Should Your Loved One Participate in an Alzheimer’s Clinical Trial?

September 24, 2018

Alzheimer’s clinical trial

Considering an Alzheimer’s clinical trial? Here’s what you should consider first, along with tips for connecting with a trial near you.

When a family elder or friend has Alzheimer’s disease, their adult children and loved ones go to great lengths to find answers. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for the disease. Healthcare professionals’ only course of action is to try to treat the symptoms.

In searching for help, families often stumble across information on Alzheimer’s clinical trials. While it’s unlikely that the trial will offer a cure, it may be a project that helps mitigate symptoms or a promising study that offers hope to future generations. Many Alzheimer’s trials across the country are seeking participants for a variety of research projects.

Before you proceed, it is best to learn how clinical trials work.

What to Know About Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials

Here are a few facts to know before you or a loved one with Alzheimer’s joins a clinical trial:

  • Placebo participant: For a clinical trial to be objective, some participants will be randomly chosen for the placebo. Simply put, a placebo participant receives an inactive drug or treatment without being told. This is tough for families to accept. You can review the Library of Medicine’s “Placebo in clinical trials” to learn more.
  • Informed consent: If your senior loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, their power of attorney or legal guardian may need to provide consent on the senior’s behalf.
  • Be realistic about outcomes: Clinical trials rarely provide a miracle cure. This is clearly true with Alzheimer’s trials. But a trial might offer new ways to slow the progression of the disease or treat symptoms. It’s important to enter into a clinical trial with realistic expectations about the outcome.
  • Time commitment: Alzheimer’s caregivers often feel overwhelmed from juggling so many daily tasks and chores. Adding one more responsibility to that list might be difficult. Make sure you have a clear understanding of how much time the trial will require.

How to Connect with an Alzheimer’s Clinical Trial

Two avenues for exploring Alzheimer’s clinical trials that are actively seeking participants include:

  • National Institute on Aging (NIA): The NIA maintains a database of clinical trials including those focused on Alzheimer’s disease. You can use your zip code to search for a trial based on how many miles you are willing to travel to participate.
  • Trial Match: The Alzheimer’s Association maintains a database of more than 250 ongoing trials. You can visit their site to learn more and to look for studies seeking participants in your community.

Improving the Quality of Life for People with Alzheimer’s

At Legacy Senior Living communities, we are honored to have the opportunity to help adults with Alzheimer’s disease live their best quality of life each day. Our dedicated memory care program is called The Harbor.

From specialty caregivers to a homelike setting, we focus on helping residents live to their highest potential each day. Call us today to schedule a private tour at The Harbor nearest you.

How Much Do Life Enrichment Activities in Senior Living Really Matter?

September 17, 2018

Painting a landscape

Life enrichment activities improve the lives of residents in senior living communities. Use these tips to evaluate a community’s activities program on a senior’s behalf.

When older adults and their families begin the search for a senior living community, they are sometimes overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. Moving to an independent living or an assisted living community offers the chance to get involved in activities and programs with fellow residents.

What you will discover, however, is that life enrichment programs can vary greatly from one community to another. Some communities offer a wide variety of activities and wellness programs, while others offer only those required by state regulations.

So how important are life enrichment and wellness programs? Do they make a difference in how happy, healthy, and engaged a resident is?

Here’s what researchers have to say about the issue.

Staying Active and Engaged after Retirement

Much has been written recently about the dangers of a sedentary life, especially for seniors. It puts people at higher risk for everything from falls to depression and obesity. Some health professionals go as far as saying a sedentary lifestyle is just as dangerous as smoking.

A few more reasons why it’s important to find a senior living community committed to a wide variety of life enrichment programs include:

  • Protecting cognitive health: A 2010 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine highlighted how important staying socially active is for cognitive health. Participating in activities that challenge and stimulate the brain can protect cognitive function.
  • Avoiding the dangers of isolation: The Journal of Health and Social Behavior published a study in 2009 that found that “social disconnectedness and perceived isolation are independently associated with lower levels of self-rated physical health” in older adults. This includes higher incidences of obesity, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, and more.

How to Evaluate a Senior Living Community’s Life Enrichment Program

As you are visiting and touring senior living communities on a loved one’s behalf, here are a few tips to help you evaluate the strength of their life enrichment programs:

  • Review the calendar: Ask to see copies of the community’s most recent activity calendars. Try to get calendars for at least two or three months so you can get a true picture of how many and what types of activities are offered.
  • Assess the activities: Does the calendar show a broad range of activities? Ideally, you will find programs and events that engage the body, mind, and spirit. Also compare the scheduled activities with your family member’s hobbies and interests. Are there things they enjoy? Or things they’ve always wanted to try? If a hobby or interest of your loved one isn’t listed, is it possible to have it added to the schedule?
  • After hours and weekends: Also look at what happens during the evening hours and on weekends. Are events and activities scheduled then? You want to make sure there are meaningful activities scheduled seven days a week, not just during traditional business hours.

Our final suggestion is to review the current activities calendar at any community you are seriously considering. Look for a few programs that seem appealing to your family member. Ask the staff if you and your loved one can participate in one or two. It can provide you with good insight about what community life would be like and give you a chance to meet residents.

At Legacy Senior Living communities, life enrichment activities are an integral part of everyday life. We often say our events calendar might remind you of a cruise ship, with programs, events, outings, and activities happening throughout the day. Our activities staff works hard to offer ample social opportunities for residents each day. Schedule a tour to learn more today!

Journaling to Help Manage Caregiver Stress

September 12, 2018

Journaling can help manage stress

Caregivers often live with high levels of stress and anxiety. Finding ways to manage it is key to a caregiver’s personal health. Learn how journaling can help.

Acting as a caregiver for a loved one can be very rewarding. It provides family members with an opportunity to care for an aging parent, grandparent, or other elder who once cared for them. The intimate nature of caregiving gives families a chance to connect in meaningful ways.

It’s important to know, however, that caregiving isn’t an easy role to assume. If you are stressed and overwhelmed, know that you aren’t alone in those feelings.

Being responsible for the health and well-being of someone around the clock can be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. It isn’t uncommon for a caregiver to experience a health crisis of their own. One way to prevent that is to practice good self-care. Doing so will allow you to manage the stress and strain that can put a family caregiver’s health at risk.

Journaling is one potential solution to explore.

Narrative Therapy to Manage Caregiver Stress

Researchers say journaling is a therapeutic exercise, so much so that they refer to it as narrative therapy. Getting feelings down on paper often helps caregivers come to terms with their doubts and fears and move to a place of resolution and peace.

At the University of Iowa’s School of Nursing, researchers looked at journaling as an activity to help lower the stress and anxiety common among family caregivers. In a trial of 800 participants, researchers found that caregivers who documented their daily highs and lows along with their fears and worries had lower rates of stress and lived healthier lives.

Journaling provides an opportunity for the conscious and subconscious minds to work through their challenges, which results in lower stress. Reducing chronic stress strengthens the immune system, keeping the caregiver healthy.

The Caregiver Journal

While journaling is a great way to relieve stress, figuring out how to get started can be intimidating. Journaling experts say not to overthink it. Head to your local discount store and purchase an inexpensive notebook or two. Skip the fancy journals for now.

Schedule ten or fifteen minutes each night before you go to sleep to document how you feel about the day. Getting your worries down on paper might help you sleep better. If you are struggling to figure out how you really feel, ask yourself a few questions and log the answers in your journal.

Use these prompts to get started:

  • What did I have difficulty coping with today?
  • What went well today?
  • What memories did I make today that I can look back on when I’m no longer a caregiver?
  • What challenges do I need to find a solution for?
  • What is worrying me or making me feel stressed?
  • What do I need to accept and find peace with?
  • What am I grateful for today?

After a few weeks, you’ll likely find journaling becomes easier and you won’t have to rely on prompts each day.

Respite Services Give Caregivers a Break

One more tip for managing caregiver stress is to accept that no one can do it alone. Every caregiver needs to take regular breaks to rest and restore. Legacy communities offer short-term respite care services for that very reason. A senior can be our guest for a few days or weeks while their caregiver takes some time off. Call the Legacy Senior Living community nearest you to learn more!

Fall Prevention Tips for Seniors and Their Families

September 5, 2018

Falls Free: National Council on Aging

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults. In honor of Fall Prevention Awareness Day, we share tips to keep seniors safe.

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has once again designated the first day of fall, September 22, as Falls Prevention Awareness Day. The day is designed to shine light on how dangerous falls are for older adults, what the most common causes are, and how caregivers and loved ones can help a senior lower their risk.

From a sedentary lifestyle to poor lighting in the home and medication side effects, here’s what seniors and caregivers should know.

Learn the Facts about Falls and Older Adults

The statistics on older adults and falls are shocking. According to NCOA, falls continue to be the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among seniors. Each year, one in four adults over the age of 65 will experience a fall. Every 11 seconds an older adult is treated for a fall in an emergency room, which adds up to 2.5 million seniors a year.

Research also shows:

  • Seniors don’t always tell: While reports show that one in four older adults will fall each year, experts say the true number is likely one in three. The difference is that many seniors don’t tell their family or their physician they’ve experienced a fall because they are afraid they will be forced to give up their independence.
  • Repeated fall risk: Once an older adult experiences a fall, they are likely to fall again. In fact, two-thirds of older adults who fall once will fall again within six months.
  • Serious injuries: Head injuries and broken bones are two of the most common injuries seniors experience as the result of a fall. Specifically, injuries often include a traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussion, hip fracture, broken arm, or broken wrist.
  • Danger of a broken hip: Hip fractures are especially dangerous for older adults. Studies show that 20% of seniors who break a hip will die within one year. 95% of hip fractures are the result of a fall.

Contrary to popular belief, falling isn’t a normal part of aging. Many falls among seniors can be prevented if risk factors are identified and addressed.

5 Common Reasons Older Adults Experience a Fall

  1. Sedentary lifestyle: While it might seem counterintuitive, avoiding activity can increase the risk for falls. Seniors who are concerned they might fall may cut back on their physical activity. Doing so can lead to weaker muscles, decreased stamina, and poor balance. Each can raise the risk of falling. The “Live Well” program at all Legacy Senior Living communities offers residents enjoyable ways to stay active at every age.
  2. Home hazards: Falls around the home, especially in the bathroom, account for the majority of injuries older adults experience. From poor lighting to tough-to-access bathtubs, older homes aren’t usually designed with a senior in mind. An occupational therapist can be a good resource for help conducting a safety assessment of an older adult’s home.
  3. Medication side effects: Some medications are known to have side effects that can increase the risk for falls. Drowsiness, dehydration, and dizziness are a few to look for when reviewing a senior’s medication list. If you have any doubts about whether your loved one’s medications might put them at higher risk for a fall, review their prescription and over-the-counter medication lists with the pharmacist.
  4. Vision loss: Another reason an older adult might fall is vision problems. Outdated glasses, cataracts, glaucoma, and other types of eye disease can all contribute to falls. Ophthalmologists recommend older adults have an annual eye exam to identify and intervene in potential problems early.
  5. Poor nutrition: A poor diet can lead to muscle atrophy, a weakened immune system, and balance problems. These all contribute to a fall. A well-balanced diet should be a part of every fall prevention plan.

Assisted living communities can often help seniors lower their risk for falls. From a thoughtfully-designed environment to healthy meals, contact us today to learn more about fall prevention programs at Legacy communities.

What to Consider Before Moving Your Aging Parent in With You

August 27, 2018

6 tips for talking about assisted living

Thinking of moving your aging parent in to your home? Here are a few factors to consider before you make a move.

More adult children are finding themselves stepping in to the role of caregiver for an aging parent. For many busy families, it often becomes a challenge to manage a loved one’s care while also maintaining your own separate household. It often leads adult children to explore the feasibility of moving a parent in with them. While it might be a great solution for some families, it isn’t for everyone.

How can you decide if moving your aging parent in with you is a viable option?

We have a few suggestions on what you should consider before you make this move.

4 Factors to Consider Before Moving Your Aging Parent in to Your Home

  1. Is your home any safer than your parent’s home?

An adult child might think that because their home is newer and more people will be around that their parent is safer living with them. But are they really?

Take an honest look at your own home’s physical environment and your family’s lifestyle.

Does your home have a lot of stairs? Are any of the bathrooms accessible for someone with mobility challenges? How often are you, your spouse, or your kids really at home? Will your parent still be alone a lot?

If your goal is a long-term solution, you might need to make modifications to your house. While the number of home remodelers specializing in home modifications for seniors continues to climb, it all comes at a cost. The expenses associated with adding ramps and step-free showers, widening doorways, and installing better lighting can quickly add up.

  1. How does everyone else feel about this idea?

There’s no way around it: combining two households is a big adjustment. Is it realistic to think everyone can adjust to this change without causing permanent rifts within the family?

While this solution might be beneficial for you if you are the primary caregiver, others in your family might not be as excited. It’s important to consider your parent’s, spouse’s, and children’s feelings.

  1. Are you willing to sacrifice some of your privacy?

Unless your house has a separate in-law suite or lots of unused space, you’ll have to get used to a lot of togetherness. The loss of privacy can be difficult on your parent and your children—but also on your marriage. Are you and your spouse prepared for that?

  1. Have you considered all of your options?

Having a parent move in for a few weeks or months while they are recuperating from an illness or surgery is often an ideal solution. But having them stay permanently might not be the best way to go. They might prefer the support of an in-home caregiver or a move to an independent or assisted living community where they can have their own apartment or suite.

Before you make a decision, be sure you and your parent have considered all of your options.

Explore Legacy Senior Living

With independent and assisted living communities throughout the southeast, Legacy Senior Living has a proven track record for helping seniors and their families find a care solution that best meets their needs. Call us today for help determining what type of care your parent might benefit from.

5 Tips for Dining Out When a Family Member has Dementia

August 20, 2018

5 Tips for Dining Out When a Senior Has Dementia

When a loved one has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, you might be concerned about taking them out to eat. These tips can help you plan and prepare.

Most people enjoy a night out at a local restaurant with friends and family. Caregivers are no different. Leaving the cooking and cleaning up to someone else can be a relief for a weary caregiver.

If you are the caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, however, you might wonder how realistic it is to try to take them to a restaurant. While it does require a little extra planning, you shouldn’t give up before you give it a try.

Here are a few tips that may help you include a senior loved one who has dementia in your dining plans.

5 Tips for Dining Out When a Senior Has Dementia

  1. Select the restaurant with care

The first step is to choose the restaurant wisely. Restaurants that are excessively loud or always have a long wait probably aren’t good options. They can increase anxiety and agitation for an adult with Alzheimer’s. The experts at the University of Waterloo’s Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program recommend families choose a smaller, quiet restaurant with few distractions.

Others have found that family-style restaurants are best. The relaxed atmosphere is sometimes more welcoming to seniors with memory impairment who may struggle with coordination.  This can make them a little messy at meal time.

  1. Review the menu ahead of your visit

Finding a small, relaxed restaurant is the first step. Next, you’ll want to review the menu ahead of time. Just as a crowded restaurant can be confusing and overwhelming, a complicated menu can be intimidating to a senior with dementia.

Most restaurants post their menu on their website. Take time before you head to the restaurant to review the menu items with your loved one. Select their first choice meal and a back-up one just in case. Do the same for other members of your party. Then your group can skip the menu completely when you get there.

  1. Ask about reservations

Anything you can do to speed up the process of getting seated will likely help the meal go more smoothly. If you’ve opted for a family-style restaurant that doesn’t usually accept reservations, call the manager. Explain your situation and see what suggestions they can offer.

They may be able to make special accommodations, such as holding a table in a quiet corner for you.

  1. Stick with old, familiar places

Short-term memory is typically impacted first when a senior has dementia. This means that while they might not remember a restaurant that became a favorite later in life, they may remember an old favorite. Going there again might be comforting.

Also, once you find a few places your loved one seems to feel comfortable going to, try to stick with those. It eliminates some of the stress and worry about going to a new place.

  1. Plan around the senior’s best and worst times

You’ve probably noticed a pattern with regard to when your loved one is at their best and worst. Try to dine out during the times of day they are typically at their best. It might mean you eat dinner at 3:30 on a Saturday afternoon instead of 7:00 in the evening, but at least it will help make the experience a pleasant one.

The Harbor Memory Care at Legacy Senior Living

In our Harbor Memory Care community, we pay attention to every detail of our residents’ dining experience. From creating a peaceful, distraction-free environment to offering well-balanced, home-cooked meals, our specialty dementia dining program is thoughtfully designed.

We invite you to schedule a time for a private visit to learn more. Call the Legacy Senior Living community nearest to you today!

How to Protect Your Marriage When You are a Caregiver

August 13, 2018

Sandwich generation

Caregiving can take a toll on a married couple in the Sandwich generation. These tips can help you protect your marriage while you are busy caring for a senior loved one.

Family caregivers say that one of the greatest challenges they face while caring for a parent or other senior loved one is protecting their own marriage. “Sandwich generation” caregivers juggle many different roles—daughter, mother, wife, employee, and more—so it can be a tough balancing act.

The stress, fear, and frustration that caregivers encounter can take a real toll on a marriage. A non-caregiving partner may understand their spouse is struggling, but that doesn’t prevent them from feeling as if their needs are important. A spouse might also be on the receiving end of misplaced anger and frustration simply because a caregiver doesn’t know how to cope with the rollercoaster of emotions they are experiencing.

Finding a healthy balance is vital for a caregiver to protect their marriage.

5 Tips to Help Caregivers Maintain a Healthy Marriage

Here are a few tips you might find helpful:

  1. Connect with a support group: One of the first steps you can take is to connect with a support group. Some caregivers find an online support group works best for their schedule. Connecting with peers can help you find a healthy outlet for sharing your caregiving struggles. That takes your spouse off the hot seat and allows the two of you to talk about matters other than the ups and downs of caregiving.
  2. Communicate: While caregiving likely requires you to be away from home a lot, make sure your spouse knows you are thinking of them. Leave notes for them to find around the house, send text messages, and take advantage of video chat programs and platforms to stay in touch.
  3. Express appreciation: Even if your spouse doesn’t complain about your caregiving duties, they might still resent them or feel neglected. It’s important to tell them how much you appreciate their support. Don’t take for granted that they know you are grateful. Tell them.
  4. Take time out: Caregiving is emotionally and physically exhausting. Health experts recommend family caregivers take regular breaks and schedule nights out with their spouse. If you don’t have a sibling or other trusted friend who can care for your loved one while you take time off, consider using respite services. Assisted living communities—including the Legacy Senior Living communities—offer this short-term care option to provide family caregivers with an opportunity to recharge.
  5. Set realistic expectations: Family caregivers often worry about how good of a job they are doing caring for their loved one. It can lead them to overcompensate and do too much. Ask yourself if the tasks that are consuming your time are really necessary. Are there places where you can cut back? Or can you use technology, like FaceTime or Skype, to check in virtually? Try to set realistic expectations for yourself.

If a senior loved one’s care is getting to be too much to manage at home, Legacy Senior Living can help. Our award-winning communities are located throughout the south. Call the community nearest you today to schedule a time for a private tour!

Managing High Blood Pressure During Summer Humidity

August 6, 2018

5 steps to preventing a humidity-related health crisis

Summer heat and humidity can be especially dangerous to people with high blood pressure. Here’s what seniors and caregivers should know.

Many of us are aware that weather can play a role in triggering certain health problems. Seniors who suffer from arthritis symptoms, for example, often say winter leaves them feeling tough. Older adults who like to spend time outdoors working in the garden usually realize they need to be careful not to become dehydrated. But people aren’t often aware of the danger associated with high humidity and high blood pressure.

Research shows that high humidity can have serious health consequences for people with high blood pressure and heart disease. For those who live in southern climates, that’s important to know.

As part of Legacy Senior Living’s commitment to quality care for older adults, we are sharing this information for family caregivers to review.

The Connection Between High Humidity and High Blood Pressure

Experts say risk begins to rise when the outside temperature is over 70 degrees and the humidity is at 70 percent or greater. That’s because high humidity and hot temperatures cause the heart to work harder. In fact, the body might need to circulate twice as much blood per minute to remain cool than it does on an average day.

The problem is when there is too much moisture in the air, also known as high humidity, the body has a difficult time sweating enough. While most of us think of sweating as a nuisance, it’s important because it helps cool the body down. Excessive sweating also increases the risk for dehydration because it lowers the amount of fluid in the body. That places even greater strain on the heart.

Who Is Most at Risk for Illnesses Related to Heat and Humidity?

Though heat and humidity can be dangerous to people of all ages, some factors make adults even more vulnerable to a heat-related crisis:

  • People age 50 and over
  • Adults with heart, lung, and kidney problems
  • Seniors who follow a low-salt or low-sodium diet
  • People who have a circulatory disease or problems with circulation
  • Adults who take diuretics, sedatives, and blood-pressure medication

Warning Signs Caregivers Should Learn to Recognize

If you are a senior or the caregiver for one, it’s important to take a few minutes to review and learn the warning signs of heat- and humidity-related illnesses:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Rapid pulse
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Excessive sweating or an inability to sweat
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Muscle cramps or spasms
  • Swelling in extremities

If you or a loved one are exhibiting more than one or two of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical intervention immediately. In most cases, that means calling 911 for help.

5 Steps to Preventing a Humidity-Related Health Crisis

Here are a few steps you can take that may help you or a senior loved one avoid a heat- or humidity-related medical crisis:

  1. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water and consume foods that have high water content such as cucumber, melon, berries, leafy greens, and tomatoes.
  2. Avoid mid-day heat: Heat and humidity usually reach their peak between noon and 4:00 pm. Schedule errands, chores, and outings around those times whenever possible.
  3. Wear a hat: Invest in a natural fiber hat with a brim that shields the face.
  4. Eat smart: Avoid caffeinated foods and beverages, as well as alcohol. They can contribute to dehydration and increase the odds of a heat-related crisis.
  5. Apply sunscreen: Many people fail to apply sunscreen or don’t apply it often enough. This can lead to sunburn or even a more serious case of sun poisoning. Follow the directions on the sunscreen bottle closely and apply it any time you will be outdoors or riding in a car.

For more articles and resources on health and safety topics for seniors, we encourage you to bookmark the Legacy Blog and stop back often. We share new resources every week!

A Commitment to Caring at Legacy Senior Living

July 23, 2018

Learn how team members are celebrated and rewarded at Legacy Senior Living communities throughout the Southeast.

At Legacy Senior Living communities throughout the Southeast, you will find dedicated teams of caregivers committed to providing our residents with the highest quality of care and service. We strive to treat all residents with honor, respect, faith, and integrity no matter what their needs or circumstances. That means we support those residents with active, independent lifestyles, as well as those who require special care.

Because we believe that how well we treat caregivers will be reflected in how well they treat our residents, we established programs that recognize and honor the work of our caregivers and support team members.

Honoring the Caregivers Who Support Our Residents

Here are just a few of the ways we reward our team members:

  • “Going the Extra Mile”: Through this program, we reward our caregivers monthly, quarterly, and annually. From monetary incentives to professional training opportunities, our goal is to honor team members who go the extra mile for residents and colleagues. In May of 2018, Ashley Ford from our Grace Senior Living community in Douglasville, Georgia, was named the Legacy Champion of the Year. She was chosen for this honor from nearly 500 eligible team members. Her commitment to going the extra mile in every aspect of her professional career makes her a popular employee with residents, colleagues, and family members.
  • Legacy Rewards: Employees at Legacy communities earn points for exhibiting positive behaviors, such as good attendance, length of service, on-time track record, and more. These points can be redeemed for gift cards or merchandise through our Legacy Rewards program.
  • Legacy Cares Fund: Because we know life often comes with unexpected ups and downs, we created the Legacy Care Fund. It is designed to provide financial assistance to employees who experience a hardship. Employees can contribute to the fund, as well as receive support during a crisis.

Legacy Senior Living Serves Seniors in the Southeast

With more than a dozen campuses throughout the Southeast, we are pleased to share that Legacy Senior Living is routinely recognized as the best in senior living in the areas we serve. This recognition is evidence that when you treat employees well, they will provide the quality of care residents and their families desire.

We invite you to contact the Legacy community nearest to you or your senior loved one to set up a private tour at your earliest convenience!

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.