Don’t Be Embarrassed About Alzheimer’s

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Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult for children, teens, children even adults to understand. There will be times you grandma doesn’t seem like she used to. Or without warning she may get confused, agitated or even angry to the point of accusing you of stealing. And it may happen when you are out in public, at church, the grocery store, or at a family gathering.  Even though you know Alzheimer’s is the cause, it is common to be embarrassed about it. 

While you can’t stop behavior changes due to Alzheimer’s, there are tips to help you better manage the situation.

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Think About It From Their Perspective

Alzheimer’s progressively destroys brain cells over time, so during the early stages many people living with the disease do recognize something is wrong.  They may know they are supposed to recognize you, but they can’t. Imagine how frustrating and scary that would be. 

It is important to put yourself in their shoes and think about how you might react if your world suddenly didn’t make sense or you were in a position where you realized you should know someone – even a close family member – but just couldn’t remember who they were or what they meant to you.

Adjust Social Routines

Everyone needs social interaction, even those living with memory loss. But as the disease progresses unfamiliar places and social interactions can become scary and more become difficult to manage.

Consider hosting the monthly family dinner at your house, or the home of a close friend instead of meeting at a new restaurant. Consider a familiar locale for the family vacation and stick to visiting favorite landmarks and attractions.

While each day is different, through many stages of Alzheimer’s it is likely your loved one will feel more comforted and peaceful with the familiar vs. something new that might trigger fear or agitation.  

Have A Sense Of Humor

While Alzheimer’s and dementia are serious, as a family member of friend keeping a sense of humor makes a big difference. Let’s face it, there are times you just have to find humor in the situation. It can lighten the mood not only for yourself, but also for your family and your loved one suffering from memory loss. 

And don’t forget is human nature to pick up on the emotions of others around you and this is no different for those living with memory loss. Getting embarrassed or anxious when grandma says the wrong thing can even make the situation worse as she picks up on your rising level of anxiety.

Sometimes it is just best to whisper a quiet apology, laugh and move on.

Don’t Argue

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that destroys memory.  If someone can’t remember, recalls something differently, or is convinced the neighbor stole their favorite pen, don’t spend time arguing or trying to convince them otherwise.  Even if they end up agreeing with you today it is no guarantee they will remember it tomorrow.  Instead try reassuring them or even asking questions about the memory they are recalling. 

Read more tips from The Memory Center or read more about activities that can help ease Alzheimer’s boredom.  

 

Alzheimer’s Facts Seminar on May 25, 2017

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Many people assume memory loss is a normal part of the aging process, when in fact, it isn’t.

Memory loss can be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and you need to know the facts.

Join us for an educational seminar to learn more about detection, risk factors, treatment, stages of the disease and much more.

Offered by: The Memory Center of Virginia Beach & Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Virginia

Date: May 25, 2017

Time: 5:30 P.M.- 6:30 P.M.

Location: The Memory Center of Virginia Beach 1853 Old Donation Parkway, Virginia Beach, VA 23454

To Register Contact: This seminar is offered at no charge, but space is limited.  Reserve your space by contacting Kathryn Bennett at 757-412-1180 or email: kathrynb@thememorycenter.com.

 

 

What To Expect In Middle Stage Alzheimer’s

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Alzheimer’s disease is typically referred to in three stages. Early, middle and late stage.  Many people are familiar with the early (or mild) and the late (or severe) stages, but not sure what to expect from the middle stage. 

Moderate, or middle stage, Alzheimer’s is generally the longest stage of the disease with some living in the stage for several years.

As the disease progresses family members and caregivers may notice behaviors such as:

  • Needing assistance performing daily tasks such as bathing or dressing
  • Difficulty following a conversation or remembering details about what day it is or their family history
  • Withdrawing from social situations
  • Behavior or more frequent mood changes including becoming agitated, suspicious of others
  • Changes in sleep patterns such as wanting to sleep more during the day, and difficulty sleeping at night

Safety concerns become an issue at this stage and caregivers or loved ones may have to initiate tough alz communities in virginiaconversations.  Taking away car keys, moving in with family members or hiring around the clock care for example. Wandering, a typical Alzheimer’s behavior, may appear and should be taken as a serious safety concern. 

Caring For Someone In Middle Stage Alzheimer’s

Caring for someone at this stage becomes increasingly demanding.  As the disease progresses caregivers become responsible for day-to-day tasks such as helping the person get dressed, grooming, shopping, meals, household chores, transportation, keeping them occupied and much more. 

Many caregivers become so busy taking care of their loved one they start to ignore their own needs such as not getting enough sleep, not exercising, not socializing with friends, or taking the breaks they need.  To be a good caregiver you need time away and shouldn’t feel guilty about asking trusted friends, neighbors or even hiring help on a regular basis to give you a break.

If you haven’t already, develop a daily schedule and try to stick to it the best you can.  Life with Alzheimer’s often comes with surprises, but having a routine helps makes sense of the day and can provide reassurance to your loved one.  Each day should also include activities that provide a sense of purpose and can be adapted to the person’s abilities or mood. 

Activities such as taking a walk, working in the garden, listening to music, sorting playing cards, clipping coupons or folding laundry are ideas.

Read more about daily activities at The Memory Center communities or tips for Alzheimer’s caregivers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Long Can Someone With Alzheimer’s Live At Home

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If you have a spouse or family member diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia you are probably wondering  how long they will be able to live at home and how much help they will need.

Alzheimer’s disease can progress slowly and during the early to mid-stages of the disease living at home with help is possible.  Even so, many caregivers find it necessary to enlist family members, nurses or home health-care aids to help.  Not only so their loved one can remain at home longer but also give the caregiver routine breaks to rest, exercise or catch up with friends.

alzhiemer's care johns creek gaAs Alzheimer’s continues to progressive it impacts more than just memory.  It affects brain functions including sense of perception and balance, behavior, bodily functions and other systems.  Eventually the person will no longer be able to live without around the clock care.  They may no longer be able to dress themselves, feed themselves or even use the restroom without help or supervision. 

At this stage even with hired part-time help, living at home becomes less of an option.  It and can even become a safety concern and care in a residential facility becomes necessary.

Even though most caregivers find it a hard subject to discuss, it is important to research residential care options early, even if you think you won’t need them.  Waiting to research options until there is a crisis, such as a fall, can leave you scrambling to find quality care quickly.  

Most residential facilities have a waiting list so it is a good idea to find one that best suits your needs and get on the waiting list early.  In most cases if a room becomes available and you aren’t ready to move in, you can remain on the waiting list and have the community contact you when the next room becomes available.

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The Memory Center, Richmond

About The Memory Centers

The Memory Center communities in Richmond, Virginia Beach and Johns Creek provide exceptional care for those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.  Founded as the first assisted living facilities devoted specifically to memory care, our program is designed to meet the challenging conditions of an aging brain with a caring, interactive community.

Our custom programs and activities are designed to inspire purpose, validate actions and invigorate while providing the highest quality of life for residents.  Functional and fun are key components of our activities – and we encourage family members and spouses to take an active role in their loved one’s care or join us for daily activities.

Read more about Alzheimer’s and dementia care or ask us a question or schedule a tour.

Help The Memory Center Support Beach Bags For Kids

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Spring Break is almost here for many Virginia Beach area schools which means an entire week off.  But not everyone looks forward to these extended breaks.  In fact, there are many students in our area who rely on school meals and may not get enough to eat on the weekends or during school breaks.

This is why The Memory Center, Virginia Beach supports the “Beach Bags for Kids” program to help the memory center va beachour local community and provide meals for kids who need them.

The Memory Center invites you to help us fill as many Beach Bags for Kids as possible by donating non-perishable food items.  Suggestions include: 

  • Individual-sized cereal boxes or oatmeal
  • 8oz. servings of shelf-stable milk
  • Individual-sized meals (ravioli, spaghetti & meatballs, macaroni & cheese, etc.)
  • 4 oz. fruit cups and/or 100% juice boxes
  • Snack items (granola bars, raisins, pretzels, etc.)

You can drop off donations at The Memory Center, Virginia Beach anytime during our food drive March 27 – April 6, 2017.   Donation boxes will be set up in the lobby, just drop by anytime between 9am-5pm any day of the week.  After April 6th The Memory Center staff and residents will then assemble and deliver all the Beach Bags to schools in our local community.

Thank you in advance for your participation and support, we look forward to sharing your donations with the kids in the Virginia Beach area.

Click for more information about how you can get involved with the Virginia Beach Schools Beach Bag Program.

$5.00 Fundraising Lunch at The Memory Center

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Join The Memory Center, Virginia Beach Friday March 17th for a great lunch to help us raise money for The Alzheimer’s Association.

For only $5 you will get a big serving of our homemade chili with all the toppings, a drink and dessert. And 100% of the proceeds benefit ALZ to support research to end Alzheimer’s and enhance care for those living with the disease. 

Where: The Memory Center, Virginia Beach, 1853 Old Donation Parkway
Virginia Beach, VA 23454

When:  Friday, March 17th, 11am-1pm – No Reservations Needed

Cost:  $5.00

For More Information:  Contact us at 757-412-1180

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Estate Planning Seminar

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Join us for a special event with Shannon A. Laymon-Pecoraro, an associate attorney at Hook Law Center, P.C. 

Shannon specializes in elder law, long-term care planning, estate planning, asset protection planning, and guardianships and conservatorship.  She will discuss common mistakes made when setting up an estate plan so you can plan wisely.

Learn how to protect your assets including IRA’s, investments, real estate, collectables, bank accounts and more.

There is no cost to attend but registrations are requested and seating is limited.  Reserve your space by calling 757-412-1180.

When:  Thursday, March 16th,  5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Where: The Memory Center, Virginia Beach, 1853 Old Donation Parkway
Virginia Beach, VA 23454

Dealing with Alzheimer’s Sleep Changes

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Sleep problems aren’t uncommon in the senior population, but for those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia   sleep changes including insomnia or late-night restlessness are more common.  

As Alzheimer’s progresses, it can cause the individual’s circadian rhythm to get off-kilter, reversing or rotating the body’s natural sleep/wake cycles.  Then, there is the lack of physical exercise, or other health issues which can result in a body that can’t seem to ever get a good night’s sleep. 

As a caregiver, coping with an Alzheimer’s sleep problems can be taxing.  Nighttime is often a trigger for  sundowning which can lead to agitated or even angry, resentful or disturbing behavior from a patient or loved one.  Additionally, lack of sleep can exacerbate the side effects Alzheimer’s side effects, while a night of restful sleep can result in a person who is more calm, relaxed and peaceful the next day.

If Alzheimer’s sleep changes are an issue, these tips can help you establish healthier sleep habits.

Get Enough Exercise

If the individual is physically able, work within their ability and interests and aim for at least 30-minutes of physical activity every day.  This may be as simple as a walk around the block,  gardening, or attending a yoga class. 

For those in a wheelchair or bed-bound, stationery exercises will get their muscles moving.  Stationary exercises  can be done in a chair or bed – using weights, stretching, manual motion and exercise bands. When done correctly, these exercises can maintain or even improve muscle tone, bone density and range of motion.  We recommend reading, Chair Exercises and Limited Mobility Fitness to get started. You can also a doctor for a physical therapist who specializes in Alzheimer’s and/or senior care for a list of appropriate exercises and equipment.

If the person has been completely or mostly stationery up to this point, adding regular exercise can also lead to positive change in mood, digestion and even cognition as the result of increased circulation and engagement.

Limit Caffeine, Nicotine and Alcohol

Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol are all stimulants, known to interrupt sleep and relaxation patterns. 

While limiting caffeine intake after lunchtime helps, remember caffeine may remain in the bloodstream for eight or more hours.  Thus, cutting it out completely – replacing teas and coffees with decaf versions – is recommended. Keep in mind that even decaffeinated coffee or black tea contains small amounts of caffeine.

Natural Light Is Important

Human circadian rhythms evolved in the presence of sunlit days and dark nights. Evidence from multiple studies, shows artificial light can muck up this system. Even dim lights at night will interrupt the brain’s melatonin production, essential to experiencing healthy sleep cycles.

memory care midlothian vaGetting your patient or loved one outside is optimal, but even spending a few hours each day next to a window – or using natural daylight as the predominant light source before sunset – can help to preserve the body’s natural rhythm.  At The Memory Centers our Town Center is filled with natural light, one during nice weather we take advantage of our secure walking paths and courtyard.

Once the sun sets, find the balance between dim lighting that facilitates the brain’s natural sleep cycle and safety lighting. Or consider using red night-lights that are often less likely to disturb the body’s biochemical sleep processes.

Maintain Regular Schedules

Consistency is key in maintaining healthy sleep patterns. If a patient struggles to sleep soundly, make it a practice to wake them up, observe mealtimes and begin the bedtime routine at the same time each day. This helps to “train” the circadian rhythm.  Read more tips on developing a schedule.

Limit Screen Time Before Bed 

The blue light and images emanating from TV, tablet and smartphone screens can act as a stimulant and make it more difficult for the brain to wind down. Sleep experts recommend turning off all televisions and ceasing any other screen activity for at least 30-minutes before bedtime.

Make The Bed A Sleep-Only Zone

If eating, watching TV and staying in bed too much during the day the becomes the normal habitat, it can make bedtime a more restless experience. 

If possible, make the bed a sleep-only zone, and have your loved one move to their chair or a couch if they’re awake or feeling restless. This promotes a healthy, sleep-oriented relationship with the bed.

Address Comfort Concerns

Any pain or discomfort can exacerbate insomnia. Test the patient’s bed – is it comfortable? Is the room too warm or too cold? Are they hungry or thirsty?  Do they have the right amount of pillows?  All of these factors can make it difficult to sleep.  Also pay attention to movements or facial expressions to assess if pain might be an issue. 

You Aren’t Alone

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia is challenging – but it helps to know you aren’t alone.  Talking to friends or family on a regular basis, taking breaks, or even participating in an online resource board such as ALZ Connected is recommended. 

 

 

Food Trucks at The Memory Center, Virginia Beach

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Stop by The Memory Center, Virginia Beach on March 1st from 11:30am – 1pm for the perfect lunch from local favorites Slammies Food Truck and Twisted Sister Cupcakes.

Slammie’s Food Truck specializes in delicious gourmet sliders, grilled cheeses and sides such as cucumber salad and fried pickles with sriracha aioli.  Prices for sandwiches begin at $5.00 and full combo meals are as little as $8.00.

Finish  your meal with a signature Twisted Sister cupcake in flavors such as Death by Chocolate, S’Mores, The Wedding Planner, Lemon Sunshine, Birthday Celebration, Bart Simpson, Bee’s Knees, Red Velvet and special rotating features.

The Memory Center Virginia beach is located at 1853 Old Donation Parkway
Virginia Beach, VA 23454
and the food truck event is open to the public.  Contact us at (757) 412-1180 for more information about our memory care community or this fun event. 

 

Common Challenges for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

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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.

 

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