Stuck in the middle: What you need to know about caregiving

As the population ages, more people (particularly women) will be “sandwiched” in between taking care of their parents or other family members in need, and their children.

Take telenurse and nurse educator Kathie Wells, RN, BSN, CCM. At age 55, she is juggling full-time work, while raising school-age kids and caring for her husband Robert, 64, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in 2002.

As a nurse, Wells understood the onset and progression of PD, which often includes motor symptoms such as tremor, rigidity and balance issues. But her husband’s disease progressed in a surprising way when he began to see and believe things that weren’t real.

PD is a neurodegenerative brain disorder often involving both motor and non-motor symptoms, including hallucinations and delusions. When those symptoms appear, it may be Parkinson’s disease psychosis (PDP) and it occurs in more than half the people with Parkinson’s during the course of their disease. Yet, only 10 to 20 percent of patients will proactively report their hallucinations and delusions to their doctor.

When Wells’ husband began to experience delusions, she found his behavior frustrating and alarming. For example, Robert would spend hours in the yard digging up garden stones, convinced he’d found valuable “treasure.” Neighbors remarked on Robert’s behavior and his children wouldn’t invite friends over to avoid them seeing their dad relentlessly digging. Robert’s delusions combined with his other PD motor symptoms were hard for Wells to manage. She struggled to get enough sleep caring for Robert, and their children were hesitant to go out in public with their father because he shared his treasure hunting stories with strangers all the time.

While there’s currently no cure for PD, there are different treatment options to address both motor and non-motor symptoms. Wells says it was a relief when her husband’s neurologist suggested an FDA-approved medication indicated for the treatment of hallucinations and delusions associated with PDP.

Wells recommends the following to caregivers of people with Parkinson’s.

• Consider talking to a professional, as caregivers are more likely to experience relationships or social life suffering and emotional stress than non-caregivers. Likewise, caregiving can take a toll on physical health. Take time to sleep, de-stress, eat well and exercise.

• Seek logistical and emotional help from family, friends, support groups and advocacy groups, who often have free resources available. For example, the Parkinson’s Foundation has advice for caregivers and a helpline staffed by nurses, social workers and therapists.

• Even if you understand your loved one’s condition, report new symptoms or concerns to a healthcare provider as they arise. “I now know that delusions along with hallucinations are telltale signs of Parkinson’s disease psychosis, however, I didn’t recognize those symptoms immediately,” says Wells.

For more information visit www.moretoparkinsons.com.

Remember that you’re not alone. Support exists to help you manage the struggles associated with caring for loved ones. -StatePoint

Posted on January 1, 2018 .

How to turn volunteering into a family affair

(NewsUSA) - Want to volunteer to make things better, but think you lack the time? You're not alone. 

A new survey conducted by State Farm found that busy lifestyles is one of the biggest barriers keeping people from getting as involved as they'd like. And since 77 percent say they prefer volunteering with those they know, the summer months - with kids off from school - offer parents the ideal opportunity to perform their good deeds with the entire family. 

Two of the best suggestions that take maybe an hour each? Drawing pictures to send to veterans, and cleaning up a local beach or park. 

Posted on July 24, 2017 .

Tips for protecting your family against bug bites

From hikes to picnics to relaxing in the hammock, nothing ruins summer fun quite as fast as bug bites. Unfortunately, bug bites are more than just a nuisance. They can trigger allergic reactions in some people, and may transmit diseases like Zika Virus, Dengue Fever, West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease.

Taking these precautions this summer can help the whole family stay bite-free.

Drain the Swamp

Standing water can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Walk around your property after rainfall or after watering the lawn and take note of areas that are not draining properly or are catching and holding water in objects like garden buckets, lids and frisbees. The smallest puddle of water can breed mosquitos. Drain everything you find.

Choose the Right Bug Spray

Lyme Disease expert, Dr. Michael Jacobs, MD says “When shopping for insect repellents look for those with the active ingredients DEET or Picaridin, two of the most effective active ingredients at preventing bug bites. Stronger concentrations of the active ingredient in the formula will give you more hours of protection. For example, a 10 percent DEET or 7 percent Picaridin formula provides one to two hours of protection, while higher concentrations provide protection for eight hours and longer.”

Safe for pregnant and breast-feeding women, and a popular choice for families, Natrapel Tick & Insect Repellant uses the CDC recommended 20 percent Picaridin active ingredient and provides up to 12 hours of protection against mosquitoes and ticks. This formula is also safe on gear and comes in variety of sprays and wipes for easy application.

For outdoor enthusiasts, DEET is the best-selling active ingredient in the U.S. For a trusted choice, consider Ben’s Tick & Insect Repellent, the first brand to register a 10-hour, 100 percent DEET formula with the EPA. The brand also offers an eight-hour, 30 percent DEET water-based formula that is made to evaporate slowly -- so repellent stays on longer with little absorption into the skin.

Cover Up and Be Smart

Make your skin less vulnerable to bug bites with smart fashion choices. When outdoors, particularly in wooded areas, wear loose-fitting long sleeves and pants. Light colors are a good choice, as mosquitoes seem to prefer darker clothing.

Why Me?

Have you ever felt you were being eaten alive by mosquitoes, while everyone else around you remained unaffected? There are many factors that can make one person more appealing than another to mosquitoes. And some are beyond one’s control, such as blood type and genetics. However, mosquitoes are attracted to sweat, so don’t forget the deodorant. They also seem to prefer beer drinkers, according to a study by Japanese researchers.

Vacation or Staycation

Get savvy when traveling. Research your destination so you know what types of insects you can expect to encounter. Staying nearby? Remember, most species of mosquitoes in the U.S. are busiest at dusk. During those hours, take extra precautions to avoid becoming their meal.

This summer, stay safe and comfortable by thinking about these strategies. By doing so, you will keep the bugs at bay so you can play. - StatePoint

Posted on June 12, 2017 .