Memory Care

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.

Stop Multi-tasking… and Other Effective Ways to Improve Your Memory

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Whether you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or you’re just noticing your memory slipping with age, sticking to one task at a time could help.

Research shows that when you interrupt one task, even momentarily, to switch to another, it disrupts short term memory.

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Therapeutic Hens Have Seniors Talking Turkey

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“Having chickens in the backyard is like looking at the ocean,” says Terry Golson in an article published in the Boston Globe earlier this year.

Terry should know.

She’s been raising hens nearly all of her adult life, and recently introduced a group of them to Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley , a nursing home in Littleton, Massachusetts, with an abundance of memory care residents. Life Care Center now boasts a complete hen house. It’s animal therapy taken to a whole new level.

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What Services to Expect in a Memory Care Community

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If your loved one is struggling with Alzheimer’s or dementia, they may require additional services that a regular assisted living community cannot provide. Many senior living communities have special sections, sometimes called “villages,” reserved for residents who need specialized “memory care.”

What services should you expect when a loved one moves into a memory care community within an assisted living facility?

Heightened Security
Memory care villages will often have locked gates that permit residents to enjoy a sense of freedom and independence on the facility’s grounds, but permit them from leaving the community, where they could get lost or injured.

Additionally, security staff will be trained to gently re-direct Alzheimer’s and dementia patients if they begin wandering from planned activities or straying too far from their daily schedule.

Additional Monitoring and Safety Practices
Some Memory Care communities have trained staff or Certified Nurses who can actually dispense medication, rather than offering medication reminders. These individuals also monitor the behavior and activities of residents, and can report dramatic changes in personality, behavior or health to primary care physicians or get emergency medical attention for a resident if needed.

Rooms are designed so that residents can stay safe while living alone and getting the personal care services they need.

Trained Staff
Dealing with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients requires compassion and special training. Dignity, freedom and independence are important to all Assisted Living residents, but caring for residents with Alzheimer’s represents unique challenges; there is the constant threat that a resident may hurt him- or herself, become agitated for no apparent reason, or even forget where they are.

Staff is trained to manage individuals with Alzheimer’s better than unpaid caregivers and family members can do at home.

Activities Tailored to Preserving Cognitive Function
The brain is a muscle, and studies show that one way to reduce Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms is to give individuals an opportunity to exercise that muscle by using their mind. Memory care facilities provide an activities program that is tailored to helping individuals slow the progression of the disease and remain as independent as possible for as long as possible. This includes sensory stimulation, cognitive therapies, and physical and occupational therapies.

Many of these are performed in group settings, giving residents the socialization they need, as well. Of course, regular exercise, which has also been shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, is included in Memory Care activity programs.

Music and art therapy is often used frequently, sometimes in conjunction with other therapy programs, as it’s been shown to reduce aggression and agitation in Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

Great efforts are taken to keep memory care patients on a regular routine, since this type of stability, knowing what to expect each day, diminishes agitation in those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Nursing Home vs. Assisted Living Memory Care
Unlike an Assisted Living community, a nursing home offers 24/7 services and can manage patients who are unable to care for themselves at all. If you or a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s can still perform many Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), albeit with a little help, assisted living provides greater independence than a nursing home.

Individuals with Alzheimer’s may thrive in an Assisted Living community tailor made for memory care, even better than they might at home. The additional services and therapies available can slow the progression of the disease and offer the right balance of independence, safety and security that seniors with Alzheimer’s need.

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.