What Exactly Is Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers is a neurodegenerative disease, meaning it causes a degradation of brain matter. It accounts for 60% to 70% of all cases of dementia. In most cases, Alzheimers begins slowly and the first symptom is typically short-term memory loss. Subsequent symptoms will develop, such as disorientation, problems with language, mood swings, behavioral problems, a loss of motivation, and self-neglect. Every individual Alzheimers patient will have different symptoms that manifest in different ways.
Make Time For Reflection
At each new stage of dementia, you have to alter your expectations about what your loved one is capable of. By accepting each new reality and taking time to reflect on these changes, you can better cope with the emotional loss and find greater satisfaction in your caregiving role.
Keep a daily journal to record and reflect on your experiences. By writing down your thoughts, you can mourn losses, celebrate successes, and challenge negative thought patterns that impact your mood and outlook.
Count your blessings. It may sound counterintuitive in the midst of such challenges, but keeping a daily gratitude list can help chase away the blues. It can also help you focus on what your loved one is still capable of, rather than the abilities theyve lost.
Value what is possible. In the middle stages of dementia, your loved one still has many abilities. Structure activities to invite their participation on whatever level is possible. By valuing what your loved one is able to give, you can find pleasure and satisfaction on even the toughest days.
Improve your emotional awareness. Remaining engaged, focused, and calm in the midst of such tremendous responsibility can challenge even the most capable caregivers. By developing your emotional awareness skills, however, you can relieve stress, experience positive emotions, and bring new peace and clarity to your caretaking role.
Caregiving In The Middle Stages Of Alzheimers Or Dementia
As your loved ones Alzheimers disease or dementia symptoms progress, theyll require more and more careand youll need more and more support as their caregiver. Your loved one will gradually experience more extensive memory loss, may become lost in familiar settings, no longer be able to drive, and fail to recognize friends and family. Their confusion and rambling speech can make communicating more of a challenge and they may experience disturbing mood and behavior changes along with sleep problems.
Youll need to take on more responsibilities as your loved one loses independence, provide more assistance with the activities of daily living, and find ways of coping with each new challenge. Balancing these tasks with your other responsibilities requires attention, planning, and lots of support.
Ask for help. You cannot do it all alone. Its important to reach out to other family members, friends, or volunteer organizations to help with the daily burden of caregiving. Schedule frequent breaks throughout the day to pursue your hobbies and interests and stay on top of your own health needs. This is not being neglectful or disloyal to your loved one. Caregivers who take regular time away not only provide better care, they also find more satisfaction in their caretaking roles.
Tips For A Healthy And Active Lifestyle For People With Dementia
Eating healthy and staying active is good for everyone and is especially important for people with Alzheimers and related dementias. As the disease progresses, finding ways for the person to eat healthy foods and stay active may be increasingly challenging. Here are some tips that may help:
- Consider different activities the person can do to stay active, such as household chores, cooking and baking, exercise, and gardening. Match the activity to what the person can do.
- Help get an activity started or join in to make the activity more fun. People with dementia may lack interest or initiative and can have trouble starting activities. But, if others do the planning, they may join in.
- Add music to exercises or activities if it helps motivate the person. Dance to the music if possible.
- Be realistic about how much activity can be done at one time. Several short mini-workouts may be best.
- Take a walk together each day. Exercise is good for caregivers, too!
- Buy a variety of healthy foods, but consider food that is easy to prepare, such as premade salads and single portions.
- Give the person choices about what to eat, for example, Would you like yogurt or cottage cheese?
Cope With Changes In Communication
As your loved ones Alzheimers or dementia progresses, youll notice changes in how they communicate. They may have trouble finding words, substitute one word for another, repeat the same things over and over, or become easily confused. Increased hand gestures, losing their train of thought, and even inappropriate outbursts are all common as well.
Even if your loved one has trouble maintaining a conversationor less interest in starting oneits important to encourage social interaction. Making them feel safe rather than stressed will make communication easier, so try to manage your own frustration levels.
Be patient. If your loved one has difficulty recalling a word, for example, allow them time. Getting anxious or impatient will only inhibit their recall. Gently supply the word or tell the person that you can come back to it later.
Be aware of your body language. Your loved one responds to your facial expression, tone of voice, and nonverbal cues as much as the words you choose. Make eye contact, stay calm, and keep a relaxed, open posture.
Speak slowly and clearly. Give one direction or ask one question at a time, use short sentences, and give your loved one more time to process whats being said. Find a simpler way to say the same thing if it wasnt understood the first time.
Maintain respect. Dont use patronizing language, baby talk, or sarcasm. It can cause hurt or confusion.
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Alzheimers And Driving Privileges
Driving is a complex activity that demands quick reactions, alert senses and split-second decision making. For a person with Alzheimers, driving inevitably becomes difficult. A diagnosis of Alzheimers disease does not mean the person has lost all ability to drive. Caregivers should evaluate the person regularly to determine if it is safe for him or her to drive.
Setting Up Care At A Nursing Home
The decision to place a loved one in a nursing home often involves a lot of emotion and thought and it isn’t easy. However, in the later stages of dementia, the support provided by a nursing home can come as necessary relief to caregivers. If you’re considering a nursing home for your loved one, you likely want to weigh the advantages and disadvantages.
Pros: Once a person reaches the later stages of dementia, they may have trouble performing the most basic tasks and be at increased risk for medical complications. The extensive memory loss may necessitate 24-hour care. At a nursing home, staff with expertise in dementia is available at all times to provide a safe, supportive environment. If your loved one has a medical emergency at the facility, a medical provider is always there to intervene.
A nursing home also offers social and recreational benefits for older people who enjoy the activity and companionship. Most of their appointments can be arranged in one place, and their meals, medication, and living needs are all provided, alleviating those responsibilities from family members.
The advantages and disadvantages of both types of care can complicate your decision-making process, and no single approach works best for every family. However, the decision usually comes down to what’s best for your loved one. Many families choose a nursing home once the disease progresses.
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Why Someone With Dementia Asks To Go Home
So, what we hear as I want to go home is often a request for comfort rather than literally asking to go somewhere.
The kindest thing to do is to meet them where they are, focus on comfort and reassurance, and respond to the emotions behind their request.
The goal is to reduce your older adults anxiety or fear so they can let go of the idea.
Helping them to calm down also gives you a chance to check ifdiscomfort, pain, or a physical need is causing this behavior.
Taking Care Of An Alzheimers Patient Has Its Rewards
Taking care of Alzheimers patients can be time-consuming, frustrating, and sometimes heartbreaking. However, it can also be rewarding. When you care for someone whose capabilities and perhaps personality are gone, you learn how to be compassionate and live with grace. And when you make the most of the time they have left, you offer a special gift to the world and to yourself.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.
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Medicaid & Hcbs Waivers And Alzheimers Care
Medicaid is a state and federally funded health insurance program for low-income families and the elderly. Each state administers their Medicaid programs separately. Therefore, each state offers different benefits with regards to caring for individuals with Alzheimers or dementia.
Medicaid Waivers are state programs that allow individuals to receive care outside of nursing homes. Instead of requiring institutionalization, Medicaid Waiver participants can receive care, paid for by Medicaid, in their homes, the homes of relatives, and sometimes in adult foster care homes and assisted or senior living residences. Almost all Medicaid Waivers have both financial eligibility requirements and requirements that the participant have functional limitations. Very few, require a specific diagnosis of Alzheimers or dementia. Instead, they consider ones ability or inability to care for themselves by accessing their ability to perform their activities of daily living. From a functional perspective, mid to late stage Alzheimers patients typically qualify for Medicaid benefits quite easily.
For more information on Medicaid and each states waivers, please use the following links: General Medicaid, Home Care Waivers, Assisted Living Waivers, Adult Day Care Waivers, and Adult Foster Care Waivers.
If He Or She Doesn’t Recognise Their Environment As ‘home’ At That Moment Then For That Moment It Isn’t Home
Try this instead:
Try to understand and acknowledge the feelings behind the wish to go home. Find out where ‘home’ is for them – it might not be the last place they lived. It could be where they lived before moving recently or it could be somewhere from their distant past.
Often people with dementia describe ‘home’ as a pleasant, peaceful or idyllic place where they were happy. They could be encouraged to talk about why they were happy there. This can give an idea as to what they might need to feel better.
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Best Activities For Alzheimers Patients At Home
Sudoku, sewing, gardening, or something completely different finding the best activities for Alzheimers patients at home is important if a loved one has a memory illness. While truly meaningful activities for dementia patients can be tough to find, they are out there, and worth hunting for!
Having mentally and emotionally appropriate and stimulating activities is crucial for two reasons. One, it can be fun and two, it may slow the progress of memory illnesses. Since planning activities for dementia or Alzheimers patients is a part of our memory care services, we have compiled dozens of tried-and-true ideas you can use today.
Even better, all of these activities are inexpensive, uncomplicated, and can be done right at home. Check out our list of 15 great activities for dementia and Alzheimers patients at home.
Alzheimers Home Care Pros And Cons
Pros of home care for dementia:
- Home is familiar and comfortable
- Your loved one can develop a more personal one-on-one relationship with their caregiver
- Typically less expensive than a nursing home
- Seniors can remain as independent as possible
Cons of dementia home care:
- Home may be less secure for seniors prone to wandering
- Your loved one may also need skilled medical home health care
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How To Get Dementia Patients To Bathe
Bathing is often the most difficult personal care activity that caregivers face. Because it is such an intimate experience, the person with Alzheimers may perceive it as unpleasant, threatening or painful and, in turn, exhibit disruptive behaviors such as screaming, resisting, and hitting. These behaviors often occur because the person doesnt know what bathing is for or doesnt have the patience to endure such unpleasant aspects as lack of modesty, being cold, or experiencing discomfort. Try the following:
Dementia Is More Than Memory Loss
Memory loss is a classic dementia symptom. But some types of dementia, particularly frontotemporal dementia and Picks disease, manifest themselves as personality changes rather than memory loss. The symptoms depend on the areas of the brain that is affected by the disease. Even when memory loss is the most apparent symptom, the person with dementia is experiencing a neurological decline that can lead to a host of other issues. A patient may develop difficult behaviors and moods. For example, a prim and proper grandmother may begin to curse like a sailor. Or a formally trusting gentleman may come to believe that his family is plotting against him or experience other delusions and hallucinations. In the latest stages of most types of dementia, patients become unable to attend to activities of daily living independently. They may become non-communicative, unable to recognize loved ones and even unable to move about.
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Deal With Personal Hygiene And Incontinence
Urinary tract infections, incontinence, constipation these are just some issues the elderly have to deal with. Add to that the tendency to forget the need to go to the toilet or even where the toilet actually is, and a person with dementia has even more trouble. Prominently signpost the toilet with a board of some kind, keep the door open for easy access, and ensure the person with dementia has clothes that are quickly removed using a zipper instead of buttons helps. When it comes to personal hygiene, the fear of falling or becoming disoriented might keep someone from washing regularly. Some patients may allow a caregiver to help with this or be present when they are bathing.14
How To Care For Alzheimers Patients At Home
Taking care of Alzheimers patients requires a lot of patience, diligence, effort, and flexibility. This is because they become more apathy and aggressive as the disease progresses. You have to know that, this is not who they are, the disease has impaired their ability to properly react or act. However, these tips and ideas would help to deal with frustration that you might encounter when dealing with them, or just giving taking care of them
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Always Look For A Professional To Aid You
If you live in the vicinity of a hospital, thats great if anything goes awry and instant medical attention is required, youll know where to look for it and provide it as fast as possible. Alternatively, you should hire a nurse to take of the patient while youre away. Understandably, you cant put your life completely on hold just to take care of them, so the hiring nurse will take some of the burdens off your shoulders so you can tend to your other needs and priorities in life.
Accommodate For Visual Changes
- Diffuse bright light by removing or covering mirrors and glass-top furniture, and cover windows with blinds, shades, or sheer draperies.
- Add extra lighting in entries, outside landings, areas between rooms, stairways and bathrooms because changes in levels of light can be disorienting.
- Place contrasting colored rugs in front of doors or steps to help the individual anticipate staircases and room entrances.
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Home Safety Checklist For Alzheimer’s Disease
Use the following room-by-room checklist to alert you to potential hazards and to record any changes you need to make to help keep a person with Alzheimers disease safe. You can buy products or gadgets necessary for home safety at stores carrying hardware, electronics, medical supplies, and children’s items.
Keep in mind that it may not be necessary to make all of the suggested changes. This article covers a wide range of safety concerns that may arise, and some modifications may never be needed. It is important, however, to re-evaluate home safety periodically as behavior and abilities change.
Connect With A Dementia
In Johns Hopkins Maximizing Independence at Home trial,researchers found that patients who were in contact with a care coordinatorat least once a month for 18 months were 50 percent less likely to move toan institution or pass away than those in the control group. Carecoordinators can help with safety concerns, medical attention, medicationmanagement, legal andadvance-care-planningadvice, nutrition support and more. They can be especially helpful when aloved one is dealing with other medical conditions for which she needstreatmentand research has shown that about 60 percent are.
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