Providing a comfortable and safe home environment for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia is key to improving the person’s emotional and physical wellbeing. This goal can be challenging, especially for those families who have a loved one who wanders due to dementia. The Phoenix home care agency team at Nightingale Homecare understands firsthand how difficult it can be to effectively manage behaviors such as wandering, and is here to help!
An individual with dementia is likely to wander at some point during the disease – as many as three out of every four patients, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. This is an incredibly stressful behavior for loved ones to deal with because of the safety implications associated with wandering.
The first approach to dealing with wandering is to identify the reason behind the wandering. There may be a number of causes, including:
- Medication side effects
- Confusion related to time
- Inability to recognize familiar people, places and objects
- Fear arising from the misinterpretation of sights and sounds
- Desire to fulfill former obligations, such as going to work or looking after a child
There are some things you can do to reduce wandering in your loved one:
- Encourage movement and exercise. This tends to reduce anxiety, agitation and restlessness and can have a dramatic effect on wandering.
- Involve your loved one in productive daily activities such as folding laundry or preparing dinner. This can keep your loved one occupied and provide opportunity for meaningful tasks.
- Remind your loved one he is in the right place and reassure him if he articulates feelings that he may be lost, abandoned, or disoriented. This kind of reassurance from a trusted loved one or caregiver can be invaluable in calming your loved one and preventing wandering behavior.
If you continue to notice wandering behaviors, there are some things you can do to protect your loved one:
- Enroll your loved one in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return program.
- Notify all your neighbors of your loved one’s condition and keep a list of their names and phone numbers.
- Keep your home safe and secure by installing deadbolt locks on exterior doors and limiting access to potentially dangerous areas of your home.
- Be mindful that your loved one may not only wander by foot but also by other modes of transportation, so limit access to cars or other transportation.
- Be sure and keep a list of emergency phone numbers and addresses of the local police and fire departments, hospitals and poison control as well as the Safe Return help line.
Although it may seem overwhelming to proactively address any potential hazards, in the long run, it’s well worth it to know that your loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia is safe. And you don’t have to figure it all out alone! The staff of Nightingale Homecare is uniquely qualified to provide Alzheimer’s, dementia and memory loss care through our Connections program, using the unique approach taught by Dr. Verna Benner-Carson through her “Alzheimer’s Whisperer®” methods. Alzheimer’s Whisperers enter the client’s world and manage the challenging behaviors associated with dementia in a way that is gentle, creative and highly effective. These skills are not only practiced and known by our trained caregivers, but also taught to the families of our dementia clients by the clinical staff of Nightingale Homecare.
Contact the Alzheimer’s care experts at the top Phoenix home care agency, Nightingale Homecare, at (602) 504-1555 for more helpful tips to make life safer and more comfortable for your loved one with dementia, or for professional, compassionate, hands-on assistance with all of his or her care needs.
This time of year, there’s plenty of spookiness to startle and sometimes even downright terrify us, but one fear that many of us carry throughout the year is the fear of cognitive decline as we age. While it’s true that dementia and other types of Alzheimer’s disease are more prevalent as we grow older, it’s also true that there are steps we can each take today to maintain a healthy brain and reduce our risk for cognitive decline:
- Maintain Good Overall Health. A number of health conditions can affect cognitive functioning, but the good news is we have some control over our ability to avoid them, such as following a healthy diet and exercise plan to maintain heart health and manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, and getting regular medical checkups to stay in optimal physical health.
- Stay Safe. Some studies have noted an elevated risk for dementia in those who have suffered moderate to severe traumatic brain injury. Safety measures such as wearing a helmet when bicycling, wearing seatbelts in the car, reducing fall risks through education, and refraining from driving while impaired by alcohol or medications can reduce the risk for brain injury.
- Be Aware of Medicine Side Effects. As beneficial as medications are, combinations of certain types of drugs can result in brain complications such as memory loss, confusion, delusion, and hallucinations. Review a full list of medications with a doctor experienced in polypharmacy (one who understands the interactions of different medication combinations) to make sure the combinations you or a loved one is taking are safe.
- Stay Social. Loneliness and social isolation have shown to be connected to a higher incidence of dementia and other cognitive problems. For the elderly, this is especially concerning, as it can become more challenging to leave home due to physical infirmities and/or the inability to drive – but it’s imperative to ensure seniors stay socially active.
Nightingale Homecare, the Arizona home health care experts, are available to help seniors keep a healthy brain, body and mind through our professional in-home care services. Customized to each individual, we can help in a variety of ways:
- Friendly companionship to keep isolation and loneliness at bay
- Encouragement and participation in physician-approved exercise programs
- Fall risk assessments and assistance with ambulation and mobility
- Help with personal care tasks, such as bathing and dressing
- Preparation of nutritious meals
- Medication reminders
- Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments, fun outings, and more
- Plus a full range of skilled nursing care services
For more information about our in-home care for seniors in the Phoenix area, you can reach us any time at (602) 504-1555.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease affects more than just the person diagnosed; it impacts the entire network of family, friends, and even the community at large that the senior will be in contact with. Communication is key to helping everyone involved to understand what to expect as the disease progresses. Nightingale Homecare’s Alzheimer’s disease specialists share the following tips to make sure everyone is on board with how to best help a senior with dementia to live life to the fullest possible potential.
- For Children:
- Answer their questions honestly and at an age-appropriate level.
- Make sure they understand that the disease is not a result of anything they or anyone else has done.
- Allow them plenty of opportunities to spend time with the senior, working on crafts together, listening to music or stories, etc.
- Let them know it’s ok to feel sad, angry, or confused, and that you’re there to talk with them about their feelings.
- For Adult Family Members:
- Provide them with educational information about the disease.
- Share specific ways that they can help, such as running errands, helping with meals or housework, or spending time with the senior to allow primary family caregivers with a much-needed break.
- Explain ways to make communicating easier, such as greeting the senior by introducing themselves, making eye contact, and refraining from correcting the senior if he or she is confused.
- Let them know the times of day that are best for the senior to have visitors, and to anticipate the person may exhibit feelings of frustration, anger or confusion as a normal effect of the disease.
- For Community Contacts:
- When visiting a restaurant, doctor’s office, library, or other public facility with the senior, it can be helpful to have cards on hand with a short explanation for his or her behavior. If the senior displays inappropriate behavior, you can quietly hand a card to anyone who might be impacted. The cards can read something as simple as, “Thank you for your patience and understanding with my family member, who has Alzheimer’s disease. The disease sometimes causes him/her to act out in unexpected ways.”
Most importantly, family members providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease need to surround themselves with resources and support to prevent caregiver burnout, a common – and serious – condition that can result when family caregivers become overwhelmed with meeting someone else’s care needs.
At Nightingale Homecare, we partner with families on the journey through Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions of aging, providing as much or as little support as needed to ensure that both the senior and his or her family members remain as healthy as possible. Contact our top-rated Alzheimer’s care company in Phoenix at (602) 504-1555 to learn more!
Alzheimer’s disease is an ever-evolving condition; just when you’ve figured out how to best manage one symptom or behavioral issue, another springs up to take its place! While it’s certainly challenging, it’s also very rewarding to provide care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, and the dementia care experts at Nightingale Homecare have some tips to help.
Regardless of what the behavior is – wandering, agitation, sleeping or eating difficulties, just to name a few – the best way to help your loved one is by looking deeper into the situation, below the surface symptom to the underlying reason for it. Take a deep breath, and a few minutes to explore the answers to these questions:
- What patterns can you piece together? Is the behavior occurring at the same time each day? Does it emerge around a particular activity, such as bathing or bedtime? Could there be a seasonal connection, such as during the winter months when days are shorter?
- What clues in the environment could be triggering the behavior? Is there heightened noise/activity level? Too many or too few people? A difference in temperature? Could other sensory input, such as bright lights or strong smells, be contributing to the issue?
- Are there any unmet needs? Is the person hungry, thirsty, or overly tired? Is there any unaddressed pain? Might the person need to use the restroom? Or has he/she been in one position too long and need some exercise?
Once you’ve compiled notes on the “why” behind your loved one’s behavioral issue, and ensured that there aren’t any underlying medical conditions that require attention, there are a number of ways to help the senior while deescalating the behavior – and oftentimes, creativity can be your best friend. Think outside of the box; you know your loved one, and you know what has worked in the past as well as what definitely did NOT work. Keep the following in mind:
- Remain calm. It can be difficult to avoid getting caught up in the emotional momentum as your loved one’s behaviors accelerate, but it’s vitally important to maintain a sense of peace. The older adult will pick up on your mood and often respond accordingly.
- Keep a basket of “favorites” on hand. A favorite book or picture album, hobby or interest, beloved music, flowers, even a particular scent, such as a lavender or vanilla candle, can provide a needed distraction.
- Change locations. Take a walk outside and point out the interesting pattern on a tree, a kitten in the neighbor’s yard, children playing at the park. Even moving into a different room can often make a difference.
Perhaps most importantly, validate your loved one’s feelings. It’s understandable – and ok – to feel whatever he or she is feeling. Sometimes, just knowing we are heard and understood helps tremendously.
Nightingale Homecare’s specially trained Scottsdale Alzheimer’s care team is on hand to provide more tips and assistance with our Connections dementia care program. Certified as Alzheimer’s Whisperers®, we offer a unique approach to gentle, patient assistance in managing even the most difficult aspects of Alzheimer’s care. Contact us at (602)504-1555 to learn more or to schedule a free in-home assessment.
Good news! Latest statistics are showing a dramatic reduction in the number of diagnosed cases of Alzheimer’s disease. One of the main reasons cited for this improvement is the education level of our society. An increase in education may be linked to a larger reserve of cognitive functioning – so that even if certain neurons and synapses are lost from the development of Alzheimer’s disease, there’s a backup available to prevent dementia from taking hold. So the message is: never stop learning!
Beyond taking a class or learning a new skill, there are other steps we can take that may help with the prevention of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. These healthy habits are a great place to start:
- Exercise. Among its countless other benefits, sticking to a regular, ongoing exercise regimen can potentially cut a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s nearly in half. It can also help reduce the progression of the disease in those already diagnosed. The goal is to strive for at least 150 minutes per week of moderately intensive exercise, including cardio, balance/coordination, and strength training activities.
- Socialization. Connecting with others on a regular basis helps older adults stave off isolation and is also believed to help protect against Alzheimer’s.
- Nutrition. Experts recommend replacing sugar, refined carbs and trans fats with a Mediterranean diet that includes lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, fish and olive oil. Drinking tea each day could also help improve memory and slow the aging of the brain.
- Sleep. Studies are linking poor sleep habits with not just a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, but a risk factor. If your senior loved one is unable to obtain an average of 8 hours of quality sleep each night, check with his or her physician for recommendations.
- Relax. Stress is extremely hard on our brains, causing a reduction in the growth of nerve cells and even shrinking the area related to memory. Try lowering stress levels through regular relaxing activities, favorite hobbies and interests, and quiet, reflective time to pray or meditate.
The Phoenix in-home senior care team at Nightingale Homecare can provide more tips, resources, and assistance to help seniors and the families who care for them to thrive and remain healthy. Our professional caregivers are skilled in planning and preparing healthy meals, helping seniors engage in enjoyable activities, exercising, and serving as a friendly companion. We also offer a full range of skilled nursing and therapy services, to ensure seniors’ needs are fully met. Call us at 602-504-1555 to learn more!