Helping Your Loved One Get Accustomed 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 | 2018-05-02T08:59:58+00:00 May 2nd, 2018|Blog|0 Comments

Dealing with Family Conflict

Conflicts are common as family members struggle to deal with the situations that arise when a loved-one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  According to Mayo Clinic staff, families should work through conflicts together so that they can move on to more important things – caring for loved-ones and enjoying the time together as much as possible.

Share responsibility.  Choices include hands-on care, respite care, household chores, errands, sorting the mail, handling financial issues, and tending to legal matters.  Assigning others some of the tasks is one way to reduce caregiver stress.  Caregivers shouldn’t worry about being inadequate or selfish if they ask for help.  Most of your friends and family want to help, but do not know how.  If a friend enjoys cooking, ask him to help with meal preparation.  A family member who likes to drive might be able to drive your loved-one to the doctor or to the park.

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By | 2018-04-02T09:35:49+00:00 April 2nd, 2018|Blog|0 Comments

Creative Solutions to Common Caregiving Challenges

Adaptability is critical when working with people with dementia, because every person’s and temperament and personal history is unique. However, there are some typical challenges that people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers experience.  While not every problem has a simple, one-step solution, here are some reliable solutions to common problems.

General:

  • Respond to outbursts, accusations, or other dementia-related behavior by reassuring the person and redirecting their attention onto something else.
  • Keep in mind that dementia-related behavior isn’t arbitrary, and is often an indication of an unmet need of the person’s. They may be hungry, bored, distressed, in pain, or confused.  Rather than respond to the behavior itself, try to determine the cause.
  • Give multiple cues before performing an activity for a person. Tell them the action you want them to take, model the action for them, and if needed, initiate the activity with them using hand over hand guidance.
  • When giving instructions, simplify each step as needed for the person. Rather than say, “make a sandwich,” ask them to open the bag, grab two pieces of bread, put the bread on a plate, etc.
  • Be aware of your own emotional state and take steps to ease frustration before it affects the tone of your interaction with the person, and the quality of your work.

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By | 2018-03-05T11:13:33+00:00 March 5th, 2018|Caregiver Connection, Caregiving|0 Comments

Dementia and Sleep Disorders

Information is taken from Tuck Sleep, www.tuck.com/dementia

Dementia and sleep disorders share a paradoxical ‘chicken and egg’ relationship. While many people living with dementia tend to experience poor sleep on a regular basis, patients diagnosed with certain sleep disorders – such as insomnia and sleep apnea – are also more likely to develop dementia symptoms.

The Relationship Between Dementia and Sleep Disorders

Three categories of people are at a heightened risk of dementia: the elderly, patients with neurodegenerative diseases, and patients with mild cognitive impairment. Although 40% of elderly patients have sleep-related complaints, sleeping disorders like insomnia are less common in healthy older people and are more often associated with comorbidities. (more…)

By | 2018-03-05T10:11:22+00:00 February 7th, 2018|Caregiver Connection, Caregiving|0 Comments

Providing First Aid to a Person with Alzheimer’s

Information is taken from a Pacific Medical Training article written by Sarah Gehrke, MSN, RN

Recognize Alzheimer’s Disease

Providing first aid for people with Alzheimer’s can be a challenge, and it’s crucial to remember that no two people are the same. The following tips will help you identify someone with dementia. The person may:

  • Appear disoriented and confused.
  • Appear fearful, agitated, frustrated, angry, or is crying.
  • Have a facial expression that is inappropriate in relation to the circumstances or have a flat affect.
  • Have difficulty with gait and balance, which may be mistaken for intoxication.
  • Reply with inappropriate answers or not respond at all.
  • Not comprehend the situation or be unable to tell you their name, address, or where they are going.
  • Not know the date, time or when they left their home.
  • Have difficulty following directions.
  • Dress inappropriately for the temperature.
  • Be advanced in age (although, dementia can affect those under the age of 65).

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By | 2018-01-29T16:36:37+00:00 January 29th, 2018|Caregiver Connection, Caregiving|0 Comments

Preparing for the Holidays

Alzheimer’s disease affects every aspect of your family and community life. Your holiday observances are no exception. Holidays can be bittersweet for families affected by Alzheimer’s. The holiday season may bring mixed feelings and concerns about your loved one’s needs, his or her capacity to be involved in holiday festivities and your expectations for experience. Holiday memories from before your loved one developed Alzheimer’s may darken what usually is a joyful season. And worries about how your loved one’s condition may disrupt your family’s plans can overshadow the simple pleasure of being together.

Rather than dwelling on how much things have changed or worrying about what might go wrong, focus on making the holidays as enjoyable as possible. Consider your loved one’s needs, but don’t forget about yourself. These tips can make special times easier for everyone.

Preparing the Person with Alzheimer’s Disease
• Talk about and show photos of the people who are coming to visit.
• Play familiar holiday music and serve favorite traditional holiday foods.
• Watch and/or help with decorations.
• Persons with AD may recognize faces of family members and friends, but can’t recall their names – name tags may be helpful.
• Have a “quiet” room if things get too hectic and have a familiar person stay with them so they don’t feel isolated or “left out”.
• Prepare for distractions beforehand (i.e. use of a photo album) to divert attention if problem behaviors occur. (more…)

By | 2018-01-29T15:42:28+00:00 December 1st, 2017|Caregiver Connection, Caregiving|0 Comments

The Wild Wild Web

By Joe Cosgrove, Jr.

Folks of my age and older remember Western movies featuring a “snake oil” salesman. These early scammers tried to trick people out of hard earned money with various magic elixirs. It was all part of the Wild Wild West. Today’s Internet and telecommunications have brought us many benefits. But this exciting technology has also created new opportunities for the new snake oil salesmen. In addition, to using the Internet and computers, the scammers still use the telephone making robocalls and have developed new schemes. Here are two such schemes: “favorite grandchild” and “computer security.”

“Hi, grandpa, it’s your favorite grandson, Roy. (Sometimes the caller may have learned the name of the grandchild in advance via social media or tries to learn the name on the call). I’ve been in an accident, and arrested, I need money immediately. My lawyer will call you back with instructions.” (more…)

By | 2018-01-29T15:24:39+00:00 October 20th, 2017|Caregiver Connection, Caregiving|0 Comments

Caregiver Challenges of General Hospital Care for Dementia Patients

Simple procedures by first responders and hospital personnel, like having their blood pressure taken or getting a shot in the arm, can be confusing or scary for anyone with dementia.  Many first responders and hospital healthcare providers have little experience with people with dementia.  Yet over 40% of people over the age of 85 have some type of dementia.1

Dementia caregivers take their loved ones to the hospital to restore health and to ensure their safety and the safety of others.  Their expectations are that the hospital physicians know how to treat all types of dementia patients.  Unfortunately, not all hospital physicians know about the dangers of overmedicating dementia patients that may be extremely sensitive to medications.2 A dementia knowledgeable physician will prescribe medications only as a last resort and begin with the lowest dose.  The prescribing physician will also instruct the hospital staff to closely watch for changes in the symptoms and the side-effects of all medications. (more…)

By | 2018-02-07T13:11:01+00:00 May 1st, 2017|Caregiver Connection, Caregiving|0 Comments

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 | 2018-01-29T15:42:44+00:00 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 | 2017-05-22T10:49:41+00:00 March 1st, 2017|Caregiver Connection, Caregiving|0 Comments