What to Do When a Senior with Alzheimer’s is Hospitalized

February 19, 2018

When a senior with Alzheimer's is hospitalizedA hospital visit can be especially difficult for people with Alzheimer’s. Use these tips to help make their stay go more safely and smoothly.

A planned or unexpected trip to the hospital is frightening and stressful at any age. The clinical environment can make it hard to rest. The pain and discomfort of the illness or injury, as well as the uncertainty of what comes next, can be unsettling. When a senior with Alzheimer’s is hospitalized, the experience can be even more difficult. The change in routine and strange environment can increase confusion and agitation. The following tips can help you better manage a loved one’s hospitalization.

Hospital Admissions and Alzheimer’s Disease

If a senior you love has Alzheimer’s disease and they are scheduled to be admitted to the hospital for surgery or another procedure, talk with your physician about your concerns ahead of time. They might be able to connect you with a hospital liaison who can arrange for a private room or a room in a quieter area of the hospital.

Also make sure you understand what to expect from the procedure and the recovery that follows. Specifically discuss:

  • Risks and potential complications
  • Expected recovery time and special needs
  • If and how the procedure might be impacted by your loved one’s disease

The good news is that there are steps you can take to make a hospital stay less traumatic for a senior loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease or a similar form of dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests:

  • One-on-one coverage: Having someone in your loved one’s hospital room around the clock is especially important. The unfamiliar environment might increase agitation and put the senior at risk for a fall or for wandering. It also helps keep everyone informed if a family member is in the room during times the physicians visit and when medications are given. Some families have found it helpful to hire a paid caregiver to cover the hours of the day when loved ones can’t be present.
  • Make the room look familiar: Another tip is to make the hospital room look as much like home as possible. Bring the senior’s photos from home, their robe and slippers, and their favorite blanket or throw.
  • Comforting routine: Part of the challenge when a senior with Alzheimer’s is hospitalized is the change in routine. Structure is important for people with memory loss. When they are unable to stick with their normal structure, they are more likely to experience anxiety and agitation. Whenever possible, bring elements of their daily routine to the hospital. If they like to listen to music in the morning, for example, set up a playlist on your phone and use it in their room. Or if afternoons are spent engaged in craft projects, find ways to keep them busy with simple projects between procedures and tests.
  • Non-verbal communication: Since adults with Alzheimer’s often lose their verbal communication skills fairly early in the disease process, looking for non-verbal signs of trouble is important. Pay special attention to facial expressions and body language that might signal they are in pain or experiencing discomfort.

Plan Now for an Unscheduled Hospitalization

While no one likes to think the worst, planning for the unexpected is important when a senior has Alzheimer’s disease. One way to do this is by assembling an emergency bag you can quickly grab in the event of a surprise trip to the hospital. Your emergency kit should include:

  • Contact information for all physicians and health care providers involved in their care
  • Medical history that denotes previous surgeries, health problems, and hospitalizations
  • Current medication list, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements
  • List of any known allergies and previous problems with medications
  • Copies of advance directives, as well as insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid cards
  • A note you can post at their bedside that explains their disease along with any notable concerns like wandering behavior or falls
  • A change of clothes and necessary personal hygiene products.

The National Institute on Aging’s Guide to Hospital Visits for Individuals with Memory Loss has additional tips you might find useful if a loved one with Alzheimer’s is hospitalized.

Memory Care at Legacy Senior Living

If you are considering a memory care program for someone you love, we hope Legacy Senior Living is on your list of potential care partners. The Harbor, our state of the art memory care, is designed to help each resident live up to their highest potential every day.

We invite you to call the Legacy community nearest you to learn more today!

7 Tips for Moving to Memory Care

January 22, 2018

7 tips to help the move to memory care

Are you starting to search for a memory care community for a senior with Alzheimer’s disease? These tips can help make the move to memory care go more smoothly.

If you are preparing for a senior loved one’s move to a memory care community, you might not be sure how and where to start. Moving a loved one who has memory loss can create unique challenges. Knowing how to manage them can make the transition go more smoothly for everyone.

7 Tips for Managing a Senior’s Move to Memory Care

These tips can help you with everything from downsizing to planning for moving day.

1. Establish realistic goals: Our first tip is to set realistic goals for this process. Unless your loved one’s safety or health is at risk and you need to move in a hurry, try to work at a pace you feel comfortable with. It can help you feel more confident that you are making good decisions which can, in turn, help decrease anxiety for you and your senior loved one.

2. Create a floor plan: Once you have selected which community your loved one will be moving to, ask the staff for a floor plan of the apartment. Make sure it has all of the dimensions for each room listed. Then you can get to work creating a layout in which all the furniture and belongings will fit.

3. Identify “must move” items: Creating an environment that looks familiar is important when a senior has memory loss. So give some thought to those pieces of furniture and the belongings your loved one is most attached to. Perhaps it is a chair they like to sit in and watch television or a quilt they’ve had for years. Make certain those items have a place in their new home.

4. Downsizing: Some families prefer to get their senior loved one settled in a memory care community before they begin the process of downsizing. For others, selling the home first might be a financial necessity. Either way, it can be emotional to downsize and sell a loved one’s home. It often helps to begin in the rooms used less often and to sort belongings by their final destination. Label boxes with tags that say “Move,” “Donate,” “Family,” and “Trash.” As you work your way through the house, separate items into the appropriate box.

5. Get involved before the move: Depending upon what stage of the disease your loved one’s Alzheimer’s is, it might help to visit the community a few times and get involved in activities before their actual moving day. Life enrichment programs at memory care communities are designed to help older adults feel successful and independent. For people with memory loss who may be struggling, that is important. Talk with the staff at the community for advice and guidance about getting involved early.

6. Create a schedule: Once you have a move-in date established, take time to create a schedule and plan for a smooth transition. You might also want to explore moving resources, such as senior move managers and senior certified realtors. They can help you with everything from packing up the home to obtaining quotes from movers.

7. Moving day plans: Our last tip is to plan carefully for moving day. You might need to ask a trusted friend to care for your loved one on moving day while you supervise the movers. Your loved one might be able to go to the community ahead of you, have lunch, and attend an activity in lieu of being home for a chaotic day of moving. Don’t forget to put together a box of moving day essentials you want to the senior’s new apartment transport yourself.

At Legacy Senior Living, we know the search for a memory care community for a senior you love can feel overwhelming. We are happy to answer any questions you might have about moving a loved one with memory loss. Call the community nearest you to set up a time for a private visit.

Activities for Grandparents to Enjoy with Grandkids this Holiday Season

December 18, 2017

fun holiday activities with grandkidsGrandparents, be ready for when the grandkids visit. Here are some fun holiday activities to make your time with your grandkids fun and special.

If holiday time with your grandkids is limited, you’ll want to make the most of it and start celebrating early. Days filled with fun activities are a sure way to bond across the generations. We have some ideas for fun holiday activities to help you plan ahead.

Fun Holiday Activities for Grandparents and Grandkids to Enjoy

Try one or all of these activities with your grandkids to share some holiday cheer with the youngest generation.

  1. Build a Holiday Fairy House

Fairies continue to enchant the imaginations of young children, with many creating miniature houses and gardens for these tiny sprites to “live” in. If you’re not familiar with the trend, the idea is to build a welcoming place for fairies to visit. It’s the perfect opportunity for you and your grandchild to create something fun together.

Fairy houses are typically constructed out of materials from nature. Since it’s winter, you’ll have to think of ways to get access to suitable construction materials.

You can start with an unfinished bird house from the craft store. Sticks, wood, evergreens, and cranberries are all good choices for decorating it in a holiday theme.

In addition to natural materials, you will need double-sided tape, string, and hot glue to hold everything together. Other optional materials include acrylic paints, pine cones, and yarn. Finally, candy canes make sweet lawn decorations for your magical fairy house.

  1. Introduce Traditional Holiday Activities

If you aren’t very crafty, it’s not a problem. Sometimes the simplest activities make for the best times with your grandkids. How about making and sipping homemade hot chocolate together and then settling down to cut out some paper snowflakes?

Prepare by purchasing cocoa, festive mugs, whipped cream, and marshmallows. If you live in an assisted living community, ask the dining staff for help.

You’ll also want to have paper along with child-friendly scissors on hand. You can add pizazz to your snowflakes by using a variety of pretty papers. And don’t forget to practice beforehand if you’re rusty. These pointers for making paper snowflakes can help.

  1. Give the Birds a Holiday Treat

If you and your grandchild enjoy nature, plan an activity focused on caring for the birds. Assemble suet, birdseed, red ribbons, and string. Suet can be hung with a red bow, while birdseed can fill feeders that you adorn with a bow.

If you live in an assisted living community, consider creating a birdseed bell or wreath with a red ribbon. That way, you can hang it right outside your window. Future visits from your grandchild can include checking on the progress the birds have made on the bell.

  1. Give the Gift of Time

While kids love crafting, they treasure time spent with you no matter what you’re doing. When you take the time to listen to their stories or relate some of your own, you’re connecting in ways that boost their confidence and help them thrive.

Small children also love having holiday stories read to them. You can buy a holiday-themed book and give it as a gift, but you can also read it together. Other ideas include writing a holiday poem and looking at old family pictures. Kids love seeing pictures of their parents when they were kids, so if you have any, it’s time to bring them out.

We’re All Family at Legacy Senior Living

The holidays are rich with opportunities that all generations can enjoy together. And it’s one of the most festive times of year to visit a Legacy Senior Living community. Call us today to set up a time!

An Alzheimer’s Update: The Latest Research about the Disease

November 20, 2017

Alzheimer's Month bannerScientists have been busy discovering more about the brain and how to diagnose Alzheimer’s. Here’s a roundup of the latest findings published in 2017.

Earlier this spring, Congress announced it would increase funding for Alzheimer’s research in its new budget. Experts applauded the decision, stating it was necessary to remain on track for achieving goals set by the Alzheimer’s Association, including combating the disease by 2025.

November is National Alzheimer’s Month. So it’s a good time to look at how research has progressed in being able to diagnose Alzheimer’s. While we know it’s too soon to determine if they’ll reach the 2025 goal, some findings do look promising.

Alzheimer’s Update

A lot has been happening in the field of Alzheimer’s research. Here are the highlights of the past year.

  1. A New Way to Diagnose Alzheimer’s

For years, one of the basic challenges with Alzheimer’s has been that there is no specific test that confirms the disease. People are diagnosed based on a number of different observations and tests.

These include cognitive tests that evaluate factors like memory, problem-solving, and language skills. Lab tests can rule out other conditions, while brain scans can identify strokes and tumors that can sometimes cause dementia.

This fall, however, researchers announced that a new diagnosis method may have been discovered. It might provide an additional method of improving the accuracy of the diagnosis and helping doctors tailor treatments to individuals. A blood test that uses a diamond to identify certain chemicals in the blood, this new screening option leaves many scientists feeling hopeful.

  1. Brain Waves May Help Beat Alzheimer’s

Neuroscientists at MIT have discovered that brain waves may have a lot to do with controlling Alzheimer’s. In mice, it seems that a certain type of light therapy has beneficial effects on their condition.

People with Alzheimer’s have a buildup of harmful proteins in their brains. These are called beta-amyloid plaques. One key to combating the disease is clearing them out or, in earlier stages, preventing them from building up.

It turns out that gamma waves, a normal firing of neurons in the brain, may trigger a “cleaning out” of the beta-amyloid plaques. But if the gamma waves in someone’s brain aren’t operating properly, those plaques don’t get cleaned out. Scientists have long noted that people with brain disorders often have disrupted gamma waves.

By exposing mice with Alzheimer’s to a carefully calibrated set of flashing lights, the MIT group was able to restore gamma waves. That, in turn, led to a two-thirds reduction in beta-amyloid plaques.

Researchers warn, however, that people should not try their own light therapy at home. These are only preliminary findings and they have not been tested on humans. Caregivers should stick to known therapies for dementia, like the virtual caregiver application, SimpleC.

  1. Personality Changes as Signs of Dementia? No Evidence Yet

People often characterize personality changes as one of the warning signs of Alzheimer’s. Now, that’s being questioned. A comprehensive study at Florida State University examined personality and clinical assessments of more than 2,000 individuals.

Results of the 26-year study were published this past September in JAMA Psychiatry. Surprisingly, the researchers found no evidence to support the notion that personality changes are a harbinger of dementia.

Keeping You Informed

Here at Legacy Senior Living, it’s our job to stay on top of current research about Alzheimer’s. That’s how we keep our programs up-to-date. For example, our Purposeful Day therapy program is based on a compilation of years of Alzheimer’s research. We see every day how it helps improve quality of life for our memory care residents.

If you’d like to learn more about The Purposeful day or SimpleC, please call or visit us any time. We’d love to help answer your questions!

Why Halloween Is More than Spooky for Adults with Alzheimer’s?

October 23, 2017

Alzheimers and Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner. If you’re the caregiver for an adult with Alzheimer’s, here’s what you should know about this holiday.

Come Halloween, almost everyone loves a good fright. But for an adult who has Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, spooky tricks can seem all too real. That’s why it’s important for caregivers to take time to learn how Halloween may affect a loved one with Alzheimer’s.

You might be surprised at the number of seemingly innocent traditions associated with Halloween that can be quite unsettling for someone with dementia.

Why Halloween Can Be Too Spooky for Adults with Alzheimer’s

Although Halloween is a time-honored tradition in many families, it can be a very frightening holiday for someone with dementia. They may not interpret Halloween traditions in the same way they used to because their mind doesn’t process signals the same way.

For example, many people love Halloween so much that scary decorations begin going up in stores a month or two before October 31. Some of these decorations even have sound effects. Anything that’s meant to scare or startle visitors has the potential to be traumatizing for someone with Alzheimer’s.

Costumes and Dementia

People who have Alzheimer’s disease may feel confused or frightened when they see people in Halloween costumes. According to WebMD, people in the moderate stage of Alzheimer’s may have trouble recognizing friends and family when they are in costume. That can lead to confusion, anxiety and even wandering.

Think of Halloween from an adult with dementia’s perspective. They are already having difficulty remembering names and faces even for family and close friends. Now they are surrounded by people dressed up in costumes that are designed to be terrifying or startling.

Sensory Processing and Halloween

One of the things people love about Halloween is they get to decorate their homes and yards in spooky ways. What was once a nice front yard is now a fake cemetery or home to a coffin. The front porch becomes the entrance to a haunted house.

Again, for someone with Alzheimer’s, those changes can trigger confusion and anxiety.

According to the National Institutes of Health, during the moderate stage of the disease the part of the brain that controls sensory processing begins to suffer damage. So while you see a fun, spooky yard with fake tombstones and eerie lighting, a loved one who has Alzheimer’s may misinterpret the decorations to be something they’re not. That can really turn up the dial on agitation.

Please keep this mind as you pull out your Halloween decorations and costumes. Remember to try and see the celebration through your senior loved one’s eyes and find ways to tone things down a bit while still enjoying the holiday.

Legacy Senior Living Wants to Help

At Legacy Senior Living, we understand the unique needs of people who have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. This is why we offer several signature programs in our memory care community.

From ‘The Purposeful Day’ to ‘Simple C’, we strive to help adults with memory impairment live life to the fullest. If you’d like to find out more, please contact the community nearest you to arrange a tour.

Is Alzheimer’s Really Type 3 Diabetes?

September 25, 2017

Glasses on Alzheimer's Disease paper

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, but scientists are making headway on a number of theories about its cause, one being a link to diabetes.

Though scientists have presented many theories about Alzheimer’s disease, the true cause of the condition remains elusive. One by one, theories have failed to earn a consensus. But a promising new hypothesis has emerged in recent years: a link to diabetes. It’s one that seems to be supported by a growing amount of clinical evidence.

A New Theory About Alzheimer’s and Type 3 Diabetes

This new and promising theory suggests there is a connection between a third type of diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Though the link to diabetes remains a bit tenuous, experimental evidence does seem to connect Type 2 Diabetes to the progressive cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

We hope to give you a better idea of what this connection might be and to remind the families affected by Alzheimer’s that scientists are inching ever closer to understanding this terrible disease. Even if this theory doesn’t prove to be definitive, it still suggests progress.

Understanding the Potential Link between Diabetes and Alzheimer’s

The role insulin plays in the body is the key to understanding the relationship between Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Produced in the pancreas, insulin signals the cells in your body to absorb glucose from the bloodstream.

In a non-diabetic person, proper amounts of glucose are absorbed into the cells. But both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes interfere with this absorption of glucose, resulting in a variety of uncomfortable and dangerous symptoms.

Type 1 Diabetes is congenital and destroys insulin producing cells in the pancreas, while Type 2 is acquired and prevents cells from absorbing glucose out of the bloodstream. This inability to absorb glucose is called “insulin resistance.” It is this insulin resistance that may be the possible link to diabetes for Alzheimer’s disease.

Once someone develops insulin resistance, the glucose left in the bloodstream wreaks havoc on bodily tissues. And it can lead to the symptoms associated with diabetes in general.

The Alzheimer’s connection is established if insulin resistance begins to affect brain cells. Once this starts to happen, people can begin to lose memory and elements of their personality. In other words, the person begins to display symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Understanding Insulin Resistance and Alzheimer’s Disease

Insulin resistance can lead to the creation of the beta amyloid plaques that are believed to play a large role in the development of Alzheimer’s.  As you can see, there is reason to suspect a connection between the insulin resistance caused by Type 2 Diabetes and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

In fact, there is enough evidence to suggest insulin resistance reduces cognitive function that some doctors and scientists have taken to calling Alzheimer’s “Type 3 Diabetes.”  Although explanatory gaps do exist in the relationship between insulin resistance and the beta amyloid plaques that are involved in Alzheimer’s, research still indicates at least a vague connection between Type 2 Diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

More research is needed to establish a solid connection between insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s. But the very possibility that the connection exists suggests that by reducing the occurrence of Type 2 Diabetes, we might very well reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s as well.

Two Things We Know Amidst All this Uncertainty

No matter what medical science eventually decides about the status and causes of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, we already know two important things with absolute certainty.

First, if you have an older loved who is experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia, they need and deserve the finest care possible.

Second, you and your family deserve the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your loved one is in compassionate and knowledgeable hands.

Call us today for information or to schedule a visit or tour of a Legacy Senior Living Memory Care program. This is the best way to see the expert and compassionate care we provide to our residents on a daily basis.

How To Use Non-Medicated Therapies To Calm People Suffering From Dementia

August 28, 2017

The Michigan State fight song has become a symbol of hope at tech giant IBM, but not for reasons you might think.

IBM is the developer of SimpleC, a virtual caregiver application used for treating memory loss. Where does the fight song come in? You’d have to ask Jason, a SimpleC clinician who works with people who have dementia. We’ll highlight Jason’s experience later in this story.

Jason’s tale illustrates that we can sometimes treat the symptoms of dementia in ways that don’t involve drugs.

This is how Jason and his colleagues at IBM are using technology that’s available right now to deliver personalized therapy to people with dementia. And it seems like it might be working.

Technology can be Personal

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia cause memory loss that progresses over time, leaving a person disoriented, confused, and frustrated. That often leads to agitation and, in some cases, aggression.

One of the main tenants of dementia care is providing a safe, familiar environment that soothes and calms. People with dementia benefit from hearing voices they trust and seeing things they love. This helps them feel validated, which is a major goal of cognitive therapy.

SimpleC is a virtual, cloud-based application that helps deliver these familiar touch points of a person’s life. By providing personalized support and reassurance throughout the day, the technology keeps the user engaged and therefore calm.

How SimpleC Helps the User Throughout the Day

Imagine a tablet loaded with the SimpleC program. Caregivers and other family members work with staff at a senior living community and with health care professionals to load the program with personalized memories and helpful reminders. Together, they create a virtual caregiver that helps the user maintain independence and stay engaged.

They load family pictures and videos, plus other media that can help trigger memories of the user’s life. Staff loads helpful alerts, like medication times, reminders to hydrate, and times for upcoming events like meals, outings, and therapy appointments.

Health care professionals can participate too, by contributing medical data. In essence, they’re creating a virtual companion for the user, which can be incredibly comforting for many people with dementia.

Jason’s Story is Really the Story of Another Man’s Journey

Back to Jason, one of the IBM employees who works on the SimpleC team. His job is to take SimpleC out into the world and help real users understand the therapy. His experience with one man, in particular, illustrates the power of this non-medicated therapy to help calm someone who suffers from dementia.

When Jason first met the man, he saw before him an isolated person who had trouble talking. Occasionally, the man would utter broken phrases but not much else. The man sat alone and was not engaging with his surroundings.

Jason learned that the man had once played football for Michigan State, and used that information to build a visual story on SimpleC. He collected team photos and other memories, including a recording of the fight song used by that team.

This is how a therapy is built in SimpleC.

After using the SimpleC app, the man began to come out of his shell: speaking in sentences, engaging with his surroundings, and more. One day, when Jason arrived, he was met with a surprise nobody saw coming.

The man watched Jason walk into the room, looked into his eyes, and stood up. He opened his mouth… and sang the Michigan State fight song. For everyone there that day, for Jason, and for IBM, that song became a symbol of hope for people with dementia and for non-medicated therapies.

SimpleC is One Way We Help Residents at Legacy Senior Living

Legacy Senior Living is proud to partner with IBM by using the SimpleC therapy in our memory care communities. Collectively known as The Harbor, these communities are nationally recognized and acclaimed. To find out more about memory care at Legacy Senior Living, including SimpleC and The Purposeful Day program, please call or visit a Legacy Senior Living community near you.

Using Scent to Manage Mood Changes in a Senior with Alzheimer’s

July 24, 2017

managing mood changes

Our sense of smell is more powerful than we know. One way of managing mood changes for people with Alzheimer’s is to make use of different scents.

If you’ve ever felt transported by the scent of pumpkin pie or fall leaves, then you know the power of scent. Or if you’ve ever lit a lavender candle and felt almost instantly relaxed, you also know how different scents can alter your mood.

The close connection between scent and mood could make a difference in how the symptoms of Alzheimer’s are managed.

If you’re caring for a senior loved one who has Alzheimer’s, you may have already witnessed the mood changes that this disease can bring. Whether it’s unexpected and seemingly unwarranted changes in demeanor or a trend toward aggressive behavior (often paired with cursing), mood changes can be unsettling for caregivers.

What Causes Mood Swings in People with Alzheimer’s?

Mood swings in older adults who have Alzheimer’s disease can be caused by a number of factors.

Possible Causes of Mood Swings:

  • Frustration with their inability to understand something
  • Feeling overwhelmed with too many requests or questions
  • Undiagnosed health problems
  • Hectic and/or loud environment
  • Fatigue
  • Dehydration
  • Constipation

Scientists know that scents actually do affect people’s moods. This knowledge could make a difference for caregivers. Specifically, it could help them better manage difficult moods of someone they’re caring for.

How Scents Can Impact Mood

Scents work on the human brain to affect mood, but not like a drug does. A scent can trigger a memory because it’s associated with something in a person’s past.

Let’s say you grew up smelling pumpkin pie spice every Fall. If you loved Fall, the scent of those spices years later can bring back distant memories, even decades after you’ve smelled them last.

It’s called “associative learning.” That means your brain associates two events because of your past. Do you think of baseball games when you eat hot dogs? That’s associative learning at work in your brain.

Likewise, if you light a scented candle that has a mulled cider fragrance. You may think of winter holidays or ice skating. Again, it’s an association created by your brain.

Scents May Help Calm Your Senior Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease

One study showed that participants in a study reacted more strongly to odor-evoked memories than they did to verbal communication. That speaks to the power of scent in triggering reactions among people.

For caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s, that’s an important realization.

If you could trigger fond memories in your senior loved one with scent, you may be able to mitigate some of the mood swings they experience. You’ll have to experiment with different scents to find the right ones, of course. Not everyone has the same associations in place in their brains.

For example, freshly-mowed grass might trigger happy memories of summertime fun for you, but for someone who grew up in a city, there might be no association at all. Also, associations can be negative, too. When you’re experimenting with different scents, be on the lookout for increased agitation with any particular odor.

Some Scents to Try

  1. Lemon is said to have a calming effect on the mind. It can also be used to help improve concentration.
  2. This spice is also said to improve concentration, which could help your loved one when they’re feeling agitated because of confusion or disorientation.
  3. Essential oils that include rosemary are believed to improve memory and to promote alertness. Added to that is it’s also a wonderful smelling scent!
  4. Lavender is calming and may help quell stress. Any time your senior loved one is agitated, try placing a few drops of lavender essential oil in to a diffuser.

A Final Word

Finally, be patient when you’re trying to manage mood swings in your senior loved one. Keep in mind the behavior is the disease, not the person you love and care for.

At Legacy Senior Living, we recognize the tremendous job that family caregivers do. If you’d like to learn more about how our communities can help you manage a loved one’s Alzheimer’s, whether it’s by offering memory care or respite care, please call the community nearest you to schedule a private tour!

Recognizing the Early Signs of Alzheimer’s in a Family Member

June 19, 2017

Memory loss isn’t the only sign of Alzheimer’s. Nor is it always the first symptom to appear. Here are some early signs of Alzheimer’s you may not know about.

Memory loss is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. However, it’s not always the first symptom to appear, say scientists. Other early signs of Alzheimer’s may appear long before forgetfulness takes hold.

Even before doctors can make a clinical diagnosis, some early changes can be signals to informed family members that something is amiss with their loved one.  Knowing these signs is one way to be proactive about your loved one’s health.

The following are the most common early signs of Alzheimer’s. Take note, and keep them top-of-mind as you interact with your senior loved one.

  1. Personality Changes

Has your senior loved one started acting differently? Is it uncharacteristic for him or her to be irritable but now they seem to be complaining about everything? If so, find out what’s going on. It could just be a case of temporary grumpiness. Or it may also be an early sign of Alzheimer’s.

One way to tell the difference is if personality changes last for more than six months, say Alzheimer’s researchers who have conducted studies on the matter.

Other personality changes to watch out for include:

  • anxiety or tearfulness
  • lack of motivation for activities they used to enjoy
  • suddenly not knowing how to behave appropriately in public or in private
  • being paranoid or overly suspicious of other people
  • becoming agitated or frustrated easily

Again, it’s important to remember that these symptoms don’t necessarily herald the onset of Alzheimer’s. However, if they seem to persist for longer than six months, it may be a sign.

Be sure to have a thorough conversation about your observations with your senior loved one’s doctor.

  1. Trouble Navigating

People often associate getting lost with Alzheimer’s. Everyone has heard a different variation of the story about the senior with Alzheimer’s. He can’t find his way home after shopping for groceries or he needs a map to drive to an old friend’s house that he’s been visiting for decades.

Now there’s new scientific evidence to support this. The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has published a study showing a link between navigation problems and the disease. Results suggest that difficulty with maps can signal the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

  1. Vision Problems

Sometimes, early signs of Alzheimer’s can display as vision problems. Maybe your loved one is having a hard time judging distances. That can lead to accidents when steps are misjudged, for example. Or maybe reading is troublesome. Determining color might become difficult, too.

  1. Planning is Too Much to Handle

Another early warning sign to watch out for is when problem-solving and planning becomes overwhelming. For example, if your mother feels anxiety over putting together a family meal, that may be a red flag.

Where to Get Help

Alzheimer’s disease is hard for everyone: you, your family, and those who suffer from the disease itself. Legacy Senior Living can be a resource for families with loved ones who exhibit early signs of the disease early or at any stage along the way. Our Memory Care Programs are nationally recognized, as is our commitment to helping seniors with dementia reach their highest potential every day.

We welcome you to visit, call, or email any time with questions about Alzheimer’s. Our experience caregivers can be a resource to you and the senior you love.

7 Things You Can Do That May Cut Your Risk for Dementia

May 15, 2017

Tips on Cutting Your Risk for DimentiaScience is finding out every day that there are things we can do that may help cut the risk of dementia later in life. Here are 7 changes you can make right now.

 

As the country ages, it’s hard not to think about the looming risk of dementia. Luckily, the scientific community is doing its best to help by conducting research on lifestyle changes that may reduce that risk. Here are seven of them you can start working on today.

1. Hit the Gym (or the sidewalk)

In 2013, a long-term study on the health habits of over 2,200 men published its results after 35 years of data. One of the findings was that regular exercise reduced the risk of dementia in their subjects. Following a healthy lifestyle in general may be a huge determining factor in your risk of dementia, but regular exercise, as this study revealed, is a crucial piece of the puzzle.

2. Hit the Books

Even if you never considered yourself a bookworm, taking up activities that challenge your intellectual side may help ward off mental decline. A study published in JAMA Neurology showed that not only does staying mentally active help in this regard, but the sooner in life you start the better.

Luckily, intellectual enrichment comes in many forms. So most people have no trouble finding something they enjoy that also challenges the mind. Playing music counts, for example. So does socializing, believe it or not. Anything that brings out your creative side is helpful too, like painting or drawing. Reading can really do the trick since it opens up a world of learning that’s hard to replicate by any other means.

3. Fire Up the Keurig

You don’t have to own a Keurig to ward off dementia, but they do say caffeine consumption may reduce the risk of dementia. While experts all have slightly different recommendations, the most common consensus seems to be drinking two cups of coffee a day might help prevent dementia. Talk with your physician for their take on caffeine, especially if you have any type of cardiac disease.

4. Take a Vacation (or a Break or a Short Breather)

We all know that stress does horrible things to the mind and the body, but now there’s evidence that it may also be linked to dementia. A long-term study in Sweden found that, of the women in their study, those who experienced higher levels of stress were more likely to have developed dementia later in life.

So take all the necessary precautions to keep your stress levels down, whether it’s taking big vacations from time to time or allowing for tiny breaks at work to take a few deep breaths.

5. Eat to Please Your Heart

There are several reasons to eat well, and now you have one more to add to the list. Eating to keep your heart in top shape may protect your brain, too. Try a Mediterranean diet consisting of:

  • very little red meat
  • lots of fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains
  • fish
  • olive oil nuts
  • low-fat or fat-free dairy products

6. Be Social

Making friends and keeping them might be another good way to ward off mental decline. The stronger your social network, the better off you will be, say researchers. They’re not entirely sure why friends help, though it could be that they help you better manage stress which might allow you avoid depression.

7. Seek Treatment for Depression

Speaking of depression, scientists may have found a link between depression and dementia. So if you or a senior loved one is battling depression, seek treatment now. You may be doing your future self a very big favor.

Learn more about dementia by checking back here often. We will routinely share what we learn about memory-related diseases right here on our blog.

If an older adult you love has dementia, know that our memory care program is nationally acclaimed. We’re proud to serve families whose lives have been touched by Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Call us to learn more today!