Tag Archives: living well with dementia

Dementia care: Truths that must be known

Dementia CareDementia care posits many challenges to the individual with dementia as well as to the people caring for her/his. Given that there are different types of dementia, and every person is unique, we have as many behaviors as many types of dementia and/or personalities.

Knowing the differences among the different types of dementia and its behavioral and physiological characteristics and impact on the person suffering the disease is important. The most well-known form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, but there numerous other types, say Edward Francis and Foresthc.com. Lewy Body dementia, vascular dementia, Parkinson’s with dementia, and FTD (fronto-temporal dementia), and some of the most widespread forms. Therefore, it is important to have your sick loved one checked by an expert physician in the domain. A qualified medical practitioner won’t just observe the form of dementia; he will also be able to recommend the most appropriate treatment. For a better understanding of the disease, you might want to document yourself, too. Read about dementia and you’ll have the capacity of caring for your relative with a lot more compassion, love and understanding. Here are some truths about dementia every caregiver should know.

Flexibility is paramount

If your loved one suffers from dementia, you must learn to be flexible and understanding. Be prepared for mood daily swings, and have patience. If there’s one thing about dementia we can’t deny is this – there’s no going back, so it’s important to find a way and help your relative cope with the disease. Look for patterns and keep in mind that some days will be really bad, and others not so bad.

Be ok with advice from others

Those who can’t understand what caregiving actually means will probably come with all sorts of recommendations on how to care for a relative with dementia. Because they’re not in your shoes, making guesses is a lot easier for them. Don’t take it personal and try to relax; breathe, smile and let them say whatever they want because in the end, their sole intention is to help out even if they have no idea what they’re implying.

Detachment is necessary for the mental health of the caregiver

At first, this will be difficult. Unfortunately, it’s something you must do if you don’t want to go insane. A care giver must not allow his/her patient define their whole lives. If you have the misfortune of caring for a cranky, controlling senior, try not to allow their behavior soak up your sense of self and make you feel guilty and miserable. You’re not responsible for their dementia, so get over it and move on with your life while also helping them to the best of your abilities.

Empathy is required in order to feel compassionate

Let’s not confuse empathy with sympathy, because they’re totally different. Although we are compelled to detach ourselves from our dementia patients in order to stay sane, it is important to be sympathetic and feel their pain, too. They’re lost in their confusion and they can’t find their way back to reality. This means that as a caregiver, you must relate to their state of mind. Put yourself in their shoes for a second the next time your mother screams at you for 20 minutes. How would she react if things were different?

Don’t be judgmental towards your care receiver

Dementia patients will have good days and bad days. On those bad days, they might insult you. Don’t beat yourself up as you are doing everything you can to make their lives easier and more pleasant. Educate yourself on how to deal with bad behavior and don’t hesitate to ask for assistance in case you truly need it. Think about the good days and try to replicate those days; your patient could respond positively and even change his/her behavior instantly.

Ask for assistance and understand your limitations

Almost everyone trying to care for a patient with dementia eventually ends up needing help. You shouldn’t be compelled to look after a relative by yourself; ask for assistance from your siblings and make them understand that caregiving has to be a team effort. In special circumstances, you might consider hiring an in-home caregiver or place your loved one in an assisted living facility. One thing’s for sure – dementia is a serious illness that gets worse with time; this means that sooner or later, you will need professional assistance.

Certain truths are crystal-clear and just can’t be denied. Dementia caregiving implies more than visiting a relative once a week or helping around the house. You will have to make a full commitment, and provide the best assistance that you can in order to make the lifestyle of a loved one easier, and more fulfilling.

 

New Devices Help Seniors Stay Longer in Their Own Homes.

An article supporting Living Well’s high-tech – high touch approach, was published by Health Day: News for Healthier Living on January 18 by Dennis Thompson. The article stresses the importance of using technology to keep seniors for longer and safer: ” Seniors who want to remain in their homes despite illness and infirmity can get a high-tech assist these days. So can their children who might worry about…Sensors, GPS and more are being used to track aging parents’ movements… So can their children who might worry about an elderly parent living alone, often far from family members.

The 1980s-era medical alert pendants made famous by their television advertising (“I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”) are now among a wide array of devices that can help keep an eye on aging parents and get them help when they need it.

Available technologies include:

  • Sensors in the home to track an older person’s movement, from the front door to the medicine cabinet to the refrigerator to the stove. The sensors are linked with computers that can issue alerts when people deviate from their routine.
  • Global positioning system devices, using the GPS technology that’s become so common in cars, that can help locate someone with dementia who’s wandered from home.
  • Computerized pillboxes that track whether medication is being taken on time.

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Activity key to a Dementia sufferer’s well-being

plants-life-100702_640MINNEAPOLIS, MN, January 10, 2011/ Troy Media/ –

Studies have shown nursing home residents with dementia spend 70 to 80 per cent of their time with nothing to do. “I’m dying of boredom” was the statement made by a gentleman living in an Alzheimer’s care unit to Wendy Wood of Colorado State University Head of Department of Occupational Therapy.

According to research conducted by Wood and published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy in May 2009, the remaining cognitive, social, and emotional capabilities of persons with dementia living in Alzheimer’s units were rarely tapped into, promoting “excess disability” or disability beyond what is directly attributable to the disease itself. This could lead to a more rapid decline.

Because concerns about the use of certain medications to manage behaviours in persons with dementia are being raised, new approaches – such as music, dancing, art, and storytelling – are being tested and have been found to be effective in the care for persons with dementia.

The common element in all of them is engagement – or doing. Even routine tasks are beneficial for persons with dementia. Having the person help with dressing, setting the table, getting the mail, or answering the door are all tasks that can be assigned, as long as directions are also given. Targeted care incorporating daily engagement is key and has many benefits.

If you have Alzheimer’s you can have whatever you want: GIVING ALZHEIMER’S PATIENTS THEIR WAY, EVEN CHOCOLATE!

There are some caregivers -in family settings- or in nursing homes that have found that allowing people with dementia practically anything that brings comfort to them, improves the mood, decreases agitation, and soothes them in a higher rate that psychotropics medications that usually creates undesirable side effects in the elder. In a recent article by Pam Belluck for the New York Times, she interviewed Tina Alonzo, director of a nursing home, who states that “… Research suggests that creating positive emotional experiences for Alzheimer’s patients diminishes distress and behavior problems…” . The article also suggests that one-on-one activities instead of big “bingo-groups’ along with individualized menus help to improve people’s mood: “…Comforting food improves behavior and mood because it “sends messages they can still understand: ‘it feels good, therefore I must be in a place where I’m loved…”

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The Aging Brain

brain-78440_640On Episode Six of the Charlie Rose Brain Series, a discussion of the Aging Brain with Brenda Milner of McGill University, Larry Squire of the University of California San Diego, John Hardy of University College London, and Scott Small of Columbia University. Co-hosted by Eric Kandel of Columbia University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, we find easy information for the laymen about what occurs in the aging memory related to memory loss and the developing of Alzheimer’s

See the program

Alzheimer’s Association reports on optimism among scientists to solve the Alzheimer’s puzzle!

The Alzheimer’s Association presented an article published by the Health Day News for Healthy Living where the outlook for Alzheimer’s disease research is promising, even as the disease’s looming impact on society grows, experts say. Work is being done on scans and tests that could lead to early detection, and researchers are also identifying genetic and biological markers that could indicate if a person is at increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s.

The Health Day Article by Dennis Thompson states “…Research into Alzheimer’s disease has reached a point of significant potential, even as the disease’s looming impact on society grows more and more dire, experts say. Some leading scientists, in fact, worry that we may not be doing enough to press forward with key advances and new insights into Alzheimer’s, the most common type of dementia among older people…”

Read the article

Listening to the Voices of Alzheimer’s

A series of videos presented for The New York Times by Karen Barrow explores the frightening and confusing world of Alzheimer’s. She captures the voices of both patients and loved ones who are struggling with issues of independence, long-term care and making the most of the time they have left.

Listening to people who say that Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging but a disease that affects the patient and all family members equally, brings your awareness of the challenges of this disease that affects people “just out-of-the-blue…”

A common desire of people affected with Alzheimer’s is that they want to live life at its fullest and stay in their homes for as long as they can.

See the videos: Patient Voices: Alzheimer’s Disease and read the related article: “The Voices of Alzheimer’ by Tara Parker-Pope