slid downhill. Armed only with spirituality and determination, he began his struggle to survive around-the-clock caregiving. The author found only partial successes at first, but better solutions slowly emerged. They allowed the author to overcome his emotional problems, and will provide a clear map for others to follow. This should help them grow and achieve a better balance between care of self and care of the family member.
Chapter 2: Our Seventeen Years
The seventeen-year journey broke down into four phases. This chapter describes the major changes that took place in each phase, including the steady deterioration caused by the disease. Instead of being surprised, a caregiver may make realistic plans. In each phase, the "lessons learned" include detailed suggestions to consider.
Handle These Early
Each family will face critical financial and legal problems. Victims only have a short time before they lose their decision-making ability. These chapters include ideas on managing assets, reducing and solving problems, and the costs of one’s actions in time and money.
Chapter 3: Financial Concerns
This chapter will help to get the most out of the income tax system, Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance, and Social Security. For example, it lists more than a dozen key questions that one should ask before buying a long-term care insurance policy. It also gives tips on what to do when a family member lives far away.
Chapter 4: Legal Concerns
This chapter will aid in choosing a lawyer. It will help the reader to understand the benefits of an advanced medical directive, a living will, a durable power of attorney, a trust, and a will.
In negotiating the healthcare system, the author had both failures and successes. His journey through the system will help others make sensible choices as effective advocates for the incapacitated family member.
Chapter 5: Dental
Many dentists and hygienists are not prepared to handle extraordinary behavior, even if sedatives control it. This chapter tells how to prolong use of a current dentist. It also covers preventive care for each phase of the disease, including two useful products.
Chapter 6: Medical
During this illness, one will need a team of doctors. A caregiver needs to know how to choose them and coordinate their care. In addition, one should have a plan of which optional medical procedures to use in various medical situations. One will learn how to understand and benefit from the most current research. The author also details the valuable lessons he learned along the way.
Chapter 7: Prescription drugs
With discretionary prescription drugs, doctors have different preferences regarding type, amount, and duration, especially when they prescribe multiple drugs. Since the recipient is incapable of describing side effects, an aware caregiver can better talk with a doctor and may influence some recommendations. A reader will also learn how to get up-to-date information, what reactions to expect, and when to consider stopping drugs.
Getting One’s Money’s Worth from Healthcare
Chapter 8: Products that Work
Some highly touted products work well for the physically disabled, but do not help people with senile dementia. This is an honest guide to solving six major problems caregivers will face. The author discusses more than forty other cost-effective products that make the job easier, including their advantages and disadvantages.
Chapter 9: When Others Provide Care
A confusing array of choices exists for a caregiver using services provided by day-care centers, home care (including day workers and live-in help), nursing facilities, and hospice. The best care will not result from choosing one type of care over another. It will come from a blended mix of all the choices, adapting them to changing situations. This chapter will help one understand advantages, disadvantages, and costs of each to get the maximum return on expensive help.
Chapter 10: Other Resources
The author found more than a dozen other resources that were helpful. This chapter will help others understand the advantages they have to offer, and intelligently decide which to use. In addition, other family members can learn the key roles they may play and when a caregiver will most appreciate their help.
Initially, family members can do all of the activities independently. These ideas can make it easier, however, and allow them to extend their independence. When family members can only partially complete these activities, ideas in these chapters will allow them to maintain their dignity longer. Eventually, a family member will become totally dependent, and these activities will consume most of a caregiver’s time. For this situation, one will learn simple solutions that can be done safely within the time available, while retaining respect for the family member.
Chapter 11: Bathing
What is the most effective type of bath for incontinence? Are there exceptions? What if a family member is unable to leave their bed? This chapter tells how to avoid problems and give the simplest bath for every situation.
Chapter 12: Dressing
Even in the companionship phase, problems of confusion and frustration occur. By the final phase, dressing and undressing a heavy, stiff person without hurting the person or oneself becomes a concern. One will learn solutions to changing challenges.
Chapter 13: Eating
Maintaining appetite includes what foods to buy and avoid. Also covered are routines to make mealtimes more successful and ideas that will extend independent eating.
Chapter 14: Continence and Incontinence
This chapter tells how to maintain a high level of continence throughout the disease. It also tells how to prevent accidents, set up changing areas, and do an effective job of handling incontinence.
Chapter 15: Moving from Place to Place
Changing positions improperly can result in debilitating injuries to both the patient and the caregiver. Some safety precautions are common to all moves. A caregiver will also learn successful ways to handle the unique characteristics of ten different types of moves.
Chapter 16: Other Tips
Dozens of topics tell how to handle behavioral changes, personal care, and changes to the home (including safety) to prolong quality of life. This chapter also outlines successful routines that make a family member comfortable. It also gives tips so a caregiver may have better two-way communications with a family member. It addresses when and how to get a family member to stop driving. Other topics cover traveling successfully, and preventing and recovering from wandering.
Chapter 17: Good Examples of Bad Advice
The author lists some frequently heard advice and some assumptions that are prevalent for senile dementia. They were not accurate for his wife, and some were unkind, ineffective, or harmful. An analysis tells why one should be more questioning.
The appendix has a dozen valuable tools or data, including: a list of inspirational music, sample instructions for others providing care, a sample contract for another caregiver to live in one’s home, a yearly cost analysis for each type of care, and what changes in speech one may expect.
An extensive bibliography sorts books into eight categories and gives a short summary of each book. The author also includes an index.
Chapter 1: Secrets of Survival
Negative emotions can cause one to self-destruct and destroy one’s ability to be an effective caregiver. What are those emotions? Are there simple, inexpensive solutions that can fit within the time constraints of a caregiver? What solutions form the cornerstones for survival?
A caregiver can survive the emotional fluctuations of a long-term illness. The author experienced the emotional trauma of losing his wife, while still caring for her. Care requirements constantly became greater, continually increasing his mental and physical strains. His experience found him unprepared, and he slowly