Visiting Loved Ones With Alzheimer’s or Dementia: Do’s & Don’ts

Posted on Feb 15, 2019

It can be quite difficult to experience a loved one who is suffering from early or advanced stage dementia or Alzheimer's Disease. Visiting a friend or family member who is experiencing lapses in memory or changes in behavior due can be challenging, but it is quite meaningful for all involved — the patient and visitor alike. In this piece, we’re going to examine some of the things you’ll want to not do and do when visiting someone suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia.

Don’t:

  • bring up the idea of memory. Asking someone with dementia to recall anything is not polite and may cause immense frustration.
  • use any critical terms. Pointing out failing, mistakes or messes may aggravate someone with cognitive difficulties.
  • talk around them. Always include the patient in any conversation happening in their presence. Speaking as though they can’t hear or understand you is inconsiderate.
  • correct them on inconsequential points. Arguing with someone who is irrational can cause intense frustration for the patient and visitor alike.
  • ask them sensitive questions. Keep all questions simple and inconsequential, giving them plenty of time to answer.

Do:

  • schedule visitations appropriately. The idea of “the more, the merrier” does not apply. Too many people can be overwhelming for dementia patients. Keep visitation to one or two people at a time.
  • remove distractions. Televisions, radios, phones and other noise-creating devices should be turned off and stowed away if possible.
  • prepare other visitors. Just as you’re preparing now, make sure that other visitors are sensitive to the needs of the patient. Make sure all preparations are done before arriving for visitation.
  • remain positive. Keep all of your bodily movements intentional and somewhat slower so as not to startle the individual.
  • identify yourself. Even if this is a parent, grandparent, or close friend, make sure to introduce yourself. State your name and your relationship with them. “My name is Marco. I am your nephew.”
  • talk in short, simple sentences. Trying to comprehend longer sentences may be difficult for those with dementia. Keep statements and questions very short and to the point.
  • follow their pace. Guage their mood and level of energy. Never urge them to do something they don’t want to do.
  • give the person affection. If the patient is comfortable with a hug, feel free to give them one. Always ask first and tell them that you are going to hug them so there are no surprises.

At times, you may wonder if the person you’re visiting even realizes that it is you whom they are visiting. Regardless of this, visitations can help those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia on many different levels.  

Could a Home Funeral Be The Right Choice?

Posted on Feb 07, 2019

Few things in life are certain, but your last wishes should be included amongst those that are. Though your funeral wouldn’t be considered your final sendoff as its an event you won’t consciously attend, deciding how you will be memorialized can bring peace of mind when thinking about death. One funeral option that few consider simply due to its lack of marketing is a home funeral. In this piece, we’ll look at what constitutes a home funeral and if planning to have one will help give you and your loved ones the most meaningful opportunity to say goodbye.

What is a home funeral?

While it may sound like a new-fangled trend, what is called a “home funeral” used to simply be called a “funeral” for most families. Funerals used to almost exclusively take place within the home of the deceased. Instead of professional mortuary specialists caring for the needs of the departed and those left behind, families would take on the responsibility themselves. The resurgence in the desire to take back outsourced duties has resulted also in what is now known as a “home funeral” — a funeral that takes place within a residential space and is sometimes conducted by the family themselves.

Why would one want a home funeral?

Home funerals certainly sound like a lot of work — work that is typically left to trained professionals to relieve the grieving families of such a burden. However, for many individuals and their families, they don’t see the need for personalized care to cease at the moment of death. For the person leaving this world, knowing they will receive a home funeral means that their bodies will be cared for by those who knew them and mourned for in a place familiar to them. This consistent familiarity gives many a great sense of peace and helps ease anxiety about such matters. For the loved ones of the deceased, caring for the body of a loved one could be seen as a continuation of the care they received in life. Home funerals also remove some of the restrictions on time with the deceased for loved ones to say goodbye to the earthly versions of someone. What may not be possible in a commercial funeral home environment (spending extended time with the deceased, certain respectful rituals, etc.) are usually much more possible with a home funeral.

Are there any health hazards associated with having a funeral in one’s home?

One common misconception about home funerals is that having such a display in a residential location may be a health hazard to attendants and mourners. Realistically, home funerals are just as safe and legal as funerals in designated funeral homes, chapels, or other places of significance. To further dispell insecurities about home funerals, there’s also no hard-and-fast rule that the attendants are on their own.  Many licensed funeral professionals are happy to help as little or as much of the process as needed. While some loved ones may feel that taking part in the washing and dressing of a deceased family member or friend may bring additional closure, many are not emotionally prepared for such activities and can leave this to trained professionals. Even though some funeral professionals may not offer help with home funeral arrangements, there typically will always be many more that will than won’t. Even if you elect to not use the body preparation services of a mortuary professional, you may want to seek their assistance for help with legal documentation and transportation of the body to its final resting place.

How can non-professionals care for a deceased loved one?

Even if someone is emotionally prepared to tend to the body of a deceased loved one, some may feel hesitant about having a home funeral because they simply feel materially unprepared. Because caring for the deceased has largely been outsourced to funeral professionals for the last few generations, the art of preparing a body for the next steps has largely been lost to the common person. There was a time when how to care for a deceased loved one was as common knowledge as a favorite family recipe or home remedy for an ailment. Because of renewed interest in home funerals in recent years, a large amount of training material and courses have been developed aimed solely at those wanting to know how to care for deceased loved ones at home. There was even a documentary made that followed a few families during their home funeral processes for loved ones.

Why talk about home funerals now?

For many, there are certain anxieties that surround the treatment of their own earthly remains or the remains of departed loved ones. Investigating the various options and coming to final decisions about such arrangements can help to relieve such anxieties at any stage in life.

As the end of life becomes more evident for a loved one, proper care throughout the process can relieve a great deal of anxiety. It’s for this reason that Cura HPC is dedicated to providing professional and nurturing hospice care for your loved ones.

Fear of the First Step: Hospice Arrangements

Posted on Jan 14, 2019

There are few words that can express the feeling of being told that you or a loved one may need to begin planning for end-of-life care. Many emotions can well up inside — confusion, defeat, anger, and depression are just a few. While we realize that no one escapes the natural rhythm of time, we all pray for a quick, unexpected, yet peaceful passing. This isn’t the case for the majority of us. Because we and so many of our family members will face our passing long before it is immediately upon us, it’s important to open lines of communication with hospice services to determine which best meets your needs — even before their services are immediately necessary.

Talking Logistics is Not Giving Up On Hope

Speaking to car insurance agents about policies doesn’t make us apprehensive about riding in automobiles. Buying fire damage insurance doesn’t make us increasingly wary of lighting candles around the house. Why then would making arrangements for hospice care make us feel that we’re inviting death into our homes? Part of the reason for this is because, while there is a possibility of going through life without a single car accident or house fire, you will eventually pass away. Speaking to hospice care representatives, especially as your health or the health of a loved one deteriorates, can feel like giving up on life. This is probably the single biggest myth about hospice care. Talking to hospice is not waving a white flag, but instead planning for that which no one can avoid.

The Comfort of Knowing

Many have reported scenes where they were given the hardest pill to swallow — that it would be a good idea to start making arrangements for end-of-life care, but that they felt immediate relief from many of their anxieties upon meeting with hospice care representatives. If this is your situation, do not despair. Do you know who also needs to make arrangements for end-of-life care? Absolutely everyone. There is not a soul alive who shouldn’t be making the right arrangements for their care towards the end of life. On the other side of this coin, those who pulled the trigger on speaking with hospice care representatives actually felt much more at ease about their fate or the fate of their loved ones. The comfort of knowing that they or their loved ones would be receiving the utmost quality care was one less thing to worry about. This comfort can be yours as well.

Advance Directives: Not Just For End-Stage

Posted on Jan 02, 2019

It can be uncomfortable to even think about worse-case scenarios, let alone talk about them with those closest to you. As uncomfortable as we may feel, life’s ups and downs will occur regardless of our feelings. In order to make sure that your wishes are being met, regardless of your ability to communicate, a legal Advance Directive is the best route — and not just for end-stage patients.

What is an Advance Directive?

Most of us are familiar with a will — a legal document declaring what will be done with your earthly possessions in the event of your demise. In that similar vein, an Advance Directive is a legal document that spells out what kind of medical treatment you’d prefer to receive or not receive in the event that you are incapacitated and physically unable to make such requests.

Power of Attorney vs Advance Directive

One way we like to deflect planning for the worst is by placing this responsibility on whoever has our Power of Attorney. Someone you have given Power of Attorney is typically someone close to you whom you’ve selected to make major legal decisions on your behalf. While issuing someone to be your Power of Attorney is helpful in many situations, there can be complications with placing all of the decisions on their shoulders in the event of an unfortunate event. While you may be in a lucid and calm state right now, in the event that you unable to physically communicate, your Power of Attorney may make hasty or irrational decisions using their emotions in place of what you would have wanted. Another downside to placing that level of responsibility on your Power of Attorney also means you’re saddling them with the grief and doubt of trying to determine what care you would have wanted. Wondering if they made the right decision may be an immense burden that they carry the rest of their lives.

Advance Directives For Everyone

Most able-bodied individuals do not have an Advance Directive. A lack of an Advance Directive can be a major issue in the unfortunate event that they are incapacitated and important legal and medical decisions need to be made. Even if someone has Power of Attorney to make the necessary decisions, their choices, no matter how well-intentioned, can cause strife within friends and family members who do not agree with their decisions. If someone has an Advance Directive, there’s no one to be upset with because the subject’s wishes are the ones being carried out. Because unfortunate incidents happen every day ranging from car wrecks to brain aneurysms to getting hit with NASA space debris, planning for what kind of treatment to receive or not receive can help lift the burden of the mystery of knowing what kind of treatment you would have wanted.

Each state’s laws for Advance Directives differ, but here is a copy of a blank Oklahoma Advance Directive.

Learning How to Live Through the Process of Dying

Posted on Dec 20, 2018

“‘Everybody knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently,’ Morrie said. ‘So we kid ourselves about death,’ I (Mitch) said. ‘Yes, but there’s a better approach. To know you’re going to die and be prepared for it at any time. That’s better. That way you can actually be more involved in your life while you’re living. . . Every day, have a little bird on your shoulder that asks, ‘Is today the day? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be?... The truth is, Mitch, once you learn how to die, you learn how to live… Most of us walk around as if we’re sleepwalking. We really don’t experience the world fully because we’re half asleep, doing things we automatically think we have to do… Learn how to die, and you learn how to live.’”—Tuesdays with Morrie

It’s hard to say what can be considered more worrisome, death or dying. For many questioned, the greatest source of despair was not their impending demise, but instead, regret —  that they had not yet accomplished what they wanted to do, usually because of some fault of their own.

According to one Quora user in a forum on the subject, their patient had this to say about the sensation: “It is a bittersweet thing to know you are going to die soon. Bitter, because of everything that you wanted to do, but for one reason or another, you didn't. Bitter because there are burned bridges that can never be rebuilt. Sweet because you know the pain is going to end. The daily suffering is almost over. The emotional turmoil is getting close to being done. Sweet because the people that you were arguing with, you make up with. Sweet because whatever afterlife you believe in, or don't believe in, you know and can't wait to get there.”

Being given notice that your departure from this world will be sooner than you thought can bring a whole new perspective, as the legendary Morrie stated above. Not only does hospice care provide the physical support needed by those nearing the end of their lives, but the emotional support of those navigating the inner process of those who can see the finish line.