Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Signs That a Family Member Needs Memory Care

Although memory loss is a common part of aging, the loss of memory can be problem that affects all parts of our lives.  Seniors are at an especially high risk when they cannot remember when they took their medication or where they are going when they travel.  It can be difficult to distinguish between regular memory loss and a more serious problem however there are a few common signs that you can look out for to know if your loved one is really struggling.

  1. Conversations and Speech

How is the quality of the conversations that you have with your loved one?  General forgetfulness is common however the inability to recall important names and dates could be a sign of a bigger problem.  It can also be helpful to watch for changes in speech, such as tone or speed, as slurring can be indication of medical concerns and agitation could point to Alzheimer’s or dementia.

  1. Physical Appearance

Basic hygiene and dressing can be difficult as the body ages.  Pay attention to their clothing and overall hygiene, how often do they change their clothes, brush their teeth, bath, etc.?  The inability to maintain proper hygiene can be a significant factor in choosing to move into a nursing home.  Make sure to pay attention to any possible weight loss and the state of their kitchen.  Messy kitchens, expired food, or limited supplies can all point to more serious concerns.  Senior healthcare programs can help provide consistent, well-rounded, nutritional, and medically approved meals

  1. Medication

Medication can be especially difficult to maintain and monitor.  There are easy risks in mixing up medications, over-medicating, or under-medicating and remembering complex medication schedules can be especially hard.  Senior care programs not only take care of all of those concerns, they also help keep a record of the medications they are taking and what doctor provided the prescription.

  1. Social Interactions

Not all seniors choose to remain active as they enter into retirement however a decline in socialability or an unwillingness to participate in events could be a sign of something more.  If they were members of a club, team, group, or other social activity, check in to see how often they attend. How often do they mention their close friends?  It can be difficult to maintain social schedules when mobility is an issue however seniors that suddenly stop or change their routine may be struggling with emotional problems, such as depression.  Many senior care facilities host ice cream socials, cookout, and other social events that can help with feelings of isolation.

  1. House

What is the state of their home?  Are there any areas that could be dangerous for falls? The overall maintenance of the house can be a huge indicator of whether a senior is struggling with independent living.  Is the kitchen or bathroom messy?  Keeping an eye on the state of the house, yard, garage, and car will help identify any gradual changes as well.  Some senior care programs can help outfit their house for any mobility problems they might have. There are also programs that can help with memory retrieval such as a memory wall that creates a timeline of important dates for seniors with mild memory loss.

 

Making the decision between assisted living, nursing homes, and in-home healthcare can be a complicated and stressful situation however each choice offers a multitude of options.  Each facility will likely offer some form of memory care however each facility will differ significantly. If you’re looking for more specialized care geared towards seniors with memory loss, start researching Alzheimer’s and memory care facilities.  Cognitive decline can be a profound and troubling concern therefore seeing a doctor is the first step in assessing any problems and finding the right help for your loved one’s needs.

 

Memory Care Options

The SeniorLiving.net blog is happy to be back in action. Get ready for lots of helpful content to guide you on your senior living search, answer some of your questions surrounding senior care, and provide you with information on senior health and wellness. Let’s kick it off with diving into memory care options.

What is memory care and what can it do for my loved one?  Although memory loss is a typical part of growing older, some seniors may experience what is known as significant “cognitive decline” which requires extra care.  Diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, are not always the culprit; however watching cognitive decline happen can be hard.  Memory care refers to a specialized care that is designed to assist with the consequences of memory loss and help remain connected with things that are important.   Memory care can take the form of in-home services or activities as well as entire facilities dedicated to memory-loss conditions therefore there are a lot of choices out there.

Memory care facilities are often communities that focus their programs and services on catering to the symptoms of memory-loss.  Seniors suffering from significant cognitive decline as particularly vulnerable to stress, confusion, anxiety, and disorientation therefore these facilities may look a little different than an assisted living or nursing home facility.  Often times these communities focus more on natural lighting, comfort amenities, reliable security, and round floorplans that allow for wandering without fear of being lost.  Moreover, the rooms are often equipped with a memory box or wall that provides a timeline of important events and people.

Although memory care facilities offer some of the same amenities and options as a nursing home or assisted living community, it is clear that these facilities offer something different.  Similarly, the rooms are typically offered either private or shared, meals are often served family-style, and public entertainment areas, such as a library or TV room, are available.  Unlike others, memory care facilities don’t offer rooms with private kitchenettes, meals are often designed to accommodate appetite issues (common with memory-loss conditions), and activities are specifically intended to help seniors reconnect and remain connected to memories, hobbies, and preferences.

When deciding what level of care is needed is it important to consider the responsibilities necessary for comfortable living: transportation, meal preparation, housekeeping, medication management, and personal hygiene.  Often times, memory care facilities are more expensive than assisted living facilities however many assisted living communities have begun to offer memory care services.  Although less intensive, these communities can assist seniors with moderate memory loss.  Those with a tendency to wander or get lost may want to consider facilities with high security and frequent safety checks.  Additionally, many facilities offer services to help transition into the community, such as preparing the room before arrival, transporting them to the facility, and helping maintain anxiety or concern about living in a new place.

Read more about Alzheimer’s and dementia on the SeniorLiving.net blog.

Alzheimer’s Treatment Focus Shifts to Prevention

Alzheimer’s Treatment Focus Shifts to Prevention

A decisive shift was evident in the scientific world’s approach to Alzheimer’s disease at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Copenhagen earlier this month. The focus of fighting this ravaging disease has become more of a prevention model than treatment of symptoms and effects on the brain.

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New Study Gauges Effectiveness of GPS Tracking for Seniors

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GPS tracking devices and other technology can help seniors live at home longer, if that’s their desire, while also assisting caregivers in Memory Care communities to protect seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia who may be at risk of roaming. But how effective is it?

A collaborative research project in Canada, run by researchers at Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, and funded by Innovation and Advanced Education within the Government of Alberta, seeks to find out.

The Locator Device Project has provided 10 clients in two Canadian cities with GPS technology from SafeTracks GPS of Red Deer. The technology provides caregivers with real-time location information via text or email, accessed through computers, tablets or smartphones.

The study, in addition to providing real information on the effectiveness of GPS tracking for seniors, also offers training opportunities for occupational therapy student researchers in Calgary.

One caregiver enrolled in the project to keep a better eye on her grandfather-in-law stated on the Alberta Health Services website, “The locator device gives us all peace of mind.”

Challenges of GPS Tracking
While the GPS tracking itself is reliable, caregivers could face challenges in getting seniors to wear new devices or remembering to carry a smartphone with GPS tracking installed as an app. That “peace of mind” could be shattered if a caregiver finds a loved one has left home – and left the GPS device behind. Fortunately, there are ways to encourage a loved one to use the device.

Using GPS Tracking More Effectively
Devices that blend into the wearer’s lifestyle are more likely to be accepted by patients with Alzheimer’s. For instance, fashionable bracelets or pendants might be worn by women with Alzheimer’s. If a man or woman is accustomed to wearing a wristwatch, they might not balk at a GPS locator watch that also tells time.

You might also consider devices that can be hidden inside outerwear or shoes. If an Alzheimer’s patient already carries their smartphone everywhere, a GPS tracking app might be the best solution, requiring nothing to remember and no change in their daily habits.

Finally, GPS devices only used on certain occasions might be helpful. For instance, visitors to parks in the Three Rivers Park District in Minnesota can receive a GPS tracking device free for the duration of their visit. The device sounds an alarm if the Alzheimer’s patient (or a child, for that matter) leaves a specific perimeter. The device also makes it easier to track down a loved one in minutes if they do wander from sight.

Adopting new technology to aid in caregiving is a personal choice. Certainly, tools are available to help caregivers work more effectively. The technology chosen and how it’s introduced can make all the different in success.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.

Honoring Our Senior Fathers This Father’s Day

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Father’s Day is a tough holiday for me because I lost my Dad 10 years ago this August. I try to stay busy that day and plan on doing something that helps me feel connected to him. I often make peach cobbler, which was one of his favorites. Because he was a big man and one of the smartest people I’ve ever known, watching him age was a bit disconcerting. But he still had answers to those “Dad” questions and loved to be consulted. Reflecting on our relationship, I realize even into his late 70s, I counted on him to be in the parent role.

Every senior parent has something to offer his child. It’s our job to find ways to honor them on their special day. When our fathers were younger, it was simple to pull together a cookout with the family all assembled. But sometimes that can be challenging if a parent now lives in a senior community, has health issues or dementia. So how might you make Father’s Day special for your senior dad? It may sound cliché, but give him the gift of your time.

Cait Boyce’s father, Tom Mills, lives at Hari Homestead, a senior community in Redmond, Oregon. Mr. Mills is a retired Marine officer, former high school English teacher and lover of books with an I.Q. of 160, making his Alzheimer’s disease so tragic.

Cait visits her dad often and says, “Dad doesn’t know who I am. He knows I’m someone he sees all the time and ‘a nice lady,’ as he tells it. We sit and hold hands, look at the mountains and the flowers together, but he doesn’t know my name or that I’m his daughter. We don’t walk down memory lane — it’s all about the here and now — look at the flowers, hold the chicks, pet the dogs. I think somewhere in the far recesses of his brain there is something that, at certain times, he remembers, but those are fleeting and I don’t rely on them. Life for us is what he sees daily and I enjoy each little moment with him.”

I asked Boyce how she celebrates Father’s Day with her dad. “Last Father’s Day everyone got a gold crown, beads, and a huge cake. I always direct the celebration at my Dad, but so many of the people there have family that seems to have forgotten them, so I feel it’s my duty to have everyone join in the celebrations,” Boyce shares. “We always have a birthday party with balloons and cake and hats for everyone. I always bring cookies for the guys and flowers for the girls. I think their favorite are the Blizzards — when it’s hot outside, I stop by Dairy Queen and get a bunch of mini Blizzards, so they all have a special one. As you can imagine, I seem to be their favorite visitor!”

Even if you simply spend some quiet time being present with your senior dad this Father’s Day, it will be appreciated. But bringing him a fun treat would be a nice touch!

How will you honor your dad this holiday?

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.

New Alzheimer’s Research Could Lead to Early Detection and More

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If it seems as if there’s a new study on Alzheimer’s disease released at least once a month, that’s because there is. Although the widespread disease is terminal, the breaking research provides hope by showing progress toward an eventual cure.

Two new studies point to drugs that may alleviate the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, while a third study indicates that a blood test could potentially predict Alzheimer’s before symptoms appear, possibly resulting in more effective treatments. Let’s take a look at this groundbreaking research and what it could mean to Alzheimer’s sufferers and their families.

Depression Drug Could Treat Alzheimer’s
The antidepressant Celexa (generic name citalopram) could slow or prevent Alzheimer’s, according to a study led by Drs. Yvette Sheline of the University of Pennsylvania and John Cerrito of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. In laboratory mice given citalopram, the sticky plaques that form in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients even before symptoms show up stopped growing.

Additionally, healthy adults given doses of the drug showed a reduced production of amyloid. The plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients are caused by a protein caused beta-amyloid that goes awry.

The researchers are quick to caution that the antidepressant carries significant side effects and is not “the great new hope,” but just another small step in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. But, as caregivers know, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is not a single monumental heroic act, but a series of small victories every day, and it is the same with Alzheimer’s research and treatments.

Promising Drug Could Reverse Alzheimer’s
An even more promising development is a new drug, J147, developed by the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. The compound has been shown to reverse memory deficit and reduced soluble levels of amyloid in genetically engineered mice with Alzheimer’s. The drug is ready for human clinical trials.

Blood Test Could Aid in Early Treatment of Alzheimer’s
Researchers agree that effective treatment for Alzheimer’s should begin in the earliest stages of the disease. Unfortunately, by the time symptoms appear, plaques and tangles have already appeared in the brain and the disease has begun its irreversible course.

A research team led by Howard Federoff, MD, PhD, executive dean at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., may have discovered a blood test that can detect Alzheimer’s two to three years before the first signs of cognitive impairment appear. If it’s proven accurate, the test could enable earlier treatments that might respond better to existing or even not-yet-developed drugs to fight the disease.

The American Association for Clinical Chemistry will discuss the implications of this blood test at the 2014 AACC Annual Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo in Chicago.

One can only guess what developments further Alzheimer’s research will bring, but, every new study brings doctors and scientists closer to finding a cure.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.

REST Factor Could Help Seniors Turn Back the Clock on Aging Brains

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Recent studies show that sleep can help seniors improve their memory and even learn new facts better. But REST, it turns out, is a powerful component to alleviating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

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Low-Tech Tips To Keep Alzheimer’s Sufferers Safe

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High-tech measures, from personal GPS devices to home monitoring systems, that keep Alzheimer’s patients safe have been making the news lately. But many seniors are reluctant to adopt sophisticated technologies, fearing they might be hard to use, while their caregivers might feel these cutting-edge tools are too expensive to implement in the home.

There’s no doubt that today’s technology can keep seniors safer than ever, but there are also many ways to keep yourself, or the loved one in your care, safe without breaking the bank or relying on today’s most advanced technology.

Let’s look at some of the best ways to reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and keep loved ones safe.

A Memory Wall to Empower Seniors with Alzheimer’s
Short-term memory is usually the first to go in dementia caused by Alzheimer’s and other diseases. A memory wall can help your loved one remember doctor’s appointments, important phone numbers and grocery lists. With this information at hand, seniors will not notice their memory loss as easily, resulting in feelings of empowerment, and reducing feelings of helplessness and isolation that may lead to depression.

Use a cork board with large pushpins, which are easier for older hands to manage. Keep the corkboard organized, since patients with Alzheimer’s thrive when they feel a sense of order. You might also consider a whiteboard, while eliminates the need to handle pins or individual pieces of paper. Make different sections on the board using washi tape to write down information in different categories, clearly marked.

Place the board in a high-traffic area where your loved one can refer to it easily.

Keep Seniors Safe with New Door Locks
While high-tech locks can integrate with home automation systems to permit remote locking or provide access to caregivers, you don’t have to pay a lot or be locked into a monthly fee to enjoy the peace-of-mind of safer locks. A simple slide lock at the top of the door can provide an extra buffer to prevent a loved one from wandering if no one is paying attention. Never lock a senior in a home alone unless they know how to operate the locks and can get out in the event of a fire or flood.

Another inexpensive method to help keep seniors safe is frequently employed in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Since dementia patients often have problems with depth perception or interpreting things they see, placing large rugs that are very dark blue or black in front of entry ways may lead a senior with Alzheimer’s to believe there is a pit or pool blocking their path and they will avoid the area.

Install Safety Bars to Prevent Falls
Falls are a top ranking cause of injury and death for seniors, with one in three people over the age of 65 falling each year. Those affected by dementia may have a higher risk of falls due to side effects of antipsychotic medications that may be prescribed and, in the later stages of dementia, diminished balance and reduced depth perception. Adding hand holds throughout the home can slash the risk of falls dramatically. Shower bars as well as rails by stairs and along hallways can be installed inexpensively by a caregiver or a handyman.

Provide Reminders for ADLs
As people age, the immune system’s ability to fight off disease-causing pathogens weakens, so hygiene becomes even more important to prevent disease.

Set alarm clocks to remind seniors with Alzheimer’s to wash their hands frequently and also remember to check the senior in your care for injuries. Cuts, scrapes or burns that go untreated can lead to infection or blood poisoning.

Healthy meals are another aspect of maintaining good health in seniors. Make sure easy-to-prepare foods, like fruits and vegetables, are readily available, and, again, set reminders for the senior to eat if the senior isn’t monitored by a caregiver 24/7 or living in an assisted living community where meals and snacks are served regularly.

Look For Changes in Patterns
Seniors with the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia may not require round-the-clock care if simple safety measures, such as those shared above, are followed.

Caregivers should watch for changes in behavioral patterns, which could indicate a worsening of the condition, an illness or even depression. For instance, if an aging parent typically phones you every day at noon and you don’t receive a call, check in. Reluctance to do activities they normally enjoy, whether that’s grocery shopping or a walk in the park, could indicate depression, or the senior could be trying to hide an illness.

Whether you take a low-tech or a high-tech approach, vigilance and awareness is key to helping seniors age-in-place longer, and also the key to greater peace-of-mind for you, the caregiver.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.

Memory Care Providers Embrace Innovative Interventions

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Not that long ago, designated “memory care” did not exist in elder care. Care for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia differed little from that received by the general senior population. Psychological issues presenting in dementia patients were managed with medication and mostly ineffective and often intrusive behavioral interventions. Senior living did not include the specialized housing options available now, such as built-in extra safety measures and quality of life enhancements.

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6 Memory-Boosting Foods and Drinks for Seniors

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Seniors experiencing lapses in memory may worry it’s an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease. It may be, but there are other reasons people forget names, details and even important facts some times. Check out our list of five conditions that may look like Alzheimer’s – but aren’t.

There’s even more good news. You can improve your memory power with a few simple additions to your diet. Here are six brain-boosting foods and beverages.

Green Tea
This drink, enjoyed hot or cold, has long been touted as a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants prevent the formation of free radicals, which can damage brain cells. In recent years, researchers discovered the antioxidant epigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG), an organic chemical, also helps the brain produce neuron cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for shifting information from short-term to long-term memory. In laboratory tests, EGCG-treated mice showed superior memory and spatial learning skills.

Red Wine
In addition to red wine’s positive effects on your heart and cholesterol levels, there’s another reason to enjoy one glass a night. The same resveratrol that shows amazing anti-aging properties also increases blood flow in the brain for better memory. Additionally, research shows that properties found in both resveratrol and EGCG may actually stave off or prevent Alzheimer’s disease in people who carry a genetic marker for the disease.

Not into imbibing? Purple grape juice can have the same benefits, since resveratrol is concentrated in the skins of grapes.

Peanuts
Deemed one of the “best nuts for your brain” by Health.com, peanuts not only contain the same resveratrol antioxidants as wine and grapes, but they are also loaded with folate, a mineral that has been shown to potentially protect against cognitive decline.

Salmon
Omega-3 fatty acids are important as the brain rebuilds itself and grows new neurons. That’s why doctors recommend pregnant women and infants consume lots of Omega-3s; the brain is in overdrive before and just after birth creating neurons. But for seniors who want to keep their brain strong, Omega-3s are equally important. Omega-3s are readily available in vitamin supplements, but there’s nothing like getting important nutrients like fatty acids from a natural source. Salmon is packed with Omega-3s, as is albacore tuna. Wild-caught Alaskan and Pacific Coast salmon are also “very low” in mercury content, making them safe to eat several times a week.

Spinach, Broccoli and Kale
Vitamin E, a proven antioxidant, has been shown to prevent the death of neurons. When neurons in the brain start to die, it can kick off rapid cognitive decline. Vitamin E from natural sources has been shown to prevent this chain of events. Leafy green vegetables, including spinach, kale and broccoli are chock full of vitamin E. You can also find vitamin E in canola oil, avocado, and many nuts and seeds, including peanuts.

Water
Yes, there’s yet another reason to drink enough water (between six to eight glasses a day). When your energy and mental capacity drops, your memory suffers. Memory lapses due to dehydration can lead to concerns about impending Alzheimer’s, and stress and worry isn’t good for your body, either.
SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.

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