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Posts Tagged ‘alzheimers’

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.