Category: Dementia

The adult child of a senior who has received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis hugs the senior.

Coping With a Loved One’s Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

When a doctor has to break the news of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, it doesn’t just impact the person being diagnosed. It affects all of their loved ones. It’s imperative for family caregivers to allow themselves ample time to prepare for the changes to come and to uncover a healthy way to sort out the assorted emotions that manifest.

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A woman comforts her elderly mother who is experiencing challenging Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Challenging Alzheimer’s Symptoms: What to Avoid

As someone caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you understand the importance of flexibility, patience, and expecting the unexpected. On any given day, the individual could experience a broad range of feelings: agitated, angry, fearful, sad, giddy, or calm. As you adjust your care approach to accommodate the person’s disposition, you also need to juggle management of a host of challenging Alzheimer’s symptoms: wandering, repetitive behaviors and conversations, memory loss, sundowning.

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Alarm Clock

The Risks of Sleep Deprivation in the Elderly & Their Caregivers

Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as people in their 20s, but many elderly people get much less sleep than they need. Common causes of insomnia or trouble sleeping can include health issues such as the pain from arthritis, some medications, and the need for frequent urination. Sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome are also more likely in seniors. A cause we don’t often hear about is that as we age, our body’s internal clock adjusts to earlier sleep and wakeup times. If seniors stay up late, they are likely to wake up at their usual early hour, thus experiencing the side-effects of a sleep-deprived day. While sleep requirements vary slightly for each person, most healthy adults require seven to nine hours of sleep per night. How you feel in the morning is a better indication of what you need. Frequently waking up not feeling rested or feeling tired and wanting to sleep during the day are the best signs that you’re not getting enough sleep. Disturbed sleep and waking up tired are not part of normal aging. It’s important to get to the root cause of sleepless nights because not getting enough sleep carries with it several important health risks and concerns. Sleep deprivation can: Take a toll on nearly every part of your life, no matter how old or young you are. Be as dangerous for drivers as alcohol consumption, adding to the risks affecting a senior’s ability to be a safe driver. Make falls and other accidents more likely. Increase the risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other health issues. Cause depression, attention, and memory problems. Increase the risk of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, and potentially speed their progression. Research suggests that poor sleep can cause dementia and dementia can

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The adult child of a senior experiencing the common behaviors that follow a brain injury puts her arm around the senior as they sit outside.

Are You Familiar With the Common Behaviors That Follow a Brain Injury?

There are many different types of brain injuries, but certain behavioral changes are common no matter what type of injury occurred. Some problematic behaviors may be more or less likely based on the area and severity of the trauma, but a loved one might demonstrate one or more of these common behaviors that follow a brain injury, regardless of the specifics of the injury.

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A cartoon man investigates the brain for signs of a traumatic brain injury.

How the Site of Injury Impacts the Signs of a Traumatic Brain Injury

There’s no other organ in the body more intricate and vital than the brain. It calls all the shots in every part of our body. It runs in the background, keeping us alive, and, in the foreground as the home of our cognizance. This is why, clearly, when a person goes through a traumatic brain injury, there is so much concern. At Dakota Home Care, we understand that being familiar with the signs of a traumatic brain injury in relation to the area in the brain where the trauma took place can help families better understand and make more informed decisions regarding their loved one’s care. Occipital Lobe: Our sight is housed in the occipital lobe. The results of an occipital lobe injury might include vision problems, such as blurred vision or blind spots, hallucinations, visual illusions, the inability to recognize the movement of an object, or challenges with reading and writing. Frontal Lobe: The frontal lobe is home to an individual’s personality, intelligence, and feelings. It is the region of the brain that manages concentration, makes judgments, and solves problems. It also controls body movement, including speech and writing. The effects of a frontal lobe injury can include changes and/or problems with the core functions controlled by the frontal lobe plus more subtle manifestations of the core functionality, like a lack of inhibition, an impaired sense of smell, vision loss, persistence of a single thought, and mood swings. Cerebellum: Our movement, coordination and balance are controlled by the cerebellum. A cerebellum injury can cause an individual to lose the ability to do things that require coordination, such as walking, talking, or reaching out to grab something. It can also cause tremors, dizziness, and/or slurred speech. Parietal Lobe: The parietal lobe controls a variety of functions, including our comprehension of

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Senior man with Alzheimer's looking out the front door

What to Do When Someone With Dementia Wanders

Of the many effects of Alzheimer’s disease, one of the most worrisome is a person’s tendency for wandering and the added danger of becoming confused or lost. When someone with dementia wanders, it could be because they are: Scared, confused, or overwhelmed Trying to find someone or something Bored Trying to preserve a familiar past routine (for example, going to work or shopping) Taking care of a basic need (such as looking for a drink of water or going to the bathroom) The objective is twofold; to help keep the senior safe, and also to make sure their needs are fulfilled to prevent the desire to wander from the outset. Try the following safety measures if your family member is likely to wander: Make sure the residence is equipped with a security system and locks that your senior loved one is not able to master, such as a sliding bolt lock above their range of vision. A variety of alarms can be purchased, from something as straightforward as placing a bell over doorknobs, to highly sensitive pressure mats that will sound an alarm when stepped on, to GPS devices that can be worn, and more. It’s also a good idea to register for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return Program. Conceal exits by covering up doors with curtains, setting portable folding barriers strategically around doorways, or by wallpapering or painting doors to match the surrounding walls. You could try placing “NO EXIT” signs on doors, which can sometimes deter people in the earlier stages of dementia from trying to exit. Another danger for individuals who wander is the increased risk of falling. Assess each room of the house and address any tripping concerns, such as getting rid of throw rugs, electrical cords, and any hindrances that could be blocking walkways, installing

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Daughter hugging happy senior mother

How to Use Nonverbal Communication in Dementia Caregiving

Connecting with a senior loved one struggling with all the challenges of Alzheimer’s, particularly in the middle and later stages, may be frustrating – both for you and for your loved one. Brain changes affect the capacity to hear, process, and respond appropriately to conversations, and it is up to us to put into practice innovative approaches to communicating more successfully. Nonverbal communication in dementia caregiving is often a much more effective technique. What’s promising is, it’s less complicated than it may seem. We already communicate nonverbally in numerous ways: Contact Posture and body motion Eye contact Facial expressions Gestures Personal space Test these strategies to include increased nonverbal communication in your interactions with a loved one: Offer reassurance through caring touch. If a loved one is comfortable with touch, hold and pat the senior’s hand, rub the person’s back, put an arm around their shoulders, and share warm hugs. Look the senior in the eye. Eye contact expresses interest in the individual, even if no words are spoken aloud. Honor personal boundaries. Avoid intimidating the person by allowing adequate personal space, and making sure you are at the very same level as the senior, never towering over them. Your face should be at eye level with the other person. Maintain a peaceful, patient, and positive attitude. Curb any anger, aggravation, or impatience, and concentrate on keeping a relaxed and pleasant expression on your face when with the person. If this is problematic based on difficult behaviors, walk away briefly and practice deep breathing or some other relaxation strategies, such as: Square breathing: Use a finger to trace the shape of a square in front of you. When tracing the first side, breathe in deeply for a count of three; for the following side, hold your breath for one second;

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Alz Awareness

Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

Nationally, November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, a time to heighten awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and show support for the more than 6.2 million Americans living with it. President Reagan first made this designation in 1983 after recognizing the need for heightened awareness of the disease. He was diagnosed with the disease, himself. While there were less than two million Americans living with Alzheimer’s at that time, the number has since increased to nearly six million. It is more important than ever to raise awareness and funds to help find a cure.* Alzheimer’s Awareness at Dakota Home Care Dakota Home Care is committed to supporting Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness. We respectfully provide specialized care for clients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. We work with the local Alzheimer’s Association for education and training and facilitate home consults with their specialists. We provide in-house, online, and hands-on training for caregivers. Through our blog, we also raise awareness about dementia and caring for those who have it. You can learn more about 12 related topics by clicking on these blog links: Eating and Nutrition Difficulties with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias Managing Anger and Aggression in Loved Ones with Dementia Activities for Loved Ones or Clients who Have Alzheimer’s In-Home Dementia Care: Is It Time to Find Help for a Loved One? (dakotahomecare.com) Creating Moments of Joy Along the Alzheimer’s Journey Can Lifestyle Changes Affect the Onset or Progress of Alzheimer’s Disease? Driving with Dementia: When Is It Time to Stop? Living with Alzheimer’s: How to Maintain Relationships Alzheimer’s Progression: Is It Possible to Predict? Tests for Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease: New Advancements (dakotahomecare.com) Tips for Communicating with Mid to Late-Stage Alzheimer’s Sufferers (dakotahomecare.com) An Alzheimer’s Breakthrough That May Slow Disease Progression (dakotahomecare.com)   World Alzheimer’s Day is Sept. 21st. In Sept. 2022, my

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Happy senior woman doing yoga outside

Exercises for Each Stage of Dementia

The multitude of benefits of exercise are clear, but what is not as well recognized is that exercise for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can be particularly helpful in various ways. It can help reduce the risk for muscle weakness as well as other issues that stem from inactivity, can reduce the impact of emotional and behavioral changes, and more. What’s important is to choose exercises for each stage of dementia that are appropriate to the individual’s particular ability level in order to reap these benefits. As with anyone who is interested in starting a new exercise program, a doctor should first be consulted. After that, try integrating more physical activity into each day for a senior loved one with dementia, implementing the following strategies in accordance with the appropriate stage associated with the disease: First Stages Seniors in the first stages of Alzheimer’s can enjoy relatively active and social exercises, such as dancing, swimming, bowling, golf, and walking, though some degree of guidance and oversight may be needed. In time, enhanced supervision will probably be required as the disease progresses. Mid to Later Stages The mid to later stages of Alzheimer’s disease are often associated with elevated levels of confusion and anxiety. For that reason, loud or overly exciting activities should be avoided. Repetitive exercises, such as indoor bicycling and walking, and tasks like folding laundry, help to reduce anxiety levels as the older adult does not have to make any decisions related to the activity or try to remember what to do next. Advanced Stages During the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, children’s toys may be well suited for encouraging hand-eye coordination. These toys are usually brightly colored, easy to hold, and are designed to stimulate the brain. Additionally, stress balls or soft clay-like products

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Elderly Eating

Eating and Nutrition Difficulties with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias

Eating can be difficult for people with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. They may have difficulty feeding themselves, resist being fed, don’t recognize food they are given, have trouble chewing and swallowing. They don’t know they are thirsty or forget to drink. They may even try to eat non-food. Many people with Alzheimer’s want to eat only childhood comfort foods. Regular nutritious meals become more and more of a challenge. Unintended weight loss is common. Many seniors develop problems that make them not want to eat or make it hard to maintain good nutrition, even if they don’t have a specific type of dementia. Click to read our blog “Why Seniors Don’t Want to Eat & What You Can Do About it.” It’s not surprising that many of these same challenges are also present in people with dementia: Poor appetite – not motivated to eat; nothing looks good Chewing and swallowing problems; choking and food aspiration Fatigue—too much effort, lack of eye-hand coordination Missing or broken teeth; ill-fitting dentures Medication side-effects Loneliness or depression This  blog also contains strategies for dealing with eating challenges. Below are some challenges experienced more specifically by people with dementia and strategies for their caregivers. Taking Medication Remembering which medications to take and when becomes a problem. In the early stages, putting pills in a pill box marked with the days of the week can help your loved one and a caregiver see that the pills for the day have been taken. At first, my husband who was diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s, could fill the pill boxes himself. I kept a close eye on him and discovered that, before long, he would sometimes miss a pill or put two of the same ones in one day’s box. I started filling the morning and night

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Man and woman

Managing Anger and Aggression in Loved Ones with Dementia

An essential skill for family and professional caregivers is knowing how to prevent and cope with anger and aggression in those with dementia. If you feel like you’ve reached your limit, know that there are specialists at Dakota Home Care that can help. You are not alone in what you are experiencing, and there is help.  Not all people with dementia experience personality changes, but when someone with dementia becomes angry, they may raise their voice, yell, scream, throw things, or become combative and hit, kick or push you. Dementia damages the brain’s ability to manage anger, which is called disinhibition. This can cause patients to lash out because they feel ignored, mistreated, or as though they are in danger. Frustration at being unable to complete simple tasks that used to be easy can be another cause. Anger or aggression can’t always be prevented, but try these prevention tips: Avoid or quickly resolve triggers like these: Not being able to recognize you or another person Disorientation caused by not understanding why you’re trying to help Fatigue, hunger, thirst, or physical discomfort that they can’t identify or express Make eye contact. Take three minutes to establish a rapport by talking before acting Explain one step at a time or demonstrate what you’re going to do to help before you do it Simplify decision making or don’t expect them to make most decisions for themselves. Reduce stimuli and interaction that your loved one is uncomfortable with Avoid loud noises and large crowds made up of people they don’t know Stay as calm as you can so they won’t mirror your irritability and stress Don’t touch them until they seem calm and ready for interaction Stick to a schedule, slow down, and when possible, avoid a sudden change in environment Treat them with respect, even

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Activity Walking

Activities for Loved Ones or Clients who Have Alzheimer’s

As loved ones or patients who have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia slowly lose the ability to plan, initiate and complete even simple things to keep busy and engaged, families and home health professionals often need ideas for activities that the person can do or that a caregiver can do with them.  It can be especially difficult to find meaningful activities for Alzheimer’s that will contribute to the person’s mental health and physical well-being, rather than just a time-filler, like watching TV for hours on end. “The biggest thing to remember with a person with dementia is that they’re a person with dementia,” says Cameron Camp, Director and Senior Research Scientist, Myers Research Institute. “There will always be part of that individual who wants to help, participate, and succeed. Although as the caregiver you will want to find activities that take into account lost abilities, you should always focus on the person and not the disease. Even if your loved one does not remember the activity or the joy he feels from taking part in a project, big or small, it leaves a positive effect and contributes to an overall sense of happiness.” (See our review of the book “Creating Moments of Joy Along the Alzheimer’s Journey” for more advice and ideas.) Contact us online or call us at (877) 691-0015 to learn more about how we can help with in home caregiver services. Start with these basic guidelines for choosing activities: Consider interests and abilities and try to find activities that match up. This may become increasingly difficult as dementia progresses and formerly enjoyed activities become impossible to do, so don’t feel guilty if you’re having a hard time. Sometimes all you can do is focus on keeping your loved one safe and content. Follow familiar routines that create

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Protein Shake

Why Seniors Don’t Want to Eat & What You Can Do About It

Many seniors are not eating a balanced diet as they age, whether they live on their own, with family or in a senior living facility. Seniors who live alone are at increased risk because there is no one to observe their eating habits. There are many causes for why seniors don’t want to eat, why they’re under-eating, over-eating or not eating nutritious meals. By the time he was 97, my father had multiple problems that made it difficult for him to eat a balanced diet. During the last few months of his life, the only thing he ate willingly was strawberry ice cream. The assisted living center he called home provided 3 nutritious meals a day and snacks in between meals on request. They were very accommodating with his diet–limiting sweets and carbs, cutting everything into small pieces and eliminating foods known to be a choking or swallowing hazard. However, unless a family member was there with him at meal time to encourage him to eat or even help to feed him, he rarely ate vegetables and expended most of his energy and appetite on small bites of protein and the ice cream that easily slipped down his throat. Causes of poor nutrition Some of Dad’s problems could be similar to what’s causing your elderly loved one to under-eat, over-eat or not eat a balanced diet. Watch for these risks and hazards interfering with a balanced diet, and consider what can be done to prevent or get around them: Poor appetite – not motivated to eat: Many seniors’ sense of smell and taste diminish with age. Nothing looks good or tastes good, and often times there’s no one there to direct them toward healthy choices and encourage them to “eat to live.” They often don’t associate what they are eating

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When to Take Over Finances for Elderly Parents

The National Council on Aging suggests that planning for the inevitable need to take over your parents’ finances should begin with a family meeting, ideally while they’re in their early 60s. Another watermark can be when they retire. Even if those years have passed, family caregivers should still be on the lookout for signs that “the time has come!” One thing is sure, you mustn’t let any awkwardness you feel prevent you from stepping in to assist, because if you don’t, others will, and they probably don’t have your parents’ best interests in mind. What You Need to Know Even if you currently have no worries about your parents’ physical or mental health, start to familiarize yourself with their finances. The sooner you integrate yourself into that element of their lives, the more comfortable they’ll be including you in important decisions, and the easier it will be to take full control when the time is right. It’s never too soon to gather the information you’ll need, so you will have it when your elderly parents can no longer take care of their finances. This is a list of 10 pretty standard things that all family members should know:  If they have named a durable power of attorney (POA) to manage their finances Where they keep their financial records and how you can access them Their bank account numbers and the names of their financial institutions What their monthly expenses are How they pay their bills: by check, auto pay, online banking, etc. What their annual income is, and where it comes from Who has permission to manage their Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security accounts Do they have medical health insurance in addition to Medicare Do they have long-term care insurance How to contact their accountant, financial planner or attorney Not

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For World Alzheimer’s Month, Let’s Raise Awareness and Challenge the Stigma

World Alzheimer’s Month is the international campaign held every September by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia. World Alzheimer’s Day is on September 21st. Two out of every three people globally believe there is little or no understanding of dementia in their countries. The impact of World Alzheimer’s Month is growing, but the stigmatization and misinformation that surrounds dementia remains a global problem requiring global action. World Alzheimer’s Month seeks to unite opinion leaders, people with dementia, caregivers and family, medical professionals, researchers and the media from all around the world. More information about the campaign can be found at https://www.worldalzmonth.org/ . Dementia is a collective name for progressive degenerative brain syndromes that affect memory, thinking, behavior and emotion. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type, affecting up to 90% of people living with dementia. Other types include vascular, Lewy bodies and frontal-temporal dementia. Raising Awareness Dakota Home Care is committed to supporting the goals of World Alzheimer’s Month. We respectfully provide specialized home care assistance for clients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. We work with the local Alzheimer’s Association for education and training and facilitate home consults with their specialists. We provide in-house, online and hands-on training for caregivers. Through our blog, we also raise awareness about dementia and caring for those who have it. You can learn more about these 10 related topics by clicking on the links: Increase Your Understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease Can Lifestyle Changes Affect the Onset or Progress of Alzheimer’s Disease? Alzheimer’s Progression: Is It Possible to Predict? Diagnosing Dementia—a Personal Story “Why did I do that!?!” Caring for a person with impaired judgment and decision-making ability. How to Make Your Home More Comfortable for a loved One with Dementia Why a Daily Routine Is Important

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