Posts Tagged Mental health

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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What’s the Deal with Aluminum?

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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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Calling All Caregivers…You’re Invited!

2017 Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum

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The Alzheimer’s Association will soon be opening registration for the 2017 Advocacy Forum, and we would like to invite you to join us. The Alzheimer’s Association’s Advocacy Forum is a unique opportunity for Alzheimer’s advocates from across the country to gather in Washington, D.C. to directly appeal to their members of Congress about Alzheimer’s disease. Caregivers, persons with the disease, and those that have lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s receive training and embark on Capitol Hill to tell their story and ask for policy change to support our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s. In 2016, over 1,100 people from across the country (24 from Michigan) participated in this event.

Participants of past Forums have raved about this event as an empowering experience. After the Forum advocates feel charged up and ready to tell their story and make change happen. The helpless feeling that often accompanies Alzheimer’s for many is changed into a feeling of power and an opportunity to improve the lives of others.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s Advocacy Forum is also highly impactful for Members of Congress. In our experience, legislators listen intently when their constituents travel to our nation’s capitol to speak with them.

Alzheimer’s is a triple threat, with soaring prevalence, lack of treatment and enormous costs that no one can afford. If we’re going to address this triple threat, action must be taken by all levels of the government. Attending the Advocacy Forum is one way to take action, and we’d love to have you join us!

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About the Alzheimer’s Association’s Advocacy Forum

The 2017 Alzheimer’s Association’s Advocacy Forum will take place March 27-29, 2017 at the Marriott Wardman Park, Washington, D. C. To register and for event details like schedule, location, travel, and more, visit http://www.alz.org/forum or contact Lindsay Brieschke at lbrieschke@alz.org

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2016 Metro Detroit Fall Conference: A Meaningful Life with Alzheimer’s Disease

Early bird registration for our 5th Annual Metro Detroit Fall Conference “A Meaningful Life with Alzheimer’s Disease”, done in collaboration with Wayne State University’s Institute of Gerontology, is now open! The conference will bring together healthcare professionals, caregivers, family members, and individuals living with the early stages of memory loss on Friday, November 18th at Schoolcraft College’s VisTaTech Center in Livonia. Registration includes an entry to the conference, breakfast, lunch, as well as five continuing education credits for professionals.

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We are pleased to announce this year’s keynote speaker will be Beth A. D. Nolan, Ph.D.

Dr. Nolan serves as a Lead Mentor Trainer and Coach and directs research for Positive Approach to Care (PAC). Formerly an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health, Dr. Nolan received her Ph.D. in applied gerontology. She has worked with a variety of human services agencies to implement evidence-based programs for behavioral health, criminal justice, medicine, and senior living, and now works to help move caregivers to become carepartners.

Conference attendees will gain powerful insight into the true experiences of living with dementia as well as practical applications for implementing person driven care and methods to enhance quality of life. You will hear from individuals whose lives have been personally affected by this disease, engage in interactive activities and discover new resources and tools to assist families through their dementia journey.

 

To learn more visit

alz.org/gmc

or call our 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900

We hope to see you on November 18th!

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This conference is sponsored in part by Schoolcraft College.

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Register with Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch

Clinical trials are essential to advancing Alzheimer’s disease research at a time when Alzheimer’s is reaching epidemic proportions. Through clinical studies conducted over the last 20 years, scientists have made tremendous strides in understanding how Alzheimer’s affects the brain. It is only through clinical studies that we will develop and test promising new strategies for treatment, prevention, diagnosis, and ultimately, a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

To learn more about how to participate in clinical trial, watch the video below about TrialMatch (a free, clinical-trial matching service).

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Join a Support Group

Have you ever thought about attending a support group but were reluctant to give it a try?

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Support groups are a safe place to share feelings and experiences, and many people find them to be invaluable resources.

A support group is a place to:

  • Exchange practical information on caregiving problems and possible solutions
  • Talk through challenges and ways of coping
  • Share feelings, needs and concerns
  • Learn about resources available in your community

All of our support groups are facilitated by trained individuals. In addition to caregiver support groups, we also have support groups designed specifically for people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. We are currently offering early stage support groups in Birmingham and Taylor (and soon, in Sterling Heights too!). To learn more or to register, please dial our 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900.

Want to find a Alzheimer’s Association support group near you? Click here. Prefer to get support online? Join AlzConnected, our online community.

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