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Memory Care Can Provide Much Needed Relief for Alzheimer's Caregivers

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAAlzheimer’s care facilities for people with Alzheimer's disease can give spouses and other family caregivers a much needed source of stress relief.

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.

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

This reinforces the fact that caregivers can't do this all on their own. People need relief.

Home health aides are also an option during the early stages of Alzheimer’s, 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 the number of Americans with Alzheimer's could triple by 2050, to nearly 14 million.

For more information on Alzheimer’s care for your loved one, contact Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA.

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WebMD


Tips for Caregivers to Those with Alzheimer's Disease

Joseph Coupal - Monday, July 16, 2018

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VA Alzheimer’s disease creates difficult transitions for patients and their families. Being a caregiver is hard work that requires a lot of knowledge and skills. If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, here are some tips to help you out:

1. You Can’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. To Connect With Alzheimer's Patients with Meaningful Objects: This is a valuable tip. 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 can help you improve the care you provide to your loved one as well as improve your own health and well-being. For more information on Alzheimer’s care in Richmond, VA, contact Spring Arbor.

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Huffington Post


Aging in Place Can Mean Aging in a Community

Joseph Coupal - Monday, June 04, 2018

Spring Arbor in Richmond, VAThe vast majority of people age 50 and older want to stay in their homes and communities for as long as possible. The definition of aging in place has expanded to include people either remaining in their own home or staying in the same community in other possible housing options.

“Aging in place” is a popular term in current aging policy, defined as “remaining living in the community, with some level of independence, rather than in residential care”. Claims that people prefer to “age in place” abound because it is seen as enabling older people to maintain independence, autonomy, and connection to social support, including friends and family.

There is a strong focus on housing and support or care for aging-in-place. Changes at home (such as removing obstacles or introducing mobility aids) can enhance independence.Continuing care communities are perfect options as well. Care increases as needs increase, allowing for independence but also allowing for social activities and interactions.

However, there is also growing concern about the quality and appropriateness of staying in homes for aging in place, in terms of insulation, heating/cooling, housing size, and design. Housing options enable links to family and friends to continue. Social support is independently related to mortality, and quality of social contacts has been shown to ameliorate the negative impacts of past and immediate environments.

Some argue that adequate and appropriate housing should be a foundation for good community care, including health services and care support. Much research has explored the relative costs and outcomes of providing health and support services at home and in residential care. Many older people, thinking about what might enable them to successfully age in place, also emphasize service provision, including health, care, and home maintenance. Yet the term “aging in place” is ambiguous.

Although most discussions on aging in place focus on home, there is growing recognition, that beyond the home, socializing and communities are crucial factors in people’s ability to stay put. To assist aging in place, and healthy aging, optional housing options need to be considered as well as transportation, recreational opportunities, and amenities that facilitate physical activity, social interaction, cultural engagement, and ongoing education.

For more information on aging in place in an assisted living community, contact Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA.

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Excerpts from a study by aarp.org


Alzheimer’s Care: Making the Decision on Memory Care

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAPlacing your loved one who suffers with Alzheimer’s in an Alzheimer's care facility is not easy. It is hard to do and few people with dementia want to go. This will be one of the most difficult, heart-wrenching decisions you, as an Alzheimer's caregiver, will ever have to make. Remember, the early you make this decision with your loved one, the easier it will be to do when the time comes.

You may think you can provide the care, but: What if you have to work full-time and can't provide the 24/7 care dementia patients require -- especially those in the later stages of the disease? What if you can't afford an in-home care service that could help make it possible for the person to remain at home? What about when no friends or family members will help you out? Or what can you do if your loved one becomes combative and you simply can't manage them anymore?

There are other considerations as well. Your loved one may habitually forget to turn off the stove, leading to a risk of fire. He or she may be up all night, causing you to be up as well. You may both become sleep-deprived -- a serious health risk for both of you. You have to consider your own health, not only for your well-being, but because you can't provide good care for the patient if you're exhausted all the time.

Some family members removed from the situation may not agree with your decision. This can lead to rifts in relationships and family harmony. They may try to make you feel guilty enough to give up any plans for finding memory care.

What to do? Sometimes, placement in an Alzheimer’s care residence is the best solution for your benefit and the benefit of the person for whom you're caring. But many people feel that putting their loved one into Alzheimer’s care is a cop out.

If you do it you may feel terribly guilty. But if the person really needs to be in a facility for his or her own safety and well-being you may end up feeling even more guilty if you don't do it. If something happens to your loved one, you'll never forgive yourself.

So, how do you decide what's best? Ask yourself two questions:

  1. Would being in a home provide your loved one with better care, more personal attention, more opportunities for socialization and greater safety?
  2. Is taking care of the person at home hurting your own physical and mental health?

If you answered "yes" to either one of these questions it may be time to start looking for a good home.

If you decide to go ahead with it, follow through. Find the best facility you can afford and don't look back. Don't worry about your loved one disgreeing. People with Alzheimer's who are placed into care typically adjust in time and, if their dementia is advanced enough, they will soon forget they were moved.

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

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Huffington Post


How and What to Look for in an Assisted Living Facility

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAOver the years, adult children move away. When they come home to visit, they often find that maybe their parents are not as independent as they once were. Traditionally, this begins the search for assisted living homes by adult children with aging parents. When it's time to get extra care for your parents, you may be forced to decide quickly.

Take the time to find out exactly what your parent needs are. That often means talking to their doctor, or if they have had a recent hospital visit and they cannot go home, also speak with their social worker, nursing staff, case manager and discharge manager. Or it may mean hiring a geriatric care manager to help coordinate the various care providers.

It can be challenging to balance quality and cost.

So unless your parents have long-term-care insurance, they may not be able to afford the ideal setting for very long. Medicare covers very little long-term care, and most people aren't eligible for Medicaid until they've spent most of their money.

But new resources can help you make the decision.

Assisted living in many cases can take the place of nursing-home care, at least in the early stages. Some assisted living facilities have continuing care, and residents can move to another wing in the same facility if they need more supervision. And people with dementia and Alzheimer's have many options for memory care.

You can go to the Eldercare Locator or a local Area Agency on Aging for help finding assisted-living facilities, but these resources don't assess the services. Review sites let you see others' experience with the facilities.

What to Look For

After you narrow the list to two to five places, visit and ask questions. And don't just talk with the marketing people; talk with the people who are providing the care.

Go completely unannounced and walk in at whatever time of day you can. See how people are treated at mealtime and how they're treated at 8 p.m.

Next, schedule a meeting with the marketing director to get more details about how the facility cares for residents. Every nursing home is required to have a care plan. What would be in the care plan for your parent? What activities would the facility offer to your parent? How are the residents' physical needs monitored?

Ask about the patient-to-staff ratio (usually recommended is a ratio of 18-20 patients per caregiving staffer). What type of specialized training do the staff have in dealing with your parent's medical condition? Ask if your parent will get any time outside the facility, especially if he or she is in a locked memory-care wing of a long-term-care facility (some have courtyards).

Ask for a list of the costs, especially for assisted living. In some facilities, you may get a set number of hours of personal care, and you may be charged extra if your parent needs more. After your visit, ask yourself: Is this a place where you would want to spend time? Is it clean? How does it smell? Are the residents showered, with clean clothes? Is the food healthy and tasty? How would your parent fit in with the other residents?

Does the staff treat the residents with respect or, better yet, like beloved grandparents?

Things Change

No matter what, monitor your parent's care with the same critical eye you brought to the selection process. If the place isn't a good match, don't be afraid to move your parent to one that feels like home.

For more information on assisted living in Richmond, VA, contact Spring Arbor.

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Chicago Tribune - Health


Retirement in Richmond, VA is Affordable, Healthcare is Excellent, and Life is Good

Joseph Coupal - Monday, March 05, 2018
  • Retirement is something to think about years before you get there.
  • Choosing the best place to retire in the US means weighing affordability, quality of life, activities, and healthcare.
  • WalletHub ranked the best US cities to live in retirement.
  • Many of the top cities are in states with warm weather.

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VADeciding where to live in retirement may be one of the last major financial decisions you'll make, and picking the right spot is important.

WalletHub set out to put worried minds at ease. The site used available data for the 150 largest US cities to find the best and worst places to lay your hat. We already looked at the worst cities for retirement, so let's take a look at the opposite: the best urban areas to live in your post-working life.

How people spend time when they don't have to go to the office every day tends to be a little different. Many dream of hours full of painting and golf, but there are more practical considerations to keep in mind too.

Along with the weather and nearby museums and tennis courts, reliable, accessible healthcare and affordable housing are important benchmarks when determining where to live in retirement.

WalletHub found that the cities below offered a great quality of life, good healthcare, and plentiful activities — all at an affordable cost.

WalletHub scored each city based on affordability, activities, quality of life, and healthcare. The four categories were weighted equally, and each city was given a total score and then ranked, with the highest overall score designating the best city. WalletHub used data for only the city, not the surrounding metro area.

We've included the total score (out of a possible 100), with a higher score denoting a better place to live, as well as its ranking out of 150 cities for each of the four categories, with a lower number being better.

27. Richmond, VA

  • Total score (out of 100): 52.80

Rankings (out of 150 cities):

  • Affordability: 38
  • Activities: 22
  • Quality of life: 139
  • Healthcare: 33

For more information on senior living in Richmond, VA contact Spring Arbor.

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Business Insider


How to Compare Assisted Living Communities

Joseph Coupal - Monday, February 12, 2018

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAThis Medicare site (http://www.medicare.gov/caregivers/ ) offers the most straight forward answers to important questions such as “How to Compare Assisted Living Facilities.”

Unfortunately, for many families, the decisions they face about how best to serve their elderly relatives comes down to available finances. It is just a reality in today's health care environment and affects how we have chosen as a society to care for our parents. The more financial flexibility you have the more options you have, and this site is a great resource to help make sure you are getting everything that you need to, and to help you plan for the future ... to get the best care for your elderly parents as you can.

For more information on assisted living in Richmond, VA contact Spring Arbor.

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Retire in Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Monday, January 08, 2018

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAMore than 7 million tourists visit the Greater Richmond region each year to explore its rich American history. There is a lot of entertainment and history here, the metro area was at the epicenter of the Civil War. You can find all types of thing to do in the region as well, including world-class museums, a vibrant food scene and a wide array of entertainment options from concerts and theater performances to family-friendly festivals.

The only region in America with whitewater rapids running through its downtown district, Richmond is a major financial center as well. Richmond is also the seat of Virginia's state government. And, with a wide range of housing options and a below-average cost of living, the Richmond metro area – which includes suburban areas too - appeals to a varied demographic, from young families to retirees.

Downtown Richmond is anchored by Universities, which draws a large crowd of younger residents. But this college town has plenty to offer families and older residents, as well. Each of Richmond's neighborhoods exudes a unique personality.

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 100 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Richmond, Virginia is ranked:

#24 in Best Places to Live
#32 in Best Places to Retire

For more information on senior living in Richmond, VA contact Spring Arbor.

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US News - Real Estate


Coping with Alzheimer's Disease

Joseph Coupal - Monday, December 04, 2017

What is Alzheimer's disease?

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAContrary to popular belief, Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of ageing. Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, in other words the disease eventually leads to the death of neurons.

In a patient with Alzheimer's disease these neurotransmitters that send out signals are less in number. An Alzheimer's patient also develops deposits of protein and fiber in the brain that restrict proper functioning. As a result, brain cells cannot send the right signals to the other parts of the brain and ultimately brain cells shrink and die.

Medical research shows that the damage to the brain begins at least 10 years before symptoms. This is the pre-clinical phase where the individual is symptom free. This phase is followed by the Mild Cognitive Impairment phase where the person might appear to be more 'absent minded' than before; following this is the Dementia phase, which in itself has 7 stages.

A person with Alzheimer's has several cognitive disabilities:

  • the person maybe repetitive with their questions/statements
  • the person may have regressed to a different age or may keep alternating between present and past
  • the person may be unable to perform activities requisite for daily living
  • the person may be unable to express themself due to compromised language capacities
  • all executive functions such as logical reasoning, abstract thinking, judgment are affected at the very beginning
  • towards the later stages, the person becomes child-like and usually requires assistance with even their hygiene routine.

Caring for people with Alzheimer's disease:

If a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, it is imperative that you extend care that is more than medicinal. While medication certainly aid in slowing the decline, human-touch goes a long way too. In most cases, the person diagnosed with Alzheimer's doesn't have insight of what is happening to them, it is therefore important to attend to their symptoms with concern and a non-judgmental attitude.

Even simple activities like listening to music or reading the newspaper on a daily basis make a lot of difference. It is important to stimulate all senses.

In some cases, the person may still have some insight while in the early stages - the person may be confused about what is happening to them. The constant need to seek help from others for their daily needs might cause some frustration/depression in them. It is important to make them feel accepted and loved.

Listening to them with deep empathy, but not sympathy, also helps. Efforts must be made to make the person feel required, needed and useful. Requesting their help in easy, daily chores is not only to make them feel important but will also be a great way to engage them mentally!

As you come to terms with an Alzheimer's diagnosis, you may be handling a plethora of emotions. Undoubtedly, you will be worried about how things will change for both you and your loved one. It is common to experience emotions ranging from anger to grief. Give yourself sometime and do not hesitate to ask for help. After all, the more support you have, the better you will be able to cater to the needs of your loved one.

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

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Times of India


When Someone With Alzheimer's Needs Assisted Living

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Spring Arbor in Richmond, VAIt can be hard to decide when someone with Alzheimer's disease should no longer live alone. With sufficient lifestyle supports and memory aids, some people with Alzheimer's and other types of dementia live independently for years. The illness usually begins mildly, and progresses at different rates for different people.

Eventually, though, you may have your doubts about how well things are going. Are you overreacting to ordinary problems? Or making excuses so you can postpone tough choices? It can be difficult to know. Confounding the issue is the fact that people with dementia are often able to conceal the severity of their problems, especially if you don't see them every day.

Here are some questions to help you decide whether memory care, a type of assisted living for those with Alzheimer's and other dementias, might be a good option for your loved one. Each "yes" answer is a sign that warrants a closer look.

Changes in communication

  • Have letters and grandchildren's birthday cards slowed or stopped?
  • Does she seldom initiate calls anymore (it's always you calling first)?
  • Does she seem in a hurry to get off the phone, fail to ask you many questions, or seem unresponsive to your comments?
  • Do you get nonemergency calls at unreasonable hours, or hear complaints from friends that they're receiving such calls?

Changes in self-care

  • Is she losing weight inexplicably?
  • Is she gaining weight inexplicably?
  • Has her usual style (hair, makeup, clothing) become noticeably different?
  • Does she dress appropriately for the occasion?
  • Does she dress appropriately for the weather?
  • Have you detected the smell of urine on her clothes?
  • Does she stay up later and later, and then not wake until practically midday?

Unexplained weight loss may signal an illness, such as depression, or may reflect that she's losing the ability to go through the complex steps of shopping and cooking, or is even forgetting to eat. Conversely, she may forget she's just had a meal, and eat again and again. Obvious signs of a change in grooming standards, whether she's just more sloppy or more flamboyant or inappropriate, may indicate these tasks are becoming too much for her. Unpleasant body odors may mean she's neglecting to bathe or forgetting to toilet. Mixed-up hours (day and night) can be symptomatic of sundowning or depression, and tend to fuel unhealthy isolation.

Changes in social life

  • When you pick her up for an appointment, is she routinely not ready yet?
  • Does she forget you said you'd be visiting and seem surprised to see you?
  • Does she berate you for being late when you're not?
  • Does she no longer mention certain old friends, or when you mention them, is she dismissive?
  • Has she quit longstanding social engagements (clubs, card parties, religious committees)?
  • Has she noticeably lost interest in younger grandchildren (she's no longer asking about them, wanting to spend time with them, or sending them notes or gifts)?

A shrinking social life and increased isolation are not natural functions of aging. Unless she's so old that her longtime friends have all moved or died, it's more likely that she's withdrawing because of embarrassment about her dementia or inability to keep up -- or her friends are dropping her because of their own discomfort. Social appointments may also dwindle as her concept of time grows muddied. A person with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia may forget meetings, anticipate them at the wrong time, and also lose track of recent acquaintances.

Changes in the household

  • Have you ever come to visit and found the temperature of the house inappropriate (much too hot or too cold)?
  • Are cupboards full of multiple units of the same item, more than she could reasonably consume?
  • Is the refrigerator full of expired or spoiled food?
  • Is the refrigerator nearly empty?
  • Do you see any melted pots or pans with burned bottoms?
  • Do you see signs of spills that haven't been mopped?
  • Are there piles of unopened mail or obviously unread newspapers?
  • Can you smell urine?

When you visit, keep alert for these signs that she's not keeping up with everyday home care. Simply buying the same foods over and over (a particular brand of cereal, 20 varieties of vinegar) is a memory problem that may seem harmless, if expensive. But it's a safety hazard if she's forgetting to turn off burners, turn up thermostats, clean spills, or throw out old food.

Additional signs that someone with Alzheimer's needs assisted living

Other more obvious and more ominous warning signs that someone may no longer be able to live alone and may benefit from assisted living include:

  • Having electricity or water shut off because bills have gone unpaid
  • Letters thanking her for her contribution to a charitable organization that you're not aware she has a history of supporting
  • Robbery (because she let someone in the house unsuspectingly or left a door unlocked)
  • Wandering from home or getting lost

For more information on Alzheimer's care contact Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA.

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