Wednesday, January 22, 2014

3 Steps to Help you Prepare for a Medical Visit

By Sharon A. O'Brien, SC; RN, PG; BSW, RSW; CG 
Executive Vice-President of Policy & Education 
at Senior Watch 

Medical visits can be very stressful for a person with dementia as well as for the caregiver.  I believe there are some things that can be done to lower the stress.   With limited time with the doctor and a growing list of questions needing answers, the caregiver can take specific steps to make the most of the time allotted.

1. When making the appointment try to schedule the visit for the person’s best time to be morning or early afternoon. Avoid late in the day appointments if at all possible as this is the time that confusion tends to grow. 

2. Plan the visit carefully making a list of the concerns and questions.  Are there new or changing behaviours? It is important to prioritize the concerns with the most critical ones addressed at the beginning of the visit.  It probably would be a good idea to bring along present medications so they can be reviewed as well.

3. The doctor will ask about changes in behaviour.  Try to be specific citing examples of bothersome behaviours or changes noted since the last change in medication.  What precedes a change in mood?  What activities are most enjoyed?  Is the level of hands on care needed increasing?

These three steps could make a big difference in the quality of the visit and the comfort experienced by both the caregiver and the loved one.   Does anyone have other suggestions?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Reaching Out

By Sharon A. O'Brien, SC; RN, PG; BSW, RSW; CG 
Executive Vice-President of Policy & Education 
at Senior Watch 

Studies show that positive relationships can extend our lives, reduce blood pressure, reduce frequency of migraine headaches, speed up recovery from a stroke and relieve the chronic pain of arthritis.

Who is there for you - no matter what? Who loves you unconditionally, under all circumstances? Who wonders where you are if unable to reach you by phone for an extended period? Who cares about your latest cholesterol test result?

Loneliness is truly the worst disease in the world! If social connectedness increases our resistance to disease and extends our lives, perhaps we should invest time and energy in developing relationships.

The first step in doing this is identifying all the people who are a part of our social circle - this includes casual friends and church acquaintances, neighbors, and close loved ones. Which people would you like to know better? Do it! Invite them over for a morning or afternoon break, for lunch, or for an evening. Another idea is to include a family member or close friend in discussions with your doctor if you have been diagnosed with an illness. This allows that person to encourage you and remind you that he/she believes in your
ability to manage the situation.

As a society we have placed so much importance on individuality and independence that often we become lonely, isolated individuals cut off from the very elements that can make us feel good.

We can extend our lives and the lives of others just by reaching out!