An insight into caring for dementia in particular 'aggressive dementia'

If you’re caring for a “challenging” elder and find the task daunting, you're in the same position that Jacqueline Marcell found herself. She gave up her career as a television executive, went through 40 caregivers, and cried rivers for a year before she succeeded in solving the endless crisis-- and was so compelled by the experience she wrote: Elder Rage, or Take My Father... Please! How To Survive Caring For Aging Parents to help others.

Delivered with a humorous tone to make a tough subject palatable, Marcell relates how she fought through an unsympathetic medical system and endured her "Jekyll & Hyde" father's physical and emotional wrath, until she finally found help for him and her ailing mother. What she didn't understand was that his deeply engrained life-long negative behavior pattern of yelling to get his way (though never at her before), was becoming intermittently distorted with the onset of dementia, namely--Alzheimer's.

Education is Key
Marcell points out that not everyone becomes aggressive with dementia. She says her mother was “sweet and lovely” both before and after her Alzheimer's diagnosis--indicating that the disease can manifest itself in many ways. There are many types of dementia, Alzheimer's is just one type, and there’s no stopping the progression nor is there a cure. Stage One typically lasts 2-4 years. Stage Two lasts 2-10 years (and requires full-time care), and Stage Three, the end, 1-3 years.

By the age of 65 one out of every ten persons has some form of dementia, and by the age of 85 (the fastest growing segment of the population), one out of every two. Statistically families (and many doctors who are not dementia specialists) ignore the early warning signs because they incorrectly believe that the odd behaviors are just a normal part of aging and untreatable senility.

Marcell says her mission is to “spread the word about the importance of early diagnosis to the 77 million baby boomers who are so often in denial about eldercare until they are in a crisis.” She wants everyone to know that with the proper medication dementia symptoms might be slowed down by 2-5 years, keeping a person independent and in Stage One longer, which is intermittent and mild. “Seeking help early can save families a lot of heartache and money, and save our society the burden of caring for so many elders who decline sooner than need be.”

Also a Self-Help Book
Elder Rage answers questions like how to: getting obstinate elders to give up driving, accept a caregiver, see a different doctor, go to adult day care, move to a new residence. Fifty high-profile endorsements include: Hugh Downs, Regis Philbin, Dr. Dean Edell, Dr. Nancy Snyderman/ABC News, Erin Brockovich, Johns Hopkins Memory Clinic, Duke University Center For Aging, and the National Adult Day Services Association--who honored Marcell with their Media Award for her tireless efforts to bring attention to the value of Adult Day Care.

Marcell emphasizes, “Dementia costs American business over $61 billion a year--largely due (79%) to lost productivity and absenteeism of employees who must take time off work to care for ailing loved ones. Everyone should know the ten early warning signs of dementia and the importance of seeking help sooner than later.” She says she learned caregiving the hard way, which is why she wrote her first book, “so that no one would ever have to go through what I did.”

Determined to make a difference Marcell says her mission is to, “get to Washington as quickly as possible and help change our eldercare laws. 34 million Americans are age 65 and older right now, and by 2030 there will be 69 million--and I will be one of them." She laughs, "I have an ulterior motive, I don't have children--so I've got to help straighten things out before I get old!"

Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s
1. Recent memory loss that affects job skills
2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks
3. Problems with language
4. Disorientation of time and place
5. Poor or decreased judgment
6. Problems with abstract thinking
7. Misplacing things
8. Changes in mood or behavior
9. Changes in personality
10. Loss of initiative

Jacqueline Marcell is an author, publisher, radio host, speaker, and eldercare advocate. Her book, “Elder Rage, or Take My Father... Please! How to Survive Caring For Aging Parents”, a Book-of-the-Month Club selection, is being considered for a feature film. Jacqueline also hosts “Coping with Caregiving” an Internet radio program.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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