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Friday July 25, 2008 - Issue #389

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From The Editor

Gary Barg - Editor-in-chief 

Lucy in The Sky

Late last night, as I was returning from a whirlwind two days at the annual N4A conference in Nashville, I found myself sitting next to a retired pharmacist who was returning from his niece’s funeral. After some brief pleasantries, such as marveling at the lung capacity of the children traveling with us, I slipped on my headset and replaced the rest of the airplane noise with music.

Just after the flight attendant called for all seats to be raised to their upright positions, I resumed my conversation with my row mate. He related that he had been worried about his sister Lucy’s mental acuity even before her daughter had taken ill. Lucy had always picked him up at the local airport when he would visit her; but in recent years, she had stopped because now she frequently lost her way in the city where she had lived for more than thirty years and would have to call for someone to pick her up. Her family (another daughter is a clinical psychologist) was concerned, but no one knew what steps to take.

I had just spent time with the Area Agency on Aging director for his sister’s city at the conference, and told him that his first step was to call the organization, as well as the local Alzheimer’s Association, to see what services are available for his sister and her family. Luckily, Lucy’s city is also home to a leading Alzheimer’s diagnostics center, and I told him to make sure she went for an appropriate neurological evaluation as soon as possible. This family was aware, able and interested in taking the steps to help Lucy; but even with all of the healthcare professionals in the family, they were still paralyzed about what steps to take and in what order to take them.

It occurred to me that taking these first tentative steps to determining if a loved one has a cognitive disorder is very much like creating a medical plan of action. Diagnose, assess and prescribe. First, the diagnosis was made (there was something amiss with mom); then the assessment of what steps to take (what are the available diagnostic options and community resources?); and, finally, the prescription (how do you help your loved one realize that an assessment is made not to create a loss of independence, but to be able to retain as much independence as possible? who will go with mom for the testing? and what are the family plans if the test results shows signs of a cognitive disorder?).

Most important of all is to put a timeline to these steps. This family (including Lucy) has been discussing the signs of her possible memory challenges for at least four years. Our conversation must have crystallized things for him as he said that he was going to spend next week putting a plan in place.

Now, that’s music to my ears.


Take care

Gary Barg

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Let's Talk About It - July 2008
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Caregiver Bookclub
 Take a look at the new books in our bookclub.

Feature Article

Rural Caregivers Living in Shadowland

By Kathleen Bogolea, MS

Since the adoption of the National Family Caregiver Support Program in late 2000, there have been numerous news articles and points of interests written about the ...Continued

Additional Articles:

Will Your Future Depend on Long Term Care?

By: Dorothy McMahon

Today, almost 80% of Americans are living beyond age 65. Forty percent of Americans age 65 or older will require Long Term Care before death. . ...Continued


Today's Caregiver
magazine has gone digital. 
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Caregiver Story
We All Need Someone We Can Lean On

By  Alexander Cathcart  

Try a little experiment. Tie your hands to your sides and have someone feed you your dinner. ...Continued

(Do you have a story? Tell us.)


Financial Power of Attorney:
Who Needs One?
By  Sandra Ray, Staff Writer

Many people feel nervous at the thought of a power of attorney. It can be intimidating to consider giving another person or agent the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf.....Continued


I Googled caregiver and found your website.  My sister's husband has been physically disabled for several years, although he is still mobile.  He also suffers from anxiety and depression.  Over the past five years, because of constant, debilitating pain and the subsequent use of strong pain medication, he has become increasingly withdrawn from his children and his wife.  Worse, his doctor took him off of antidepressants because of the pain meds.  He has become whiney, irritable, angry and manipulative.  Unfortunately, his physical and mental condition has recently worsened to an extreme degree.  It's almost as though he's 88 instead of 58.  He won't eat, drive or leave the house and he never has a nice word to say.  In the past he's taken care of the family finances.  As a result of his poor decisions, the family lives just above the poverty line.  My sister is 42, works full time, takes care of their two children, her husband and the house.  Because of his increasing confusion, she now has to take charge of their money and bill paying, which scares her to death.  And he's not making that easier, either. 
Bottom line: My sister is exhausted, drained, and desperate.  She feels isolated and has no one to turn to.  I want to be able to refer her to a supportive online community that can relate to her experience and will plug her in to resources that are unavailable to her in her town.  I have sent her a link to your website and the caregiver's bill of rights.  What else do you recommend?  Thanks for any help you can offer.


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Inside This Issue:

Lucy in The Sky
Rural Caregivers Living in Shadowland
Caregiver Story
Someone we Can Lean On


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