Posts Tagged ‘dementia’
Because of several medical conditions, in the last years of his life Bob was unable to fend for himself. Fortunately, he was able to stay at home with the help of his family and a team of caregivers providing home care. Bob’s children oversaw his medications and doctor’s visits. They took him to the electronics store so he could buy the latest gadget, boiled him lobsters, and brought him Dilly Bars for dessert. The caregivers helped in a variety of ways, from keeping Bob safe in the shower to keeping him company. He looked forward to visits from one caregiver in particular who often took him out to lunch.
But this is not really a story about Bob. Instead, it’s about his wife, who did muchof his home care and was frequently emotionally and physically exhausted. Whenever her children or one of the home care providers arrived to help, she would usually be waiting by the door with her car keys. For the next few hours she would either drive aimlessly through nearby neighborhoods and towns or purposefully to garage sales and second hand stores.
Bob was always a social man and it was fitting that when he passed away, he was encircled by his wife and children. The next several days and weeks were hectic and while the children noticed that their mother seemed somewhat confused and distant they attributed it to stress and grief.
A few months later, she became ill and needed to spend a few days in the hospital. The illness seemed to knock her off her feet and when she went home it became clear to her daughters that she couldn’t be left alone. They took turns spending days and nights with their mother and slowly she became stronger. But because they were focused entirely on her during this time and not distracted by caring for their father or attending to the multiple demands in their own daily lives, they noticed some worrisome signs.
As it turns out, Bob’s wife had early Alzheimer’s disease and today, just a few years after her husband’s death, like him she must depend on her family and home care providers for assistance.
Her children can now look back and recognize the warning signs. It would be easy to feel guilty for not picking up on them sooner, but they simply didn’t know. It wasn’t helpful to ask their mother if everything was ok, because she always said, “Everything is fine. Thank you for asking, but please don’t worry about me.”
Would you know the signs that an elderly person you love needs help at home?
Signs your elderly loved one may need home care
•Loss of balance, difficulty walking, falling
•Confusion about performing once familiar tasks
•Poor grooming or personal hygiene
•Change in physical appearance
•Change in eating habits
•Decreased energy, increased fatigue
•Depression or unusual lack of interest
•Change in sleep habits
•Bruises that might indicate falling
•Burns that might indicate difficulty operating the stove
•Spoiled or outdated food in the refrigerator
•If still driving, recent accidents or near misses
•Dirty house, piled up laundry
•Missed or mishandled medications, unfilled prescriptions
•Yard no longer being maintained
•Pots and pans with noticeable burn marks
•Smell of urine in the house
•Gets lost easily
•Unopened mail, unpaid bills
•Collection or late notices
If you recognize any of these signs, we recommend a thorough medical evaluation. It’s possible that whatever is wrong is something that can be easily treated. Or it could mean that your loved one needs assistance with a little home care.
This post is reprinted with permission fromthe blog of Advantage Home Care, a Maine Senior Guide resource.
If your loved one with dementia is moving from home into a senior living community, the following tips will help you to make the move successful!
1.Involve your elder as much as is reasonable and comfortable for them in the plans for the move.
While your elder might not be in a position to choose her own community, she can probably make choices about what she takes with her. Be sure to have open communication about the moving process and give your elder as much independence in the transition as you can. This will give your loved one a sense of control and comfort.
2.Be prepared for emotions.
For seniors with dementia, moving is scary. If your elder does express fear or anger at the move, validate their feelings. Do not argue or disagree. But do acknowledge that the move is for their wellbeing and safety.
3.Move during the mid-morning or mid-afternoon.
Early mornings tend to be a busy, hectic time at communities. A calm entrance will be less alarming to an elder with dementia.
4.When planning to move a loved one to a community, set the stage first.
Arrange the room with familiar items before they arrive. Familiarity will assist with the adjustment.
5.Allow for some quiet adjustment time for your elder in their new room before venturing out to other areas of the community.
Keep in mind that new places can be intimidating to seniors with dementia. So take it slowly with touring and “getting to know” the new community. Don’t try to tour the whole place in one day! Perhaps start by showing your loved one just the dinning room and activities areas. Along the way point out landmarks to help them remember. Take it one day at a time.
6.Ask staff at the facility to limit the number of people coming in and out of the room or introducing themselves.
Pick one person, perhaps the Activity Director, who will be the contact person for the first week. Communicate verbally and in writing that you want contact limited. Or if your elder has been receiving home care, have the scheduled caregiver continue to visit at the new community for the first week or two. This can be very comforting to the elder, but also beneficial to the staff who can learn about how to best care for the senior from someone who is already familiar with his or her care needs.
7.Join you elder for meals during the first couple of days.
Choose a quiet area in the dining room. The noisy, busy bustle of the dining room can be upsetting and agitating. Limit introductions to new people for the first couple of days, but then after the senior settles in, encourage it.
8.Keep a happy face, even though you may not feel like it.
Your loved one might be living with dementia, but he or she can still read your emotions and feel your energy. If you are upset it will upset your loved one. If you are panicked, it will alarm your loved one. So keep smiling and keep yourself calm to help reassure your elder that this is a positive transition and they are safe.
8:30 – Normal time he/she gets up.
9:00 – Eats before dressing. (has for 60 years)
Takes pills at this time with orange juice.
Takes a bath. (has never taken showers, does not like them)
10:00 – Always looks over the newspaper – checks certain stocks (put names)
Patience is key during this process. Be patient with your elder, yourself, and the new community. It will take at least 4-6 weeks to smooth out many of the wrinkles you encounter in the first week following move-in. It takes time for the community to establish an ideal care plan for your elder and for your elder to adjust to their new surroundings. It is important as time goes by, to facilitate this adjustment, to allow your elder some space to make connections to his or her new community members. Keep in mind, if you visit every day, you might be taking opportunities away from your elder to participate in the community!
For more information about transitioning someone with dementia reach out to a senior care advisor.
One in seven people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in the US live alone, and many don’t have designated caregivers or near by family members to help them judge situations as their disease progresses. That’s 800,000 Americans who will eventually need more support with Alzheimer’s care.
Screenings of older adults to catch Alzheimer’s earlier is part of the first National Alzheimer’s Plan, due to be finalized this month. The plan also urges doctors to help patients plan ahead for their future care needs while they still can, a critical component to continued independence and control. Alzheimer’s care often consumes families who are called on later in the process.
This article from the Boston Herald newspaper quotes Maine Medical Center’s Dr. Laurel Coleman, geriatrician, as she talks about Alzheimer’s care needed for patients who struggle both with a dementia diagnosis and a lack of support.
Studies have shown that art therapy might be particularly beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s disease because though they gradually lose the ability to express themselves with words, other parts of their brain that deal with colors and composition can still be used and developed. Even people with advanced Alzheimer’s disease can continue to create art.
Cape Memory Care in Cape Elizabeth recently started art classes in the Art is 4 Every1® method, developed by Elaine Griffith of Massachusetts during the nearly 25 years she taught at nursing homes, senior centers, kids camps and in her studio. It is a method that breaks the painting process into small steps, as tiny and as simplified as is needed according to the ability and experience of the student.
Pat’s students remain remarkably creative and the painting program gives them an outlet for communication in a different and often very vibrant way. Is there an art show in the works? Will there be plein air classes as the weather improves? To find out more about this program, please call Olga Gross-Balzano or Bri Johnston at Cape Memory Care, 207-553-9616 or e-mail email@example.com.
The Alzheimer’s Association has published their latest statistical findings on the grow of the disease in the US. They’ve made a very simple but powerful video that puts these numbers in perspective.
Maine is the oldest state in the Union, with an increasing number of people living with Alzheimer’s, and no cure in sight.