Why Do Adults with Alzheimer’s Wander?

July 16, 2018

Why do seniors with Alzheimer’s wander

If you are the caregiver for a family member who has Alzheimer’s, this information will help you learn more about the potential causes of wandering.

In our effort to help raise awareness about Alzheimer’s, we devote time to community outreach in the local areas we serve. A question Legacy team members are frequently asked is why people with Alzheimer’s wander. It is a behavior that causes families considerable stress and worry.

When adults with Alzheimer’s wander, they can become lost and unable to find their way home. It may even put their lives in danger. Seniors with memory loss easily forget their address—or even their name—which makes it tough for people to help them return home.

Unfortunately, wandering is common in people with this disease. Research shows that as many as 6 in 10 people with Alzheimer’s will wander. Understanding what causes this behavior is critical to helping loved ones prevent it.

Common Reasons Adults with Alzheimer’s Wander

As is true of so many things related to Alzheimer’s disease, researchers aren’t sure what causes wandering. They do, however, believe they understand some of the potential causes:

  • Unmet needs: Of all the possibilities for wandering, most experts agree this is an important one. They believe seniors with Alzheimer’s wander in search of a solution to an unmet need. The older adult might be hungry, thirsty, in need of the bathroom, or experiencing undiagnosed pain.
  • Unfamiliar surroundings: For adults with Alzheimer’s, memory loss can make once familiar surroundings look unfamiliar. Everything and everyone seems foreign to them. The senior may wander in an attempt to find something that looks familiar. If your senior loved one has moved into your home, try to make sure some of their most familiar belongings—a throw, a chair, and family pictures—are strategically placed throughout the home.
  • Former Work Routines: A senior with Alzheimer’s may think they are still working and try to leave home to head off to work. Once they are outdoors, they might become disoriented and get lost. Keeping the senior busy at home with work such as dusting furniture, folding the laundry, or watering plants can help give them purpose and prevent wandering.
  • Unfamiliar faces: Because short-term memory is lost first, seniors with Alzheimer’s might remember friends and family as being younger and looking differently than they do today. They might leave home in search of people they know.
  • Chaotic or noisy environment: Alzheimer’s causes damage to the brain and makes it more difficult for people to process things around them. This is especially true in a busy environment. When the home is busy or noisy, the senior might become agitated and wander to get away from the chaos.

Pay Attention to Wandering Patterns

To better manage a senior’s tendency to wander, pay attention to patterns in their behavior.

  • Are there certain times of day when they attempt to wander more? If so, write down what is happening in their world at that time. You might start to notice triggers that make them more likely to try to leave.
  • If your loved one is still able to communicate verbally, ask them why they are trying to leave. Document and track their responses to look for patterns.
  • Do certain environments make them more prone to disorientation and wandering?

Secure Care for Adults with Alzheimer’s

If you are struggling to keep an adult with Alzheimer’s safe at home, it might be time to consider the support of a memory care community. At Legacy Senior Living, we offer dedicated memory care programming in Virginia, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee.

With benefits ranging from a secure environment to home-cooked meals, we extend an open invitation to you and your family to visit and learn more.

Emotions Linger Long After Memories Fade

June 25, 2018

Caregivers often wonder about a senior with Alzheimer’s emotions.

Caregivers often wonder about a senior with Alzheimer’s emotions. Do emotions linger after memory fails?

If a senior in your family has Alzheimer’s disease or a similar form of dementia, you might wonder how they are feeling and how much their daily life is impacted by their environment. As the disease progresses and communication skills become more impaired, both things can be difficult to assess.

While dementia experts long believed that people with even more advanced Alzheimer’s and dementia were still capable of experiencing sadness and joy, there wasn’t any conclusive evidence to prove it. That’s why a study conducted at the University of Iowa is so important.

This research was designed to evaluate whether or not emotions linger after memory fails. That’s essential in helping create positive, productive days for adults with dementia.

A Clinical Study of Alzheimer’s, Emotions, and Memory

This study looked at 34 older adults who were split into two groups: one group had early Alzheimer’s disease and the other group was considered to be healthy.

Researchers started by asking each participant how they were feeling and documenting their responses. Once a baseline for their emotional status was set, they proceeded to the next part of the study. This consisted of showing participants eight movie and television scenes considered to be sad. Five minutes after participants were done viewing the scenes, researchers asked each participant what they remembered and how they were feeling. They repeated these questions after 15 minutes and then again 30 minutes later.

After a five-minute rest break, the study resumed.

This time around, researchers showed movie and television clips they believed would induce feelings of joy and happiness. After they were done, participants were asked the same sequence of follow-up questions.

The study seemed to indicate that even though the participants with Alzheimer’s couldn’t remember what they watched in the clips, they did remember how those movie and television scenes made them feel. Their memories were gone, but the emotions lingered. Unfortunately, sadness is the emotion that appears to last the longest.

While this study was a small one, it offers preliminary support for the need to create meaningful days and a positive environment for adults with Alzheimer’s.

The Purposeful Day at Legacy

At Legacy Senior Living, we work hard to ensure that every day is filled with purpose and meaning for our dementia residents. The music, arts, and crafts programs we offer all help residents with memory loss feel successful. Another way we promote meaningful days is with The Simple C storyboard.

This vital part of our dementia care residents’ day provides non-medicated therapies that focus on and honor each resident’s personal story. Working with residents’ families, we select stories and pictures that are meaningful to them.

We also take time to learn more about each resident’s life and hobbies before the disease. This helps us to incorporate those interests into each resident’s plan of care.

Another technique we use is to record trusted voices (friends, family members, and others important to the resident) to use in memory stimulation and to provide verbal reminders for activities of daily living.

Clinical trials show that Simple C offers a variety of benefits:

  • Decreases agitation and anxiety
  • Lowers the risk of wandering
  • Prevents or helps manage incontinence
  • Helps residents overcome sleep challenges common in dementia

Read more about these non-medicated therapies or call us to set up a time to visit a Legacy community near you.

Beyond Alzheimer’s: 7 Common Forms of Dementia

May 14, 2018

common types of dementia

While Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, there are other forms. Learn more about the unique symptoms and causes of 7 common types of dementia.

Alzheimer’s is by far in the most common types of dementia. It accounts for nearly three-fourths of all dementia diagnoses in this country. An estimated 5 million people have Alzheimer’s disease, and the numbers continue to climb. Alzheimer’s is now the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

While Alzheimer’s is the most prevalent form, there are many other common types of of dementia. Many of these can be just as life altering. They range from Vascular dementia to Dementia with Lewy Bodies.

Less Common Types of Dementia

  1. Vascular dementia: This form of dementia occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. Often it is a stroke that causes vascular dementia. Impaired judgment is usually the first symptom loved ones notice. There are varying degrees of severity related to the amount of damage caused to brain cells.
  2. Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB): Lewy bodies are protein clumps that form in the cortex of the brain that lead to dementia. Early signs of DLB include sleep problems, falls, balance issues, hallucinations, and uncontrolled movement. One thing to note is that some people who have Alzheimer’s disease also have DLB.
  3. Parkinson’s dementia: As Parkinson’s disease progresses, it often creates dementia. An estimated 50–80% of people with Parkinson’s will end up being diagnosed with dementia, too. Researchers think this is due to deterioration of the nerve cells in the brain. Memory loss, mood changes, depression, speech problems, paranoia, and delusions are all symptoms of Parkinson’s dementia.
  4. Frontotemporal dementia (FTD): The most common early signs of FTD are a change in personality and difficulty with verbal communication. The diagnosis of FTD sometimes takes a while because the disease impacts people at a younger age than Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Health care providers may struggle to reach a diagnosis.
  5. Huntington’s disease: This brain disorder usually occurs in adults between the ages of 30 and 50, but it can develop at any age. Common symptoms of Huntington’s disease include cognitive decline, as well as loss of control of the arms, legs, and face.
  6. Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus: When fluid builds up in the brain, it can cause a type of dementia known as Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus. Loss of bladder control is a distinguishing trait of the disease. Other common symptoms include memory loss, falls, and balance problems.
  7. Mixed dementia: An increasing number of dementia experts believe that when a person has dementia, they likely have more than one form of it. This condition is referred to as Mixed dementia. Alzheimer’s disease and Vascular dementia is the most common combination.

Because dementia can present unique safety concerns for families, many turn to memory care communities for support.

Memory Care at Legacy Senior Living

At Legacy Senior Living communities, our memory care program is called The Harbor. This nationally recognized program combines state-of-the-art technology with compassionate care and support. We extend an open invitation to families to visit The Harbor nearest them to learn more.

Hosting Easter with a Senior Loved One Who has Alzheimer’s

March 29, 2018

Hosting Easter

Hosting Easter dinner with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s requires a little extra planning. These tips can help you plan an event everyone will enjoy.

If you are hosting Easter dinner at your house this year, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. When a senior loved one who lives with you or spends the holidays with you has Alzheimer’s or a similar form of dementia, there are additional factors to consider. This is especially true if you will be including family and friends who aren’t familiar with your loved one’s situation.

Waiting to explain things until your guests arrive at your house on Easter might seem like a good plan. However, this can make a busy day more stressful and even a little awkward.

The same holds true for some of the common behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s, such as agitation, anxiety, and wandering. The increased level of activity in your house might intensify these behaviors.

To help you plan an Easter dinner that everyone—including a loved one with dementia—can enjoy, we’ve pulled together a few suggestions.

Celebrating Easter Dinner When a Loved One has Dementia

1. Time of day: It’s no secret that some times of day are better than others for people with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. If possible, try not to schedule the event around your senior loved one’s worst time of day. If early evening is tough, like it is for many with dementia, try hosting Easter dinner earlier so everyone is gone by the time your loved one’s worst time of day arrives. Don’t be bound by what you’ve always done either. If you’ve always hosted Easter dinner in the late afternoon but find mornings are your family member’s best time, invite guests over for an Easter brunch instead.

2. Inform guests: If Easter dinner will include people who aren’t familiar with your senior loved one’s disease, let them know what to expect ahead of time. An easy way to do that is via email. Send guests who will attend a quick note that says something like this:

We are happy to have you as a part of our Easter celebration this year! Because you haven’t met our father before, we wanted to let you know that he will be a part of our celebration and that he has Alzheimer’s disease. His behavior can be a bit unpredictable. Please don’t be offended or upset—his disease is to blame. If you have met before, he might not remember. His memory is impacted by the disease. But it’s important to know that my dad loves being a part of these gatherings and will enjoy spending time with you.”

3. Quiet time: Increased activity and noise can lead to overstimulation for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Plan for this by creating a quiet space for your loved one to retreat to. Have soft music ready to play and a few repetitive tasks they can engage in. Both help decrease agitation. It might be a basket of towels to fold, a deck of playing cards to sort, or an art project that helps keep them engaged. Depending on who your guests are, ask them to spend one-on-one time with your loved one in their quiet space. That gives everyone an opportunity to visit with your loved one without overwhelming them.

Bookmark our Blog

If you are the primary caregiver for a loved one with memory loss, be sure to bookmark the Legacy Senior Living blog. We routinely share the latest news and research on caregiving and dementia. Such information can help you continue to provide the best quality of care for your family member.

Are Changes in a Senior Loved One Normal Signs of Aging or Something Else?

March 26, 2018

Normal AgingFamilies often wonder if the changes they are witnessing in a senior loved one are caused by normal aging or something more. Learn how to tell the difference.

Forgetting the name of someone you just met or where you left your cell phone can happen to anyone in the midst of a busy day. Most of us have experienced it. But when that forgetfulness begins to interfere with everyday life, it might be more than just stress that is causing it. Memory loss is one of the early signs of dementia.

How can you tell if the changes you are noticing in an older loved one are part of the normal aging process or if they are caused by something more serious?

We have some information to help you recognize the warning signs that should be documented and discussed with the senior’s primary care physician.

Early Warning Signs of Dementia

What are the warning signs of dementia? Here are a few of the most common:

1. Problems remembering

Short-term memory loss is probably the most widely known symptom of dementia. Older adults who are in the early stages of dementia or  Alzheimer’s—the most common form of dementia—typically struggle to recall recently learned information such as a person’s name, a new phone number, or the date and time of an appointment. You may notice your loved one has begun to ask you to repeat the same information over and over.

2. Misplacing things

Another sign of potential trouble is when a senior begins regularly misplacing or losing things. Because short-term memory is impacted early in a person with dementia, an older adult can’t retrace their steps to find missing items. If you keep finding your father’s car keys in strange places or if your mom keeps losing her purse, it might be something to talk with them and their physician about.

3. Getting lost in familiar places

Confusion, wandering, getting lost, and disorientation are also early warning signs of dementia. In fact, 60% of the nation’s 5 million Alzheimer’s patients wander at some point. An adult with early dementia might get lost driving to a familiar destination or even in a store they’ve been to hundreds of times before.

4. Speech and word problems

Some seniors in the early stages of Alzheimer’s begin to struggle with carrying on a conversation. They have difficulty finding the right words or remembering a question that was just asked of them. They might call familiar objects by the wrong name, calling the stove a window, for example. Since they are often aware of—and embarrassed by—the problem, the senior may begin to withdraw from social activities and family gatherings.

5. Mismanaging finances

Judgment and abstract thought are often impacted early in the disease process. This makes it difficult for a senior with early dementia to safely manage household finances. They might neglect paying one utility bill while paying another one several times. This also puts them at increased risk for becoming the victim of a financial scam.

If you are concerned about the safety and well-being of a senior with memory loss, a memory care community might be a solution to explore.

Memory Care at Legacy Senior Living

Legacy Senior Living is proud to serve adults with memory disorders. We call our memory care services The Harbor. We invite you to schedule a personal appointment at a community near you so you can see our state-of-the-art memory care program in person.

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.