Holiday Tips For Alzheimer’s Caregivers

memory center midlothian vaThe holidays can be challenging, especially when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other form of Dementia.  Let us help ease the stress and join us for a special event. 

Hear from The Alzheimer’s Association and learn effective holiday tips, which will include creating a safe, stress free environment, along with individual and family preparation supporting you and your loved one.

As a caregiver, we understand getting away can be difficult, so your loved one is  welcome to join. You can even  creating memorable moment with the opportunity to design your own personalized holiday ornament.
attend and participate.

When: December 13th, 2017, 12:00 to 1:30 PM

Where: The Memory Center, Richmond, 13800 Bon Secours Drive (adjacent to St. Frances Medical Center)
Midlothian, VA 23114

This event is free and open to the public.  


Cold Weather Tips for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia comes with unique challenges.  But when the weather turns cold there are even more factors to consider.   

Everything from minimizing fall risks in parking lots to preventing confusion and fear during a winter storm are factors to consider.

These cold weather tips can help you get prepared to keep your loved one safe and comfortable.

Preventing Winter Falls

During the winter, ice is often an issue and can be very dangerous. Even the smallest amount of ice lead to a fall – especially for those who may not be as steady on their feet as they once were. But when you have to get to the grocery store or a doctor’s appointment there are times icy steps or sidewalks just can’t be avoided.

Proper Footwear – If you must take your loved one out in inclement or icy weather make sure they have warm footwear with plenty of traction.  They may insist on wearing their favorite bedroom slippers but safe footwear is critical to preventing slips or falls.

Parking – Whenever possible pull your car into a garage or as close to a non-slippery surface as possible. Help them in and out of the car to a safe, non-slippery space. If possible, recruit a friend or family member to help your loved inside while you park the car.

Many hospitals, doctors offices and shopping areas offer low-cost or free valet parking so you can get as close to the entrance as possible and walk your loved one inside without having to deal with slippery parking lots or walking too far from a parking space. 

memory care facilities richmond vaSafety at Home – Monitor your outdoor space for hazards inkling icy steps, uneven sidewalks, tree branches or anything that could facilitate a fall. Keep a supply of ice melt on hand and follow best practices to use it effectively and safely including storing it away from children, pets, or anyone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Staying Active

Even in winter months getting outside and staying active can be fun and help everyone stay healthy.  Even a walk around the block or around the back yard can boost someone’s mood and keep boredom away – it just takes some extra precautions. Caregivers will need to help those with dementia to dress for colder weather including:

  • Hats, scarves, mittens or gloves that are easy to get on and off
  • Wear appropriate shoes or non-skid boots
  • Pay attention to slippery stairs sidewalks, ice falling off trees, slippery or slush snow that could cause someone to easily lose their balance

Too Cold To Get Outside?

Those living with memory loss struggle to separate memory from the physical state of present-day living.  They can often become bored overwhelmed or agitated which can lead to Alzheimer’s wandering. When it is too cold outside it is still important to try and stick to your daily schedule to prevent these behaviors.

If your daily walk isn’t feasible because of cold weather, plan ahead and have other activities ready.  Chose those that will help promote movement and inspire purpose. Such as playing cards, appropriate crafts or even walking around the house or looking out the window at bird feeder.

Winter Storm Coming?

If the forecast calls for winter storm or severe cold take precautions early. You will be more relaxed and so will your loved one.  If they sense you are worried and nervous they can easily pick up on your behavior.

Plan ahead by stock up on supplies including food, medications, incontinence supplies, flashlights, batteries, hats and blankets. Plan for some fun activities including puzzles, listening to music, making snowflake crafts or clipping coupons.

Power Outages at The Memory Center

Both the Memory Center Richmond and Virginia Beach have several cold weather safety features in place including snow removal, backup generators, emergency food supplies and plans to maintain fully staffed. 

Contact us for more information about our dedicated memory care communities in Atlanta (Johns Creek), Richmond and Virginia Beach or to schedule a tour.



Tips For Alzheimer’s Caregivers

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

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

Reduce Alzheimer’s Frustration & Agitation

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

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

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

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

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

Realize You Are Not Alone

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

Develop A Schedule

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

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

Acknowledge Each Day Is Different

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

Think About Safety

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

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

Take A Break & Ask For Help

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

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

Get More Alzheimer’s Tips

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

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

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

How to Pay for Dementia Care

a woman talks at home with her parents about paying for dementia care

Every long-term care plan should consider how to pay for dementia care. The Alzheimer’s Association cites that one-in-nine people over the age of 65 live with dementia, and that figure increases to two-in-ten by ages 71-79. So, planning to pay for memory care is a wise move, and there are plenty of creative ways to go about it.

There are several things that support dementia care planning:

  • Have a long-term care plan in place before you need it or as soon as you find out you have a progressive/terminal prognosis
  • Early diagnosis
  • Meet with a financial advisor before retirement to create a multifaceted plan that accommodates several different scenarios

7 Tips to Paying for Dementia Care

There isn’t “one way” to pay for dementia care. If savings or retirement accounts don’t cover the total expenses, there are other ways to finance the costs.

1. Home care that graduates to residential memory care

The research shows that early transition into full-time memory care is better than later admissions when it comes to mitigating stress and improving the quality of life for the resident. 

However, many individuals and clients choose to remain at home using in-home care providers to assist with general support and then make a plan to transition into residential memory care when a certain set of criteria are met (typically related to the progression from early dementia to mid-stage dementia symptoms).

This plan helps to buffer the coffers since home care is more affordable than residential care. Full-time in-home care from a licensed agency costs an average of about $4000 per month, while residential options cost between $4500 to $9000 per month – depending on the community. Saving at the front end using home care options can help you save for the residential care required down the road.

2. Medicare

Enrolling in Medicare three months before turning 65 is one of the most important steps you can take to cover care costs during your senior years. While Medicare doesn’t pay for things like room and board at a memory care center, it does typically pay for:

  • Medical-related expenses
  • Physician/specialist visits
  • Prescription
  • Necessary durable medical equipment
  • Hospice care

Implementing Medicare benefits helps to draw down the total monthly costs associated with dementia care. The modest, additional costs for Medicare Plan C and D can alleviate other costs associated with paying for dementia care.

3. Long-term care insurance

Some people don’t realize they ever enrolled in a long-term insurance plan because it came directly from a previous employer and is debited from pension funds or because their spouse/significant others handled “the business sides of things.” 

Comb through all of the financial documents, files, and retirement statements to see if there is an existing long-term care insurance plan you didn’t know about. If so, you may find that thousands of dollars per month are already accounted for.

The sooner you apply for long-term care, the more affordable it is. So, if you’ve arrived at this post while researching long-term care and dementia care options, this is a good time to contact an insurance representative to learn more about whether long-term care is a good option for you.

4. Veterans Administration (VA) benefits

Did you or your significant other serve in the U.S. military? VA benefits are available for a range of services supporting dementia care, including:

  • Home-based health and care support
  • Home caregivers or health aids
  • Respite care (to give a primary spouse or family caregivers regular breaks from the rigors of caregiving)
  • Adult daycare (just like its child-centric counterpart, most communities or memory care centers offer adult day care for seniors with dementia so spouses/caregivers can go to their day jobs or attend important activities, outings, and social activities)
  • Nursing homes or acute care facilities
  • Palliative and hospice care

Visit the VA’s page on Dementia Care to learn more about their services and contact specialists who can answer your questions.

5. Employee and retirement benefits

If the dementia diagnosis is given when you or your loved one are still working, schedule a meeting with the human resources (HR) or benefits department. The company and its employee benefits may offer support you aren’t aware of. This could include things like:

  • Better health insurance options
  • Paid sick leave
  • Short-term or long-term disability benefits

Most retirement plans offer penalty-free withdrawals for individuals younger than 59 and a half under qualifying circumstances. An Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis is one of those qualifiers and may allow you to draw early (or more than usual) from the plan, sans penalties, if the total of your dementia care costs exceeds a certain percentage of your gross earnings. Meeting with HR or benefits representatives is essential to learn more about your options.

6. Liquidating properties and assets

Again, meeting with a financial advisor is the best way to understand where you are and your best plan forward. For some couples, this is a time to sell a piece of property or liquidate certain assets or valuables. 

For example, if moving a spouse into memory care means you plan to downsize, this might be a time to sell the house and roll part of the proceeds into the memory care fund.

7. Reverse mortgage options

If your home is paid off or almost paid off, you may qualify for a reverse mortgage. Many banks are willing to lend substantial sums of money using the house as collateral because of its real estate value. 

Reverse mortgages operate similarly to refinancing. They are available to qualifying homeowners 65 years or older to borrow against the home’s equity without risking their title or selling the home.

8. Personal loans or family contributions

Once you’ve processed the initial shock and adjustment period after an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis, we recommend scheduling a family meeting. The need for dementia care is a matter of “when” rather than “if,” so everyone should have a voice in the plan. 

Some families divide care costs and make monthly payments to support their loved one’s care, while others take out a loan to front the costs and then share the monthly loan payment expenses.

Start Visiting Memory Care Centers to Learn More

Visiting different memory care communities is a smart way to learn about all the different ways their clients and families go about paying for dementia care. Make that one of your questions as you learn more about their communities and care costs. Our administrators have a wealth of information regarding funding and payment options.

Learn More About Our Communities

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

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.’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. 

Staying Positive In These Challenging Times (Virtual Event)

The Memory Center Virginia Beach invites you to join us for a virtual event Staying Positive In These Challenging Times. Jeff Byrd, Motivational Speaker will provide tips on:

* Coping with Covid-19 isolation and lonliness, specifically relating to seniors and caregivers
* Caring for yourself
* How to manage responsibilites to others and yourself
* Speaking the “kind truth”

This is a virtual event and open to the public. Reserve your spot by emailing Roberta Gilbert at Once your space is reserved you will receive information on how to access the event.

What If My Loved One Is Afraid To Tour An Assisted Living Facility?

Life and relationships can get complicated quickly when a parent or senior loved one is afraid to tour assisted living facilities.

It can weigh heavily on you and other family members when an aging parent is outright opposed to discussing the opportunity and/or touring an assisted living or memory care facility. However, that resistance shouldn’t hold you back from taking steps in the right direction.

How To Ease Loved One’s Fears About Assisted Living & Memory Care

The opposition to entertain the idea, even tour a facility, is common, but there are things you can do to help ease their fears and worries and to slowly get them on board.

Read on for five tips to help your aging loved one open up to assisted living or memory care.

1. Start the conversation early to begin exploring the pros and cons

In some cases, the move to assisted living, nursing home or a memory care center takes place virtually overnight – largely the result of a traumatic event or injury that makes it impossible for care to continue at home. This is exactly the scenario you want to avoid.

A loss of independence, fears of declining health or death are the most typical reasons seniors refuse to cooperate with any long-term care plan that involves leaving their home.

The key becomes to help them understand that certain aspects of aging and the progression of dementia are inevitable. It’s important they know their ability to stay more open and inquisitive about the options, the more time they’ll have to be involved in a process that should – ideally – involve their opinions, insights, preferences, aversions, etc.

The other side of the coin is that they aren’t the only one affected by the aging process and as their caregiver, you also have a say regarding how and where care should take place.

Read our Guide for Talking to a Loved One About Memory Care, to start the conversation. If it doesn’t go well – it may require a more independent search process.

2. Keep trying – and get to the heart of the fear/resistance

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again, right?

While you may want to skip a day or two (or a week) between attempts, odds are your calm, patient and rational reasons for exploring assisted living and memory care options are working more than you know to sway the mind of your loved one.

The key is to get to the heart of the fear and resistance so you can help to assuage them.

Frankly, oftentimes, it’s all of the above.

By getting to the heart of things, your conversations will be more fruitful and will provide insight into the type(s) of information your loved one needs to see, hear and know before s/he’ll be more comfortable exploring the idea – and specific facilities.

Don’t hesitate to seek the help of a licensed therapist, your minister/rabbi/priest, or a trusted physician to help facilitate these conversations.

3. Enlist the help of more objective “Others”

Most of us are the least responsive and cooperative when being pressed about something we aren’t fond of by the ones we love most. If your spouse, parent or grandparent is having a hard time – or resistant – to speak to you about it, think about who s/he may be more receptive in listening to and speaking with – and reach out for their help.

Is there a more distant relative, a good friend, a neighbor, your trusted home care aide, a spiritual advisor, a former colleague, fellow golfer or book club member, etc. who may get a more open ear? Maybe it’s time to enlist that person – or all of the above.

Over time, and with a few different conversations from more objective “Others,” you may find the way has eased a bit.

4. Visit a few memory care options – on your own

The fact remains that at some point, most individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s are going to need professional care. If you wait too long to begin the search, out of respect for your loved one’s fear or resistance, things become very stressful, very quickly, when that point is reached.

You may be surprised and find that once you embark on the search for the best memory care center, your loved one becomes more curious and warms up to coming along. Even if they don’t, you may find s/he begins dropping hints about what s/he would want or not want, or may even ask you questions.

In any case, it’s always best to visit and tour a few different assisted living or memory care centers so you can compare apples-to-apples and get a feel for which one offers the environment and services that best match your loved one’s needs. Feel free to bring a trusted family member or friend to keep you company and another set of objective eyes and ears.

Use these Questions to Ask When Visiting Memory Care Communities, and we also recommend recording your tours and/or the Q&A sessions with admin and staff so you have something to playback later on. If and when your loved one grows more respective, these recordings will be helpful in allowing him/her to be part of the decision making process.

5. Make sure you have enough emotional support

Being a caregiver and/or a close family member to someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s is incredibly challenging on its own. The decision to begin transitioning your loved one to a memory care center adds another layer of complication to the mix – and it is exponentially taxing when the person in question is afraid, worried, resistant or uncooperative.

It’s essential that you have the social and emotional support you need as you move through this process. Look for support venues and groups in your area and utilize them. Support groups for spouses and caregivers for those with dementia provide the opportunities to commune with others who know exactly what you’re going through.

Both volunteer support groups and organizations dedicated to senior care are a wealth of information and advice, and there’s a great chance someone you meet will have a recommendation or a strategy that works to facilitate your assisted living tour plan.

Reducing Fear Over Assisted Living & Memory Care

At the end of the day, your loved one is entitled to their own opinions and should have a say in the final decision.

Regardless of their stance on the matter, it’s important to offer continued support and guidance as you, together, make steps towards a favorable outcome for everyone.  

Check out virtual tours of each of our three locations:

How Long Should You Wait Before Visiting Your Loved One In Memory Care?

Transitioning a senior loved one into memory care requires a delicate choreography and balance as you determine the “best way” to move into the new place, decide what should go and what should remain behind, and even how often you should wait – or not – before visiting.

Let Your Loved One & Memory Care Staff Lead The Way

In most cases, your loved one’s level of comfort or agitation will determine how soon or how often you should visit.

Also, trained memory center staff have wonderful insight into whether your presence seems to soothe or unsettle their new resident, or what times of day seem best for him/her (which may vary in the new setting from what you were used to at home).

Feel free to check in with the staff to learn more about how your visits affect your spouse, parent or relative.

At first, more may be more

Often, visits from you and other loving, familiar faces help to ease the transition from home or an assisted living facility into a memory care community. In the beginning, these visits may need to be more regular to help the new resident settle in.

Regular visits from the ones they love assure new residents they are not being forgotten or abandoned. Your presence proves you meant it when you said, “we’ll visit you often,” and that can provide peace of mind.

Then again, sometimes less-is-more

There are exceptions, however, to the above. Some new residents have a harder time settling into their new home and need more time before they are ready for a visit.

When well-meaning visits immediately after a move cause more homesickness instead of less; or more agitation than calm, or emotional goodbyes, ask the staff if you should consider waiting before your next visit. This can lead to emotional and traumatic goodbyes.

If it seems early visits are detrimental to the resident’s ability to settle in, administration or staff will recommend a modified visiting schedule. It may be that remaining absent for a full week or two is enough for your loved one to “re-anchor,” after which regular visits are better appreciated.

NOTE: It can be heartbreaking if your loved one falls into the category of “less is more” on post-transition visits. Let’s be honest, while regular visits from loved ones can help your loved one with the change, those visits are just as likely to help you transition into a new life.

If it turns out you need to take a visiting break in order to facilitate the new resident’s transition, consider this your opportunity to adjust to your new life as yourself,rather than a full-time caregiver.

It may be all about timing

Often, residents settle in so well, and become so instantly engaged in the routine of routine, calendared social events, we realize that it wasn’t your visit that triggered the agitation, it was the fact that it coincided with a favorite music class or crafting activity they enjoy during that period.

Establishing the best days and times for visits, with respect to your loved one’s “optimal time of day” or the center’s activity calendar, could be the key to more satisfying visits.

Tips For Visiting A Loved One With Dementia

Depending on how your loved one’s dementia progresses, visits may increasingly become a challenge.

Prepare yourself and other family members for more successful visits by reviewing the following tips:

Only one or two at a time

The temptation to come in “reunion format,” especially when family is visiting from out-of-town is a natural one. However, this may be too overwhelming for someone with dementia.

Instead, plan for only one or two people to visit at a time, perhaps staggering visits over the course of the collective group’s visit. This keeps things simple and focused.

Do a photo album review

Hopefully, you put together or brought along some great photo albums to provide a comforting sense of “Home” in the new living space. Photo albums are a great way to spend quality time, reflecting on the past and hearing family stories you may not have heard before.

Learn to revel in the silence

Our culture is a busy – and talkative – one. We don’t always thrive in silence, hence the term awkward silence. However, as memories fade and those with dementia have a harder time finding the right words (aphasia), conversations get shorter and shorter – or more challenging to follow.

Use this opportunity to enjoy the sanctity of quiet and the simple, physical presence of someone you love. If the weather is nice, take a walk together or sit with a beautiful view and see if things like birds, trees or beautiful flowers elicit a notice or verbal acknowledgment. If not, the silence can become a welcome respite from the outside world.

Don’t expect recognition at every visit

Questions like, “Do you know who I am?” or trying to reinstate who you are can be very upsetting for those with dementia.

Be prepared for visits when they know you, and those when they don’t, for stories remembered and stories forgotten. Finding ways to connect positively where they are each day will lead to higher quality visits with your loved one.

Remain as positive as possible

There is no doubt that anger, frustration, resentment, etc. can be tangible at the unconscious level.

Try your best to remain as positive (or neutral) as possible during visits to prevent agitating your loved one. That being said, it’s also okay to cut a visit short if you need a break, and it’s also encouraged that you honor and be present with your loved one’s feelings when s/he expresses sadness, grief, frustration, etc.

Visiting Loved Ones In Memory Care

A transition into memory care is a big one for everyone involved, not just the new resident.

Be gentle and patient with yourself – and your loved ones – as you work to find the visiting routine that’s “just right” for the well-being of all involved.

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