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:

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:

When Saying Goodbye To Your Loved One In Assisted Living Is Too Hard

For some seniors, transitioning into assisted living or a memory care center is relatively smooth and even a welcome one as they enjoy the renewed ability to engage with the world around them.

Other times, the transition is very painful and much more challenging. As a family member – particularly a primary caregiver – watching a loved one struggle emotionally as they resist their new change, beg to be taken home, or react dramatically when you leave is absolutely devastating.

Often this can mean going through the emotional trauma of a crying or wailing loved one as you pry yourself away to return home after a visit, or perhaps you are the one crying and feeling guilty about leaving. In worst case scenarios, this can result in family members avoiding visits altogether as they struggle to say goodbye is simply too hard.

Easing The Transition Of Saying Goodbye When It’s Hard For A Loved One

Here are some tips and considerations to help you cope with the emotional struggle involved when your loved one cries, becomes angry or seems despondent when you say goodbye.

How long has it been since your loved one moved in?

Everyone adjusts differently to their transition into assisted living or memory care. For some, having lots of visits on a regular basis is very helpful. For others, constant visits make it harder for them to accept their new living situation and to willingly forge new relationships and routines in their community.

If the transition took place within the past few months, speak to the staff and see what they think. You may find that scaling back visits and leaving more time in between is the answer.

While difficult for you initially, allowing your loved one more time to completely settle in and find their place could make future visits and goodbyes more successful.

Read, How to Move a Parent with Dementia into Assisted Living. Even if you’ve already made the move – the information you find there can offer insight and recommendations you can put into place.

Seek assistance managing your own emotions

Those with dementia can be highly attuned to the stress levels and emotions of those around them. In some cases, verbal communication tools may no longer be available, and you may find someone with dementia more likely vent their emotions in other ways or become agitated very quickly.  

Next time you visit your loved one, pay close attention to your own emotional field. Are you angry? Do you feel sad? Are you feeling guilty? Are you anxious as you anticipate the potentially dramatic goodbye scene? Learning to manage your inner, emotional landscape can be very helpful in minimizing your loved one’s emotional response.

A professional therapist and/or a support group, as well as the assisted living facility staff, can help you here. By remaining calm yourself, and learning the best and most comfortable way to hug and say goodbye to your loved one, may greatly reduce or even eliminate their strong response.

Learn more about what happens after you go

It is not uncommon for those having a dramatic goodbye reaction to then quickly snap back to “center,” going normally about their day once their spouses or family members leave.

Again, remaining in communication with administration and staff is crucial in determining how much of a problem their tearful or emotional goodbye really is.

If it turns out your loved one continues his/her reactive response (crying and remaining agitated, etc.) for a long time after you leave, that’s one thing. If it turns out that you feel sadness and guilt for far longer than your loved one is sad – it may be time to re-frame the farewell story for yourself.

Work on learning how to be present with their very real sadness at your parting, but with the confidence and peace of mind that in a short while, they’ll be back to normal again. As we touch on below, you’ll feel a lot less guilty if you find out your loved one wipes his/her tears once you drive away and heads happily over to the community room for the piano player or singing hour.

Evaluate their room and make it as home-like as possible

At the Memory Care Center, we work closely with families to facilitate the transition into our center – and that includes recommendations on what to bring to their room and living space feels as personal and cozy as possible.

Take another look around their room and ask them about what items they might like to see added or swapped out. Having familiar textures, pictures, memory-keepers, scents, etc., in their room can work wonders for anchoring them between visits.

Depending on what the particular facility allows, “comfort items” typically include things like:

  • A favorite throw blanket/pillow
  • Personalized bedding
  • Photos of family and pets
  • Music player loaded with favorite songs/music
  • A stuffed animal or a doll to “love” if real pets aren’t allowed
  • Photo album with pictures from their childhood and life
  • A digital frame that keeps a running stream of photos going
  • Live plants or flowers

A simple conversation may enlighten you about things s/he wished had been brought, things s/he wishes were there, etc., and hopefully, you can find a way to accommodate their needs.

Work with staff to find the best time for visits/departures

Often, that tearful, fretful or even dramatic goodbye scene has more to do with your loved one’s daily rhythm than it does about your departure.

Check in with the staff to learn more about your loved one’s “best times of day” versus the times of day they struggle the most. Are there days of the week that are better than others?

Insight into those questions may help you find a better day of the week or better time of day, and that simple calendar shift could make a notable difference.

Another important question to ask if you haven’t done so already: what activities are your loved one’s favorite(s)?

You may find that timing your visit just ahead of their favorite activity (crafts, music time, the weekly movie date, etc.) means they’re ready for you to go so they can join their friends and stick to their routine. Then you can intentionally schedule your farewell to coincide with the start of Bingo or ballroom dancing class…

Seek a support group

Joining a support group can be instrumental in helping you facilitate the spectrum of emotions that arise when you have a spouse, parent or loved one in memory care. These support groups meet during a range of days and times, so hopefully, you can find a local support group in your area that works for your schedule.

No, the group can’t make the grief, sadness, and anguish go away altogether, but there is great comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Plus, sitting with a group of people who have been where you are means you have access to all kinds of “professional” tips, recommendations and ideas that may help you figure out the best way for bidding farewell to your loved one without absorbing the impact of their intense reaction.

Learning To Cope With Saying Goodbye To A Loved One In Assisted Living

It may take more time than is comfortable for you, but by considering the above ideas, you’ll find a way to navigate tearful goodbyes with less emotional angst.

Find helpful information in these related articles:

 

 

Taking Care Of Yourself & Managing Time After Being A Caregiver

As a caregiver, you invested countless hours meeting your loved one’s needs. Now that your season of caregiving has ended, you may feel uncertain about what to do next.

12 Tips For Adjusting To Life After Being A Caregiver

Consider these tips that help you care for yourself and manage your time.

tips for grieving caregivers1. Give yourself permission and time to grieve

After any loss, you will need time to grieve.

The commonly held stages of grief include:   

  • Denial, disbelief, confusion, shock, and/or isolation   
  • Anger   
  • Bargaining   
  • Despair and/or depression   
  • Acceptance   

Instead of hiding or feeling ashamed or guilty, give yourself permission to experience the grieving process. Realize that everyone grieves differently, and you may progress through the grief stages methodically or swing back and forth.

Likewise, you may experience intense emotions or a quiet sadness. No matter what you feel, understand that your grief is normal and that you have the right and need to experience grief in your way.

2. Use healthy and appropriate coping mechanisms

Grief can last months or even years, and you may wonder if you’ll ever return to normal. To cope, you may turn to drugs, alcohol, food, or other unhealthy coping mechanisms.

While you will never forget your loved one, we promise that the pain will eventually subside. Stuffing your emotions or drowning your feelings will only hurt you now and into the future. In fact, unhealthy and inappropriate coping can cause physical pain, emotional illnesses or long-term negative reactions.

Choose to exercise, talk, journal, or embrace other positive and healthy coping mechanisms as you grieve and protect yourself.

3. Ask for and accept help

In your caregiver role, you were the one who gave all the help. Caregiving depletes physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual resources, and now you’re the one in need of assistance.

Allow yourself to be vulnerable and ask for help as needed. Consider writing a list of tasks others can do for you or call friends who will listen and offer support.

By asking for and accepting help, you receive support and allow others to show you love.

4. Take care of your health

Visiting a doctor may be the last thing on your mind, especially if you spent a lot of time in a hospital with your loved one. You deserve to care for yourself, though, as you respect and energize your body during the grieving process.

Apply your caregiving duties to yourself and insist on a healthy daily regimen. Eat a balanced diet, get plenty of rest, exercise regularly, and visit your doctor for scheduled checkups.

Prioritizing your health equips and strengthens you for your grief journey.

5. Join a support group

Talking about your caregiving and grief experiences may scare you. It’s also hard to be vulnerable and continue to rehash the events surrounding your loved one’s passing.

Other caregivers and professional therapists or grief counselors understand what you’ve gone through. You can share your experiences and discuss your feelings and concerns in a support group. Here, you’ll gain practical advice and emotional support that sustains you as you adjust to life after caregiving.

Talking and sharing can also help others find healing, too.

6. Delay major decisions

The act of caregiving and managing grief takes a toll on your body, mind, and emotions. You need time to find a new normal.

Give yourself at least a year or as much time as you need before you make any major decisions, such as moving, growing your family, changing jobs, or entering a romantic relationship.

This cushion of time prevents you from making an emotional decision you later regret and helps you rediscover yourself.

7. Embrace new routines

Much of your daily routine used to revolve around caring for your loved one. Now, you may miss your caregiving responsibilities and struggle with the significant changes in your daily routine.

Rest assured that in time you can and will develop a new routine that becomes familiar, comfortable, and fulfilling. Start by deciding what will fulfill you each day. Remember to eat, exercise, and spend time doing things that fulfill you, too.

These steps lead you to embrace a new and positive routine.

8. Reevaluate your relationships

Loss affects everyone differently. Some people in your life may step up and offer additional support while others step away and distance themselves.

This relationship ebb and flow after a loss is normal, and you will eventually rediscover a strong and healthy support system.

For now, try to accept inevitable relationship changes. You can reduce stress when you bless and release people who withdraw and show gratitude for people who choose to stay.

9. Carefully choose new responsibilities

Without your caregiving duties, you may have fewer or even no responsibilities. You may find yourself bored, frustrated, or angry and be tempted to over-function and jump right into another caregiving relationship.

Consider giving yourself an extended time off from helping others. Work instead on the hard job of grieving.

You will also benefit from rediscovering the activities, interests, and duties that are important and fulfilling for you. Then carefully choose the new responsibilities you want to embrace as you fill your time.

10. Find fulfilling activities and interests

Caregiving takes time and energy. Instead of enjoying activities and investing in interests that used to be important, you may have put yourself on the back burner.

Now’s a great time to return to the activities and interests that mattered before you took on your caregiving role. You may even develop new hobbies.

Whichever experiences you choose to embrace, know that it’s healthy to fill some of your time with activities and interests that fulfill you and make you happy and content.

11. Discover new priorities and goals

Your role as a caregiver revolved around meeting your loved one’s needs and putting their priorities and goals above your own. Through that process, you may have given up your dreams.

Take time now to think about your future and what you want your life to look like. Then decide your priorities and set goals that propel you to make your dreams come true.

12. Help others

As an experienced caregiver, you have developed dozens of skills. You also understand the hard work caregiving takes, and you know about the grieving process firsthand.

Consider using your experience to help others. You could offer encouraging and beneficial support to other caregivers and make a difference in their lives.

By giving back, you gain an outlet for your energy and may even ease some of your grief symptoms.

Rebuilding Life When Caregiving Ends

Your role as a caregiver for your loved one may be over, but you can now embrace a new season of life.

Consider implementing these tips. With them, you find fulfillment and meaning as you care for yourself and manage your time.

You may also find caregiving support in these related articles:

 

 

 

Respite Care for Elderly with Dementia

Atlanta Respite Care

The Memory Center Atlanta is very proud to introduce our Respite Care Program for aging adults diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or any other type of dementia. 

Respite care services are offered for short-term stays and long-term needs, providing you peace of mind for however long you need our assistance.

If the stress of daily life, coupled with taking care of an aging loved one with memory loss, is reducing your ability to handle tasks and feel happy, it may be time to consider home respite care. 

“Respite” is the temporary care of a loved one to relieve the family caregiver. Taking advantage of a respite stay for a short amount of time or even several weeks provides the chance for you to rest, something caregivers often don’t do.  

Renewed energy to tackle the day, fresh rejuvenation, and restored wellbeing is essential to bring your best self to the aid of your aging family member with memory loss, even if this means asking for help from professionals. The expert advice of our health specialists, who recommend best practices and teach you tools to help your loved one, will ultimately empower you to further increase the quality of aging adult care. 

Respite Stay Solutions

If you’re struggling with providing the type of care your loved one needs, or lack the flexibility in your schedule to spend time with them as much as you’d like, it may be time to consider a respite stay. 

Ask yourself the following questions as you consider respite care solutions: 

Do you strive to offer your family the best attentive, loving, hospitable surroundings that not only support their happiness but also their medical health?

Is it a goal of yours to make the next five years as peaceful and comfortable as possible for someone you love who has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia?

Have you considered asking for help but feel concerned about trusting the right community with your closest relative?

Meet our team at The Memory Center Atlanta, where your concerns are our concerns. We’ve created an entire facility around these very topics, as many of us here have had to ask the same challenging questions.

Short-Term & Long Term Respite Care 

The Memory Center is the most comprehensive short-term and long-term senior living community specializing in the care of those living with Alzheimer’s and all forms of dementia in the Atlanta area. 

Our four to one staff ratio ensures that every resident has consistent and full support in their well being. In addition, we utilize the latest in medical science, holistic nutrition, and interactive social therapies to provide meaningful daily lives to family members with memory loss.

Your loved one’s experience will include: 

  • 24/7 onsite skilled nursing care
  • Five star delicious and healthy meals with snacks
  • Engaging daily social activities like card games, events, and more
  • Support groups, for individuals and their families
  • Dedicated caregivers who assist with all personal care requirements of daily living (preparing meals, eating, bathing, dressing, transferring, and continence)
  • Luxurious, spacious floor plans
  • A warm and loving community of professional senior citizen health specialists
  • The Town Center concept featuring a movie theater, full library, general store, bank, five-star tavern, ice cream stand, and beauty salon

Getting To Know Your Loved One For Who They Are Today, Not Who They Used To Be

We believe that the simple things in life are linked to personal fulfillment and happiness. The connections we have with our residents, social entertainment activities, guided trails around our facility’s pavilion, and a wholesome dining experience brings to the surface the positive energy that is so vital to maintaining vibrant health and memory stimulation.

Whether you need to go on a well deserved personal vacation, attend family functions, or just take a much-needed break from the home care of your loved one, The Memory Center Atlanta staff provides you peace of mind knowing that your family member with dementia is receiving personalized and professional care for the duration of their stay. 

Contact us today to learn more about our Respite Care options or to tour our community in person. Schedule a tour online or call 770-476-3678 to learn more.

Taking Care of Kids and Elderly Parents at the Same Time

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

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

We’re here to provide support.

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

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

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

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

memory care richmond
Dining at The Memory Center, Richmond

1 – Start visiting local assisted living communities

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

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

2 – Make the home safe and accessible

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

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

3 – Include your children in the process

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

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

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

4 – Make taking care of yourself a priority

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

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

5 – Take advantage of respite care options.

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

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

tips for caregivers

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

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

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

7 – Be gentle with yourself

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

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

 

Common Challenges for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia is challenging, and caring for a spouse or family member add the emotions of seeing a loved one in a state of decline.

While there are no easy answers or fool-proof way to get through a day as a caregiver without any frustration, there are practical tips that can help you prepare for common challenges.

Handling Alzheimer’s Frustration & Agitation

Agitation is common in people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.  It can be caused by boredom, new situations, fear stemming from trying to make sense of a world they no longer understand, or basic needs like being thirsty.

While caregivers can’t completely eliminate agitation there are steps you 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.

Try incorporating activities that provide a sense of independence and purpose  – 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 a favorite craft. See our ideas for different activities or  these tips from the Alzheimer’s Association.

alzheimer's care tipsFeeling Like There Is No Routine

Even though it might sound impossible, developing a basic schedule around your loved one’s mood and daily needs is beneficial for everyone. 

Knowing what to expect such as eating breakfast at the same time each day, taking a walk after lunch, sorting cards in the afternoon helps everyone feel more at ease with the day and also eliminate blocks of time where it seems like there is nothing to do (which can quickly lead to agitation).

Plan to schedule appointments, bathing and other activities during the time of day when your loved one is usually more rested, has more energy and is more agreeable.  For most people with memory loss, this is in the morning.

As late afternoon approaches many will begin wandering and can become agitation from sundowning.  During this time of day plan easy, soothing activities such as listening to music, watching a familiar movie, clipping coupons or looking through old photos. 

Not Getting Enough Help and Support

Caregivers often feel isolated and it is important to know you are not alone!  Many others are in the same situation so don’t be afraid to reach out and attend support groups where you can share your feelings and learn from others. The Alzheimer’s Association and other organizations also offer online forums and support where you can connect with others 24 hours a day.

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 the person you are caring for.

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 working with Alzheimer’s and dementia.  The more you enlist the same person to help on a consistent basis the more comfortable everyone will become.

Safety Issues & Concerns

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

Another safety concern is wandering, which is a common behavior for people with memory loss. Even if your loved one isn’t wandering, you should still 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.

Accepting 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.

Get More Alzheimer’s Tips

All Memory Center communities are 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 or find out more about our communities in Virginia Beach, Richmond/Midlothian or Atlanta/Johns Creek.

 

Can You Get Alzheimer’s In Your 50s?

While Alzheimer’s is typically noted in people 65 and older, it is possible to see symptoms in people 50 or even younger.

This is referred to as early onset, and it is estimated approximately 200,000 in the U.S have early onset Alzheimer’s.

Who Gets Early Onset Alzheimer’s?

While Alzheimer’s is still being studied, many scientists believe early onset often runs in families and may be due to rare genes that get passed from generation to generation.  People who inherit these rare genes tend to develop symptoms in their 50s and even as young as 35.

When two or more people in a family have Alzheimer’s disease it is known as familial Alzheimer’s disease. About 25% of all Alzheimer disease is familial and when Alzheimer disease starts before 60 or 65 years of age about 60% of those cases are familial. (Source National Institutes of Health)

How is Early Onset Diagnosed?

To date, there is no one test a doctor can perform to confirm an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Your doctor will get your full medical history, including symptoms such as especially memory loss.  Expect to take tests that check your memory and see how well you solve problems.  Your doctor may ask you about work or home related stress and medications you are taking, as these can sometimes produce Alzheimer’s like symptoms.

Imaging tests that detect changes in your brain such as a CT Scan or MRI may be ordered to help rule out other causes of your symptoms.

What To Do Now?

If your doctor suspects early onset Alzheimer’s they may prescribe medications or other interventions to help with memory loss.  Make sure to talk to your doctor and ask questions so you, and your family, know what to expect and begin planning for the future – including making important financial decisions.

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

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

If You Need Alzheimer’s Residential Care

tmc town center
The Memory Center, Richmond

As the disease progresses many caregivers find residential care becomes necessary for the safety and care of their loved one.  While this is a very difficult decision to make, we encourage you to not wait until a crisis situation, such as a fall or an episode of wandering, to discuss the option.

Facilities such as the Memory Center are exclusively designed for those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.  Every detail of color, texture, lighting and space is designed to address the primary environmental objectives recommended by The Alzheimer’s Association including “an indoor space that allows for freedom of movement and promotes independence,” while offering “safe and secure outdoor areas” including our courtyard and walking trails.

Our residents do not spend their days in a dark room or alone in front of the television.   Each day at The Memory Center includes programming designed  stimulate the mind and body while encouraging social interaction and easing agitation.

Find out more about our Alzheimer’s care programs in Virginia Beach and Midlothian/Richmond or read more caregiver tips or what to look for when touring a memory care facility.

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.

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