Tag Archives: Caregivers

Older Adults Are Still Likely Underestimating Cognitive Impairment in Their Families

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News release

 Study Finds Racial Differences in Reporting and Overall Trend of Underreporting Cognitive Impairment

An increasing number of older adults are reporting cognitive impairment in their families over the past two decades, according to a new study led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine.

The study, which also finds ethnic and racial differences in reporting cognitive impairment, is published in Preventing Chronic Disease, a journal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The aging population in the U.S. is growing rapidly, with the number of people age 65 and over in 2010 (40.2 million) projected to more than double by 2050. With the rapid increase in the aging population, the size of the population with cognitive impairment and dementia will continue to accelerate, highlighting the importance of identifying cognitive changes.

“Cognitive impairment may serve as a precursor to future dementia. Early detection of cognitive impairment can facilitate timely medical treatments, appropriate care planning, and prevention efforts,” said Bei Wu, PhD, Dean’s Professor in Global Health and director of Global Health & Aging Research at NYU Meyers, co-director of NYU Aging Incubator, and the study’s senior author.

The study sought to examine the trends of self-reported cognitive impairment among five major racial/ethnic groups from 1997 to 2015 in the United States. The researchers used data from the National Health Interview Survey, including 155,682 individuals age 60 and above in their sample. The large sample included people of a variety of races and ethnicities, including Asian Americans,  Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, non-Hispanic Blacks, and non-Hispanic Whites.

Rather than using a screening test or clinical examination to evaluate cognitive impairment, respondents were asked to report if any family member was “limited in anyway because of difficulty remembering or because of experiencing periods of confusion.”

The researchers found an increasing trend in self-reported cognitive impairment: the overall rate increased from 5.7 percent in 1997 to 6.7 percent in 2015 among older adults in the U.S. This finding may suggest that awareness of cognitive impairment, perhaps from heightened public attention to and interest in Alzheimer’s disease, has improved to some extent.

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When looking at each racial/ethnic group, however, the increasing trend was significant only among White respondents. In Whites, the rate of self-reported cognitive impairment increased from 5.2 percent in 1997 to 6.1 percent in 2015. Asian American, Black, Hispanic, and Native American respondents had higher rates of self-reported cognitive impairment than Whites, but these rates did not significantly increase from 1997 to 2015.

Regardless of the overall increasing trend, the rates of self-reported cognitive impairment were still low, which may suggest underreporting. The researchers note that the rates of self-reported cognitive impairment are much lower than the estimated prevalence of cognitive impairment. For adults 65 years and older, the rate of self-reported cognitive impairment was 6.3 percent in 2000 and 7.5 percent in 2012, while the estimated prevalence of cognitive impairment in the same age group was 21.2 percent in 2000 and 18.8 percent in 2012.

These findings underscore the need to further promote awareness of cognitive impairment, especially in minority populations. Different cultures hold different beliefs and perceptions of disease and aging. For instance, research has found that compared to Whites, minorities are less likely to seek treatment for psychiatric symptoms because of lack of access to care or due to stigma.

“Culturally specific health education is needed in individuals, family members, and healthcare providers to improve awareness and knowledge of signs and early symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other dementia,” said Huabin Luo, PhD, of East Carolina University.

In addition to Wu and Luo, Gary Yu of NYU Meyers coauthored the study.

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Poem: Do not ask me to remember

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‘Hundreds’ of Young Adults in Older Adults Care Homes

A recent article by BBC Scotland health correspondent touches on the plights of younger adults placed in care homes for the elderly due to the lack of services in the community.

Romana (seen below) is one of the many in Scotland who was placed in a care home for the elderly when she suffered a brain haemorrhage at the age of 23, whilst pregnant.

Given the non-purpose built environment, the community in the care home and the level of services of care, it was no appropriate for a person such a Romana. She felt she had lost her family. It took 2 years before she was offered a place in a neurological centre in Aberdeen according to the article.

Pamela Mackenzie (Sue Ryder’s assistant director Scotland) was quoted as saying that “Romana was quite a different lady when she first came. She was withdrawn and depressed and she really had been written off.”

This is certainly an important issue to address the inequalities in care and ensure that younger adults attain the right services that need for rehabilitation to enable them to return to their families.

Image from the original article, for more information read: ‘Hundreds’ of young in old people’s homes

Illegal Money Lenders, Domestic Helpers, Family Caregivers & Dementia

Recent news reports from Hong Kong have highlighted the plight of four domestic helpers that committed suicide as a result of being victims of debt and association with illegal money lenders.

In countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, domestic helpers are needed in the community. They provide support and care for many older adults living in the community allowing them to age in place in their homes (Yeo 2014); this includes people with or without dementia. Many of helpers are live in caregivers for older adults; providing round the clock care, be it toileting at three in the morning or escorting them to an activity at three in the afternoon, they will be there. Live in helpers provide a much-needed service and care for many of us who strive to keep our loved homes at home instead of institutionalisation, think nursing home.

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For those who are not familiar with foreign domestic help in Asia, you may wish to read the two article below.

Read about Mylene and Yu Heng’s story here

Read about Ms Mersi Fransina Missa story here

Live-in domestic helpers consist of mostly women from Philipines, Myanmar, Indonesia or even Thailand. The job of a domestic helper covers a range of responsibilities;

  • Cooking nutritious culturally specific meals
  • Ensuring clean and sanitary environment
  • Carrying out personal hygiene
  • Household maintenance
  • Provide activities as specified by the employers or therapist
  • Escorts and transport
  • Nursing care. (Nursing care may cover anything from medication administration, basic wound dressings to cleaning out a colostomy bag.)

Our loved ones with dementia who are being cared for by these dedicated helpers, may not be able to recognise the signs of stress that helpers may be experiencing when faced with debt. It is important that guardians, employers and policy makers provide the support and education to ensure that the helpers caring for our older adults do not fall prey to these manipulative schemes. Migrating to a foreign country to care for an older adult is not an easy task, leaving family and friends to provide 24-hour care to a stranger. Yes, there is an acknowledgement of choice and payment, but that is not to say that it is a difficult task none the less.Open communication, education about finances and an outlet to seek help to helpers is needed. This will help to prevent them from becoming a target for loan sharks/illegal money lenders who show up at the door and harassing the helper.

In a news article from Philstar global, Emily Lau, a Legislative Councillor from Hong Kong was quoted as saying “The main reason these women are in debt is because governments allow agents to collect so much money from them.” On top of that, the South China Morning Post had reported that agencies were found working with creditors, imposing loans on helpers at rates so high that they are deemed illegal. Caught in a distant land, with family at home to support, harassed by money lenders and debt appears to have no end in sight. It is sad that lives are lost because of these vile schemes.

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For the hardworking and dedicated helpers who are protecting our loved ones with dementia from institutionalisation and helping them to maintain a good quality of life. We need to in turn assist them and ensure they do not fall prey to scheming smooth talking illegal moneylenders. These illegal money lenders or loan sharks promise fast and easy solution; on the pretence of providing helpers with a hand with loans. Only to trap them in a mountain of debt, bound with harassment and threats that have resulted in a lost of lives due to these tragic circumstances.

Fixed vs. Growth Mindsets

Life is a constant learning journey; and in this book by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, she has distilled her decades of research into a book to help people to achieve more by thinking about the power of our mindset and how we can improve it. Have a look at the Fixed vs Growth Mindset below and in her book she goes on to talk about how we can rewire our mindets to become better at what we do.

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How to fine-tune the internal monologue that scores every aspect of our lives, from leadership to love.

Read more about it here: Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives – Brain Pickings

What Is Love? Bill & Glad’s Story of Love

A touching story of the lives of Bill and Glad, who soldier on with love in the face of dementia. When the going get tough, they just keeping loving.

How To Stop Correcting a Person with Dementia

It’s not uncommon to see people trying to correct a person with dementia. It is a difficult task to accept that a person with dementia has difficulty with memory, and this is a common occurrence with not just caregivers, but the clinical staff, and professional carers as well.

We know that dementia results in memory loss, and yet we constantly find ourselves getting annoyed, upset and stressed out when the person with dementia does something we think is wrong by us. We are thrown stacks of fact sheets and brochures, clinical advice from staff and info graphs. We know we have to resist, and yet we give in all the time, walking away, hands in the air and shaking our heads. Stressing the person with dementia and ourselves. It’s hard to kick the habit; it’s part of our nature to want to correct and get things right, after all, we have been doing it all our lives. It’s tough!

The next time the need to correct someone with dementia comes up, here’s what these 2 videos on the ability to resist, self-control and delayed gratification can do for us. After all, when we laugh and learn, we remember better. What better way to do it then to have Sir Ian McKellen, Tom Hiddleston, Cookie Monster & cookies remind us about the ability to resist and to know that we will be happier for it later. 2 must see cute, meaningful and delightful videos that will keep us smiling instead of getting frustrated the next time we want to correct someone we care for with dementia.

 

This is part of a series of post that aims to help everyone learn through laughter. #LearnTLaughter