Problem : Not Taking Care Of Ones Teeth
- Suffer memory loss
- Dislike help because he or she feels theyre being treated like an infant or out of control
- Have dexterity problems
- Visit a dentist twice a year to check for cavities, gum infections, dangerously cracked teeth, ill-fitting dentures, and the like. Make sure the office knows the person has dementia, to book adequate time. For tough cases, ask for a referral to a geriatric dentist who has experience working with dementia patients.
- Incorporate toothbrushing into the daily routine, such as when getting dressed or ready for bed . If it becomes a battle, pick the persons most cooperative time of day. Try brushing your teeth at the same time.
- Use the same brand of toothpaste the person has always used, if you can. Apply it to the brush for him or her.
Planning For The Future: Tips For Caregivers
Making health care decisions for someone who is no longer able to do so can be overwhelming. Thats why it is important to plan health care directives in advance. To help plan for the future, you can:
- Start discussions early with your loved one so they can be involved in the decision-making process.
- Get permission in advance to talk to the doctor or lawyer of the person youre caring for, as needed. There may be questions about care, a bill, or a health insurance claim. Without consent, you may not be able to get needed information.
- Consider legal and financial matters, options for in-home care, long-term care, and funeral and burial arrangements.
Learning about your loved ones disease will help you know what to expect as the dementia progresses and what you can do.
Know The Type Of Dementia
What we mostly talk about is Alzheimers disease because it is the most common , says Alterman. But, she points out, there are many other types of dementia. Each form of dementia follows a different course over time. And each type, in combination with other health conditions your loved one may have, could require different approaches to management, either at home or in a memory care community. Getting a correct diagnosis and learning about the type of dementia your loved one has will help you plan.
At this stage, you might want to create a binder that will contain contact information for everyone involved in your loved ones health care, including medical personnel, as well as information about the dementia and working documents related to the steps youre taking to create a dementia care plan.
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What Is Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers disease is the most common form of a group of brain diseases called dementias. Alzheimers disease accounts for 60% to 80% of dementia cases. Other forms of dementia include vascular dementia, mixed dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, and frontotemporal dementia.
Alzheimers disease, like all dementias, gets worse over time and there is no known cure. Nearly 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimers disease. Alzheimers disease destroys brain cells causing problems with memory, thinking, and behavior that can be severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies, and social life. Eventually, it can affect ones ability to carry out routine daily activities. Today, it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It is the fifth leading cause of death for those aged 65 years and older.
For more information, see www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/facts-figuresexternal icon.
Keep Up Social Connections Just 10 Minutes A Day Can Help
Things like music therapy or just playing some pleasing, quiet music, a massage, or exercise can help the mood and behavior of some people with dementia. Unfortunately, the research on these alternative therapies is not far-reaching enough to suggest them as treatment or therapy for dementia patients, but you could see if these work for your loved one.11
Encourage people to visit and meet with the patient. Sometimes the embarrassment or fear of others seeing the changed behavior, personality, and memory of the individual can be discouraging when it comes to having visitors. Overcome this, because these relationships are crucial. Keep up their routines and hobbies and interests as much as possible. If they were a weekly church-goer, go to church with them. If they liked walking in the park every evening, they should continue to do so, but with someone to help them if they forget their way home. Keep up as much of a semblance of normalcy as you can. As one study found, the impact this can have is huge! Researchers found that dementia patients who indulged in as little as 60 minutes of conversation every week which translates to an average of 8.5 minutes a day saw reduced agitation levels. This also cut down the perception of pain they were living with.12
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Tips For Home Safety For People With Dementia
As a caregiver or family member to a person with Alzheimers or related dementias, you can take steps to make the home a safer place. Removing hazards and adding safety features around the home can help give the person more freedom to move around independently and safely. Try these tips:
- If you have stairs, make sure there is at least one handrail. Put carpet or safety grip strips on stairs, or mark the edges of steps with brightly colored tape so they are more visible.
- Insert safety plugs into unused electrical outlets and consider safety latches on cabinet doors.
- Clear away unused items and remove small rugs, electrical cords, and other items the person may trip over.
- Make sure all rooms and outdoor areas the person visits have good lighting.
- Remove curtains and rugs with busy patterns that may confuse the person.
- Remove or lock up cleaning and household products, such as paint thinner and matches.
Anger Experienced By Carers
It is natural to feel frustrated and angry. You may be angry at having to be the caregiver, angry with others who do not seem to be helping out, angry at the person with dementia for difficult behaviour and angry at support services.
Sometimes, you may feel like shaking, pushing or hitting the person with dementia. Feelings of distress, frustration, guilt, exhaustion and annoyance are quite normal. If you feel that you are losing control, it may help to discuss your feelings with your doctor or an Alzheimerâs Australia counsellor.
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Being Patient Spoke With Sima Schoen From The Family Caregivers Alliance About One Of Her Most Frequently Asked Questions: Can I Get Paid For Being A Family Caregiver
Millions of Americans live with Alzheimers and other forms of dementia and millions more take care of them. By 2050, cases of Alzheimers are expected to triple, meaning millions more children, other family members, and friends may find themselves with a new job that can take many hours each week, and sometimes, every bit of energy and patience we have. Caregivers are under huge amounts of stress and anxiety under normal circumstances and especially now in the midst of a pandemic. And recent studies show that nearly three quarters of the caregivers experience mild to severe interruption of their jobs, and more than 40 percent may spend more than 10 hours a week providing care. Many people serving as caregivers for loved ones need to ask: Is there a way to get paid for being a family caregiver?
Being Patient spoke to Sima Schoen from the Family Caregivers Alliance about ways caregivers can earn compensation for their time assisting their loved ones.
BEING PATIENT: Could you explain your role at the Family Caregivers Alliance?
SIMA SCHOEN: Im the National Caregiver Resource Specialist. We have people calling in from all over the country, and I answer the call for all of the states except for California. People who are taking care of family members usually call, and sometimes the person who needs the care, the care recipient, is calling, but they all want information about what services are available in their state. I provide that information to the best of my ability.
Tips To Create Successful Activities For Dementia Patients
1. Build on activities the person with dementia has always enjoyed.
A bridge player may no longer be able to keep up, but she may enjoy holding cards and playing a simpler game, such as Old Maid or Solitaire. But introduce new ideas, too, to see what clicks.
2. Aim for the sweet spot not too easy, not too hard.
If an activity is too simplistic or childish , the person might feel insulted or bored. If it requires remembering sequences or is otherwise above the persons cognitive level, it will frustrate and turn her off.
3. Take common changes of dementia into account.
The attention span shortens. Changes in recent memory make it hard to follow activities with multiple steps or instructions . Less self-critical people with dementia may be more open to art. Musical ability tends to be very well retained.
4. Take glitches in stride.
Dont be a stickler for things being done the right way or according to rules. If it bothers you that dishes are rinsed improperly, for example, redo them yourself later without comment. The main consideration should be how the activity makes the person feel: involved, purposeful, successful.
5. Look patient, act patient, be patient.
6. Dont challenge or argue.
7. Make activities routine.
If an activity is a hit, do it every day or two. Or do the same thing, slightly modified: folding towels one day, sheets the next. Pursue categories of activities at about the same time every day to add comforting structure to the day.
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Who Can Benefit From Palliative Care
As mentioned, palliative care is meant for people who have long-term or severe illnesses. It’s not only meant for people who have a terminal condition the way hospice usually is palliative care isn’t only end-of-life care. It’s true that some elements of palliative care can work for people who are reaching the end of their lives. But it can also help you if you frequently stay in the hospital because of a health condition or if you visit the emergency room often due to your illness. If you have a health condition that you feel is negatively impacting your day-to-day living and want to see improvements in multiple areas of your life, palliative care may be for you.
Palliative care is an option for people with a wide variety of chronic illnesses. People who experience strokes, kidney failure, cancer or congestive heart failure often receive palliative care. Palliative care is also a common choice for people who have AIDS, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and other conditions that don’t have cures yet. It can be especially effective if you’re getting treatments, such as chemotherapy for cancer, that cause their own uncomfortable symptoms.
Recognize Triggers For Difficult Behavior And Stay Calm
If the delusions someone with dementia experiences are severe and may put them or you, the caregiver, at possible risk or harm, it is best to speak to a doctor to see if some medication may be needed.6
A person with dementia can be susceptible to depression, anxiety, agitation, hallucinations, aggression, and loss of inhibition.7 While anxiety and depression issues may need to be dealt with the help of a trained mental health professional, the other behavior may have to be managed by you. You can cope with difficult behavior like aggression by:8
- Identifying triggers for the behavior to see if they can be fixed. Pain can often be the cause for the unusual behavior.
- Staying calm.
- Not taking the behavior personally. It is not directed at you, but just an expression of the emotions or confusion the patient is experiencing. This may be especially hard to do if the dementia has made them suspicious and theyre accusing you of things like theft, infidelity, or inappropriate behavior.
- Avoiding arguments and confrontation.
- Accepting this as a symptom of the illness as you would any other symptom of a disease.
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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.
Understand Behavioral Changes In Lewy Body Dementia
Behavioral and mood problems in people with LBD can arise from hallucinations, delusions, pain, illness, stress, or anxiety. They may also be the result of frustration, fear, or feeling overwhelmed. The person may resist care or lash out verbally or physically.
Hallucinations and delusions are among the biggest challenges for LBD caregivers. The person with LBD may not understand or accept that the hallucinations are not real and may become agitated or anxious. Instead of arguing, caregivers can help by responding to the fears expressed. By tuning in to the person’s emotions, caregivers can offer empathy and concern, maintain the person’s dignity, and limit further tension.
Caregivers can try a variety of strategies to handle such challenging behaviors. Some behavioral problems can be managed by making changes in the person’s environment and/or treating medical conditions. Other problems may require medication.
Itâs also common for people with LBD to have difficulty falling asleep. Certain sleep problems can be addressed without medications. Increasing daytime exercise or activities and avoiding lengthy or frequent naps can promote better sleep. Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, or chocolate late in the day can help, too. Some over-the-counter medications can also affect sleep, so review all medications and supplements with a physician.
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Dont Forget To Care For Yourself Too
Joining a carers group can be a good way for you to find people who truly relate to the situation you are in. It is a good place to share and talk it out or learn coping mechanisms others use to care for those with dementia. Social services or a dementia adviser or counselor can direct you to a local group. Alternatively, there are plenty of online support groups you could consider joining.17
When you are close to someone with dementia you may find yourself asking why me. You may also get upset, angry, or frustrated, and possibly even feel guilty about thinking this way. At times, you may feel you are losing the love or affection you have for that person as these emotions take control. On the flip side, you may also feel guilty for taking time out to do something for yourself, or about losing your temper at them or not being kind enough. Dont beat yourself up about it. This is as hard on you as it is on the person you love who has dementia. And you need downtime too. Some of these things could help:18
Tips For Caregivers: Taking Care Of Yourself
Being a caregiver can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming. Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia takes time and effort. It can feel lonely and frustrating. You might even feel angry, which could be a sign you are trying to take on too much. It is important to find time to take care of yourself. Here are some tips that may offer some relief:
- Ask for help when you need it. This could mean asking family members and friends to help or reaching out to for additional care needs.
- Eat nutritious foods, which can help keep you healthy and active for longer.
- Join a caregiver’s support group online or in person. Meeting other caregivers will give you a chance to share stories and ideas and can help keep you from feeling isolated.
- Take breaks each day. Try making a cup of tea or calling a friend.
- Spend time with friends and keep up with hobbies.
- Get exercise as often as you can. Try doing yoga or going for a walk.
- Try practicing meditation. Research suggests that practicing meditation may reduce blood pressure, anxiety and depression, and insomnia.
- Consider seeking help from mental health professionals to help you cope with stress and anxiety. Talk with your doctor about finding treatment.
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Know What To Expect: The Changing Needs And Habits Of Someone With Dementia
If someone has dementia, you might at first assume it may only impact their ability to remember things or learn. But this has more far-reaching impact than youd imagine. As the illness progresses, you may notice changes in these areas:3
- Eating patterns, likes, and dislikes
- Continence or ability to control when they answer natures call
- Sleeping habits
While this can be unnerving, it is something that can be managed with awareness, practice, and the right help. What follows are some guidelines and tips that could make the experience of caring for a loved one with dementia a little easier on you and them.