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. 

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 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

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.

Understanding and Managing Dementia Caregiver Burnout

A female caregiver walks with a senior woman, allowing her family members to take a break to avoid dementia caregiver burnout.

Every caregiver is at risk for burnout. However, those caring for loved ones with dementia are particularly susceptible.

Most of the time, dementia caregiver burnout is a slow progression, easily missed in real-time. Without adequate support and dedication to a self-care routine, it’s not uncommon for caregivers to experience serious illness, physical decline, or injuries or to become overwhelmed by depression and feelings of hopelessness.

If you take care of someone with dementia, make sure to prioritize self-care, stress management, and your mental and emotional wellbeing. Keep reading to learn about dementia caregiver burnout.

Signs of Caregiver Fatigue Leading to Burnout

The following are some of the “red flags” that can indicate dementia caregiver fatigue. If any of them resonate with you, it’s a sign that it’s time to enlist memory care support.

1. Your Life Lacks Joy

When the overwhelm of caregiving is greater than the joy you find in day-to-day life, it’s a sign you need help. 

Caregivers often believe their feelings of depression or hopelessness are primarily due to experiencing their loved one’s mental and physical decline. While this is undoubtedly true, it’s easy to miss the fact that your exhaustion, mental fatigue, and the physical demands of caregiving may also be causing you to experience depression.

If you wake up with more dread or anxiety than joy in your heart, begin exploring support options.

2. You’re Tired All the Time

Family caregivers often work 24/7, with few or no chances to take a break. And, to make matters worse, the combinations of sundowning, a loved one’s insomnia or nighttime wakefulness, and fear for the safety of your spouse or family member make it impossible to get a good night’s sleep.

Sleeplessness and constant fatigue are clear signs more support is needed.

3. Lack of Appetite, Overeating, or Poor Eating Habits

Caring for a loved one with dementia can cause you to lose track of time making it difficult to adhere to a daily schedule. And your diet can be impacted.

When providing care, it can be easy to skip meals or just snack on processed food that lacks nourishment. Furthermore, the stress and anxiety inherent in dementia caregiving can diminish the appetite, further depleting access to much-needed nourishment. 

If you don’t have time to shop, cook, or prepare meals, connect with family, friends, a religious or spiritual community, etc., and ask for support. Dropping off meals, running errands, or sending gift cards to be used for to-go orders and deliveries is an easy way for those who love you to support the cause. 

Professional caregiving agencies also offer grocery shopping, meal preparation, and other services that alleviate your need to complete daily tasks.

4. Difficulty Concentrating or Perpetual Mental Fogginess

Have you reached a point where your thought processes aren’t what they used to be? Are you having trouble concentrating, remembering things, or keeping the days, dates, and times straight? Has your loved one missed a medication dose or a necessary appointment because your mental fog got in the way? 

This is another all-too-common sign of being overwhelmed. Your wellbeing and the wellbeing of your loved one depends on your ability to nourish your body, mind, and spirit so that you can rejuvenate and reclaim your former clarity. 

5. Quick to Anger or Feeling Frustrated or Irritated

Does your fuse seem significantly shorter than usual? That’s normal. You’re under a tremendous amount of stress, and when you look at all caregivers handle daily, it’s no wonder you’re quick to anger or feel frustrated or irritated.

Unfortunately, left unaddressed, these pent-up feelings can mean you experience verbal outbursts directed at the one you love, and this creates a bleak cycle of regret, shame, and self-judgment. It also means your loved one suffers unintentionally.

While occasional anger, frustration, irritation, or feelings of resentment are not necessarily a sign of burnout, they shouldn’t become the standard. If these feelings have become a regular part of your emotional landscape, you’re at the end of your dementia caregiver burnout rope. It’s time to take a much-deserved break.

Tips for Managing Caregiver Stress & Burnout

Serving as a caregiver doesn’t mean you stop caring for yourself! Here are some tips for managing stress and avoiding dementia caregiver burnout.

  • Connect with dementia-related resources and support groups.
  • Reach out to trusted neighbors, friends, family members, etc., to provide regular respite care so you can take care of yourself.
  • Keep the house stocked with healthy foods and snacks, so everything you eat nourishes and supports your physical wellbeing.
  • Locate adult daycare and professional respite care options in your area.
  • Learn more about the cost of memory care and how to pay for it to create a long-term plan that encompasses your needs as well as the needs of your loved one.

Most importantly, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask for help. Sometimes asking is all it takes.

Manage Dementia Caregiver Burnout With the Memory Center

Dementia caregiving is a journey, but you don’t have to go it alone. 

Please schedule an appointment with The Memory Center to learn more about our daytime and residential memory care options, in addition to other essential community resources to prevent caregiver dementia burnout. 

As a caregiver, you may also be worrying about finances. There are payment options to help you cover the cost of dementia care. Learn more by clicking below.

How to Pay for Dementia Care

What To Do When You Get An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Getting an official diagnosis that memory lapses are the result of Alzheimer’s or dementia is life-altering. If you or your loved one still function “normally” in day-to-day life, it can be tempting to go into denial and pretend as if everything’s just fine until there are more obvious or alarming signs that compromise the quality of life.

The truth is, however, that fast-action is the key to creating both short- and long-term care plans. There is still no cure for Alzheimer’s, and it is considered a progressive disease. The rate at which it progresses varies for each person, but it can happen more rapidly than expected, and this places the person with Alzheimer’s, his/her spouse, and loved ones in a crisis state.

Taking Timely, Methodical Actions After An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

The more you learn about Alzheimer’s, and Alzheimer’s resources in your area, the faster you’ll be able to establish a personalized plan of action.

The goal is to give the person with Alzheimer’s ability to make some decisions for him/herself whenever possible. This becomes challenging – and then impossible – as the condition progresses because transitions are detrimental if you wait too long.

Learn about the disease and current treatment options

Hopefully, your medical team, including the neurologist, have provided you with lots of information about Alzheimer’s, all together it’s progression, and the known medications, lifestyle changes and treatment options that support a patient’s wellbeing.

Other helpful resources for learning about Alzheimer’s include:

Don’t hesitate to call or email your primary physician to schedule a follow-up appointment, so you can ask questions and listen to the answers you may not have been able to take in during the immediate consultation after the Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Start the conversation regarding memory care options

Memory care will play a role at some point, and the quality of this care – and its ability to improve the quality of life for your loved one – is 100% related to how soon s/he transitions into the right community. This will probably require multiple conversations as you weigh the pros and cons of various options, and tour facilities and communities.

While the idea of staying home is preferred by many, caregiving for a middle- to late-stage Alzheimer’s patient is a full-time job. 

Unfortunately, contrary to the original plan, many spouses or close family members realize too late that they aren’t capable of providing the level of care required, 24/7. That results in a very traumatic transition into memory care, assisted living or nursing home care – and it may mean having to give up your first-choice if they don’t have space when you finally make a decision.

Tour your options as soon as you can

It’s helpful for prospective residents to tour memory care options themselves so they have some autonomy in the decision. However, we understand that this can be scary and nerve-wracking for many – and that some simply refuse to do it all together.

If your loved one is resistant to touring options with you, we recommend inviting a close family member or friend to accompany and support you. You might find starting the process solo – bringing back information and ideas – will motivate your spouse or loved one to accompany you the next time.

Read,Questions to Ask When Touring Memory Care Facilities, so you get the information and details you need to make a good decision.

Start to plan for the financial side of things

Memory care is an expense – whether you’re hiring full-time caregivers in your home or you transition into a memory care center. Unless your financial plan already accommodated for extended, long-term care of some kind – you’ll need to start preparing your finances.

Read,Affording Alzheimer’s Care, for some helpful ideas and tips for funding high-quality memory care.

There are situations where Medicare and Medicaid can subsidize expenses, but they rarely pay for the entirety of the costs associated with memory care. After establishing memory care options in your area, their administration and staff will help you review the realm of financial and payment choices available to you.

Keep your loved one as engaged and active as possible

Studies show over and over again that early action in terms of diet, lifestyle habits, social engagement, and mental stimulation are all key to slowing down and decreasing the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Often, the shock or embarrassment of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, combined with the complications associated with fading memory and social situations, leads to social isolation. This is a worst-case scenario because mental and social stimulation keeps those neural pathways open and firing.

Try to find daily activities, outings, and social settings that inspire feelings of connections, safety, and security for your loved one. This could also include taking advantage of adult day care options at a prospective memory care center as part of the transition into becoming a resident.

Establish your support network

Being a spouse, partner, or primary caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s is a challenging job. You are going to need a range of support to help along the way.

Ideas include:

  • Learning about Alzheimer’s resources and support in your community
  • Working with a therapist or counselor to help you cope with the range of emotions that come up along the journey
  • Joining an Alzheimer’s support group
  • Ensuring you have respite care available to provide regular, much-needed breaks
  • Eating well, exercising, and maintaining social networks to prevent caregiver burnout

It takes a village to care for both those with Alzheimer’s as well as their spouses, family members, and loved ones. Establishing your support network while you have the time and space to do so allows you to activate support options as needed down the road.

Handling A Loved One’s Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Remember: there is never a need to go it alone. 

After an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, enlist the support of family and friends to help you move forward – step-by-step.

Learn more about your loved one’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and find support in these articles: 

The Latest Alzheimer’s Facts, Figures & Stats [2020]

Medicine’s understanding of Alzheimer’s, and its effects on the human brain, is still in the pioneering phases. While we learn more all the time about how genetics, life events, and lifestyle components are involved in catalyzing the initial signs and progression of Alzheimer’s, the cure remains elusive.

With respect to the ever-emerging science pertaining to the causes, treatments, and potential for Alzheimer’s disease, we update our Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet regularly to reflect the current research.

Accurate Facts, Figures, & Stats Improve Alzheimer’s Quality of Life

The more you remain up to date on the current research and studies’ findings, including Alzheimer’s facts, figures, and stats, the better you can improve the quality of life for yourself and the ones you love.

First, we’ll begin with some basic, bullet-point facts about Alzheimer’s disease (AD), followed by more detailed information to support the care and support provided for those with AD. The following facts are derived from two helpful AD resources: The NIH’s page on Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Alzinfo.org.

Visit our Resource Guide for Alzheimer’s Care & Support for more helpful AD websites.

  • AD is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States
  • Most people with late-onset AD exhibit signs and symptoms as early as their 60s, even if the diagnosis doesn’t happen until much later (more on that below).
  • Experts believe that AD-related changes in the brain may actually start as much as ten years before the beginning symptoms are detectable.
  • Early-onset AD comprises about 10% of the Alzheimer’s population and is typically noticed/diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 60.
  • Someone is diagnosed with AD about every 65 seconds.
  • Doctors predict as many as 14 million Americans will be living with Alzheimer’s by the year 2050.
  • One-third of all seniors die with Alzheimer’s or some other dementia-related condition
  • It costs about 350K per person to support the long-term health and wellbeing of an AD patient (read, Is Medicare/Medicaid an Option… for information about financing the care you need).
  • There are multiple forms of AD and dementia – early-onset, late-onset, Lewy Body, Parkinson’s-related, etc. Care and treatment plans may vary depending on the type.
  • Alzheimer’s genes (and other biomarkers) are identified, but they are not the sole cause of AD, nor does the presence of the genes mean an individual will get AD. 
  • There is no specific treatment for AD or dementia, although some drug treatment protocols slow its progression.
  • Certain lifestyle changes have been shown to slow down the progression of AD.

Those last two points are part of what makes living with Alzheimer’s so challenging. There are not always clear reasons why a person has the disease, and there is no tried-and-true treatment for AD at this time.

This is why ongoing research around Alzheimer’s potential causes and treatment methods is so important. The more we learn about the brain and how it is affected by Alzheimer’s-related proteins, amyloid plaques, and tau tangles, the closer we get to a potential cure. 

Early Diagnosis is Key

Because Alzheimer’s is often diagnosed at the beginning of the middle-stage, when cognitive impairment is too dramatic to ignore, patients, families, and caregivers miss the opportunity to make decisions before things are chaotic and stressful. By diagnosing AD in the early stages, you have time to:

  • Learn all you can and make a long-term AD care plan that involves the individuals’ wishes, desires, and goals
  • Make smart decisions about caregivers or facilities
  • Tour memory care centers
  • Implement diet and lifestyle changes that reduce inflammation and support a healthier mind and body.

Read What to Do About an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis to learn more about the first, critical items to consider in the wake of an official diagnosis.

Re-Evaluate Diet & Make Anti-inflammatory Shifts

Recent studies have shown that high-fat, high-sugar diets “prime the brain” for AD. Diets that are higher in fats, sugars, and processed foods contribute to inflammation in both the hippocampus and the frontal lobe of the brain, two areas that experience AD decline. 

Patients who have AD and who maintain their high-fat/sugar diets tend to progress more rapidly through the disease’s stages and have lower life expectancies. Making the switch to an inflammatory diet is a powerful one. The Fischer Center for Alzheimer’s Research writes, “Older men and women who ate a Mediterranean-style diet showed less shrinkage of the brain than their peers who did not eat foods typical of the Mediterranean region.”

Click here to read more about anti-inflammatory, Alzheimer’s-oriented diet recommendations.

Establish a Healthy Circadian Rhythm

You may have heard about sundowner’s syndrome, or you may have personal experience with it if you’re currently an AD caregiver. The more we learn about the body’s need for natural daylight and dark to maintain essential biochemical balance in the brain, the more there is a need to establish a healthy circadian rhythm in the home.

Alz.org’s page on Sleep Issues & Sundowning offers tips for how to establish healthy daily and nighttime rhythms to prevent these issues and support brain health. When you begin looking for long-term care options, make sure to ask about how they help to prevent and support sundowning for their residents.

Social Engagement & Activities Are Essential

The NIH states in addition to healthy diet and lifestyle practices, “… social engagement, and mentally stimulating pursuits…might also help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.” 

If your loved one tends to retreat into depressed, anxious, or embarrassed seclusion, get in touch with Alzheimer’s support groups in your area, and learn how to keep AD patients socially stimulated and engaged to boost morale and their quality of life. 

Your busy calendar doesn’t have to be put on hold. Contact Adult Day Care or Respite Care options in your area to keep your loved one safe and ensure s/he remains social, participating in activities s/he enjoys to promote overall well being.

Click the links below for more helpful information on memory care and supporting your loved one through their Alzheimer’s diagnosis. 

Is Medicare/Medicaid An Option For To Pay For Memory Center/Assisted Living?

Financing a residency at a memory care center or assisted living facility can seem overwhelming at first. 

If that’s the case for you, know that most residents and their families take a multi-faceted approach to finance long-term care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Many people ask if funding from Medicare or Medicaid is an option, but the answer can be complicated.

In the case of Medicare, these are some funding allotments are available intermittently, but only covering specific medical events or situations. For this reason, Medicare is not usually viewed as a consistent or foundational source of funding for Alzheimer’s or dementia care, which is also the case at The Memory Center communities. 

If financing the cost of your preferred memory care center without Medicare or Medicaid  is a factor for you, read our post, Affording Alzheimer’s Care, for more information.

How To Finance Memory Care & Assisted Living Without Medicaid or Medicare

Most individuals who transfer from home-based care into memory care or assisted living use a combination of financing sources. This includes financial support from:

  • Retirement investments/savings
  • Social Security or another pension(s)
  • The sale of a home or property
  • Taking a reverse mortgage out on a home
  • Financial support from family members
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Private health insurance
  • Medicare/Medicaid for specific or qualifying events
  • Veteran’s benefits

When touring prospective communities or facilities, make sure to ask about monthly fees and exactly what they cover, learn more about their recommendations. If you are relying on Medicare/Medicaid coverage you will want to find out what, if anything, is covered in a community up front and also speak to your benefits coordinator.

When Are Medicare & Medicaid Are Viable Options For Qualifying Individuals?

In most cases, Medicare or Medicaid covers a portion of care costs for qualifying patients. 

The term “qualifying” is the key here. Both programs are forms of federal assistance, but they differ in terms of benefits qualifications.

Seeking Financial Assistance From Medicare

Medicare is available to seniors 65-years and older OR individuals younger than 65-years who have qualified for Social Security benefits for at least 24-months prior. 

In most cases pertaining to adults younger than 65, this comes by way of disability benefits.

If your loved one is showing signs or has been diagnosed with early onset dementia, speak to your doctor and schedule an appointment with your local Social Security Administration to learn more about what’s required to qualify for disability benefits. The combination of disability benefits and Medicare can considerably reduce your out-of-pocket care costs.

If you or your loved one are 65-years of age and you qualify to receive social security benefits, you are eligible for Medicare. You should have received ample notification to enroll in Medicare roughly three months before your 65th birthday. If not, enroll ASAP to avoid potential penalties.

All of the costs covered by Medicare can be applied to memory care centers or assisted living facilities who are willing to accept and work with Medicare billing. It’s important to note that in almost all cases, individuals have to be in the later stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s before Medicare coverage is available for anything other than medical appointments and treatments and not all communities work with Medicare benefits.

Typical Costs Covered by Medicare

Medicare is most likely to cover the following costs:

  • Inpatient hospital fees, doctor’s visits, and some medical items for residents 65-years and older. If you have a Medicare Part D plan, prescriptions may also be covered.
  • In limited circumstances, Medicare pays for up to 100 days of skilled nursing home care, following a hospital stay, although it does not cover long-term nursing home care.
  • Hospice services, including when they take place at a nursing home or inpatient hospice center when patients are determined to have six months or less to live.

We recommend visiting Medicare’s webpage regarding Alzheimer’s coverage for more specific information about what is and isn’t covered. As this page so aptly puts it:

“Despite its shortcomings, Medicare, when used fully – and especially when augmented with Medicare Supplemental Insurance – can make a significant contribution towards the expense of caring for a loved with Alzheimer’s. Readers may want to explore this article which discusses other Medicaid and Veterans’ benefits for Alzheimer’s.”

Seeking Financial Assistance From Medicaid

Medicaid is jointly funded by both the federal government and the individual’s state of residence. It uses an asset/income-based qualification system that is quite strict in its qualification. Only those with very low asset/income levels or who have no financial resources are eligible for Medicaid. 

In order to protect the system from abuse, there are extremely stringent laws preventing individuals from transferring property, assets or wealth to other family members ahead of time in order to qualify for assistance.

Those who legitimately qualify for Medicaid can expect all or a portion of their medical expenses to be covered, including nursing home or residential skilled nursing care. 

However, be aware that not all nursing homes, assisted living facilities or memory care centers take Medicaid. In almost all cases, those who qualify for Medicaid must move or transfer to a state home- or community-based healthcare option to receive the benefits.

Early Planning Is Key To Securing Financing Before A Move Is Necessary

We can’t emphasize enough how much proactive research and planning ease the financial path toward memory care and assisted living. 

By methodically going through the options, you’ll piece together a plan that works for your household budget. Giving yourself extra time means more opportunities to secure financing sources you may not think about or remember in knee-jerk crisis mode.

We also recommend utilizing local Alzheimer’s and dementia support groups, as well as online support groups and discussion forums. The individuals and facilitators in those groups have years of experience and wisdom behind them. You may learn about creative patch-working of financing opportunities you wouldn’t hear or read about otherwise.

And, of course, the staff at your prospective memory care centers or assisted living facilities should be informative on the topic of Medicare/Medicaid financing as well. Their willingness to walk you through some basics, sharing their information and advice, can be viewed as part of the interview process and shed light into the heart and soul of the center’s administration and staff.

Learn more about selecting and financing memory care in these related articles:

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