Saturday, October 3, 2009

Encore: Keyword Glossary For Alzheimer's/Dementia Services

Some readers have asked me to republish some of my more popular older posts. This article, first published in July, 2008, is about the best way for caregivers of parents and spouses to use Google and other internet search engines to find quality services for their elderly loved ones with dementia.

No matter which dementia is involved (Alzheimer’s disease, senile dementia, pick’s disease, lewy body dementia, frontal temporal lobe dementia, vascular dementia, Parkinson's disease—to name just a few of the dozens of dementias that we know about), the keywords used in the research will make all the difference.

Of course. a “keyword” is a word or phrase that is entered into the search box of Google, Yahoo, Ask, and other search engine sites to prompt them to report links to relevant websites. The following paragraphs use popular keywords (IN CAPS) that usually generate multiple links to comprehensive sources of major information for Alzheimer’s Disease caregivers and related dementia sufferers.

CARE ASSESSMENT—This phrase will be helpful to caregivers who seek professional guidance about how best to meet their loved ones’ care needs.

ASSISTED LIVING—You are a caregiver to an elderly parent or spouse and you know your loved one can no longer live independently. But how to choose a proper structured and safe assisted living home for him or her? Pundits have said that “if you’ve seen one assisted living home, you’ve seen one assisted living home.” In other words, while there are some common elements among them, they are all different. There’s the medical model, the social work model, the luxury model, the economy model, the nursing model, the NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community), and many variations on these themes. This keyword (i.e. Assisted Living) will get you started on your important search for the right program for your loved one.

CAREGIVER BURNOUT: This phrase describes a common feeling of helplessness and frustration among caregivers dealing with endless demands upon their time, energy, emotions, finances and patience.

CAREGIVER SUPPORT GROUPS: Many caregivers cope with the loneliness and isolation of their situations by joining real or virtual support groups. The internet can help them find an appropriate group.

ELDERCARE: This keyword will help the researcher to identify a variety of resources available to assist with the caregiving of aging parents or spouses with dementia.

SKILLED NURSING—or skilled nursing homes—or skilled nursing care are all keyword phrases that will lead elderly parent caregivers or spouse caregivers to information about how best to access this level of care for the dementia sufferer.

NURSING HOME RATINGS—When that dreaded moment arrives that nursing home placement for a loved one is imminent, this keyword phrase will lead you to sites that provide information to help you choose the best environment for your elderly loved one. Links to several nursing home rating sites are listed on my website:

MEDICAID NURSING HOMES—Medicaid is the national program for financing health care to the poor. The cost of elderly care is so high that many patients run through their savings and are nearly destitute by the time nursing home care is needed. Elderly patients needing skilled nursing care who cannot afford a private nursing home may qualify for Medicaid. While not all nursing homes accept patients on Medicaid, many do. Guidance for families in this situation can be found on the internet by using this keyword phrase.

MEDICARE NURSING HOMES—Medicare is part of our Social Security system and provides financing for medical services to most citizens over the age of 65 regardless of their ability to pay. However, not all nursing homes accept payment from Medicare because that government program is quite limited with respect to long term care benefits. These homes fear that when Medicare benefits run out, they’ll have to continue to provide care without receiving compensation for services rendered. Nevertheless, many nursing homes are open to admitting Medicare patients for at least the short term—and some will permit such patients to remain if they become Medicaid eligible. It’s important to obtain this information up front as you go about researching nursing homes for your loved one.

HOSPICE CARE—Most folks are now familiar with this wonderful care concept for dying patients and their families. It was pioneered in England in the 1960’s, promoted by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s work on death and dying, and is now widely available throughout the United States. Medicare currently pays for most elderly patients requiring hospice care.

BILL PAYING SERVICES—Sloppy bill paying behavior is one of the first things caregivers notice when they see decline in their elderly parents or significant others. This often leads to a search for a commercial bill paying service. Many banks offer this service too. While not exclusively for dementia patients, these services can make it much easier to assist a loved one with dementia to pay his or her bills and eventually, if necessary, to take it over completely.

Do you know of other important keywords? If so, let me know at

Bob Tell
Author "Dementia Diary, A Caregivers Journal"

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Encore: Could it be the Dementia?

I've been asked to republish some of my more popular older posts by many of my readers. Here is one called "Could it be the Dementia?" first published in July, 2008.

So...could Mom's behavior be caused by her dementia. I couldn’t tell. I was too close to it. I got mad every time she lashed out at me…or else I felt embarrassed whenever her target was someone else (usually in public places)—or when she over-ate without remembering that she had just eaten—or when she asked the same question over and over and over—or she was physically aggressive—or (you can fill in the blanks with other things that make you crazy).

Every time Mom did something socially unacceptable (I won’t catalogue these things—you know what they are), my anger raged. Afterwards, of course, I felt guilty for getting angry. Well, I didn’t have to feel this way…and neither do you.

Here’s what the social worker told me:


“Cool it buddy!” she said. “It’s not about you. It’s about her. It’s a disease process—an illness.” So recognize the wisdom of the social worker’s advice.

Learn to ignore the bizarre behaviors of your loved one and to accept them as “normal” symptoms of dementia disease (and to not take them personally even when they seem to be personal). You’ll be a much happier person and a much better caregiver.

Remember: Your Mom can’t control her dementia symptoms any more than if it were pneumonia, or heart disease, or cancer. Things are happening in her brain that make her do the things that upset you.

Bob Tell,
Author "Dementia Diary, A Caregivers Journal"