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Tips That Help Delay Alzheimer's Decline

Posted by Debby Franklin on Sep 2, 2016 12:47:49 PM

alzheimers_dementia_care_web_photo_jpg.jpgAt the present there is no known cure for Alzheimer's, however there are proven ways that help delay the decline of the disease.  Alzheimer's the most common cause of dementia symptoms, slowly gets worse. Eventually it damages the brain to cause a slow death which is why it is considered terminal.  There are several things that can be done to help the journey for both the person afflicted as well as the caregiver. 

Light Therapy -   It is not unusual when the sun begins to go down for the mood to change.  The behavior challenges caused by sundown can be agitation, disoriented, confused, restless and even paranoia.  Bright light can clearly improve the mood and lucidity.  Try going outside for walks or sitting out doors.  Keep the curtains open and have a favorite chair by the window.  Turn on lamps, overhead lights, and keep rooms being used well lite.  

Music Therapy - Music is powerful for everyone!  It sparks the recall of memories and emotions.  Music is one of the last remaining abilities for the Alzheimer's/Dementia person.  It can shift the mood, manage stress, stimulate positive feelings and interaction.  When selecting the music, select the genre that your loved one enjoyed the most while growing up.

Supplements, Vitamins & Herbs - Coconut oil and water increase energy production and provide brain nourishing fatty acids.  Coconut oil and water are filled with antioxidants which improve blood circulation and help protect cells against damage.  These products are also an excellent form of hydration due to their ability to pass through the cell membrane easily.  It helps to restore hydration to the brain which may help to improve cognitive skills.  Coconut water is packed full of vitamins, minerals,enzymes and antioxidants so that it is great for reducing inflammation and overall improved health.

Mental Stimulation - Keep your loved one participating in activities that they find pleasurable; gardening, cooking, helping with the family pet, dancing, puzzles etc.  Local senior centers provide stimulating socialization including group story telling, art, and games.

Keeping a Routine - Too much change can be confusing and disorienting.  Having a routine that is familiar is very important to persons with dementia.  Coping with significant change can make symptoms worse.  Keep meals, sleep time, bathing and outside appointments close to the same time each day.  

Medication - Schedule a visit to your loved one's doctor to discuss what medication might be helpful.  There are five FDA approved meds that are used to delay the symptoms for a limited time. Not every med works for everyone. And each medication can have side effects.  Speak to the doctor to see if any of these might work.

Easy Living Services has supported Atlanta families in their efforts to keep loved ones fulfilled and safe at home since 1994.  We offer flexible care plans designed to assure safety, provide personal and companionship services with personal attention to your loved one.

To schedule a complimentary consultation call us at 770-442-8664

 In-Home Care for Alzheimer's

Topics: Alzheimers therapies

What's it really like to care for an Alzheimer's patient?

Posted by Jill Troman on Mar 29, 2013 4:03:00 PM

Alzheimer CareWe wanted to share an article that was passed along to us by a former client.  It's written by blogger, Blake Butler and offers a  great glimpse into the daily challenges that caregivers face when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's Disease.  It is truly an act of love when a family member makes the personal sacrifices necessary to care for a Alzheimer's patient, full time.  

 "My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about three years ago. After an extended stay at the hospital and stints in two different rest homes, my mom brought him home to care for him herself. She did this despite warnings that it would be too much for her to handle—even with regular assistance—because the conditions in the homes were too depressing to bear. l wanted to find out what the day-to-day life of someone tasked with keeping another adult alive is like, so I talked to my mom about it."

 How does your average day begin?

Usually I wake up before LD and get dressed, and I try to get the coffee made and the cereal stuff out. But if he wakes up first, I just get him cleaned and dressed and then do the other stuff.

What time does he get up?
He’s gotten so he goes to bed between 8 and 9 PM and sometimes sleeps until noon. One day I was so tired and exhausted that I didn’t hear him and he got up and went into the den at seven in the morning. He ended up somehow falling, and I found him on the floor tangled up in the chair. But usually I wake up before him and get dressed real quick, because if I don’t he watches me do every single thing, and it drives me crazy.

Why does he watch you?
Because he doesn’t have anything else to do. He just stares. And he wants to see what food I’m making.

I know he usually wets the bed at night, even through the disposable underwear. Do you change the sheets after you wake him up?
I take the sheets and the pajamas and the shirt and socks and just wrap them up in that plastic liner that keeps the mattress pad dry. Sometimes if he wakes up before I do he’ll have already taken his underpants off. I get him to the bathroom and have him sit on the toilet so I can get his wet clothes off and wipe him off with Handi Wipes.

You have him sit on the toilet to get dressed and undressed?
Yeah, because he might go. And if he’s not bad, I can use those Handi Wipes and wipe him off and put powder on his back and in his underwear so that it will be dry. But, like, today he was soaked and had taken his own stuff off and didn’t want to get in the shower. He doesn’t like me to bother his pants, and when I mess with them, that’s when he grabs my wrists. I figured out that I can reach behind him and underneath and pull the pants down that way. He’s still grabbing, but once I get them down, he’ll sit on the toilet. It’s tricky. Once he’s got a hold of my wrist I’ll threaten him. I say, “You’re going to have this hand in your face if you don’t let go of my hand.” [laughs] He knows I’m not going to do it, but… I get really angry because I’m helping him. I try to explain to him, “I’m trying to help you, and you are hurting me.” And he’s strong. Sometimes my wrists are red afterward.

He doesn’t realize you’re helping him?
He wants to do things himself. He always has.

Then when you finish with the clothes…
Once I get him in the shower, I pour shampoo on his head. Baby shampoo, so he won’t tear up. I used to give him soap and he’d use it, but now he doesn’t, so I put on these gloves and put the soap on my hands and just reach in the shower. Of course I get soaking wet—my jeans and everything, but I soap him up and down and wash his head. He doesn’t like that at all.

So after he’s dressed and fed, he mostly just walks around the house all day?
All day. Moving stuff. I have to make sure all the doors are locked. Like, today, for instance, when I came in he had the peanut butter out and two steak knives in it. I don’t know why the refrigerator wasn’t locked. I have rubber bands holding down the kitchen faucet because he used to turn the water on and leave it running. He tore the doorknob off the computer room. Basically, he’ll fidget with anything that’s loose until it is destroyed.

But once he’s set up and ready to go in the morning, you can sort of do your own thing, right?
I have to keep checking on him to make sure he’s not tearing stuff up or hurting himself. But I make sure I do something every day, dyeing fabric or sewing or something, because if I didn’t I’d go crazy. That’s the main thing they teach you in the caregiver’s class. It’s like the oxygen mask in the airplane: you don’t put it on your kid first, you put it on yourself first so you can get it on your kid. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’re not going to do him any good, either.

Have you noticed any effects on your sanity?
I get on crying jags sometimes. I get to where I can’t think what I’m doing because he’s driving me crazy. That’s when I hit the sewing machine to get it off my mind. Abraham Lincoln said, “I’ve learned that a man is just as happy as he makes his mind up to be.” So that’s what I decided: I’m going to make up my mind to be happy.

You were having big problems with him tearing up the plant in the kitchen, but you were determined to leave it there. Why?
I don’t want him to think he can just tear up everything. I want him to learn not to. For some reason I think he can do more than he can. I believe it’s in there.

You used to spend hours trying to explain to him who you are, or who I am, and then eventually you began to accept that he wasn’t ever going to understand, right?
I know he doesn’t know who I am. He knows I’m a safe person. And sometimes he’ll call me Barbara. But he doesn’t know. It used to bother me, but it doesn’t now. He can’t help it, and it’s not going to change. And when he does… The funniest thing [laughs] was when he told me… I’d said, “Quit pacing, you’re driving me crazy.” And he looked at me and said, “Well that’s probably your problem.” That cracked me up. He said a rational sentence, and he put some thought in before he said it. So I know there’s something in there somewhe

Sometimes I wonder if he’s actually having a moment when he says something witty, or if it’s just an accident?
If he wasn’t thinking it through then, he sure did look like he was. But mostly he ends up talking gibberish. He’s gotten to where now if I say “Are you hungry?” he doesn’t know what I mean. So I’ll say, “Do you want something to eat?” Then he knows what I mean. So there are certain words that he knows.

Being immersed in this every day has got to be pretty physically demanding, right?
A lot of it is routine now. But the main thing is, if he’s in the room, you can’t concentrate on what you’re doing, and if he’s out of the room you think, What’s he doing? You worry about what he’s getting into. He’s broken and torn up so much stuff… and he thinks he’s working. When Tommy [his brother] calls and asks, “What have you been doing?” LD says, “I’m working. I’m so tired, I’m worn out.”

Why were you determined to bring him home instead of leaving him in the rest home?
The rest home did him more harm than good. When I went in to see him there the first time, they had him in a hospital robe, which he had never been in before, and sitting in a wheelchair. He was drooling, drugged out. He wasn’t like that at all when he went in. When we moved to the next place, they forced him in the ward for the most severe patients because they said there wasn’t enough room in primary. He couldn’t even get to his room because they had it blocked off with patients lying on cots.

Is it true that they basically tried to turn him into a zombie on purpose so he couldn’t go back home and no one else would want to admit him?
They claim to go from the early stages to the late stages. “We cover everything.” And they do. For $7,000 a month. He was being institutionalized. When I decided I wanted to move him somewhere else they told me, “You can’t handle him.” They were wrong.

Right. As soon as we got him out of there he was immediately much more himself, or at least not drugged out and pushed up against a wall. Even as demanding as it is on you now, I feel like it has to be less emotionally destructive overall. At least he’s free and not surrounded by death.
I freaked out every time I went to visit him. The only real car wreck I’ve ever had was after leaving the nursing home because I thought it was going to be a nice one. I thought I was going to throw up before I left there. People have told me I’m hurting myself by bringing him home and waiting on him, but I’m doing what I want to do. I sleep better now than I ever did when he was gone. He goes to bed early, and I can stay up late every night. I play my games and sew and listen to music and relax and have a glass of wine, and I sleep like a top. And he sleeps really well. As much as he might drive me crazy, when I think about him in the nursing homes… I can’t tolerate that. He probably wouldn’t know much difference, and yet I feel that he would.

Do you think you’ll be able to continue to handle him as he gets worse?
You don’t die from Alzheimer’s; you die from complications. And, physically, your dad is healthy. He’s probably going to be around a while. And that’s good. But he always said he never wanted to be this way. He always said, “If I end up a certain way, do something for me.” That was back when Dr. Kevorkian was still around. And I would want the same thing, too. But he could never do that to me, and I can’t to him. I’m thinking I’m keeping him here as long as I can.       Source:  Blake Butler, Blog Post

Caring for a loved one with Alheimer's Disease is undoubtedly challenging on so many levels; physically, mentally and emotionally.  Without proper rest and downtime, a caregiver can become "burned out" with negative implications for self and care recipent.  Consider arranging for frequent respite periods to recharge.  

At Easy Living Services, we specialize in providing secure, reliable care for Alzheimer's patients and their families.  Experienced, expertly trained professional caregivers are ready to care for your loved one for a few hours up to long term, full time care. 

Call people who understand your unique needs.  

Call Easy Living Services.

770-442-8664

 

Topics: Caregiver Information, Home Care, homecare, caregivers, taking care of a parent, caring for a loved one, Atlanta Home Care, Alzheimers, Alzheimers therapies

New Caregiver Tool: The Alzheimer's Cafe

Posted by Jill Troman on Mar 6, 2013 2:19:00 PM

I am sure that you never imagined that you would one day become the primary caregiver for a parent with Alzheimer's Disease.  Your days are jam packed with doctor's appointments and personal care tasks.  You've found that taking a parent with Alzheimer's on an outing can be challenging; perhaps you've given up.  You've both become a little lonely and isolated.  This bleak scenario doesn't have to be your reality.  A fun, innovative outlet for alzheimer's patients and their caregivers is popping up all over the country (& world!)...The Alzheimer's Cafe. 

alzheimers support

The Alzheimer's Cafe movement started in the Netherlands in 1997 and has quickly been gaining popularity in Europe, the US and Canada.  Today, more than 200 cafes exist across Europe.  The first US cafe event was held in 2008 at the College of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Elsewhere, the cafes thrive in museums, adult day care centers, worship centers, and hospitals throughout many states, including California, New Mexico, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington.  

What is the Alzheimer's Cafe?  

Essentially, its a support group and social event combined.  In one sense, they serve to bring people together with similar circumstances to share, support and lessen the stigma of the disease.  The cafes have improved upon the traditional support group by incorporating recreation and entertainment. Similar to what you might find at a regular cafe, these gatherings are upbeat and leisurely where participants can relax, enjoy some music  and share experiences over a cup of coffee or tea. 

Some cafes have set themes with guest speakers, presentations or entertainment for each gathering.  Others are more flexible and loosely organized with arts & crafts activities, tea time, singing and poetry depending on the interests of the group. Some groups even welcome guest artists and musicians who invite participants to join in and learn the art form. 

Unfortunately, the cafes have not yet arrived on the Atlanta scene.   However, a great alternative is the "Arts 4 Alzheimers" program.  Geriatric experts believe that art is a great activity to tap into the imagination of Alzheimer's patients.  Even with the loss of memory, the capacity for imagination still exists.  The program gives people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia fun, creative and stimulating ways to communicate and express their feelings, and enables them to feel less lonely and isolated. "Arts 4 Alzheimer's" is ideal for people with early-stage memory loss.   Trained artists/educators facilitate the classes in a variety of mediums (such as painting, pottery, collage, music, and photography). Best of all, classes are free of charge.  Classes are held at the Spruill Center for the Arts in Dunwoody. Please contact Tania Becker at 404-492-6181 to learn more. 

Another function geared to Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers is the  "Rendevous" at the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville.  The group meets the 2nd Monday of each month  and is free with advanced registration.  During the group's meeting time, the museum is closed to the general public, allowing participants to experience the art in a very relaxed, friendly atmosphere.  Specially trained tour guides lead visitors and their primary caregivers through the galleries and facilitate an interactive art activity.  Contact the Booth Western Art Museum for program specifics at 770-387-3849. 

Joining a "Forget Me Nots" group is another great way to get a break from the daily challenges of caregiving.  "Forget Me Nots" is a social support Lunch Group for early stage Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers.  Groups meet the 3rd Wednesday of each month at various restaurants across Atlanta.  Contact the Alzheimer's Association at 1-800-272-3900 for specific locations and dates.

Are you interested in forming an Alzheimer's Cafe in your area? Click the link for start-up guide...Neighborhood Memory Cafe Tool Kit.    

Do you need help caring for a loved one at home?

Call Easy Living Services at 770-442-8664.  We're Atlanta's Alzheimer's and In-Home Care Experts.         

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: Caregiver Information, In Home Care, elderly care, caring for a loved one, Atlanta Home Care, Atlanta Caregivers, Alzheimers, Alzheimers therapies

How Can We be Certain It's Alzheimer's Disease?

Posted by Jill Troman on Feb 20, 2013 11:28:00 AM

Assistance for Alzheimers patientsDid you know that over 100 medical conditions produce symptoms similar to Alzheimer's? Additionally, some medications, like those used to treat common conditions such as diabetes, heart burn and high cholesterol, can cause "Alzheimer like"  symptoms.  Current statistics show that 17 to 30% of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's were misdiagnosed.   Experts caution not to jump too quickly to an Alzheimer's diagnosis. 

Let's face it.  Many of us are guilty of assuming that the cause of a senior's apparent confusion, forgetfulness or sudden personality change is likely Alzheimer's disease.  This faulty assumption could result in misdiagnosis and failure to properly identify and treat the real culprit.  Additionally, many seniors may be incorrectly labeled with "Alzheimers" and "written off" by many.  Their mental capacity and ability to manage personal, medical and financial affairs may be called into questio, as a result.   

How do you make sure that your loved one has received an accurate diagnosis?    

Make certain that the appropriate health professional has made the diagnosis.  Typically, an interdisiplinary team of a  neurologist and geriatric specialist should be consulted to conduct a full evaluation, if Alzheimer's Disease is suspected. A Geriatric Psychiatrist is also helpful in assessing potential memory and thinking problems.  A complete medical work-up should be ordered including a physical & neurological exam to assess: reflexes, muscle tone and strength, mobility, senses of sight/hearing, coordination, and balance.  The exam should also include a brief, screening level "Mental Status" test which assesses memory and other thinking skills. 

Your loved one's medical team should work through a "process of elimination" first to screen for the following underlying conditions that can exhibit "Alzheimer's Like" or dementia symptoms:

1.  Infections (ie:Urinary Tract Infections, Cellulitis, Pneumonia)

2.  Depression

3.  Sudden Change in Blood Pressure 

4.  Drug Interactions  (ie: if patient is taking numerous medications)

5.  Sleep Apnea

6.  Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus:  Normal pressure hydrocephalus or NPH is a condition where cerebral spinal fluid builds up in the brain’s ventricles, resulting in the afflicted person experiencing difficulty walking, dementia and loss of bladder control.

7.  Hypothyroidism  Low levels of the thyroid growth hormone can cause brain fog, forgetfulness, and depression.

8.  Substance Abuse, including alcoholism

9.  Nutritional Deficiencies:  Most typically of the B vitamin group, Thiamin, niacin, folate and vitamin B-12.  

10. Vascular or Multi-Infarct Dementia:  MID occurs when blood clots block small blood vessels in the brain and destroy brain tissue.  Seniors and those with high blood pressure are at increased risk.

11. Pick's Disease:  Progressive disease characterized by marked changes in personality and social skills and later memory loss, difficulty focusing, and speech disturbances.  

12. Brain Tumors

Many of these conditions whose symptoms mimic Alzheimer's Disease are treatable. This underscores the necessity of a thorough evaluation before you accept an Alzheimer's diagnosis.   

Once possible alternative diagnosis are eliminated, your geriatric specialist may order some tests for further assessment.  These will most likely include:

Neuropsychological testing

Your physician may recommend a more extensive assessment of your loved one's thinking and memory.  Longer forms of neuropsychological testing, which can take several hours to complete, may provide additional details about  mental function compared with others' of a similar age and education level.


Brain imaging

Images of the brain via Cat Scan are now used identify abnormalities related to conditions other than Alzheimer's disease, such as strokes, trauma or tumors — that may cause cognitive changes. MRI are also typically utilized to rule out conditions that might account for cognitive symptoms.  Researchers are currently working towards using MRI to measure the volume of brain tissue and pinpoint whether shrinkage of tissue in brain regions associated with Alzheimer's Disease has occurred.  PET Scans  can show which areas of a patient's brain are not functioning well. Additionally, PET scanning may be able to identify areas of plaque in the brain which is evident in Alzheimer's patients. 

It important to remember that there currently is no absolute, definitive test for detection of Alzheimer's disease.  Consulting with a reputable, Geriatric specialist is critical in getting the most accurate diagnosis possible.   

Finding the right physician in the Atlanta Metro area...Atlantans are fortunate to have  a National Institute on Aging funded Alzheimer's Disease Center in town.  It is located at the Wesely Woods Health Center of Emory under the direction of Dr. Allan Levey. Appointments and information can be obtained by calling  404-728-6950.

 

Easy Living Services is pleased to make available an on-line library dedicated to Alzheimer's Disease topics.  Continue your research...link to our library Atlanta Home Care Resources | Easy Living Services
 
Need to speak to a representative regarding care needs?  Call Easy Living Services, Atlanta's care experts at 770-442-8664.
 
 
 
 

Topics: Home Care, Alzheimers, Alzheimers therapies

New Alzheimer's Study May Help Patients with Everyday Tasks

Posted by Jill Troman on Dec 4, 2012 11:38:00 AM

alzheimers, taking care of a parent, alzheimers therapies, brain health, caregiver information

 

 

 

Recent studies conducted by University of Toronto and GA Tech have shown that an individual's inability to recognize once-familiar faces and objects may be related to difficulty in perceiving distinct features.  In other words, an alzheimer's patient may not be able to distinguish one face from another...everyone looks the same. Prior to this finding, the cause was attributed soley to impairment in memory recall.  There's now growing evidence that a part of the brain once believed to support memory exclusively, the medial temporal lobe, also plays a role in object perception. 

In trials, participants with early alzheimer's disease were shown many pairs of "blob-like" photos where the differences were minor.  Patients struggled greatly to identify identical pairings.  However,  when the pairs of "blob-like" photos were mixed in with photos where the non-matches exhibited more extreme differences (butterfly photo vs. desk photo), the participants were more successful in matching the identical pairings. 

Why are these findings significant to Alzheimer's patients and their families?

Scientists are finding that by reducing "visual clutter", Alzheimer's patients can be more successful with everyday tasks.  For example, buttons on a telephone tend to be the same size and color.  The numbers are the only significant difference which is difficult to distinguish for someone struggling with object perception.  A phone designed with varying sized buttons and different colors could be much easier for an early stage Alzheimer patient to navigate. Families should look for ways to make items with minor differences more distinguishable.  For example, using different sized and different colored bowls or plates at meal time may make it easier for the Alzheimer's patient to eat independently.  Choosing bold, contrasting colored articles of clothing may make it easier for your loved one to put clothing on properly. 

 

Perception tests may become part of the screening process and serve as an early indicator of cognitive impairment. 

Source:  Hippocampus, October 2012

Topics: Caregiver Information, taking care of a parent, Alzheimers, Alzheimers therapies, Brain Health