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Many people wonder what the difference is between Dementia and someone diagnosed Alzheimer’s. Both affect the brain in terrible ways and are frustrating and emotionally draining on the family and friends of those close to the one who is sufferi

Compassion in the Confusion

ng from these things. This is certainly a growing concern, as increasingly we are involved in the senior care of our parents. Neither is a normal part of the aging process. Regardless of the definitions, no one wants to lose control of their mind, and no one wants to see their loved ones lose control. If we are to remain strong with compassion and kindness towards those we care about, it is important to know what is happening and what we can come to expect. We cannot control what is happening to their mind, but we can control how we interpret their moods, tantrums, and expressions and turn our reactions into compassionate actions.

The medical and technical differences between the two are that one is a syndrome and the other a disease. Even the word syndrome is not easily understood as a separate event from a disease. Technically, a syndrome is a group of symptoms. Grouping symptoms is important to find the classification of type. Groupings include looking at cognitive, behavioral, mood, psychological, and whole body experiences. Someone may have impaired judgment and may be susceptible to dementia. But that one symptom alone does not determine if they do or what type. If that symptom is grouped with occurrences of internal bleeding in the brain, this may be a vascular dementia. Certainly, assessing more symptoms would be necessary to group appropriately. So, the technical order is that symptoms determine a syndrome, and grouping them determines the specific type under that syndrome. Memory loss that is hurtful enough to interfere with daily life combined with physical changes in the brain indicate dementia. Grouping specific symptoms under that general category lead to diagnosing what type of dementia, one of those being Alzheimer’s disease.

An analogy of remembering the difference is to think of an apartment complex. The complex is the dementia and one of the apartments located there is the Alzheimer’s apartment. To know what apartment to go to, you need to know the apartment number, the building number, and if you want to enter, there may be multiple keys and an alarm code. There is a wealth of information and a list of identifiable symptoms located at the website for the Alzheimer’s Association,

One of the best ways to give care to seniors, parents, or anyone we love with Alzheimer’s disease is to take care of ourselves. Once we are knowledgeable about what we are dealing with, we have taken care of our intellectual health. That care needs to be extended to our bodies and well-being as well, or the caregiver is of dramatically less use to the loved one. It is frequent for caregivers of Alzheimer’s disease to feel an unhealthy amount of stress. If you are feeling denial, anger, social withdrawal, anxiety, depression, exhaustion, sleeplessness, irritability, lack of concentration, and health problems as a caregiver, it is important to you and your loved one that you see a doctor and get some help. You cannot give care if you are physically and emotionally sick. It is no easy task to smile in the light of someone yelling. It is not for the weak to be kind when harsh words are being thrown in the face of that kindness.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, typically affecting seniors. It is an abnormal progressive disease that affects those we love and care about over a period of agonizing time. Assessing the symptoms of ourselves is as important as assessing those symptoms of those who are affected by this disease. For some things, we are strong enough to carry the weight on our own, for other burdens, we need help. Let us be reminded, strengthened, and encouraged that in the end faith, hope, and love remain. But the greatest of these is love.

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Setting up and enforcing Power Of Attorney (POA) documents can be very confusing for most. Note that below are  essential tools that can help aging adults and their families gain peace of mind regarding care and planning.

The two types of POA Power of Attorney

First, It’s important to distinguish between the two main types of POA

Healthcare and Financial.

A healthcare POA gives a trusted friend or family member also referred to as an agent the ability to make healthcare decisions about a person’s care if they are unable to do so. A financial POA gives an agent the ability to make financial decisions for a person if they are unable to do so.

The difference between these two types is, with a POA, an individual can decide in advance who they want their agent to be if they become incapable of making decisions for themselves. Conservators and guardians are court-appointed individuals

What can a POA do?

Here are examples of the kinds of decisions each type of POA can make.

In the name of the principal, a healthcare agent can decide: What medical care they receive. This is also dependent on the financial means of the person in need of care and the approval of the financial POA

Where they live

Where they eat

Who can bathe them

What medical care they receive. This is also dependent on the financial condition of the person in need of care and the approval of the financial POA

In the name of the principal, the financial agent can

File taxes

Pay for health care and housing

Make investment decisions

Pay bills

There are some states that have adopted the recently created, Uniform Power Of Attorney Act (UPOAA). This law sets some basic ground rules for Power of Attorney, POA contracts. It determines which powers are included in the documents by default, and which need to be explicitly addressed.

UPOAA mandates that:

  • A POA is valid and durable as soon as it’s signed. This provision is important because it gives a principal the flexibility to decide how involved they want their agent to be while they are still in possession of their faculties. For example, a financial agent could handle the daily tasks of paying bills and buying food, while the principal continues to make their own investment and major purchasing decisions.
  • Compensation for decision makers, gift-giving, and any beneficiary changes must be outlined in the POA document. A common question people have about POAs is whether or not someone is allowed to be paid for being making decisions for an injured loved one. For this to happen, it will need to be described in the legal document ahead of time. It is advised that elder adults who are considering assigning someone to have POA to think about including a provision to allow a person to be paid for their services.
  • Third parties such as  banks, doctors, other family members cannot be held accountable for upholding the decisions of a POA, power of attorney that appears to be legitimate and legal.
  • A POA, power of attorney can’t survive the death of the principal.

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Determine if you are ready to delegate the duties that you have been doing yourself and ensure your loved one is comfortable with the idea of having someone from the “outside” helping out. When you finally decide to get some assistance in caring for your family member with special needs or an aging parent, many questions can arise as well as anxiety. The condition of your loved one will help you decide on the level of care you need as well as how many hours in the day you will need the assistance. Start with knowing your budget and note the priorities that are most important to you. Expect in home caregiving services to offer daily living assistance such as personal care, meal prep, transportation and light house keeping etc.

It’s time to start interviewing Agencies. Take time to ask open ended questions.

Is the Agency licensed by the state?

Find out about how their Nurse Aids credentials are verified?

Ask about the frequency of field supervision and performance assessments.

Ask if the Agency offers training and continuing education and if so, by who?

Is the Agency insured and bonded?

Will there be a back up caregiver in the event yours is unable to work?

Ask how the caregiver is chosen for your loved one and how much of your input is taken into consideration. 

Ask how much flexibility there will be in scheduling the service?

The rates. Is there a minimum? Overnight rate? 

Finding the right care will make all the difference in you, your loved one and the overall happiness of your family. It is one of the most important decisions that you will make. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment to further discuss with a Certified Nurse Aide, call Nellie’s Heart Caregiving at 512-361-0008. Serving Austin and surrounding counties.



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We are setting up a booth at the 19th annual Buda Country Fair and Wiener Dog Races. The booth will be there  to drum up business for Nellie’s Heart Caregiving and for Amanda’s Kidney Awareness. Our main goal is to raise money for my Aunt Cindy’s daughter, Amanda for a kidney transplant. A living donor can give a kidney, a portion of a liver, lung, intestine or pancreas. Currently 124,000 men, women and children are awaiting organ transplant in the United States. Click Donate Life for more information.


At the festival, we will be asking donations for lemonade that will be served  in a themed memorable plastic cup along with cookies and treats. So, come see us and enjoy the day’s festivities, after all, the wiener dogs are racing!