Tag Archives: assisted living

Living at Home and Understanding Dementia Symptoms

Understanding DementiaHaving a loved one diagnosed with dementia, including Alzheimer’s,  is a very hard circumstance and can be very challenging. Most of the times you want to keep them living at home, and provide the home care for the dementia or Alzheimer’s care they need. However, people get distanced from the one suffering from Dementia since they can barely recognize you; thus it is important to understand the symptoms of dementia and become a step closer to your elderly parents.

Nobody wants to see their aging parent struggle with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Sadly, there are things in life we can’t control, like incurable diseases that could materialize after a certain age. When someone gets dementia, their relationships, priorities, and perceptions on life take an unexpected turn. Nevertheless, certain forms of dementia can be kept under control, reversed and even treated if caught on time. If you have an aging parent, it’s only natural to become concerned with their wellbeing. Are they eating right? Are they becoming more forgetful? Are they in pain? These are questions most concerned children ask themselves on a daily basis.

A 70-year old parent may forget things from time to time, but if you notice that their memory loss becomes intense, then it might be a cause of cognitive decline. Dementia can be identified in many ways. First, you must understand the disease. The more you know the higher chances you have to save your parent and stop the health condition from advancing.

Understanding symptoms of dementia

Dementia is not a sole health condition but a collection of numerous symptoms, and some of the most common are changes in personality, memory loss, and impaired intellectual functions that could result from trauma or disease to the brain. These changes are not normal aging signs, and their side effects are severe enough to impact someone’s daily living, relationships and independence forever. Even though Alzheimer’s is one of the most widespread forms of dementia, there are many others, including mixed and vascular dementia.

If you suspect that your parent may suffer from this dreadful illness, then some of the changes will be noticeable. Remembering, communication, learning and problem solving will become difficult endeavors to accomplish. These are changes that can happen fast, or develop slowly in time. The outcome and progression of dementia differ, but are mainly determined by the form of dementia suffered and side of the brain affected. A specialist in the medical field will provide a complete diagnosis after the patient has undergone a series of tests, clinical exams, and brain scans.

What triggers dementia?

A healthy brain’s mass begins to decline in adulthood. However, this fascinating organ-machine of ours keeps forming vital connections even if we age, thus keeping us sane. When these connections are misplaced because of injury, inflammation, or disease, brain neurons begin to die. The result – dementia; it’s certainly traumatic to see a loved one go through such a horrifying disease. This is why it is important for adults to interfere as soon as the first signs materialize in their aging parent. The faster a doctor understands the cause, the better chances he has to recommend a treatment.

Caring for a parent with dementia

In the United States, there are roughly 10 million people who take care of a parent with dementia. Most of these at-home caregivers are women. It’s tough to do this job and at the same time have a family on your own. But since we’re talking about a parent, you wouldn’t want anyone else to take care of them.

Becoming a caregiver to a sick parent is tough. If you’re an adult and you have kids, you must accept that your aging parent may also have the behavior of a 5-year old. Given that dementia affects the brain, memory loss is not the only disturbing symptom. Many adults don’t want to move their loved one to a nursing home. In general, it’s not because they can’t afford the costs but because they’ve over protective.

Professional care can be good for an elderly suffering from dementia

The option of Home care or aging in pace and caring at home for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s is still an option for some. However, one size does not fit all. Living Well Assisted Living at Home in San Francisco and Marin County recognizes that home care for senior with dementia is an alternative but also, believe it or not, today’s healthcare facilities and nursing homes are no longer what they used to be. Some of these hospices provide exceptional comfort. They also feature all kinds of activities for patients, and they have professional personal taking care of your loved one 24/7. Making the decision and moving your parent to a facility is not something you want to do. But it is necessary.

Only an equipped facility can offer the best care for your loved one. At-home caregiving is great, but it’s still not enough to make the patient feel appreciated. A specialized facility comes with lots of programs, socializing sessions, and other therapies meant to stimulate your parent’s brain and ensure he remains in good physical health for as long as possible.

In collaboration with  Edward Francis and Foresthc.com!

Our Long-Term Care Journey

Aging in PlaceMaking a life-changing decision on a loved one’s long-term care and considering a nursing home or assisted living facility is never easy and there are many hurdles that must be overcome. For many, this may not be necessary as they will receive the care they require in the comfort of their own home, which is certainly the first option for a large percentage of seniors receiving care.

According to an AARP study 89% of those 65 and older would love to age in place for as long as possible, and there are several important benefits of aging at home, like improved health, routine, independence and the familiar setting. If medically and financially possible, there is no place like home. In-home care can be affordable, when limited in services and in number of hours per day.

For low income seniors, there are several programs, like the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program, the Cash and Counsel program, or if you or your family member is a US veteran, the VA administration for veterans may cover a variety of in home care services in your state. Services that are typically covered by these programs include, health care, personal care, homemaker care, adult day care, transportation, medical equipment and some minor home remodeling.

For those that prefer a group setting, or home care is not appropriate and/or affordable, and the family feels that a nursing home or assisted living facility would be the be the best fit, obviously there are many emotional issues that need to be dealt with. Often there are conflicting emotions raging, including, guilt, anger, sadness and helplessness, when they are no longer able to provide the care that their loved ones now require.

Another area that needs to be navigated when considering a nursing home, is how to pay the bill, which for many American families is financially out of reach even after saving up for a considerable number of years. The same situation arises with home care services; unless the person has savings, equity in their home, or Long Term care Insurance, cost can be an issue. The federal and state governments provide Medicaid/Medical help if the individual meets all financial and medical eligibility guidelines. There is often a grueling task, companies like Senior Planning Services could help you with the Medicaid application process, or you can address your local Medicaid office, often, with the risk of failure quite high.

Last but no least, there are considerations as far as choosing the right nursing home or assisted living facility for mom or dad, to the right in-home care agency that will take into account all personal, cultural, religious and location-based preferences. This accumulation of stress is enough to inundate any sane person, but for the nearly 65 million heroic individuals providing care in the US for a loved one, this is often the best care option for the senior.Having worked for many years as a nursing home placement coordinator for a NJ-based Medicaid planning company, I’d like to share the personal saga of one of our clients which touched me deeply.

Several months ago I was contacted by a woman living in northern New Jersey. Her mom, who resided in central NJ in Ocean County, was suffering from severe dementia and the daughter wanted her admitted to a nursing home in her own area, up in northern NJ, in Bergen County. In addition to her dementia, the elderly woman also had severe behavioral issues.

The family was in the Medicaid application process and their application was in the pending status. Because of her unique needs, our options were quite limited. We needed a nursing home with a secure unit where the residents could not wander out of the unit, since a wander guard would not have been sufficient for this woman. Dementia patients tend to become so confused and lost in their surroundings, that they will try to leave the premises even when wheelchair bound.

The woman, as we mentioned earlier, also had violent tendencies and would sometimes act disrespectfully, hit other residents and caregivers, and needed a nursing facility that was equipped for these needs. These issues made finding the right facility a nightmare.

When we did find one or two, we were turned down, since our Medicaid status was still pending and not all nursing homes were willing to work with Medicaid-pending applicants.

In the meantime, we found placement for the woman in a nursing home in the Ocean County area which was able to provide all of her needs. I had a good working relationship with this facility and, after some cajoling, they accepted her, confident that the Medicaid application would be approved. It didn’t satisfy the requests of the daughter, though, who wanted mom close by.

When the Medicaid application was subsequently approved, we were successful in transferring the woman to a facility closer to her daughter in Bergen County. We were all very excited that it had worked out well for everybody, at last. The daughter thanked me profusely for the effort I had expended in making it happen.

It was heartbreaking when, days later, the woman passed away at the facility…

Conclusion: You know, as professionals, we try to maintain a certain degree of detachment in order to be better able to assist our clients, but at the end of the day… it’s painful. We do develop relationships with the wonderful people whose long-term care is entrusted to us and when they go so quickly, it’s like losing a friend or relative, in a sense.

In collaboration with Benjamin Lamm, a senior advocate.

Depression Among Seniors in Residential Care

In a study released  by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), data shows that nearly 45% of seniors in residential care live with depression or symptoms of depression. The report states “…More than two in five (44%) Canadian seniors living in residential care homes are diagnosed with or have symptoms of depression. The study, Depression Among Seniors in Residential Care, is one of the largest of its kind in Canada to examine the prevalence of depression and the impact it has on persons living in residential care , such as long-term care, nursing or personal care homes. Based on data from CIHI’s Continuing Care Reporting System, the study included nearly 50,000 residents age 65 and older across four provinces and one territory (Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Yukon).

CIHI’s study found that, while about one in four (26%) seniors living in a residential care facility had a diagnosis of depression, a further one in five (18%) had symptoms of depression with no documented diagnosis. Residents were considered to have symptoms of depression if they had a score of at least 3 on the Depression Rating Scale, which measures symptoms such as persistent anger, tearfulness and repetitive anxiety. Read More

We Need a Different Approach to Alzheimer’s and Any Other Type of Dementia

There is a myth in the eldercare field: “people with dementia, including Alzheimer’s need to leave their normal lives…and being institutionalized for their safety..”

At Living Well Assisted Living at Home, we are happy to offer smart technology and comprehensive services that allow people with dementia to continue with their usual lives.

To support this concept, USA Today has been publishing the “Blackwells’ journey into Alzheimer’s”. “…USA Today: Focus on the present helps couple handle Alzheimer’s. The reality of Alzheimer’s disease is different for everybody. Bob Blackwell, an Alzheimer’s Association early-stage advisor, and his  wife, Carol, choose to focus on the present when dealing with his diagnosis. They travel together and blog about their Alzheimer experience, and Bob continues to exercise and partake in photography, his favorite hobby. The couple also traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby their elected officials at the Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s Action Summit. Read the USA Today article

Living Well High Tech Model Finds Support in Other Countries

 

Doris Bersing, PhD President and Co-Founder, Living Well Assisted Living at Home comments on the results of an AARP survey  that shows 89% of Americans do not want to leave their homes when they age. Most of these people will be live alone and receive support from a variety of health and community-based providers, family caregivers. Read Dr. Bersing’s article

How will the long-term care system provide care to a growing number of seniors living in increasingly scattered locations? And more importantly, how can that system continue to provide quality care in the face of workforce shortages, rising care costs and decreasing resources? Technology has the potential to play a critical role in launching a new model of geriatric care that allows older people to live independently for as long as possible, supports family caregivers in the important work they do and gives health care providers the tools they need to deliver high-quality care at a reasonable cost.[1]

The mix of caring people, technology, and expertise in gerontology is the key to being able to keep people living and aging within their own homes regardless of whether they are healthy and engaged or dealing with chronic physical illness or dementia.

In other countries, along with the USA, a device touted as a future of health care is freeing nurses from long road trips, and instead beaming them into lounge rooms. An article by Danny Rose “Hi-tech alternative to nurse home visit” on the 9news, explains how technology can be used to help seniors to take care of their health and age-in-place. Read Danny’s article


[1] The State of Technology in Aging Services report (2008) by The Center for Aging Services Technologies  (CAST). You can download the report from their website