Some Suggestions For Reminiscence Topics
There is no topic that is entirely straightforward for everyone to discuss, although food and holidays might be safer themes to start with than wartime or childhood if you are running a series of groups. There is a wide range of other topics to choose from, for example:
- working life: first jobs, best jobs, wages and working conditions, bosses, colleagues, uniforms
- home life: housework, children, hobbies and interests keeping warm: sharing memories of winter times without central heating!
- transport: first cars, buses, trams, significant journeys
- the local neighbourhood: favourite shops or shopkeepers, markets, street traders , significant places in the community such as the town square, the library or the post office.
Distraction: Singing & Reading
For some people, a distraction can be a good way to get the chore done. Its kind of a different communication style that helps in distressing situations. For example, if a patient and/or loved one likes singing, starting him/her singing could allow the caregiver and/or family member to ease into bathing time with a gesture.
Singing actually can help tremendously with memory loss patients and/or loved ones who can no longer talk, or have trouble finding words to form sentences, because they are usually still able to sing a song. Often, they can remember the lyrics of a song from beginning to end.
Many patients and/or loved ones can still read as well. Singing and reading can give the person great joy and hearing a loved ones voice can very comforting for family members.
What Have You Been Told About Your Illness
Of the 30 participants, 20 reported that nobody had ever talked with them about their illness. Only 5 had had an opportunity to discuss it with their physicians. Sometimes the information was provided by nurses and friends but never by the family members. Only 1 participant said that she had been told her diagnosis. In 2 cases, the professionals attempted to reassure the patients and advised them to take prescribed medication. Three participants reported clearly untrue explanations allegedly given by their physicians: hearing impairment, angina pectoris, and bereavement had been suggested as responsible for their present conditions. Two participants declared that the content of the information they were given was insulting . Two participants either did not remember or could not understand what the informers had been trying to tell them.
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Taking Care Of Caregivers
The team at Amica Senior Lifestyles also has a number of tips for the loved ones and caregivers of dementia patients.
Those include building a base of knowledge to help them gain perspective on the challenges seniors with dementia face. Researchers advise caregivers to create strategies that create joy and minimize triggers that may distress an Alzheimers patient. Family members can also track activities that help comfort a senior with dementia, like soothing music or viewing old photos.
People providing support also need support themselves. The teams recommends that family and other caregivers connect with others in similar positions. Its important to ask for a break to avoid burnout, frustration, and feelings of guilt or grief.
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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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?
Tips For Everyday Care For People With Dementia
Early on in Alzheimers and related dementias, people experience changes in thinking, remembering, and reasoning in a way that affects daily life and activities. Eventually, people with these diseases will need more help with simple, everyday tasks. This may include bathing, grooming, and dressing. It may be upsetting to the person to need help with such personal activities. Here are a few tips to consider early on and as the disease progresses:
- Try to keep a routine, such as bathing, dressing, and eating at the same time each day.
- Help the person write down to-do lists, appointments, and events in a notebook or calendar.
- Plan activities that the person enjoys and try to do them at the same time each day.
- Consider a system or reminders for helping those who must take medications regularly.
- When dressing or bathing, allow the person to do as much as possible.
- Buy loose-fitting, comfortable, easy-to-use clothing, such as clothes with elastic waistbands, fabric fasteners, or large zipper pulls instead of shoelaces, buttons, or buckles.
- Use a sturdy shower chair to support a person who is unsteady and to prevent falls. You can buy shower chairs at drug stores and medical supply stores.
- Be gentle and respectful. Tell the person what you are going to do, step by step while you help them bathe or get dressed.
- Serve meals in a consistent, familiar place and give the person enough time to eat.
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Sharing Your Struggles And Receiving Help Is Important
Millions of caregivers make every effort to do the task of caregiving well, and some end up doing it mostly alone. These caregivers often have no idea how exhausted there are, and if they do, they may feel like their fatigue doesn’t matter anyway because they have a job to do.
Instead of barely hanging on, day after day, seek out home healthcare services, adult daycare facilities, respite care, and support and encouragement groups for caregivers. These resources for dementia care can help you to be a better caregiver by refilling your cup of available energy.
Feel like you have nowhere to turn for help? Contact the Alzheimer’s Association. They have a 24-hour helpline , and their listening ears and knowledge of local resources can provide you with direction and practical resources for your specific situation and community. Caregivers who have finally accessed some support look back and say how very helpful this was to maintaining their own physical and emotional health through the process.
Can Dementia Be Prevented Or Avoided
There is little you can do to prevent or avoid dementia. If you have a head injury or brain tumor, ask your doctor if there are lifestyle changes you can make. Youll want to take precautions to avoid additional head trauma or concussions. If youre at risk of stroke, talk to your doctor about possible preventions.
Currently, the American Academy of Family Physicians concludes that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for cognitive impairment.
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Use A Range Of Things To Stimulate Memories
For people with cognitive difficulties, it is important to tap into all the senses to trigger memories. A picture to look at, an object to touch, a song or a poem to listen to or something to smell or taste can all take someone back in time, often to a very specific memory.
If you know the person well enough, you will know the kinds of things that might relate to their past. If you know someone has been in the army, a picture of a person in an army uniform from a similar period to when they were in the forces might spark their interest. If you are working with a person from the Caribbean, offering some sorrel and ginger tea or playing some Caribbean or steel band music might be a good starting point. Reading an extract from an old book or a newspaper can also stimulate memories.
What Are Some Other Typical Dementia Behaviors
In addition to aggression, confusion, sleep problems and wandering, symptoms of dementia can also include delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, depression, apathy and sexual inappropriateness. And, behavioral dementia symptoms tend to occur more frequently as the dementia progresses.
Up to 90% of patients have one or more of these symptoms during the course of their disease, studies show. It is important to discuss all dementia symptoms with your loved ones physician to rule out or treat any medical conditions that could be causing the behavior.
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Things To Try When Someone With Dementia Stops Recognising You
Often, people with dementia stop recognising those around them. Our dementia specialist Admiral Nurses share their advice on coping with this difficult stage.
As dementia progresses, some people stop recognising people they know even close friends and family. This can be upsetting for the person with dementia and for the people who are no longer recognised.
Not everyone with dementia will have difficulty recognising people, though for example, its more common in people with Alzheimers disease, and rarer in those with vascular dementia.
Sometimes, a lack of recognition of friends and family is a memory issue. A person with dementia may appear to travel back in time, reliving memories from when they were younger. They might expect grown-up children to be small again, or think their parents are still alive, or believe theyre still working, or in a relationship with a previous partner or spouse.
In other cases, the part of the brain that is responsible for recognising faces can become damaged. This is referred to as prosopagnosia or face blindness.
If a person with dementia is failing to recognise you or others for the first time, or seems distressed in your company, there may be another underlying cause, such as an infection, constipation or a reaction to medication changes. Its a good idea to make an appointment with their GP to rule out other causes that could be treatable.
Too Many Medications Can Make People Feel And Act More Confused
While medications are, of course, prescribed to help people, too many drugs can hurt people instead, causing disorientation and memory loss. Oftentimes, a medication might be ordered for someone with the intention of treating something briefly and then be continued unintentionally for months or years without a need.
Instead, when you go to the doctor, be sure to bring in a list of all of the medications that your loved one is taking and ask if each one is still needed. Include all vitamins and supplements since some of them can affect how medications work, or they can interact with the chemicals in the medications. Side effects of certain medications are sometimes significant and can interfere with cognitive functioning. It’s worth asking for a thorough review of all of the medications to ensure that they’re truly helping, and not hurting, your loved one.
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How Is Dementia Diagnosed
Your doctor will do a physical exam and review your symptoms. He or she can do tests to find out if dementia is the cause of your symptoms. The sooner you do this, the sooner you can talk about treatment options.
If your family member shows signs, try to get them to see a doctor. You may want to go to the visit with them. This lets you speak with the doctor in private. You can tell them how your loved one is acting and learn about treatment.
Tips To Help Manage Dementia Sleep Problems
There are ways to help your loved on get a better nights sleep, Hashmi says.
Avoid things that disrupt sleep.
- Limit caffeine, alcohol, and sugar near bedtime.
- Avoid over-the-counter sleep aids. Instead, Hashmi suggests you talk to a doctor about whether melatonin might help your loved one sleep.
- Remove electronics from the bedroom.
Create a routine that supports sleep.
- Make sure your loved one gets enough daytime light to help with circadian rhythms.
- Change into comfortable clothing, signaling nighttime.
- Consider warm milk, a hot shower, relaxing music or reading before bed.
- Pick a bedtime not too late and stick with it every night.
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Have The Difficult Conversations About Medical Decisions And Choices
It can, understandably, be very hard to think about an uncertain future after a dementia diagnosis. You may need some time to absorb and process the information.
However, instead of avoiding the uncomfortable conversation about medical decisions and power of attorney documents, take the time to discuss these important choices. Have that talk with your loved one who has dementia sooner rather than later . Why? Not having to guess about medical decisions and personal preferences can afford you with much more peace of mind, knowing that you are honoring their choices.
Causes Of Hallucinations And Delusions
Hallucinations and delusions can be the result of the changes that dementia causes in the brain, but there are several other potential causes. Too much stimulation in the environment , unfamiliar places and people, a variation in routine, and interactions between medications can all contribute to hallucinations and delusions.
Delusions are frequently the result of suspicion or paranoia on the part of the individual with dementia. Memory loss and confusion from the progression of dementia play into it. For instance, if someone with dementia forgot where he put down his glasses, because of poor memory and lack of awareness, he may decide someone stole them.
Hallucinations are sometimes present in a phenomenon called sundowning, which is characterized by increased anxiety in someone with dementia that hits late in the day, typically around sunset. Poor lighting and bad eyesight can cause shadows, and an individual with dementia might get startled by something that wasnt really there.
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Tips For Handling A Seniors Aggression
Most importantly, try not to take the aggressive behavior personally, Hashmi says.
The classic line I always use is that this is the disease talking. It is not the person, Hashmi says. There is a lack of awareness in that moment. Its not your mom or dad or spouse saying that. Its the disease.
When you are faced with a loved ones aggression, Hashmi suggests employing these 4 Rs:
When theyre feeling calmer, Hashmi says, you can try asking yes/no questions to help determine whether an unmet need is causing the behavior. Ask: Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Are you in pain? Are you tired?
Activities For People With Alzheimers
This can include activities such as:
- Movie Night
- Pet, music and art therapy.
- Plant potting classes
- Baking Class
Because many people remember things in different ways some of these tips will be more effective than other for some people. Its important to try each method and determine which strategies are best for your individual needs. Keep in mind though, Alzheimers symptoms can progress or change over time, so something thats effective today might change in the future.
While dealing with progressive diseases such as Alzheimers or dementia can be difficult, these tips can help you remember what needs to be done and make it a little easier to keep track of your day to day tasks.
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