Helping Caregivers Through the Holidays

When someone in your family has dementia, or really any other chronic condition, it can affect what holiday time and family gatherings look like. There’s no magic solution, but we hope these tips and reminders might help make this holiday season a bit easier and merry as you balance the holidays as a caregiver.

1. Help your family and friends adjust their expectations
If some time has passed since visiting relatives or friends have seen the person who has dementia, there may have been significant changes in that person’s status since the last time friends or family last saw them. It is often very helpful if you update family, perhaps via a mass email or individual phone calls, on what kind of cognitive changes are going on and what they can expect when they arrive.

These changes can be hard for family members to accept. Remind them that changes in memory and behavior are a result of the disease, not the person. Continue reading

Austin Mayor’s Task Force on Aging

Dear Friends,

For the past year, I have had the great honor to serve on the Austin Mayor’s Task Force on Aging. I am very proud to have been part of this effort.

The recommendations from the Task Force include the following focus areas:

  1. Healthy Living
  2. Independence
  3. Informed Community

We are especially thrilled that under the focus area of ‘independence’, the Task Force specifically highlights the need for critical support and training for family caregivers. One of their recommendations is to expand CaregiverU, a collaboration that AGE is honored to coordinate with the generous support of the St. David’s Foundation. Continue reading

The “Sandwich Generation” should be called the “Hero Generation”

(Guest Post by Caregiving Cafe)

According to Pew Research’s report titled “The Sandwich Generation,” 47% of US adults in their 40’s and 50’s have a parent who is 65 or older and are caring for a child 18 or younger, or are supporting a grown child.  Many are providing caregiving as well as financial and emotional support.  [Pew Research, January 2013]

With advancing age, the likelihood of an aging parent needing help by the time a child becomes a young adult is rather great.  The picture becomes a bit more complex as grown children experiencing hardship (financial or emotional) pull at their parents’ heartstrings (and wallet).

I have had a taste of this dubious “sandwich” while caring long-distance for my mother and raising our daughter.  Mine was actually loaded with the “extras,” as I also began to care for my husband when our daughter had just turned 13.  He became disabled as a result of CRPS, a painful and debilitating neurological disease. Continue reading

Spring Lawn Care: Or When His (Or Her) Jobs Become Your Jobs

[This is the fifth installment of posts from Faith, AGE’s CaregiverU Coordinator and personal expert on being a family caregiver – you’ll continue hearing from her on a range of topics once a month.]

Lawn care.  Hmmm, not my expertise.  I do enjoy the sight of a well tended lawn, though.  Thick green grass, nicely edged, pretty stones in a ring around each tree, neatly trimmed trees, front flower Green Lawnbed blooming.  All very nice, but I am clueless as to how to create that, and probably not much better on knowing how to maintain it.  You see, I’ve been married close to 45 years and we’ve had a system called ‘his work’ and ‘her work’.  I took care of the inside of the house and he took care of the outside.  The work inside of the house and all my other responsibilities took up all of my time and then some, so I paid little attention to the work in our yard.  Seven years ago when we moved into our current house, I was eager to learn how to do yard work and hoped to work together with my spouse to plan the landscaping and share in the labor.  My dear husband was insulted by those plans—refer back to ‘his work’ and ‘her work’ above.  The yard was definitely his domain and I’d best remember that.  In the name of peace and harmony, I took my rightful place, and simply enjoyed the loveliness.

I enjoyed it until now.  Now my spouse is not so capable of planning and organizing the yard work.  He sometimes forgets how to start the lawn mower and claims it doesn’t work.   Our good neighbor comes over to get it going, and tells him the mower just needed an adjustment.  Helpful friends give him bedding plants for the flower beds, thinking he would enjoy digging in the dirt again.  He enjoys the digging and puttering, but then becomes very anxious because the plants aren’t thriving.  That’s when he asks me what to do, and, I’m –clueless.   He worries about the bald spots in the front lawn and then I worry.  Surely bald spots are not a good thing, but what does one do? Continue reading

What’s the Difference: A Look at Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Dementia: The presence of multiple cognitive deficits by both memory impairment and one or more of the following:

  • Executive functioning (planning, organization, sequencing, abstraction)
  • Aphasia, Apraxia, Agnosia
  • No delirium
  • Interferes with social or occupational functioning

Alzheimer’s Disease: A slowly progressing brain disease, which is the most common form of dementia. It affects recent memories first, then begins to affect emotions, decision making, personality, eventually destroying long-term memory and ability to interact with the world. In the moderate stages you might notice mood and communication changes, delirium, and wandering.

It is not easy to distinguish between dementia (and its other causes) and Alzheimer’s.   They are often confused because they share a similar set of symptoms, but Alzheimer’s is just one of many possible causes of dementia.

Some causes of dementia may sometimes be treatable, so it is important to talk with your doctor to try and figure out exactly what is going on. A diagnosis of dementia does not necessarily mean the person has Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s cannot technically be diagnosed while someone is alive, because the only definite way to identify Alzheimer’s is to examine brain tissue upon a person’s death. It can be very challenging to deal with not being able to find an absolutely definitive diagnosis.

Information care of Kim Butrum, RN, Gerontological Nurse Practitioner from The Memory Center at the Seton Brain and Spine Institute

Below is a video from which explains the process that occurs within the brain with Alzheimer’s:

AGE serves an average of 40 older adults every day who need daytime supervision and assistance due to a memory impairment. AGE’s Adult Day Centers provide a community where older adults can engage with their peers in therapeutic and stimulating activities under the supervision of a full-time nurse and trained staff. This program helps these vulnerable older adults avoid early nursing home placement and instead keeps them at home with their families. This gives family caregivers the respite they need to continue to work and balance taking care of their families and themselves.

If you would like to join the AGE of Central Texas family by giving towards the direct services that benefit clients and family caregivers who are dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s, please click here or send a check to AGE at 3710 Cedar St # 2 Austin, TX 78705. Feel free to reach us at or 512.451.4611.

 We are ever grateful for those who support us in deed and word in our mission to serve older adults and those who care for them. With your support, we hope to continue to meet the needs of this community.

Meet Wilbur, A Client

“We all need assistance; we all need a helping hand. No person’s an island.”

Wise Words and a Personal Perspective:

‘Good Afternoon: My name is Wilbur.  I am a client at AGE’s Adult Day Care Center.  I am 87 years old and a World War II Army Combat Veteran.  I served in combat with the infantry in the European Theatre and in the Army of Occupation in Japan.  After my military service I was employed in the United States Postal Service from April 1946 until my retirement in January 1985.

He won a trophy today for ‘Best Dancer’ at the Carnival.

When my wife of 56 plus years of marriage passed away in November 2003, I, like so many elderly people had a decision to make.  To my good fortune my son and daughter-in-law gave me the opportunity to make my home with them in Austin.  Both my son and daughter-in law were still in the workforce.  Early in January 2004 my son and I visited Elderhaven (AGE’s Adult Day Health Center)- My first reaction was like most people.  Would I like Elderhaven and most of all would staff and clients accept me?  Not only was I accepted, but the clients voted me February King and my friend Queen.  I had not danced in years, so after we were crowned we danced like royalty.

The Activity Director at AGE’s Adult Day Health Center here in Austin is Theresa.  Theresa schedules our activities, and at the start of each month every client receives a calendar of daily activities for the month.  Every day we walk and we do exercise.  Some of our activities are arts and crafts, music, entertainment, games, trivia, sing-a-longs, dances, and a lot more.  All activities help the body, mind, and soul.  We have a snack in the morning and in the afternoon.

If you are considering someone who needs day care where you are treated with respect and all clients are treated equally, Elderhaven meets your needs.  Clients are from different ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds and we get along great.  At Elderhaven we have clients from 30 years of age to the mid 90’s.  We pray, laugh, and sometimes shed a tear.  I consider my fellow clients my second family.’

It is clients like Wilbur who remind us that community and compassion is so important in absolutely everything that AGE does. For those who don’t know, AGE’s funding (and that of several local non-profits) and ability to provide services to clients was severely damaged this week by the withdrawal of a major supporter. If you would like to join the AGE of Central Texas family by giving towards the direct services that benefit clients like Wilbur, please click here or send a check to AGE at 3710 Cedar St # 2 Austin, TX 78705. Feel free to reach us at or 512.451.4611.


Thank you for your love and support. And thank you for caring about the older adults of Austin and Central Texas.

Upcoming events from the Capital Area Alzheimer’s Association

If you’re caring for an older loved one, please take note of the short calendar of events below, all sponsored by our friends at the Alzheimer’s Association of the Capital Area. If you want additional information on events, please check out their website. -SP

A Look Ahead: 2011 Programs & Events

Happy New Year from the Capital of Texas Chapter! We are excited to share information on programs and events coming up in 2011. As always, the best place for information on what we have going on is this newsletter. Contact Christian Wells with questions about a specific program or event. All programs are free of charge.

ALZ 101: Introduction to Alzheimer’s
Class intended for families with a recently diagnosed loved one and the general public. Topics covered include: What is dementia, What is AD include stages, Diagnosis & Treatment, Risk & Prevention, Things to know and do when coping with a diagnosis. Three standing classes are offered:

Austin: 2nd Tuesday at the Chapter Office at 6 pm

San Marcos: 3rd Wednesday at the Community Fish Hatchery Bldg. at 10:45 am

Round Rock: 4th Wednesday at the Baca Senior Center at10 am

Lunch N’ Learns
The centerpiece of our non-urban education and awareness outreach features presentations on a variety of topics in all counties served, except Travis. Lunch is provided to participants. Events are held at local restaurants, libraries, and community centers. Spring 2011 calendar includes the following:
January 14 in Copperas Cove, TX
February 11 in Lampasas, TX
February 25 in Giddings, TX
March 11 in Taylor, TX
March 25 in La Grange, TX
April 8 in Bastrop, TX
May 13 in Llano, TX
May 27 in Lockhart, TX

Facing the Challenge Caregiver Education Series
FTC is a four part series that educates family caregivers on disease and caregiving tips and techniques. The series takes place on Tuesdays and will be offered in February, April, June, August, and November.
Part 1 – ALZ 101: Introduction to Alzheimer’s
Part 2 – Behaviors & Communication
Part 3 – Assisting with Activities of Daily Living
Part 4 – Care for the Caregiver

Brown Bag Information Sessions
Beginning February 2011, the Chapter will host Brown Bag Information Sessions at the Chapter office (3429 Executive Center Drive, #100, Austin, TX). The educational events will feature a speaker on a variety of topics related to Alzheimer’s disease and caregiving. The sessions will be conveniently held during lunch and participants are encouraged to bring their meal. Light snacks and drinks will be provided. Call (512) 241-0420 or email to reserve your spot. Mark your calendar for the February class:
Friday, February 4
Selecting, Interviewing, Screening, Hiring and Managing a Caregiver
Presented by Edwin Young of Right at Home – Austin (West)
11:30 – 12:30 pm

Jan 5 – Days Gone By Education Series in Sun City
Hosted at the Cowan Creek Amenities Center (Florence Room) from 10:00 – 11:00 am by Scott & White Healthcare, Tiffin House and the Chapter. Join author, Deanna Lueckenotte, for this free monthly education series. Call (254) 535-7584 to register.

Jan 11 – ALZ 101 in Austin
Held every 2nd Tuesday at the Chapter office (3429 Executive Center Drive, #100, Austin, TX 78731) from 6 – 7:15, this class covers disease information, diagnosis, treatments, stages, coping tips and more. Reserve your spot at or (512) 241-0420.

Jan 14 – Lunch N’ Learn: Behaviors & Communication in Copperas Cove
Come learn about behaviors and communications associated with
Alzheimer’s disease and enjoy a complimentary lunch at Casa Olé, 2730 E. Hwy. 190, Copperas Cove, TX 76522 from 11:30 – 1:00 pm. Call (512) 241-0420 or email to register.

Jan 15 – Wimberley Health Fair in Wimberley
Hosted by the Mayor’s Fitness Council from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm at the
Community Center on RR 12. Safety and fitness information and health screenings will be available. For more information, please call the Chapter office at (512) 241-0420. This event is free of charge.

Jan 19 – ALZ 101 in San Marcos
Held every 3rd Wednesday at the Fish Hatchery Building behind the Chamber offices at Hopkins and CM Allen Parkway from 11 – 12:15 pm, this class covers disease information, diagnosis, treatments, stages, coping tips and more. Reserve your spot at or (512) 241-0420.

Jan 25 – Respite Care Stakeholder Forum in Waco
Come learn more about respite services for caregivers caring for individuals of all ages, disabilities and health conditions. Share stories, ideas and resources with other caregiving experts and providers of respite care services. This forum will be held from 9:00 am – Noon at the Heart of Texas Area Agency on Aging (1514 S. New Road, Waco, TX 76711) & is presented by the Texas Respite Coordination Center, the Texas Respite Coalition and the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services. RSVP to For more information, please call (512) 478-4715.

Jan 26 – ALZ 101 in Round Rock
Held every 4th Wednesday at the Allen Baca Center (301 W. Bagdad, Bldg. 2, Round Rock, 78664) in the Arts & Crafts Room from 10 – 11:15 am, this class covers disease information, diagnosis, treatments, stages, coping tips and more. Reserve your spot at or (512) 241-0420.

Feb 4 – Brown Bag Information Session in Austin 11:30 – 12:30 Selecting, Interviewing, Screening, Hiring and Managing a Caregiver. Presented by Edwin Young, Director of Right at Home – Austin (West). Call (512) 241-0420 or email to reserve your spot.

Feb 8 – Senior Day at the Capitol in Austin at 10:30 am

FREE Caregiver Conference: RSVP Today!

Join AGE for our upcoming FREE Caregiver’s Conference: Striking a Balance!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

2525 West Anderson Lane, Northcross Mall
Norris Conference Center, Red Oak Ballroom
9 AM – 2 PM (Doors Open at 8:30 AM)
Light breakfast and lunch will be provided at this FREE conference

Registration Deadline: Friday, September 10, 2010

Click here to register, or visit the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area website.

For Questions or Assistance call 512-916-6180.

Elderhaven Adult Day Care Center of Austin & Williamson Counties will provide free respite for caregivers the day of the conference. Reservations are required: 512-458-6305.

Participants will discover local caregiver resources, acquire skills to better manage their caregiving situation, and connect with other caregivers and local experts on aging.