Archive for the ‘Alzheimer’s Disease/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


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.

6 Thanksgiving Activities for Those Who Have Dementia…

November 21st, 2016 No Comments

6 Ways to Help Make Thanksgiving More Enjoyable for Those Who Have Memory Issues

Thanksgiving week is upon us! If you’re a family member in New Jersey who provides elder care (or elsewhere!) of someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia, these tips can help them become more involved in the family activities.

  • 1. Make the guest list small. The more people talking may make the person feel agitated.
  • 2. Give the person small tasks, such as folding napkins or stirring ingredients. Be sure to make sure their abilities match the task. Don’t criticize if it’s not perfect.
  • 3. Reminisce about the old days, but try not to ask them if they remember a certain event. Instead, say, “we all had a great time when Grandma did such and such that year.” This will help encourage their own memories.
  • 4. Look through old photos after dinner. This will spark their memories and encourage discussion.
  • 5. Bring up topics or old memories that will make the person laugh. Laughter always makes people feel good!
  • 6. Play music they love during meal preparation and throughout dinner. This will help stimulate memories and help them feel comfortable.

Photo: MorgueFile by taliesin

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

November 17th, 2016 No Comments


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.

5 Care Tips on Caring for Adults with Early Onset Alzheimer’s

October 16th, 2015 No Comments

Early Onset Alheimer's Visiting Angels New Jersey Senior Care Burlington County

Early Onset Alzheimer’s

Currently, there are approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65—many are in their 40s and 50s—who are battling early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Out of the 5 million people in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s, about 5 percent of those have early onset. Watching loved ones experiencing memory problems is difficult, especially when they’re dealing a disease such as Alzheimer’s at a relatively young age. The early stage of Alzheimer’s in younger people is often undiagnosed by health care professionals. Symptoms may include forgetfulness of words/names, losing objects, greater difficulty doing tasks at work, and greater difficulty planning and organizing. As the disease progresses, symptoms cannot be ignored and many people are formally diagnosed as the symptoms become more pronounced. Symptoms include feeling moody, forgetting past history, wandering, personality changes, and confusion. It’s in the mid-stages of the disease where people may start needing more care and supervision.

When providing care for someone with signs of early onset Alzheimer’s disease, it’s important that both you and your loved one face the diagnosis together. Below are five tips to help you gain and establish mutual trust and care for a person battling the early signs of Alzheimer’s.

Care Tips for Early Onset Alzheimer’s: Early Stage

1.) Stay positive. There will be good days as well as bad days. It’s important to learn to enjoy and appreciate both. Each day will be different, so always keep a positive outlook each day!

2.) Keep educated on the progression of Alzheimer’s, as this will prepare you for what’s coming in the later stages.

3.) Encourage your loved one to remain independent. The goal is for them to continue living a reasonably self-sufficient life by doing as much as they can for themselves.

4.) The time is now to decide on important matters. Don’t put off legal, financial, or end-of-life questions for later. It’s important to take care of these matters as soon as possible. All parties should be involved in the decision making if still possible.

5.) Do projects and activities together. Although Alzheimer’s may affect a person’s memory, he or she can still be physically able and willing to enjoy activities such as gardening, housework, listening to music, doing art or craft projects, cooking, reading, doing crosswords, playing cards, visiting friends, walking, etc.

If your family member or someone you know is showing signs of early onset Alzheimer’s and could use extra living assistance while remaining at home, contact Visiting Angels today. We offer professional, individualized, in-home care to New Jersey and adults and seniors. Visit our Alzheimer’s Awareness page for additional resources on the disease.

How to help dementia sufferers sleep through the night…

August 11th, 2015 No Comments

10 Ways to help a person sleep when they have memory loss and confusion

A common NJ senior care caregiver challenge is getting their loved one with dementia to sleep peacefully through the night. Many times, especially beginning with sundown, they become anxious and restless.

10 simple and practical tips that will help:

  • 1. Diet: Make sure to limit caffeinated beverages to mornings; alcohol should also be avoided
  • 2. Limit Naps: Set and keep regular times for rising in the morning and keep naps to morning hours, if needed
  • 3. Active Days: keep the person as active as possible throughout the day–take a walk with them, have them fold laundry, rake leaves, etc.
  • 4. Make Evenings Relaxed: Develop relaxed routines each evening, such as listening to music or watching TV; keep excess activity, noise, and visitors to a minimum
  • 5. Don’t Go To Bed Hungry: A light snack before bedtime is ideal
  • 6. Keep a Diary: Maintain a log of activities, food, medications, or beverages that may contribute to their sleep disturbances
  • 7. Bedtime Routine: Keep it relaxed and easy. If they refuse to go to bed, let them sleep in the chair or couch. If they don’t want to wear their PJs, let them wear their day clothes
  • 8. Bedroom: Keep the bedroom comfortable–temperature, soft music, comfy PJs, blankets, nightlight
  • 9. Safety: Keep the path to the bathroom (and other areas of the house) clear, block dangerous parts of the home, such as the stairway, use audible monitors if necessary
  • 10. Provide Reassurance: If they wake up in the night, offer reassurance instead of arguing or explaining as you slowly get them back into bed

For more NJ elder care information on dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, visit our Alzheimer’s Awareness page.


Take a moment to read this Alzheimer’s Poem…

March 10th, 2015 No Comments

Alzheimer’s Poem

This Alzheimer’s Poem is written from the point of view of a person who has dementia. It helps all of us gain a better understanding of Alzheimer’s-related behavior patterns.

The Angel You Wished For

November 24th, 2014 No Comments

Alzheimer’s and Memory Care Services in New Jersey

New Jersey Alzheimer's and Memory Care ServicesAre you caring for your loved one who suffers with Alzheimer’s Disease—or other memory-related problems—and wish an angel would come in and take away some of the stress of being a full-time caregiver? Visiting Angels is here to do just that. For patient, compassionate, skilled Alzheimer’s and memory care services in New Jersey, call Visiting Angels today at 609-883-8188.  We’re happy to discuss home care options with you.

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, and one-in-three Americans over the age of 85 suffer from this disease. One-in-nine Americans over the age of 65 is afflicted by Alzheimer’s. If you are unable to care for your loved one 24/7 and notice the following memory-related symptoms beginning to worsen, it may be time for in-home care:

  • Changes in mood and personality
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Problems with speaking or writing
  • Difficulty completing daily tasks
  • Inability to retrace steps and frequently misplacing items

With specific training and gentle compassion, our home-care providers have the skills you require, offering you peace of mind concerning your loved one. Visiting Angels understands that “one size fits all” doesn’t fit at all. We’ll listen as you discuss what you want and need, and together we’ll tailor a care plan to your satisfaction. That plan will be re-evaluated as your family member’s needs change. Providing the appropriate care necessary to ensure your loved one’s in-home comfort and contentment is where Visiting Angels excels.

The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s brings questions and quandaries. When you require in-home care for your loved one with this disease, call 609-883-8188. Visiting Angels offers trained home care employees to our clients dealing with the issues of living with progressive memory loss. We’re here to help you keep your loved one at home where things are familiar and comfortable, where life is less stressful and normal routines can continue.

Combining care and professionalism, home health aides from Visiting Angels are among the best elder-care providers in New Jersey. When you’re seeking the highest quality of Alzheimer’s care for your loved one, you can count on us. We have the angel you wished for. Call us today.

Before wandering turns deadly (as happened to a GA man): 5 tips to prevent wandering…

December 4th, 2013 No Comments

Before wandering turns deadly: 5 tips to prevent wandering

On Friday morning, a Georgia man who had dementia was shot and killed while wandering. Ronald Westbrook, 72, was approximately 3 miles from his home when he rang the doorbell and tried to open the door to a home. The resident, Joe Hendrix, shot Mr. Westbrook on the property after reportedly not getting response to verbal commands, believing Mr. Westbrook was a prowler. Hendrix is not being charged with shooting Mr. Westbrook. [Read more at].

With news such as this, it’s important for family caregivers in New Jersey and elsewhere to be diligent in caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia.

5 ways to prevent someone with dementia from wandering:

  • 1. Keep the person in your home. Motion detectors and bells on doorknobs may help you detect when your loved one is attempting to leave. Installing locks on windows and doors can also help prevent someone from leaving. Place “Do Not Enter,” “Keep Out” or “Stop” signs on doors to prevent exiting.
  • 2. Install a fence. Just as preventing children or pets from wandering, a fence will help prevent your loved one from leaving the premises. Make sure the gates are locked.
  • 3. Use tracking devices. Have the person with dementia wear a GPS tracking bracelet or other device. Depending on the device, it may alert the caregiver if the person wanders too far. Your loved one should also carry his/her personal information at all times–an ID bracelet, a card in the wallet, even a temporary tattoo kits are available.
  • 4. Promote better sleep. Maintain a consistent schedule for going to sleep and waking up. Reduce caffeinated drinks and decrease napping throughout the day. Make sure the person gets plenty of physical activity as well.
  • 5. Meet neighbors. Introduce your loved one to your neighbors and give them your information. Let them know he/she may wander and to alert you if they see your loved one out alone.