By Pamela Atwood, Director of Dementia Care Services
The lovely, autumn evening of October 14 heralded exploration and discovery not seen since Columbus himself wandered toward India and discovered America (okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration). With the help of local radio personality Mary Jones from WDRC-AM 1360, a panel of Hebrew Health Care’s experts helped live and virtual/social-media audiences discover new perspectives on caregiving and aging wellness. With some refreshments and caregiver survival kits, AgingCareAcademy.org was launched. I thought today I’d share with you some of the questions and answers from that evening.
Q. I think my mom may be depressed. How do I know and is that something her primary care physician (PCP) can evaluate?
A. Depression is very common among older adults, for a number of reasons. You want to look for persistent sadness and changes in outlook, mood, and activity level. If those changes exist over at least a 2-week period she may be depressed. Obviously, any discussion of suicidal thoughts should be reported to her medical professionals immediately. The PCP may be able to evaluate and treat this simply, or may refer to a geriatric psychiatrist, psychologist for talk-therapy or both. If medication is ordered, it usually takes 4-6 weeks to get to a therapeutic level. If symptoms haven’t significantly improved by then, a different brand of medication may be helpful.
Q. What is the best brand of emergency response device?
A. Whichever the individual will wear! One of the most common reasons for system failure is that the person refuses to wear the device. No one can help if you’ve fallen and can’t get up if you aren’t wearing the button to call for help. Emergency alert services (EAS) are improving with every advance in technology. Some are limited to in-house use only. But nowadays there are several which utilize GPS and cell phone technology and can be set to summon help from wherever the individual is located. They may even be automatically triggered if the patient falls and responders can tell where in the house the person is located. EAS charges can vary quite a bit and may depend on: state/region of country; level of technology and notifications; installation requirements; extra pendant for spouse; equipment purchase; contracts; replacement batteries.
Q. How do you know what level of help in the home is needed, or what is available?
A. Education through Aging Care Academy and information on our website can help you evaluate and make care decisions. Our next semester of courses begins in Hartford later this month. Confident caregivers come from quality education, and the best resources and faculty are available at Aging Care Academy. Individual elder care consultations are also available. Go to AgingCareAcademy.org for more information and to register for classes or book a consult today.