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Careblazer Q & A

Uncategorized Jun 09, 2019

Welcome back Careblazer! Today I want to answer some of your questions. I receive a lot of questions from Careblazers and unfortunately I can’t answer them all through email or comment responses. Most of your questions deserve more than a few sentence response so that’s what today is all about - Careblazer Questions.

If you have any questions, all you have to do is leave them below any post. I go through them all and you might just see your question answered in a future post.

If you would rather watch my video on this topic, click here

This post is sponsored by my Care Club- It’s a private course dedicated to improving dementia caregiver stress & improving your interactions with your love done with dementia. It’s a way to start living a life you feel good about again. I believe strongly that it is possible to value yourself and do a wonderful job at caring for your loved one with dementia. If you want to be alerted to the next time this course is available, be sure to sign up for the next care class announcement.

Okay let’s get to your questions.

 

Where do you go to get a neuropsych testing completed so we know what stage or what type of dementia my mom has at the current time? - Tom

If you are interested in getting neuropsych testing, then talk to your loved one’s doctor and express interest. The doc should be able to make a referral especially if they are used to working with older adults with cognitive decline. You can also do a search for neuropsychologists or geropsychologists in your area through google to see what options come up. Just be sure to know what insurance benefits you have as sometimes testing can be quite expensive and in some cases-especially cases where the dementia has progressed to far, it may be impossible to determine the specific type of dementia because the impairments are so great. If you haven’t seen my video on how dementia is diagnosed, I talk in more detail about how testing is done and when it’s most valuable- which is typically in the earlier stages. As far as the stage of dementia, there are tools out there where you can determine pretty closely what stage of dementia your loved one is is without actually needing any comprehensive testing. I did a video on the 2 different staging models of dementia and if you watch that, Tom you may be able to determine what stage of dementia your loved one is in without needing any extra testing.

 

Can you tell me how we can keep my dad from wanting to do his finances regarding his checkbook.  He makes a lot of mistakes and that is his last piece of independence. - Kitty

I love this question. This captures so many common struggles for both the Careblazer and the person with dementia and it shows just how much you want to keep your dad as independent as possible.

As you know from my previous videos, it’s very important for people with dementia to feel like they still have some control, that they still have something to offer, and it’s very important that when you offer help and start to take over the things they are no longer able to do that you do it in a way that doesn’t highlight the fact that they can’t do those things. This is obviously easier said than done, but it’s worth the extra time to think of how to approach these situations because if you don’t what many Careblazers find is that they are constantly in a battle with their loved one, fighting with their loved one. Their loved one saying they can do things and the Careblazer saying they can’t and it’s an awful situation.

AND as in most situations, there is no one right way to handle it. But some ideas that have worked for other Careblazers and can help get your creative juices going include things like:

     -Doing the finances with him- including him in the process so that he can do as much as he can but you are providing oversight. Be careful you aren’t doing it with an air of supervision as that can upset him, but just a task you are tackling together.

     -You can set as much as possible up through auto debit so there is very little that has to be done in terms of hands on financial management. You can let him know that the companies have switched everything to electronic. This takes care of the finance part, but you want to try to come up with other ways he can be helpful and useful. Giving him some type of chore or task to do in the home.

     -Asking for his help with something is a wonderful way to get your dad to feel independent, that he has ability to do things and can help replace the loss of yet another task being taken away. So whether or not you actually need the help, you may want to think of something that he can do around the home that doesn’t pose a safety risk and that you aren’t relying on the results. That way no matter how he does it, the outcome doesn’t affect you. The point is that he is contributing and doing something.

     -When it comes to independence of finances, I’ve seen some horror stories. At the risk of wanting to keep their loved one as independent as possible, I’ve worked with people who have lost their entire life savings. I don’t want you to be one of those horror stories. So step in, think of a way to provide the help or oversight without highlighting that he’s making a lot of mistakes and find something else for him to do/contribute around the house. Also, it’s possible that your dad might be relieved to have the finances taken away from him. It’s possible it can be a smooth transition and there isn’t any big deal made of it at all. I certainly hope that’s the case for you, Kitty.



I have my own anxiety and panic to deal with, too.  How to stay calm when my own anxiety gets provoked by her agitation. - Josie

Being a dementia caregiver comes with a lot of stress and side effects. It’s not unusual for some caregivers to feel like they are worse off than their LOWD simply because of the toll that caregiving takes.

In my Care Club course I talk a lot about the impact of thoughts on mood. Situations don’t cause anxiety or any other emotion for that matter. This usually surprises a lot of people. Many Careblazers will say my loved one triggers my anxiety or triggers my anger or triggers my depression. But what I want you to know is that it’s actually your thoughts about the situation that are leading to your anxiety.

Pay attention to your thoughts-something that many people do not do. Usually, we experience a strong emotion like anxiety and then automatically assume it’s because of the situation we are in. But in reality you are having a really quick, automatic thought, like a reflex that’s happening.  Not every single person reacts the same way to the same situation. And the reason for this is the thoughts that are occurring.

I did a video explaining this in detail if you would like more information, but first is just to monitor your thoughts. Observe what’s going through you mind. From there, you can start to change the thoughts you are having.

Also, and I can’t emphasize this enough, make sure you are doing things to care for yourself. Caring for someone with dementia is going to come with a lot of challenges. If you don’t put yourself at the top of your priority list then your own anxiety and mood and health will probably continue to decline. There are a lot of myths and twisted thoughts about self-care and in my course I talk a lot about how to work through those unhelpful blocks that stop you from feeling as good as you possibly can despite the fact that your loved one is doing things that are unpleasant.

 

My mom is 91 and is terrified of going to the doctor. At this age is it really necessary to make them do this kind of testing? -Rosa

One way to think about testing or any procedure and appointment is to ask yourself, if I go through with this appointment, if I go through with this testing, will anything change about what I’m going to do? Will it change how I will approach the situation? Will I do anything or follow through with any further medical recommendations based on the results? If the answer is no to those questions, many Careblazers don’t see the point in follow through. For many Careblazers, there comes a time when certain tests and procedures don’t seem worth it and that is completely okay. That is your choice to make. I think quality of life is very important and more thought should be given to quality of life and truly questioning whether another trip to doctor for more tests is worth it.

 

Hello Natali, Beautiful work you do. Helping people. Would you please do me a favor? Tell me if you know, the meaning in Spanish of your term “Careblazers”. I don´t find it in dictionaries. -Luisa

There are a lot of people who write to me and English is their second language. I loved this question and while Careblazer is not in the dictionary I hope one day it is. A Careblazer is a word I made up on my own one day while hiking a trail with my husband. I had been thinking of possibly doing something online to help get trustworthy and easy to understand information out to as many dementia caregivers as possible and I passed a sign that said no trailblazing. And I thought, well when it comes to dementia care, maybe there should be some trailblazing. The idea of being a dementia caregiver or a caregiver in general seemed so filled with negativity, with hopelessness, with confusion. And I wanted to change that overall feeling. So the official definition of a Careblazer- a word I totally made up, is a dementia care hero. It’s a made up word with a made up definition that I believe in 100% and all of you Careblazers prove this to me over and over with all that you do for your loved ones. The Careblazers in my course and those who reach out to me who are starting to get some of their life back, starting to do things they enjoy, starting to control what they cannot get so worked up about are showing me more and more that being a dementia caregiver doesn’t mean your entire life has to be on hold.

So thank you for your question Luisa.


Alright Careblazer, I’ll stop there for now. I’ll try to do more Q & A segments in the future answering your questions. If you have any you’d like me to answer, just leave it in a comment below this video.

 

See you next week, bye.

 

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