Archive for the ‘Family Caregiving’ 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.

Celebrating Alzheimer’s Caregivers During Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

November 9th, 2017 No Comments

 Alzheimer's Awareness Month

November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and it’s an ideal time to celebrate the caregivers who care for those living with this disease—family caregivers as well as professional caregivers. Since President Reagan’s 1983 declaration of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness month, more cities are recognizing the importance of awareness and extending proclamations to recognize Alzheimer’s caregivers, too.

Caring for someone who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult, draining, challenging, and rewarding. These hard-working caregivers do much to improve the lives of those with Alzeimer’s—so it’s important to show gratitude and appreciation.

Alzheimer’s caregivers benefit from having an understanding of sensory stimulation and how to engage Alzheimer’s patients. Alzheimer’s caregiving also involves enhancing the safety of patients’ living areas by placing safety measures, such as exit alarms and signs on doors to prevent wandering, for example.

Ways to recognize and celebrate the Alzheimer’s caregivers in your life during Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

Encourage Rest for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Those who have Alzheimer’s often have inconsistent sleep patterns. That means they can be up and active during any time of the night.

These inconsistencies in sleep interrupt the circadian rhythms of not only the person who has Alzheimer’s, but the caregiver as well, since they are the ones getting up with their loved one. Providing proper care to individuals with Alzheimer’s can be demanding–and requires adequate rest. You can show your appreciation for Alzheimer’s caregivers by encouraging rest. It can be as grand as a gesture as buying a spa package or as simple as creating a “sleep care kit.”

Some items you can pack in a sleep care kit:

  • Sleeping mask
  • Calming chamomile or cool mint tea packets
  • Essential oils, including lavender and eucalyptus oil
  • Bath slippers

Any of these relaxation items will help relieve stress and increase one’s sense of well-being.

Recognize and Reward Alzheimer’s Caregivers

There’s nothing like showing appreciation for Alzheimer’s caregivers by simply recognizing them. Sometimes a simple “thank you” goes a long way when it comes to showing appreciation. Say thank you by rewarding caregivers with de-stressing activities that can help them to relax, such as a yoga session or a massage appointment.

Volunteer to Help Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Do you know a family member, neighbor, or friend who is caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia? Why not offer to cover them for even an hour or two so they can meet a friend for lunch or simply take a nap in the other room? They need to take time to recharge.

Taking time to volunteer at a memory care facility is another way to show appreciation. You can help host a lunch for the caregivers, help arrange an awards ceremony, or help orchestrate a special performance for the center.

Final Thoughts

Take the time to recognize Alzheimer’s caregivers this November and show your appreciation.

If you need help caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia, you don’t have to do it on your own. Contact a professional team with years of memory care experience, such as Visiting Angels.

Visiting Angels serves New Jersey families in Burlington and Mercer Counties.

Visit our Help for Family Caregivers page for additional resources.


9 ways to assist someone who’s been diagnosed with cancer…

April 26th, 2017 No Comments

April is National Cancer Control Month.

What can you do to help someone diagnosed with cancer? No two people who get cancer ever react the same, nor do the people in their life. Everyone will cope with cancer in their own way. Your support is what’s important.

1. It lightens a person with cancer’s emotional burden by just being there for them.

2. Don’t have a too-cheerful attitude. The person with cancer knows that everything may not turn out OK, so keep it real.

3. Celebrate the “good news” part of any diagnosis. It’s OK to focus on a positive test result, or a hopeful treatment option proposed by the physicians.

4. Prepare for role switches. If your husband is the one with cancer, pick up the duties he can no longer do. Allow yourself to be the strong one.

5. Learn all you can about the cancer and become the patient’s advocate. Look for alternative treatments and search for the best cancer specialists.

6. Go to the local library for medical reference books. Online, search respected sites such as the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

7. Show up at the oncologist appointment with written questions. Don’t leave without getting answers from the doctor or have a nurse follow up.

8. Offer to help the cancer patient with ordinary tasks such as doing laundry, paying bills, washing dishes, or just to spend an evening meal with that person.

9. Sometimes being there for the person with cancer isn’t enough, so prepare to seek extra help when needed. Perhaps contacting their minister or rabbi, the social worker, or another cancer survivor will help counsel the patient. Maybe they need an extra hand from a home care agency such as Visiting Angels NJ.

Visit our Cancer resource page for more information.

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.”

Hoarding and clutter: 5 tips to help seniors tackle their beloved possessions…

July 30th, 2015 No Comments

Clutter and hoarding in seniors

Does your older parent or loved one have a hoarding or clutter problem? Have they had a lifelong struggle with clutter? Regardless, you may find yourself in the position to help encourage them to “edit” their belongings for one reason or another. Maybe you’re helping your in-laws pare down in preparation to move into a smaller home, or assisting your mom in going through your late father’s possessions. Just thinking about it can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not the type of person who enjoys organizing and de-cluttering.

There is a difference between being a hoarder and being a person who just tends to save and collect things over time, a.k.a. packrat. Hoarding is a compulsive behavior in which people stack, pile, collect, and generally excessively accumulate all types of stuff (or even animals) throughout their home. In this behavior, people may not even recognize they have a problem. Others will be ashamed and become anti-social. Hoarding can have several causes such as OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), a psychological disorder such as bipolar, or even dementia. Extreme hoarding situations may warrant a psychiatric/health evaluation.

A person who saves and collects isn’t necessarily a hoarder. They may collect and save items throughout the years, but not to the excess where it interferes with daily living and safety.

5 Tips to help tackle decluttering jobs:

  • Take small bites. Don’t look at the entire job or you’ll become discouraged. Start with a small task, in small time chunks.
  • Be sensitive. When going through items with your loved one, realize it has more meaning to them than to you. Don’t just charge in and start throwing things out without regard to their feelings.
  • Make 3 piles: Keep, donate, and discard. Don’t have an undecided pile.
  • Make suggestions that promote compromise. For example, if your mom has a large collection of salt and pepper shakers, suggest she chooses 3 sets of her favorites and donate the remainder (offer to take photos of the ones donated as visual keepsakes).
  • Get outside help. Professional organizers, moving managers, and “neat” friends and relatives can assist with sorting, garage sales, etc.

Family caregivers of memory-impaired win with Celebrity Apprentice!

February 17th, 2015 No Comments

In The NewsLeeza Gibbons’ charity, Leeza’s Care Connection, wins big on TV’s Celebrity Apprentice

Leeza Gibbons, Emmy award winner talk show host and author, started Leeza’s Care Connection (originally The Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation) in 2003 after her mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She had promised her mother to “tell her story and make it count.” It was this charity for which she was competing with 15 other celebrities. In last night’s finale, Leeza was competing against Geraldo Rivera, whose charity was Life’s WORC. Both charities were emotionally featured in the competition’s finale. Leeza and her team raised awareness for family caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s; her foundation offers support, education, and motivation. All in all, $446,000 was raised for Leeza’s Care Connection.

In 2013, there were 15.5 million unpaid family/friends providing care and approximately 443,000 family caregivers in New Jersey alone. It’s essential that family caregivers get the help they need, be it through a support group, by education, and/or with help such as with a Visiting Angel. Go to for support groups in your area. Call Visiting Angels to learn how we can provide help and support for your family while traveling your caregiving journey.

November is Family Caregivers Month. 6 ways to show appreciation…

November 6th, 2013 No Comments

Family Caregivers Month

November is National Family Caregivers Month. To those providing NJ elder care to their loved ones, our hearts at Visiting Angels NJ go out to you. We know how tough the job is on an ongoing basis, and know you would appreciate some sincere appreciation!

Below are 6 ways friends and loved ones can help you out:

  • Offer a few hours of time to relieve the family caregiver. This will give them some much needed time to relax, shop, or visit friends
  • Show your appreciation by sending a greeting card, note, or even a bouquet of flowers to help brighten up their day
  • With the holidays on the way, offer to help them decorate their home, or address holiday card envelopes
  • Spread some humor by sending them a comedy DVD or humorous book
  • If you’re detail oriented, offer help a family caregiver fill out medical forms, insurance forms, and any other paperwork that may be overwhelming
  • Offer your help with handyman tasks around the home–replacing light bulbs, raking leaves, and other minor repairs

For more information on Family Caregivers Month, check out our Family Caregivers resource page.

Inspirational quote for family caregivers

August 23rd, 2013 No Comments

Visiting Angels NJ: Inspirational Quote for Family Caregivers

Happy Friday! Another week has passed and you’ve been busy helping your elder loved one. Family caregivers are often stressed out and pulled in many different directions. Although it may sometimes seem you’re up against a mountain–just keep going!