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Caring for Yourself While Caring for Someone With Alzheimer’s

Joseph Coupal - Monday, October 16, 2017

Spring Arbor, Greensboro, NCWhy is it important for caregivers to care for themselves and participate in activities that bring them joy? Because caregiver burnout is real and can inadvertently lead to losing the very person providing care due to their own neglected health, financial strains and other accompanying problems. In a recent study, caregiver "strain" was associated with a 63 percent increased mortality risk, even after controlling for presence of cardiovascular disease and sociodemographic factors. Caregivers might even be at higher risk of cognitive impairment or dementia than non-caregivers.

According to 2015 figures, 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. It is the 5th leading cause of death for Americans over age 65. With an increase in the number of diagnoses comes an increase in the need for care provided by caregivers. In 2015 alone, 15 million Americans dedicated over 18 billion hours and provided $221.3 billion worth of caregiving services. Yet, when asked to spend just a few dollars or hours on their own care, caregivers often initially react with resistance.

Here is advice on how to avoid burnout and minimize caregiver-related stress.

Our caregivers have found these tips helpful:

  • Seek help, whether it's professional or informal from family, friends or religious institutions. You don’t have to do this alone.
  • Connect with your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association or similar organizations to inquire about caregiver resources, like grants to pay for respite programs.
  • If employed, speak with your HR department and ask about family or other leave policies. For example, the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 can be used to secure time to care for a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
  • Let go of little details (e.g. your mom wants to wear rain boots on a sunny day) and celebrate small victories (e.g. she is dressed and arrives for an appointment). This is a point I emphasize often; in the daily life of an Alzheimer’s caregiver, letting go of what one thinks should be happening will reduce stress.
  • Choose an enjoyable activity as effortless as ordering a cup of coffee. Say, “Will I have a small, medium or large?”

Commit to one small thing daily, a medium monthly and a large annually.

  • Small: Take a 15-minute walk, listen to music or practice meditation.
  • Medium: Go out for a meal/movie, secure reliable help, say yes to family/friends offering to help or attend support group meetings.
  • Large: Book a day at the spa, secure a stay at a respite program for your loved one or go on a cruise.

Caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s has been described by caregivers as "‘my honor; my job." In addition to helping the patient diagnosed with dementia, make sure caregivers don’t forget their care.

For more information on Alzheimer's Care, contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive

health.usnews.com


Reasons to Consider Moving to Senior Living Communities

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAFor many, the American Dream is all about owning your own home. But when kids leave the nest and retirement looms, that sprawling home can start to feel more like a burden than a dream. There are gutters to clean, lawns to be mowed, garages to organize – not to mention the daily household duties of cooking, cleaning and endless laundry.

Eventually, the idea of downsizing can be a welcome relief — one that more and more seniors are starting to explore. If you haven't yet thought about your next move, there are a few reasons you should probably start.

It's not exactly downsizing

Think of it as supersizing rather than downsizing. Senior living residents have so much less to deal with, from cleaning to cooking. All of those things go away, but in the meantime, they gain access to fitness centers, dining, activities, excursions, and more. So the personal space might decrease, but in the meantime, they have many more activities and amenities available to them.

When you think of your golden years, chances are they don't include the daily grind and upkeep of maintaining a home and household. When you downsize to a senior living community, you can focus on making your retirement an enriching and rewarding time. Make new, like-minded friends — all in the comfort of your own comfortable, private apartment.

Moving is the scariest part

For many, giving up “home” is a big decision – one that can seem intimidating, but many wish that they moved sooner.

You're investing in your future

For many seniors, downsizing to a senior living community isn't just about convenience, though it certainly provides that. If you decide to move to a Continuing Care Retirement Community, this can be a wise move for your financial future. According to Kiplinger, a CCRC can be a wise investment, as they allow seniors to age in place, with skilled nursing and long-term medical care available on-site. And with several financial plans from which to choose, you can select the program that works with your health, your budget and your needs.

It's peace of mind

Even if you're not yet ready to downsize, it's important to understand your options.

There are people who talk to communities before turning 62 and the minute they turned 62 they move in. And there are those people who move in at 85. It's never too late, and talking to someone about it doesn't mean you have to make the decision now. But, it's better to plan earlier so you know what your options are.

For more information, contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive

observer-reporter.com


Early Signs and Symptoms of Dementia

Joseph Coupal - Monday, October 02, 2017

Spring Arbor, Greensboro, NCThis article outlines some of the early signs and symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Keep in mind that some symptoms can also be attributed to the normal effects of aging. If your loved one experiences any of these symptoms, detecting Alzheimer’s or dementia early on is important and it’s best to consult a physician for a proper diagnosis. Because Alzheimer’s and other dementias affect the brain and its functioning, both behavioral and cognitive changes are apparent early in the course of the disease. Some of the most common behavioral and cognitive changes are listed below.

Cognitive Changes

Difficulty or issues in any of the following cognitive areas should be brought to a physician’s attention immediately. The doctor can then perform the necessary tests required for detecting Alzheimer’s disease and forms of dementia.

Memory

Memory loss is one of the most common signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s. While occasionally forgetting names or appointments is normal, a person in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia will often be unable to recall recently learned information. That person’s forgetfulness also will occur with increasing frequency.

Familiar Tasks

Everyday tasks such as acts of basic hygiene (e.g., showering or brushing one’s teeth), meal preparation or placing a telephone call can seem unfamiliar to someone in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Sometimes all or most of the steps required to perform the action are recalled, but the order is jumbled.

Language

Although occasionally forgetting the correct word for an object is normal, a person in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia will forget simple words or use unusual terms. Both speech and writing can be affected and might be slightly puzzling or difficult to understand. Be aware that the onset of jumbled speech could also be a symptom of a stroke.

Orientation

Occasional bouts of forgetfulness are normal, but early symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s make people unaware of their surroundings even in familiar places, such as his or her neighborhood or inside the home.

Abstract Thinking

Complex mental tasks or ones that require several steps may become difficult (if not impossible) to perform. The difficulty usually becomes apparent in tasks that require a person to input information from various sources and then combine, assess or analyze that information. Depending on the individual and the stage of the disease, this could include an activity such as balancing a checkbook or following a group discussion.

Judgment

An inability to make a sound decision based on a given set of factors, when a person normally shows sound judgment, is one of the other possible signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s. A common example is dressing inappropriately for the weather.

Putting Things in the Wrong Place

Another of the more common early warning signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s is placing objects in inappropriate or nonsensical places, such as putting keys in the refrigerator.

Behavioral Changes

Major shifts in personality, behavior and mood or energy levels can also be indicative of early-stage symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Personality

A noticeable shift in personality can be one of the early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Sometimes personality changes are hard to pinpoint, but take note if the person isn’t acting in accordance with his or her normal patterns of behavior. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia, an individual often understands that he or she has forgotten an important piece of information, and the inability to recall it causes frustration.

Behavior or Mood

Alzheimer’s and other dementias can cause severe and rapidly changing moods, resulting in an individual experiencing various emotions ranging from rage to sadness and complete calm within the course of a few minutes.

Energy

Passivity, sleeping for prolonged periods of time, and sitting for hours watching TV or otherwise not speaking with anyone are other early warning signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s. A lack of energy or passion for life can manifest in a lack of desire to participate in normal activities, especially ones that the person previously enjoyed. A physician should be consulted to rule out the possibility that these symptoms are not signs of depression.

Detecting Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

Detecting Alzheimer’s and dementia early is important for treatment and the progression of the disease course. If your loved one is experiencing any of the signs of dementia and/or Alzheimer’s outlined above, contact a physician right away. There are basic tests that doctors use when detecting Alzheimer’s, dementia, or mild cognitive impairment. These include Mini Mental Status Exam (MMSE) and/or Saint Louis University Mental Status Exam (SLUMS).

For information on memory care, contact Spring Arbor.

caring.com