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Senior Living Memory Care Richmond VA Blog

Early Alzheimer’s Signs: Time to Get Organized - Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Monday, July 18, 2016

How well organized are you? Are you good at planning ahead and anticipating how to deal with whatever challenges and issues may be around the next bend? “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” Well, no one realizes this more than an at-home caregiver of a loved one with Alzheimer’s.

If you’ve been noticing some of the early signs of Alzheimer’s, as the Boy Scouts say, “Be Prepared.” Just to review, are they showing bad judgment? Are they misplacing things? Are they having trouble performing familiar tasks? Are they having trouble finding the right words? Have they become anti-social? These are just some of the signs of what may be ahead for you, and the sooner you start planning, the better it will be for both of you.

If you’re going to be the “point person,” there’s a great deal you can do and should do and the first step is education. Contact your local Alzheimer’s Association and/or an Alzheimer’s care specialist to learn as much about the disease as possible. Also, join a support group and involve as many family members as you can. This will go a long way in helping all of you to understand that you’re not alone as well as what is happening and why.

The legal issues can be considerable and they can’t be ignored. Is there a Power of Attorney for health and finance? Does your loved one have a will? Is there a Living Will? What about the bank accounts?

You may want to consider taking away their credit cards or at least lowering the amounts, and if you haven’t already done so, get them on the no-call list to avoid telemarketers. Don’t be shy about contacting your banker and an elder care lawyer as you’ll find it time very well spent.

The final phase is the one where you get organized and get your “ducks in a row.” Who is going to be part of your support system? What kind of activities are you going to have planned when your loved one needs a distraction? Do you have emergency contacts in case you suddenly aren’t available to help?

Remember to keep a journal of behaviors for the doctor. Are you ready to take the car keys or the car? Should the person be enrolled in the MedicAlert program because he or she wanders? And are you looking ahead to the next step in the event that you simply can’t do it at home anymore? The best time to do your homework is sooner rather than later. No one wants to make a decision in a crisis. Imagine that the patient has fallen and is in rehab and you get a call from the discharge planner telling you that he or she has to leave the hospital. But if the patient can’t go home, what do you tell the discharge planner?

If you’re going to be an effective caregiver, you need to take care of you. Make sure that your plan also includes some very important “you” time. You’ll earn it.

For more information on memory care in Richmond, VA contact Spring Arbor.


Making the Right Long Term Care Choice – Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

For many families strained trying to properly look after their aging loved ones while juggling work and other family responsibilities, long-term care becomes the solution to the aging dilemma. It doesn't mean it's easy. It's a difficult decision. You take them out of their environment. They've been living in their homes all their lives.

Families are often reluctant to have the discussion about long-term care. Many times they're in denial because of the many issues you run into. Mom and dad are comfortable. Mom and dad are right down the street. Mom and dad don't want to do this.

Some aging individuals suffer injuries or other health setbacks and require a stay in a transitional rehabilitation unit. Upon discharge, the patient is evaluated: things like patients' needs for assistance with activities of daily living, how much physical or occupational or speech therapy they may need and what the likelihood is that they will be able to return to the community after they receive services.

Some will return home perhaps requiring outpatient services or having their home retrofitted to make living alone possible. But for many others, it's just not an option and instead become part of the roughly $450 billion dollar a year long-term care industry in America. If somebody is independent and just needs minimum assistance maybe they need a little bit of help just transferring... something of that nature then certainly they would be somebody that might be eligible for an assisted living. There they continue to obtain the medical and ancillary services that they need but yet they're in a much more home environment.

The dilemma facing many families in choosing assisted living involves money.

For all other long-term care costs, it's all about insurance. Medicare covers skilled care for individuals 65 and older but only for a matter of weeks. After that, some individuals use private insurance to cover their long-term care living needs. Many more with low income or limited resources will turn to Medicaid but you cannot exceed a certain income or asset level and you must make a minor contribution from whatever monthly income you have.

Everyone should financially plan for long-term care which is an inevitability for three out of every four Americans. Make sure enough is saved and start early. If you can do that you also want to put some money away for the elderly care that you're going to be needing in those years.

Experts also recommend you tour a long-term facility before sending an aging loved one there to live. They also advise families have discussions about long-term care long before it may be needed.

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


Keep Your Brain Healthy: 10 Ways to Love Your Brain – Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Monday, May 09, 2016

Keep your brain healthy as you age and show it some love! Your brain is the command center of your body — and just like your heart, lungs and other critical organs, it deserves to be a priority when it comes to your health. Use these 10 tips to help reduce your risk of cognitive decline.


Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body. Several studies have found an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline.


Formal education in any stage of life will help reduce your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. For example, take a class at a local college, community center or online.


Evidence shows that smoking increases risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce that risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.


Evidence shows that risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke – obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – negatively impact your cognitive health. Take care of your heart, and your brain just might follow.


Brain injury can raise your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Wear a seat belt, use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike, and take steps to prevent falls.


Eat a healthy and balanced diet that is higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Although research on diet and cognitive function is limited, certain diets, including Mediterranean and Mediterranean-DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), may contribute to risk reduction.


Not getting enough sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea may result in problems with memory and thinking.

Some studies link a history of depression with increased risk of cognitive decline, so seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns. Also, try to manage stress.


Staying socially engaged may support brain health. Pursue social activities that are meaningful to you. Find ways to be part of your local community – if you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter. If you enjoy singing, join a local choir or help at an afterschool program. Or, just share activities with friends and family.


Challenge and activate your mind. Build a piece of furniture. Complete a jigsaw puzzle. Do something artistic. Play games, such as bridge, that make you think strategically. Challenging your mind may have short and long-term benefits for your brain.

For information on memory care, contact Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA.


Allergy Drugs Can Damage Brain, Increase Dementia Risk – Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Monday, April 25, 2016

From allergies to insomnia, there’s a pill for just about every problem. The problem is, those pills often come with a lengthy list of potential side effects.

And in the quest to cure what ails us as quickly as possible, those warnings are too often overlooked.

A new study offers the most definite proof yet of what scientists have known for at least a decade: that anticholinergic drugs are linked with cognitive impairment and an increased risk of dementia.

Though you may have never heard of this class of drug, you’ve certainly heard of the medications themselves, including Benadryl, Demerol, Dimetapp, Dramamine, Paxil, Unisom and VESIcare. They are sold over the counter and by prescription as sleep aids and for chronic diseases including hypertension, cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The new study is the first to examine the physical changes that serve as the catalyst for cognitive decline. Using brain imaging techniques, researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine found lower metabolism and reduced brain sizes among study participants taking anticholinergic drugs.

“These findings provide us with a much better understanding of how this class of drugs may act upon the brain in ways that might raise the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia,” said Shannon Risacher, an assistant professor of radiology and imaging sciences.

The cognitive tests revealed that people taking anticholinergic drugs performed worse on short-term memory tests and some tests of executive function, including verbal reasoning, planning and problem-solving.

Anticholinergic drug users also showed lower levels of glucose metabolism — a biomarker for brain activity — both in the brain overall and in the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with memory and which has been identified as affected early by Alzheimer’s disease. The participants using anticholinergic drugs were also found to have reduced brain volume and larger ventricles, the cavities inside the brain.

“These findings might give us clues to the biological basis for the cognitive problems associated with anticholinergic drugs, but additional studies are needed if we are to truly understand the mechanisms involved,” Risacher said.

A 2013 study by scientists at the Indiana University Center for Aging Research found that drugs with a strong anticholinergic effect cause cognitive problems when taken continuously for as few as 60 days. Drugs with a weaker effect could cause impairment within 90 days.

“Given all the research evidence, physicians might want to consider alternatives to anticholinergic medications, if available, when working with their older patients,” Risacher said.

Never start or stop taking a medication without first consulting your doctor.

For information on memory care, contact Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA.



Assisted Living for Aging in Place – Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Assisted living allows people with dementia to "age in place" as their disease worsens and their need for care increases. Residents in these residences do not need to be moved to nursing homes, hospitals, or hospice facilities unless they require constant medical supervision or their behavior presents a danger to self or others.

Here are some things to think about when considering assisted living placements for loved ones. Should you want to place your loved one in an ALR that allows "aging in place," find out who pays for that extra care. Does the ALR have sufficiently trained staff to provide aging in place, or are you responsible for hiring PDAs? If you must pay for PDAs, find out for how many hours you may need to hire such aides, find out that cost and, if you have long term health care insurance, find out if PDA costs are covered expenses. If you will be responsible for paying PDA costs directly, that may affect your choice of ALR, or may cause you to select a nursing home instead of an ALR when it comes time for any placement outside of the home.

If an assisted living home that allows for aging in place has an additional cost which will allow a loved one to continue enjoy participating in daily activities in an ALR social-like environment ... as opposed to a loved one having a very limited daily activity schedule in the hospital-like environment of a nursing home ... then all is well. But caregivers without the ability to pay should know the ALR policy in advance.

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


Transitioning to Assisted Living Should be As Smooth as Possible – Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Assisted living facilities are designed for people who can't live on their own because they need help with the tasks of everyday living. The facilities generally provide meals, help with taking medication, housekeeping, laundry and activities. They are not meant for people who need round-the-clock nursing care.

No matter how clear the need, moving from one's home to an assisted living facility can be emotionally challenging. Realizing this, assisted living facilities often have people on staff who can help people like your mother to manage their feelings and make the transition easier.

It shouldn't be hard for parents to physically adjust to an assisted living facility. The environment is designed to meet the needs of an aging body. There are no steps to navigate. The bathrooms are adapted for walkers. There won't be any more reaching for heavy pots and pans if the facility dining room provides meals. Your parent or loved one may feel comforted, too, if they bring personal items to the new living space. This may include artwork, family photos or favorite furniture.

The new environment will allow your parent to increase their physical activity and wellness. Assisted living residences always have exercise classes like tai chi or chair yoga, and many offer physical therapy on campus. It's important to learn which services are available and take advantage of them.

Encourage your parent or loved one to get to know others at the facility. For almost anyone, in any environment, the more they interact with others, the more they'll feel at home. An easy way to meet others is to take part in the many activities offered at the facility. There is often a huge variety, such as painting and memoir writing. And there will likely be outings to museums, concerts and sporting events. Taking part will help loved ones feel engaged and purposeful — and less forlorn about the home that was left behind.

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


Recognizing Signs That it May be Time for Assisted Living – Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, February 09, 2016

In an effort to raise awareness and to educate and assist families who have been touched by Alzheimer’s disease, this article will give families and friends some tips to help recognize when it may be time to explore the decision of moving the person with Alzheimer’s or other type of dementia into assisted living with memory care. Here are some tell-tale signs families can look for in order to recognize it may be time for memory care assisted living:

Wandering: In later stages of dementia, risks related to wandering become much greater. They can wander even if you just take time to go to the bathroom, and the probability of falls and injuries increases.

Sun-downing: Sun-downing is a term that describes an agitated state that becomes more pronounced later in the day or when the person is wakeful at night and not sleeping. This can take a heavy toll on caregivers, and when it begins to severely disrupt family routines, this may be a sign that caring for the person may be too hard to handle.

Aggression: Verbal and physical aggression can be experienced in those with dementia. Caregivers and family members may suffer or begin to feel resentful. When it is getting to this level it may be time to start considering a move to assisted living with memory care.

Home Safety: Ask yourself honest questions about your loved one’s health and your own health and ability to care for them. Is the person with dementia becoming unsafe in their current home? Are you becoming unsafe in caring for this person?

Escalating Care Needs: Is the health of the person with dementia or is my health and well-being as a caregiver at risk? Are the person’s care needs beyond my physical capabilities? If you’re answering yes to those questions, it may be time to discuss the decision to move.

Caregiver stress: Stress and other caregiver symptoms can be just as telling a sign as the dementia symptoms described above. Remember, your health and well-being is just as important as the person you are caring for.

If after reading this, if you are feeling that the person you are caring for needs more help than you can give, reach out and talk with someone you trust; a friend, family member, your family physician or a caregiver consultant.

Planning ahead, getting informed, and involving the appropriate people in the decision will ensure ease in the process when it is time to transition the person you care for.

The best way to be there for them, is to know that they are in the proper place for getting the care that they need. Visit communities before choosing one, and make sure they have activities and medical support appropriate to people with dementia. Remember, that if you have done the research, they will thrive wherever you move them. We have to know that as a human being, we can only do so much without taxing our health.

Asking for help when you need it does not show weakness, it shows tremendous strength.

For more information contact Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA.