Creating Fun and Meaningful Moments for Elders with Dementia

Fun, meaningful activities are as important to the well-being of an individual living with dementia as they are for anyone. Bringing children and elders together can provide endless opportunities for creating moments of joy and mutual engagement. With a little planning, you can set the stage for fun, meaningful activities that support the strengths and abilities of individuals with dementia while growing compassion in children.

When I look back at caregiving with my mother-­‐in-­‐law who lived for many years with dementia and died from dementia, I remember both tough times and joyful times. The toughest times hurt and made me feel sad. The sadness stemmed from the loss and grief that I was feeling. The joyful times lifted my spirits and made me feel happy. The happiness stemmed from loving interactions and moments of connection. People with dementia experience these same feelings for the very same reasons. It is important to note; that individuals with dementia, are able to feel sadness and happiness longer than they are able to remember what caused the feeling. (more…)

By | April 3rd, 2017|Caregiver Connection, Caregiving|0 Comments

Silver Alerts – Physician Documentation Required

Did you know that Texas Silver Alert legislation requires documentation of the missing person’s mental condition, prior to issuing an alert?  If the family/legal guardian of the missing person is unable to provide documentation to law enforcement during a wandering incident, the physician could receive an emergency phone call.

As a physician, it is important to be aware of the below two (2) Silver Alert requirements:

  • Is the missing person 65 years of age or older?
  • Does the senior citizen have a diagnosed impaired mental condition, and does the senior citizen’s disappearance pose a credible threat to the senior citizen’s health and safety. (Law enforcement shall require the family or legal guardian of the missing senior citizen to provide documentation from a medical or mental health professional of the senior citizen’s condition)?

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By | March 1st, 2017|Caregiver Connection, Caregiving|0 Comments

Forming Your Support Team

Caregiving often causes stress, which can result in increased health problems, disrupted social relationships, burnout, depression and decreased quality of care for their loved one.  Too often caregivers don’t recognize their own needs or simply don’t know where to turn for help.  It is essential for caregivers to seek the support of family, friends and community resources.  Learning to ask for help is an essential part of being a good caregiver. One way to get help is to form your own Support Team. By providing organized assistance, Support Teams ease caregiver stress.

A Support Team is a group of people organized to provide practical, emotional, and spiritual support to caregivers. Much of the support is provided in the caregiver’s home.  The idea is to ask people to do what they can, when they can, in a coordinated way to meet the needs of the caregiver.  The four components of this team are the caregiver, a team of friends or volunteers, family, and a team leader.  The concept of the Support Team is based on Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver Health (REACH) II, which was funded to design and test a single multi-component intervention among family caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.  The overall objectives of REACH II were to 1) identify and reduce modifiable risk factors among diverse family caregivers of patients with ADRD, 2) enhance the quality of care of the care recipients, and 3) enhance the well-being of the caregivers.  The REACH II intervention sought to increase caregiver knowledge, skills, and well-being while enhancing support to the caregiver.

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By | January 31st, 2017|Caregiver Connection, Caregiving|0 Comments

TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury for all ages. Those aged 75 and older have the highest rates of traumatic brain injury-related hospitalization and death due to falls. Doctors classify traumatic brain injury as mild, moderate or severe, depending on whether the injury causes unconsciousness, how long unconsciousness lasts and the severity of symptoms. Although most traumatic brain injuries are classified as mild because they’re not life-threatening, even a mild traumatic brain injury can have serious and long-lasting effects. Traumatic brain injury is a threat to cognitive health in two ways:

  1. A traumatic brain injury’s direct effects, which may be long-lasting or even permanent, and can include unconsciousness, inability to recall the traumatic event, confusion, difficulty learning and remembering new information, trouble speaking coherently, unsteadiness, lack of coordination and problems with vision or hearing.
  2. Certain types of traumatic brain injury may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia years after the injury takes place.

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By | January 17th, 2017|Caregiver Connection, Caregiving|0 Comments

Financial and Medical Information You Need to Care for a Loved One

If you are responsible for caring for a loved one, you will need to organize your loved one’s medical information and medical/legal documents for effective caregiving. Here is an annotated list of information and documents for you to gather.

Medical Information

  • List of doctors—include name, specialty, phone number, and address for each.
  • List of prescriptions—include name of drug, dosage, and prescribing doctor.
  • List of known allergies—also include known drug reactions.
  • Pharmacies—include phone number, address, and hours for local pharmacy; include phone number and website for mail order pharmacy. (more…)
By | January 17th, 2017|Caregiver Connection, Caregiving|0 Comments

Miraculous Music!

G. Allen Power, M.D. has redefined dementia from the perspective of the person living with dementia as, “Dementia is a shift in the way a person experiences the world around her/him.”

What a universal human experience music can be. Music connects us with others who are present as well as connecting us with memories. Rhythm is usually preserved in a person living with dementia throughout the process and progression of their disease. As we see a decline in formal language skills (left brain activity) in both understanding language as well as initiation of language, rhythm is usually preserved (right brain activity). Rhythm includes poetry, prayer and most universally music. Music is an effective tool for connecting not only with a person living with Alzheimer’s as well as those living with any related dementias. (more…)

By | January 17th, 2017|Caregiver Connection, Caregiving|0 Comments

When End of Life Decisions are Difficult to Honor

This month we have a special guest author for our Alzheimer’s Texas Blog, Carmen Buck, former nurse practitioner who has helped many families cope with the challenges of dementia.

Sarah and her father discussed his Living Will 10 years ago.  Howard went to his attorney and updated his will, created a living will,  a medical power of attorney (assigned his daughter as agent) and a power of attorney about 10 years ago.  He and his daughter Sarah talked a little about his wishes but the topic was uncomfortable and anyway, they thought they weren’t going to have to worry about it for a long time.  The living will was tucked away with other legal papers and not thought about until he was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.  He reminded Sarah of his living will and advised her that he wanted to be at home until he needed more care.  He didn’t want her to worry about him.  He even went as far as to choose a long term care facility for himself just in case.  He also told her that when he was moved to the long term care facility, he wanted his medications and any assistive devices discontinued.  These details were in his living will 10 years ago.

Sarah wants to honor his wishes, but can’t imagine how she will make that decision on his behalf when the time comes.  She worries most about stopping his medications.  She’s not quite sure if the Living Will is the same thing as Advanced Directives or the legalities of his papers.

 

What should Sarah do?

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By | August 9th, 2016|Caregiver Connection, Caregiving|0 Comments

Celebrating the 25th Annual Travis County Alzheimer’s Texas Walk

Alzheimer’s Texas (formerly known as the Alzheimer’s Association Capital of Texas Chapter) has served Central Texas for over 30 years.   This year, we commemorate two important anniversaries: the 25th Annual Alzheimer’s Texas Walk in Travis County, and the very first year that 100% proceeds for all 5 of our Walks will remain here in Central Texas, to be used for support, education, and research here in our community.

This year also marks the first year that team captains will be given the option to designate where they’d like their fundraising dollars to go.  What part of our mission are you most passionate about?  Caregiver services?  Support for research? Early Stage Support Programs?  Our full mission?  You tell us where your funds and our efforts should go.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to sign up for one of our Alzheimer’s Texas Walks, visit www.txalz.org/walk to find an event near you.  Each of the events is fun for all ages, featuring a scenic walk, music, food, prizes, activities for kids, and more.

The dates and locations for each event are listed below.  Please contact walk@txalz.org with any questions.

Fayette County Alzheimer’s Texas Walk
September 17, 2016
Fayette County Fairgrounds, La Grange
Check in and Registration at 8:30am | Opening Ceremony at 9:00am | Walk at 9:30am

Williamson County Alzheimer’s Texas Walk
September 24, 2016
San Gabriel Park, Area Z, Georgetown
Check in and Registration at 8:30am | Opening Ceremony at 9:00am | Walk at 9:30am

Travis County Alzheimer’s Texas Walk
October 8, 2016
Camp Mabry, Austin
Check in and Registration at 8:30 a.m. | Opening Ceremony at 9:30 a.m. | Walk at 10:00 a.m.

Hays County Alzheimer’s Texas Walk
October 15, 2016
City Recreation Hall, San Marcos
Check in and Registration at 9:00 a.m. | Opening Ceremony at 9:30 a.m. | Walk at 10:00 a.m.

Bell County Alzheimer’s Texas Walk
October 29, 2016
Pepper Creek Trails, Temple
Registration at 9:00 a.m. | Opening Ceremony at 9:30 a.m. | Walk at 10:00 a.m.

Want to learn more?  Join us for a Walk Kickoff Party near you!  Learn the dates and times by visiting www.txalz.org/walk.

By | July 20th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Working with Facility Staff

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, the person’s needs change, and the time will likely come when you aren’t able to care for your loved one at home.

Ensuring that your loved one receives the care they need by finding an appropriate long-term care setting doesn’t mean that you’re no longer a critical component of their care team.  On the contrary, you can help care staff meet a resident’s changing needs by giving your input and staying involved. In fact, you can even start before a person is admitted to a long-term care facility.

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By | July 20th, 2016|Blog, Caregiver Connection, Caregiving|0 Comments

Helping Your Loved One Adjust to an In-Home Caregiver

As Alzheimer’s progresses, the person with the disease will likely need a level of supervision and assistance that one caregiver can’t provide without assistance.  Often, this situation necessitates that professional caregivers come into the home.

It’s not uncommon for people with dementia to resist this change.  Having to spend the day with a person you’ve never met and allowing them to help you perform some of the most intimate self-care tasks understandably makes some people with dementia feel uncomfortable and vulnerable.  People with dementia don’t have the cognitive skills and emotional control to cope with major changes.  Also, cognitive changes make it more likely for the person to feel threatened by or suspicious of a new person in their home.  And the person doesn’t have the reasoning skills to understand why it’s necessary for the professional caregiver to be there.  Keep all of this in mind if you encounter resistance from the person.  Rather than trying to reason with them, validate their feelings, reassure them that everything is going to be OK, and focus on the positives in the situation.  Try some of the following approaches to ease the transition.

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By | June 29th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments