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Gift Ideas for People with Dementia and Memory Loss

Joseph Coupal - Monday, December 10, 2018

Spring Arbor - VAYou did not mention gifts, but here are a few suggestions of great gifts for people living with dementia that you can pass along to family and friends:

  • An Ipod filled with all her favorite music and a set of comfortable headphones
  • Framed enlargements of old family pictures
  • Scrapbooks of your Mom’s life, work and awards
  • Photo albums of fun family activities
  • Taped religious readings, sermons or poetry
  • Scented lotions with a promise of a back rub
  • A music box
  • A favorite dessert baked just for her
  • Promise to take her to visit her house of worship
  • A drive to see the holiday lights at night
  • New pillow, sheets or comforter
  • Soft lap blanket or throw
  • Large print books
  • Soft fuzzy nightwear or slippers
  • A leisurely stroll through a favorite place, mall, park, or some place of meaning from her past, if possible
  • A holiday decoration for her door
  • A Memory Box filled with mementos of interest to her
  • Large piece, fewer pieces, adult jigsaw puzzles
  • Easy-to-fasten clothing
  • Window garden for her to work on in the winter months
  • Video of family

And remember, Santa, during this season and throughout the year, the love and support you give your loved one throughout the year is the greatest gift.

For more information on aging parents, contact Spring Arbor.

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Askclare.com


Red Flags During Holiday Visits With Aging Parents

Joseph Coupal - Friday, November 30, 2018
Spring Arbor, Richmond, VA

Of the estimated 34 million Americans who provide care to older family members, 15% live an hour or more away from their care recipient. This means that a significant number of caregivers rely on regular telephone conversations and check-ins by other closer-living relatives to gauge an aging loved one’s well-being.

Unfortunately, age-related decline can happen quickly, and in many cases, seniors are skilled at concealing new and worsening problems. For many of these families, holiday visits are the only opportunity for them to observe a senior in person, so it’s important to pay close attention to their physical and mental health and their living situation.

During this year’s holiday gatherings, be sure to look for the following warning signs that a loved one may need some extra help or assisted living.

Weight Loss

One of the most obvious signs of ill health, either physical or mental, is weight loss. Possible causes could be cancer, dementia or depression. Seniors may also experience reduced energy, which can make it challenging to shop for and prepare a nutritious meal and clean up afterwards. Furthermore, all this effort can seem especially unnecessary if they live and eat alone. Certain medications and aging in general can also change the way food tastes. If weight loss is evident, talk to your loved one about your concerns and schedule a doctor’s appointment to address the issue.

Changes in Balance and Mobility

Pay close attention to the way your loved one moves and how they walk. A reluctance to walk, changes in gait or obvious pain during movement can be a sign of joint, muscle or neurological problems. If your loved one is unsteady on their feet, they may be at risk of falling, which can cause severe injury or worse. If you notice changes in their mobility and coordination, make an appointment with their doctor to discuss options to keep them safe and mobile, such as pain management, physical therapy and mobility aids.

Emotional Well-Being

Keep an eye out for changes in your loved one’s moods and behavior. You can’t always gauge someone’s emotional state over the telephone, even if you speak daily. Look for signs of depression and anxiety, including withdrawal from social activities, changes in sleep patterns, loss of interest in hobbies, and changes in basic home maintenance and personal hygiene. The latter can be an indicator of dementia or other physical ailments like dehydration, which often happens to elders in the winter months and can be serious. If you notice sudden odd behavior in your loved one, such as confusion or agitation, be sure to seek medical attention. These are common symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI), which is prevalent in seniors and easily resolved with antibiotics.

Home Environment

Attention must also be paid to a senior’s surroundings. For instance, if your loved one has always been a stickler for neatness and paying bills promptly, but you discover excess clutter and piles of unopened mail while visiting, it indicates a problem. Take a walk-through of their home while you’re visiting to see if they are keeping their house to the usual standards. Be aware that sometimes the signs of trouble are a bit subtler. Scorched cookware could indicate that your loved one forgets food on the stove or in the oven, and an overflowing hamper could mean they don’t have the strength and/or desire to do laundry. Check the expiration dates on their prescriptions and over-the-counter medications and try to determine if they’re taking their medications as prescribed. You know your loved one and their habits best, so go with your gut if something seems off.

Next week, tune in for our blog on How to Handle Signs of Decline.

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

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agingcare.com


Aging Parents: What to Look for During the Holidays

Joseph Coupal - Monday, November 19, 2018
Spring Arbor Living - Assisted Living

When families live far away from one another, the holidays may be the only opportunity that long-distance caregivers and family members have to personally observe older relatives. Age-related decline can happen quickly. Family members who haven't seen their aging loved one since last year may be shocked at what they see: a formerly healthy father looking frail, or a mom whose home was once well-kept now in disarray.

Changes That Indicate the Need to Take Action

For those who have relied on regular telephone conversations and assessment by other closer-living relatives to gauge aging parents' well-being, the upcoming holiday visit may be revealing. Absence – even for a short period – often allows us to observe a situation through new eyes.

Weight Loss

One of the most obvious signs of ill health, either physical or mental, is weight loss. The cause could be as serious as cancer, dementia, heart failure or depression. Or it could be related to a lack of energy to cook for a loved one or just themselves, the waning ability to read the fine print on food labels or difficulty cleaning utensils and cookware. Certain medications and aging in general can change the way food tastes. If weight loss is evident, talk to your loved one about your concern and schedule a doctor's visit to address the issue.

Balance

Pay close attention to the way your parent moves, and in particular how they walk. A reluctance to walk or obvious pain during movement can be a sign of joint or muscle problems or more serious afflictions. And if unsteady on their feet, they may be at risk of falling, a serious problem that can cause severe injury or worse.

Emotional Well-Being

Beware of obvious and subtle changes in your loved ones' emotional well-being. You can't always gauge someone's spirits over the telephone, even if you speak daily. Take note for signs of depression, including withdrawal from activities with others, sleep patterns, lost of interest in hobbies, lack of basic home maintenance or personal hygiene. The latter can be an indicator not only of depression, but also of dementia or other physical ailments including dehydration, a serious condition sometimes overlooked in elders in the winter months. If you notice sudden odd behavior with your loved one, be sure to seek medical attention as it could be a urinary tract infection which is prevalent in elders and easily resolved with antibiotics.

Home Environment

Attention must also be paid to surroundings. For instance, your parent may have always been a stickler for neatness or for paying bills promptly. If you discover excess or unsafe clutter and mail that has piled up, a problem may exist. Also, keep an eye out for less obvious indications for concern. Scorched cookware, for example, could be a sign that your parent forgets if the stove is on. An overflowing hamper could mean he or she doesn't have the strength and/or desire to do laundry. And by all means, check prescriptions and medication bottles for expiration dates; and make note of all prescriptions your family member takes and place that information in your personal files as well as the elder's wallet in case of an emergency.

For information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor.

agingcare.com

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Alzheimer's Disease: 10 Things to Know

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAThe Alzheimer's Foundation of America has compiled a list of  "10 Things You Should Know About Alzheimer's Disease" and how to recognize it early.

1. "Old age" is not an excuse.

While some memory loss, cognitive decline and behavioral changes are normal as we age, Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging.

2. Look for patterns.

Everyone forgets someone's name or what we ate for breakfast. But consistent forgetting raises a red flag. It's easy for anyone to forget to pay a bill once. There is a problem if the same statement gets paid five times or if months go by without paying bills.

3. Symptoms can mimic other conditions.

Identifying the disease or problem that is causing memory loss helps with next steps. Some memory problems can be readily treated, such as those caused by vitamin deficiencies, depression or thyroid conditions. Other memory problems might result from causes that are not currently reversible, such as Alzheimer's disease. With Alzheimer's disease, symptoms gradually increase and become more persistent.

4. Not every case is the same.

There are general warning signs of Alzheimer's disease, but not everyone exhibits the same ones or at the same time in the progression of the illness.

5. Alzheimer's impacts day-to-day living.

Alzheimer's disease also affects a person's ability to function day-to-day. It can cause difficulty performing familiar tasks like dressing or bathing; misplacing items more frequently; becoming lost; and loss of interest in important responsibilities. The concern is not so much if someone forgets where the car keys are, but if the person does not know what the keys are used for.

6. Alzheimer's disease has cognitive symptoms.

Common cognitive symptoms include: short-term memory loss, problems with verbal communication, confusion about time or place or people, trouble concentrating, lack of judgment, difficulty performing familiar tasks, misplacing items, as well as the symptoms listed above.

7. Alzheimer's disease has behavioral symptoms.

Behavioral symptoms include personality changes, unexplainable mood swings, sundowning -- increased agitation in the late afternoon/early evening, irritability, anxiety, sleeplessness, anger, expressing false beliefs, depression and inappropriate sexual behavior.

8. Check out warning signs.

According to a study of participants who obtained free, confidential memory screenings 74% were worried about their memory, but 83% of them had not discussed concerns with their health care provider. Start with your primary care physician. Depending on findings, the physician may recommend follow-up with a specialist.

9. Diagnosis is 90% accurate.

Clinicians can now diagnose Alzheimer's disease with up to 90% accuracy. Diagnosing "probable" Alzheimer's disease involves taking a complete medical history and conducting lab tests, a physical exam, neuro-psychological tests that gauge memory, attention, language skills and problem-solving abilities, and brain scans.

10. Don't just take the diagnosis and run.

Good communication can maximize your visit to a physician. Ask questions.

Next steps should include getting better-educated about the disease, obtaining support services and planning for the future. For more information on Alzheimer’s care in Richmond, contact Spring Arbor.

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netnebraska.org


Programs Enhance the Lives of Residents in Senior Living Communities

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, September 06, 2018

Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA Enhancing the lives of residents in our senior living communities is very important. At Spring Arbor, our signature programs bring unparalleled quality and dignity to the lives of our residents while simultaneously inspiring confidence, trust and peace of mind for loved ones. We are proud of our assisted living and memory care programs, as they have shown measurable success in enriching the lives of our residents. Below are the most popular programs that we offer!

Art from the Heart

Through the creativity that is represented by colors and patterns, residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia can speak to their loved ones, proving that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. The Art from the Heart program provides needed exercise for the brain and can help maintain and strengthen existing cognitive function. It’s also a great way to reduce stress and anxiety and to encourage socialization and creativity.

Hearts and Harmony

Hearts and Harmony is our signature music program that includes both individualized and group approaches to the benefits of music. Studies show that music is one of the only activities that stimulates and uses the entire brain. The Hearts and Harmony program helps to promote wellness, stress and pain management, memory enhancement and provides unique opportunities for communication and social interaction. Residents of our Spring Arbor communities can enjoy customized playlists when they wish to enjoy music on their own or they can engage with the use of hand drums, bells and more in group sessions. Listening to musical favorites helps residents recall fond memories and assists them in reconnecting with family and caregivers.

Gardening Therapy

Research shows that access to the outdoors and physical activity are extremely beneficial for adults suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. Gardening is a wonderful exercise for the mind and body, lowers blood pressure levels and stress, builds confidence, and more. Our Cottage Care Coordinators create programs centered on nature through gardening and other stimulating sensory opportunities in our welcoming and secure courtyard areas.

Regardless of age or ability, we strive to provide meaningful experiences and beneficial programs for all our residents. Our goal is to help each resident function at the highest level possible. Learn more about Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA and schedule a tour today!

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https://www.hhhunt.com


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