Practical Tips from a Medical Social Worker
The challenge of declining health or a new diagnosis can be overwhelming for patients and their loved ones. As health monitoring and maintenance take the forefront, emotions may run high, and fatigue can set in. At such times, practical and legal matters are easy to push to the back burner; however, doing so means risking a scramble if and when they are urgently needed.
This simple and clearly explained list, composed by a medical social worker (MSW), sums up the basic practical tasks that are best done (or reviewed) early, so the tough decisions and legal processes are in place before they become relevant. As Social Work Month 2015 draws to a close, it’s another reminder of the value that MSWs can bring to a care team.
Out-of-the-Box Bonding with a Loved One with Dementia
Author Marie Marley shares a tip from her own experience as a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. When other methods of connection failed, she gave her soul mate a stuffed animal, and marveled in the joy it brought him. This anecdote leads to others, as well as the positive results of a study on stuffed animals for patients with dementia, and suggests that stuffed animals are a better fit than living pets or dolls.
(Try Giving Your Loved One With Alzheimer’s a Stuffed Animal; Huffington Post)
New Potential Outlook on Calorie Intake for Diabetes
The authors of a new clinical trial have suggested that in patients with type 2 diabetes, the timing of meals could have a lasting effect on glucose tolerance throughout the day. The study subjects, despite eating the same total number of calories, showed better glucose tolerance when they ate more of their calories at breakfast than when they consumed their largest meal at dinner. Note that these findings are no substitute for your doctor’s advice; however, they could serve as a useful conversation starter about what you should be eating, and when.
- Although another slippery winter has passed, uneven sidewalks and spring mud puddles ensure that the risk for falling always remains. Remember to stay vigilant and prepared — including knowing the best way to get up in case of a fall. (The Far-Reaching Effects of a Fall; NYT Personal Health blog)
- Here’s another piece by author Marie Marley about coping with three landmark occurrences in the course of caring for a loved one with dementia. (3 of the Most Difficult Situations Alzheimer’s Caregivers May Ever Face; Huffington Post)
- Earlier this month, U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ben Cardin of Maryland introduced a bipartisan bill intending to increase home care access for older Americans, better supporting seniors who wish to age in place. (Senate Bill Aims to Increase Home Health Access, Limit Nursing Homes; Home Health Care News)
- The transition from independence to assistance can be as difficult for a child or other loved one to initiate as it is for the individual to accept. This piece offers advice on how to work toward, start, and continue these necessary conversations. (Breaking the News: Telling a Loved One They Need Care; Inside Elder Care)
- This lively first-person account dives into the many aspects of caregiving — including what support a loved one needs, remembering to take care of yourself, and understanding how and when to be a patient advocate. (Stepping Up To The Plate: Lessons Learned From Being A Caregiver; Pallimed)
- Author Eric J. Hall covers much of the same instructional ground for caregivers, but with sage counsel about the specific challenges of Alzheimer’s and dementia. (How to Be A Better Alzheimer’s Caregiver: Strategies for Success; Huffington Post)
- As part of NPR’s ongoing series Inside Alzheimer’s, which examines patient Greg’s experience since his first symptoms and diagnosis five years ago, the subject’s wife shares the highs and lows of their evolving relationship. (Supporting A Spouse With Alzheimer’s: ‘I Don’t Get Angry Anymore’; NPR)