Virginia Beach Alzheimer’s Support Group

THE MEMORY CENTER VIRGINIA BEACH IS HOSTING A VIRTUAL ALZHEIMER’S SUPPORT GROUP STARTING THE FIRST MONDAY OF EVERY MONTH FROM 4:00PM-5:00PM AND THE 1ST MONDAY OF EACH MONTH THEREAFTER.

PLEASE JOIN JOAN MOTLEY AND BRENDA COBB OF INTERIM HOME HEALTH AND HOSPICE AS THEY PRESENT AN ARRAY OF INFORMATION ABOUT THIS DISEASE.

IT WILL BE A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK WITH OTHER CAREGIVERS WHO ARE EITHER TAKING CARE OF A LOVED ONE WITH ALZHEIMER’S/DEMENTIA, ANYONE WHO WOULD LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS DISEASE OR EVEN FAMILIES WHO ARE WONDERING ABOUT THEIR OPTIONS FOR CARE OF THEIR LOVED ONE.

Please RSVP to Roberta Gilbert, Admissions/Marketing Director at: Roberta@thememorycenter.com

NOTE:  This is a virtual event, once you RSVP you will receive more information about how to log in. 

Atlanta Resource Guide For Alzheimer’s Care And Support

An Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis is life changing, and it is also a call-to-action.

The sooner you can breathe through the initial shock and adjustment period, the better able you’ll be to create a long-term care plan that involves the input, opinions, and preferences of your loved one.

Quick action also optimizes the time available to research and learn more about the Alzheimer’s journey before it progresses to mid- or later-stages.

This gives you a more spacious ability to explore local options for the following:

  • Adult day care
  • Home care
  • Memory care

It also enables you to thoughtfully develop and assemble a financial plan that supports your loved one’s long-term care goals.

Top Online Resources to Learn About Alzheimer’s and Alzheimer’s Care

There is only so much you can take in at a doctor’s appointment, especially in the wake of a confirmed Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

The odds are that in addition to visiting your general practitioner, you’ll be referred to a neurologist.

Hopefully, your healthcare team will provide plenty of information about Alzheimer’s via pamphlets, and allow ample time for your questions and answers. We recommend recording appointments (with the doctor’s permission), so you can listen back afterward.

There are a wide range of reputable, online resources for learning about Alzheimer’s disease, keeping up on the latest research regarding medications and/or lifestyle changes that slow its progression, as well as information about the type of long-term care that’s most successful for those with mid- to late-stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The following are the most well-respected and current websites available.

The National Institute of Aging Alzheimer’s Page

The US Department of Health and Human Services underwrites an organization called the National Institute of Health (NIH). Under this umbrella also lives the National Institute on Aging (NIA), which hosts an Alzheimer’s Disease page.

This is a solid place to start when you want to learn everything you can about Alzheimer’s, including general descriptions of the disease, information about caregiving needs and options as well as up-to-date facts about current Alzheimer’s research.

Another exciting thing about the NIA’s page is that it provides information about upcoming and existing clinical trials in which consenting adults can participate.

Additionally, there is a wealth of educational resources about diet and lifestyle changes that help to prevent Alzheimer’s, slow down its progression and to improve the outcome for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

The Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association is a leading voluntary health association dedicated to supporting Alzheimer’s research, providing information about Alzheimer’s and memory care, and connecting others with Alzheimer’s support in the Atlanta area and online.

The Alzheimer’s Association was founded more than 30 years ago when a group of families and caregivers joined together to create an organization that would unite caregivers, provide support to those facing Alzheimer’s and advance research into the disease.

Today, the AA has connected with and provided support to millions of people affected by an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and their website continues to be a premier resource for all aspects of Alzheimer’s information.

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

Similar to the Alzheimer’s Association, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) was founded by individuals who are personally affected by Alzheimer’s.

One of their most helpful resources is a national toll-free hotline, (866-232-8484), that is staffed entirely by licensed clinical social workers specializing in Alzheimer’s care, treatment and support.

Like other non-profits, the AFA funds research and does everything possible to provide caregiver support and educate the public about Alzheimer’s, including information about confidential memory screening services available in Atlanta and elsewhere. Memory screenings are funded by generous donors and grantors and have been used to screen more than four million people nationwide.

Alzheimer’s Support From Family & Friends

An Alzheimer’s diagnosis spreads ripples far beyond the lives of the patient, most powerfully impacting their spouse, immediate family and the next ring of family members and close friends.

Having conversations with these individuals early establishes your first rungs of support. Often, individuals are reticent to share this information and may want to keep it a secret out of fear, feelings of embarrassment and shame, etc.

While a short period of private adjustment is understandable, the sooner you feel comfortable having deep conversations with family and close friends, the better you’ll navigate a long-term care plan that makes sense for you and loved ones.

Read, Guide for Talking to a Loved One About Memory Care, which also outlines how to bring close friends and family into the conversation.

Learn About Memory Care Options

One of the first items of business is creating a memory care plan; again, this is one of the reasons early action is so critical.

While it’s true people with early stages of Alzheimer’s can do fine for a bit by implementing in-home caregiving support, it’s also true that caregiving becomes quickly overwhelming for spouse caregivers. Thus, it makes sense to learn all you can about the full spectrum of options to add to your Alzheimer’s support and care kit.

In almost all cases, those with Alzheimer’s fare best when they move to memory care communities earlier, rather than later, so individuals have time to feel at home and adjust to their new environment while they are still able to make decisions and be more fully present in their day-to-day lives.

Once mid- to late-stage Alzheimer’s sets in, significant transitions are highly stressful for both patient and spouse. And, sadly, in the attempt to “preserve the status-quo” for as long as possible, the resulting stress and strain of the move can exacerbate their symptoms.

Respite Care

In the beginning, while your loved one lives at home, you’ll need respite care. This invaluable service provides a break for primary caregivers.

While respite care can be brought in, or offered by a local senior center, we recommend using respite care options offered by the assisted living or memory care centers you’re currently researching. It’s an opportunity to familiarize yourself with their grounds, services, programs, and staff and ask important questions to learn more about the community.

Assisted Living Options

Until recently, those with later-stage Alzheimer’s moved into assisted living and/or nursing home facilities. These are still options, but we recommend only considering facilities offering dedicated memory care services since the needs and care required for those with Alzheimer’s are different from that of the general assisted living population.

Read, How to Compare Assisted Living Facilities, for more information.

Memory Care Centers

Dedicated Memory Care Centers are the best way to ensure patients live in supportive, stimulating and caring environments specifically designed and dedicated to those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

In addition to exemplary, round-the-clock care, high-quality memory care centers have on-site doctors, nurses, dental care, pharmacies, etc., to ease the transition for residents who are ill or require routine, managed care for existing medical conditions.

Similarly, things like Town Center models, art and music facilities, classes and other amenities provide a sense of “normal life” and make it a pleasure for spouses, friends and family members to visit.

Ultimately, memory care centers adhere to the Alzheimer Association Dementia Care Practice Recommendations, focused on tenets like person-centered care, on-site medical staff and supportive and therapeutic environments. All are proven to improve the quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Alzheimer’s Care And Support in Atlanta

Challenging conditions of an aging brain should be met with a supportive well-rounded community carefully planned for the individual.

This not only includes access to all of the necessary resources for a high quality of life today but one that can adapt to who they are tomorrow.

Learn more about memory care in Atlanta

Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care Partner Support Group

 

Join Mayme Holombe of Dynamic Hospice for a weekly Dementia and Alzheimer’s Care Support Group.  This group meets the third Thursday of every month at 10am.

Held at The Memory Center Atlanta, the group provides a safe place to learn more about the dementia process and how to manage difficult behaviors and day to day challenges.  Learn and connect with others who are caregivers. Everyone is welcome. 

Please RSVP below or by calling 770-476-3678.

Download a flyer for more information.

 

 

Evening Alzheimer’s and Dementia Support Group

dementia support group atlanta
Download a flyer.

Caring for a loved or family member with Alzheimer’s or dementia can be difficult.  Connecting with others in the same situation can be beneficial to learn from each other, get questions answered and find out about new resources.

The Memory Center, Atlanta is pleased to announce a new Alzheimer’s and Dementia Partner Support group coordinated by Certified Facilitator – Carol Mullen with Compassus.

This group will meet at The Memory Center, Atlanta the first Wednesday of every month from 6pm-7pm.

Everyone is welcome, and there is no charge for the event.  To reserve your spot call (678) 607-9679 or email Christine Miller at ChristineM@thememorycenter.com

Upcoming groups are scheduled:

Wednesday, September 6th at 6:00pm

Wednesday, October 4th at 6:00pm

Wednesday, November 1st at 6:00pm

The Memory Center, Atlanta is located in Johns Creek next to City Hall and Emory Hospital at 12050 Findley Road.

Atlanta Resource Guide for Alzheimer’s Care & Support

An Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis is life changing, and it is also a call-to-action.

The sooner you can breathe through the initial shock and adjustment period, the better able you’ll be to create a long-term care plan that involves the input, opinions, and preferences of your loved one.

Quick action also optimizes the time available to research and learn more about the Alzheimer’s journey before it progresses to mid- or later-stages.

This gives you a more spacious ability to explore local options for the following:

  • Adult day care
  • Home care
  • Memory care

It also enables you to thoughtfully develop and assemble a financial plan that supports your loved one’s long-term care goals.

Top Online Resources to Learn About Alzheimer’s and Alzheimer’s Care

There is only so much you can take in at a doctor’s appointment, especially in the wake of a confirmed Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

The odds are that in addition to visiting your general practitioner, you’ll be referred to a neurologist.

Hopefully, your healthcare team will provide plenty of information about Alzheimer’s via pamphlets, and allow ample time for your questions and answers. We recommend recording appointments (with the doctor’s permission), so you can listen back afterward.

There are a wide range of reputable, online resources for learning about Alzheimer’s disease, keeping up on the latest research regarding medications and/or lifestyle changes that slow its progression, as well as information about the type of long-term care that’s most successful for those with mid- to late-stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The following are the most well-respected and current websites available.

The National Institute of Aging Alzheimer’s Page

The US Department of Health and Human Services underwrites an organization called the National Institute of Health (NIH). Under this umbrella also lives the National Institute on Aging (NIA), which hosts an Alzheimer’s Disease page.

This is a solid place to start when you want to learn everything you can about Alzheimer’s, including general descriptions of the disease, information about caregiving needs and options as well as up-to-date facts about current Alzheimer’s research.

Another exciting thing about the NIA’s page is that it provides information about upcoming and existing clinical trials in which consenting adults can participate.

Additionally, there is a wealth of educational resources about diet and lifestyle changes that help to prevent Alzheimer’s, slow down its progression and to improve the outcome for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

The Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association is a leading voluntary health association dedicated to supporting Alzheimer’s research, providing information about Alzheimer’s and memory care, and connecting others with Alzheimer’s support in the Atlanta area and online.

The Alzheimer’s Association was founded more than 30 years ago when a group of families and caregivers joined together to create an organization that would unite caregivers, provide support to those facing Alzheimer’s and advance research into the disease.

Today, the AA has connected with and provided support to millions of people affected by an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and their website continues to be a premier resource for all aspects of Alzheimer’s information.

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

Similar to the Alzheimer’s Association, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) was founded by individuals who are personally affected by Alzheimer’s.

One of their most helpful resources is a national toll-free hotline, (866-232-8484), that is staffed entirely by licensed clinical social workers specializing in Alzheimer’s care, treatment and support.

Like other non-profits, the AFA funds research and does everything possible to provide caregiver support and educate the public about Alzheimer’s, including information about confidential memory screening services available in Atlanta and elsewhere. Memory screenings are funded by generous donors and grantors and have been used to screen more than four million people nationwide.

Alzheimer’s Support From Family & Friends

An Alzheimer’s diagnosis spreads ripples far beyond the lives of the patient, most powerfully impacting their spouse, immediate family and the next ring of family members and close friends.

Having conversations with these individuals early establishes your first rungs of support. Often, individuals are reticent to share this information and may want to keep it a secret out of fear, feelings of embarrassment and shame, etc.

While a short period of private adjustment is understandable, the sooner you feel comfortable having deep conversations with family and close friends, the better you’ll navigate a long-term care plan that makes sense for you and loved ones.

Read, Guide for Talking to a Loved One About Memory Care, which also outlines how to bring close friends and family into the conversation.

Learn About Memory Care Options

One of the first items of business is creating a memory care plan; again, this is one of the reasons early action is so critical.

While it’s true people with early stages of Alzheimer’s can do fine for a bit by implementing in-home caregiving support, it’s also true that caregiving becomes quickly overwhelming for spouse caregivers. Thus, it makes sense to learn all you can about the full spectrum of options to add to your Alzheimer’s support and care kit.

In almost all cases, those with Alzheimer’s fare best when they move to memory care communities earlier, rather than later, so individuals have time to feel at home and adjust to their new environment while they are still able to make decisions and be more fully present in their day-to-day lives.

Once mid- to late-stage Alzheimer’s sets in, significant transitions are highly stressful for both patient and spouse. And, sadly, in the attempt to “preserve the status-quo” for as long as possible, the resulting stress and strain of the move can exacerbate their symptoms.

Respite Care

In the beginning, while your loved one lives at home, you’ll need respite care. This invaluable service provides a break for primary caregivers.

While respite care can be brought in, or offered by a local senior center, we recommend using respite care options offered by the assisted living or memory care centers you’re currently researching. It’s an opportunity to familiarize yourself with their grounds, services, programs, and staff and ask important questions to learn more about the community.

Assisted Living Options

Until recently, those with later-stage Alzheimer’s moved into assisted living and/or nursing home facilities. These are still options, but we recommend only considering facilities offering dedicated memory care services since the needs and care required for those with Alzheimer’s are different from that of the general assisted living population.

Read, How to Compare Assisted Living Facilities, for more information.

Memory Care Centers

Dedicated Memory Care Centers are the best way to ensure patients live in supportive, stimulating and caring environments specifically designed and dedicated to those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

In addition to exemplary, round-the-clock care, high-quality memory care centers have on-site doctors, nurses, dental care, pharmacies, etc., to ease the transition for residents who are ill or require routine, managed care for existing medical conditions.

Similarly, things like Town Center models, art and music facilities, classes and other amenities provide a sense of “normal life” and make it a pleasure for spouses, friends and family members to visit.

Ultimately, memory care centers adhere to the Alzheimer Association Dementia Care Practice Recommendations, focused on tenets like person-centered care, on-site medical staff and supportive and therapeutic environments. All are proven to improve the quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Alzheimer’s Care And Support in Atlanta

Challenging conditions of an aging brain should be met with a supportive well-rounded community carefully planned for the individual.

This not only includes access to all of the necessary resources for a high quality of life today but one that can adapt to who they are tomorrow.

Learn more about memory care in Atlanta

Here is an additional list of resources is designed to answer your questions, provide tips and help your family throughout the process of finding the right Memory Care.

The Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association Georgia Chapter

Caregiver Advice on Managing Symptoms and Handling Situations

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Caregiver Center, from the Alzheimer’s Association

A Place for Mom, How to Recognize Signs It May Be Time for Assisted Living

Oak Tree Family Medicine  

Emory Johns Creek Hospital 

Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center 

Southeastern Railway Museum

Georgia Aquarium

Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

Suggested Reading

Creating Moments of Joy, by Joy-Jolene, A Brackey, 1999

Activity Planning at Your Fingertips by Marge Knoth

Failure Free Activities for the Alzheimer’s Patient, by Carmel Sheridan

Activity Planning for Persons with Dementia: A sourcebook available through the Alzheimer’s Association

Wandering: Common Problems with the Elderly Confused by Graham Stokes

Please check back often as we continually add to our resource list.

Have a question that isn’t answered here?  Feel free to contact us.

What Is Dementia Care?

Female dementia care provider working on a puzzle with a senior client.Dementia care, also called memory care, is a unique senior care services niche. While it may encompass many of the same tenets of senior care—such as companion services, meal preparation, medication reminders, or transportation services—dementia care is specific to seniors experiencing Alzheimer’s, dementia, and progressive memory loss.

Dementia care providers are specifically educated and trained in slowing down the progression of dementia-related conditions, as well as helping clients and their families celebrate life and find purpose in each day. Their approach is rooted in research-driven information and recommendations. 

Memory Care Offers Personalized Support

While dementia care provides customized care for the clients, it also supports spouses and family members by providing peace of mind. When you know your loved one is being looked after by experienced and compassionate professionals, you can have the confidence to unwind, take some time away from your senior loved one, and engage in your own social activities.

Some of the most common memory care services go above and beyond standard senior care options because people with memory issues need extra support. Below is a list that shows how dementia care is especially unique, and why you might consider it for your loved one.

1. Full-spectrum safety and security

We can never predict the moment a loved one goes from early to mid-stage Alzheimer’s or dementia. But for most, safety issues like nighttime wandering, getting lost on routine walks, inability to remember the home address, sundowning, or escalating agitation are red flags that drive to the next stages of the care plan.

Experienced memory care providers know that the best dementia care plans are proactive rather than reactive, and thereby prevent the most common risks. This includes things like:

  • Removing trip hazards and fall risks and installing fall sensors
  • Clearly labeling rooms, cupboards, drawers, etc.
  • Decluttering to keep rooms simple and streamlined
  • Installing locks or deadbolts above eye level and keeping doors locked at all times to prevent wandering
  • Removing locks from interior doors so loved ones can’t lock themselves in
  • Implementing alarms to sound when exterior doors or windows are opened or closed
  • Keeping interior and exterior areas well-lit
  • Designing attractive and pleasant outdoor areas secured by locked fences and gates

Our expert memory care providers adhere to The Alzheimer’s Association guidelines, by creating “an indoor space that allows for freedom of movement and promotes independence” while offering “safe and secure outdoor areas.”

2. Diet plans focused on brain-healthy foods

Organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institute on Aging spend millions of dollars researching dementia prevention and treatments. In addition to genetic predispositions, research indicates a strong relationship between diet and other lifestyle habits with the onset and progression of age and dementia-related memory loss. 

Because diet is an essential foundation for brain health and memory, our providers create delicious and nutritious meal and snack plans that emphasize brain-healthy foods while eliminating those that increase inflammation and diminish brain health. We follow research-driven dementia diet guidelines that help keep our clients as physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy as possible.

3. Medication reminders

After a dementia diagnosis, most adults begin taking prescription medications such as Donepezil, Galantamine, or Rivastigmine. In many cases, these medications are an addition to existing ones.

Missing even a single medication dose, or taking more medication than prescribed, can significantly disrupt a person’s wellbeing. Therefore, medication management and reminders are essential. Memory care providers ensure that each dose is taken on time and in the proper quantity, to ensure your loved one is as healthy and clear-headed as possible.

4. Lifestyle changes supporting healthy sleep/wake patterns

Anyone caring for a loved one with dementia knows how a slight disruption in routine or sleep/wake cycles can lead to major shifts in mood and wellbeing. Called “circadian rhythm,” the natural sleep/wake cycle supports healthy hormone balance, detoxing, memory retention, energy levels, and metabolism, to name a few. Research has proven the link between disrupted circadian rhythm and memory loss progression. 

Lifestyle habits supporting healthy sleep/wake patterns include observing a nutritious diet, getting plenty of daily exercise and movement, ample access to activities that stimulate the brain, and varied social engagement/connections. Getting outside each day and ensuring that interior lighting respects the natural rhythm of sunrise and sunset also help support the brain’s sleep physiology. 

5. Personal care and housekeeping

As memory loss progresses, adults lose touch with daily routines. For example, they may struggle to get out of bed in the morning, forget to bathe, remain in the same clothes for days, or lose the ability to stay focused during routine chores.

Memory care providers facilitate these tasks to ensure clients are fresh, clean, and ready to greet each day. We help with physical hygiene including bathing, toileting or incontinence care, daily dressing, and maintaining tidy living spaces, which includes doing the laundry and providing fresh linens each week. 

Since these chores can become challenging for the spouse or family members, our ability to take over these tasks opens the way to get back to the joy of relating to your loved one in personal, rather than task-based, ways.

6. Regular introductions of caregivers and other personnel

In the beginning, adults with dementia remember the names of family, friends, and those who are prominent in their daily lives. As dementia progresses, names begin to disappear, which can make a person with dementia feel embarrassed, frustrated, or even scared. 

Since our professionals are trained in memory care, we honor the importance of calmly and warmly introducing ourselves to clients and residents every day, so that they feel competent, safe, and familiar with their caregiving team.

Expert Dementia Care Supports Spouses & Families

While dementia care supports the safety and well-being of those with dementia, we’re also here to support spouses and family members. Our services make sure primary caregivers have plenty of time to rest, rejuvenate, and engage in what brings them joy—which can go a long way toward preventing fatigue and burnout.  

Understanding and Managing Dementia Caregiver Burnout

How to Create a Memory Box for Seniors With Dementia

A senior with dementia peruses letters from his memory box.

The Memory Center works closely with spouses and families to transition their loved ones into our memory care community. It is not always an easy transition but we are committed to providing the extra level of care to make it as smooth as possible.

One of the ways you as a caregiver can mentally, emotionally, and physically prepare for this giant leap is by creating a memory box together with our soon-to-be or new resident.

Memory boxes are small enough to be held comfortably in the lap but large enough to store photos, special clippings, and other mementos with a powerful emotional tie to the resident. When they open the boxes, your loved one is instantly engaged in the remembering process, recalling the sights and smells that help make their lives feel meaningful and filled with love.

Heal & Help With a Dementia Memory Box

Creating a memory box is a special activity you can do as a family or in tandem with your loved one, producing a tangible “treasure box” that keeps them connected to their most precious memories and relationships.

In addition to soothing and supporting memory care residents, memory boxes also serve as a form of reminiscence therapy, providing opportunities for seniors to talk and share meaningful memories. Talking about happy memories from the past offers a sense of joy, which can help cope with stress, reduce boredom and depression, and make life seem a little sunnier.

Residents who have memory boxes cherish them and love to share their contents and associated stories with their friends and our employees. These boxes also offer a way to make their new space feel more like home

It goes without saying that creating a memory box is cathartic for you as well. You’ll be able to laugh, cry, grieve, and express your full-spectrum of feelings while reliving the memories and feelings those sacred items conjure for you and your loved one.

Choose or Make the Right Box

This box is going to be well-used and a continuous source of comfort. However, it also needs to fit on a lap and be easy to store in the resident’s room. A sturdy shoe box can do the trick, as can small plastic totes with snap-on lids. If there is a woodworker in the family, a memory box is a beautiful project that they can pour their love into as they work.

Regardless of which type of box you choose, consider letting children, grandchildren, and other close family and friends decorate the exterior. This is a sweet way to bring the community into the transition process and adds an extra layer of memories and connections for your loved one. 

If and when dementia progresses to the point your loved one can’t read, our staff is more than happy to read those sweet messages and signatures to them. 

The box should meet your loved one’s current and projected dexterity. Simple boxes that easily open and close are preferable to boxes with locks or harder-to-manage opening mechanisms. We also see clients struggle to access items (or put away items) in boxes with compartments. Boxes with a single, spacious interior tend to work best.

Decide on the Contents

This is the most challenging part of the process as you’ll find there are way too many things you want to put in than the memory box – more than the box’s size allows! But there are some tried-and-true memory box treasures.

Photos

Not surprisingly, photos of family, friends and meaningful moments in their lives are at the top of the list. Because space is limited, try to find photos that encompass a special moment. Also, take advantage of group shots! That way, just two or three photos may be all that is required to inspire a wide range of memories, connections, and stories.

We also recommend putting in their favorite photo of themselves. This may become one of their favorite things to look at on a hard day because our staff can redirect their anxiety, sadness, or stress. We can say, “Look! That’s you! That’s who you are.” We can then reintroduce them to the calming contents.

Things that Represent Their Passions

We’ve seen all kinds of fun things in our residents’ memory boxes, including well-worn and filthy gardening gloves, an autographed baseball, a favorite dog’s collar, a cherished stirring spoon or potholder, etc. We’ve seen beautiful shells for clients who loved the ocean and pine cones for those who loved camping in forests.

Families have included newspaper clippings featuring their accomplishments and recipe cards, letters/postcards, or art from grandchildren. Whichever items you choose, they help your loved one remain in touch with their identity so be sure to select things that represent their passions.

Small Family Heirlooms

Choose a family heirloom connecting them to their roots and lineage. That said, make sure it isn’t so valuable that it would be devastating if the item were broken or lost. Examples include needlepoint samplers made by a mother or grandmother, an old magnifying glass or small, collectible pillbox, or a favorite broach or set of cufflinks.

Trip Souvenirs

Trip souvenirs are a perfect item to include. They mean the most to the one who purchased them, and they’re often fun-but-kitschy. Trip souvenirs will bring smiles all around and often connect residents with fellow, former world travelers, initiating conversations that forge new friendships.

Something Soft With a Familiar Smell

What did your spouse or parent keep in their own real-life keepsake box? Odds are there is some type of blanket, handkerchief, item of clothing, or something with a familiar smell. These are ideal items to add to their memory box.

Keep Safety in Mind

Finally, remember that the boxes should mainly, if not exclusively, focus on positive memories. In addition, contents need to be safe so leave out anything with sharp edges or that is too heavy and can drop on tender legs or toes.

Memory Boxes Are Treasures for Seniors With Dementia

Use this creative experience to pour your love and good wishes, and to process your feelings about the experience. Being a caregiver isn’t easy and you hold so much in the work you do day in and day out. Creating a memory box for your loved one can help you transition into this next phase, knowing they have everything they need to feel comfortable and safe in their new space.

The Memory Center can provide resources for caregivers as well. Learn more about caregiver burnout and how to identify the signs. We are here for you and your loved one.

Understanding and Managing Dementia Caregiver Burnout

Memory Games for Seniors With Dementia

A group of seniors play a game of cards and benefit from the cognitive exercises and the social interaction.

There was a time when researchers believed brains were more like concrete than elastic. That has changed as the result of enhanced brain imaging, proving an active brain is a healthier brain. Thus, it’s important to prioritize cognitive exercises and memory games for seniors with dementia. 

Games and activities that promote an active brain always yield positive benefits. While studies on Alzheimer’s games and their effects are inconclusive, researchers have proven mentally stimulating activities are linked to lower-risk or the delay of age-related memory loss – including Alzheimer’s.

Keep reading for some game ideas for seniors with dementia.

Crossword Puzzles

Crossword puzzles are a favorite for the young and older alike. Reverse engineering clever meanings or plays on words back to their origin word requires a range of different cognitive functions. 

In addition to improving vocabulary, crossword puzzles often rely on a user’s long-term experience with regards to movies, music, politics, and a lifetime of pop culture references that spark memories. 

Number Puzzles

Number puzzles, such as Sudoku, are for numbers what crossword puzzles are for words. They play on the brain’s memory and pattern recognition to solve challenges at varying levels. And, like crossword puzzles, sudoku grids and other number games are often found in daily newspapers and online.

You can also purchase books with memory games tailored to a user’s level. So as your loved one’s Alzheimer’s or dementia progresses, you can get simpler versions that continue to support brain activity without becoming so frustrating that the games are defeating.

Interactive Games

Interactive games are a double-whammy when it comes to supporting age-related and diagnoses-based memory loss. Brain stimulation is essential, but social engagement and connection are even more important. Gathering with others to play cards, trivia games, or board games can check all the boxes.

Kimberly D. Mueller, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in communication sciences and disorders at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She was recently quoted by the Kansas Medical Center, saying, “We know that cognitive activity is good for the brain, social activity is good for the brain and for well-being, so pairing the two makes excellent sense.”

This is one of the reasons adults with dementia fare better in group settings than at home. The continual social interaction and daily activities – all of which focus on memory care – keep residents’ brains firing and connecting in ways they never would while living at home alone or with limited social networking.

Jigsaw Puzzles

Many brain games or memory exercises cited to support seniors are primarily devoted to the right brain, which uses linear, logical thinking. However, the left brain is equally important, connecting us to creative, big picture, and problem-solving outside of the box. Jigsaw puzzles are powerful memory tools because they support both right and left brain function.

Another bonus of jigsaw puzzles is that they can be worked on little by little over time You can also invite others into the mix adding a social aspect bonus! Place a puzzle on a table in a social hub or open area of any building and watch the people who come by to spend five to ten minutes – or longer – working to fit in a few pieces.

Video Games

Did you think video games were a kid thing? Think again! More and more seniors are finding joy in playing games that keep them thinking and provide entertainment to boot. Video games are especially beneficial for those who live alone or are limited in their ability to get around. 

Introducing stimuli-enriching video games to seniors is also a great way to support the connection between seniors and their younger family members. Instead of restricting a grandchild’s video game time, why not suggest a visit to Grandma or Grandpa to teach a favorite game and spend quality bonding time?  

Lumosity

Online brain games and exercises are also available online. Lumosity is one of the most time-tested and popular “brain game” websites and is backed by more than 20 peer-reviewed publications in academic journals. 

Lumosity’s games are intentionally designed by translating cognitive science into brain training games that support brain health for all ages. There are 60+ games designed to exercise memory, attention, speed, flexibility, and problem-solving. The program is accessible on computers and across the device spectrum, including senior-friendly tablets and phones.

Crafts and Artistic Endeavors

Like jigsaw puzzles, crafts, and other artistic endeavors (including musical pursuits) stimulate both hemispheres of the brain. A study published in the April 2015 edition of Neurology found that adults who pursue artistic, crafty, and social activities may stay mentally sharp longer. 

The Memory Center makes a conscientious effort to weave arts, crafts, and other right-brained (creative) activities into our daily calendar. Creating art fires neurons that may sit idle in the reading and writing centers of the brain, allowing seniors with dementia to connect with their peers and family members in ways they may not be able to otherwise.

Caregiver Relief: An Unseen Benefit of Memory Games for Seniors With Dementia 

One of the mostly-unspoken benefits of playing memory games for seniors with dementia is the joy and fun they bring to the table. Playing games with your aging spouse, parent, or grandparent alleviates caregiving pressures and allows you to connect and engage with your loved one on a different level. This can help you destress and enjoy a better quality of life.

Looking for a place where you can visit your loved ones and enjoy memory-focused activities? Or, would you like to find respite care that gives you the break you need while your loved one is well cared for and has access to activities that keep memory care at the forefront?

Connect with The Memory Center to learn more about what we have to offer. In addition to providing a high quality of life for adults with Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related conditions, we do all we can to minimize stress and burnout for their family caregivers. 

Learn more ways that, as a caregiver, you can take care of yourself!

Understanding and Managing Dementia Caregiver Burnout

Early Signs of Dementia

A woman identifies very early signs of dementia in her partner.

A dementia diagnosis is typically the end result of a progressive series of signs that started months or even years before the screening appointment. More often than not, early “red flags” were present, but family members assumed they were normal or were too afraid to address them head-on.

Because dementia is a progressive disease that intensifies over time, early diagnosis and treatment are essential.

The sooner you know a loved one has dementia, the sooner you can make the necessary lifestyle changes to slow down its progression and begin making a long-term memory plan that includes your spouse or parent’s wishes.

“Normal” age-related memory loss vs. dementia

Age-related memory loss is normal and not the same as dementia. One of the most significant differences is that “normal” memory loss is fleeting, sporadic, and it doesn’t increase significantly over a short period of time. Non-dementia-related memory loss is also less likely to be associated with confusion, mood swings, or other unusual signs of agitation. To put this difference into context, while we all misplace our keys every once in a while, it’s exceedingly rare that we’d temporarily forget our way home from our neighborhood grocery store.  

Temporary or situational memory loss can also occur due to poor diet and lifestyle choices, depression, medication side effects, or undiagnosed medical conditions (like a UTI). This is why it’s so critical to be open and honest about any changes in memory or mental fog. A general physician is the first rung of support as you figure out the cause of memory changes.

Very early signs of dementia

The first and earliest signs of dementia are easy to miss because the majority of them read like “whoops, I forgot,” scenarios such as:

  • Misplacing keys
  • Forgetting a name or a word for something
  • Missing an appointment or a social date
  • Not remembering the exact day/date after days at home in a row
  • Forgetting an item or two on the grocery list
  • And so on

With dementia, these episodes occur with greater frequency and may co-exist with states of confusion or mental fogginess.

Other very early signs of dementia are:

  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Trouble finishing projects that used to be straightforward
  • Having to read a familiar receipt or set of instructions over and over to follow them through
  • Increased moodiness, angry outbursts, or irritation

You can see why these are easy to miss at first, but more frequent repetition of this type of forgetfulness warrants professional dementia screening by a physician or neurologist.

Signs of early dementia

Those very early signs cumulatively turn into more consistent and significant signs of dementia. Examples include:

  • Difficulty remembering recent events (At first, your loved one may cover these “senior moments” out of embarrassment. However, in quick time, they will no longer have the ability to hide their forgetfulness from spouses and close friends/loved ones)
  • Trouble performing daily tasks
  • Inability to track days, dates, times with any consistency
  • Asking the same questions repeatedly OR telling the same stories often, in a short period
  • Apathy, withdrawal from social life or favorite activities, and/or depression
  • Unusual angry or frustrated outbursts
  • Difficulty with problem-solving or working through typical challenges
  • Trouble finishing crosswords, word searches, or puzzles
  • Not remembering where they are or how they got there
  • Wandering and getting lost in familiar shopping centers or their neighborhood
  • Struggling to read, make good spatial decisions (which affects driving and walking), or judging distance
  • Trouble following or participating in a conversation (they may lose their train of thought and begin rambling or repeating the same things over and over)
  • Losing words without being able to recall them in a reasonable amount of time

It is far better to learn that you were overly concerned about normal, age-related memory loss than to find out a loved one has had dementia for months or longer without access to necessary early treatment and support.

Research shows that certain medications, as well as a dementia-supportive diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes, slow down dementia’s progression, allowing those with dementia to live more independently for longer. That said, a care plan must be put in place to ensure the person with dementia and their caregiver(s) have the support required to enjoy a high-quality of life.

Mid-stage dementia

By the mid-stage of dementia, there is no denying something is wrong. People with mid-stage dementia can’t be left home alone without spouses or family members worrying about them wandering off, forgetting to eat, or leaving the stovetop burning unattended. If someone with dementia insists on driving, family members worry they’ll get in a fender bender or have trouble finding their way back home.

The middle-stage of memory loss is evidenced by:

  • Continued behavioral and personality changes
  • Increased agitation in the later afternoon/evening (often referred to as Sundowning)
  • Inability to read or follow instructions
  • Not remembering words, faces, names, or yesterday’s activities
  • No longer being able to play favorite games or to follow along with television or movie plots
  • Not remembering to take medication
  • Inability to manage money, do basic math, or figure out the correct change or tip when at a store or restaurant
  • Insomnia or noticeable sleep changes

If you are the spouse or family caregiver for something with mid-stage dementia, you can no longer go it alone. Individuals with mid-stage dementia require 24/7 care and monitoring, which is impossible for one person to handle on their own. Doing so leads to caregiver fatigue and burnout.

Get Support In the Early Stages

Those early signs of dementia are a call-to-arms. Once you have a diagnosis, it’s time to activate a well-rounded care plan that ensures both the person with dementia – and family caregivers – have the support they need to optimize quality of life. This includes caregivers getting much-deserved time off via respite care, adult daycare, or residential memory care services to prevent burnout.

If you or a loved on is at risk of suffering from caregiver burnout, read our helpful resource below.

Understanding and Managing Dementia Caregiver Burnout

LATEST NEWS


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What Is Dementia Care?

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Beginning on Wednesday, March 9th, we will be opening up the building with no COVID restrictions.