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How to Handle Signs of Decline in Aging Parents

Joseph Coupal - Monday, December 03, 2018
Spring Arbor, Richmond, VA

Last week we discussed Red Flags During Holiday Visits With Aging Parents. The issues explained above are the four most common signs of age-related decline that long-distance caregivers experience during visits with their loved ones, but there are others to look out for.

Signs a Senior Needs Help at Home or Assisted Living

While you may want to keep things light during the holiday season, do take this opportunity to address any red flags that you observe. Collect any necessary information while you are in town to avoid added frustration and confusion in the event of a crisis down the road.

The Initial Conversation

First, have a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one about their present circumstances and both of your concerns. Suggest making an appointment with their primary care physician for a complete health assessment. The results of this evaluation will help you both determine what next steps are necessary to keep your loved one safe, happy and healthy.

Identify Supportive Resources

If possible, pay a visit to the local Area Agency on Aging or department of human services for information on resources and services available in your loved one’s community. It may be difficult to get in touch with these offices around the holidays, but it is still worth reaching out, leaving a message and researching the services they offer.

Sit down with your loved one to create a current list of people they interact with on a regular basis. This list should include friends, neighbors and clergy whom you trust to keep an eye on your loved one and can contact in the event of an emergency. Double check their addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses, and be sure to share your own contact information with them.

Prepare a To-Do List

Now is the time to begin compiling a to-do list to be implemented over a period of future visits. There are three categories to this list: medical, legal and financial.

You’ll want to develop a complete medical record for your loved one, including their health conditions, prescriptions and their doctors’ names and contact information. This is extremely helpful for you to have on file, and your loved one can keep a condensed copy on hand for both routine appointments and medical emergencies.

A financial list should contain all of a loved one’s property ownership, debts, income, expenses, and bank account and credit card information. Should you need to assume control of their finances over the short or long term, this list will help minimize confusion and ensure all their bills are paid on time.

Important Senior Care Documents

The legal aspect of this to-do list is possibly the most important. There are vital documents that must be obtained to ensure you can access your loved one’s medical information, make health and financial decisions in case they become incapacitated and administer their estate. If they have not already done so, it is crucial for your loved one to meet with an attorney to draw up medical and financial power of attorney documents and a will. You should have access to these documents and other important information, such as their social security number, Medicare information, insurance policies, the deed to their home, and their driver’s license.

These preparations may seem excessive, but it is better to be over-prepared than caught off guard when a loved one’s care needs suddenly increase. Throughout this process, remember to empower them to control their own life as much as possible. You may receive some resistance, but remind your loved one that sharing this information and pursuing supportive resources will enable them to remain independent and safe in their own home and give you added peace of mind as you return home from your holiday visit.

For more information on caring for aging parents, contact Spring Arbor.

Source: agingcare.com


Tips on How to Find Memory Care

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Spring Arbor, NC, VALearn some helpful tips for how to find a memory care facility and how to evaluate the quality of care being provided.

Often found as units within other long-term care facilities, and also as stand-alone memory care facilities, memory care units and facilities are appropriate when a person needs specialized and trained caregivers who understand the needs of someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Memory care also provides security for residents, with locked facilities to prevent residents from wandering away.

If you are looking for a memory care home, where would you start and how would you know how to evaluate the quality of care being provided? Many times those who have looked at some memory care facilities are not sure they’ve seen all that are available, and don’t know how to evaluate them.

Starting your Search - From the Comfort of Home

These days, it seems the start of every search begins online. When looking for memory care, online is also a good place to find information about the licensed facilities in your area. Below are some online resources that can help you identify the licensing agency for your area:

  • Eldercare Locater
  • Your state Department of Social Services
  • Your local Department of Social Services and/or Aging Services

Define Your Desired Location

Location will be important if you are planning to visit regularly. With the list of licensed units, define the geographical area where you want to focus your search. Contact the facilities to schedule tours.

Gather Information

When touring the memory care units, walk the halls, stay for lunch, and observe the activity of the unit. Look at the rooms. Meet the caregivers and ask questions. See if you can get in contact with another family of a resident to speak with someone who has experience with the facility.

What other questions within those areas would you need to address? Quality and cost of care are usually the primary focus. Some ideas are:

Quality of Care:

  • What kind of training do caregivers have?
  • How many caregivers are working during each shift?
  • What is the ratio of residents to staff?
  • How do they handle difficult behaviors?
  • What if your loved one is admitted and does not adapt to his new environment?
  • Is the facility able to care for residents for the rest of their life?
  • Can hospice come in?
  • What is the facility’s plan for emergencies, such as a hurricane or fire?

Cost of Care:

  • What is the basic monthly fee?
  • What are the levels of care and their rates?
  • How often does the basic monthly fee change?
  • Is there an entry fee or deposit?
  • Does the facility work with long-term care policies?
  • Are there any charges or expenses we have not talked about?

For more information on memory care, contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive
brightfocus.org


Facts About Alzheimer's Disease You Should Know

Darren Kincaid - Friday, October 26, 2018

This is stating the obvious: Alzheimer’s disease is terrible, and no one should ever have to deal with it. Whether you fear a loved one is showing signs of Alzheimer’s or they’ve received a diagnosis, you may be confused, scared, and not sure what to expect. We have rounded up 10 essential facts about Alzheimer’s disease to offer some understanding of what the condition entails. Below are the first five, in next week's blog we'll cover the other five.

  1. Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive condition that destroys a person’s memory and other important mental (and eventually physical) functions.

    This disease is the most common cause of dementia, which describes a group of brain disorders that erode a person’s cognitive abilities and communication skills.

    If someone has Alzheimer’s, they typically experience mild confusion and difficulty remembering things to start, but eventually they may forget important people in their lives; undergo dramatic personality changes; have trouble planning, communicating, and making safe decisionsy and need full-time care.

  2. Alzheimer’s progresses through five stages, and the first one doesn’t cause any symptoms at all.

    This first stage is called preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. People in this stage don’t exhibit any outward symptoms of the condition, but they are undergoing brain changes that will induce signs of Alzheimer’s down the line. Although symptoms aren’t apparent at this point, experts are working on developing innovative brain imaging technology that might be able to pick up on signs of the condition at this stage.

    After preclinical Alzheimer’s, which can last for years, a person develops what’s called mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease. This involves confusion, trouble making decisions, and issues remembering things such as recent conversations or upcoming appointments, but not at a severe enough level for it to really affect a person’s job or relationships.

    The following phase is due to Alzheimer’s disease. This is when symptoms become apparent enough that they often lead to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. At this point, Alzheimer’s is affecting a person’s day-to-day life with symptoms such as noticeable short-term memory loss, trouble with problem-solving, poor decision-making, mood changes, losing items, getting lost themselves (even in familiar locations), and having a hard time expressing themselves. This can translate into the person asking the same question repeatedly because they forget the answer, a difficult time handling what used to be manageable responsibilities (like tracking their budget), and irritability or anger as their world begins to shift in confounding ways.

    This eventually progresses into moderate dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease, which is essentially an intensifying of symptoms. A person with this stage of Alzheimer’s tends to need more care making it through the day and avoiding dangerous situations, such as becoming lost (wandering around to find a familiar setting is common in this stage). This is also when long-term memory becomes more compromised, so a person with this level of Alzheimer’s may begin to forget who their loved ones are or get them confused with each other.

    Lastly, during severe dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease, a person may be unable to communicate coherently, even if they are physically able to speak. As they lose control over physical functions such as walking, holding their head up, and bladder and bowel activity, they may depend on others to care for them. People with this final stage of Alzheimer’s may also have difficulty swallowing. Sadly, this is often how death from Alzheimer’s can come about. Food or drinks can wind up in the lungs due to impaired swallowing, leading to pneumonia, or a person may become dehydrated or malnourished.

    There’s no set amount of time it takes for every person with Alzheimer’s to advance through each of these stages, but the Mayo Clinic notes that people with the condition live eight to 10 years after diagnosis on average.

  3. Normal forgetfulness is a thing, and it’s very different from Alzheimer’s-related memory loss.

    It’s completely fine to occasionally forget where you put things, the names of people you don’t see that often, why you entered a room, and other minor details. Memory lapses can happen for all sorts of reasons, from a lack of sleep to normal cognitive changes as you grow older.

    Mild forgetfulness is a common complaint in people as they age. The main difference between age-related memory loss and dementia (such as Alzheimer’s disease) is that in normal aging, the forgetfulness does not interfere with your ability to carry on with daily activities. The memory lapses have little impact on your daily life.

    If you or a loved one is dealing with persistent memory loss and accompanying symptoms such as difficulty staying organized, confusion, and mood changes, that’s more of a cause for concern.

  4. Alzheimer’s affects millions of people in the United States, causing over 110,000 deaths each year.

    Estimates range, but the National Institute on Aging (NIA) says that more than 5.5 million people in the United States have the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it was the sixth leading cause of death in the United States in 2017, killing 116,103 people.

  5. Doctors aren’t totally sure what causes Alzheimer’s disease, but brain changes are definitely involved.

    Alzheimer’s disease damages and kills brain cells. This destruction is what affects a person’s cognitive, social, and physical abilities.

    Researchers have also discovered two specific abnormalities in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. One is that they have plaques, or buildup of a protein called beta-amyloid, that may harm brain cells, including by impeding cell-to-cell communication. Another is tangles in the transportation system that brain cells rely on to move nutrients and other substances that are necessary for your brain to function properly.

For more information on Alzheimer's care for a loved one, contact Spring Arbor.

self.com