First, talk to your father’s doctor about what kind of care he needs. There are a few options available:
- A private nurse will oversee your father’s medical care at home. The nurse performs such duties as changing bandages, taking vital signs, dressing wounds, and monitoring intravenous (IV) solutions or oxygen.
- If your father lives at home, a personal care attendant (PCA) can help him with light housekeeping duties, prepare meals, bring groceries, help you with routine activities like dressing and bathing – or just offer some companionship. The PCA will also observe your loved one and note for any major changes in his or her condition that might indicate a need for medical attention.
- Your father could be enrolled in a state rehabilitation program. As part of this program, professionals can show your father how to adapt to his disability so he can live at home more comfortably. Simple adjustments include a ramp for easier wheelchair access or raised furniture so he can stand without stressing his legs or back.
Most of us don’t think about how to pay for nursing home care until the need arises. When you visit our Care Center, ask to speak with our admissions coordinator. She can help you determine which long-term care benefits your loved one may qualify for. Here are some options.
- Medicare benefits are available to millions of Americans, including those over age 65 and some people under 65 who are disabled or suffer from permanent kidney failure. Visit Medicare’s Web site at Link for more information.
- Medicaid is an option for eligible low-income patients in need of long-term nursing care. Eligibility requirements vary from state to state, and we can help you determine if you qualify. For more information, please visit the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid at Link
- Many insurance companies and employers now offer long-term care insurance.
- Veterans benefits are available at some nursing homes through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Ask her why she is falling. Your grandmother may be able to tell you what circumstances lead to her falls, which can help you address the problem.
- Talk to her doctor. Consult with your grandmother’s physician about medicines and over-the-counter drugs she is taking to see if any may be making her dizzy or lightheaded. Make sure she sees the doctor on a regular basis to check for any other health problems that could cause her to fall.
- Make the house safer. Add railings to any problem areas in the house, such as stairs, hallways, and bathrooms, and install non-glare lighting. Also make sure that the traffic areas are dry and clutter-free, and ensure that there are no loose rugs that could be tripped over.
- Give her the right tools. Shoes that are more stable or have better traction could help your grandmother avoid falls. Talk to her and her doctor about the possible need for a cane or walker.
- Make sure she’s getting enough calcium and vitamin D. These vitamins will help prevent the weakening of bones, or osteoporosis. Calcium supplements, including calcium phosphate and calcium nitrate, are just as effective as calcium from food.
- Be sure she’s exercising on a regular basis. With a doctor’s guidance, have your grandmother participate in a regular exercise program for agility, strength, balance, and coordination.
- A lack of interest in food or sleep
- Facial grimaces
- Mood changes
- Physical movements that indicate pain
- Oral or dental problems
- Apparent depression or sadness
- Grinding teeth
- Guarding or rubbing a body part
- Increased agitation
- A change in activity level
- Resistance to being moved
- Unintentional weight loss
Watch for any of these signs, and talk to your grandmother’s doctor if you observe any of them: If your grandfather is not eating, start by discussing it with him. He might be able to help you understand why. It’s important to discuss his reluctance to eat with his doctor, who may have some advice for you. There are several reasons that contribute to older people’s waning eating habits. Reasons may include the following:
- Adverse reactions from medications can cause older people to avoid certain foods. Some medications alter the sense of taste, which can affect appetite. Talk to your grandfather’s doctor about his medications.
- If your grandfather’s dentures don’t fit properly, it might cause him difficulty when eating.
- Your grandfather might be cutting back on food because he experiences constipation, diarrhea, or heartburn when he eats.
- If your grandfather has had a stroke or has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he could have chewing or swallowing problems.
- Your grandfather may have a decreased sense of taste and smell (common among the elderly) that makes food less appetizing.
Your grandfather and his doctor are good sources of information on this topic. Here are some additional tips:
- Encourage your grandfather to eat small, frequent meals whenever possible. It may help him to consume more food if you eat with him.
- Offer him foods that you know he will eat.
- Make sure your grandfather is getting some exercise or activity each day.
- If he has trouble swallowing, ask the doctor about exercises that will help strengthen his throat muscles.
- Be sure that your grandfather receives an annual checkup. Some conditions, like depression and thyroid disorders, might affect your grandfather’s appetite. He might need medication to help him eat well.
An early, accurate diagnosis of AD helps patients and their families plan for the future. It gives them time to discuss care while the patient can still take part in making decisions. Early diagnosis also offers the best chance to treat the symptoms of the disease. Today, the only definite way to diagnose AD is to find out whether there are plaques and tangles in brain tissue. To look at brain tissue, however, doctors must wait until they do an autopsy, which is an examination of the body done after a person dies. Therefore, doctors can only make a diagnosis of “possible” or “probable” AD while the person is still alive. At specialized centers, doctors can diagnose AD correctly up to 90 percent of the time. Doctors use several tools to diagnose “probable” AD, including:
- Questions about the person’s general health, past medical problems, and the history of any difficulties
the person has carrying out daily activities
- Tests of memory, problem solving, attention, counting and language
- Medical tests, such as tests of blood, urine or spinal fluid
- Brain scans
Some of these test results help the doctor find other possible causes of the person’s symptoms. For example, thyroid problems, drug reactions, depression, brain tumors and blood vessel disease in the brain can cause AD-like symptoms. Some of these other conditions can be treated successfully. Recently, scientists have focused on a type of memory change called mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Some researchers believe that MCI is always early stage AD, while others believe that you may have MCI and never be diagnosed with AD.