In June 2010 I read a chilling New York Times Magazine article, What Broke My Father’s Heart, by Katy Butler, who described how her father’s heart outlived his brain because a pacemaker kept chugging along. It kept going despite that the rest of his body, due to dementia, was giving up and shutting down. Butler explained how her mother tried to get the pacemaker removed but physicians turned down her request again and again. Also included in the article were descriptions of her mother’s extreme health consequences after years in a caregiving role.
I posted the article under the “must read” section of this blog, where it remains, still timely after several years, and I’ve read it again and again. The reason that I keep re-reading it is that it feels like we all wish for a death without prolonged suffering, ICUs, and electronic shocks to our chests, but most of us do not get what we want.
One small section of the info graphics. Read the description of the survey and see more info graphics in the magazine or visit the More website.
Intrigued by the Next Avenue article, an NBC Today Show interview about the survey, and More magazine’s brief on-line description (the full results will not be posted on-line until late October), I purchased the magazine. The most interesting survey result is that 81 percent of the 751 participating men and women say that they expect to help their parents when the time for helping out arrives. Continue reading →
If you can locate a copy of The New Yorker May 20, 2013 articleThe Sense of An Ending by Rebecca Mead, it’s well worth reading because of its focus on new models of providing care to fragile elders with dementia illnesses in nursing homes. The article extensively describes the Beatitudes Campus in Arizona, but it also mentions The Green House Projectand the Pioneer Network. The Beatitudes model and The Green House Project share many approaches.
So I was excited during dinner with friends last month when one of the people at the table, a neurologist, mentioned The New Yorker article, saying how excited he was to learn about new models that completely change the way we deliver care to fragile elders, especially those with memory impairments. After he spoke at length about the article — which I had not read yet — I shared information and my blog posts about the new Woodland Park Green Houses in Harrisonburg, VA. Our physician friend seemed really eager to learn a lot more.
I”ve spent the past several years learning as much as I can about The Green House Project, primarily because my parents live at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC), where the Woodland Park community recently welcomed new residents. However, I’ve been so focused on this small Virginia project (but huge in spirit and dedication) that I’ve not thought much about how people can share information on the amazing changes that are taking place in long-term nursing care.
Certainly educating neurologists — the physicians all over the country who provide medical care to people with dementia and Alzheimer’s and who may, in the long run, be asked for their thoughts on the types of memory care that are available to families is a path to consider.
If you help to support an aging parent and also like listening to folk music with strong spiritual themes (also called Christian pop), take a few minutes to listen to singer Amy Grant talk about caregiving for her aging father, a retired physician, and how these experiences influence her music.
During the program, broadcast via AARP radio, Grant also speaks about her mother, who had dementia. Grant’s newest album, How Mercy Looks from Here, came out this past spring (2013), and the music is shaped, in part, by the time she has spent supporting her parents.
When a family member requires caregiving support, sometimes you just want a list where you can check off tasks or a summary document that outlines the full range of your responsibilities.
The Family Caregiver Alliance – National Center on Caregiving, a San Francisco organization that assists family members who need information on long-term care issues, offers materials that can help adult children and spouses understand as much as possible about the complex and confusing world of caregiving.
According to the organization’s press release and website, the fact and tip sheets aim to help families navigate through the personal, legal and financial decisions that adult children and spouses must make when they care for elders with Alzheimer’s disease, stroke or brain trauma. I’ve downloaded several of these resources documents and they are excellent and comprehensive.
Below is a three-paragraph excerpt from an April 12, 2013 report by Adam Moll, a compelling look at the aging prison population and the increasing amounts of geriatric medical care that must be provided to inmates.
Dementia is not a condition associated with incarceration, yet a demographic shift is challenging the very nature of prisons. In England and Wales, male offenders aged 50 or above are the fastest growing group in prison, rising by 74% in the past decade to close to 10,000, 11% of the total prison population. The over-60s population has increased eight-fold since 1990.
This transformation, primarily driven by decades of punitive sentencing policy from politicians falling over each other to appear “tough on crime”, is exacerbated by an accelerated ageing process experienced by many offenders, a combination of the health risks associated with criminal lifestyles and the psychological strains of prison life.
Most Interesting Quote
The United States, where legislation has been particularly draconian, is facing the genuine prospect of its prisons becoming the biggest single providers of geriatric care in the next thirty years.