The Healthcare System Gets a Failing Grade When it Comes to Supporting Caregivers of those Living with Dementia

Photo by Yannis Papanastasopoulos on Unsplash

I helped coach a caregiver and his friend through what was a very stressful and horrible day. It ended well, but the experience leaves me angry and I thought I should share it, in the hopes that it will help someone else.

This is a true story of a father and son. Names and other identifying information has been changed to protect identity and confidentiality. I will call the father Mr. Smith, the son Donald, and the friend Krista.

Mr. Smith, 62 years old, was diagnosed with dementia about five years ago. He and his family learned about this diagnosis while he was a patient at the hospital. His son had told the hospital staff that he and his partner at the time couldn’t look after his dad at home any longer and there was no other family members who could look after him. The hospital told the son that if he didn’t take his dad home, he would be sent to a homeless shelter. This didn’t sit right with Donald, so he took his father home.

Fast forward five years later. Donald calls me to say his father has been needing increased care and supervision. He needs to be fed, showered, dressed, and on three occasions he has left the home without notice and was unable to safely return due to his declining cognition. He was unsafe to be left alone for long periods of time. More recently, Mr. Smith left the home and the police were called. Mr. Smith was found on a bus. He didn’t know where he was or where he was going. This was the last straw for Donald. He knew it was time to have his father placed into long-term care.

I advised Donald that he could call Home Care and get the ball rolling for either home care services (which they tried in the past but had failed) or an assessment for long term care, such as personal care home admission. Donald said that it was getting too difficult for him to manage and that he needed this dealt with, urgently. I then advised that he should take his dad to the hospital and tell the medical professionals that his dad is not safe and he can no longer safely and adequately care for his father at home. Donald is the only care provider and told me that any other family members who are aware of the situation agree with the hospitalization and potential admission to personal care home.

Donald and his friend Krista took Mr. Smith to the emergency department that had a shorter waiting time than the other hospitals. They arrived at 9:00 am with an anticipated three-hour wait. I had coached Donald on what to say when he and his dad arrived at triage. That seemed to go well.

What didn’t go well was the three-hour wait turned out to be much longer. Mr. Smith was starting to get agitated. He didn’t understand why he was there. Donald didn’t know what to do so he asked me if I thought he should leave his dad there. I advised against it, however, Donald was getting very stressed and I suggested he talk to the nurse to let them know how he was feeling and to find out how long the wait was going to be.

Donald asked the nurse what would happen if they left. There were four people waiting ahead of Mr. Smith. The nurse at the time said, “Just let us know if you leave.”

Donald and Krista decided to wait another hour. When the hour was up, Donald called me again. He said, “We want to leave dad here, but are worried about what will happen if he decides to leave the hospital.” I said that now that he is in the hospital, he should be safe. The nurse had told you to let them know you are leaving, so if you must, just advise them and then go.

When he told the nurse (a different nurse as there had been a change), they told Donald that he can’t just leave his dad there. Donald said, “Well, you have two security guards at the door, so why can’t you just watch him so that he doesn’t leave. We don’t want him to get hurt.” They then told Donald that if he left his dad there, it would be considered “elder abuse.” Krista immediately responded with, “Don’t go using that term. You don’t know what we have been through. We are here because we want Mr. Smith to be safe. We don’t want a burnt out son and a possible mental breakdown on our hands.” Donald then said, “I have no legal authority over my dad. I have no Power of Attorney, I don’t run his life for him. He is not well, he has dementia, and he needs more care than what I can provide for him. I can’t take him home.”

I told Donald that he in no way would be guilty of elder abuse and that that was an absolutely inappropriate and unprofessional accusation by the person who said that. I told him the hospital have a very vested interest (and responsibility) in keeping his dad safe. I said, “Could you imagine the front page news tomorrow if, heaven forbid, your dad was injured or worse yet, killed, after he left the hospital under their watch?” It would not be your fault, it would be theirs. You have done all you can do and you are done. You are to be commended for the care and concern of your dad until now. It will take a team of trained staff to look after him. You can’t do it anymore.”

Soon after this, they miraculously found Mr. Smith a bed. Donald walked with his dad and the nurse to the emergency room bed. The nurse asked why Donald was following, and he said he wanted to make sure his dad was settled before he left. The nurse told Donald that there were going to be a lot of people seeing his dad, such as social workers, and other professionals and that this may take a while. Donald was satisfied, told them to call with any questions, and with that, went home.

The fact that Donald was accused of “elder abuse” is absolutely unacceptable. This absurd, unfounded accusation towards a burnt-out, stressed, grief-stricken son is horrific. I feel so badly for Donald. He had to basically “surrender” his dad to the healthcare system. One that has failed Mr. Smith and his son miserably. I sometimes wonder if the emergency departments do this on purpose in situations involving dementia – delaying the exam so long that the family decides to take their agitated, confused, frail loved one home rather than wait. Things have to change.

Donald went above and beyond over the last few years to care for his father at home, on his own. Home Care was tried, but it didn’t work for a variety of reasons. The healthcare system fails our family member caregivers time and time again. I see it and hear about it quite often.

For example, I know a dear older woman who is the wife of a man with dementia. She is also stressed and wanting to get her husband on the list for personal care home (PCH). She went through all the proper channels and she was told that he doesn’t qualify for PCH as he is “still able to do so much for himself.” She is burnt out, grieving, and at a loss for what to do next.

Our healthcare system here in Winnipeg, Manitoba needs to change. It needs to recognize the stress put upon the caregiver of a person with dementia. Our healthcare system needs to stop blaming caregivers, and telling them that they are guilty of elder abuse, when in fact they are doing the most difficult thing any loving family member can do (surrender their loved one to the long-term care program) to keep their loved one safe and cared for, while at the same time saving their own sanity. A caregiver already feels shame and guilt. Why add more pressure?

If you need any coaching, advocacy, or counselling regarding the difficulties associated with dementia care, please contact me for a free 15-minute consultation.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

Cannabis and the Third Age: How Can Older Adults Benefit From This Plant?

Image from Pixabay

Image from Pixabay

This guest post is written by Bojana Petkovich. 

Cannabis (also known as marijuana) has suffered a fair share of stigma throughout the history of humankind. Even though plenty of its medicinal benefits have been known and tested for a long time, most of the world’s countries still keep cannabis illegal. Fortunately, Canada is not one of them any longer.

The Silent Generation and Baby Boomers clearly remember cannabis as illicit and all the stigma that went with it. One would think this mindset is perhaps the most difficult to change when it comes to fully embracing cannabis products, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Why Are Seniors So Attracted to CBD-Based Products?

The answer is rather simple: older age comes at a price — your body is not the same as it used to be when you were younger, and cannabis helps a lot. Your skeletal, nervous, and muscular systems have aged, and there are several age-related diseases seniors are prone to. 

Some of these diseases can, however, be mitigated and battled using cannabis and its major constituents, cannabinoids (CBD). Such substances are diverse, and thus can help with plenty of symptoms and negative side effects.

The main reason a lot of older people lean toward cannabis and its products is that it is not like other heavy prescription drugs. It has hardly any worrying negative effects on your body, and it can benefit you greatly. These products do not harm your gastrointestinal tract and your nervous system, as opposed to prescription drugs for various pains, inflammations, and diseases.

Still, cannabis is also offered as a prescription drug and should be treated as such; this means that its abuse can result in cannabis use disorder that leads to severe side effects.

The National Cannabis Survey conducted by the government of Canada revealed that there has been a rise in cannabis use in seniors. Statistically, just over 40,000 people aged 65 and older used cannabis in 2012. As of 2019, the number rose to more than 400,000 people from this age group who consumed cannabis.

Age-Related Diseases and Cannabis

Diseases such as arthritis, glaucoma, dementia, osteoporosis, and adult-onset diabetes are some of the most common ones that come with old age. Cannabis is, however, known to help with all of them and many others.

Osteoporosis and bone-weakening diseases are some of the most common ones for older adults. They cause severe pain, limited activity and mobility, and overall weakness of your bones. Cannabis use is especially helpful when it comes to such diseases, as it speeds up the healing process of your skeletal system through osteoblast stimulation. These cells act as rebuilders and repairers of your bones, making them up to 50% stronger once the CBD treatment is finished.

Dementia is difficult to deal with, both for the one suffering from it and the person’s loved ones. Other than forgetting crucial things about your life, such as close family members and places, many people with dementia experience severe agitation, aggression, depression, and similar. The neuron cells saturated by excessive amounts of amyloid protein get inflamed, causing this vile disease. Luckily, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is there to reduce the amount of this protein, while inducing calmness. 

Diabetes is a problem for a growing percentage of the world’s population, especially in adults and the elderly. Diabetes statistics show people who use cannabis have around 16% lower fasting levels of insulin compared to those who do not use it, and type two diabetes is rather uncommon in cannabis consumers.

Pain is linked to many diseases and is the most common symptom. Cannabis is known for its ability to reduce different types of pain. Factually, 62.2% of cannabis users choose this plant and products based on it so they can relieve chronic pain.

Arthritis, a disease that attacks joints, tends to trouble 1in 2 older people. The feeling of stiffness and pain, followed by fatigue and swelling are some of the most noticeable symptoms. A 2018 study from the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry reports a strong bond between arthritis and depression, and seniors have been using cannabis to fight this disease. Not only that, but in 2018 they were up to 20 times more likely to admit they used marijuana in comparison to statistics from 1984. 

Bottom Line

As we enter an era where many symptoms, illnesses, and diseases are becoming a part of a blurry past due to technological advancement, older people can finally start experiencing a painless and easy day-to-day life. Cannabis is already making a massive change, as people opt for CBD-based products more and more every year, and we cannot wait to see this plant’s full spectrum of benefits in the future.

 

About the author: Bojana Petkovich is always on the lookout for new adventures and creative drives. Bojana is currently mesmerized by the fast-paced cannabis industry and providing the internet community with valuable information via LoudCloudHealth. The information on LoudCloudHealth is backed up by scientific studies. The articles on diseases and conditions treated by cannabis or CBD have sources to scientific research in their links. The statistics pages have their sources listed at the end of each article.

Drinking and Dementia Don’t Mix: How Families Can Help

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Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

People with dementia who are also experiencing alcoholism or alcohol abuse is a very challenging situation for family members to manage. Alcoholism speeds the decline in the skills needed for independent living, worsens behavioural problems, and raises concerns of safety for the affected family member and those living with/caring for them. This is in addition to the known health risks of alcoholism (e.g., cirrhosis of the liver, alcohol withdrawal syndrome and death).

Statistics reveal that 40% of adults 65 and over drink alcohol. We also know that almost 15% of older adults have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. The issues surrounding dementia and alcohol are becoming more prevalent as our society ages. We need to work together to find solutions to manage this difficult situation.

For families who are caring for a loved one with dementia such as Alzheimer’s, alcohol use becomes extremely challenging. The person is already impaired cognitively (in thinking, memory and processing information) and adding alcohol to the situation makes it much worse. A person with memory impairment may not appreciate how much s/he is drinking and will often neglect nourishment and basic hydration. It is even harder for family members to keep on top of things when the loved one lives independently. I have seen this problem in many settings such as when the person lives alone, or with family members, or in long-term care.

Family members ask what can be done. There are a few things that can be tried; however, there is not a clear-cut answer. I would like to share with you some of the common problems and solutions related to drinking and dementia.

Problems:

• A person who consumes a lot of alcohol on a regular basis may start to neglect his or her own hygiene and health care. Self-neglect is often the first sign that alerts family members that something is not right.

• Certain medications and alcohol do not mix. For example, a sleeping pill taken with alcohol can cause increased confusion. Be aware of over-the-counter sleep aides that often contain diphenhydramine (e.g., Benadryl).

• The person with dementia is already impaired — becoming intoxicated makes matters worse. Increased confusion, risky behaviour and falls can cause complications. Falling can cause bruises, cuts, sprains and fractures and can lead to hospitalization.

• Against his or her better judgement, an intoxicated person may decide to go for a drive. Remove the keys or disable the car if this poses a potential risk.

• If the person lives in a rental suite, s/he may face risk of eviction. If the person neglects to care for the home environment and/or him or herself, co-tenants may complain of fruit flies, rodents or odours (like urine due to mismanaged incontinence). Other tenants may not like the fact there are risks associated with the person smoking (fire hazard). The person with alcohol dependence may not pay the utility bills, or fail to pay rent. These are all grounds for eviction if the situation is not rectified.

• Some people develop life-threatening illnesses related to drinking, such as cirrhosis of the liver. They are told they should stop drinking, but forget that they were told. They may need to be in a 24-hour secured facility to keep them healthy and alcohol-free. This is only when deemed incompetent or incapable of understanding the risks.

• People with dementia and/or alcoholism may confabulate. This is when a person unintentionally lies about the facts. They appear to be telling the truth, but in fact, it is all made up. This makes it difficult for family members to trust their loved one and get a true sense of what is going on.

• Nutritional deficiencies can occur in people who have alcoholism. They tend to drink a lot of alcohol, but usually don’t eat enough foods containing thiamine, or vitamin B1. Thiamine is naturally found in fruits and vegetables. This continues to cause damage to the brain and body (Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome) which may be irreversible.

Practical Tips for Helping a Loved One with Dementia Stay Safe:

• Remove all alcohol from the home. If necessary, replace it with non-alcoholic beverages such as low-alcohol or non-alcoholic beer or wine.

• Put the person’s address on the “Do Not Deliver” bottle delivery list. Some bottle delivery programs will accept a letter from a doctor or another person in authority, such as the person assigned Durable Power of Attorney. Call your local liquor commission to inquire about this option.

• Let all other family members and friends know that you would like them to refrain from bringing alcohol to the person.

• Keep the person busy with other activities.

• Find out what is motivating the person to drink. Could it be loneliness, stress, anxiety, depression or grieving? Find solutions to these underlying causes.

• If possible, limit access to funds they use to pay for the alcohol.

• Contact your local addictions organization for more support. Join an Al-Anon Peer or Family Group.

• Know your limits as a family member/caregiver. Look after yourself first. The overuse of alcohol likely predated the dementia and will likely be a difficult behaviour to change. A loved one with dementia is unable to appreciate (or remember appreciating) that there is a problem.

• Get your loved one assessed by a specialist. Geriatric Psychiatrists are experienced in this area. It is difficult to determine the level of cognitive impairment when someone is under the influence.

• Enlist the help and support from other family members and friends.

• Consider Family Counselling to work on the issues together.

• Pursue individual psychotherapy if you are feeling guilty, struggling with the change in roles, or grieving the loss of your loved one.

• Contact your local Alzheimer’s organization for more support and tips.

Solutions:

• Detoxification and rehabilitation are difficult and usually impossible for persons who have irreversible brain damage from chronic alcoholism. I have seen situations where the person is hospitalized, detoxed (removing toxins and abstaining from alcohol), then move to a secured facility for older adults which offers either no access to, or controlled access to alcohol. Voluntary recovery is almost impossible in persons with dementia. A person needs certain mental abilities to benefit from rehabilitation (restoring to optimal health and functioning). Most programs are based on cognitive-behavioural changes, which is not possible for someone with mid to late-stage dementia. A person with mild or early stages of dementia may be able to benefit.

• I have seen success in persons who have dementia and whose lives were derailed by alcoholism when they are detoxed in hospital, then moved to a supportive environment where there is no access to alcohol. They benefit from living in a secured environment where they have stimulation, supervision and activities. They thrive with regularly scheduled meals, medications, and personal care assistance. In my community, these facilities are called Supportive Housing or Personal Care Homes (also known as Nursing Homes.) One unfortunate (or fortunate?) side-effect of this is that the person thrives and does so well that he or she may get to the point where it appears that s/he will be safe and capable of living independently. We fear that once the person moves out and lives independently, they will start drinking again. With proper supports and increased diligence (although the person may not see a need for it) it is possible for them to move home.

Preventative Measures:

Families can encourage older adults to ensure that Power of Attorney, Wills and a Living Will/Advanced Health Care Directive is prepared well ahead of time. This will help prevent any major problems down the road — for example, when it comes time to sell property.

If you or someone you know has an addiction to alcohol, seek medical advice or call your local addictions organization. Education and support are key to aid in prevention and treatment of this challenging situation.

 

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Angela G. Gentile, M.S.W., R.S.W. is an author and specialist in aging with more than 25 years of experience working with older adults and their families in a variety of capacities. She has written a book called “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide” and a mobile app for iOS called “Dementia Caregivers Solutions.” When she’s not working, she enjoys writing, traveling, photography and exploring what it means to age well. She is a realistic optimist who lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and two children. Find her online at angelaggentile.com.

Photo credit: “Dandelion Wine” by Sattva @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Caring for a Husband with Dementia” Book Now Available In Winnipeg Libraries

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As seen at J.W. Crane Memorial Library at Deer Lodge Centre

I am pleased to announce that the book, Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide (2015) is now available in the Winnipeg Public Library* as well as J. W. Crane Memorial Library (Deer Lodge Centre, 2109 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg).

(*As of 05 Oct 2015, the book was on order for three Winnipeg libraries: Henderson Library, Louis Riel Library and Millenium Library. Request your copy now!).

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

 

Men Concerned About Developing Dementia Want Their Partners to Read This Book

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“Caring for a Husband With Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide” has been out for almost two months now. I have been to a few events since my book launch. On Saturday, May 9, 2015, Coles – Kildonan Place (Winnipeg) hosted a book signing event for me. This is my second time doing an event like this, and I couldn’t find any “How To” on the subject. I’ve been learning as I go.

BUY THE BOOK – Caring for a Husband with Dementia

I suited up; packed up my signing pen, rack cards, business cards and candy dish and headed over to Coles with a positive mindset. I was looking forward to the event, hoping to connect with lots of people. Since I only sold one book at my first event (and the author sharing a table with me that day sold two books) I hoped to sell one or two books at my second event.

What I find most memorable from the event are the people who stoped by to chat. I appreciate when people open up and tell me their stories. My sister-in-law even stopped by on her lunch break to see me and I got her to take a picture (see above).

A middle-aged man stopped by to say he wants to buy the book for his wife. I wasn’t sure if he was joking or not. But he went on to explain that he feels his chances of developing dementia are high because both of his parents had Alzheimer’s. He said his wife doesn’t want to talk about it. I encouraged him to take a rack card and wished him all the best.

People seemed to enjoy the candies I was offering. Many children stopped by to take a caramel or a Lifesaver. It was interesting to hear the parents direct them to, “Say thank you.” Some asked for permission to take, others just dove right in.

A younger couple told me about the man’s head injury from years ago and that he has been told he’ll most likely develop dementia when he gets older. He wanted his girlfriend to get the book so that when and if that time comes she’ll be well prepared. They were a sweet couple and she appears to be committed to the relationship and whatever may come down the road.

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A few people took my rack card. It’s a bigger version of a bookmark with information about me and my products including my mobile app for caregivers. One young woman said she couldn’t afford to buy the book ($19.95 CDN) but asked me to sign the rack card for her. I told her I am working on getting the book into the library but that it takes time.

I chuckled to myself when a man in his late 70’s flirted with me. He told me how good I looked as he gave me a little wink and whistle. About a half-hour later he came back my way and he said I had nice legs. Both times I smiled and said, “Thank you.”

At the end of my two-hour event, a woman came to me with a smile, and told me I looked lonely. She went on to tell me about her experience of looking after her husband who had dementia. He eventually became quite aggressive and had to be moved to a nursing home. He died about a year ago. Now her neighbour is going through the same thing. She bought a book and asked me to sign it in memory of her late husband. She planned on sharing it with her neighbour or anyone else who may benefit from it.

I ended up reaching my goal for sales. Selling two books in two hours doesn’t seem like a lot, but I was told that some authors don’t sell any books. It has been the bookstore’s experience sometimes the customers come back during the week to purchase the book. Some of them don’t buy when the author is there, but choose to come back at a different time. I have also read that sometimes a person needs to hear about, read about, or see a book seven times before they buy it. So, any exposure is good exposure.

Overall, I really enjoyed my book signing event and I would say it went well. I especially enjoyed talking to people about their experiences. I learned that men want their partners to read this book. I also learned that men in their late 70’s like to flirt with middle-aged authors. 😉

Have a great day!

Angela G. Gentile

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Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker who specializes in aging. She has helped hundreds of people who are struggling with the challenges aging can bring. Angela is passionate about challenging ageist myths and stereotypes and exploring what it means to age well. She considers herself a realistic optimist but she still can’t tell her left from her right. Find out more at http://www.angelaggentile.com.

Book Launch Highlights and Video

 Caring for a Husband with Dementia:

The Ultimate Survival Guide

On Thursday, April 16, 2015, a book launch celebration for Caring for a Husband with Dementia was held at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg. There were approximately 55-60 people attending the event, and there was wine and other refreshments. The event was sponsored by Comforts of Home – Care. Click on the arrow above to watch the 26-minute video or go to this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyjUQcmnc14

Find out how to get the book: http://www.angelaggentile.com/book

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Pictured above is my husband Agapito (who doesn’t have dementia) and I. He made brownies and they were very yummy.

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I started out mixing with the crowd and I was pleased to see so many friendly and familiar faces. I handed out the books that I had gifted to some of the guests. I then moved on to do my presentation. It lasted about 25 minutes.

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One of the wife caregivers (Merrilee) also presented and she did a great job. She presented with warmth, humour and honest emotion.

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After the presentation, I signed books. It was a bit of a challenge to figure out what to say. I goofed up a couple of times, but I guess that’s to be expected. Not sure if it was the excitement or the wine, LOL. 🙂

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I had a designated photographer and videographer, and I got some great shots and video. It went from 7:30 – 9:00pm. I received a dozen beautiful white roses and a gift of David’s Tea from some special friends.

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All in all, it was a fantastic event, and I found the whole evening surreal. Thank you to all who made the event a memorable one.

Sincerely,

Angela G. Gentile

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Angela G. Gentile, M.S.W., R.S.W. is a clinical social worker who specializes in aging. She has helped hundreds of people who are struggling with the challenges aging can bring. Angela is passionate about challenging ageist myths and stereotypes and exploring what it means to age well. She considers herself a realistic optimist but she still can’t tell her left from her right. Find out more at http://www.angelaggentile.com.

Where to Find “Caring for a Husband with Dementia”

where2buyIn addition to being available worldwide online through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide is now available in select bookstores in Manitoba and Ontario.

Find Caring for a Husband with Dementia at these fine stores in Manitoba:

McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Avenue, at Grant Park Mall, Winnipeg

Blaine’s, 11-1795 Henderson Hwy, Winnipeg

Chapters Polo Festival, 695 Empress Street, Winnipeg (Local Interest section)

Coles City Place, 234 Donald Street, Winnipeg (Local Interest section)

Chapters St. Vital, St. Vital Shopping Centre, 1225 St. Mary’s Street, Winnipeg

H. P. Tergesen & Sons, 82 1st Avenue, Gimli

 

 

There are always other ways you can get a copy of the book.

(Kindle version also available.)

If you would like to contact Angela about how to get your copy, send her an email.

What is Alzheimer’s Anyways?

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As I was perusing through the Alzheimer’s Reading Room, I came across this video on YouTube. It is a well-done video called, “What is Alzheimer’s Disease?”. It comes from the AboutAlzOrg YouTube channel. Check out this three minute video and come away with a greater understanding of this incurable and fatal disease: What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

The more we understand, the more we can help.

Warm regards,

Angela G. Gentile

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Angela G. Gentile, M.S.W., R.S.W. is a clinical social worker who specializes in aging. She has helped hundreds of people who are struggling with the challenges aging can bring. Angela is passionate about challenging ageist myths and stereotypes and exploring what it means to age well. She considers herself a realistic optimist but she still can’t tell her left from her right.

 

 

 

Dementia Caregiver Solutions App on the Radio

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I had the awesome opportunity to be interviewed by Faisal Karmali of News Talk 770 regarding our new app, “Dementia Caregiver Solutions”, March 27, 2015, for a program called “More Than Money” for News Talk 770 in Calgary, Alberta. Check out the 10 minute YouTube video I made:

 DCS App Interview on News Talk 770 

The program is produced by Peter Watts. It’s a finance and lifestyle program, aimed primarily at a 50+ demographic which is transitioning to, or is already into retirement. It is co-hosted by Dave Popowich and Fasial Karmali, who run a financial advisory practice catering to this same demographic, under the CIBC Wood Gundy banner.

I was flying by the seat of my pants, and I also got a chance to promote my new book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide.” The segment will be aired on Sat. April 25, 2015 on News Talk 770 in Calgary.

Have a great day!

Angela G. Gentile

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Angela G. Gentile, M.S.W., R.S.W. is a clinical social worker who specializes in aging. She has helped hundreds of people who are struggling with the challenges aging can bring. Angela is passionate about challenging ageist myths and stereotypes and exploring what it means to age well. She considers herself a realistic optimist but she still can’t tell her left from her right.

Private Facebook caregiver support group launched

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Caregivers often find themselves feeling isolated, and trying to do everything on their own. This can lead to burnout. Education and support can often alleviate some of the stress they feel. Having a good friend or two and supportive family members are always the first choice, however, sometimes it is not enough. A support group can be a great addition to the caregiver’s resources.

Connecting with someone who understands what you are dealing with can do wonders for your mental well-being. Support groups can offer so much. However, sometimes it is difficult for caregivers to leave their homes, therefore online support groups are a viable option for many.

Here is what  the Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.org) has to say:

Benefits of support groups

Regardless of format, in a support group, you’ll find people with problems similar to yours. Members of a support group typically share their personal experiences and offer one another emotional comfort and moral support. They may also offer practical advice and tips to help you cope with your situation.

Benefits of participating in support groups may include:

  • Feeling less lonely, isolated or judged
  • Gaining a sense of empowerment and control
  • Improving your coping skills and sense of adjustment
  • Talking openly and honestly about your feelings
  • Reducing distress, depression or anxiety
  • Developing a clearer understanding of what to expect with your situation
  • Getting practical advice or information about treatment options
  • Comparing notes about resources, such as doctors and alternative options

Please join our private, closed group, Dementia Caregiver Solutions Support Group on Facebook. It is moderated by a clinical social worker, and a dementia consultant. All are welcome.

Sincerely,

Angela G. Gentile

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Angela G. Gentile, M.S.W., R.S.W. is a Specialist in Aging who has more than 25 years of experience working with older adults and their families in a variety of capacities. She has worked in private practice, long-term care, home care, health care and non-profit organizations. She is a realistic optimist who lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and two children.