Posts Tagged dementia in the elderly

DIY Pomander Balls

pomander ball

 

Feeling crafty? Make a homemade pomander ball! Pomander balls, commonly seen at weddings and baby showers, actually have very interesting historic roots. Learn more about the history behind the pomander here.

Buy rosettes at a craft store, create your own by shaping pieces of tissue paper, or punch/cut out flower shapes from scrapbooking paper. Use crochet pins to fasten each rosette into place on a large to medium sized styrofoam ball. Use the pomander ball as a centerpiece or tie a ribbon around the ball to be used as a hanging decoration.

Step by step instructions can be found here.

Remember, it’s the process not the product. Our primary goal is that the person enjoy themselves; it is not important that we create a flawless finished product. If it’s becoming apparent that the person is becoming confused or frustrated, leave the remainder of the activity for another day. In fact, it may be easiest to plan the activity over the course of several sessions, versus trying to do everything in a single sitting. If your person is further progressed in the disease, they may get more pleasure out of watching you do the activity or admiring the finished product. Be flexible and have fun with it!

 

 

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Fall Prevention

physicial therapy rehab

Every year, nearly 1/3 of all older adults will suffer from some type of fall. Older adults with dementia, however, are more than twice as likely to fall than those without cognitive impairment. Their falls may also be more severe, perhaps resulting in serious bone fractures, hospitalization, or life-threatening injuries. Persons with dementia that suffer from a fall at home are more likely to be admitted into some type of institutional care. In addition, the cost of treating and rehabilitating seniors that have fallen has sky-rocketed in recent years (Montero-Odasso, 2012).

walking down a hall

Researcher continue to study the most helpful methods for reducing risk of falls and preventing injury in those with dementia. Below are some tips that may be helpful in managing fall risk:

  • Implement a regular exercise program to maintain muscle and joint strength
  • Work with the person’s physician(s) to ensure that medication are not causing adverse side effects that could contribute to falls (e.g. dizziness, vertigo)
  • Maintain a regular toileting schedule for the person
  • Anticipate the person’s needs
  • Have a knowledge for the person’s likes, dislikes, routine, preferences, etc.
  • Ensure that clothing and shoes fit properly and are in good condition. Avoid slippers with no supportive backing, pants that are too long for the person, etc.
  • Clearly label key places in the home or residence, such as the bathroom or bedroom, even if the person has lived there for some time.
  • Ensure that the environment is clutter-free. Remove throw rugs that could slip beneath the person.
  • Create a visible pathway from the bedroom to the bathroom, particularly at night. Consider using a bedside commode.
  • If falling in bed is a concern, consider using lowering the mattress directly onto the floor. Do not install bed rails as this could increase the person’s agitation and restlessness. Many individuals with dementia may view bed rails as a sign that they are expected to be incontinent, or they perceive the rails as an obstacle to overcome, increasing the height of their fall. The person could become fatally injured if their head were to get caught between the rails.
  • Make sure the bathroom is not conducive for falls.  Remove clutter, use grab bars, and non-skid strip. A shower chair may be helpful.
  • Use color contrast where appropriate – for instance, a person may not see a white toilet in front of a white wall. Consider using a brightly colored toilet seat to draw the person’s attention.
  • Make sure there is ample lighting in well traversed areas.
  • Provide places for the person to stop and rest, if walking on a long hallway or path.
  • Ensure the person wears sensory aids, such as glasses or hearing aids, if needed.

References

Montero-Odasso, M. M. (2012). Gait and Cognition: A Complementary Approach to Understanding Brain Function and the Risk of Falling. Journal Of The American Geriatrics Society60(11), 2127-2136.

van Doorn, C. (2003). Dementia as a Risk Factor for Falls and Fall Injuries Among Nursing Home Residents. Journal Of The American Geriatrics Society51(9), 1213-1218.

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What’s the Deal with Aluminum?

aluminum pot

Have you ever heard that using aluminum pots or drinking from aluminum cans can increase your risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease? Despite the prevalence of this myth, very few experts believe that everyday sources of aluminum pose any threat. In fact, several studies have failed to confirm any role of aluminum in Alzheimer’s disease.

Some key points to consider:

  • Most researchers and mainstream health care professionals believe, based on current knowledge, that consumption of aluminum is not a significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • It is unlikely that people can significantly reduce their consumption of aluminum by avoiding aluminum containing cookware, foil, beverage cans, medications, or other products.
  • The exact role (if any) of aluminum in Alzheimer’s disease is still being research and debated.
  • If aluminum exposure had a major impact on risk, scientists would have already gained a clearer picture of its involvement over the decades that they have been studying the issue.
  • Research studies since the 1960s have failed to document a clear role for aluminum in causing Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Although the results of some studies have suggested that consumption of aluminum may be linked to Alzheimer’s, just as many studies have found no link between aluminum consumption and Alzheimer’s.

To learn more about myth and Alzheimer’s disease, click here.

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Alzheimer’s Chicken

Measure of the Heart

This activity idea comes from Measure of the Heart, a novel by Mary Ellen Geist, recounting her personal experience of returning home to Michigan to help care for her father who is diagnosed with dementia. Her father, Woody Geist, also appears in the HBO documentary “The Alzheimer’s Project”. The Geist’s resilience and candor in the face of this devastating disease is truly inspirational.

The following excerpt is taken directly from the book:

Alzheimer’s Chicken

  • whole chicken, about 4 pounds
  • 1 green apple, washed and cored
  • 3 stalks of celery, rinsed
  • 1 yellow or white onion, skin removed
  • several sprigs of fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 tbs olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Rinse a 4-pound roasting chicken, removing and discarding the giblets from the cavity.

Place the green apple, celery, onion, and herbs on a large chopping board. Hand a not-so-sharp knife to the Alzheimer’s patient, depending of course on how far the disease has progressed. It may not be wise to do this for Alzheimer’s patients who’ve been living with the disease for more than ten years, but my father can still safely use a knife if I stand next to him and make sure he isn’t holding it upside down.

Let the patient chop up the fruit, vegetables, and herbs however the hell he or she wants to, without hovering and explaining how to do it! Don’t say: “No! Do it like this!” Remember: It doesn’t matter what the chunks look like or how big or small they are. The process can be liberating not only for the patient but also for you.

Open the cavity of the chicken and have the Alzheimer’s patient help you stuff the bird with a big wooden spoon. Put the chicken in a 9×13 inch baking dish or pan. Pour the red wine, olive oil, and a little water over the stuffed bird. Cook it in the oven at 350 degrees F for at least two hours, until the temperature of the thigh reaches 180 degrees F. Have the Alzheimer’s patient help you baste the bird often. Let it sit a bit after you’ve taken it out of the oven; then slice and serve.

 

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Play with a Pet

t1larg_old_man_dog

You probably know that pet therapy is an emerging area of research and application in care of people with dementia. While therapy dogs have special training and certification, any well-behaved dog cat, or rabbit can potentially bring a little joy and a lot benefits to a person with memory loss. While companionship is an obvious benefit, pets may also help with agitation, depression, and anxiety. It’s not uncommon to watch someone transition from emotionless to animated or from agitated to calm when a pet enters the room, especially if it triggers pleasant memories. However, keep in mind that the opposite reaction is possible as well!

Of course, to some caregivers, the idea of adding another thing to care for, no matter how cute and cuddly, sounds pretty overwhelming, so don’t feel as if you have to adopt a pet to get the benefits. Even having a friend bring a well-behaved pet for a visit is a great option. Of course, it’s important to be mindful of the pet’s temperament and energy level. In general, too much jumping and/or excessive barking may do more harm than good. Also, be sure that the animal is a good “match” for the person with memory loss. A 90 pound woman who’s unsteady on her feet probably shouldn’t walk an excitable St. Bernard; someone with thin skin and on Coumadin might want to stay away from a cat with sharp claws; someone who throws things when angry should probably be supervised around a small yorkie…you get the idea. Of course, animals are unpredictable, as can be people with dementia, so supervision if probably wise, especially in the beginning while everyone is getting to know each other.

Other tips for success:
1. People in the later stages of the disease may respond better to animals that remind them of animals that remind them of former pets. But be warned: they might not like having to leave the “family dog” behind when they leave!
2. People love to feed animals, so be sure to have appropriate treats available for the person with dementia to feed the pet or you might find that they get a lot of people food!
3. Even those in the late stages of the disease can enjoy petting a soft dog, cat, rabbit, gerbil, etc. Even just hearing a cat purr across the room can be soothing, so don’t feel like the animal has to be right next to the person to have a positive effect.
4. Don’t forget to reminisce!

More information about pet therapy can be found at:
http://www.everydayhealth.com/alzheimers/how-animal-therapy-helps-dementia-patients.aspx

http://www.alzheimersproject.org/About-Us/News-Photos-and-Calendar/Latest-News/Pets-and-Dementia

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Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

It’s that time of year again! The tulips and daffodils are in bloom, the sun is shining, and the weather is warming up to beautiful breezy temperatures. With all of the freshness of blooming nature, why not use this season to bring freshness into your home?

Not only does Spring Cleaning give you an excuse to scrub those areas that get little attention during the closed-in cloudy days of winter, but it can also reduce stress. Clutter and mess can be especially anxiety provoking for people with dementia as it can result in over stimulation. With too much clutter, people can be distracted by their surroundings, confused by the number of objects that they need to ascribe meaning to, and clutter can be a signal that there is work to be done. Additionally, clutter in hallways and walkways can be a fall risk. So, while working to clean and de-clutter your home, why not engage your loved ones in helping?

Ways to involve people with dementia in spring cleaning:

  1. Folding, hanging up, and putting away laundry
  2. Washing dishes
  3. Wiping down tables and countertops
  4. Dusting
  5. Sweeping
  6. Sorting through old magazines

Additional Tips:

  • Break down larger tasks into simpler individual steps
  • Encourage people to be as engaged as their skill set allows
  • When sorting through or dusting pictures, magazines, etc., use this opportunity to reminisce. Just be sure to avoid saying, “Remember when…?”
  • Take breaks when necessary. People with dementia often respond more readily to your emotions than your words, so be careful to not convey exasperation, anxiety or anger with your body language. Try to view these activities as fun and energizing!
  • Engage people in cleaning tasks that they’ve done frequently or enjoyed in the past.
  • Always pay attention to any safety hazards that could come up while cleaning.
  • Remember that the value is in the process rather than the result. If your loved one’s task isn’t finished exactly the way you like it, that’s OK. Use these activities as a chance to engage physically, mentally and socially with your loved one and worry about the results later.

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Keeping Your Loved One Safe

Location Devices

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, as many as 6 in 10 people with dementia will wander at some point during their journey with the disease. This behavior becomes dangerous when an individual with Alzheimer’s becomes lost and disoriented.  The person may no longer remember their address, locations they were once familiar with, and possibly their name. The following products are designed to keep your loved one safe in case a wandering incident does occur.

MedicAlert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return® MASR

The Alzheimer’s Association MedicAlert + Safe Return includes:

  • A personalized identification bracelet for the person with dementia to wear
  • A personalized emergency card for their wallet, on the card is their member identification number and the emergency toll-free number
  • 24-hour emergency response service
  • Optional identification bracelet available for the caregiver to wear, which alerts anyone in case of an emergency that this person is caring for an individual with a MedicAlert + Safe Return services

For more information:  Visit www.medicalert.org/safereturn or Call 1-888-572-8566

PocketFinder GPS Senior Tracker

PocketFinder GPS

  • Allows you to see the location of your loved one that is wearing the PocketFinder on them
  • Allows you to view location on the app or on the computer
  • For more information: Visit www.pocketfinder.com/gpsseniortracker/

GPS SmartSole®

  • Has a GPS device located in the sole of the shoe and works like smartphone technology
  • Refreshes and checks in with you every 10 minutes letting you know where your loved one wearing the GPS SmartSole® is located

For more information:  Visit www.gpssmartsole.com/gpssmartsole/ or Call 213-489-3019

Freedom/Pal GPS Watch

Freedom Pal GPS Watch

  • A watch with a GPS tracker in it that your loved one wears and a receiver that the caregivers has
  • Allows you to view your loved one’s location via the website or your smartphone
  • Allows you to set zones that are safe and alerts you when your loved one is outside of those zones

For more information:  Visit www.rmmedicalsales.com/products.html or Call 952-457-3401

Mobile Help GPS

Mobile Help GPS

  • Mobile Help is an emergency help button that requires the person wearing it to press the button, which alerts the 24-hour emergency call center.

For more information:  Visit www.mobilehelp.com/ or call 1-800-992-0616

Micro GPS Tracking System

  • Can be used for your loved one or for the car
  • Options to set safety zones and when your loved one is outside of the set zones you will be alerted.

For more information:  Visit www.gpstrackingtracker.com/Senior-Adult-Trackin or call 1-561-235-7878

Keruve Family Direct Locator

Keruve Family Direct Locator

  • A watch with a GPS in it
  • Has a safety lock so that it cannot be removed by your loved one wearing the watch
  • Can locate your loved one by simply pressing a button located on your receiver and their location and position will appear on a map located on your receiver

For more information: Visit www.keruve.com/ or call 530-303-8893

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