Tag Archives: dementia care

Dementia Care: 10 Tips for Family Caregivers

Caring for a loved one with dementia is a journey that requires patience, understanding, and resilience. Family caregivers play a crucial role in providing support, compassion, and maintaining the well-being of a loved one with dementia.

Sometimes, the challenges of caring for someone with dementia may seem overwhelming. The experts at CareTime, American, Advocate, and Whitsyms In-Home Care offer the following strategies and tips for family caregivers.

Top 10 Dementia Care Tips for Family Caregivers

  1. Learn to Communicate Effectively. Communicating with someone with dementia requires patience and adaptability. Use simple language, speak slowly, and maintain eye contact. Non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and body language can also enhance understanding. Additionally, effective communication with the person’s healthcare team and other family members is vital in meeting care needs.
  2. Practice Patience. Patience is a resource that can often feel scarce when caring for a loved one with dementia. However, practicing patience will help you slow down, be more forgiving, and stay calm in otherwise stressful situations.
  3. Establish Routine and Consistency. People with dementia often feel more secure with a predictable routine. Establishing daily rituals can help reduce confusion and anxiety. Consistency provides a sense of structure that is comforting for individuals with dementia.
  4. Build a Support System. You don't have to navigate the caregiving journey alone. Seek support from friends, family, and local community resources. Joining a support group can provide a valuable outlet for sharing experiences, tips, and emotional support.
  5. Journal About Your Experiences. Writing down your experiences as a caregiver can offer a number of benefits. Not only does it allow you to channel challenging feelings in a positive way, but it can also be a great way to record the person’s symptoms, behavior changes, and anything else you’d like to share with their healthcare team.
  6. Stay Active. Exercise is a healthy way to relieve stress and feel more peaceful. Develop a regular exercise routine to keep your body and mind fit.
  7. Celebrate Achievements, Big and Small. Recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of the person you care for, whether remembering a name or completing a simple task. Positive reinforcement can boost their confidence and provide a sense of achievement.
  8. Don’t Take Things Personally. People with dementia often exhibit challenging behaviors and may say hurtful things to those around them. The most important thing to remember is that it is not your fault, and you have not brought on these issues. Remind yourself that it’s the dementia talking, not the person you love.
  9. Practice Flexible Problem-Solving. Be prepared for unexpected challenges. Dementia is unpredictable, and problem-solving may require flexibility. Approach issues with a calm and adaptable mindset, seeking solutions that prioritize the well-being of both of you.
  10. Ask for Help. Caregiving is not meant to be undertaken alone. Asking for help is an act of self-care that allows family caregivers to get the rest they need in order to continue caring for themselves and their loved ones. Seek out help from other trusted family members or engage the services of a referred care provider, such as those offered by CareTime, American, Advocate, and Whitsyms In-Home Care.

Referred care providers offer professional in-home care assistance and respite care for family caregivers. This allows family caregivers to find balance with their caregiving duties, work, family obligations, and other commitments.

A referred care provider can provide a wide range of dementia care services, including:

  • Monitoring for changes in health or behavior
  • Regularly reporting to the physician
  • Performing specialized activities/therapies for stimulating cognitive function
  • Medication reminders/management
  • Friendly companionship
  • Personal hygiene care
  • Respite care
  • And much more

Contact us today to find out more about how we can help. Click the link to the location nearest you below:

State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 30211751

Five Lifestyle Factors That Can Reduce Your Risk for Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer's Disease

Roughly 6 million people of all ages in the United States are currently living with Alzheimer’s - this includes mostly people over the age of 65 but also 200,000 people under the age of 65 with an early onset version of the disease. One in every ten people over the age of 65 develops Alzheimer’s, which is a very large percentage. So what can you do to decrease your, or a loved one’s, risk for developing Alzheimer’s?

New research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2019 suggests there are 5 critical factors that you can change about your lifestyle that will significantly decrease your risk for developing the disease. This research is incredibly important because it shows that risk factors for the disease can be modified and that you can truly make a difference with lifestyle changes, regardless of genetics or predisposition for the disease. See what 5 lifestyle factors you can change below.

1. Diet

One of the biggest factors that affects our health is what we eat. People have known for ages that what we put in our body impacts our health, our chance of disease, and our longevity - and now, that it can decrease our risk for the development of Alzheimer’s and dementia. So what changes can you make in your diet? Scientists recommend a combination of a DASH and Mediterranean diet. The DASH diet is prescribed by doctors to prevent and treat high blood pressure and blood cholesterol. The foods in a DASH diet are low in sodium and high in other nutrients that lower blood pressure like potassium, calcium, and magnesium. The DASH diet includes lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry and legumes, and encourages a small amount of nuts and seeds a few times a week. You can learn more about the DASH diet and its recommendations here - (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/dash-diet/art-20048456).
The Mediterranean diet is more of a long-term lifestyle diet, while the DASH diet is for losing weight or changing blood pressure levels in a short amount of time. The Mediterranean diet, as the name suggests, is based off of a typical diet found in Mediterranean countries. This diet consists of large amounts of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, medium amounts of fish, dairy and healthy fats, and small amounts of meat and sweets. The important fact about the Mediterranean diet is that it is plant based instead of meat based. Meals are built around vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, beans and whole-grains with sides of dairy, seafood, poultry and eggs. Red meat is only eaten on occasion. You can learn more about the Mediterranean diet and its recommendations here - (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801).

2. Exercise

Regular exercise is important to stay physically and mentally fit. People who are active and fit are less likely to have a decrease in mental function and less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

Exercising is important because it can:
• Sharpen reasoning skills in healthy individuals
• Improve memory and judgment skills in healthy individuals
• Delay the onset of Alzheimer’s for people at risk or with a genetic predisposition
• Slow the progress of the disease in people who already have Alzheimer’s

So how much exercise is enough to make an impact? The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that “individuals aged 65 and above engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week, or 75 weekly minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise.” Examples of aerobic exercise are brisk walking, running, swimming, tennis, cycling (inside or outside), dancing, taking a spin class, using the elliptical machine, etc. Many of these, like swimming, are low impact and good for people who are already over the age of 50 or who have had previous injuries.

3. Smoking

Alzheimer’s specifically is known to be linked with problems of the vascular system, i.e. your heart and bloodstream. Smoking increases your chance of vascular problems, strokes and mini bleeds in the brain - all of which are also risk factors for dementia. Chemicals in cigarettes can also cause inflammation and oxidative stress, which both increase your chance of developing Alzheimer’s, as well as a plethora of other diseases. Some research says that 14% of dementia cases can be attributed to smoking. But don’t worry, stopping at any point in your life will still have an impact on your Alzheimer’s risk. It’s never too late to adopt healthier lifestyle practices.

4. Drinking

Don’t worry - we’re not about to tell you to stop drinking altogether. Thankfully, drinking in moderation has no significant impact on your risk for developing Alzheimer’s. However heavy drinking and binge drinking will lead to brain damage over time, reducing the amount of your brain’s white matter - the material that provides synapse connections between different sections of your brain. It can also lead to a lack of vitamin B1, eventually affecting short term memory.

So what is moderate alcohol consumption? The NCS says that 1-14 units of alcohol per week for women and 1-21 units a week for men is considered light to moderate.
• A typical glass (175mL) of (12%) wine = 2 units
• A pint of lower (3.6%) alcohol beer or cider = 2 units
• A pint of higher (5.2%) alcohol beer or cider = 3 units
• A single shot (25mL) of spirits such as whisky, gin or vodka (40%) = 1 unit
5. Cognitive Activities

Increased cognitive activity in early life is known to be associated with decreased cognitive decline and a decreased risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia. The new research presented at the Alzheimer’s Conference shows that increasing your cognitive activity at any point in your life can decrease your risk for Alzheimer’s. So what can you do to increase your cognitive activity? Anything that keeps your brain active like crossword puzzles, sudoku, reading books, puzzles, playing card games, etc. “Your brain is like any other muscle in your body — the more you strengthen it, the more resistant it will be to environmental and physical stress,” Tousi explains.
A new study by Ko et. al published in the Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience Journal also shows that increased childhood cognitive activities, like taking music lessons or learning a new language, could greatly decrease the risk of developing both Alzheimer’s and dementia. Encouraging your kids to stimulate their brains will help them further down the road. But it’s also important to know that any cognitive activity increase at any age will help reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s. So it’s never too late to pick up a new brain stimulating activity.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5875443/

So what does this all mean for me?

So what does this actually mean for you? How much will changing these factors actually impact your risk of developing Alzheimer’s? Research shows that people who changed at least 4 of these habits had a 60% decrease in risk, and even people who only changed 2-3 of these habits still had a 37% decrease in risk. While most people would probably assume that not smoking or drinking would have a positive impact on your body, this research emphasizes the magnitude of these small changes. Even people with an increased genetic risk can still decrease the chance of developing the disease if they change these 5 lifestyle factors.

“What we are starting to see, across the board, whether you inherited a genetic predisposition to dementia or live in a place that increases your risk, is that you may be able to overcome some of this with lifestyle,” Carrillo says. “Even more exciting, even a little bit counts.

If you are looking for a provider for live-in care in Florida with experience caring for individuals with Alzheimer's, American In-Home Care and our family of caring companies, Whitsyms In-Home Care, Advocate In-Home Care and Douglas In-Home Care can help. We refer qualified and compassionate care providers that are matched directly with your loved one's personality and needs. We can refer care providers that specialize in Alzheimer's and dementia care, and who have training and continuing education in this area to ensure they provide the highest quality of care to your loved one, and that you and your loved one are in the best hands.

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Signs of Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease

A person suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's disease likely does not look like the average Alzheimer's patient. The average Alzheimer's sufferer in America is a woman in her 70s, whose disease has a relatively slow onset and symptoms that reflect memory loss.

However, early-onset Alzheimer's is different, affecting the middle-aged populace with symptoms that don't necessarily have anything to do with memory loss. According to the Mayo Clinic, 200,000 Americans suffer from it, so how can you tell if you are among them?

Stealing or Breaking the Law

Behavioral changes in older adults should always be cause for concern. If behavioral patterns have changed drastically, and a previously well-behaved adult starts behaving dangerously or erratically, it could be a sign of  Frontotemporal Dementia, the most common brain-damaging disease that strikes people under age 60, affecting their ability to make decisions and determine right from wrong.

Falling Often

If you or a loved one are falling frequently, tell your doctor as it could be a sign of a cognitive problem. In a recent study of 125 people sampled, those that fell often had correlating brain scans for early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

Forgetting What Objects Are For

There's a difference between not remembering where you put your keys and not remembering what a key is used for. If you're having problems remembering the function of objects or where things go, it is time to talk to a doctor.

Eating Inappropriate Things

Some patients of early-onset Alzheimer's have been reported to eat inanimate objects, such as paper or other inedible things, prior to their diagnosis. Also, people diagnosed with Alzheimer's generally consume more calories and are hungrier than non-sufferers, and still they tend to lose weight. Both of these could be related to decreased brain function; the brain receives hunger signals and isn't sure how to process them.

Not Able to Recognize Sarcasm

Sarcasm can sometimes be hard to pick up on, but if you find yourself constantly missing out on humor and sarcasm that others are picking up on, this could be a warning sign of brain atrophy. In diseases such as early-onset Alzheimer's and Frontotemporal Dementia, the brain’s posterior hippocampus is affected, which is where short-term memory is stored, and where one would sort out such things as sarcasm.

Being Depressed

A change in mental health later in life is another symptom of early-onset Alzheimer's disease. If you have never suffered from clinical depression in your young adult life, but develop depression later in life, this could be an alerting factor. This doesn't mean that every person diagnosed with depression later in life will suffer from Alzheimer's, but it does make someone three times more likely to have an Alzheimer's-related disease. Get treatment for depression as soon as possible because it is speculated that the hormones released during depression can actually damage parts of the brain.

Blankly Staring

With early-onset Alzheimer's, the function of the brain is compromised, meaning your ability to recall facts, memories and information is compromised, the brain becoming all around unfocused. So staring in a detached way might be an early sign of a compromised brain.

These symptoms could signal early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease, but they might also be the signs of other underlying conditions. A trained neurologist can easily diagnose Alzheimer’s or other dementias, so talk to your doctor if you have worrying signs so that you can begin treatment. If diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's, having a care provider in your home could help you feel safe and comfortable. American In-Home Care always refers qualified, credentialed, insured and screened care providers that can help with a variety of services including Alzheimer's and Dementia Care. Contact us today at 1-844-505-0004 to schedule your free in-home assessment.

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Adapted From: Andrea Atkins, "7 Surprising Early Signs of Alzheimer's Disease." Next Avenue. Oct. 2015. 

 

Understanding Dementia: A Helpful Resource

Memory loss is scary. The thought of not being able to remember important information, life events, and loved ones can naturally cause anxiety and worry. Unfortunately, the time usually comes when we start asking ourselves if we, or someone we know, is experiencing symptoms of memory loss or dementia. In this situation, truly understanding dementia is important, and the best course of action is to arm yourself with knowledge and get as much practical advice as possible.

One of the best resources we have come across is the FreeDem Films. These short animated films answer important questions about dementia, such as "Am I Getting Dementia?" and "What's the Difference Between Alzheimer's and Dementia?" Not only do they answer important questions, they are also clear and easy to follow, making these videos a valuable resource for understanding dementia.

If you or your loved one are suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s and need professional care, American In-Home Care can help. We always refers qualified, credentialed and screened care providers that can assist you in the comfort and safety of your own home, and can even refer nurses that specialize in Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Contact us today at 1-844-505-0004 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss what care options are right for you and your family.

Caregiver Depression: The Intangible Cost Of Dementia Care:

Does your mother have enough food? Does she have clean laundry? Is she eating nutritious meals? Has she been wandering? Is she safe? Does she have her medications? Are her finances in order? Who will set up her doctors appointments? Who will drive her?

Up to 50 percent of caregivers providing Alzheimer's and dementia care suffer from some sort of caregiver depression - developing major depressive illnesses and stress related to added duties and worry, according to a doctor with the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco. The caregiver becomes so overburdened with responsibilities, duties and worries that they aren't sure what to do next. This feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing what to do, especially when it concerns a loved one, can lead to anxiety and eventually clinical depression.

With 80 million baby boomers getting older and needing more medical care, and estimates stating that there will be 7 million Americans with Alzheimer's disease by 2025, the concern becomes about the costs of care - financial costs, as well as the intangible mental and emotional costs on the caregiver.

Signs of Caregiver Depression

Providing dementia care and Alzheimer's care for a loved one can lead to feelings of stress, guilt, anger, sadness and isolation. Depression can affect caregivers in different ways and at different times, so it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms. It is common for depression to set in immediately after the loved one has been diagnosed with the disease, and also as the disease progresses and you start to see your loved one fade. Signs of depression include:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not cease with treatment
  • Thoughts of suicide, or suicide attempts

If you are concerned that you might be depressed, see your doctor as soon as possible. If depression is left untreated, not only can it lead to emotional and physical problems, it can also affect the quality of care you're able to provide the person with Alzheimer's or dementia.

What is the solution?

Even though providing Alzheimer's and dementia care can be difficult, caring for loved ones can truly be very rewarding if managed correctly. It is important while providing care that the caregiver takes time to his or herself  to participate in enjoyable activities  and hobbies. Another way to help cope with the added responsibilities and stress is to try keeping a journal to express both positive and negative emotions. It is also important to talk to your friends and family and let them know when you might need some assistance.

There is also major research being conducted that aims to reduce both the tangible and intangible costs of dementia care. The University of California, San Francisco, along with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, is beginning a $10 million study funded by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation. Researchers plan to develop a dementia "ecosystem," which aims to reduce the cost of caring for the growing number of dementia patients and to ease the strain on caregivers.

A handful of tech start-ups have also been working to create technological solutions to ease the burden on caregivers. In San Francisco, Lively markets a system of networked sensors and a watch that can pick up on activity around the house and let family members or caregivers know if there is a worrisome change.

With increasing technology targeted to help ease the burden of Alzheimer's and dementia care, caregiver responsibilities and worries will be lessened, and depression will likely decrease as a result. However, in the meantime it is important to find outlets for emotions related to providing care, and to seek professional help when necessary. Respite care is an affordable, reliable option that can provide the additional support to keep you from feeling isolated and overwhelmed. American In-Home Care offers respite care along with other live-in elderly care solutions. Contact us today to set up a free consultation and discuss what care options are right for you.