Taking Care of Kids and Elderly Parents at the Same Time

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Taking care of your kids at home while caring for an elderly parent?  You’re a member of The Sandwich Generation, although the name sounds more appetizing than the scenario.

Adults in The Sandwich generation have children at home – or older kids maybe fresh out of the nest but still requiring support – and they also have an elderly parent who with increasing care needs. It’s a daunting and exhausting place to be – and we haven’t even mentioned the full-time workload you’re probably carrying.

We’re here to provide support.

7 Tips to Ease the Burden of Raising Kids While Caring for Elderly Parents

There is good news for The Sandwich Generation is twofold. First, you are not alone. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center nearly 50% of adults between the ages of 40 and 59 have a minor at home and/or an adult child they support AND have a parent 65+ who will require increasing levels of care. Just knowing you have a tribe out there can help.

Secondly, you are seen. Those of us who work in the world of senior and memory care witness first hand the burden placed upon you. We have many tips to help you take care of everyone in your family, without sacrificing the last vestiges of yourself, your energy levels and overall well-being.

Putting these 7 tips you can put into place can help ease the hardships placed on you and your family during this compressed period of time.

memory care richmond
Dining at The Memory Center, Richmond

1 – Start visiting local assisted living communities

. In the midst of crisis is one of the worst times to make big decisions. Instead, take advantage of free consultations with assisted living and memory care communities in your area. These consultations are rich with information and ideas you can put to work now while considering and developing your long-term plan. 

Visiting long term care facilities is the only way to know which one feels like the best fit for you/your parents when the time comes.  And if your parent is in the beginning stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, these consultations give him/her some agency regarding their future – very important during a time when seniors often feel like they’re losing autonomy.

2 – Make the home safe and accessible

There are plenty of articles out there on how to remodel a home and make it accessible, but it doesn’t have to be that complicated.  With even simple changes and adjustments to your parent’s house and yard, you’ll notably decrease their risk of falling – and that decreases their risk of hospitalization or surgical interventions known to contribute to senior cognitive decline.

Some of the most easiest changes to making a senior’s home safer include installing motion-sensitive lighting, minimizing trip hazards (like exposed cords, edges of area rugs, uneven thresholds, etc.), installing handrails in toilet and bath/shower areas, building a ramp if needed, rearranging cupboards so everyday items are accessible without bending over or standing on a step stool, and providing an easier way to reach you when needed.

3 – Include your children in the process

. We often forget children are alert and aware of what’s happening in the household and to the ones they love. Even if you think you’re keeping the majority of the “heavy stuff” out of their world, they know and sense you are being stretched beyond your means.

However, even adult children don’t always know what to say or how to help. Similarly, children are just as worried and concerned about their grandparent(s) in their own way and may feel very helpless, which can cause younger children and teens to act out.

If nothing else, foster open communication in age-appropriate ways about what’s happening to grandma and/or grandpa, how you are feeling and about how difficult this situation is at times. The more open and communicative your family is, the more supportive and connected it can remain – even during the toughest moments. If they’re old enough, engage children in helping to provide care and companionship, if they’re young – find little things they can do to be useful. We recommend reading, alz.org’s, Helping Your Children or Grandchildren. The tips are universal for any family coping with dementia or Alzheimer’s – whether you’re sandwiched or not.

4 – Make taking care of yourself a priority

You know the airplane safety spiel about fastening your oxygen mask first, and then ensuring everyone around you has fastened theirs? Use it as a metaphor for your current life. If you think things are emotionally and financially challenging now, imagine what it would be like if you wound up succumbing to serious medical issues as a result of over stressed caregiver depletion. It happens all the time to primary caregivers and it leaves their loved ones in a major lurch.

Primary caregivers must make their well-being a priority so they remain healthy, balanced and as centered as possible through this phase of the journey. That means eating a well-balanced diet, finding ways to get a little exercise in (some days, that might  mean parking in the furthest spot to walk a little longer or taking the stairs instead of the elevator) and finding a way to clear 5- or 10-minutes of quiet-time amidst the busy-ness. Joining an Alzheimer’s support group can also provide a wealth of emotional support and bolstering.

5 – Take advantage of respite care options.

If your parent hasn’t relocated yet, contact local home care agencies to ask about their respite care services. Respite care providers give primary spouse and/or family caregivers the opportunity to focus on their regularly scheduled lives. In your case, this means more time to have dinner with the family, attend academic and extracurricular activities, go to bible study or religious events and to gain more quality time with the kids.

It can also serve as a baby step of sorts, a means of getting you and your parent accustomed to letting someone else help out with everything from companionship, driving and medication reminders, to meal preparation, bathing, dressing and toileting – all the things that may need to be taken over as your parent’s condition progresses.

tips for caregivers

6 – Imagine you’re meeting your parent for the first time

Whether a parent is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, suffering from the crippling grief from the loss of a spouse and/or peers, or is simply frustrated s/he can no longer do the things s/he loved – The ability to take big steps back is an amazing skill-set for children caregivers to develop.

Imagine you’re meeting your parent for the very first time. See your parent as s/he is now – while keeping your memories sacred. This will help you to find new ways to connect, explore creative ways to communicate, and establish deeper means of cultivating compassion with who they are – and what they’re capable of – in each moment.

7 – Be gentle with yourself

You’re under a tremendous pressure – not to mention emotional duress. Also, you are human. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself – and always forgive yourself in the moments you aren’t at your best.

Please visit our News Feed for more resources on Alzheimer’s and dementia care. You can also contact us to schedule a tour of The Memory Center communities in Atlanta, Richmond or Virginia Beach

 

Free Alzheimer’s Training & Planning Courses

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Caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s or dementia is challenging.  Every day is different and presents new situations that can leave caregivers wondering how to handle a social situation, the best way to bathe someone with dementia or what to do when they refuse to take their medication.  As the disease progresses so does the level of care needed can lead to more questions.

dementia care virginiaTo help caregivers and family members, the Alzheimer’s Association offers a number of resources including message boards where you can connect with others or ask questions, and many educational courses that are available 24 hours a day.

Courses include everything from Understanding and Responding to Dementia-Related Behavior which covers some common triggers for behavior, how to assess the person’s needs and respond more effectively to Legal and Financial Planning for Alzheimer’s Disease to review important legal and financial issues to consider, how to put plans in place and identify local resources that may help cover the cost of some care.

Other topics include resources for caregivers broken out by stages of the disease, how to handle difficult conversations such as driving or staying home alone and many more.

If you are caring for, or have a loved one, with Alzheimer’s or dementia take the time to learn more about these important topics.

As a caregiver it can help you become a more confident, better understand the person’s needs, or stay connected with others who are facing the same challenges.  For those whose loved one is cared for in a residential facility, like The Memory Center, there are still questions as it relates to their care.  We encourage all our families to stay involved, ask questions and educate themselves on the disease and how it progresses.

Read more about our approach to caring for those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia in our specially designed memory care communities in Midlothian and Virginia Beach, VA.

 

 

Do People With Dementia Know Something Is Wrong With Them?

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Seeing a loved one develop Alzheimer’s or dementia can be scary and confusing.  Their behaviors can be misunderstood or not make sense to you.

Maybe during a recent visit to your aunt’s house she insisted you help her find her winter gloves and boots – in the middle of July.  Or maybe she didn’t remember your name at all or thought you were someone else from the family.

These types of scenarios aren’t uncommon, and many people wonder if their loved one knows something is wrong with them.  And what if they don’t understand – should you try and convince them?

Do They Know They Have Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease progressively destroys brain cells over time, so during the early stages many do recognize something is wrong.  They may know they are supposed to recognize you, but they can’t.  Imagine how frustrating and scary that would be.  Red Johnson, an 86 year-old living with Alzheimer’s, explained to his daughter, Nancy, how it feels to live with the disease.

I am Red.

I love my family. My daughter-in-law and son-in-law; my grandchildren and great-grandchildren; my in-laws; and my nieces and nephews. I might not remember their names. I might be tongue tied when I try to talk with them. But, I still love them. Do you know how dumb it feels when you “know” the person talking with you is an old friend and you can’t remember their name? I know something is wrong with me, and I hate it. Don’t look “through me” just because I can’t remember your name or am mixed up about what day it is. Don’t ignore my needs because you think it doesn’t matter.

Red’s story is a great insight into how it feels to know you are suffering from memory loss and how painful it can be.  Read the full story on alz.com.

dementia care virginia
Some people may not understand they have Alzheimer’s or dementia.

When Someone Doesn’t Understand Something Is Wrong

There are cases where people don’t recognize anything is wrong.  You may hear this referred to as anosognosia which is thought to be the result of a cell damage in the right pre-frontal lobes and the parietal lobes.  This can happen during a stroke or as cells decline due to Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Caregivers and family members may notice obvious changes in someone’s behavior, physical or mental limitations while their loved one remains adamant everything is fine. Anosognosia isn’t denial, it is a medical condition.

Caring for anyone living in cognitive decline is challenging. Caring for someone who doesn’t recognize they are ill can add to that challenge.  They may refuse to take medications because they don’t think they need them, or become angry when told they can’t stay home alone or drive to the store anymore.

Convincing someone there is a problem won’t make them believe you, so try to avoid arguing.  It doesn’t help them understand the situation, and can also lead to agitation, distrust and fear – all common side effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Read tips from The Memory Center on how to communicate with someone living with cognitive decline and how to keep them safe.

Day-To-Day Living With Someone Who Has Alzheimer’s

Keeping a schedule is important when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and dementia.  While every day is different, a routine that is based around activities that help promote movement and inspire purpose are important.

See what a typical day At The Memory Centers in Richmond and Virginia Beach looks like and what activities we suggest you include or contact us for more information about our programs.

When Should You Start Looking For Alzheimer’s Care?

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If you are caring for a spouse or family member with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you know first-hand how much time and effort it takes to keep them safe, fed, bathed and engaged in daily activities.

Alzheimer’s disease affects not only memory, but behavior, bodily functions and other systems. It is a progressive disease that eventually leaves the person unable to safely care for themselves. For many caregivers there comes a time when they realize they need outside help or to find a residential care facility.

alzheimer's care planning
Plan for care as early as possible.

Plan Ahead For Alzheimer’s Care

Even though it is an emotional and scary time, ideally you and your loved one should begin discussing care options when the disease is first diagnosed.  Get legal and financial documents in place and determine what services are covered by your health insurance so you can develop a plan to pay for future Alzheimer’s-related care.

During early to mid-stages of the disease some caregivers hire nurses or health-care aids to help out at home.  This helps loved ones remain at home longer, gives caregivers the breaks they need to rest, get some exercise or catch up with friends.

There will probably come a point when part-time help at home isn’t enough and care in a residential facility becomes necessary.  Even though most caregivers find it a hard subject to discuss, it is important to research residential care options early, even if you think you might not need them.

Crisis Situations

assisted living richmond
Don’t wait until a crisis to find Alzheimer’s care.

Many caregivers wait to research residential options until there is a crisis.  Maybe mom fell and injured herself.  She’s in the hospital, but when she gets out she will need 24-hour supervision, help getting out of bed or in the shower and her adult children can’t be with her at all times.

Another common scenario are spouses who serve as primary caregivers but aren’t physically able to lift their loved one to provide the care needed.  The possibility of injuring themselves, and the safety of their spouse, becomes a real concern.

When panic sets in, trying to find a community where someone can move in right away is not always a good idea.  It limits your choices as many residential care facilities have waiting lists.  In a crisis situation you may be forced to take what you can get.

Choosing a facility for your loved one is an important decision.  Being forced to make a choice too quickly can mean you settle on a community that isn’t what you had in mind, and doesn’t provide the peace of mind you need.  It could be outside your budget, too far from home, or just not a community you feel comfortable with.

Tour Residential Care Facilities Early

Tour several residential care facilities early, even before you need them.  When you find one that is right for you get on the wait list if possible.  Even if they don’t have a wait list when you tour, it doesn’t guarantee a space will be available when you need it.

Most assisted living and memory care communities require a deposit to secure a spot on the waiting list. Deposit amounts vary so make sure you fully understand the deposit amount and the refund policy.  In most cases, deposit amounts are refundable if you end up not needing residential care.

What If A Space Is Ready But We’re Not?

This is a common question.  Again, make sure you fully understand the policies your chosen community has in place.  In almost all cases if a room becomes available and you aren’t ready to move in, you can remain on the waiting list and the community will contact you when the next room becomes available.

As a caregiver it can be very hard to finally make the decision to accept the space and move your loved one, but there are benefits to moving before their health deteriorates further and becomes a crisis, as outlined above.

Residential Memory Care In Virginia

The Memory Center communities in Richmond and Virginia Beach provide exceptional care for those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.  Founded as the first assisted living facility devoted specifically to memory care, our program is designed to meet the challenging conditions of an aging brain with a caring, interactive community.

Our custom programs and activities are designed to inspire purpose, validate actions and invigorate while providing the highest quality of life for residents.  Functional and fun are key components of our activities – and we encourage family members and spouses to take an active role in their loved one’s care or join us for daily activities.

Read more about Alzheimer’s and dementia care or ask us a question or schedule a tour.

How Much Does Alzheimer’s Care Cost?

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Millions of Americans are living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, and as more of the population reaches age 65 and above, instances of the disease continue to rise.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that causes memory loss and behavioral changes that eventually leaves the person unable to safely care for themselves.  In the early stages of the disease many spouses and family members prefer to care for their loved one at home, but as the demands of the disease increase often residential care will become necessary.

While family members want the best for their loved one, cost is a very real consideration, and assisted living memory care can be expensive.

How Much Does Memory Care Cost?

The cost of living in a memory care facility depends on several factors including private vs. semi-private room, cost of living in the geographic area, level of care needed, medical supplies and more.

While there is not one specific price for memory care, SeniorHomes.com compiled the average cost of memory care by state.

The states with the most expensive median monthly memory care costs are:

  • Maine – $5,800
  • Massachusetts – $5,642
  • Vermont – $5,575
  • Connecticut – $5,344
  • Rhode Island – $5,270

The states with the least expensive median monthly memory care costs are:

  • Idaho – $3,165
  • Mississippi – $3,233
  • New Mexico – $3,440
  • South Carolina – $3,703
  • Arkansas – $3,792

Memory Care Costs in Virginia

The reported median cost in Virginia was $4,100 per month.  Keep in mind this means some facilities will cost less and some will cost more.

Comparing Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Costsmemory care cost virginia

When gathering information or touring residential facilities find out exactly what is included in the monthly cost.  These costs vary from one facility to the other so knowing what is, or isn’t, included will help you accurately compare and avoid surprises later.

The Memory Center in Virginia Beach and Midlothian/Richmond offers an all-inclusive rate so families know what to expect.  Our memory care pricing includes:

  • Private & semi private rooms including private bathrooms
  • Three daily meals, snacks and daily ice cream socials
  • Emergency pull cord in every room
  • Memory boxes to help stimulate meaningful memories of their life
  • Utilities to include: Cable, Telephone & Wi-Fi
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Maintenance of building and grounds
  • Outings with the Activities Program
  • Items from visits to the General Store

Personal Assistance

  • Highly trained staff to assist with activities of daily living including bathing, dressing, eating, and toileting
  • Medication management by our certified medication technician
  • Health monitoring by a RN nurse
  • Medical oversight by physician trained in geriatric care
  • Full activities and Memories and Motion program designed by our Activities Director
  • Physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy with a physician prescription as needed
  • Hospice/End of Life Care available

The only additional costs are incontinence supplies, salon services, long-distance telephone or transportation to an individual appointment.

Find Out More About Memory Care In Virginia

There are several options for care in Virginia.  The Memory Center communities provide care solely for those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.  Founded as the first assisted living facility devoted specifically to memory care, our program is designed to meet the challenging conditions of an aging brain with a caring, interactive community.

Utilizing the latest in science, nutrition and interactive therapies, our daily structured activities provide meaningful purpose to those with memory loss.

All Memory Center communities are built around our original Town Center and Neighborhood layout and feature focused programming and daily activities.  We get to know each resident for who they are today – not who they used to be.

Find out more about our programs or what to a typical day looks like in our assisted living facilities.

What To Look For When Touring Assisted Living Facilities

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Considering assisted living or memory care for a loved one is often a very difficult decision, and finding the right facility is important.  Not only for your loved one’s health and well being, but for your own peace of mind.

When you tour facilities of course you will notice details like how clean it is, if it is well lit and in good condition.  But to get the most out of your tour The Memory Center has some tips on other items to look for and questions to ask.

Staff to Resident Ratios

This is an important question to ask, not only for daytime, but during the evening and overnight hours as well.  The higher the ratio, the more residents each staff member is taking care of during their shift.

The Memory Center’s ratio is 4 residents to 1 staff, which gives all our staff members more time to spend with residents, providing individualized attention and responding to resident needs.

What Activities Are Provided?  Is There A Schedule?

No one wants their loved one sitting alone in a room all day bored, or in front of a TV.  Activities are important in all types of assisted living and memory care facilities.   Ask to see the activities schedule and, if possible, tour when activities are taking place so you can see them first hand.  A sign of a good activities program is when the residents and the staff are engaged and having fun together.

If you are visiting a facility specializing in care for Alzheimer’s or dementia ask if the activities are designed to encourage motion, stimulate memories and keep boredom away.   Read about a typical day at The Memory Center Richmond and Virginia Beach.

How Is The Food?

memory care richmond
Resident Dining – The Memory Center, Richmond

Mealtimes are important, as is the quality of food.  Bland and boring food can get old very quickly.  Ask to see a menu and note the entree options.  Is there a good balance of choices and is the menu nutritionally sound?  Visit the dining room and, if possible, join them for a meal and taste the food for yourself.

What Is Included In The Cost Of Assisted Living?

Assisted living can be expensive and what is included in a daily or monthly rate will vary from one facility to the other.  Ask for a detailed list of what is, or isn’t, included so you can accurately compare and avoid surprises later.

The Memory Center offers an all-inclusive rate so families know what to expect.  Our memory care pricing includes:

  • Private & semi private rooms including private bathrooms
  • Three daily meals, snacks and daily ice cream socials
  • Emergency pull cord in every room
  • Memory boxes to help stimulate meaningful memories of their life
  • Utilities to include: Cable, Telephone & Wi-Fi
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Maintenance of building and grounds
  • Outings with the Activities Program
  • Items from visits to the General Store

Personal Assistance

  • Highly trained staff to assist with activities of daily living including bathing, dressing, eating, and toileting
  • Medication management by our certified medication technician
  • Health monitoring by a RN nurse
  • Medical oversight by physician trained in geriatric care
  • Full activities and Memories and Motion program designed by our Activities Director
  • Physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy with a physician prescription as needed
  • Hospice/End of Life Care available

The only additional costs are incontinence supplies, salon services, long-distance telephone or transportation to an individual appointment.

How Is Bathing & Personal Care Handled?

How often do they bathe residents, wash their hair, help them shave if necessary?  If you have bathing preferences for your loved one find out if they can honor them.  Don’t forget to observe the current residents.  Do they look clean and well-groomed?  Are they dressed in clothing or still in pajamas well into the afternoon?

What Are Their Security Measures – Indoors and Out

What security protocols does the facility have in place to keep residents safe indoors and out – including every day safety like trip hazards.  Do the walking paths have uneven footing or tree roots sticking out that could cause a fall?  Are cords to lamps keep close to the wall to avoid a trip hazard?  Is the space wide enough and open so residents can safely move throughout the facility?

If you are visiting a memory, or Alzheimer’s care facility ask how they manage wandering and what steps they have in place to prevent it.

First Impression

While it is important to ask questions and gather information, based on your first impression and instinct you will probably know when you’ve found the best facility for you.  If your first impression of an assisted living facility is that it is too dark and smells bad, it probably isn’t going to be your top pick, even if the food was good.

Tour The Memory Center

Currently the Memory Center operates two facilities, Midlothian (near Richmond, VA), Virginia Beach and Atlanta. Our  communities provide exceptional care for those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.  We founded the first assisted living facility devoted specifically to memory care with a program designed to meet the challenging conditions of an aging brain with a caring, interactive community.

Contact us for more information or to set up a tour.

 

Tips For Alzheimer’s Caregivers

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Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia is challenging.  If you are caring for a spouse or close family member it can be even more challenging as you’re also dealing with the emotion of seeing a loved one in a state of decline.

There are some practical tips caregivers can take to help manage stress.

Reduce Alzheimer’s Frustration & Agitation

activites for alzheimers patients
Activities like gardening can inspire purpose and prevent boredom.

Agitation is common in people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.  Agitation can be caused by boredom, new situations, fear stemming from trying to make sense of a world they don’t understand, or basic needs like hunger.

Caregivers might not be able to reduce agitation completely but there are steps they can take to get ahead of it.

Take note of when agitation seems to occur.  Is it a a specific time of day around mealtime?  Perhaps they are hungry or thirsty.  Is it at a busy time of day when other family members are coming home from work? If so try to limit noise or outside distractions and engage them in an appropriate activity.

Activities that provide a sense of independence and purpose can ease agitation – especially with those in the early stages of the disease.  Familiar activities like setting the table, gardening, folding laundry, helping in the kitchen (with supervision), or their favorite craft. See our ideas for different activities or  these tips from the Alzheimer’s Association.

Realize You Are Not Alone

While caregivers may feel isolated, it is important to know many others are in the same situation.  Don’t be afraid to attend support groups where you can share your feelings or ask for helpful ideas. The Alzheimer’s Association and other organizations also offer online forums and support where you can connect with others 24 hours a day.

Develop A Schedule

Develop a basic schedule based around your loved one’s mood and needs.  For example scheduling appointments, bathing and other activities in the morning when they are rested and have more energy.

As late afternoon approaches you may sense a trend of wandering or agitation from sundowning.  This could be a good time of day to engage them in easy, soothing activities such as listening to music, watching a familiar movie, clipping coupons or looking through old photos.  Click to read The Memory Center tips on how to manage sundowning.

Acknowledge Each Day Is Different

Even with a schedule every day will be different and sometimes you just need to be flexible.   Those with Alzheimer’s, and their caregivers, will have better days than others.  There may be days you feel like you didn’t get anything accomplished – and it is OK to feel that way.  Keeping someone fed, safe, bathed and occupied is a big job and an accomplishment in itself.

Think About Safety

In addition to memory loss, Alzheimer’s also affects other brain functions including sense of perception and balance.  Creating a safe place in the home where they can walk safely without trip hazards including rugs, cords, or sharp corners is highly encouraged.

Another safety concern is wandering, which is a common behavior for people with memory loss. Even if your loved one isn’t wandering, it is still a good idea to take steps to prevent wandering before it starts. Consider installing locks high up on doors and adding an alarm system, or a simple bell mechanism, that will alert you if a door has been opened.  ID bracelets and other tracking devices like Medic Alert can help identify your loved one should they wander off.

Take A Break & Ask For Help

Caregivers are under a lot of stress and often don’t take time to keep up with friends, exercise routines or their own needs.  Not taking breaks can easily lead to fatigue and caregiver burnout which isn’t good for you or your loved one.

Even if someone with Alzheimer’s objects, caregivers need to schedule time away on a regular basis.  Ask another family member for help or consider using respite services who can provide caregivers experienced in working with people living Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Get More Alzheimer’s Tips

The Memory Center is dedicated to meeting the challenging conditions of an aging brain with a caring, interactive community designed around the individual.  We are here to support our current residents, future residents and their families by providing resources and exceptional programming to those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Fill out our contact form to receive more tips and information on how to live well with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Recent Alzheimer’s Statistics

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Alzheimer’s and dementia will affect everyone at some point.  Whether it is a friend, neighbor, parent, loved one or you work with as a caregiver – someone you know, love or care for will be impacted.

Even though the statistics are scary it is important to stay informed.  The more you know about Alzheimer’s and dementia the more you can recognize early warning signs, separate Alzheimer’s facts from myths, or learn how to handle the emotional diagnosis of a loved one.

 

FF_Infographic_2014The Alzheimer’s Association reports more than 5 million Americans are living with the disease and someone in the U.S. develops the disease every 67 seconds.   This is why The Memory Center communities are dedicated to providing care specifically to those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

People with dementia struggle to separate memory from the physical state of present-day living and research shows meaningful, structured activities focus and engage the aging mind, which eases common symptoms of boredom and agitation.  All Memory Center programs are designed to inspire purpose, validate actions and invigorate while providing the highest quality of life for residents.

Contact us to get more information on our programs in Virgina Beach and Richmond.  Or read more about our structured daily activities designed to help people with Alzheimer’s and dementia to live well.

Preventing Alzheimer’s Wandering

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People suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia are prone to wandering, which can be extremely dangerous for the person and very worrisome for caregivers.

There are different reasons for wandering including boredom, fear, searching for something or trying to find a place from their past such as work or a childhood home.

Regardless of the reason someone wanders, caregivers should learn to identify the signs of wandering and know how to keep their loved one safe.

Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Wandering

While not all wandering can be prevented, picking up on cues can often stop wandering before it starts.  Watch for signs such as:

  • Has To Be Somewhere – A person who insists it is time to go to work or pick up a child from school could be moments away from walking out the door
  • Boredom and Restlessness – Someone who isn’t getting enough exercise or stimulation can begin wandering simply to find someone to talk to or something to do
  • Needing To Find Something  – When someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia starts looking for a specific object or person they may wander off to find it
  • Basic Needs – Consider your loved one might be wandering simply because they want a drink of water at night or need to use the restroom

Pay attention to these cues and note the time of day. You may see a pattern emerge.

preventing wandering
Prevent Alzheimer’s Wandering

Preventing Wandering

Once you identify the signs of wandering you can make a plan to control the behavior more effectively and diffuse the situation.

If you notice wandering is happening during certain times of day plan an activity beforehand such as going for a walk together, playing cards or working in the garden.

You communication style can also make a difference.  If  dad becomes restless and decides it is time to leave for work don’t argue with him or remind him he retired years ago.  Instead try validating his feelings and re-directing him to another activity.  For example say “you’ve always been such a hard worker” then ask if he will help you fold the laundry.  Or acknowledge his need to get to work then ask him to tell you about his job. Talking about the memories might be all that is needed.

If wandering at nighttime is a problem make sure your loved one uses the restroom before bed or keep a spill proof cup of water next on the nightstand.  This may prevent wandering to the restroom or kitchen during the night for a drink of water.

Keep Them Safe From Wandering

Getting ahead of wandering behavior is important, but there additional safety measures you can take to keep your loved one safe.

  • Place locks high on the door or low to the ground where they are not in the person’s line of vision
  • Use childproof door knob covers or disguise the door by hanging a curtain over it or painting the doorknob the same color as the door
  • Keep trigger items like car keys and shoes out of sight
  • Create a safe place for wandering in the house or secure backyard free of trip hazards like cords or tree roots
  • Install a security system that alerts you when a door is opened, or simply place a wind chime or bell on the door
  • Consider an ID bracelet or a GPS monitoring system such as Medic Alert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return

About The Memory Center

Founded as the first assisted living facility devoted specifically to memory care, our program and communities are custom designed to meet the challenging conditions of an aging brain with a caring, interactive community.

We support not only our residents, but also their families encouraging them to stay involved and ask questions so they can rest easier knowing their loved one is safe, happy and receiving care they can feel good about.  Contact us for more information or read more about a typical day at The Memory Center.

Dealing With An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

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Finding out a loved one has Alzheimer’s can be scary and difficult to accept.   Emotions including anger, guilt and grief are not uncommon.   There are some basic tips to help those dealing with a diagnosis so they can get the information they need and develop a caregiving plan.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions
Talk to the doctor and ask questions like what to expect during each stage, if there are treatments that might help slow the disease or how to deal with everyday challenges or agitation.

It helps to write your questions down ahead of time in order of importance and take notes during the appointment.  Consider recording the conversation to help you remember important points or bring another family member to the appointment for support or to ask questions if you find it to difficult.

Resources & Support
The Alzheimer’s Association, the Alzheimer’s Foundation and other resources offer families and caregivers a wealth of information.  Topics including An Introduction to Caregiving and online message boards where you can connect with others in the same situation, ask questions, share your feelings or find local support groups.

Don’t be afraid to reach out.  Staying connected can help alleviate feelings of being alone or overwhelmed that so many family members and caregivers face.

Planning
Even if you loved one was diagnosed very early it is important to have a plan for care.  As the disease progresses the level of care needed will increase.  Don’t wait to start organizing legal and financial documents, determine what services are covered by your health insurance and research at home care or long-term memory care facilities like The Memory Center.

Take Breaks & Take Care of Yourself
If you are the primary caregiver realize you can’t do everything all the time and will need breaks.  Primary caregivers often feel guilty about leaving their loved one or asking for outside help from other family or respite care.But not taking care of yourself or getting run down will not help your loved one.

Caregiver burnout is real and can lead to additional health issues including anxiety.  Make time to stay involved in activities you enjoy, connect with friends, family or support groups and stay active.  Allowing yourself time away will make you a better caregiver.

Learn more about The Memory Center and the services we provide to those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

 

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