The 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.
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.
Safety 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.
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.
Eat2think.com recently published practical tips on handling mealtime when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Life with Alzheimer’s means most everyday tasks such as bathing, dressing, finding meaningful and safe activities, and mealtimes can be challenging. People living with memory loss struggle to separate memory from the physical state of present-day living. They can often become overwhelmed, agitated or distracted. For some, sundowning is also an issue, which can often correspond with the evening meal.
Click to read their 15 tips and insights to make mealtime more enjoyable. At The Memory Centers in Richmond and Virginia Beach, we employ several of them including minimizing distractions, providing a variety of choices, flavors and textures. Having a sense of humor while staying calm, comfortable, and reassuring is also helpful.
Click to read more about The Memory Center philosophy to residential memory care, or what a typical day is like here.
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
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.
Millions of Americans are living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, and as more of the population reaches age 65 and above, instances of the disease continue to rise.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that causes memory loss and behavioral changes eventually leaving the person unable to safely care for themselves. In the early stages many spouses and family members prefer to care for their loved one at home, but as the demands of the disease increase residential often becomes necessary.
Family members want the best for their loved one and comparing assisted living facilities is a big task. There are so many factors to consider such as cost, location, reviews, or even how long the waiting list is.
Below are some of our tips for getting the most out of touring and comparing potential facilities.
Memory Care Cost
The cost of living in a memory care facility depends on several factors including private vs. semi-private room, level of care needed, medical supplies and more.
There is not one specific price for memory care however, SeniorHomes.com compiled the average cost of memory care and reported the median cost in Virginia was $4,100 per month. Some facilities may cost less and some will cost more and it is very important to find out exactly what the monthly cost includes. What is included at one facility might be an extra charge at another.
What is Included in the Cost?
When touring residential facilities find out exactly what is included in the monthly cost. These costs vary from one facility to the other so knowing what is, or isn’t, included will help you accurately compare and avoid surprises later. Ask for a detailed list of everything that is included, and what extra charges you could reasonably expect.
The Memory Centers in Virginia Beach and Midlothian/Richmond offer an all-inclusive rate so families know exactly what to expect without surprises to their budget. Our memory care pricing includes:
Private & semi-private rooms including private bathrooms
Three daily meals, snacks and ice cream socials every day
Emergency pull cord in every room
Memory boxes to help stimulate meaningful memories of their life
Highly trained staff to assist with activities of daily living including bathing, dressing, eating, and toileting
Medication management by our certified medication technician
Health monitoring by an RN nurse
Medical oversight by a physician trained in geriatric care
Full activities and Memories and Motion program designed by our Activities Director
Physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy with a physician prescription as needed
Hospice/End of Life Care available
The only additional costs are incontinence supplies, salon services, long-distance telephone or transportation to an individual appointment.
Staff to Resident Ratios
This is an important question to ask of any facility you are considering, not only for daytime but during evening and overnight hours too. The higher the ratio, the more residents each staff member is taking care of during their shift.
The Memory Center’s ratio is 4 residents to 1 staff, which gives all our staff members more time to spend with residents, provide individualized attention and respond to resident needs.
What Activities Are Provided? Is There A Schedule?
No one wants their loved one sitting alone in a room all day bored, unattended to or left to just watch TV. Activities are important in all types of assisted living and memory care facilities. Ask to see the activities schedule and tour when activities are taking place so you can see them for yourself. A sign of a good activities program is when the residents and the staff are engaged and having fun together.
Mealtimes are important, as is the quality of food. Bland and boring food can get old very quickly and isn’t much of a motivator to get to the dining area.
Ask to see a menu and note the entree options. Is there a good balance of choices and is the menu nutritionally sound? Visit the dining room and, if possible, join them for a meal and taste the food for yourself.
How Is Bathing & Personal Care Handled?
How often are residents bathed, their hair washed, what if they need help shaving?
If you have bathing preferences for your loved one find out if they can honor them. Also, observe current residents, do they look clean and well-groomed? Are they dressed in clothing or still in pajamas well into the afternoon?
What Are Their Security Measures – Indoors and Out
What protocols does the facility have in place to keep residents safe indoors and out – including everyday safety like trip hazards? Do the walking paths have uneven footing or tree roots sticking out that could cause a fall? Are lamp cords kept close to the wall to prevent a trip hazard? Is the space wide enough and open so residents can safely move throughout the facility?
If you are visiting a memory, or Alzheimer’s care facility ask how they manage wandering and what steps they have in place to prevent it. These are all important questions and the person conduction your tour should be able to answer them right away.
While it is important to ask questions and gather information, your first impression and instinct you will often make it clear when you’ve found the right facility for your loved one.
If your first impression of an assisted living facility is that it is too dark and smells bad, it probably isn’t going to be your top pick, even if the food was good.
A bright, open community where residents are happy and engaged in appropriate activities is more likely going to be your top contender.
Tour The Memory Center
Currently, the Memory Center operates two facilities, Midlothian (near Richmond, VA), Virginia Beach and Atlanta, GA (in Johns Creek) scheduled open Spring 2017. All our memory care communities provide exceptional care for those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
We founded the first assisted living facility devoted specifically to memory care with a program designed to meet the challenging conditions of an aging brain with a caring, interactive community and continue to expand our communities to serve others.
Contact us for more information or to set up a tour of any of our facilities.
Memory Care Options for Dementia and Alzheimer’s
There are several options for care in Virginia. The Memory Center communities provide care solely for those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Founded as the first assisted living facility devoted specifically to memory care, our program is designed to meet the challenging conditions of an aging brain with a caring, interactive community.
Utilizing the latest in science, nutrition, and interactive therapies, our daily structured activities provide meaningful purpose to those with memory loss.
All Memory Center communities are built around our original Town Center and Neighborhood layout and feature focused programming and daily activities. We get to know each resident for who they are today – not who they used to be.
Find out more about our programs or what to a typical day looks like in our assisted living facilities.
When someone has Alzheimer’s the world no longer makes sense to them the way it used to. They come to rely on their primary caregiver, often a spouse, as the person who keeps them safe and guides them through their every day.
It isn’t uncommon for someone with memory loss to become anxious when they can’t see their caregiver spouse. They may be afraid of what might happen if you aren’t there to help them, or even afraid you will leave them. This fear often leads to what is referred to as shadowing – meaning they become your shadow trying to follow you everywhere, even to the bathroom or stand by your side as you wash dishes. And while they aren’t trying to bother you, it can be exhausting and difficult to get a break.
How are you supposed to get any rest or relief if someone is following you around all the time?
It is important to take time for yourself. Even if your spouse doesn’t agree or protests.
There is a tremendous amount of stress on primary caregivers, and if you don’t take time to shower, rest, socialize or even get a haircut, it is easy to become burned out.
Recruit a Trusted Helper
Don’t feel guilty about asking a trusted family member or friend to help for a few hours, or hire someone from a home health agency to help out. Yes, your spouse might seem suspicious or protest the change, but they will be alright. If you enlist the same person to help on a consistent basis, the more comfortable everyone will become.
Getting a Helper has Worked for Other Families
For example, a primary caregiver we know had been taking care of her spouse with dementia. The spouse shadowed her most of the day. Even putting away dishes became difficult as he was always getting in front of her as she tried to reach the cabinets.
She hired an aide to come help two days a week with laundry, cleaning, and cooking. She hadn’t planned on leaving her spouse alone with the aide, she just knew she needed help.
After a few weeks, the wife realized she enjoyed having the aide there not only for the help but also to have someone talk to. This was a pretty good sign she needed to take more time for herself and start socializing with friends again.
Even though her husband still preferred that she do everything for him, he came to recognize the aide as someone who could be trusted as well. The wife started leaving the house to run errands alone or go visit her grandchildren knowing that even if her husband protested he was in good hands.
Don’t Feel Guilty about taking Time for Yourself When Caring for a Loved One with Dementia
If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s give yourself a break. Taking some time away is ultimately good for you, and your spouse, as a rested caregiver is better than an exhausted and frustrated one.
Learn More about Caring for Someone with Dementia
Get more caregiver tips from The Memory Centers in Virginia Beach, Atlanta, and Richmond. Our communities are dedicated to providing the best care for people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. We also offer a wide range of information and events to help educate those serving as primary caregivers at home.
Contact us for more information about our communities.
Seeing a loved one develop Alzheimer’s or dementia can be scary and confusing. Their behaviors can be misunderstood or not make sense to you.
Maybe during a recent visit to your aunt’s house she insisted you help her find her winter gloves and boots – in the middle of July. Or maybe she didn’t remember your name at all or thought you were someone else from the family.
These types of scenarios aren’t uncommon, and many people wonder if their loved one knows something is wrong with them. And what if they don’t understand – should you try and convince them?
Do They Know They Have Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease progressively destroys brain cells over time, so during the early stages, many 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. Red Johnson, an 86 year-old living with Alzheimer’s, explained to his daughter, Nancy, how it feels to live with the disease.
I am Red.
I love my family. My daughter-in-law and son-in-law; my grandchildren and great-grandchildren; my in-laws; and my nieces and nephews. I might not remember their names. I might be tongue tied when I try to talk with them. But, I still love them. Do you know how dumb it feels when you “know” the person talking with you is an old friend and you can’t remember their name? I know something is wrong with me, and I hate it. Don’t look “through me” just because I can’t remember your name or am mixed up about what day it is. Don’t ignore my needs because you think it doesn’t matter.
When Someone Doesn’t Understand Something Is Wrong
There are cases where people don’t recognize anything is wrong. You may hear this referred to as anosognosia which is thought to be the result of a cell damage in the right pre-frontal lobes and the parietal lobes. This can happen during a stroke or as cells decline due to Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Caregivers and family members may notice obvious changes in someone’s behavior, physical or mental limitations while their loved one remains adamant everything is fine. Anosognosia isn’t denial, it is a medical condition.
Caring for anyone living in cognitive decline is challenging. Caring for someone who doesn’t recognize they are ill can add to that challenge. They may refuse to take medications because they don’t think they need them, or become angry when told they can’t stay home alone or drive to the store anymore.
Convincing someone there is a problem won’t make them believe you, so try to avoid arguing. It doesn’t help them understand the situation, and can also lead to agitation, distrust and fear – all common side effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Read tips from The Memory Center on how to communicate with someone living with cognitive decline and how to keep them safe.
Day-To-Day Living With Someone Who Has Alzheimer’s
Keeping a schedule is important when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and dementia. While every day is different, a routine that is based around activities that help promote movement and inspire purpose are important.
See what a typical day At The Memory Centers in Richmond and Virginia Beach looks like and what activities we suggest you include or contact us for more information about our programs.
Join The Memory Center Richmond and Kindred Hospice for a special lunch and learn. This one hour program will explore the four types of Alzheimer’s disease and tips to effectively communicate with patients.
Almost every minute Alzheimer’s disease impacts a new brain in the United States, and 2/3 of these belong to women. Women are also more likely to become a primary caregiver to someone living with Alzheimer’s.
While Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia impact everyone, women are at the center of this growing epidemic.
Maria Shriver and The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement™ is on a mission to inform and educate women around the US and provide key research to find out why women are more likely to receive an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
You can join the Women’s Movement in the fight. Sign up online to show your support, see tips on how to keep your brain healthy and active, get the facts on Alzheimer’s or explore tips for caregivers.
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.
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.
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.