Helping Families Help Their Loved Ones And Themselves
Loved ones with Alzheimers disease or other types of dementia require specialized care and support. Memory loss caused by Alzheimers disease, dementia or another form of memory impairment doesnt only affect the person who has it it affects the entire family. If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care thats needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. Its often difficult to be available to care for your loved ones health and well-being around the clock.
Unicity Healthcare specializes in Alzheimers and Dementia Care. In fact, many renowned healthcare providers and Elderly service providers in New Jersey call on our expertise when dealing with people with Alzheimers/Dementia.
Alzheimers being a progressive disease, it is essential care be supervised and adjusted at each level of Alzheimers disease: the early stage, the middle stage and the late stage. Our Senior Advisors make sure to guide you through the appropriate care alternatives during the progression of the disease.
Not only are our Care Managers dementia experts/practitioners, they have significant experience dealing with Alzheimers clients and their families. They know how to act, interact, provide care, engage, and redirect to provide a safe, happy, and failure-free environment.
The Progression Of Caring For A Loved One With Alzheimers
In the early stages of a loved ones illness, many families marshal their forces and arrange to provide care in a home setting. Initially, the care required is fairly simple and may include giving helpful reminders, re-orienting the person to his or her surroundings, assisting with hygiene, and answering the same or similar question several times.
As the disease advances, a widening scope of symptoms will present themselves, often causing frustration and burn-out on the part of family members. To a significant degree, these reactions can be tempered if caregivers take the time to educate themselves about the disease and its usual symptoms. Patience also is critical, similar to whats needed when dealing with children who require varying amounts of time to learn certain principles.
Of course, in Alzheimers disease, many of those principles will never be fully learned by the loved one, making the need for patience and understanding all the more important.
In most situations, the time will come when caregiving family members must accept that they can no longer adequately look after their loved one. This is not admitting defeat. Rather its acknowledging the fact that the human brain is capable of changes that we can no longer understand, or come up with ways to best serve.
What Is Known About Caregiving For A Person With Alzheimers Disease Or Another Form Of Dementia
People with Alzheimers disease and related dementias are usually cared for by family members or friends. The majority of people with Alzheimers disease and related dementias are receiving care in their homes. Each year, more than 16 million Americans provide more than 17 billion hours of unpaid care for family and friends with Alzheimers disease and related dementias. In 2019, these caregivers will provide an estimated 18.5 billion hours of care. Approximately two-thirds of dementia caregivers are women, about one in three caregivers is age 65 or older, and approximately one-quarter of dementia caregivers are sandwich generation caregivers, meaning that they care not only for an aging parent, but also for children under age 18.
Caregivers of people with Alzheimers and related dementias provide care for a longer duration than caregivers of people with other types of conditions . Well over half of family caregivers of people with Alzheimers and related dementias provide care for four years or more. More than six in ten Alzheimers caregivers expect to continue having care responsibilities for the next 5 years compared with less than half of caregivers of people without dementia .
The demands of caregiving can limit a caregivers ability to take care of themselves. Family caregivers of people with Alzheimers and related dementias are at greater risk for anxiety, depression, and poorer quality of life than caregivers of people with other conditions.
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Preserving Your Loved Ones Independence
Take steps to slow the progression of symptoms. While treatments are available for some symptoms, lifestyle changes can also be effective weapons in slowing down the diseases progression. Exercising, eating and sleeping well, managing stress, and staying mentally and socially active are among the steps that can improve brain health and slow the process of deterioration. Making healthy lifestyle changes alongside your loved one can also help protect your own health and counter the stress of caregiving.
Help with short-term memory loss. In the early stages, your loved one may need prompts or reminders to help them remember appointments, recall words or names, keep track of medications, or manage bills and money, for example. To help your loved one maintain their independence, instead of simply taking over every task yourself, try to work together as a partnership. Let your loved one indicate when they want help remembering a word, for example, or agree to check their calculations before paying bills. Encourage them to use a notebook or smartphone to create reminders to keep on hand.
Dementia: The Impact On Families
This week, we are publishing an article written by one of our USA members, Davida Sassler, who shares her experiences of Lewy Body Dementia and the imapct it has had on her own life and family. It is a courageous blog, and highlights the myths and stigma so many of us still experience when diangsed, especially from our own family and friends. Not only does the health care sector need better education, the community needs it too, and much more than awareness raising through the use of the discourse of tragedy and suffering, as that keeps too many of the myths alive.
People with dementia can, and are living positively with it. This is happening all aropund the world, and we are individually and collectively trying to get rid of the myths and fear of dementia. All we ask is that you see the person, not the dementia, and help us to live in spite of dementia by supporting us to maintain independent lives with disability and other support.
In fact, we simply ask our families and friends to open their hearts, and offer us the same love and support they would if we had been diagnosed with cancer instead of dementia.
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Tips To Help Families Work Together In Dementia Care
1. Communicate RegularlyThe dementia-related behavioral symptoms of Alzheimers disease change often, so its important to communicate with family, especially if you are the primary caregiver and your children, siblings or other family members dont live nearby. Understanding the disease can help facilitate productive conversations. Caregivers need support and you cant get that if youve fallen out of touch. Reach out through a phone call, email, card, letter or even social media.
2. EmpathizeDifficult situations affect everyone differently, so try to understand your familys point of view before getting angry or upset. Approaching the issue this way will help you suggest an appropriate solution that keeps the well-being of your loved one living with dementia at the forefront of decisions being made. Maybe your brother cant emotionally deal with Mom losing her memory. If thats the case, maybe he can help by contributing financially to her care instead.
3. Ask for HelpIf you feel over-burdened by the responsibility of caregiving, inform the rest of your family . Your sibling may assume youre doing just fine handling everything on your own unless you tell them what challenges youre facing and specific ways they can help.
5. Leave Childhood Rivalries BehindEasier said than done, of course, but try to approach the issue as the adult you are now, not as the younger person your siblings and other family members may still see you as.
Communicating With A Person With Dementia: Tips For Carers
- If the person finds verbal communication difficult, speak slightly more slowly and use simple words and sentences. Be more aware of the tone you adopt.
- A person with dementia may use their behaviour and body language to communicate, such as gestures, eye contact and facial expressions. Carers’ non-verbal communication is also important, and the person with dementia can notice or pick up on expressions and gestures.
- Try to maintain eye contact. This will help the person focus on you.
- Try to avoid sudden movements and tense facial expressions, as these may cause upset or distress.
- Try not to stand too close or stand over someone when communicating – it may make them feel intimidated.
- Make sure the person is included in conversations. Try not to speak on their behalf, complete sentences for them or allow others to exclude them.
- Listen to the person. Give them plenty of time, remove distractions like background noise and try to work out the meaning they are trying to convey. The message may be about feelings, not just facts.
- Avoid asking too many direct questions. Consider giving the person options or asking questions with a yes or no answer.
Read more about communicating
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Telling People About Your Dementia Diagnosis
Communication is an important part of any relationship. When you’re ready, tell others about your diagnosis.
It’s also good to tell them what you may have trouble with, such as following a conversation or remembering what was said.
You may find that some people treat you differently than they did before.
This may be because they don’t understand what dementia is or are afraid of the effect on your relationship.
Try to explain what your diagnosis means and the ways in which family and friends can help and support you.
The health or social care professional who helped with your care plan, your GP or a dementia support worker at your local Alzheimer’s Society can help with this if you’d like them to.
Let your friends and family know that you’re still you, even though you have dementia.
Tell them you’re still able to enjoy the activities you did before diagnosis, though some may take longer than they used to.
Read more about activities for dementia.
Discover Our Healthy Tradition Of Care And Wellness
Located adjacent to Lankenau Medical Center, Saunders House part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance has a celebrated tradition of providing exceptional care and services to seniors and their families. Its a tradition were proud to continue.
Today, Saunders House offers a range of services including short-term rehabilitation, traditional nursing care, restorative care, memory care, respite care and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.
For more information on Saunders House, our Short-Term Rehabilitation program and other professional services, please call us today at 658-5100 or contact us online.
Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House/Bryn Mawr Terrace and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.
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Your Resource For Family Support
At Tuscan Gardens of Venetia Bay, we understand the heartache that comes with Alzheimers disease and dementia, shares Clanton. Our community was built upon the values and aspirations we have for our own families well-being, and many of us have witnessed first-hand the familial trials that Alzheimers brings with it.
We are here to help seniors living with memory loss as well as their family members however we can. Whether you and your family are looking for dignified memory care for a loved one, resources on care techniques or simply a community of support made up of compassionate people who understand what youre going through, Tuscan Gardens can help you find just what you need.
Caring For Someone With Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimerâs disease is called a family disease, because the chronic stress of watching a loved one slowly decline affects everyone. An effective treatment will address the needs of the entire family. Caregivers must focus on their own needs, take time for their own health, and get support and respite from caregiving regularly to be able to sustain their well-being during this caregiving journey. Emotional and practical support, counseling, resource information, and educational programs about Alzheimerâs disease all help a caregiver provide the best possible care for a loved one.
Absolutely the easiest thing for someone to say and the hardest thing to accept is the advice to take care of yourself as a caregiver. As stated by one caregiver, âThe care you give to yourself is the care you give to your loved one.â It is often hard to see beyond the care tasks that await you each morning.
Through training, caregivers can learn how to manage challenging behaviors, improve communication skills, and keep the person with Alzheimerâs safe. Research shows that caregivers experience lower stress and better health when they learn skills through caregiver training and participate in a support group . Participation in these groups can allow caregivers to care for their loved one at home longer.
Now it is time to take action, and take stock of the people, services, and information that will help you provide care. The earlier you get support, the better.
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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.
Inheriting The Alzheimers Gene
The gene that is largely responsible for increasing the risk of Alzheimers is called the Apolipoprotein E gene, or the apoE4 gene for short. This gene is involved in making a protein that helps carry cholesterol and vitamins throughout the body . This gene variant does not cause Alzheimers, but rather, is thought to increase the risk of getting the disease.
Although its not completely clear exactly how the apoE4 gene increases the risk of getting Alzheimers, scientists believe it is associated with multiple factors, including environmental factors , genetics and lifestyle factors .
Inheriting one copy of the Alzheimers gene from one parent is said to raise the risk of getting Alzheimers and getting two copies increases a persons risk even more. But, its very important to understand that not everyone who gets the apoE4 gene will be diagnosed with the disease.
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Genetic Testing Not Helpful
When a relative is diagnosed with dementia later in life, family members often wonder if they should be tested for the “Alzheimer’s gene.” The short answer is no. “It can be a quick no or a long no, with more explanation, but the answer is nearly always no,” Dr. Marshall says. “It’s not going to be helpful, since it won’t tell you whether you will develop the disease. It will only tell you if you are at a greater or lower risk.”
For Alzheimer’s disease that begins later in lifethe vast majority of casesa gene called apolipoprotein E is associated with greater risk for dementia. If you inherit one copy of APOE4, your risk triples. If you have two copies, your risk is 10 to 15 times higher .
But having APOE4 does not mean you will definitely develop dementia. Among people who age normally into their 70s, about 25% still have one or more copies of the risk gene. Nor does the absence of APOE4 protect you: about 35% of people with Alzheimer’s don’t have one of the risk genes.
This means that if genetic testing reveals that you have one or more copies of APOE4, it will not tell you what you really want to know: will you definitely get Alzheimer’s diseaseor will you not? Knowing that you have the risk gene could instill fear and negatively influence your life decisions.
Inspiring Wellness Every Day At Lions Gate
Lions Gate, located in Voorhees, NJ, offers a continuum of lifestyle and care options rooted in Jewish traditions and values. Whether you are in need of Independent Living,Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing or Rehabilitation Services, Lions Gate has you covered.
Our mission at Lions Gate is to enrich the lives of those we serve through quality and compassionate care consistent with our heritage and values. We strive to provide programs and services that inspire well-being, as well as social, cultural and spiritual independence.
As a full-service community rich in wellness programs, meaningful experiences and educational opportunities from Lions Gate University, Lions Gate allows residents to connect with those who share their interests and cherished traditions. Our goal is to provide residents with an active, worry-free lifestyle filled with ways to connect with others, pursue their passions and be engaged in everyday life. While we focus on Jewish customs and traditions, we welcome people of all faiths to the Lions Gate family.
Through our affiliation with Jewish Senior Housing and Healthcare Service, we also offer three senior living communities for those with limited incomes.
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