deal with loneliness, mood swings and sometimes aggressive behaviour. It is heart-breaking to see a disease destroy a marriage and a couple.
Divorce or a judicial separation
Capacity to make decisions
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What Do Elderly People Think About Life And Death
As we get older, death seems to be nearer than when we are younger. In as much as anyone can die regardless of age, for an older person, it seems like it is more likely to happen, especially when dealing with different health conditions that the body does not handle as it used to in the younger years.
For older persons, death does not always spell sorrow and terror, as is the case with younger people. Many of the older people are contented with what the short-term future has for them. You may think that people may get anxious as they become older, but this is not the case. Older people do not have much sadness and anxiety, especially related to death. They are actually more positive about life and death.
As we grow older, our perspective shifts. This is when you realize that things are not as they always seem. Most people fear death because they feel that they will lose the things that they have been working so hard to get over the years. However, for older people, this attachment to things acquired is not really pronounced. This is how some of the fear of death actually melts away.
When you look around you and you realize that there are things that are a part of you that will outlive you actually help in a major way. This could be the legacy we have in children or gardens planted. There are yet others who place value on their country, their religion, or families that live on even after they are gone.
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How Losing A Spouse Affects Your Health
The death of a spouse can certainly bring on sadness and loneliness, but recent studies show losing a partner can also have a serious impact on your physical health. Grief comes in a variety of forms ranging from normal grief to complicated grief. Normal bereavement typically takes 6 months to 2 years to process and may not need formal treatment. Complicated grief can last much longer, includes three distinct phases, and usually requires group and individual therapy to work through.
While both forms can take a toll on your health, there are several practices that can help you or your friends and family work through the grieving process in a healthy way. Lets start by looking at how losing a spouse can create health challenges.
Should You Tell A Person With Dementia That Their Spouse Has Died
Upon his passing, I remember thinking, Dad died, Mom has dementia. How in the world are we supposed to handle this? Obviously, she had to know. It was only fair, and there was no avoiding it. I cleaned out his side of their room the following day, and Mom got a new roommate. Yet, every day she had to be told that Dad had died. In her mind, he was back in his private room down the hall where he had lived for so many years.
It was excruciating to have to tell her on a daily basis that her husband was dead. She experienced the same degree of shock and heartbreak over and over again. Eventually, though, she began asking me, Is he really gone? I would confirm the news and she would just shake her head and say, I cant believe it. She passed away five months after Dad.
I believe a surviving spouse should be informed of the death at least once no matter what. Every person, with or without dementia, should have the opportunity to mourn the loss of their significant other. In some cases, the news will sink in over time, whether you realize it or not, and it can have a surprising effect.
For example, there was a man with late-stage Alzheimers disease who lived in my parents nursing home. His devoted wife visited daily until she died from cancer. The man attended his wifes funeral, but he seemed, as always, totally unaffected by anything around him. Shortly after, for no particular reason, he died peacefully in his sleep.
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Can Dementia Be Prevented
The number of people suffering from dementia diseases is rising, but that is most likely because the overall number of aging people is increasing. Even though dementia is not an inevitable consequence of aging, the increase of its probability plays into the laws of large numbers. There are reports of certain modifiable lifestyle choices that can increase the chance of not developing dementia disease.
In particular, diet seems to influence oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain. A Mediterranean diet appears to have a positive effect on brain health in general. Exercising and maintaining positive social relationships also helps maintain balanced brain health. Combining these three aspects is most effective for brain health. Diet, exercise, and positive social relationships may reduce the risk of a dementia diagnosis. These modifiable habits are proactive to keep the brain from neurodegeneration rather than reactive to a diagnosis.
How to Prepare for the Future
The World Health Organization identifies the principal goals for dementia care as: early diagnosis in order to promote early and optimal management, optimizing physical health, cognition, activity and well-being, identifying and treating accompanying physical illness, detecting and treating challenging behavioral and psychological symptoms, and providing information and long-term support to careers.
Can You Divorce Someone Who Has Lost Capacity
Yes. In situations where the spouse who has lost capacity receives divorce papers, the Court would appoint a Curator ad Litem on behalf of the Defender. A Curator ad Litem is an independent solicitor. Their role is to protect the interests of the Defender who is suffering from some form of mental disorder. If consent is required from the Defender to a divorce, the Court will order intimation of the action to the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland and request a report indicating whether in the Commissions opinion the Defender is capable of deciding whether or not to give consent to divorce.
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