Don’t Take It So Hard, For Your Brain’s Sake

Taken From: http://www.alzheimersweekly.com/2013/10/dont-take-it-so-hard-for-your-brains.html

The Study

Women who suffer from a lot of stress in middle age may increase their risk of developing dementia. This is according to research published in the online journal BMJ Open. The researchers say that the response to common life events – such as divorce or serious illness or death of a close family member – may trigger long lasting physiological changes in the brain. The study looked at 800 Swedish women whose mental health and wellbeing was tracked over a period of almost 40 years as part of the larger project, which started in 1968. Between 1968 and 2006, 10 per cent (153) developed dementia, 104 of whom developed Alzheimer’s disease.

How to De-stress

Physical

  1. Get Plenty of Exercise
  2. Use deep breathing and other relaxation techniques
  3. Get regular massages
  4. Get enough sleep at night
  5. Eat well and take care of your body

Work

  1. Leave work at work, both physically and mentally
  2. Turn off work phones or emails during your off hours
  3. Keep your spouse posted about major happenings at work, but save your day-to-day complaints for a co-worker who better understands
  4. If the hours your job demands are interfering with your marriage, consider making a change

Family

  1. Set boundaries with your extended families so they don’t impose or cause friction in your marriage
  2. Take dual responsibility for caring for your children so one parent doesn’t get overwhelmed
  3. Remember that it’s perfectly appropriate and healthy to spend time together away from your kids
  4. Hire a babysitter or send them to spend a weekend with the grandparents

Financial

  1. Set a budget and stick to it so you can live within your means
  2. Have an emergency fund saved so you can worry less about having the worst happen
  3. Meet with a financial advisor and talk about things like college savings and retirement. You’ll feel better about your financial future if you’re prepared
  4. Consider separate accounts for your day-to-day needs so you don’t have to constantly keep up with what the other is spending

Stress in Alzheimer’s Prevention and Treatment

Dr. Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at the UK’s Alzheimer’s Society, commented, ‘This study is not the first to link stress with the development of dementia. However, it is still unclear whether stress is a cause of the condition or exacerbates the symptoms. ‘We all go through stressful events at some stage in our lives. Understanding how these events may become a risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s disease is key to helping us find ways of preventing or treating the condition. This is an important area of research and one that we are currently supporting. It’s hoped the results of our study, and others, will offer clues to new treatments or better ways of managing Alzheimer’s.’

Other good sources on how to develop healthy habits to prevent Alzheimer’s include:

Additional Resources

Caregiver stress can stem from miscommunication, improper planning, or loved one’s display of agitation. For suggestions communication tips, a checklist for caregivers or coping with agitation and aggression please call 512-241-0420 or email [email protected]. Our 24/7 helpline is also always available to talk about stressful situations and assistance.

By |2020-02-06T11:14:37-06:00February 6th, 2020|Blog, Caregiver Connection, Caregiving|0 Comments

Providing First Aid to a Person with Alzheimer’s

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).

Common Situations

  • False Accusations – An individual with Alzheimer’s may call the police station or emergency services to report a burglary, when in fact, the person has lost or misplaced the item.
  • Inappropriate Behavior – Confusion, memory loss, and emotional reactions may produce improper actions, such as taking off their clothes in public. The person with dementia does not understand this is inappropriate behavior.
  • Shoplifting – Confusion and memory loss may cause a person to forget to pay for items in a store or even fail to recognize that it is required to pay for things before leaving the store.
  • Wandering or Getting Lost – People with Alzheimer’s can get lost easily at any time of the day. Assess for signs of dementia when encountering anyone that you suspect is wandering or lost.
  • Fires – A person with dementia may leave the oven on or forget to turn off a burner. Also, it is not uncommon for the individual to mix up the seconds and minutes when using the microwave, thus burning the food in the microwave.
  • Hoarding – Poor judgment can cause a person to neglect themselves and their home, which can lead to safety risks and violation of fire codes. Hoarding may lead to fires, spoiled food, pests, and fall hazards.
  • Abuse and Neglect – Situations of abuse and neglect can be stressful and require a thoughtful response. 
  • Firearms – Firearms are in 60% of households where a person with dementia lives.  Judgment and personality changes can make having a weapon very dangerous for a person with dementia and others living in the home.

Medical and Disaster Emergencies

During an evacuation, it is essential to keep the person with dementia calm. To do so:

  • Avoid restraint or physical force.
  • Be imaginative when communicating rather than rely on reality.
  • Provide specific one-on-one guidance by using simple words.
  • Attempt to relocate the person to a quiet place.
  • Use distraction by giving the person a simple task.
  • Ensure the person is observed at all times.

Communication Strategies

The further the disease progresses, the less a person will be able to express or understand what is said.

Remember that communication can be both verbal and nonverbal. Your body language, tone, and volume of your voice can be just as important as your words.

  • Identify yourself and establish eye contact. Let the person know you are there to help.
  • Speak slow and present one idea at a time.
  • Establish a caring atmosphere. If you are approaching an individual who is upset or emotional, your composure may help to calm the individual. A sense of humor may help to diffuse a stressful situation.
  • Move the person to a quieter area to decrease distractions. Activity may make it difficult for a person with dementia to concentrate.
  • Ask closed-ended questions that require simple answers, such as “yes” or “no.” “Do you know this street?” is easier to answer than “Where do you live?” Attempt to limit reality checks.
  • Use actions to back up your words. If possible, demonstrate what you need the person to do by using non-verbal communication, such as point to the chair if you are asking the person to sit down. You may need to sit down next to them.
  • Listen carefully to what the person is trying to say. You may not understand all of the spoken words, but you may recognize emotions, such as fear or anger. You can acknowledge the person’s feelings by saying, “You seem upset.”
  • Watch for nonverbal signs. The person may not be able to express themselves adequately with words. Rubbing a body part may indicate pain. Tugging on or attempting to remove clothing may be a sign the person needs the restroom.
  • Repeat and rephrase responses. If it is difficult to understand the person, try to repeat or rephrase what is said to ensure you understood correctly.

Additional Resources

For suggestions on home safety, one-on-one consultations about behaviors and safety tools to keep in place during an emergency please call 512-241-0420 or email [email protected]. Our 24/7 helpline is also available anytime for assistance or just to speak with someone who cares.

First Responder Access and Functional Training Series – video series designed to educate first responders on the various sensitivities related to those with Alzheimer’s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPx-UP7hjW8&feature=youtu.be

The Healthy Brain Initiative – resources for the public health community to embrace a multifaceted approach to cognitive health. https://www.cdc.gov/aging/healthybrain/index.htm

By |2020-01-03T16:12:26-06:00January 3rd, 2020|Blog|0 Comments

Holiday Caregiving Issues

The holidays can be a stressful time for us all, but those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s face an added set of challenges, both practical and emotional.  Dealing with grief during this cheery season, whether you’re grieving a deceased loved one or grieving the many daily losses of dementia, is very difficult.  Furthermore, attending to holiday shopping, hosting family, and keeping a calm environment and stable routine for your loved one with dementia can be a real challenge!  Read on to learn some strategies for getting through the holiday season as an Alzheimer’s caregiver.

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By |2019-12-03T10:02:45-06:00December 3rd, 2019|Blog|0 Comments

Dementia-Safe Bedrooms

Home Design: Use this safety Checklist for living at home with dementia. It can alert you to potential hazards.

Your home is a personal and precious environment. As you go through this checklist, make adaptations that modify and simplify without severely disrupting the home. You may want to consider setting aside a special area for yourself, a space off-limits to anyone else and arranges exactly as you like. Everyone needs private, quiet time.

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10 Ways to Use the Power of Photos for Dementia Care

Reminiscence is a way of reviewing past events that is usually a very positive and rewarding activity. Even if the person with dementia cannot participate verbally it can still give them pleasure to be involved in reflections on their past. It can also be a means of distraction if the person becomes upset. While reviewing past events can provide a sense of peace and happiness, it can also stir up painful and sad memories. It is important to be sensitive to the person’s reactions if this happens. If their distress seems overwhelming then it is better to use another form of distraction to reduce anxiety.

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By |2019-09-03T07:59:53-06:00September 3rd, 2019|Alzheimer's, Blog, Caregiver Connection, Research|0 Comments

Going Out With Alzheimer’s Disease

Plan Ahead with these tips to make outings fun

People with mild Alzheimer’s often enjoy places they enjoyed in the past – a favorite restaurant, parade, park, shopping mall, swimming pool, museum, or theater. Plan outings for the time of day when the person with Alzheimer’s is at his or her best. Keep outings from becoming too long. Take note of how tired the person gets after a certain amount of time. Bring the person home before he or she becomes overtired.

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By |2019-07-09T09:01:40-06:00July 9th, 2019|Alzheimer's, Blog, Resources and News|0 Comments

Exercise May Prevent Falls in Those with Alzheimer’s Disease

Falls are a leading cause of broken hips and disability in elderly men and women. They may even hasten death and older people with Alzheimer’s disease are especially susceptible to falls. Now a new study shows that exercise may decrease the risk of falling for older adults who have Alzheimer’s disease. The study, in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, found that older men and women with Alzheimer’s disease, who had personality and mood changes, including depression, anxiety and irritability, were particularly prone to falling. However, a structured exercise program helped prevent falls in this group.

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