Being diagnosed with dementia is life altering, not only for the one who has the disease, but also their friends and family. Most people are overwhelmed with all the new precautions and information they are given at diagnosis. We’ve done the research for you to help make this difficult time just a bit easier. Here are tips for caring for loved ones with dementia, and memory care activities for seniors.
Try to Ease Frustrations
One of the side effects that is common with dementia is increased agitation and frustration. Mayo Clinic gives essential tips on how to help alleviate these side effects.
Make a daily routine- By maintaining a daily routine such as waking up and going to bed around the same time, this can help limit confusion among your loved one. Also, notice when your loved one is most alert and try to schedule doctors appointments or bathing during those times.
Be patient- Simple tasks may become longer than they used so make extra time when scheduling out your loved one’s day. And always try to be patient, you have to remember this is a difficult time for your loved one as well.
Give independence- Try to allow your loved one to do daily activities or tasks by themselves, or with little assistance, if they are able to. This can be done simply by laying out their clothes and having them dress themselves. This will help bring some normalcy to a difficult time.
Avoid napping- Your loved one may often be exhausted and want to lay down for a midday nap. Do not let them do this. This will disrupt their sleep cycle and leave them feeling restless at night. Perhaps try to recommend doing activities, such as going for a walk instead of taking a nap.
Give choices- Allow your loved one to make some of their own choices, however, be supervised by you. For example, give them two choices of outfits and they can choose one they want to wear. Or you can have them choose between going for a walk or playing a board game.
Seniors with dementia may often forget about activities they once used to love. As a caregiver, try your best to incorporate those activities back into their everyday life, as they can help stimulate their memory and emotional connections. Here are some activities your loved one can do:
- Read Books, Newspapers, Magazines
- Arts and Crafts
- Take long walks
- Sing and Dance
Make their environment as safe as possible
Dementia also affects one’s ability to make judgements and their problem solving skills. These losses can often lead to an increased chance in one being harmed if precautions aren’t taken. Mayo Clinic provides some guidelines to help ensure your loved one is protected while at home.
Try to prevent falls- Loss of stability can be common in dementia, therefore making extra precautions to avoid falls is highly recommended. Put handrails and grab bars in areas where your loved one may be prone to fall i.e. the bathroom, shower. Check out these home safety tips for seniors from Age Safe® America.
Install locks- Place locks on doors leading outside. This will help prevent your loved one from wandering off when you are not home or when you are in a different room. It is also important to place locks onto cabinets that contain items such as sharp utensils, alcohol, or medicine, that can cause harm to your loved one.
Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself
It is very important to not neglect yourself while caring for a loved one with dementia. HelpGuide notes to create a personal support plan so you don’t neglect your own health while caring for someone with dementia.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help- Reach out to family and friends if you are needing some help or simply just need a break. Try to schedule breaks throughout the day for time for yourself. Incorporate hobbies and activities that you enjoy into your daily routine to help boost your mood and health. It is also important to remember that you are not neglecting your loved one by taking care of yourself. You need to take care of yourself to better take care of your loved one.
Join a support group- It is integral to remember that you are not alone during this time. There are other caregivers out there who are willing to help and give tips and advice on caring for a loved one with dementia.
Plan your life outside of caregiving- Schedule time for your family. It can be easy to forget to spend time with family and friends while you are caring for a loved one with dementia. Make time and plan activities with your friends and family outside of caregiving to maintain your health.
Exercise- Try to exercise at least 30 minutes each day. Exercising can help increase endorphins, thus boost your mood throughout the day.
Relieve stress- Don’t bottle up all your stress. Talk to someone about what you are going through. This could be a friend, family member or a therapist.
Caring for a loved one with dementia can be scary and uncertain. But there are tips out there to help you alleviate some of the stress that comes along with being a caregiver, as well as help your loved one with their cognitive skills. Make sure to take extra precautions and to always make some time for yourself.
Melissa Andrews is the Content Marketing Strategist for Paradise Living Centers, an assisted living center for seniors with locations in Paradise Valley and Phoenix, Arizona. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and going on hiking trips with her siblings and c
National Nurses Week
National Nurses Week starts May 6 and ends May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale. The purpose of National Nurses Week is to raise awareness of the value of nursing and educate the public about the role nurses play in health promotion, disease prevention, and treatment of chronic and acute illnesses.
As if every week is a not a good reason to honor the hard work and dedication of our nurses, this recent national emergency has truly brought their selfless frontline efforts to light in a big way. Over the past couple months, our nurses have worked heroically on the Coronavirus response. During National Nurses Week , we honor and celebrate the extraordinary men and women who devote themselves to this vital and noble profession.
It is an entire week dedicated solely to the professional nurse – honoring them for the work they do, while also educating the public about the very important role nurses have in healthcare. During this week, healthcare organizations around the country will be honoring their nurses through various events and activities.
The nursing profession has a long and important legacy in our nation’s history. From the moment a patient walks into a healthcare facility to the moment they leave, nurses are on call, tending to every need, comforting and healing to the best of their abilities and delivering compassionate care. However, for all nurses do each and every day, they don’t always get the recognition they deserve.
Many have taken to Twitter using the hashtag #ThankYouNurses to show their appreciation.
National Aging Life Care Month
Age Safe® America recognizes the Aging Life Care™ Association (ALCA) as it celebrates the profession during the month of May. While the practice and profession of Aging Life Care is not new, there is more attention being paid to the impact our aging population has on communities and resources. Aging Life Care professionals, formerly known as geriatric care managers, are prepared to help aging adults plan for and face age-related challenges.
Aging Life Care is a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults or others facing health challenges. The Aging Life Care Professional is a health and human services specialist who is a guide, advocate, and resource for families caring for an older relative or disabled adult. Working with families, the expertise of Aging Life Care Professionals™ provides the answers at a time of uncertainty. Their guidance leads families to the actions and decisions that ensure quality care and an optimal life for those they love, thus reducing worry, stress and time off of work for family caregivers.
The association was formed in 1985 by a group of about 50 members – mainly social workers and nurses – who came together to build a profession from the ground up. The Association has grown to over 2000 members. Aging Life Care Professionals throughout the country will celebrate National Aging Life Care Month by providing seminars, webinars and special events for the public in the new virtual environment.
The Senior Home Safety Specialist certification offered by Age Safe America is now part of the continuing education program offered for ALCA professionals. This valuable course provides holistic curriculum to enhance the skills and knowledge offered by ALCA professionals to their clients.
COVID-19 and Caregiving
COVID-19 has dramatically shifted daily life for many people around the world. Nobody is immune, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and older adults and individuals with chronic health conditions are at higher risk of getting very sick from the Coronavirus.
To protect vulnerable individuals, many nursing homes or assisted living facilities are banning outside visitors temporarily in hopes of limiting residents’ exposure to someone who may be infected with the virus. Additionally, many individuals who need care and are currently living in their own homes are feeling isolated and anxious about how to stay healthy and safe.
Caregiving is now taking center stage. With already more than 40 million unpaid family caregivers helping loved ones in the U.S., experts expect the virus to increase the number of people providing short-term or long-term care to an older or aging loved one.
AARP offers guidance to family caregivers with vulnerable family members, especially those who might be new to caregiving because of Coronavirus and its impacts on older populations.
Make it a team effort
While there may be one primary family caregiver, identify other family members, friends and neighbors who can check in or help with shopping and important errands. It’s important that the person you’re caring for doesn’t leave their home and stays out of public places.
Create a list with contact information of friends, family and services in your community that can help you perform key caregiving tasks. For example, find out if services such as Meals on Wheels can help deliver meals, or if there are other local services to help with food or medication delivery.
Inventory essential items
It’s important to figure out what you have so you can determine what you need. Inventory how much food, medication and basic supplies the person you’re caring for has currently. Then make a list of what you need and how often you need to replenish it.
Many older individuals often keep minimal extras on hand because they are on a strict budget and are used to regular grocery or medication refills. If possible, help them have a two-week supply of food, water, house cleaning supplies, and medical equipment.
Get medications in order
If you don’t already have one, create a list of medications, medical contacts, and important information like allergies for easy access. If there are upcoming non-emergency, routine medical appointments, reschedule those or, if possible, switch to a virtual visit to receive telemedicine.
Ask your pharmacist or health care provider if you’re able to have an extra 30-day supply of essential medications on hand. Don’t forget to stock up on over-the-counter medications like cough suppressants and fever-reducing drugs like acetaminophen.
With current social distancing recommendations, strict isolation will impact many older individuals. To keep connections strong, set up communication using a variety of technology such as FaceTime or Skype, smart speakers, or simply phone and text. Use these to stay connected with your caregiving team as well as your older or aging family members.
If your loved one lives in a long-term care facility, see if they have accommodations for online visits and how they plan to communicate with families. If they can’t support visits via technology, send in cards, letters, magazines, puzzles or other items you know your loved one would be grateful to receive. Talk with your facility management about the safest way to deliver items.
Maintain personal safety and self-care
In order to help slow the spread of Coronavirus, limit physical contact with others, stay in as much as you can and continue to follow guidelines from the CDC. While you are likely very focused on the person you’re caring for, it is essential to also care for yourself.
For high-risk individuals, such as those with dementia and underlying health conditions, consider having the primary caregiver self-isolate with the care recipient. Then, have a back-up plan if the primary caregiver becomes ill. It’s best to be proactive and not have to use plan B, rather than being caught off guard without options.
For more information about caregiving and important considerations in light of COVID-19, visit aarp.org/caregiving and aarp.org/coronavirus.
April is OT Month and Age Safe® America celebrates all those in the field of Occupational Therapy and how incredible they are! The 2020 theme is, Occupational Therapy: EMBRACING CHALLENGES, ENHANCING LIVES. During the month of April, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) celebrates Occupational Therapy Month and the more than 213,000 occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, and students who work nationwide to create fuller lives for clients and their families. Occupational Therapy Month began in 1980. It is in April to correspond with AOTA’s Annual Conference & Expo. The American Occupational Therapy Association advances occupational therapy practice, education, and research through standard setting and advocacy.
Occupational therapy is the only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). Occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability.
Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes. Occupational therapy services typically include:
- an individualized evaluation, during which the client/family and occupational therapist determine the person’s goals,
- customized intervention to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities and reach the goals, and
- an outcomes evaluation to ensure that the goals are being met and/or make changes to the intervention plan.
Occupational therapy practitioners have a holistic perspective, in which the focus is on adapting the environment to fit the person, and the person is an integral part of the therapy team. It is a nearly 100-year-old evidence-based profession deeply rooted in science. Practice areas are Children and Youth; Mental Health; Rehabilitation, Disability, and Participation; Healthy Living; Aging; and Work and Industry.
To learn more about the profession of occupational therapy, visit www.aota.org, find AOTA on Facebook, or follow #OTMonth and @AOTAInc on Twitter.