Archive for the ‘Dementia’ Category

Alzheimer’s Disease: Winter Safety Tips for Family Caregivers

January 17th, 2018 No Comments

Alzheimer's Disease

If you provide care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease, you may find that winter time brings a new set of challenges.

Earlier sunsets, colder temperatures, and changes to your loved one’s daily routine can cause confusion and agitation. As a caregiver, it’s important to be prepared for the unique circumstances of wintertime so you can help your loved one adjust and remain comfortable.

1. Carefully choose your loved one’s clothing

For individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s, getting dressed can be a challenge. If they are accustomed to wearing the same types of clothing each day, adding new layers can be stressful. However, it’s important to remember that warmth is also very important, especially for those who have trouble adjusting to colder temperatures. Dress in soft, comfortable fabrics that will provide the insulation needed. If you’re heading outside, ensure that they wear a hat, scarf, and other winter essentials. Choose bright colors or reflective materials that will allow your loved one to be easily seen when he or she is outside.

2. Be prepared for increased sundowning

As we discussed in our previous post, instances of sundowning can increase during fall and wintertime because daylight fades earlier. The low light of winter can cause confusion and agitation in many individuals with Alzheimer’s. It’s important to keep your home well-lit throughout the day and early evening. It’s also important to encourage regular activity and routine each day, to regulate energy levels and maintain a sense of normalcy.

3. Be extra-cautious of wandering

Wandering is a common issue faced by caregivers of individuals who have Alzheimer’s. Because Alzheimer’s Disease affects the memory, many individuals with the disease become disoriented when trying to locate lost objects or navigate home from new places.

Often, they fall into old patterns and routines, such as dressing to go to a previous job. This can cause them to leave their homes and wander off. In winter, wandering can be deadly due to the colder temperatures and other inclement weather.

If you have experienced instances of wandering with your loved one in the past, it might be time to seek additional care from professionals who specialize in memory care.

It’s advisable for those who have dementia to wear an ID bracelet or to carry an emergency ID card. Medic Alert + Safe Return® program is recommended by the Alzheimer’s Association, and is an option for caregivers who want extra peace of mind this winter.

Choose Trustworthy Memory Care Professionals

If you need assistance providing care for an individual with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, it’s important to seek professionals who specialize in memory care.

Caregivers who specialize in memory care and Alzheimer’s Disease have an understanding of wandering and other issues of dementia. They also understand how to secure your home in a way that makes it safe and secure for your loved one who has Alzheimer’s Disease. Visiting Angels provides home health care and memory care services throughout Mercer County and Burlington County in New Jersey. To learn more about our services, contact us today or call us directly at 609-883-8188.

What is Sundowning?

December 5th, 2017 No Comments

sundowning

Many who care for those with Alzheimer’s or other related dementia agree that symptoms get worse in the late afternoon and early evening–the time just before and after the sun goes down. This neurological phenomenon has been named Sundown Syndrome and is often called “sundowning.” Sundowning is the increased state of confusion or agitation that many people with memory issues experience as the day’s natural light fades.

Increased shadows, darkness, and changing ambiance can cause confusion and distress in people who have Alzheimer’s and dementia. This stress and agitation can, in turn, be frightening and/or confusing for loved ones who don’t understand why their loved one is behaving in certain ways at certain times of the day.

The more you know and understand about Sundowning, the more you can help your loved one when and if these symptoms occur.

Symptoms of Sundowning

Symptoms of this condition are associated with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and may include:

  • Increased confusion as natural light begins to fade
  • Increased mood swings
  • Increased agitation
  • Decrease in energy; lethargy
  • Increased stress or visible worry
  • Increased tremors or shaking
  • Increased hostility or aggression
  • Increased disorientation

People who have dementia and who suffer from Sundowning Syndrome may pace nervously or behave in an odd manner. They may display visible signs of worry such as crying or mumbling to themselves. Dealing with these symptoms can be confusing and frustrating, but there are ways to lessen their severity and make your loved one more comfortable during the toughest part of their day.

How Can You Help?

There are a few ways your help your loved one with dementia make an easier transition from daytime to nighttime.

  • Keep the home well-lit
  • Minimize shadows, especially in rooms your loved one spends the most time in
  • Encourage activity during the day
  • Ensure a regular eating and exercise schedule
  • Consider hiring a professional home health aide who specializes in memory care to provide extra support for your loved one and yourself

For those who have dementia and Alzheimer’s, a specialized caregiving routine can ease symptoms and help them feel more comfortable, no matter the time of day.

Contact Visiting Angels today to learn more about our certified home health aides and how we can help your loved one live more independently at home.

How Does Alzheimer’s Disease Affect the Body and the Brain?

June 12th, 2017 No Comments

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month.

Each year, the Alzheimer’s Association urges Americans to become familiar with the risks and symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, and to become involved in the effort to raise awareness for this deadly disease, which kills more people than both breast and prostate cancer combined.

How Does Alzheimer’s Disease Affect the Brain?

Although it is often mistakenly attributed to the aging process and memory loss, Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease that targets healthy brain and nerve tissue, eventually leading to cell death and brain shrinkage over time. As the disease progresses it begins to impact cognitive function, impairing the ability to think and process memories.

How Does Alzheimer’s Disease Affect the Body?

As it neural function declines, it also begins to impair the brain’s ability to regulate motor skills and physical activities. The earlier stages generally affect cognition and memory, but over time the damage spreads to the areas of the brain responsible for walking, balance and coordination, and swallowing. It may appear that a person suffering from advanced stage Alzheimer’s Disease may be choosing not to eat, but it can actually become physically impossible for them to do so as the brain loses the ability to effectively communicate with the body.

Treating Alzheimer’s Disease

While there is currently no cure for or way to reverse the disease, researchers are constantly working on developing new medication and treatment options to help reverse cognitive decline and deterioration. Treatment is focused on a comprehensive approach that may include medication to help regulate the neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for healthy brain function, as well as occupational and physical therapy to help patients and their families manage symptoms as they develop, and to help maintain the patient’s quality of life for as long as possible.

After the Diagnosis – Helping a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease

The disease affects everyone differently. For most people, maintaining their personal independence for as long as is safely possible is the ultimate goal. The Alzheimer’s Society recommends a number of memory aid strategies, as well as assistive technology and equipment to help make the home or care environment as accessible and safe as possible.

Personal and Home Assistance Care in New Jersey

For more information on the risk factors, warning signs, and care options for a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, contact us today by calling 609-883-8188 to learn more about our services in Mercer and Burlington counties.


Sources

5 Alzheimer’s Holiday Survival Tips for Seniors and Their Family Caregivers

November 17th, 2016 No Comments

at-home-caregiving-alzheimers-disease-visiting-angels-new-jersey

New Jersey Memory Care Assistance

Many families start the holiday season by giving thanks, sharing laughter, and creating joyous memories. But for those who have Alzheimer’s disease, and for family members who care for them, these holiday sentiments may not be as effortless. For families who have loved ones battling Alzheimer’s disease, the holiday season can be a bittersweet time, often filled with frustration and stress. Holiday travel and festivities can easily agitate, confuse, and overwhelm people who have Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Meanwhile, both professional and family caregivers can feel overwhelmed, anxious, frustrated, and often lonely during the holiday season, which can lead to stress and depression.

If your loved ones are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, family and friends might not notice any changes in their behavior. However, if the disease has progressed into the middle or later stages, it can become more difficult to entertain guests or plan meaningful family activities around the limitations caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

In recognition of both National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and Family Caregiver’s Month, Visiting Angels offers these 5 holiday survival tips for both caregivers of—and for—seniors who have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of memory loss.

Holiday Survival Tips

1.) Avoid holiday stress by planning ahead. The stress of the holiday season, coupled with caregiving responsibilities, can take a toll. People who typically experience holiday stress are those that give little thought to the challenges they’ll encounter. Consider planning ahead for what may be expected of you, both socially and emotionally. Talk with family and close friends about holiday celebrations in advance. Whether you’re hosting or visiting during the holidays plan to stay on a regular routine.

2.) Prepare your loved one who has Alzheimer’s for family festivities. Preparing your loved one for upcoming family gatherings can allow both of you to share a memory and enjoy the warmth of the season. Be sure to play familiar holiday music, talk about past holidays, and share photos of relatives and friends past and present. This will help encourage good thoughts and memories. Have a plan in place if your loved one starts getting agitated—too many people and loud conversations can cause anxiety.

3.) Communicate successfully during the holidays. Allow your loved one who has Alzheimer’s to be a part of the conversation. Alzheimer’s disease can diminish a person’s ability to communicate, so encourage family members to remain calm and supportive when a loved one has trouble speaking.

4.) Consult a doctor before traveling with a person who has Alzheimer’s. Traveling during the holidays can be overwhelming and stressful for even the healthiest person. But caregivers shouldn’t rule out travel altogether. Consult with your loved one’s doctor about things you can do to help them through the travel process before booking a flight and packing your bags.

5.) Don’t make too many holiday commitments. As a family caregiver, you already face many challenges in order to balance daily life demands and attempt to adhere to a schedule. Be sure not to lose sight of this when planning for the holidays. For example, if you plan to host a holiday dinner, consider inviting fewer people, or ask another relative or friend to host the event this year.

For families and caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s, who need an extra source of support and information can call the Alzheimer Association 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900.

If you have a parent or other loved one who is battling the stages of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and could use additional care in the comfort of their home, contact Visiting Angels. We offer professional, individualized, home care senior living assistance to adults and seniors throughout Mercer and Burlington Counties, New Jersey.

For additional Alzheimer’s care tips, check out our blog post: “Alzheimer’s Memory Care: 6 Tips to Help.”

8 Ways to Prevent Wandering in Seniors with Dementia

August 17th, 2016 1 Comment

Wandering in Seniors with Dementia In-Home Care Visiting Angels New Jersey

There are more than 5-million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and 6-in-10 will begin to wander. Seniors living with dementia often don’t remember their name, other peoples’ names, or their addresses. They can become confused, even when in a familiar place.  Wandering among seniors with dementia can be dangerous, but may be prevented with a few proactive strategies.

Wandering is most common among seniors with dementia and can start at any stage of the disease. Early recognition of warning signs can help loved ones plan for situations that can lead to wandering, such as restless pacing, appearing to be confused or lost in a new or different environment, or difficulty locating familiar places around the house.

Even the most dedicated family member or caregiver can struggle to stop a senior with dementia from wandering, but below are 8 strategies that may lower the chances of wandering:

  • 1. Identify the time of day in which they tend to typically wander. Planning daily activities and getting exercise can help reduce anxiety and restlessness often felt by those with dementia.
  • 2. Make sure all basic daily needs are met. Do they have to use the bathroom? Are they thirsty or hungry? A person who has dementia may become agitated and want to find relief somewhere—causing the wandering behavior.
  • 3. Ensure your home is secure. Install locks on the windows and doors that can’t be opened easily. You should also place the locks higher or lower on the door so that they are out of sight, as this can prevent your loved one from easily unlocking the door and getting out and wandering. You may also hang a bell on the doorknob or purchase wander alarms to alert you when your loved one is attempting to leave.
  • 4. Keep car keys out of sight. This will eliminate the chance of a person with dementia from driving a car and putting themselves and others in danger.
  • 5. Wear brightly colored clothing. If you’re going to be in a crowd or a busy place, have your loved one dress brightly colored clothing. By wearing brightly colored clothing, it will make it easier to spot them at a distance or in a crowd should they wander.
  • 6. Provide reassurance if the person feels lost, abandoned or confused. Use communication that focuses on exploration and validation in situations where the person with dementia may want to leave to “go home” or “go to work.” Instead of correcting them, use statements that re-direct their anxiety such as “everything is under control at work today; I could really use help folding laundry, though.” Communicate with them in such a way that they feel you’re taking them seriously. Try to focus on how they feel rather than what they are saying.
  • 7. Camouflage the exits. In addition to placing door locks out of the line of sight, paint them the same color as the wall to make it more difficult to locate the exit. An alternative would be to cover the doors with a removable curtain or screen.
  • 8. Use signs. Sometimes a simple sign on doors that says “stop” or “do not enter” can prevent wandering.

If your loved one does wander off, do not panic, but do act quickly. If you can’t locate the person, contact the police. It’s a good idea to have them carry a card in their wallet, purse, or ID bracelet with their address and responsible party’s phone number. GPS technology can also help: via a phone app (providing they carry a phone), a watch, or other wearable trackers.

For family caregivers of seniors with dementia, wandering can cause significant stress. Having a plan in place, taking precautions in the home, and knowing what to do in case of an emergency can help decrease that stress.

If your loved one has been wandering, contact Visiting Angels. Visiting Angels can help improve the quality of life for seniors and adults with dementia throughout Mercer and Burlington Counties in New Jersey with individualized, non-medical, in-home care.

10 Fun and Effective Ways for Keeping a Sharp Memory

May 6th, 2015 1 Comment

10 Strategies for Keeping Your Memory Strong

Memory Care Services in New Jersey

Yes, it’s frustrating, but we all have our “senior moments” that we have to deal with. We all lose our thought, we lose our keys, and we fear losing our memory. As we age, we’re concerned with health issues that affect our memory, but the fast-paced, multi-tasking lifestyle so many of us are caught up in causes many of our “can’t remember” moments. Visiting Angels has good news: there are ways to combat this concern.

Just as we can sharpen our kitchen cutlery, we can sharpen our minds. And guess what? The tool for sharpening our minds is FUN. If you’re concerned that senior moments are coming more frequently, or that your sharp memory is less so, then indulge yourself in these activities, and sharpen up with FUN.

10 Fun, Effective Ways to Retain Your Sharp Memory

  • 1.) Stay connected. Friends sharpen us. Family supports us. Get on social media, email, or a video chat and reconnect with long-lost classmates, friends, and/or distant relatives. These connections keep us sharp and keep away depression. Be a social butterfly.
  • 2.) Get into something new. What have you always wanted to do or learn but never found time to indulge your desire? Take advantage of the opportunity now. Try your hand at painting. Learn to crochet. Take piano lessons. Sign up for a class.
  • 3.) Return to what you know. Find your favorite book and reread it. Dance the waltz—again. Learn your favorite songs—again. Put all those precious family photos into a scrapbook. Write another poem. Cook something simple and delicious, and share. Do again what you used to love doing.
  • 4.) Exercise. Take a walk with a friend. Participate in a water aerobics class. Work with weights: start light and work your way up. Ride a bike. Get into a dance class.
  • 5.) Play. Get your friends together and play board games or charades. Put together jigsaw puzzles, or fill in crossword puzzles.
  • 6.) Eat right and stay hydrated. A healthy diet feeds both body and mind. And plenty of fluids are vital to remaining healthy physically and mentally.
  • 7.) Start a gratitude journal. Watch for silver linings, and write them down daily. Writing exercises the brain, and gratitude brightens the attitude.
  • 8.) Avoid multi-tasking. Don’t divide yourself and your mind. Concentrate on single tasks for best results.
  • 9.) Get plenty of rest. Sleep is an important ingredient to staying healthy of body, mind, and soul.
  • 10.) Take advantage of health screenings.  Keep tabs on your blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight numbers. Have the screenings your doctor suggests. Stay on top of your physical condition.

At Visiting Angels, our in-home caregiving employees assist seniors at living independently in the safety and comfort of their own home. When you are looking for high-quality, personal, in-home care from professionals, call Visiting Angels in New Jersey at 609-883-8188. We work with you and your schedule, tailoring a care plan exclusively to fit your needs. Visiting Angels can help help you or your loved ones maintain a sharp mind. Call for information and a free consultation today.

Famous faces may be key to determining early-onset dementia…

August 13th, 2013 No Comments

News for those in elder care New Jersey:

A study from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago helps reveal early-onset dementia. Early onset dementia typically occurs before people reach the age of 65. The test involves asking people name twenty famous people from photos and give details why they’re famous. A person without dementia was able to name 93% of the celebrities and recognized 97% of them. Those with early-onset dementia only could name 46% of the celebrities, and were able to recognize and give some details about them for 79% of the photos. For those who could not recognize and name the celebrities, they apparently have tissue loss in both sides of the brain. If they recognized them, but could not name them, the brain tissue loss is in the left side.

Who are the famous people?

John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Albert Einstein, Liza Minnelli, Pope John Paul II, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, Martin Luther King Jr., Humprey Bogart, Sammy Davis Jr., Princess Diana, Winston Churchill, Lucille Ball, Condoleezza Rice, and Queen Elizabeth II

Read more on the story at USAToday.com: http://usat.ly/13hGa8b

Photo credit: John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, Boston

 

If you speak 2 or more languages daily, you may have a decreased risk of having dementia…

January 11th, 2013 No Comments

Visiting Angels - In The NewsIf you or your aging parent speak two or more languages fluently, on a daily basis, you may have a decreased risk of early-onset dementia, an article in the January issue of Journal of Neuroscience explains. Because of the way the brain functions in someone who is bilingual, enabling faster mental task switching, a “cognitive reserve” is built up in the brain. This allows the brain to run more smoothly for a longer period of time than with people who only speak one language. Being bilingual is a brain booster! Interesting news for those involved in elder care New Jersey.

Read more about these findings at Voxxi.com–http://bit.ly/XNvN8E

Does Santa’s behavior show signs of dementia?

December 20th, 2011 1 Comment

Does Santa show signs of having dementia? An article from Caring.com shows how his behavior and health may reveal 7 potential symptoms. For example, he makes a list and checks it twice–many Alzheimer’s sufferers make lists to help them remember. He asks the same questions over and over again (such as “Have you been good this year? What would you like for Christmas?”). He’s getting up in age…and his belly is rotund (obesity is a risk factor). To read all seven of Santa’s similarities, go to http://bit.ly/X8hKqL.

Paranoia in Older People

August 3rd, 2011 1 Comment

Have you noticed your older parent, friend or loved one becoming increasingly paranoid? Have they been hallucinating? Dealing with someone in this mental state can be unsettling, but once the source of paranoia is diagnosed, treatments are available and effective. Visiting Angels co-founder Jeffrey Johnson has written an article on this important elder care topic. Read the article at http://bit.ly/XGETQQ.

Image: http://www.morguefile.com/