Posts Tagged dementia vs alzheimer’s

Getting Ready for the Holidays

 

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The holidays are a highly anticipated, but often stressful, season. For many, our financial, social, and physical demands increase significantly as the holidays rapidly approach. Buying gifts for others, entertaining guests, and making travel arrangements are common added responsibilities at this time of year. If you are a caregiver for a person with dementia, it may be difficult to juggle these additional tasks alongside your regular caregiving routine.

Little research has been done about caregiving during the holiday season, although it has been acknowledged by many as a uniquely stressful phenomenon. Below are some helpful hints on how to best prepare for and survive this special time of year. Happy Holidays everyone!

Prepare Family Members in Advance

The holidays can be a turbulent time for some, so it can help to let guests know what to expect before they arrive. Initiating the conversation early will also allow family members an opportunity to surface any questions or concerns they may have.

If the person is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, relatives and friends might not notice any changes. But the person with dementia may have trouble following conversations or may be likely to repeat him/herself.  Family can help with communication by being patient, not interrupting or correcting, and giving the person time to finish his or her thoughts.

If the person is in the middle or late stages of Alzheimer’s, there may be significant changes in cognitive abilities since the last time an out-of-town friend or relative has visited.  These changes can be hard to accept. Make sure visitors understand that changes in behavior and memory are caused by the disease and not the person.

You may find this easier to share changes in a letter or email that can be sent to multiple recipients. Consider also including a recent photograph of the person with dementia, so family/friends are aware of any physical changes that may have taken place.

Re-Evaluate Holiday Traditions

It’s likely that both  the person with dementia and the family would still like him/her to participate meaningfully in the holiday celebrations. Involve the person by building on past traditions and memories. Focus on activities that are meaningful to the person with dementia. Your family member may find comfort in singing old holiday songs or looking through old photo albums. As the person’s abilities allow, invite him or her to help you prepare food, wrap packages, and help decorate or set the table. This could be as simple as having the person measure an ingredient or hand decorations to you as you put them up. (Be careful with decoration choices. Blinking lights may confuse or scare a person with dementia, and decorations that look like food could be mistaken as edible.)

Sticking to the person’s normal routine will help keep the holidays from becoming disruptive or confusing. For instance, if the person is accustomed to eating lunch at a scheduled time, stick to that time. Encourage family members and friends to assist you in this. Plan time for breaks and rest.

Be flexible and adjust traditions appropriately. For example, a smaller, shorter gathering during the day may be more successful than a large celebration that carries on into the late evening.

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9 Reasons Why Meaningful Activities Are Important in Dementia

Individuals with dementia benefit from engaging in activities for many reasons. Meaningful activities address the social and psychological needs of the individual by tapping into their sense of personhood and allowing them to feel included and needed. Activities also help to keep behavioral concerns at bay, improve quality of life, and may even make caregiving tasks go easier. It is important that the activity be a good fit for the person based on their progression of the disease, remaining strengths, and personal interests.

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Courtesy of verywell.com, here are 9 additional reasons why meaningful activities are so important!

  1. Mental Stimulation: Activities that challenge and engage your brain are beneficial in maintaining cognitive functions and may even slow down the progression of the disease.
  1. Physical Activity: Activities that involve physical activity improve and maintain overall function of the body’s mobility, can increase strength, and have positive effects on the brain.
  1. Social Interaction: When individuals engage in socialization they are more likely to have better overall mental and social health.
  1. Improvement in Sleep Habits: Engagement in activities throughout the day keeps your loved one engaged and less likely to fall asleep during the day.  Reduced napping during the day will lead to better sleep habits at night time.
  1. Improvement in Self-Esteem: Individuals with memory loss may struggle to cope with their declining abilities. When they are engaged in activities in which they can be successful, it is a boost to their self-esteem.
  1. A Change in Behavior Challenges: When individuals with dementia are engaged in activities of interest, behavioral challenges tend to diminish.
  1. Decrease Depression and Anxiety: Engaging individuals with dementia in meaningful, engaging activities has been shown to decrease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  1. Caregivers Benefit: Meaningful activities bring happiness and joy to your loved one with dementia, which by itself is a benefit to caregivers.  Caregivers have the opportunity to have more positive interactions with their loved ones.
  1. Overall Health: Overall, meaningful activities can keep your love one with dementia engaged and their minds stimulated.

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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

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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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Keepsake Cookbook

Do you and your loved one love cooking? Maybe baking is what makes you feel at home. In either case, there is something to be said about the feeling you get when taking your first bite of a home cooked/baked treat.

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Creating a cookbook with your care partner can be a fun way to reminisce and leave a legacy for generations to come. It can be as simple as compiling old recipe cards or as intricate as creating a recipe book online complete with pictures. Keep in mind that this project doesn’t have to be finished overnight. It can simmer for days, weeks, or months to come!

Step 1: Choose your recipes

What are your family’s trademark recipes? Is there anything that has become a traditional birthday dinner, holiday dish, or rainy day snack?

Step 2: Choose your Methods

You might want to talk with your loved one and decide on a type of cookbook that will best combine your creative style with your skill set. You could write out individual recipes on index cards to insert in a scrapbook, create a larger more intricate scrapbook, or use online websites (e.g. Shurtterfly.com) to make one digitally. Feel free to exercise creative freedom, engage others in the process, and make changes based on skills and abilities.

Step 3: Write your book

Try making the dishes as you go! Talk about the smells, colors, and textures of different foods. Use this time to reminisce and identify fun memories associated with your recipes. Feel free to include these stories in your book! Additionally, if your loved one needs more assistance in the kitchen, be sure to break down each task into clear simple steps.

Step 4: Share your book with others

A cookbook made with you and your loved one is a beautiful representation of your family’s traditions, history, and relationships. You can use this book and its recipes to share your story with other family members and friends.

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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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