Almost every minute Alzheimer’s disease impacts a new brain in the United States, and 2/3 of these belong to women. Women are also more likely to become a primary caregiver to someone living with Alzheimer’s.
While Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia impact everyone, women are at the center of this growing epidemic.
Maria Shriver and The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement™ is on a mission to inform and educate women around the US and provide key research to find out why women are more likely to receive an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
You can join the Women’s Movement in the fight. Sign up online to show your support, see tips on how to keep your brain healthy and active, get the facts on Alzheimer’s or explore tips for caregivers.
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.
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.
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.
For the second consecutive year, The Memory Center, Richmond has been voted #1 Memory Care in the Our Health Richmond Senior Living Awards.
Each year Our Health asks thousands of Richmond area consumers, patients and providers to vote on their best experiences communities like The Memory Center. We are honored to receive the top award in Memory Care again this year.
Thank you to everyone who voted and supported The Memory Center, Richmond. Our community is dedicated to providing the best care to those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. We believe the challenging conditions of an aging brain should be met with a caring, interactive community designed around the individual. One that recognizes them for who they are today.
You can see all the winners in the July/August Our Health Richmond on news stands around the area including most grocery stores. Our Executive Director, Jennifer Koeniger is also featured in Q&A section answering the very important question: How do I know which memory care community is right for my loved on with Alzheimer’s or dementia?
Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult for children, teens, children even adults to understand. There will be times you grandma doesn’t seem like she used to. Or without warning she may get confused, agitated or even angry to the point of accusing you of stealing. And it may happen when you are out in public, at church, the grocery store, or at a family gathering. Even though you know Alzheimer’s is the cause, it is common to be embarrassed about it.
While you can’t stop behavior changes due to Alzheimer’s, there are tips to help you better manage the situation.
Think About It From Their Perspective
Alzheimer’s progressively destroys brain cells over time, so during the early stages many people living with the disease 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.
It is important to put yourself in their shoes and think about how you might react if your world suddenly didn’t make sense or you were in a position where you realized you should know someone – even a close family member – but just couldn’t remember who they were or what they meant to you.
Adjust Social Routines
Everyone needs social interaction, even those living with memory loss. But as the disease progresses unfamiliar places and social interactions can become scary and more become difficult to manage.
Consider hosting the monthly family dinner at your house, or the home of a close friend instead of meeting at a new restaurant. Consider a familiar locale for the family vacation and stick to visiting favorite landmarks and attractions.
While each day is different, through many stages of Alzheimer’s it is likely your loved one will feel more comforted and peaceful with the familiar vs. something new that might trigger fear or agitation.
Have A Sense Of Humor
While Alzheimer’s and dementia are serious, as a family member of friend keeping a sense of humor makes a big difference. Let’s face it, there are times you just have to find humor in the situation. It can lighten the mood not only for yourself, but also for your family and your loved one suffering from memory loss.
And don’t forget is human nature to pick up on the emotions of others around you and this is no different for those living with memory loss. Getting embarrassed or anxious when grandma says the wrong thing can even make the situation worse as she picks up on your rising level of anxiety.
Sometimes it is just best to whisper a quiet apology, laugh and move on.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that destroys memory. If someone can’t remember, recalls something differently, or is convinced the neighbor stole their favorite pen, don’t spend time arguing or trying to convince them otherwise. Even if they end up agreeing with you today it is no guarantee they will remember it tomorrow. Instead try reassuring them or even asking questions about the memory they are recalling.
Alzheimer’s disease is typically referred to in three stages. Early, middle and late stage. Many people are familiar with the early (or mild) and the late (or severe) stages, but not sure what to expect from the middle stage.
Moderate, or middle stage, Alzheimer’s is generally the longest stage of the disease with some living in the stage for several years.
As the disease progresses family members and caregivers may notice behaviors such as:
Needing assistance performing daily tasks such as bathing or dressing
Difficulty following a conversation or remembering details about what day it is or their family history
Withdrawing from social situations
Behavior or more frequent mood changes including becoming agitated, suspicious of others
Changes in sleep patterns such as wanting to sleep more during the day, and difficulty sleeping at night
Safety concerns become an issue at this stage and caregivers or loved ones may have to initiate tough conversations. Taking away car keys, moving in with family members or hiring around the clock care for example. Wandering, a typical Alzheimer’s behavior, may appear and should be taken as a serious safety concern.
Caring For Someone In Middle Stage Alzheimer’s
Caring for someone at this stage becomes increasingly demanding. As the disease progresses caregivers become responsible for day-to-day tasks such as helping the person get dressed, grooming, shopping, meals, household chores, transportation, keeping them occupied and much more.
Many caregivers become so busy taking care of their loved one they start to ignore their own needs such as not getting enough sleep, not exercising, not socializing with friends, or taking the breaks they need. To be a good caregiver you need time away and shouldn’t feel guilty about asking trusted friends, neighbors or even hiring help on a regular basis to give you a break.
If you haven’t already, develop a daily schedule and try to stick to it the best you can. Life with Alzheimer’s often comes with surprises, but having a routine helps makes sense of the day and can provide reassurance to your loved one. Each day should also include activities that provide a sense of purpose and can be adapted to the person’s abilities or mood.
Activities such as taking a walk, working in the garden, listening to music, sorting playing cards, clipping coupons or folding laundry are ideas.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, by 2025, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to reach 7.1 million — a 40 percent increase from the 5.1 million age 65 and older affected in 2015.
Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s but you can help promote awareness, programs and research by supporting the Greater Richmond Walk to End Alzheimer’s event on Thursday April 27th.
Simply stop by Argyle Cupcakes in Chesterfield near Robious & Huguenot Road on April 27th between 11am and 7pm and purchase any of their delicious treats.
Argyle will donate 20% of your purchase to help end Alzheimer’s disease. Just present the flyer below or mention The Memory Center at checkout.
The Memory Center, Richmond is a unique assisted living community setting the new standard in memory care to help those with Alzheimer’s and dementia live well.
Our custom designed community addresses the needs of those living with memory loss. Filled with natural light our safe indoor and outdoor spaces allow for freedom of movement and independence including a Town Center, secure courtyard and walking trails.
We offer personalized services and the industry’s best staffing ratio of 4:1 and 24/7 nursing oversight.
Don’t take our word for it. Come see The Memory Center, Richmond for yourself during our Spring Fling open house.
Tours and prizes every half hour
Delicious appetizers and spring beverages
Music and ice cream in our sunny courtyard
Games in the Tavern
A special screening of The Ukulele Yoga Lady in our Landmark Theater
If you have a spouse or family member diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia you are probably wondering how long they will be able to live at home and how much help they will need.
Alzheimer’s disease can progress slowly and during the early to mid-stages of the disease living at home with help is possible. Even so, many caregivers find it necessary to enlist family members, nurses or home health-care aids to help. Not only so their loved one can remain at home longer but also give the caregiver routine breaks to rest, exercise or catch up with friends.
As Alzheimer’s continues to progressive it impacts more than just memory. It affects brain functions including sense of perception and balance, behavior, bodily functions and other systems. Eventually the person will no longer be able to live without around the clock care. They may no longer be able to dress themselves, feed themselves or even use the restroom without help or supervision.
At this stage even with hired part-time help, living at home becomes less of an option. It and can even become a safety concern 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 won’t need them. Waiting to research options until there is a crisis, such as a fall, can leave you scrambling to find quality care quickly.
Most residential facilities have a waiting list so it is a good idea to find one that best suits your needs and get on the waiting list early. In most cases if a room becomes available and you aren’t ready to move in, you can remain on the waiting list and have the community contact you when the next room becomes available.
About The Memory Centers
The Memory Center communities in Richmond, Virginia Beach and Johns Creek provide exceptional care for those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Founded as the first assisted living facilities 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.