How to Work With Mild Cognitive Impairment

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What is mild cognitive impairment?

MCI (mild cognitive impairment) can happen to everyone. Sometimes MCI is known as "senior moments" because we don't process things as quickly as we did when we were younger. While some people will develop significant memory loss and unfortunately, will be unable to live safely on their own. These people have developed conditions that bring on full-blown dementia such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.

Then there are those that can still function with some memory loss and live independently. These are the people who have developed MCI and these signs include greater than usual difficulty with remembering recent events, a scheduled appointment, or following a thread of conversation or movie plot, making decisions, following instructions, etc. Half of people who become diagnosed with MCI will go on to develop Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia on average within five years. The rest tend to stay at this mild level of memory loss, with a small number making improvements over time!

If you do believe that your loved one has MCI, it is important to schedule an appointment for a medical exam as soon as possible. Sometimes the symptoms of MCI can actually be a side effect of a particular medication or even sleep apnea or alcohol abuse and it's good to discern the problem quickly. Be sure to follow up every since months to track the changes.

If your relative actually does have MCI, there is no concrete treatment as of yet. However, there are ways to prolong better brain function such as increasing social and mental activity, as well as maintaining good physical fitness. Brain health relies on all of these so passive activities such as watching television isn't very helpful.

If you don't have the time to do this sort of supervision, call on your local home care agency to find a professional caregiver | private home nurse care | geriatric care manager.

Age Is It's Own Beauty

Do it with dignity and the eyes are always smiling.

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Taking a Vacation Without Mom or Dad

Sometimes, taking an extended break to recharge your levels is the best way to care for your loved one. Here are some tips to help you plan in advance when leaving care to someone else: 
  • Family members. Ask other family members several months to a year ahead of time when you'd like a break so that can prepare. If they are remote from where you and your elder live, then have them arrive early so that you can go over your routine with them. This is especially important if your elder has memory problems and easing them into the same routine with a different person can help keep down the elder's anxiety. 
  • Agencies. If seeking help from an agency, give yourself at least three months of lead-generation time to find the right home caregiver. Trial several agencies and their senior caregivers before you leave for your break. 
  • Facilities. Just as you would seek help from an agency, start researching facilities for short-term residential care three months ahead of time. Try having lunch with your elder there several times in order to get him or her acclimated as well as to find out if the facility is suitable. Also, the staff and administration will be thankful that you gave them enough notice for them to meet your schedule. 
  • Geriatric care managers. Geriatric care managers can actually offer "vacation packages" where they find and hire care and provide supervision while you're gone. 

These other services can be helpful if your relative does not need assistance with personal care:
  • checking in daily with a call to a friend, nearby relative, or a phone visiting service;
  • a medical alert system for your elder to press in case he or she needs to summon emergency help;
  • meals-on-wheels
Also ensure that all bills are up to date or prepaid and that adequate supplies of medications are on hand.

In case of emergency, leave complete information about your relative’s medical insurance, health history, current prescriptions, and doctor and pharmacy contacts. Include a completed advance care directive where someone can easily find it and instructions about how to reach you. 

Craftiness is Not Optional

I came across this arts and craft ideas for seniors and it reminded me of the classes held at a Boca Raton care facility that were favorites among the residents. Beading and knitting is a fun, creative activity for seniors and even if they are unable or unwilling to participate, just watching others and getting involved in the conversations was a good time for everyone. Craftiness is Not Optional also offers recipes ideas for those that love spending time in the kitchen. 

Granny Gizmos

Ergonomic pens for seniors, multi-grip bottle openers and grip doornob adapters for arthritic fingers, EZ jar opener, etc... this site's inventions for old people targets those that could benefit from the "nifty" inventions.

Presto Email-Free for Seniors to Keep In Touch with Family

Presto is a Bay-Area company that foregoed computers when they developed a printer that produces a hard-copy email for seniors that don't use computers. I thought this idea could also work for second generation Americans with foreign parents that don't speak English well and that don't use the computer for that reason.

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Senior caregivers could help dependent seniors receive these messages and read them aloud if needed. The printer is $99 and refundable in 60-days while the service is $189 a year or $18.99 a month, definitely not outrageously expensive considering the value of keeping in touch with family.