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Tips for Looking After Someone With Alzheimer's

Joseph Coupal - Monday, October 15, 2018

Spring Arbor, NC, VAAn Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis isn’t just devastating for the person with the condition. Many people will end up serving as caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer’s, which can be incredibly distressing, isolating, and life-altering.

Several Alzheimer’s caregivers give their best advice on how to look after someone with the disease—and how to care for yourself in the process, too.

1. Try to be as patient as you can with your loved one.

Alzheimer’s disease is notorious for tragically stealing a person’s memory. No one could blame you for feeling awful as this affects your loved one. It’s also normal if sometimes you get frustrated about it, but taking that frustration out on your loved one won’t help.

2. Don’t waste energy reminding them that they’ve learned something before.

Trying to make a person with Alzheimer’s remember that they once knew something can just lead to a lot of frustration on both ends.

That’s not to say you can’t kindly try to help them remember things that would make them happy. Compiling something like a memory box may help a person with Alzheimer’s remember the past. But reminding them that they once knew something—or asking if they remember when they clearly don’t—isn’t the same thing.

3. Keep things simple so they’re easier for your loved one to understand.

4. Have go-to methods of calming them when they’re upset.

When mom gets confused, try to distract her with something very simple.

5. Use aids to help them keep track of time.

People with Alzheimer’s disease can have difficulty keeping track of details like what time and day it is. “Grammy had a tendency to take a nap and then wake up and think it was a new day,” Cecelia N. tells SELF of her grandmother. So, her family installed two clocks on the wall. One told the date; the other told the time and showed a sun or moon to help distinguish night from day.

6. Build in more time for chores and self-care tasks than your loved one would have needed before.

Chores and self-care can be a challenge for people with Alzheimer’s. It might seem simple, but there are actually so many components to taking a shower, from turning the knob on the faucet, to shampooing and conditioning, to picking up the soap and putting it on a washcloth. This can make something as seemingly easy as taking a shower really difficult and time-consuming for someone with Alzheimer’s. (Or, if you’re helping them, it can take longer than you would expect.)

Try to help with some of these duties so life is easier for your loved one.

7. Accommodate (or anticipate) their requests if you can, even if you don’t understand them.

8. Pay attention to signs that the disease is progressing.

Alzheimer’s disease goes through five stages starting with preclinical Alzheimer’s (when symptoms aren’t noticeable) and ending with the final phase, severe dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. Since Alzheimer’s isn’t curable, the medical treatments focus on reducing symptoms and preventing how quickly the condition evolves. The sooner you notice your loved one’s symptoms changing, the better.

9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s important to allow yourself to not feel like you’re giving up when you ask for medical help, that sometimes it’s what’s best for them.

10. Build a support network.

When you’re dealing with such an emotionally fraught situation, you might want to carry the load yourself. Don’t. When your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, you must take steps to build a web of support for yourself and your loved one. That means not only finding a team of medical professionals but connecting with others in the Alzheimer’s disease community.

There is a lot of help and support through the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

11. Remember that you deserve care, too.

For information on Alzheimer's Care for your loved one, contact Spring Arbor.


Steps Families Should Take to Find Support or Care Providers for Alzheimer's-Affected Loved Ones?

Joseph Coupal - Monday, October 08, 2018

Spring Arbor, NC, VAIt is often difficult to navigate the various support services and providers and to discern what is best for loved ones with Alzheimer's or dementia.

Caregivers should think about particular needs of their loved ones and specific concerns they have about their care. Some concerns could include how the affected person can live as independently as possible; financial capabilities for care; days/times the caregiver needs help; in-home vs. long-term care; and providers' reputation and quality of care.

Having so many choices and decisions can be a time-consuming process for the caregiver, but research and recommendations from friends and family can assist in locating and securing the most appropriate services for a loved one.

Alzheimer's Services has a database of health care providers and services with contacts and phone numbers which can help reduce a lot of leg work. Also, caregivers can enlist the help of a geriatric care manager, who specializes in finding the resources available and most accommodating in the community for the affected individual and the family.

In any case, it is a good idea for caregivers to start looking for resources before the tasks become too overwhelming and burdensome; it becomes more challenging to make decisions during a time of crisis.

When looking at resources, caregivers should call and/or conduct interviews with the agencies and take notes on all the exchanges, including the contact's name and specific services the agency can provide. It is also important to ask questions about Medicare or Medicaid eligibility, long-term care coverage, and/or veterans benefits to gain a better understanding of financial resources that may be available.

Caregivers should be proactive in their search and assertive with health care providers in ascertaining their specific needs.

Some services available through state programs may require you to be placed on a waiting list since the demand for existing Alzheimer's-related services has increased while funding for some service programs had decreased. In that respect, it would be very advantageous to anticipate the needs of a loved one ahead of time and to complete the process to be placed on the waiting list. These actions might minimize the length of the waiting period.

Holding a family meeting to filter through available services and to select what services match a loved one's needs can help the primary caregiver in the arduous decision-making tasks. Once a plan is made and services confirmed, the caregiver can feel more assured of the future care of their loved one with the disease.

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


Gardening Therapy for Memory Care

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Spring Arbor, NC, VAAt Spring Arbor, our philosophy is to make every day special for our residents suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Our care providers are dedicated to providing a high quality of life for all residents through a range of activities to exercise both the mind and the body. Our residents are encouraged to rekindle old interests or develop new ones. As a result, we are always discovering new and invigorating ways to engage and stimulate our residents. We’re excited to begin offering gardening therapy for memory care residents!

Research shows that access to the outdoors and physical activity can be extremely beneficial for adults living with memory loss. That is why we are so excited to add gardening to our educational and training programs at our memory care residence. Our staff participated in a two-day training program to find ways for gardening to become a weekly activity for all the residents. With instruction from a Horticultural Therapist, staff learned how to bring nature to our Cottage residents through gardening and the stimulating sensory opportunities that we create in our residences.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, gardening demonstrates several benefits for those with dementia including:

  • Gardening Therapy for Memory Care ResidentsProvides great exercise for the mind and body
  • Creates a sense of purpose
  • Lowers stress and blood pressure levels
  • Reduces aggression in those who have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia
  • Builds confidence by allowing the resident to experience success
  • Helps recall long-term memories of gardening

We’re excited to offer this program as one more example of our vision “To improve the world and how people live by creating meaningful experiences and places of great distinction.” To learn more about Spring Arbor Memory Care, contact us.