Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Miracles Can Happen for Your Aging Parent

More candles burn in churches in December than at any other time of year.  I haven't done a scientific survey.  It's simply my educated guess.  It seems like during these dark-filled days, everyone needs a miracle.  Our aging parents are no exception.

As our parents' lives flicker, the miracles they seek may seem impossible.  They hope to reconcile with a family member.  They dream of experiencing peace.  They long to heal from a traumatic past. 

Wonder of wonders, those miracles can--and do--happen.  Yet the storyline usually doesn't play out the way we'd plan it.  It's wrapped up in simplicity.  Good people, doing good things, partner with God in creating change.

In my work with Boomers in finding housing and care for their parents, I meet some wonderful people.  And yes, I witness healing and hope.

Janice came to me on behalf of her 96-year-old mother, Myrtle,  who needed to move to an adult family home. As Janice, her sister, and I met to discuss the qualities they wanted in the home,  one sentence kept being repeated.  "More than anything else, we want our mother to feel safe."

All during childhood, Myrtle had suffered abuse.  In adulthood, she married an abuser.  Even at the end of her life, after her spouse had died,  she continued to be plagued by anxiety and to experience nightmares. 

At the third adult family home we visited, Olga Muresan greeted us.  The owner and provider of services, Olga is the epitome of motherhood.  She exudes hospitality.  The elders in her care are clean, well nourished and content.  Janice and her sister chose the home, hoping their Mother would fit in.

Two days after Myrtle moved in, I came to deliver a move-in gift of chocolate, and she was all smiles. She was already starting to talk with her housemates and joke with Olga. She died unexpectedly 2 1/2 months later.  When I called Janice to express my condolences,  Janice said, "Olga tucked my mother in bed every night.  She sung her lullabies. I know my mother is at peace." 

"My mother told me many times, 'I finally feel safe.'"

A miracle?  I think so. What do you think?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Eldercare Question: Dementia or Depression? Alike, Yet Vastly Different

Dementia is one of the most misdiagnosed diseases.  So says Jerry Mixon, MD, and Founder of Longevity Medical Clinic in Seattle.  And Mixon is not alone in thinking so.

If your aging parent begins to forget things or have trouble concentrating, he or she may may not be suffering from dementia.  Instead,  depression might be the culprit.

It's easy to mistake Dementia and Depression.  They have the following symptoms in common: 

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Loss of interest
  • Poor concentration
  • Loss of appetite/weight
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Memory impairment
There are differences, though.  

Depression can cause:
  • Loss of energy
  • Feelings of guilt/regret
  • Thoughts of suicide
Dementia can cause:
  • Difficulty organizing or losing things
  • Language difficulty
  • Incontinence
If in doubt, take your aging parent to his or her physician.  A correct diagnosis is the first step toward treatment.  

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