September 17, 2019
By Anica Oaks
The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in a loved one can be a disruptive event. You may have many concerns and questions about managing the condition at present and what will happen in the future. Fortunately, family members have several options to ensure their loved one receives appropriate care for their special needs.
Adult Day Care Centers
Adult day care center are a new concept that provides daytime caregiving for seniors and those with memory problems in a stimulating, social environment with trained personnel who supervise activities. Individuals can participate in a variety of group activities, which helps to provide mental stimulation and physical exercise.
Individuals who choose to provide full-time care for their loved one with Alzheimer’s may occasionally have other obligations that take them away from care. Respite care is a system that provides experienced, compassionate care for the loved one, while you are out of town or are taking a break from the demands of caregiving.
Assisted Living Care
Assisted living centers are facilities that offer separate living quarters for residents, but also a range of services to make every life more manageable for them. The facilities generally offer group dining rooms, housekeeping services, group activities and field trips to local events. Assisted living centers offer a measure of independence and privacy, but with ongoing supervision and medical support. They provide careful building security; which can be important for individuals who tend to wander.
At-Home Senior Care
Many seniors prefer to stay in their homes, and home health care agencies offer a variety of services to help these individuals receive necessary care in the comfort of their own homes. You can choose the level of senior care your loved needs and add more features, when needed. In-home caregivers can often be the best solution for working family members who still need to provide care for elders and are concerned about the disruption of changing the loved one’s living situation.
Nursing Home Care
Nursing home care provides comprehensive, 24-hour care for individuals who may be in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease and need full time care. These facilities also have the ability to manage the medical problems that are involved in those who are dealing with Alzheimer’s disease.
Each family has their own needs, and the care needs of your loved one may change over time. Careful consideration of your loved one’s current situation, and consultation with the individual’s physician, can help you determine the best option to ensure their safety and health.
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January 29, 2019
For someone living with dementia, restlessness and fidgeting are common behaviours which have long been associated with agitation or stress. Together with Dementia Advisor for Alzheimer’s Society Judith Bower and UCLan Senior Graphic Design Lecturer Jane Souyave, Active Minds have been working towards creating an activity to help alleviate fidgeting and repetitive movements.
Conversing with carers of people living with dementia, the teams realised that these restless and repetitive motions were not always negative and wanted to dispel the thoughts that fidgeting is a disruptive behaviour.
Funding from the Alzheimer’s Society and UCLan’s Innovation funds have allowed the teams to work together and raise awareness surrounding communications and connection techniques for people living with advanced dementia. The ‘Positive Connections’ group was formed and worked tirelessly to come up with a concept which would later advance in to a product – the Fidget Widget.
What Is Fidget Widget
An age-appropriate activity, Fidget Widget comprises of five different handheld tactile tools which have been specially designed to help keep hands both relaxed and busy. The different tools can be interacted with in a variety of creative ways such as spinning, sliding, twisting, turning or rolling.
The variety of actions have been shown to not only keep restless hands busy, but also improve dexterity and provide stimulation and engagement as the activity is both meaningful and fun.
Fidget Widget is not just an individual activity however, it has been shown to be beneficial in both group and singular settings and is a brilliant way to get carers involved.
The Fidget Widget tools have undergone a two year testing period whereby the families of people living with dementia were supported with communication techniques using the Toolkit. The incredible feedback from the families showed the positive effect these products have had for their loved ones.
Interacting with the Fidget Widget has been shown to help enhance a persons psychological wellbeing as it provides an outlet for restless hands whilst being a meaningful and engaging activity. The creation of this product has allowed a wider understanding of restless behaviours and the ways in which we can interact with people living with dementia who may have verbal communication difficulties.
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November 19, 2018
Christmas can be a very overwhelming time for someone living with dementia. A sudden influx of friends and family can cause individuals to feel stressed, agitated and confused. Active Minds outline their top tips for supporting your loved one through the overwhelming Christmas period, whilst ensuring you enjoy a magical festive time together.
This will help the day run as smoothly as possible, ensuring that both you and your loved ones enjoy the festivities without a hitch.
- Create a schedule, ensure celebrations are planned for earlier in the day to avoid tiredness or agitation.
- Speak to friends and family in advance about plans, and make sure everyone works together to ensure elderly members feel included and part of conversations.
- It may be a good idea to familiarise extended family members with any behavioral changes that they may expect to view in the person with dementia.
- A person with dementia can find large groups intimidating so keep invitations to a minimum.
- Familiarise you loved one with the guests in preparation for the event, talk about them and show pictures of everyone who will be coming.
- Have a quiet room set up where your loved one can go if things become a bit too much, with some activities that can help them relax.
- Plan some simple family activities and games that are inclusive to all generations.
Eating and Drinking
Food and drink plays a big part of Christmas. It’s important to think about eating and dietary requirements for elderly relatives as rather often older party members may have particular needs.
- Those with dementia may struggle to eat for many of reasons, such as a lack of appetite. So it’s best to avoid overloading their plate with Christmas Dinner, as this can be a daunting prospect.
- Keep alcohol to a minimum to avoid arguments or accidents that can agitate a person with dementia.
- Try where possible to serve food that is familiar to your loved one as this will help them feel comfortable and relaxed and may even spark memories and conversation.
- Sometimes people with dementia experience problems with vision. To avoid confusion, place colour-contrasting rugs in front of doors or steps to make sure they are visible (dark coloured rugs may be mistaken for holes).
- If the house is unfamiliar to your loved one, place labels on doors to help them move around easily.
- If possible, limit access to places where injury could occur, such as kitchens or staircases.
- Keep a list of emergency contacts nearby.
- If staying the night, leave lights on in case your loved one gets confused if they get up during the night.
Take time for yourself
Caregivers often struggle trying to balance Christmas plans and looking after their loved ones, meaning it can be an incredibly stressful time of year, so you must make sure you take some time for yourself.
- Pace yourself and set realistic goals so you don’t overstretch.
- Assign another member of the family to also be on hand to ensure that your loved one is ok and comfortable, so the job isn’t entirely your responsibility.
- You may want to have a respite care plan put in place to begin shortly after the festivities have ended. This would ensure to give yourself a well-deserved break.
- Be proud of yourself – Christmas can be a tough time for both a person with dementia and their carer.
If you have an elderly relative or friend that’s not spending Christmas with you, regular phone calls can help elderly people not feel isolated or lonely. Although this can be a very busy time of year, try and make time for a visit, even if it’s only brief, as this will be hugely beneficial for them.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without the giving and receiving of gifts. Choosing gifts for people with dementia isn’t always easy, so we’ve put together a few ideas which make the perfect present.
- A DVD of a classic film or TV series from their past, the film may help to spark memories.
- There are jigsaw puzzles available which are created especially for someone with dementia, including illustrations which can encourage reminiscence and conversation, perfect as a stimulating gift.
- Make a memory book or photo album full of special times spent together. Not only will you be creating something that you can enjoy with your loved one, this will be a reminiscent gift, that your family member can pick up and look at any time they want.
- Giving your loved one a board game to enjoy with everyone is a great gift. Active Minds have developed special dementia friendly games such as Animal Bingo and a specially adapted version of Snakes and Ladders.
- Colouring books are a relaxing activity to help a person unwind and focus, as well as giving a sense of satisfaction once the colouring is completed.
Activities are one of the most effective ways to keep people with dementia calm and content over the Christmas period, visit Active Minds to take a look at their resources and activities suitable for those with dementia.
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October 11, 2018
By: Darleen Mahoney
You’ve heard the term Sundowners syndrome. Are you a caregiver or know someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s that has sundowning? It is a neurological phenomenon that exists with those suffering from a form of dementia or delirium. Sundowning seems to be more frequent in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease and mixed dementia.
What causes this syndrome is believed to be caused from the inner “body clock” of the brain that signals when you’re awake and when your asleep, this breaks down in people with Alzheimer’s. There may be specific triggers in your loved one, taking notes to understand these triggers is a good idea.
Factors that may aggravate Sundowners Syndrome:
- Shadows and low light, causing fear
- Separating dreams from reality
- Infection, more commonly a UTI
- Low Lighting
- Unfamiliar environment
Sundowning isn’t a disease on its own, but it is a variety of behaviors that typically occur at a later time of day and may go into the night that affect people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Those with sundowners are confused, experience anxiety, ignore directions, and potentially show aggression. They may begin to pace or wander.
There are steps that you can take to help manage this challenging time of day as it seems the fading light is the trigger, but the symptoms can get worse throughout the night. As a caregiver, this can be frustrating and exhausting for you. The steps you take will help keep your loved one safe, but also help them reduce their Sundowners symptoms.
- Have a regular daily routine
- No smoking or alcohol use
- Limit sweets and caffeine to the morning
- Smaller meals at night, larger meals at lunchtime
- Avoid late day naps
When it is time to go to sleep, take extra steps to provide a quiet relaxing environment:
- Close curtains and blinds, shadows are a huge problem
- Fix the room temperature to their liking
- Keep the house quiet, noise can make them paranoid
- Especially a visible television with the flashing lights and noise
- Put on relaxing music
You may also consult with your loved one’s physician about Melatonin at night time and any other recommendations that they may have.
You have tried to keep your loved one that is experiencing Sundowners quiet and relaxed, but they are still getting up and they are confused, and you are unsure how to respond.
- Do not argue with them
- Tell them everything is OK, be reassuring
- Let them get up and move around, just stay close to them making sure they are staying away from stairs and anything used to harm themselves
- Remind them what time it is and that its nighttime or bedtime
- DO NOT physically try to restrain from walking around
- Above all….STAY CALM
You may want to consider purchasing a baby monitor to be aware when they are getting up in the middle of the night.
As a caregiver with a loved one with Dementia or Alzheimer’s it’s such an emotional, physical, and time-consuming journey that Sundowner’s is just another piece of a puzzle to this disease that will never truly fit together and make any sense to most caregivers. Taking take to take care of yourself will only make you a better caregiver for your loved one, there is help in the form of support groups in your local areas and The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resource Center offers support as well. Its also important to get away and have time for yourself, its important to have a well trusted Home Health provider that allows you time away to decompress and refocus so that you can be a better caregiver.
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July 5, 2018
By: Darleen Mahoney
Adult Day Care facilities (ADC) are vastly different than any other community than what we have covered in our Senior Housing “Be in The Senior Housing Know” series. The adult senior does not live at the facility but will spend time during the day. It is a professionally managed environment that typically provides senior adults with dementia, or other mental or physical disabilities care. The benefit of an ADC is the option to allow these senior adults to age in place. The facility provides activities during the day while providing a safe and secure place to go. The aging adult is provided with medical care, daily social interaction, meals, cognitive stimulation and in some instances, transportation to the center. Respite Care, providing caregivers to take a break from responsibilities, is also a service that many Adult Day Care Centers provide. The ratio of staff/senior is reported as 1-6 by the NADSA.
One of the most important aspects that Adult Day Care Centers offers a Senior with Dementia or Alzheimer’s is cognitive stimulation. According to the National Adult Day Services Association, 75-90 percent offers these types of services to their senior adults.
Different programs may include:
- Card games
- Board games
- Creative projects (quilting/puzzles)
- Memory training
- Educational programs
- Book clubs
- Current event discussion groups
As the efforts of many organizations continue to recognize the importance of helping people to “age in place”, the social aspects that can be achieved in an Adult Day Care environment can be a major piece of that puzzle for these adults who are physically and mentally challenged who would like to remain at home. As Adult Day Care Centers are growing, the certifications and licenses required are different state by state. Here is the breakdown to be considered:
- 26 States require licenses only
- 10 States require certifications only
- 4 States require both licenses and certifications
- 11 States do not require either licenses or certifications
What is a Certification? The adult day program has been approved by the Department of Human Services by the standards set. Licensing varies state by state depending on their requirements and level of care. States without certification or a license, are generally publicly funded and have official agreements with state agencies.
Before choosing any Adult Day Care Service, visit the facility, talk to the adults there and see how they enjoy their day and what they do with their time. It never hurts to ask for references from caregivers that can provide feedback. For an extensive one stop shop to help you choose a ADS right for you or a loved one, visit SeniorLivingGuide.com’s Adult Day Care section, click on your state and area for an extensive selection of different Adult Day Care options in your area, visit their website and their locations before making a final decision.
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June 22, 2018
By: Darleen Mahoney
By definition, an Assisted Living Facility (ALF) or assisted living community is housing for the elderly or the disabled that provides nursing care, prepared meals, housekeeping, and other services.
What you can expect from an Assisted Living Care Facility is continuing care providing a combination of personal and health care services designed for individual needs. They offer daily activities, coordinate patients health care, supervise and ensure the overall well-being of their residents.
While the facility may assist in arranging the healthcare for their residents, those residents typically choose their own medical and dental care providers.
Please keep in mind that these communities are intended to be the next step for those who can no longer live alone, but do not provide the same level of care that a nursing home would.
These communities can be freestanding communities or part of larger facilities such as skilled nursing homes, hospitals, continuing care retirement homes, or even part of independent housing communities.
The benefits of Assisted Living Facilities:
- Maintain a patient’s independence while providing the help they currently need is the primary goal
- Family relationships and engagement with the community is encouraged
- Patients level of care is based on need, as their needs change, their care changes.
Most patients of Assisted Living Facilities are seniors, this includes those with memory challenges such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
You can rest assured that most states require certifications and licenses in order to register as an ALF.
What can you expect in your actual accommodations? These can vary greatly from one facility to the next. Some might have private rooms, baths, and kitchenettes, others might not. If you would like to see what is available in your area, visit us online at www.SeniorLivingGuide.com, click on Assisted Living at the top of the page, choose your state and city/area of interest, take your time, and see what they have to offer and what meets your needs.
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May 31, 2018
By: Darleen Mahoney
As the rate of Alzheimer’s Disease increases and we seem to be on the brink of a cure or treatment. It still seems all too futuristic to those in the here and now fighting for loved ones with the disease.
As the idea that there may be a cure around the corner lingers, the disease is still growing in numbers and being aware of the signs at home in order to get treatment as early detection are keys to potentially living more independently longer, subsiding the symptoms.
Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes the slow decline of memory, thinking and reasoning skills. Let’s review basic warning signs. These signs may be experienced differently by each person to varying degrees.
- Memory loss – One might forget recent information like dates or events. Asking the same questions over and over. Using things like post it notes, reminder notes, electronic devices, or even family to remember things they used to remember on their own.
- Problem Solving – One might have problems developing and following a plan or working with numbers. They may start forgetting to pay monthly bills, work electronics like phones, stoves, and remotes, etc. that were everyday routine devices.
- Losing Track of Times and Dates – One might start losing track of dates and time. They may start forgetting how they got somewhere or even where they are.
- Visual Changes – Some Alzheimer’s patients have experiences changes in vision with judging distance, color, and depth perception. These are problematic to those who may still be driving.
- Problems with Speech – One might have trouble following or joining a conversation, they may stop in the middle of a conversation or have no idea how to continue, repeating themselves. They struggle with their words and sometimes are unable to find the right words, calling things by the wrong names at times.
- Misplacing Things – One might start putting things in odd places, losing things, and unable to recall steps to find them. Some may accuse others of stealing those things. This may start occurring more frequently as they may appear to be paranoid.
- Poor Judgment – One may start having poor decision-making and changes in their judgment. They may not be able to deal with money, giving large amounts away or handling it improperly. This makes them more vulnerable to people who may want to take advantage. They may start bathing less and not taking care of their hygiene.
- Withdraws from Family, Social, and Work – One might begin removing themselves from their social activities, hobbies, projects, and even their own family. They start avoiding these situations because of the changes that they are experiencing.
- Mood Changes – The mood and the personality of someone with Alzheimer’s changes as they become confused and become experiencing depression, fear, and anxiety in their daily lives. They are no longer able to find a “comfort zone”.
Clearly, many of these signs can be normal in aging adults. Recognizing multiple and ongoing signs in someone you love should not be ignored, schedule a doctor’s appointment.
There is treatment available with early detection, relief of the symptoms and will help them maintain a level of independence longer.
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March 22, 2018
By: Darleen Mahoney
When your loved one with dementia or other age-related memory problems is at the point where it is no longer reasonable or safe for them to live alone, you may need to find a community that is right for them. A community or facility that specializes in memory care. Do you know where to start? Do you know what to look for and how much does it cost?
The needs of folks with Memory problems such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other types of memory problems can vastly differ from those in need of long-term care. Choosing a memory care facility that is designed to meet your loved ones care not only includes their medical needs, but their comfort and safety.
Choosing the right memory care options may be confusing. To clear things up, assisted living communities offer special memory care units (SCU) in separate buildings, floors, etc. It’s important to make sure that the staff have training and can properly assist patients with dementia or impaired cognition. According to Mitzi McFatrich, executive director of Kansas Advocates for Better Care, “they can offer staff extensively trained in caring for people with dementia, individualized care that minimizes the use of dangerous psychotropic drugs, a home-like environment and activities that improve residents’ quality of life. But at their worst, they may offer little more than a locked door.” https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T027-C000-S004-how-to-choose-a-memory-care-unit.html. Be cognizant of this and do your research on the staff, training, and commitment to the overall well being of their residents.
Another option would be an independent memory care community which is distinct from assisted living, these memory care communities will have specialized skilled nursing in memory care.
Memory Care communities and care have higher costs involved due to the level of care that is required for their patients. Inquiring at the community or facility on the types of financial aid and availability to utilize Medicare or Medicaid may also provide additional financial support.
According to the National Investment Center for Senior Housing and Care, “every 66 seconds someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s, long-term care providers are rushing to offer memory care services. As of mid-2016, memory care facilities had the capacity to care for more than 65,000 residents-a 44% increase over the past 5 years.” Therefore, more and more facilities are being built and more focus is being put on the need for this type of care.
According to, https://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-residential-facilities.asp#choosing it’s important to choose your setting as they make these recommendations:
- Plan on visiting several care facilities. Look around and talk with the staff, as well as residents and families.
- When you visit a care facility, ask to see the latest survey/inspection report and Special Care Unit Disclosure form. Facilities are required to provide these. The report and the disclosure form can give you a picture of the facility’s services.
- Visit the facilities at different times of the day, including meal times.
- Ask the care facility about room availability, cost and participation in Medicare or Medicaid. Consider placing your name on a waiting list even if you are not ready to decide about a move.
- If you will be paying for the facility out of pocket, ask what happens if the person with dementia runs out of money. Some facilities will accept Medicaid; others may not. If you anticipate the need for Medicaid either now or in the future, plan to visit with a lawyer that specializes in elder care prior to moving into a facility to ensure a good financial plan is in place.
With the need growing and more facilities/communities being built and opened to accommodate memory care residents, there is more thought being put into the design and types of communities and facilities that folks in need of memory care will need to make them feel more at home. Country Living magazine featured a facility in Ohio that built a community that is designed to look like a small town from the 1940’s while each resident has a “little house”, https://www.countryliving.com/life/a39630/nursing-home-tiny-houses/. There are communities that are including nurseries and doll therapy as new techniques arise in how to address the anxiety and stress that many patients with memory loss feel, https://khn.org/news/when-pretend-play-is-real-for-alzheimers-patients/.
Finding the Memory Care community that is right for your loved one should always include, online reviews, multiple visits to the facility without making an appointment, talking to friends and family of residents of these communities and staff. Until there is a known cure for this disease that continues to increase in diagnosis year after year, the need for these communities and care will only increase.
Ready to begin your search? We have 2,189 potential solutions! Begin your search here – http://www.seniorlivingguide.com/MapSearchAlzheimers.tpl
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March 13, 2018
Charlotte, March 7, 2018 – Within the United States, there are at least 5 million people currently living with age-related dementias, and this number is expected to rise as more people live longer. So how do you know if you or your loved ones have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease (the most common form of dementia)? Renowned experts, Dr. Charles Edwards and Dr. Aristides Chaconas will discuss this important topic at the Memory Center Charlotte’s Symposium “Aging and Your Brain – How am I Doing?”
The symposium will take place on Thursday, April 12 from 8:30am to 11:30am at Myers Park United Methodist Church, 1501 Queens Road in Charlotte. Tickets are $25 and available by calling
704-577-3186. Seating is limited.
“We want people to recognize that our cognitive function changes as we get older, and memory problems do not always lead to Alzheimer’s disease” says Dr. Chaconas.
The symposium program will include:
* Memory Loss – Do I Have It? – presented by Charles H. Edwards II, MD of Memory Center Charlotte, a 501C3 entity which develops educational initiatives, direct medical care and community outreach to the community with an emphasis on dementia.
Dr. Edwards will address these questions: What areas of the brain are affected as we age? What are normal age related changes in your brain and how are they manifested? What are the practical aspects of normal cognitive aging?
* Memory Loss – I Have It! What Do I Do Now? – presented by Dr. Aristides Chaconas, Neurologist at Memory Center Charlotte.
Dr. Chaconas will address these questions: When do normal age-related changes become concerning? What is Mild Cognitive Impairment? When do symptoms become serious? What is the difference between Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia? If I am diagnosed, what do I do now?
In addition, both doctors will touch on staying healthy and what is coming in the field of dementia care.
“Aging and Your Brain – How am I Doing?” is presented by Memory Center Charlotte. To find out more, visit http://memorycentercharlotte.com.
About Memory Center Charlotte
Memory Center Charlotte is a 501c3 non-profit entity dedicated to the care of patients with memory challenges and their caregivers in the Charlotte region.
Media Contact: Cindy Ballaro
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February 20, 2018
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By: Darleen Mahoney
I am on my own personal journey to discover what the best decisions are for my Dad. He is 71 years old and starting to decline both physically and mentally. He decided to be independent and retire in a 55+ restrictive community years ago, but I see the need for additional long-term services for him in the near future. On this journey, I found myself needing a clear vision on what are our options might be that would be best for him and his needs.
I started looking at continuing care community options – what they entail and if it would be a good fit. I regretted that this option was not considered years ago and wondered if it was too late for him to make this move.
Continuing care communities are independent living housing with all the perks of the social, recreational and other retirement community extras that keep independent seniors active. They also have two additional tiers of care available – assisted living and nursing level care. Later, if the independent senior’s health declines, they can smoothly transition to the assisted living tier, and then, the nursing side, if needed.
According to the AARP, “Nearly 90% of people 65 and older said they would like to ‘age in place.’ And yet the hard truth is that a beloved house in a familiar community can become both physically impractical and socially isolating over time”. http://time.com/money/4579934/continuing-care-retirement-communities-cost/
Once you decide that this is a viable option for you or your loved one to explore, it’s a matter of choosing which one would be right for you.
The AARP recommends that you take many steps to make this determination:
- Visit multiple residences
- Take a tour, talk to the residents, staff, and visiting family members.
- Ask staff members how long they’ve worked there; a good sign of quality is low turnover.
- Check with the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. Many assisted-living residences, nursing homes, and CCRCs voluntarily apply for accreditation, which means they meet many quality measures.
- Get clear information on financial arrangements and costs
- Discuss at length with your loved ones, they will help you make a good decision in your best interest.
Regardless of whether a continuing care community is right for you or your loved one, it’s always best to be informed and proactive when making plans of this magnitude. Their health and happiness in the long term is dependent on finding the best senior living arrangement.
When you’re ready to begin your search, remember SeniorLivingGuide.com – the nation’s fastest growing senior housing and services resource!
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