Make Baked Apples

Fall is in the air! Temperatures are dropping and days are becoming shorter. What better way to welcome in the season than with a delicious Fall cooking staple? The wonderful, nutrient packed apple! Baked apple desserts are undeniably yummy, and they require relatively little prep work. This is a great choice of activity for individuals who have cooking experience, as it may conjure up fond memories of being in the kitchen. Make an effort to reminisce with the person throughout the task. Even individuals without a cooking background will surely enjoy the enticing smells of apples baking alongside aromatic cinnamon and vanilla (these recipes will make your whole house smell amazing).

Try this recipe or make modifications to suit your tastes.

baked-apple-slices

  • Choose a variety of apple that is ideal for baking, such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp or Fuji. Any firm, non-mealy apple will do.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Peel, core, and slice 6 apples. This process can be simplified and expedited with an inexpensive apple peeler.
  • Grease a baking dish with butter.
  • Mix 2 tbs brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1tsp nutmeg, and 3 tsp ground cinnamon in a bowl.
  • Layer 1/3 apple slices in greased baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the sugar mixture. Repeat twice.
  • Bake apples uncovered for 30 minutes, then add 3 1/2 tbs water to the dish. Bake 15 minutes more or until tender.

Or, try the less prep intensive microwaved version

  • Peel (or don’t), core, and slice 1 apple.
  • Place apple slices in a freezer bag with 1 tsb sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cornstarch, and 1tbs water. Shake the freezer bag to coat apple slices with mixture.
  • Open the freezer bag just slightly to vent. Microwave for 2 minutes or until apple is tender.
  • CAREFULLY remove apple slices from microwaved bag. Enjoy plain or over vanilla ice cream.

Want to mix it up? Opt for baked apple chips. These could not be simpler to make.

baked apple chips

 

  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  • Remove apple core from 2 apples.
  • Thinly slice apples (Be mindful of safety and consider who is best to do this).
  • Place apple slices on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  • Sprinkle apples with cinnamon and bake for 2 hours. Flip slices over after 1 hour of baking.

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Tips for Managing Dental Hygiene

geriatric dentist

Dental care can be a challenge for individuals with Alzheimer’s because of their inability to understand the purpose of brushing teeth or to accept help from others.

Tips for helping the person with dementia manage dental care:

  • Provide short, simple instructions: “hold your toothbrush,” “put paste on the brush,” and “brush your top teeth,”etc.
  • Use a mirroring technique — hold tooth brush and show person how to brush his/her teeth or brush your teeth at the same time
  • Brush teeth or dentures after each meal and floss daily
  • Remove and clean dentures every night
  • Brush person’s gums, tongue and roof of mouth
  • If person refuses to open his/her mouth, try using oral hygiene aids available from the dentist to prop the mouth open
  • Strained facial expressions during dinner or refusal to eat may indicate oral discomfort
  • If you notice dental or gum problems, take the person to the dentist
  • Notify the dentist in advance that person has Alzheimer’s so that an oral care routine can be developed

 

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Exciting Changes

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You may have noticed that we have some exciting new content on our site. We recently merged with out sister blog, Caregiver 2.0 to create one super blog! Now you can find activity ideas AND great articles on dementia-related book reviews, caregiver tips, news articles, etc. all in one place. For those of you who have following the activity blog regularly, you might notice that we’ve upgraded our sidebar so you can more easily find content. We hope you’ll take a moment to peek through some of the imported posts on caregiving topics. For those of you directed here from the Caregiver 2.0 blog, welcome! We’re so glad you’re here and hope you’ll enjoy learning more about fun ways to engage people with memory loss, regardless of what stage they’re in.

As usual, if you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments!

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Home Safety and Alzheimer’s Disease

family in home

 

When caring for an individual with Alzheimer’s disease at home, safety is an important concern. People living with Alzheimer’s can remain in their homes safely for a longer period of time if safety issues are addressed. Safety issues evolve as the disease progresses, so be sure to reevaluate safety periodically.

Tips for Home Safety

Accommodate for Visual Changes

  • Use contrasting colors on walls, trim and floors to help the person anticipate staircases and room entrances. This technique is also effective in the bathroom, where a white toilet and sink may be hard to see against a white floor and wall
  • Changes in levels of light can be disorienting. Try to maintain consistency in lighting the home and keep it well-lit
  • Add extra lighting in entries, areas between rooms, stairways and bathrooms
  • Diffuse glare by removing mirrors and glass-top furniture
  • Cover windows with blinds, shades, or sheer draperies as needed to control and diffuse the light
  • Use night lights

Avoid Injury during Daily Activities

  • Lower the temperature of tap water and monitor food temperatures if possible, to prevent the person from accidentally getting burned
  • Install walk-in showers, grab bars and non-skid decals on slippery surfaces
  • Provide the appropriate level of support to the person when taking prescription and over-the-counter medications

Beware of Hazardous Objects and Substances

  • Remove guns and ammunition from the home. Until guns and ammunition can be removed safely, lock them in a spot where the person with Alzheimer’s cannot access them. Never store weapons loaded.
  • Limit the use of mixers, grills, knives, and lawnmowers
  • Lock up hazardous materials that could be ingested
  • Supervise smoking and alcohol consumption, and limit or eliminate their use when possible
  • Move items that might cause a person to trip, such as unsecured throw rugs, floor lamps and coffee tables to create unrestricted areas for movement
  • Clean out the refrigerator regularly, and discard expired food

Prepare for Emergencies

  • Keep a list of emergency phone numbers and addresses by every phone, as well as a list of all prescriptions and dosages
  • Regularly check fire extinguishers and smoke alarms
  • Enroll the individual and caregivers in the Medic Alert + Safe Return program prior to any wandering incident. This helps protect the person with dementia, as well as ensuring that he or she will get needed care if something happens to a caregiver
  • Consider using Comfort Zone to monitor the person’s whereabouts. Caregivers or other family or friends can receive computerized alerts when the person with Alzheimer’s wanders out of a pre-set range, or can be checked in on throughout the day
  • As the disease progresses into the middle and late stages, take these steps to make dangerous places less accessible:
    • Lock or disguise hazardous areas
    • Install door locks out of sight, but only keep locked in this way when someone is home to help in case of an emergency
    • Use safety devices, such as childproof locks and door knobs, or hide door knobs with a cloth or painted mural

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Play Stadium Checkers

StadiumCheckers
Stadium Checkers, also known as Roller Bowl, is a fun game in which players try to be the first to move all their colored marbles from the outter to the inner rings of the game board or “stadium”. Per Wikipedia:

“Players begin the game by choosing one color of marble and placing them in the start positions on the outer-most ring on the board. Starting with the start player, players take turns choosing one of the rings on the board and rotating it until one or more marbles drop to the next ring. A player cannot choose a ring to rotate that does not have marbles adjacent to it, as marbles must be made to drop by twisting the ring on a player’s turn. As the marbles work towards the center chutes, players try to navigate their marbles towards their chute. If a player’s marble falls into a chute that is not his own, the marble is returned to the start position on the outer-most ring of the board. The first player to get all five of their marbles into their chute in the center wins the game.”

This game is super fun, was originally introduced and, I’m told, quite popular in the 1950s, so it may be stored in long term memory for those who were board game aficionados in the past. However, even for those who never played, the concept of turning the circles to race their marbles to the center is pretty easy to grasp. Heck, even if you don’t play it as a game, just moving the marbles down and creating fun patterns while you go is fun!

Don’t forget to reminisce while playing! Ask if the person with memory loss remembers playing this or other games, who they played with, if they ever cheated at a board game, etc!

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Planning for Hospital Stay and Discharge

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A planned hospitalization or unexpected health emergency can occur at any point during the disease progression and may or may not be the result of Alzheimer’s or another dementia.

A hospital visit or overnight stay can cause anxiety or discomfort for the person with the disease. The change from home to an unfamiliar environment and the added stress caused by medical interventions may lead to increased confusion or disorientation. Knowing what to expect during a hospital visit can help make the experience more comfortable for everyone.

Plan ahead

In the early stages of the disease, the person with dementia is able to make decisions on his or her own behalf and should be included in all conversations about medical care. It is important to address wishes for health care, including emergency medical treatment, as early as possible so that family and care team members can confidently implement the plan in the event the person is no longer able.

As the disease progresses, it will become increasingly difficult for the person with dementia to understand the purpose of hospital visits and medical intervention, and he or she will be unable to participate in the health care planning process. The care partner or a member of the care team should always be present to explain the reason for the hospital visit or medical intervention as much as possible and provide support and act as an advocate on their behalf.

Consider the following:

Prepare an emergency kit with legal paperwork and current medical information. This information should be available in an easily accessible place such as in an envelope attached to the refrigerator. Some items include:

  • A list of current medications and allergies
  • Copies of legal papers (e.g. living will, advance directives, power of attorney)
  • Insurance information
  • Name and phone number of physician
  • Names and phone numbers of emergency contact and additional care team members
  • Request for brain autopsy or organ donation
  • A physician’s note confirming the diagnosis

Review current legal documents stating preferences for health care, including life-sustaining treatment. The following documents may help prevent an emergency decision from taking place and provide assurance that the wishes of the person with the disease are upheld.

  • Power of Attorney for Health Care: Names a health care agent to make health care decisions on behalf of the person with dementia when they are unable.
  • Living Will: A type of advance directive that includes preferences for medical treatment, including life-prolonging treatments.
  • Medical Release of Information: Ensures that a doctor can share information with the person’s family member or friend. This can be beneficial to those who are helping coordinate care.
  • Hospital Visitation Form: For those in a domestic partnership, hospitals in some states may enforce strict visitation laws and/or require special forms if relationship is not legally recognized in that state.
  • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR): A physician order to prevent any attempts at revival, particularly if CPR or defibrillation is needed.  Without it, medical professionals are required to perform resuscitation.

Prior to hospitalization

  • Share information regarding the diagnosis, other medical conditions or allergies with the entire medical team.
  • Provide information about personal habits, dietary preferences or any environmental needs like a private room that would make the experience more comfortable.

Ask questions

  • Which procedures will be performed and how? What are the risks and benefits, expected results and expected length of recovery?
  • Is assessment or treatment available at an outpatient clinic?
  • How long is hospitalization required?
  • If anesthesia is used, how will this affect cognition?
  • What are the visiting hours? Are extended hours available?

Hospital discharge planning

At the end of a hospital stay, health care providers will make recommendations for long-term care needs and recovery following hospitalization. A member of social services or a discharge planner may also be involved if the care plan calls for in-home services, referrals to rehabilitation facilities or outpatient services. Post-operational or discharge orders may involve several components including new medication, therapy, wound care or monitoring.

The following questions may help the individual and their car team to prepare for discharge:

  • Which activities may require more assistance after discharge?
  • When is it safe to engage in physical activity?
  • What is the safest way to manage pain?
  • Have medications changed and how often should they be administered? Which signs or symptoms are causes for concern? Who should be contacted?
  • Is a follow-up visit necessary? When will this occur?

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Join a Support Group

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Yes! People with memory loss can join support groups! And they should! As I’m sure you know, having memory changes is a huge adjustment, and for those who still have insight into these changes, meeting with others who understand what they’re going through can be a great way to get support, feel validated, not have to worry about “hiding” any problems, and learn tips and tricks to keep living life as fully as possible. Where to find such groups? Your local hospital, community center, senior, or local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association are great places to start.

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