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Posts Tagged ‘alzheimers’

Making Mom Feel Special While in Assisted Living

making mom feel specialCelebrating Mother’s Day, birthdays or any other special day in assisted living can be a bit of a challenge, depending on mom’s mobility. If you can take her out to brunch, that’s probably the best way to celebrate with her: by spending some time with her and taking her out to enjoy some of her favorite foods. If you’re celebrating in assisted living, we have some tips for you.

Bring the Whole Family

If you have kids, bring them to visit mom because you know she always loves spending time with the grandkids. If you don’t have kids of your own, but you have siblings and/or cousins, try to get as many of them to come visit with you as possible. Despite our best efforts, assisted living can sometimes be a lonely place and it’s easy for residents to feel isolated, so remind mom how much the whole family loves her by bringing everyone.

If mom gets overwhelmed easily, try to schedule with your family so everyone gets to spend a little time with her throughout the day (or weekend) without all crowding around her at once. Space out your visits so she has time to rest in between.

Update Her Technology

If you can’t be there in person, try to find ways to make it feel like you’re there with her. Technology has gotten more and more user friendly so even your least tech-savvy mom can figure out how to operate a tablet so they can FaceTime with you.

If it’s gift ideas you’re looking for, digital photo frames are always a hit. Load them up with photos of your family so she can always keep you near. If she’s done some traveling in her time and you have access to photos from her trips, you can load those onto the digital photo frame to remind her of the adventures she’s had. Most digital photo frames hold hundreds of photos, so you don’t have to pick and choose.

If mom has dementia or Alzheimer’s, photos and other visual aids can help stimulate her memory, which is a nice bonus.

There’s an App for That

In other cases, just taking the time to download some apps onto mom’s phone and/or tablet can pay off all year long. Whether it’s showing her how to use Spotify to listen to her favorite music, or downloading movies or audiobooks from your local library, you can give her more of the things she loves without paying a dime.

Another free app you’ll love is a locator mobile app. You can install it on her phone and it will give you alerts when she’s leaving and coming back to the assisted living community so you can have peace of mind knowing she’s not wandering off in the middle of the night. Life360 is a great app that does this for you.

Another way technology can help out is by helping her keep track of the items she uses most. Products like the Esky Wireless RF Item Locator offer multiple receivers and a color-coded remote to help you keep track of everything from your keys to your eyeglasses case. It’s great for moms with dementia or Alzheimer’s, but even the healthiest among us still lose our keys every now and then, which makes this the perfect gift for everyone.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we have activities to keep our residents active all year long. Reach out now to learn more about all the activities we have planned this month.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s: What Not to Do

alzheimer'sAlzheimer’s is about as scary as they come, but it’s important not to jump to any conclusions if you think you or a loved one might be afflicted with it. If you know you have a history of Alzheimer’s in your family, then you should absolutely be on the lookout for it, but tread carefully. Here are some things you should avoid doing when it comes to diagnosing Alzheimer’s.

Playing Doctor

As tempting as it might be to think we have all the answers with the internet just a click away, it’s important to remember that only a doctor with experience working with Alzheimer’s can give a diagnosis – generally this will be either a neurologist (who specializes in brain disorders) or a geriatric physician (who specializes in older patients). The internet can be a great source of information, but it doesn’t have all the answers and conducting a few Google searches is not the same as earning a medical degree, completing a residency, and building experience working with patients in a healthcare setting.

Jumping to Conclusions

As mentioned above, if you have a history of Alzheimer’s in your family, you should absolutely be on the lookout for it, but don’t make the mistake of thinking every lapse in memory is a sign of Alzheimer’s. Everyone experiences a certain amount of memory loss as a normal part of aging, so don’t start diagnosing your loved ones with Alzheimer’s simply because they can’t remember where they left their keys.

Considering Only Memory

While Alzheimer’s has long been linked with dementia and memory loss, it’s much more than that. In the later stages of the disease, patients begin to lose motor function and even control over their bladder and bowel movements. Their growing confusion and inability to remember things is only a part of the reason they end up needing help with daily tasks – the other big reason is that they need so much help physically performing daily tasks.

That’s why, when doctor’s conduct an exam to determine if a patient has Alzheimer’s, they look at much more than just memory function. They do a complete physical exam, including checking the patient’s pulse, temperature, and their heart and lung function. They’ll also ask about things like the patient’s diet, their alcohol consumption, whether they smoke, and other factors that could impair their cognitive function, but could also affect other aspects of their health.

Other cognitive functions also tend to be impaired in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s, including the ability to solve problems, do basic math, or use or understand language in daily communication. A doctor who knows what they’re doing will test all of these things before diagnosing a patient with Alzheimer’s.

Failing to Understand the Stages

Alzheimer’s has seven stages, although most patients don’t exhibit any symptoms until the second or third stage. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand that diagnosing Alzheimer’s isn’t as simple as saying, “You have Alzheimer’s.” You need to determine what stage the patient is in before you can decide the best way to proceed, including the level of care they need, and how long it’s likely to be before they’ll need a higher level of care.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s: How to Find a Doctor Who Can Help

find a doctor for alzheimersNo matter how much you love your general practitioner, they’re probably not the best person to help you deal with your dementia or Alzheimer’s. These days, there’s a specialty for everything, and with all the research and new treatments around dementia and Alzheimer’s, it’s more important than ever for you to make sure you get a doctor who keeps up to date on all the breaking news in that particular section of the medical industry.

Your general practitioner may be a great place to start, but remember they’re just that: general, meaning they really don’t know much about your particular situation. Your GP might recommend a specialist they know, but if they don’t, you’re on your own. So where do you begin? How can you tell which doctor you should turn to in order to help you deal with your dementia or Alzheimer’s?

We’ve come up with a list of a few common types of doctors who might be able to help, along with their qualifications and how to determine which one is right for you.

Geriatric Nurse Practitioner (GNP)

A GNP is a registered nurse with a special focus on providing care to older adults. With illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s becoming increasingly common in older adults, many GNPs are well-versed in the behavioral issues that tend to coincide with dementia and Alzheimer’s, as well as some of the best medications to help alleviate those symptoms. In order to become a geriatric nurse practitioner, one must complete a master’s degree in nursing and become certified by the American Nurse’s Credentialing Center.

Geropsychologist

A gerospychologist is a psychologist who specializes in the specific mental health challenges that are commonly faced by older adults, including dementia and Alzheimer’s. They are qualified to perform psychological testing and therapy that focuses on issues related to behavioral management of Alzheimer’s symptoms, as well as some of the issues that come with being a caregiver, coping, and grief and loss. The requirements for becoming a geropsychologist include getting a doctorate in psychology, followed by completion of an intensive internship, conducted under supervision, of working with older adults.

Geriatric Psychiatrist

A geriatric psychiatrist is similar to a geropsychologist, with the biggest difference being that a geriatric psychiatrist is qualified to prescribe medications to help treat some of the cognitive and behavioral symptoms that tend to come along with dementia and Alzheimer’s. They need to complete a doctorate in medicine, followed by a residency in psychiatry that places an emphasis on working with older adults.

Neurologist

A neurologist is a doctor who specializes in diseases that are related to the nervous system, including Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and Parkinson’s. They need to have completed a doctorate in medicine, followed by a residency in neurology. Any given neurologist may or may not have experience working with older adults, so ask around and make sure you see one who specifically has experience with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s before you start seeing them as their patient.

As always, we want to be your resource as you navigate the various stages with aging parents. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

Maintaining a Meaningful Relationship with Someone with Dementia

dementiaOne of the hardest things about dementia is feeling like you no longer know the person afflicted with the disease, even if you’ve known them your whole life. Not only is their memory impaired, but behavioral and personality changes are also a common symptom of the disease. So how can you maintain a meaningful relationship with them while they go through this?

  • Use Nonverbal Communication

This doesn’t mean sign language, it means universal body language and indications of what you’re trying to say. One of the many unfortunate effects of dementia is that the person suffering from it often loses some or all of their language skills, so you may have to resort to nonverbal communication in order get your meaning across to them and to understand what they’re trying to tell you.

And don’t underestimate the power of touch. Dementia can be a very isolating experience, but by simply laying your hand on theirs, you can let them know that you’re there to help support them and that they are not, in fact, alone.

  • Speak in a Quiet, Relaxing Tone

Another common symptom of dementia is heightened anxiety, which can be caused by a number of things, including increased confusion and an inability to communicate. When that happens, it’s easy to get frustrated and lose your temper, but that only makes things worse. It’s important to remain calm and speak in a low, quiet voice that promotes relaxation, rather than more anxiety.

  • Have Patience

We know this is easier said than done, but it is of the utmost importance in making sure your loved one feels safe and secure. There will be good times, but there will also be tough times, and in the tough times it’s important to remember that they’re struggling, too. What they’re experiencing is confusing and scary and it’s important for you to understand that and be as patient as you can. Together, you can work through it.

  • Find Activities They Enjoy

Doing activities together is always a great bonding experience, so try to think of activities your loved one has always enjoyed. If it’s something they can no longer do themselves (such as knitting or quilting), do it with them and find a way to make them a part of the process. Ask for their help picking out a pattern and colors, then work on the project in front of them while asking them about techniques and favorite projects they worked on.

  • Join a Dementia Support Group

It’s always a good idea to talk about these things with other people who have had similar experiences. No matter how much you will always love the person with dementia, dealing with the disease is never easy, but it can help to talk to other people who have been through the same thing. In addition to providing a sense of community and understanding, they can also give tips and tricks for dealing with dementia that you may not have thought about.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

 

Managing Hoarding Behaviors in Patients with Dementia

HoardingHoarding is its own psychological disorder, characterized by an excessive accumulation of objects to the point where it begins to interfere with the person’s life, often by covering just about every available surface in their living area and/or including keeping food and medicine that has gone bad. The person feels distress at the thought of throwing anything away, and while the disorder can be isolated, it can also be paired with other disorders, such as severe anxiety and/or depression. It may make them feel safe to know they have everything they could ever possibly need.

Hoarding can also be found in conjunction with Alzheimer’s or dementia, in which case it may be due more to confusion than out of any fear of throwing something away. Food may have been left to rot because they can’t remember when they bought it and their sense of smell has deteriorated to the point where they can’t tell it’s gone bad. Medications may likewise be left to go bad if the person can’t remember what it is, why they’re taking it, how much they’re supposed to take, when they’re supposed to take it, or when they took their last dose.

Likewise, mail may be left to pile up if they’ve lost the mental capacity for sequential tasking. If that’s the case, then someone will need to sit down and go through the mail with them to make sure no important documents are lost and bills don’t go unpaid.

Patience is A Virtue

As tempting as it is to get frustrated with hoarders and dementia patients (and doubly tempting when the two disorders are combined), it is of the utmost importance to remain calm and speak kindly and gently to your loved one. Remember that they’re not doing any of this on purpose, and if you lash out or yell at them, you’ll make them more confused and anxious, which will make everything worse.

Choose your time to talk about the hoarded objects wisely – specifically when your loved one is in a good mood. Talk them through the process of selecting items to be thrown away – if they haven’t yet lost the ability to appreciate logical reasoning, you might be able to convince them to discard much of what they’ve collected without too much trouble.

Memory Box Technique

The memory box technique is one strategy that has proven to be successful when dealing with hoarders. Choose a box to be their designated place to keep “special things.” You can even decorate it together to make the box both more special and more memorable – this has the added benefit of creating a fun activity you and your loved one can share together. Anything your loved one likes to collect can be put in the memory box, which makes it easy for you to keep track of the accumulation of those items. If their rubber band collection is getting out of control, for example, you can remove some of them and your loved one probably won’t even notice. You can also label and keep items that really are valuable, such as keys and wallets, in the box. That way, when your loved one comes to you looking for something, you can simply suggest they check their box.

How to Handle Someone Who Has Behavioral Problems Due to Dementia

Behavioral Problems Due to DementiaDementia can be scary and confusing for everyone involved. Those with dementia often feel lost, confused, and out of control of their own lives – all of which are terrifying. That fear can sometimes prompt them to lash out violently (either verbally and/or physically) against those around them, which is both painful and frustrating for the targets of their aggression.

So what should you do in such a situation? How can you calm them down and avoid hurting them?

The first step is to educate yourself. Know the signs of dementia and some of the behaviors that might come along with it.

Aggression

This can often start with the patient insisting they want something they can’t have (such as to go “home”) or that they don’t want something they can’t avoid (such as something in the environment, something in their schedule, or even the caregiver themselves). A simple statement can sometimes turn to yelling and may escalate into violence.

As tempting as it can be to argue with them, that’s not helpful. Don’t try to force the issue and don’t restrain them if it’s not absolutely necessary. Instead, try to divert their attention to something else while speaking to them in a calm, measured voice.

Confusion

Statements like “I want to go home” are often the most painful to hear out of someone with dementia who is already home. It means they’ve forgotten where they live, and they want to return to a place where they lived during another part of their lives.

The most important thing to remember is not to argue with someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia because that is an argument you will never win. You cannot reason with someone who is suffering from dementia and trying to do so often only makes things worse.

Depending on the person, explaining the change in their situation, especially through the use of photos and tangible objects, might work, but more often than not it’s best to try to distract them. Suggest going for a walk with them or getting a snack and get them to talk about other things. If they ask things like “When are we leaving?” or “When are we going home?” try putting them off by telling them you can’t leave until traffic clears up or the whether is better. Sometimes a small lie is better than trying to explain to them what they can’t (or don’t want to) understand.

Poor Judgment

This can take a variety of forms – from trouble with finances, to hoarding, to paranoid behaviors, such as accusing a loved one of stealing from them. While some of these strange behaviors are obvious, others take more subtle forms, making them difficult to diagnose. The person with dementia may not even know they’re struggling with something, and even if they do, people are rarely willing to admit they need help.

If you suspect a loved one may be suffering from poor judgment, try to find out quietly. See if you can get a look at one of their bills to make sure they haven’t missed any payments. If that’s not possible, try to have them figure out the tip at a restaurant and see if they struggle any more than they usually do.

The most important thing is to remain encouraging and reassuring. Offer to help in small ways that minimize the other person’s embarrassment. Again, don’t ever try to argue with them, and don’t ask them outright if they’re unable to handle certain situations because that won’t end well.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.