Tag Archive: education


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.

Advertisements

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.

 

???????????????????????

 

 

 

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

Moments of Joy

Alzheimer’s and other dementias are devastating diseases. Overtime, the person with the illness gradually loses their ability to perform many complex, and even once familiar, tasks. However, when a person receives their diagnosis, there is still much life to be lived and to enjoy – the person can still offer profound contributions in love, family, and life. So much of who we are is not our ability to remember facts, but it is how we love and feel from day-to-day, moment-to-moment. These moments of joy are still accessible to the person, even very late into the disease. The person with dementia may be living with their disease for years, or even decades. Therefore, it is beneficial for us as caregivers to develop effective strategies for engaging the person and evoking moments of joy and accomplishment. We must be prepared to offer more guidance, support and supervision to the person as their disease progresses, and it is essential that we practice our ability to be sensitive, patient, and positive in our work with the person.

cb0407bwh_0282

Offer support and supervision
You may need to show the person how to perform the activity and provide simple, step-by-step directions.

Concentrate on the process, not the result
Does it matter if the towels are folded properly? Not really. What matters is that you were able to spend time together, and the person feels as if he or she has done something useful.

Be flexible
When the person insists that he or she doesn’t want to do something, it may be because he or she can’t do it or fears doing it. Don’t force it. If the person insists on doing something a different way, let it happen and change it later if necessary.

Be realistic and relaxed
Don’t be concerned about filling every minute of the day with an activity. The person with Alzheimer’s needs a balance of activity and rest, and may need more frequent breaks and varied tasks.

Help get the activity started
Most people with dementia still have the energy and desire to do things but may lack the ability to organize, plan, initiate and successfully complete the task.

Break activities into simple, easy-to-follow steps
Focus on one task at a time. Too many directions at once often overwhelm a person with dementia.

Assist with difficult parts of the task
If you’re cooking and the person can’t measure the ingredients, finish the measuring and say, “Would you please stir this for me?”

Let the individual know he or she is needed
Ask, “Could you please help me?” Be careful, however, not to place too many demands upon the person.

Make the connection
If you ask the person to make a card, he or she may not respond. But if you say that you’re sending a special get-well card to a friend and invite him or her to join you, the person may enjoy working on the task.

Don’t criticize or correct the person
If the person enjoys a harmless activity, even if it seems insignificant or meaningless to you, encourage the person to continue.

Encourage self expression
Include activities that allow the person a chance for expression. These types of activities could include painting, drawing, music or conversation.

Involve the person through conversation
While you’re polishing shoes, washing the car or cooking dinner, talk to the person about what you’re doing. Even if the person cannot respond, he or she is likely to benefit from your communication.

Substitute an activity for a behavior
If a person with dementia rubs his or her hand on a table, put a cloth in his or her hand and encourage the person to wipe the table. Or, if the person is moving his or her feet on the floor, play some music so he or she can tap them to the beat.

Try again later
If something isn’t working, it may just be the wrong time of day or the activity may be too complicated. Try again later or adapt the activity.

Communication Strategies

communication

As the disease progresses, the communication skills of a person with dementia will gradually decline. Eventually, he or she will have more difficulty expressing thoughts and emotions. Ultimately, the person will be unable to understand what is being communicated and lose the ability for verbal expression.

The challenges associated with communication can lead to frustration. It can be helpful for you to understand what changes may occur over time so you can prepare and make adjustments. Anticipating these changes and knowing how to respond can help everyone communicate more effectively.

Tips for successful communication:

  • Allow time for response so the person can think about what he or she wants to say.
  • Engage the person in one-on-one conversation in a quiet space with minimal distractions.
  • Be patient and supportive. Offering comfort and reassurance can encourage the person to explain his or her thoughts.
  • Maintain good eye contact. It shows you care about what he or she is saying.
  • Avoid criticizing or correcting. Instead, listen and try to find the meaning in what is being said. Repeat what was said to clarify the thought.
  • Avoid arguing. If the person says something you don’t agree with, let it be.
  • Don’t overwhelm the person with lengthy requests that require complex thinking. Instead break down tasks with clear, step-by-step instructions.
  • Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Ask one question at a time. Multiple questions at one time can be overwhelming.
  • Ask questions that require a yes or no answer. For example “Would you like some coffee?” rather than “What would you like to drink?”
  • Give visual cues. To help demonstrate the task, point or touch the item you want the individual to use. Or, begin the task for the person.

Violette Peters and her mother Ablyne Winge.

Picture of The 36-Hour Day

A Book Review

The 36-Hour Day:A Family Guide to Caring for People Who have Alzheimer’s Disease, Related Dementia, and Memory Loss

Caregiving for a person with dementia is a daunting task. It requires the acquisition of new skills and knowledge, the mobilization of resources and family members, and it can leave the primary caregiver feeling burnt out or overwhelmed. On the other hand, caregiving can also produce moments of joy and happiness, a sense of pride, and meaningful connections with loved ones. This is the key message conveyed in The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who have Alzheimer’s Disease, Related Dementia, and Memory Loss by Dr. Nancy Mace and Dr. Peter Rabins.  The book discusses the undeniable challenges associated with caregiving, while deftly outlining numerous tactics for addressing day-to-day and long range caregiving concerns.  It shows that dementia can be managed effectively with moments of delight along the way.

 

Each family’s story is unique, and that is reflected in the style of The 36-Hour Day.  The guide includes short vignettes and personal stories, which are derived from actual family members that have called or written in to share their experiences. The chapters can be read sequentially, or the reader can skip to sections that are most pertinent to their situation, a useful option for those caregivers and professionals who may have difficulty finding time to read a detailed book.

 

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to own this must-read. Call (248) 996-1053 to purchase your copy today!

iStock_000013597895_lowres

Driving is a complex activity that requires quick thinking and reactions, as well as good perceptual abilities. For the person with Alzheimer’s disease, driving becomes a safety issue. While he or she may not recognize that changes in cognitive and sensory skills impair driving abilities, you and other family members will need to be firm, but sensitive, in your efforts to prevent the person from driving when the time comes.

How do you know when the time has come?

Signs of unsafe driving include:
• Forgetting how to locate familiar places
• Failing to observe traffic signs
• Making slow or poor decisions in traffic
• Driving at an inappropriate speed
• Becoming angry or confused while driving

Keep a written record of your observations to share with the person, family members and health care professionals.
Tips to limit driving
Once it’s clear the person with dementia can no longer drive safely, you’ll need to get him or her out from behind the wheel as soon as possible. If possible, involve the person with dementia in the decision to stop driving. Explain your concerns about his or her unsafe driving, giving specific examples, and ask the person to voluntarily stop driving. Assure the person that a ride will be available if he or she needs to go somewhere.
keys

Other tips to discourage driving include:

• Transition driving responsibilities to others. Tell the person you can drive, arrange for someone else to drive, or arrange a taxi service or special transportation services for older adults.

• Find ways to reduce the person’s need to drive. Have prescription medicines, groceries or meals delivered.

• Ask a respected family authority figure or your attorney to reinforce the message about not driving.

• Experiment with ways to distract the person from driving.

What if the person won’t stop?
If the person insists on driving, take these steps as a last resort:
• Control access to the car keys. Designate one person who will do all the driving and give that individual exclusive access to the car keys.

• Disable the car.

• Consider selling the car. .

• Alert the department of motor vehicles.

Want to learn more about dementia and driving? Check out the Alzheimer’s Association’s Dementia and Driving Resource Center here. Take a peek at the video below which depicts a family making decision about driving.