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Caregiver Connection

A Quarterly Newsletter for Family Caregivers of Older Adults

The Caregiver Connection Newsletter is a free publication of the Baltimore County Department of Aging (BCDA).

July, August and September 2020

Stories in This Issue:

Calling All Readers for Virtual Caregiver Book Club

In an effort to offer new engagement opportunities for caregivers, we would like to see if there is any interest in a virtual book club, specifically for family caregivers. If you enjoy reading but may be seeking social support and connection, please consider expressing interest in the newly founded Caregiver Book Club.

The book will be Cruising through Caregiving by Jennifer L. FitzPatrick. Cruising through Caregiving is the strong and friendly companion that anyone navigating the unpredictable waters of caregiving will find absolutely indispensable. Jennifer FitzPatrick uses easy-to-understand nautical imagery to give solid and friendly practical support and information to caregivers—no matter what phase or scenario of caregiving they may be experiencing (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2016).

Caregiver Support Network

Introducing a brand new program offered through the BCDA Caregivers Program—the Caregiver Support Network. A combination of strategy building and peer support, this program was specially designed for all family caregivers.

The goal of the Caregiver Support Network is to provide a safe and welcoming environment for caregivers to share their challenges and successes, while also learning effective strategies to enhance their caregiving. Each session will begin with a guest presenter and follow with the support network.

Please join us on the third Wednesday of each month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. We will be hosting the sessions virtually until further notice.

Upcoming sessions: July 15, August 19, September 16

Email caregivers@baltimorecountymd.gov to receive the link to join. For more information, please call 410-887-1663.

Census 2020 Submission Date Extended

There is still plenty of time to be counted in the 2020 Census. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the response phase has been extended to October 31. Please be sure to submit your response, as this information is used to help with funding and community planning.

Households should have received the invitation to participate. Simply complete the form online, by phone, or mail. Visit the Census website or call 844-330-2020 for further information.

Hold the Date: Virtual Annual Caregivers Conference

The new date for the Annual Caregivers Conference is tentatively scheduled. Join us for a day filled with great information and awesome learning opportunities. The conference will be held virtually this year, but will surely still have excellent information.

When: Saturday, November 7, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Online—more details will be available soon
Cost: The conference is free.
Registration: Registration is encouraged. Please call 410-887-1663 or email caregivers@baltimorecountymd.gov.

Life Planning and End of Life Wishes

Nobody plans to become sick or disabled, yet sometimes these things are out of our control. It is never too early to begin thinking about end of life wishes. Although often viewed in a negative light, end of life wishes are very important in caregiving and can make all the difference in an emergency.

End of life wishes detail what the individual would like, related to financial and health aspects, if they were to become incapacitated. These wishes may also include having all important documents in an accessible, known but safe location. Some families find it helpful to begin with personal records and financial records.

Personal records may include information such as:

  • Full name
  • Social security number
  • Legal residence
  • Names and addresses of spouse and children
  • Employers and dates of employment
  • Medications
  • Location of living will and other legal documents

Financial records may include information such as:

  • Sources of income and assets
  • Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid
  • Insurance 
  • Names of banks and account numbers
  • Copy of recent tax return
  • Mortgages and debts—how and when they are paid
  • Location of original deed of trust for home
  • Car title and registration
  • Credit and debit card numbers

Planning can be a lengthy process. Luckily, the Five-Wishes advance directive document was created to help families have conversations pertaining to end of life wishes. Five-Wishes outlines all of the essential pieces for one’s end of life wishes.

For more information on end-of-life wishes and planning, please visit the National Institute on Aging website.

For a copy of the Five-Wishes document, please call 410-887-4724 or email caregivers@baltimorecountymd.gov.

The Umbrella that is Dementia

When people hear Dementia, the next thing that is thought of is Alzheimer’s. While Alzheimer’s is a form of Dementia, it is not the only type. Dementia is defined as a disorder of the brain that can be caused by a brain injury, such as multiple concussions or a traumatic brain injury. It can cause a decrease in brain function, which can cause problems in language skills, problem solving and difficulty with activities of daily life. It is important to note that Dementia is a normal part of aging.

Dementia results in the progressive and irreversible loss of brain cells. There are five types that all affect different parts of the brain. They are Alzheimer’s, Frontotemporal disorders, Lewy Body Dementia, Vascular Dementia, and lastly Mixed Dementia. 

Alzheimer’s is the most well-known Dementia. It is the result of plaques and tangles developing in the brain, which are caused by excess protein production in the brain. The increased protein makes it difficult for the nerve cells to communicate with each other. A person who has Alzheimer’s will first experience memory problems, then see the decline in finding the right word and impaired judgement.

The Frontotemporal Disorders develop when there is death of brain cells in the frontal and temporal area of the brain. People with this type of Dementia can experience a severe loss of thinking abilities, which can cause a lot of difficulty in doing daily activities, such as driving, preparing meals and emotional stability.

Lewy Body Dementia is another common type. It is caused by the abnormal deposits of proteins. The deposits are called Lewy Bodies, hence the name of the Dementia. The bodies affect thinking, movement and mood. There are several similar symptoms with Alzheimer’s, and Lewy Bodies can develop alone or with other brain disorders such as Parkinson’s.

Vascular Dementia is caused by a lack of blood being carried to the brain, reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrients to some regions of the brain. It can cause someone to experience an inability to control their bladder, short-term memory loss and a decrease in concentration.

Lastly, Mixed Dementia is when a person has two or more types of Dementia, for example, having Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia. It is the most common type of Dementia seen in the older population. With Mixed Dementia, it is hard to assess how many symptoms came from every kind of Dementia.

While there are so many types of Dementia with overlapping symptoms, it is understandable that there are some interchangeable terms. They are different, and all are stored under the term Dementia. For more information on the types of Dementia and resources, visit the National Institute on Aging website.

 
Revised July 1, 2020         

 

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