We Need Caregiving for Caregivers of Parents with Dementia

Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

A few days ago, I had someone praise me for my “witness.”

This person was referring to the fact that my family and I are taking care of my elderly mother. I wanted to interrupt this person and tell them the truth of it, which is that my “witness” is shot full of holes.

Caregiving for an elderly person with dementia can seem like a piece of cake early on in the process. But as it progresses, and more of their brain switches off, it becomes increasingly fraught.

On top of that, I keep getting sick. Not, terrible sick, but bad enough to suck all the life out of me and make every day feel like a march through knee deep mud. I’ve had two colds in two months. Colds aren’t much of anything, unless you’ve got asthma. But put a cold together with asthma and no sleep and all the rest of my life right now and you’ve got a recipe for lungs that just won’t work.

That’s what happened in March. I somehow did not get pneumonia, which the doc assured me was what happened to most folks. But I did get such a bad case of on-going, never-stop asthma that, as he told me, “Your lungs aren’t moving air.”  Enter the miracle of antibiotics and steroids, and I got all healed up and back in the race again.

Then, along came another cold. It sent Mama to the er last week. Now it’s gone down into my lungs and formed an alliance with the asthma. I’m probably going to have to do the antibiotics/steroids all over again.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I want you to understand that my “witness” is a weak and faulty thing. When I’m lying on the sofa, coughing and hacking, I’m not exactly doing a good job as a caregiver. Mama, who can no longer follow a book or a plot on tv, and so is no longer amused by either books or tv, demands constant amusement.

When I’m sick, I can’t do this. Instead of working with her to keep her wound up and moving, I end up letting her sit on the sofa like a zombie, or I send her to her room where she falls asleep. That’s not good care of someone with dementia. But it’s all I can do when I’m sick.

I’ve never resented the spring storms the way I have this year. They set off my arthritis, and somehow or other the stress with Mama seems to make that worse. Plus, I feel the weight of taking care of her in a storm in a way I never felt the weight of taking care of the kids when they were little.

Compared to her, they were ez pz. When they were very small, I just picked them up and did what needed doing. When they were full-on kids, they did what I told them in difficult situations without argument.

But Mama is a never-comprehending rubics cube. She trusts me and will do what I ask of her. But if I’m not there, she fights whoever is trying to help her. That adds a dash of salsa to the storms that, for some reason, seems too much.

That’s what I’m dealing with right now: Too much. It’s all too much. And I’m not sure why.

I think I’ve solved the doctor thing. I simply went on a doctor hunt, and it turned out that I landed on the right square early on in the search. The doc and the staff at the er last week were kind, and they understood my situation almost without my telling them. That was a blessing.

Everything is do-able. Today.

That’s the only promise a caregiver for someone with dementia has: Today. Or, maybe not even today. It may end up that all you know is that things are going good right now. In an hour, it can change, and you are dealing with a full-on hallucination or making a fast trip to the er.

But for today, for this minute, I have loads of help from my kids, and Adult Day Care, and I have prescriptions that seem to be working with Mama and my only problem is that I Do. Not. Want. to go to the doc myself.

I would rather eat dirt than go spend another $160 at an urgent care place to get a script for antibiotics and steroids. But I know that primary care docs with their $20 copay take about 3 weeks to see you, and this isn’t worthy of an er (which is much more miserable than going to an urgent care facility, anyway) so, I have to do the $160 do to get a couple of scripts that, to be honest, I could write myself.

See how I whine? See how negative I’ve become?

That’s what I’m talking about when I say my “witness” is less than shiny bright and pretty.

In truth, Mama’s dementia is doing at least as bad a job on me as it is on her and I can’t figure out why. I hit some sort of wall when she stopped sleeping at night. I know part of that wall was simple exhaustion.

One of the two hardest nights of her dementia so far was last month, when I was sick and she would not stay in bed. I felt so lousy, and she was up and roaming and had to be managed all night long. Before these new meds, she argued with me and refused to go back to bed and had hallucinations that terrified her and made her unmanageable.

That night was about 30 years long, and the next day, I was so sick I had to get medical help for myself.

Then, when we put her in the in-patient diagnostic and she just slept through the night and didn’t do any of this for them so they could help us with it, I hit some sort of despair point. I cried for days and couldn’t stop crying. We finally managed to get a script that actually does help, that not only lets her sleep at night but clears the hallucinations.

Things should be all better now. In fact, they were looking up, then we got this blamed cold. The high wire act of dementia care is such that something as simple as a cold can cause everyone to fall off and into the net. That’s what’s happened to me.

The thing I hang onto is something a man whose name I never learned told me years ago. I taught a class at Youth With a Mission in Hawaii a few years back. It was a glorious experience, spending an entire week in that beautiful Christian environment. Everyone I talked to was a spirit-filled, all-in Christian who wanted to change the world for Christ.

One evening, I was sitting out, watching the sunset, when a man with a baby joined me. We got to talking and he told me the story of how he came to adopt this baby. Long story short, the baby had no one, and he was reluctant to take on raising a child at his advanced age. But when he and his wife did adopt the baby, the child blessed their lives with love and wonder as only a baby can.

“God only wants to bless you,” he told me.

I keep thinking of that comment when things are difficult with Mama. “God only wants to bless you.”

I believe that, and I know it’s true of me and my situation right now. Mama has been a blessing to me all my life. Seeing her home is not a punishment. It’s a gift. A blessing.

That thought is what dries my tears and pulls me back out of despair. I write these blog posts as unsparingly as I can because I think that as a society we need to face up to the fact that we not only abandon our elderly, we abandon their care givers.

Care for people who have dementia is a act of life and love. It is pro life for real. Euthanasia, which is being pushed as an “answer” to dementia and a “relief’ for caregivers, is satanic. It is from the blackest pit of hell.

What we need to do as a society is take off our blinders and help people who are caring for their family members with dementia. We need something like the Rain Teams that Christians once formed to help people with AIDs, only for families who are caring for loved ones with dementia.

Care of the care-giver is a forgotten piece of the equation of caring for our elderly. I can tell you that as the dementia gets worse the caregiver begins to need love and support every bit as much as the person they are caring for.

My “witness,” such as it is, is a call for us to do better. It is not a “witness” of my heroism and perfection. It is, rather, a witness of my weakness and failures. I am not a cheerfully self-sacrificing saint. I am everyman and everywoman, just muddling through and hanging on and falling flat and getting back up.

I do not fall into raptures of grace when I am dog tired and at my wit’s end. I sit down and cry. I am not always reasonable. I do not always do the right thing.

I am you. And me. And every one of us.

That, and not some idea of perfection, is my witness. It is why I can say without equivocation that caregivers of elderly parents with dementia need help. They need love. They need comforting and support.

The Lord only wants to bless us. And the first blessing comes from His command that we “Love one another.”

All His blessings are blessings of love and life. Seeing Mama home is a blessing of love and life. If we rise to this challenge that I am making and will continue to make, and help caregivers of people with dementia, we will be blessing ourselves and one another with love and life.

I write about Mama with as much honesty and raw reality as I can. The reason is that I am issuing a call. I am calling Christians to formulate means to help caregivers of people with dementia in the simple, human ways that they need help. Put life and love back in their days of chaos. God wants to use them to bless you.

All God ever wants to do is bless each and every one of us. And the first and only true blessing is love.

A Look at Ebola from Inside Medicine

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My fellow Catholic Patheosi, Dr Tod Worner published a post today concerning the Ebola crisis. I hope you will click on the links in this post and read it.

Dr Worner gives us a glimpse of the concerns that medical practitioners face when deciding how they would treat this illness. It also evaluates our government’s reaction to Ebola without the distorting prism of political one-upsmanship and ambition.

It is precisely the kind of non-political, rational discussion of this killer disease that should be taking place everywhere, but isn’t.

Here’s a taste:

We crowded into a small room at my internal medicine clinic and looked at each other. Some decisions had to be made. Soon. We were charged to answer one fundamental question: What would we do if a patient suspected of having Ebola were to walk in our clinic door? As simple as it may seem, this is an incredibly complex question. It requires considering the well-being of the patient, the risk to other patients exposed to him (or her, but I will use him for simplification) in our waiting room, and the risks to medical and ancillary staff who are attending to him. We must concern ourselves with the risk of over-reaction as well as that of under-reaction. We need to consider the imperfect state of our understanding of the mode and ease of transmission. And we must recognize that risk and response changes daily with an ever-evolving national and international epidemic. Confronted with this question in that small room, to a person, there was sincere concern about the patient, earnest concern about personal safety and a clear sense that there is a lot of uncertainty about this virus and the epidemic that is unfolding day by day.  And yet, that has not been the message from the government leaders or the Centers for Disease Control. If anything, there has been an abundance of assurance. For example,

WHO: Ebola Cases Could Reach 20,000 by Nov, Killing 70% of Victims

Ebola is the disease that won’t be contained.

Today, the World Health Organizatin issue its more dire prediction so far. Unless huge improvements in control measures, the number of victims could reach 20,000 by November. WHO also revised the mortality rate, saying that 70% of those who contracted the disease will die from it. This is an increase from the previous estimate of a 50% mortality rate.

The paper, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine also says that its possible that Ebola may become “endemic among the human population of West Africa.

Ebola is pared by close contact with an infected person or with their bodily fluids. It is much easier to catch the flu from another person than Ebola.

The usual first symptoms are fever and fatigue. The disease has a incubation period of 11 days and people are not infectious until they begin to have symptoms.

From NBC News:

World Health Organization researchers issued a dire new forecast for the Ebola epidemic Tuesday, one that sees 20,000 cases by November, much sooner than previous estimates. And 70 percent of patients are dying.

That’s a big increase over the previous estimates of a 50 percent fatality rate.

“These data indicate that without drastic improvements in control measures, the numbers of cases of and deaths from Ebola virus disease are expected to continue increasing from hundreds to thousands per week in the coming months,” the WHO Ebola Response Team, led by Dr. Christopher Dye, wrote in a report rushed into print by the New England Journal of Medicine.

This projection includes nearly 10,000 people in Liberia alone. WHO said earlier Monday that more than 5,800 people had been infected with Ebola and more than 2,800 had died of it since the virus first broke out in Guinea in December.

And it’s likely far worse, especially in Liberia, WHO says. “The true number of deaths will likely never be known, as bodies in the notoriously poor, filthy and overcrowded West Point slum, in the capital, Monrovia, have simply been thrown into the two nearby rivers,” WHO said in a separate statement.

Ebola: The 2014 Outbreak Explained

 

This video is a couple of weeks behind the curve, but it still contains information that we need to know.

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The Parent Makers … Orrrrr … The Handmaid’s Tale Redux

Did I say that the media promotes the creation/selling/buying of babies?

Did I say that the media is misogynist and makes light of the exploitation and degradation of women committed by commercialized medicine?

I linked to a number of examples of media propaganda for this brutal, dehumanizing exploitation of women and girls; this barbaric practice of creating/selling/buying people. But, as so often happens, I was aiming a bit too high on the food chain. I didn’t know about The Parent Makers.

This show is about an American organization called the British Surrogacy Center. The British Surrogacy Center is in California. So don’t let the accent fool you, this is the good ole USA, the Wild West of reproductive technology.

We are the big dogs in the baby creating/selling/buying junkyard. No one can compete with us in terms of reducing women, babies and human beings to the level of objects. We’ve got the market cornered on medicine’s inhumanity to women and children.

The Parent Makers is trash.

It is, however, highly-publicized trash.

The Parent Makers gets lots of hits on Google:

And it has it’s own equally trashy Twitter account:

It even has promos on YouTube.

Watch the video below and then ask yourself one question: Do you want your daughter used as a breeder for these guys? Do you want your grandchildren or your children created like widgets in a factory and then sold to the highest bidder?

If you don’t, you’d better start speaking out.

This is the world of the for-real Handmaid’s Tale.

And it ain’t pretty.

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Public Catholic reader Caroline Farrow brought this story to my attention. Thank you Caroline!

Evil Never Sleeps: The Killing Fields of Medical Murder

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Britain is debating legalizing medical murder.

Medical murder’s proponents spiff it up by calling it “death with dignity,” which is a change from their old name for it: “mercy killing.” Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has decided to throw sewage on his own skirts by coming out in favor it, along with former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey. 

Meanwhile, New Mexico kills their babies and little old ladiesQuebec has euthanasia on demand, France is taking another look at medical murder, and  India’s Supreme Court has opened the gates for legalizing euthanasia in the land of sex-selected abortion and baby-girl killing. Satan only knows what India will do with legal medical murder, but it doesn’t look good for little girls, worn-out sex slaves, surrogates and daughters-in-law without dowries.

Just think about it: All you have to do is get a doctor — the same doctors who obligingly use women for surrogacy, egg harvesting and do abortions on baby girls because they are baby girls — to agree that someone needs to die with dignity. It’s as easy as pushing in on the hypodermic syringe, as simple as pills in a paper cup. Euthanasia and India go together like misogyny and India. They’re a natural fit.

Of course, Britain is far more civilized than India (wink wink). They have been grappling with sex-selected abortion, and not too successfully. It seems that they can’t write a law that will allow people to kill their children at will before birth … except when their intention is to kill their child before birth because she is a baby girl.

That kind of fine-line fence-straddling in the killing fields is tough to codify and downright impossible to enforce. You give people the legal right to kill, they’re going to kill for whatever reason they want.

You can’t control murder.

Once you start feeding your children to the Baals, the right to life of every human being becomes conditional. The new advance to the dark past of human history is multi-pronged. The Baals are ravenous and we’ve got to find more and more people to feed them.

We’ve pretty much destroyed any sanctity attached to human life before birth. People are created and sold like merchandise. Women are reduced to body parts to be used in the manufacturing process. If we don’t like what we get, we discard the widget we’ve made and make another. The fact that this widget is a human being is something we ignore and simply deny.

Inherent in abortion is the lie that some people’s lives are not worthy of life unless other people want them. “Death with dignity” is no different. There is no doubt that, as the Hoy Father warns us, “the right to die will become the duty to die.” That idea has already been bandied about by prominent politicians here in America.

Euthanasia is just a fancy word for murder, and murder, if it is not stopped and punished, leads to more murder.

Abortion leads to designer babies leads to egg harvesting leads to surrogacy leads to the rock-hard cultural belief that some people are not as human and do not deserve the same basic rights as other people. Exploitation/murder/buying and selling people: It all fits together like two sides of a zipper.

Euthanasia is the next new thing in our retreat to the pre-Christian world.

We feed our young into the maw of the Baals every single day. We toss in women and girls — the life bearers — alongside them. Now, we’re putting more and more of our elderly, disabled and depressed through the fires. How long will it be before we start euthanizing the homeless, the jobless and the ugly?

Not long. It won’t be long at all before the push is on to broaden the killing fields to people we would never consider murdering today.

Too many of our people have become slaves to the next new thing. Too many people are incapable of resisting propaganda. Too many people are intelligent but profoundly stupid. They are blind followers of the pied piper of what’s happenin’ now.

It won’t be long. The reason? Too many of our people have been made profoundly stupid; easy marks for whatever propaganda comes along. Without the anchor of Christianity, they roll like marbles from one thing to the next.

They are low-hanging fruit for the evil that never sleeps.

CDC Confirms First US Case of MERS Virus

The Centers for Disease Control has confirmed the first US case of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS)

MERS, which is similar to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Virus (SARS) which killed 800 people in China in the 2002-03, is fatal in up to one third of the people who contract it.

Dr Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Imminzation and Respiratory Diseases said that while the case represents “a very low risk to the broader general public,” it is still a concern because of the “virulence” of the virus and that fact that it can be transmitted from one person to the next.

The male patient had returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia on April 24, connecting from Riyadh to London to Chicago. He then took a bus to Indiana.

He experienced respiratory symptoms on April 27 and was diagnosed with MERS on April 28. The patient is said to be in stable condition and is being treated with appropriate protocols, including isolation.

Only 262 people have been diagnosed with MERS. Ninety-three of those have died of the illness. Little is known about MERS. It is believed that the virus is transmitted to humans through camels, but even that is somewhat speculative.

From Reuters:

(Reuters) – A healthcare worker who had traveled to Saudi Arabia was confirmed as the first U.S. case of Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS), an often fatal illness, raising new concerns about the rapid spread of such diseases, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday.

The male patient traveled via a British Airways flight on April 24 from Riyadh to London, where he changed flights at Heathrow airport to fly to the United States. He landed in Chicago and took a bus to an undisclosed city in Indiana.

On April 27, he experienced respiratory symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, the man visited the emergency department at Community Hospital in Munster, Indiana, on April 28 and was admitted that same day.

Because of his travel history, Indiana health officials tested him for MERS, and sent the samples to the CDC, which confirmed the presence of the virus on Friday.The virus is similar to the one that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which emerged in China in 2002-2003 and killed some 800 people. It was first detected inSaudi Arabia.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on a conference call the first U.S. case of MERS was “of great concern because of its virulence,” proving fatal in about a third of infections.She said the case represents “a very low risk to the broader general public,” but MERS has been shown to spread to healthcare workers and there are no known treatments for the virus.

How to Join Crowdfunding of Gosnell Movie

 

Film makers are asking individuals to contribute so that they can make a movie about Kermit Gosnell.

This is called crowdfunding.

Watch the video below and consider if you would like to help them.

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E-Cigs Cause Poisoning

You’ve gotta hand it to big tobacco.

They’re consistent.

They never seem to come up with a product that doesn’t addict people, won’t make them sick, and that the manufacturers won’t lie about.

I encounter the lying part from my personal experiences with the debate over e-cigs in the Oklahoma legislature. We’ve had a two-year battle over attempts by big tobacco and their army of unbelievably highly-paid lobbyists to ram through a bill that would define e-cigs as a non-smoking product, thus enhancing e-cig profits.

During the course of this, I’ve been lied to repeatedly and flat-out insulted; all because I won’t give up my little vote to enhance the $$$ power of big tobacco.

This particular vote is just one among many for me. I know what I’m going to do, and I am going to do it. Then I will let it go. That’s how I deal with these things.

What made me sit up and take notice is a news story that’s making the rounds of the major news outlets under headlines like Electronic cigarettes can be dangerous, even if you don’t smoke them (Los Angeles Times), E-cigarette poisoning on the rise (CBS News), E-Cigarette Nicotine a Growing Health Threat: CDC (WebMD) and E-cigs’ liquid nicotine causing poisonings (CNN)

This particular poisoning is most dangerous when it hits children under the age of 5. Evidently, the liquid nicotine found in E-Cigs can be absorbed in a variety of ways, and not just through the lungs.

The moral? If you use them, keep them away from kids.

The other moral? Don’t use them long term. If they make kids this sick, presumably because of their smaller body size, they aren’t going to do you a lot of good, either.

As for the big tobacco folks who are pummeling Oklahoma legislators to pass this thing, they never had my vote, anyway. It will be interesting to see if this CDC report causes any of the others to take a second look at the legislation.

Hospital-Acquired Infections: 1 in 25 Patients Becomes Infected While in the Hospital

I know several people who went into the hospital for a routine surgery, came through the surgery just fine, and then died from an infection they had gotten while in the hospital.

I don’t know about you, but this makes me angry.

Hospitals and doctor’s offices (not to mention dentists) need to beef up their sterile procedures, beginning with washing their hands between every single patient. When you see a doctor look down someone’s throat and then not wash their hands afterwards, you are looking at an infection-carrier.

It turns out that the people I’ve known who died from hospital-acquired infections are not alone. According to a recent study by the New England Journal of Medicine, 1 in 25 patients who went into a hospital in 2011 come out with a hospital-acquired infection. That means 721,800 people were infected by germs they encountered while they were in the hospital. According to the US Centers for Disease Control, about 75,000 people died from hospital-acquired infections.

This rate of infection is evidently down from past years. In 2002, there were 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections and 155,668 deaths. Getting down to 75,000 deaths is quite a reduction, and hospitals are to be applauded for the changes they’ve made. But 75,000 deaths in one year from hospital-acquired infections is still totally unacceptable.

It may be necessary for patients to start reminding medical personnel to wash their hands, since they are not doing it on their own. As for other sterile procedures, particularly surgical sterile procedures;  if they aren’t washing their hands (and they aren’t) then what else are they not doing?

The families and friends of 75,000 people who die each year would like to know.

From CNN:

(CNN) – About 1 in every 25 patients seeking treatment at hospitals acquired an infection there in 2011, according to a new study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Patients acquired some 721,800 infections at hospitals that year, according to the research. Of those infected, about 75,000 died, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — although the study did not investigate how often an infection actually caused or contributed to the patient’s death.

Pneumonia and surgical-site infections were the most common types of infection — each accounting for about 22% of all infections — followed by gastrointestinal infections such as Clostridium difficile, urinary tract infections and infections of the bloodstream.

While highlighting the grim reality that too many people become infected when seeking medical treatment in hospitals and other health care facilities, the study also shows progress from past estimates.


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