Archive for Dementia

Facts (and Lies) On Death Certificates

causes of death How about a few thoughts on one of the most (least) popular items on your after-death to-do list?

Death certificates are among the most dismal of reading materials. But they are essential for the “business” after a loved one’s death. Since it takes time to order and acquire certificates, it’s better to purchase multiple copies. Tucking several extras into a file is likely better than scrambling to request more in the future.

On a practical note, the mortuary will probably handle the death certificate. Depending on the county, prices for certificates run the gamut from cheap to are-you-kidding! expensive. In the United States, official copies are obtained from a county clerk’s office*.

Insurance companies, banks, and similar institutions requiring proof of death frequently want the legal certificate issued with the county’s seal. However, with my parents’ estate, the companies that requested an official certificate versus those only needing a copy were never predictable. Read More →

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Dementia’s FAST Score

A patient with dementia must have a F.A.S.T. score of seven (7) to qualify for hospice care.

FAST is an acronym for the Reisberg Functional Assessment STaging Scale. A scale nicknamed FAST to determine dementia’s severity is blatantly ironic. As a loved one’s dementia (Alzheimer’s, Lewy Bodies, etc.) worsens, he or she typically becomes, well, slower.

Currently the Reisberg scale (example found here) contains various stages and sub-categories, including these two:

  • Stage 3: Decreased job functioning evident to coworkers; difficulty in traveling to new locations
  • Stage 4: Decreased ability to perform complex tasks (e.g., planning dinner for guests, handling finances)

Those who have cared for someone with dementia usually sense the “slowing down” of a loved one only after he or she has worsened. Read More →

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In Praise of Words and Music for Patients

“I’m still praying the Lord’s Prayer with him,” one of our hospice chaplains said about her patient.

This person’s illness had made it difficult to communicate anymore. Most of his decisions were now made by his loved ones. Often it comes to this, where our beloved spouse or parent and grandparent can no longer effectively communicate. Sometimes it is because of cancer, and a “sudden” turn for the worse means a patient easily conversing in the morning transitions to someone incapable of talking by the evening. Or the patient slowly walks the darkening, years-long road of dementia, eventually unable to speak or comprehend words.

But with many of these folks, certain words, songs and memorabilia will trigger a positive, life-affirming response. As the chaplain reported the situation, when this patient was asked if he wanted to pray, he gave an affirmative nod and then, as the chaplain began, “Our Father, who art in heaven…” the patient joined in.

Did he fully understand the prayer? Probably not. Read More →

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