Archive for June, 2014


Bathing & Alzheimer’s

bath_safety_dementia_300x

Bathing is a necessary aspect of life. However, when someone is caring for a loved one affected by a progressive dementia like Alzheimer’s, bathing can seem like an insurmountable challenge. Below are some reasons why difficulties may occur during the bathing task, and also some tips on how to overcome these challenges.

Reasons for resisting bathing:

  • May not know what bathing is for
  • May feel afraid or cold
  • May experience discomfort at the lack of modesty
  • May have had a traumatic experience related to water (e.g., drowning, burns from scalding water)

Tips to help with bathing:

  • Have toiletries, towels and washcloths available in advance to make the bathing process easier
  • Keep the room temperature warm and reduce bright lights
  • Make the person feel in-control — involve and coach through each step of the bathing process
  • Experiment to determine if the person prefers showers or tub baths and what time of day is best
  • Respect the person’s dignity — hold a towel in front of the body, both in and out of the shower
  • Use a washcloth to soap and rinse hair in the sink; reduces the amount of water on the person’s face
  • If spousal caregiver, you may need to shower together
  • If not working, try bathing later or on another day

Other considerations:

  • Bathing habits and preferences (time of day, bath vs. shower, favorite products)
  • Physical limitations that might cause bathing to be uncomfortable (e.g. arthritis)
  • Cognitive level and behavioral impairments
  • Level of comfort/familiarity with assistant

Making the bathroom safe:

It’s important to make the bathroom as safe and comfortable as possible. Install grab bars, place non-skid mats on floors, watch for puddles and lower thermostat on your hot-water heater to prevent scalding injuries. Also, take care to never leave the person with dementia alone in the bathroom, use products made of non-breakable materials, and keep sharp objects (i.e. tweezers, scissors) out of reach.

traveling

The summer season is almost upon us, and for many, this is the time of year to let our hair down and take that vacay! For those that are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, however, the challenges associated with traveling can be daunting. Below are some tips and strategies for making your next excursion as stress and worry-free as possible.

Tips for a calm traveling experience:

  • Plan ahead
  • Learn to recognize the warning signs of anxiety and agitation and have a plan to address them. Discuss this plan with the person with dementia.
  • Try not to overload the person with a lot of directions or too much information.

General travel considerations:

  • Environmental changes can trigger wandering or confusion. Enroll in MedicAlert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return, a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for individuals with dementia who wander or have a medical emergency. Call 888.572.8566 or visit alz.org/safety to enroll. Those already enrolled should notify MedicAlert + Safe Return of travel plans.
  • It may be helpful to stick with the familiar. Travel to known destinations that involve as few changes in daily routine as possible.
  • Evaluate options for the best mode of travel. Based on needs, abilities, safety and preferences, decide what would provide the most comfort and the least anxiety.
  • When selecting destinations, consider those that have easy access to emergency health services and pharmacies.
  • Consider the needs and desires of the person with dementia as you plan your trip; elaborate sightseeing trips or complicated tours may cause anxiety and confusion.
  • If you will be staying in a hotel, consider informing the staff ahead of time of your specific needs so they can be prepared to assist you.
  • Have a backup plan in case your trip needs to change unexpectedly.
  • Travel during the time of day that is best for the person. For example, if he or she is more agitated in the late afternoon, try to avoid traveling at this time.

What to keep in mind for visits to family and friends:

Be sure to prepare friends or family members for the visit by explaining dementia and the changes it may have caused. Go over any special needs and explain that the visit could be short or that you may need to change activities on short notice. Some additional considerations:

  • It may be helpful to stay as close to your normal routine as possible. For example, bathing and eating times should be on a similar schedule to that followed at home. Eating in familiar settings, such as at a dining room table, may be less confusing than eating in a crowded restaurant.
  • Be realistic about abilities and limitations. Allow for extra time when scheduling activities.

Suggestions for air travel:

Moving through an airport requires focus and attention, as the level of activity can be distracting, overwhelming and difficult to understand. Please consider the following when traveling by air:

  • Avoid scheduling flights that require tight connections.
  • Even if walking is not difficult, consider requesting a wheelchair so that an airport employee is assigned to help you get from place to place. Most airlines ask for at least 48 hours of notice.
  • Contact the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at least 72 hours prior to travel for information about what to expect during the security screening. While at the airport, remind the person what he or she can expect and inform the TSA agent at the security checkpoint that the person has dementia.
  • Do not hesitate to ask for assistance from airport employees and in-flight crew members.
  • If the person needs help using the restroom, look for companion care bathrooms so you can more easily assist.
  • Stay with the person at all times.

 

Asian grandparents and grandchild

Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia often involves a team of people. Whether you help provide the daily care (e.g., assisting with meals and bathing), participate in the decision making (e.g., making care arrangements and legal and financial plans) or you simply care about a person with the disease — there’s much to do and plenty to know. But it doesn’t have to be a lot of work to find the resources and support you need. The Alzheimer’s Association and Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center — alz.org/care — can help.

Check out any of the online resources below for more information.

ALZConnected

A social networking community where people with Alzheimer’s and related dementia, caregivers and others affected by the disease can share questions, experiences and practical tips via message boards or create private groups organized around specific topics.

Alzheimer’s Navigator

An interactive online tool for people living with dementia and those who participate in providing care and making care-related decisions. This assessment tool evaluates needs, outlines action steps and links the user to Alzheimer’s Association chapter programs and local services.

Community Resource Finder

A comprehensive database of local programs and services, housing and care options, and legal experts all in one location, allowing users to quickly search and find access and support.

Care Team Calendar

A free, personalized online tool, powered by Lotsa Helping Hands, that makes it easy to organize family and friends who want to help with caregiving and share activities and information among the care team.

 

 

Join teams from around the world on June 21, The Longest Day®, to honor the strength, passion and endurance of those facing Alzheimer’s disease with a day of activity. Select an activity you love, from swing dancing to swimming, and make an impact by raising funds and awareness to advance the efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. Register by June 11 to receive your participant kit in time for The Longest Day.

 

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brain

Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month

The Alzheimer’s Association is moving our awareness month from September to June. This new month will be called Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month (ABAM).— a time to shine a purple light for the millions of individuals world-wide and all the family members and caregivers locally affected by Alzheimer’s disease. We need your help to honor those struggling with this disease every day by mobilizing friends, families, neighbors, co-workers and customers to help bring an end to Alzheimer’s disease. The time is now to commit to going purple during Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month (ABAM). The end of Alzheimer’s starts now. The End of Alzheimer’s Starts with YOU.

Promote

  • Turn Facebook purple by changing your profile picture to our END ALZicon.
  • Turn your office, school or place of worship purple for the month of June. 
  • Show the power of purple by introducing and/or utilizing a purple product. 

 

  *Here’s how to change your profile picture in three easy steps.1. Right click on the END ALZicon and save to your computer.

2. Log into your Facebook account. Move your cursor over your current profile picture and select “Change Picture.” 

3. Use the browse function to locate and upload the END ALZgraphic.

Declare

  • Announce your commitment to ending Alzheimer’s through social media and internal communications. 

Educate