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Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s, What you Should Know – Greensboro, NC

Joseph Coupal - Monday, March 10, 2014

Alzheimer’s disease affects a person’s memory, cognition and ability to reason. People with Alzheimer’s disease can also become listless, agitated, stubborn, depressed, anxious and even violent. Furthermore, they may suffer from hallucinations – experienced as pleasant and/or frightening.

In the later stages of the disease, Alzheimer’s patients need full-time care and supervision, as they aren’t able to perform even relatively simple tasks, such as taking a bath, dressing, shopping, cooking or using the phone.

Are you caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease? The tips below will help you with what can be a challenging journey. Just remember that each person with Alzheimer’s is unique, which means that the tips given here may not work for everyone.

Tips for caregivers:

  • If the person becomes angry or present with combative behavior, give them space by leaving the room. Only return when they have calmed down.
  • Don’t try to argue. People with Alzheimer’s disease do not have the same ability to reason.
  • Allow strange behavior if it doesn’t affect others. It’s their way to make sense of their “new” environment among “new” people. Typical behavior may include repeatedly packing and unpacking a suitcase, sorting out a wardrobe, or hiding a handbag under the bed. Always ask yourself, “Does it matter?”
  • Be aware that strange behavior could be their way of telling you, the carer, that something is wrong. The person might suddenly shout, hit something, swear, cry or laugh out loudly. Try to work out what is wrong, respond to possible emotions they’re feeling at the time of the incident, and then try to distract them.
  • If you can determine what triggers these reactions, you can try to prevent it or keep the person calm when the trigger occurs. This can be anything – from a hallucination to being thirsty or wanting to go to the toilet.
  • People with Alzheimer’s disease often get agitated because they struggle to complete simple tasks. When you show or tell them how to do something, it’s important that you relay the steps one by one, allowing enough time between each step for the person to absorb the information. Be patient!
  • Don’t give the patient too many choices. Rather ask, “Do you want to wear this dress?” instead of “Which dress would you like to wear?”
  • Don’t change familiar routines.

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

Relief for Alzheimer's Caregivers

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Alzheimer’s care facilities for people with Alzheimer's disease can give spouses and other family caregivers a much needed source of stress relief, a new study suggests.

Such care facilities offer people with dementia a chance to socialize and take part in activities that stimulate their minds. The programs can also give spouses, children and other caregivers a break.

Intuitively, that should ease some of caregivers' daily stress.  A study measured stress levels of 173 family caregivers in four U.S. states who used Alzheimer’s care facilities for their relative with dementia.

Through phone interviews, they found caregivers were less stressed. And when stressors did crop up -- such as problems at work -- they took less of an emotional toll.

"I think this reinforces the fact that caregivers can't do this all on their own," said Carol Steinberg, president of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America. "People need relief."

Study author Steven Zarit agreed. "There's a famous book [on caregiving] called 'The 36-Hour Day,' and I think that perfectly describes it," he said. "Caregivers need help. When they get a break, it's a way to restore."

There are other types of "respite services," for the early stages of Alzheimer’s, such as home health aides, but finances are still an obstacle. Home-based help is even more expensive. Caregivers may also be able to find local groups that send a volunteer to their home to give them a needed break -- though that typically amounts to a few hours of help a week, or every other week.

Caregivers can find help through a caregiver support groups designed specifically for spouses. A good support group is helpful not only because the other group members know what you're going through, but because they can also share practical advice.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, and experts predict that with the aging Baby Boomer generation, the number of Americans with Alzheimer's could triple by 2050, to nearly 14 million.

For more information on Alzheimer’s care, contact Spring Arbor.


Tips for Alzheimer's Caregivers

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Alzheimer’s disease creates difficult transitions both for patients and their families. Being an Alzheimer's caregiver is hard work that requires a lot of knowledge and skills. Here are some tips to help you out on your caregiving journey:

1. Don't be in Denial: It's only natural to be in denial when a loved one begins to show signs of dementia, but that only prevents the person from getting a diagnosis, starting treatment and planning for the future.

2. Don't Ask, "Do You Remember?" They can't remember. If they could remember, they wouldn't be diagnosed with dementia. Asking if they remember some person or event could make them frustrated.

3. Interact With the Person at Their Level: You may want to interact with the person the way you always have, but that isn't going to be possible. Instead, figure out at what age they appear to be behaving, then connect with them at that level.

4. Connect With Alzheimer's Patients with Meaningful Objects: You may have to experiment some to find out what is meaningful to any specific person.

5. Connect by Introducing Children, Pets, Music or Art: These four activities will often reach people in the late stages of the illness -- even if they hardly talk anymore.

6. Don't Argue, Correct or Disagree: You can't win an argument with a person who has dementia. Neither should you contradict them. It will make them dig in their heels even more strongly.

7. Don't Bring up Upsetting Topics: If you know your loved one will get upset if you talk about politics, don't start the conversation in the first place. It will probably lead to a battle you don't want to have.

8. Change the Subject If the Patient Get Upset: If the person does get upset one of the best things you can do is redirect their attention to something else, preferable something pleasant.

9. Don't Quit Visiting: Just because your loved one does not recognize you doesn't mean they have no feelings. People with Alzheimer's may enjoy being visited even if they don't know precisely who the visitor is.

10. Take Care of Yourself: Being an Alzheimer's caregiver is hard work. Take good care of yourself for your benefit and for the good of the person for whom you're caring. You can't be an effective, compassionate caregiver if you're exhausted and burned out all the time.

These 10 tips will go a long way toward improving the care you provide to your loved one. It will also help improve your own health and well-being. For information on Alzheimer’s care, contact Spring Arbor.

Huffington Post

Alzheimer's Care Takes a Toll on Caregivers

Joseph Coupal - Friday, May 17, 2013

Alzheimer’s disease is prevalent among 40 percent of people 80 years and older. In America alone, Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5 million. While it is important that scientific advancements be made, it is also important to make efforts in patient care for those who already have Alzheimer’s.

Here is a true story:

Debbie Lewis, 58, abandoned her life and has almost exhausted her life savings to take care of her 85-year-old mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

Her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease four years ago. Before Lewis became a full-time caregiver, she worked as an office manager and lived in an apartment with her then 21-year-old daughter. But after three years of commuting to her mother's house on the weekends, Lewis left her job and life to take care of her mother.

"I didn't realize it would be this hard," Lewis said. "I thought it would be easy. I'll just stay at home. I thought maybe she'll repeat herself a few times, but the first time my mother didn't remember who I was - it floored me. I was hysterical when I finally reached out to Alzheimer's Association (three weeks later)," she said. The nonprofit gave her advice, referred her to professionals and helped her find an understanding cohort who shared her tribulations.

The first Baby Boomers reached age 65 in 2011, the number of people with Alzheimer's is expected to skyrocket.

An estimated 5.2 million Americans have the debilitating disease, and that number is expected to triple by 2050. Every 68 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer's. One in eight people over the age of 65 will have Alzheimer's. It is the sixth leading cause of death and the only one of the top 10 that cannot be prevented, treated or slowed. Alzheimer's is an equal opportunity disease and has reached epidemic proportions.

The neuron malfunctioning disease affects people differently and progresses at different rates; however, severe forms require daily supervision from a caregiver because these patients need help with daily activities. In the final stages, they lose the ability to communicate and become bedridden.

So in 2012, millions of Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers provided billions of hours of unpaid care valued at billions of dollars.

"Until you've lived it, you don't get it."

It is common to feel a great deal of stress. Caregivers of people with severe Alzheimer's have a higher mortality rate, but there are things they could do to manage that stress. The most important message is to don't try to do it yourself.

Dr. Linda Ercoli, an assistant professor of psychiatry at UCLA who works with caregivers, said many times people focus on the disease, and caregivers are ignored. Even the caregivers forget about making time for themselves.

"Caregivers are at increased risk of disease because of the burden and difficulties associated with caregiving," Ercoli said. "A lot don't sleep or eat right. They neglect themselves, so they're at higher risk of depression and anxiety, coronary types of problems and are more prone to getting sick."

For information on Alzheimer’s Care in VA, NC, SC, and TN, contact Spring Arbor.

Excerpts -

Information for Alzheimer's Caregivers

Joseph Coupal - Friday, July 13, 2012

If you are providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease, you most likely want to keep track of the thousands of articles and numerous books about Alzheimer's disease to help you better understand how to care for your loved one.

If you have a loved one with dementia, the first suggestion of those in the same scenario would be to find the very best doctors possible. The second would be to go to the Alzheimer's Reading Room. It's a free blog that focuses on Alzheimer's disease and the art of Alzheimer's caregiving.
Its goal is to educate, entertain, and always empower Alzheimer's caregivers, their families and the entire Alzheimer's community. It's the nation's largest blog on Alzheimer's and the number one source of news about Alzheimer's disease and caregiving.

This site offers advice on issues that are important to Alzheimer's caregivers. It provides specific insight and solutions to problems they face each day -- issues such as wandering, challenging behaviors, showering, bathroom needs, driving, caregiver loneliness, treatments, medications, hospice and so many other problems that arise when caring for someone with Alzheimer's or other dementias.

The Alzheimer's Reading Room has more than 3,711 articles in its database -- many written by everyday caregivers. Others are provided by some of the world's top scientists, clinicians, doctors, nurses and other professionals in the field who share their advice, knowledge and expertise.

If it is time to find your loved one a home in an Alzheimer's care facility, please contact Spring Arbor Living.

Too Many With Alzheimer's Live Alone

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Elaine Vlieger is making some concessions to Alzheimer's. She's cut back on her driving, frozen dinners replace elaborate cooking, and a son monitors her finances. But she lives alone and isn't ready to give up her house or her independence.
Some 800,000 people with Alzheimer's, roughly 1 in 7 Americans with the disease, live alone, according to data from the Alzheimer's Association. It's a different picture from the constant Alzheimer’s care giving that they'll eventually need.
Many cope on their own during early stages of dementia with support from family and friends who keep in close contact.
But with support or not, living alone with a disease that gradually strips people of the ability to know when they need help brings concerns, and loved ones agonize over when to step in.

There's no easy answer, and it's a challenge that will only grow. About 5.4 million people in the United States have Alzheimer's or similar dementias. That number is expected to reach up to 16 million by 2050 with the population aging so rapidly.

Most older people want to stay in their homes as long as possible, and developing cognitive impairment doesn't automatically mean they can't initially, says Beth Kallmyer of the Alzheimer's Association. The association's new analysis illustrates the balancing act between a patient's autonomy and safety. People with dementia who live alone can do so initially while they are less impaired, as the disease progresses dementia and Alzheimer’s patients need caregivers. Studies also show that those who live alone have a greater risk of injuries or accidental death than those who don't live alone.
The first National Alzheimer's Plan, due this month, may help. It aims to increase screening to catch dementia earlier and urges doctors to help plan for Alzheimer's care.

Do you have a loved one who needs constant Alzheimer's Care? Contact Spring Arbor.


More Men as Alzheimer's Caregivers

Joseph Coupal - Friday, February 17, 2012

In the last 15 years, the number of men caring for loved ones with Alzheimer's or dementia has more than doubled, from 19 to 40%, according to the Alzheimer's Association. The trend mirrors the higher number of women over the age of 65 in the U.S. with the disease - 3.4 million compared to 1.8 million men. Those demographics have changed the tone of local support group meetings by adding a chorus of male perspectives.

It has also prompted an outpouring of new books, organizations and online resources for men learning how to be nurturers.

Experts attribute the increase in male caregivers to several societal changes, including evolving gender expectations as well as new life expectancy rates.

“Men say, 'this is hard. It's challenging, I didn't realize we would ever be at this point, but I'm not giving up,'" said Edrena Harrison, a social worker and specialist for the National Caregiving Center.

The sentiment is shared by some husbands, who find themselves making dinner, doing laundry and coordinating doctor's appointments for the first time as senior citizens.

In 2010, doctors diagnosed Patti with frontotemporal dementia. She is now unable to drive, perform simple household tasks or follow and participate in conversations.

Since then, her husband has sharpened his cooking skills. He took over the household duties and has grown used to guiding Patti through conversations with friends and family. He also joined a support group for caregivers of those with dementia to learn how to cope with and handle the new lifestyle.

He fears the day when she needs more help than he can provide, and he wants to find an assisted living facility for memory care that he can trust.

But for now, he said, he does what he can for his wife.

How to Consider Alzheimer's Assisted Living Communities

Joseph Coupal - Monday, December 12, 2011

Assisted living communities provide a type of housing for people who need various levels of medical and personal care. The goal of Spring Arbor Living is to provide a home-like setting and is designed to promote the patients’ independence. Services are offered to assist residents with daily living.

What Services Do Assisted Living Communities Provide?
Generally the services provided by assisted living communities vary from facility to facility. Services in various facilities often include:

  • One to three meals a day
  • Monitoring of medication
  • Personal care, including dressing and bathing
  • Housekeeping and laundry
  • 24-hour emergency care
  • Varying medical services
  • Social and recreational activities

How Can I Know What Services my Loved One Needs?
Talk with your family, caregivers and patient about what services are needed from an Alzheimer’s Care Facility. Take time to consider what services are important before you visit the assisted living communities. This will help ease the transition. Think about these questions:

  • How soon do you want/need to change the patients’ residence?
  • What daily activities do they need help with (bathing, dressing, toileting, eating)?
  • How often do they need help?

For more information or to set up an appointment contact Spring Arbor Living in your area.

Research Update: Dementia Linked to Atrial Fibrillation

Joseph Coupal - Monday, November 21, 2011

As our population ages, people with chronic cardiovascular disease, including atrial fibrillation (or irregular heartbeat), are living longer. In a study reported in the journal Heart Rhythm (Volume 7, page 433) researchers reported that atrial fibrillation may be associated with an increased risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Over 37,000 people, average age 60, from the ongoing Intermountain Heart Collaborative Study database were evaluated for signs of atrial fibrillation and for Alzheimer's disease or vascular, senile or nonspecific dementia. During an average of five years' follow-up, 4 percent developed dementia and 27 percent developed atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation was associated with each of the four types of dementia, independent of other cardiovascular diseases. The youngest group with atrial fibrillation (under age 70) had the highest risk of dementia; dementia is linked to older age, so this finding suggests the relationship between atrial fibrillation and dementia is particularly strong. Atrial fibrillation was also linked with the highest risk of death.

Take away: Because subjects with atrial fibrillation were identified as having higher risks of dementia and death, people with cardiovascular diseases -- who are urged to consider measures like diet, exercise, medication and avoiding tobacco for their heart disease -- might want to take these steps also to prevent or delay the development of Alzheimer's.

All the facts you need to make informed decisions if you have to confront Alzheimer's disease -- the most common cause of dementia

Written by Dr. Peter V. Rabins, director of the Division of Geriatric and Neuropsychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Medical Editor of the Johns Hopkins Memory Bulletin, Diagnosing and Treating Alzheimer's Disease is an indispensable resource for anyone concerned about Alzheimer's disease. This new report provides all the facts you need to make informed decisions if you have to confront Alzheimer's disease. You'll learn how Alzheimer's is currently diagnosed ... the existing drugs that are used to treat it ... and various new therapies that may someday provide better treatment.

Tips for Caregiver Stress

Joseph Coupal - Monday, November 07, 2011

Taking care of a relative suffering from Alzheimer’s can be trying, stressful and emotional as the disease progresses.

Yet many families want to keep their relative close, and provide the best care they can from home. It’s important to remember, however, that you can’t care for someone else if you get too run down yourself.

Here are some tips for caregivers that can help you stay healthy and be better able to provide the patience and understanding necessary to the care of their loved one.

1. Share the responsibility. Being the sole person responsible for your loved one’s care can be too much. When you’re run down, stressed out or frustrated you won’t be a good caregiver, and you won’t be doing yourself any favors. Going on too long without a break can lead to emotional and physical health deterioration in your health. Get other family members to help so you have time to yourself as well.

2. Take time for yourself. Make time for the activities that you love at least once a week. Lowering your stress levels will reduce your risk of illnesses and make you feel mentally better. You also want to make sure that you’re nurturing your relationship with your children and family. Caring for a loved one takes a lot of time, but spend time with others as well.

3. Don’t blame yourself. When caring for someone with a disease like Alzheimer’s, accidents will inevitably happen now and again no matter how careful you are. Don’t put all the blame on yourself and further stress yourself out. If you’re doing the best you can, understand that you cannot plan for or prevent every possibility. Learning to relax a little and step back will give you some perspective and lower your stress levels.

4. Join a support group. Don’t go through the stress of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s alone. Caretakers can find support groups. There are numerous websites and blogs dedicated to providing advice, support and laughs to lighten the mood. Finding emotional support is key to keeping yourself mentally healthy and able to care for your loved one.

While being a caregiver can sometimes feel like an all-consuming task, it’s important to pull out a few moments each day to think about yourself and your health. If you are happy, healthy you will be able to provide care and take care of your life as well.

Understand that there are Alzheimer’s care facilities that can meet your needs where your loved one can be happy. Contact Spring Arbor Living in your area for information when the time comes where you feel you or your loved one may be better off with professional care.
Original article – Alzheimer’s Reading Room

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