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Navigating the Dementia Doctor Visit

dementia care Phoenix

Make doctor visits easier for those with dementia.

Medical appointments, treatments and procedures can be stressful for all of us, but for those with dementia, the associated confusion and cognitive problems can make for an extremely challenging undertaking – both for the senior himself and the family caregiver accompanying him. Lots of questions and concerns may arise, and may continue to rise repeatedly as the senior tries to make sense of why and where you’re taking him.

At Nightingale Homecare, we provide the skilled and compassionate dementia care Phoenix area families trust, and want to help reduce stress and ensure that seniors get the most from their doctor visits. The following tips may help.

Before the Appointment

A little advanced thought and preparation can go a long way towards creating a smoother and easier experience at the doctor’s office. It’s a good idea to write down your questions in advance, rather than trying to remember everything when you arrive. Include in your notes a list of all current medications the senior is taking, both prescriptions and over-the-counter meds, as well as any changes or concerning symptoms you’ve noticed in your loved one. Note as many details as possible, such as dates, times, and frequency of these changes, and include your observations on such intangibles as the person’s quality of life and overall contentedness and wellbeing.

During the Appointment

It’s important to be mindful of the need to maintain respect for the senior at all times, refraining from talking about the person as if he’s not there or talking over him or for him if he’s trying to convey something to the doctor himself. The doctor should confirm with the senior that he’s ok with having you present during the visit. Ensure you fully understand the doctor’s answers to your questions and concerns, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification when unsure about a response you receive. Be sure to take notes during the visit, and ask for a printout summarizing your visit as well.

After the Appointment

Update your records with any prescription, diet or activity changes recommended by the physician, and implement accordingly, continuing to take notes on your loved one’s condition until the next scheduled appointment. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, keep in mind that in order to provide the very best possible care for your senior loved one, you need to take good care of yourself as well. Providing care for a senior loved one with dementia can quickly become overwhelming, and it’s easy to let self-care take a backseat; but serious health risks can arise in caregivers who neglect their own care.

The best solution for both the senior and yourself is partnering with a trusted, experienced dementia care professional, such as those at Nightingale Homecare, who can provide routine respite care services, allowing family caregivers to take much-needed breaks from care while knowing their loved one is in skilled and compassionate hands. As a top provider of the dementia care Phoenix families trust, we can also provide a higher level of assistance, all the way up to and including full-time, live-in care – which is particularly helpful in effectively managing some of the more challenging aspects of dementia care, like sundowning, aggression, wandering, and more.

Contact us at (602) 504-1555 to learn more about our specialized Connections Dementia program or any of our other in-home care solutions for seniors.

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Top Phoenix Home Care Agency Shares Tips to Better Manage Wandering in Alzheimer’s

Top Phoenix home care agency

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
  • Stress
  • Confusion related to time
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • 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.

Making Your Home Dementia-Safe

dementiaProviding a comfortable, soothing home environment for those with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia is key to their emotional wellbeing, but equally important is ensuring the person will be safe from harm in the home. Changes in the brain from dementia can cause even the most innocuous items, such as dark-colored rugs, to appear ominous, like a hole that could swallow the person up.

Nightingale Homecare can help families rethink the layout of the home from the perspective of someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, and make the necessary adjustments for both perceived and real safety threats. For example:

  1. A person with dementia may confuse common objects – such as thinking a sharp knife is actually a comb. It’s important to place all hazardous items out of reach and/or locked away to prevent accidents.
  2. People with dementia are often agitated by intricate patterns, which can give the illusion of unwanted or confusing situations – such as bugs or snakes moving across a patterned carpet, tablecloth or wallpaper. Consider calmer prints or paint colors for the senior’s home.
  3. Interior door locks should be removed or rendered unusable so a person can’t accidentally lock himself into a room.
  4. Determine if any house plants are poisonous, and find them another home safe from pets, children and seniors with cognitive impairments.
  5. As with any older adult, seniors with dementia are at risk from tripping hazards such as cords and other obstacles in walking paths, low furniture, and throw rugs. A full safety assessment should be performed both in and around the home, including ensuring adequate lighting, hand rails, bath/shower safety equipment, etc. are in place.

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! Nightingale Homecare of Scottsdale can partner with you and your family to help in a variety of ways, based on your senior loved one’s individual needs:

  • Perform an in-home assessment to determine the best level of care needed and to address any potential safety issues
  • Provide specialized hands-on care for those with dementia through our Connections dementia care program, with our uniquely certified Alzheimer’s Whisperers®
  • Assist with transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and other outings
  • Run errands such as picking up prescriptions and groceries
  • Help with housework, laundry, meal preparation, pet and plant care, companionship, and so much more

To talk with us one on one about how we can help your loved one live a safer and more fulfilling life at home, contact us at (602) 504-1555. We’ll be happy to answer all of your questions and arrange for a free in-home consultation at your convenience.

Top Tips for Managing Common Challenging Alzheimer’s Behaviors

Alzheimers CareAlzheimer’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.

Moving Forward After an Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosis

Alzheimer's Disease“The diagnosis is: Alzheimer’s disease.” What difficult words those are to hear! Suddenly, the world as we know it seems to come to a standstill, while at the same time, our minds begin to swirl with the many questions and concerns that are raised. What kinds of changes should we expect? How will I continue to provide care for my loved one? What happens next?

The Alzheimer’s disease specialists at Nightingale Homecare want you to know you’re not alone, by any means. As many as 137 million adults in America either have Alzheimer’s themselves or a family member who’s been diagnosed; and more than 15 million of them are being cared for by a loved one.

It goes without saying that putting together a good caregiver support system is a crucial first step. Other top priorities include the following:

  • Meet with the person’s physician to go over medication and treatment options.
  • Find an elder care attorney who can make sure all financial and legal affairs are in order – including designation of a power of attorney as well as a point of contact for Social Security.
  • If the senior is a veteran and has not already done so, apply for VA Aid & Attendance and Housebound benefits.
  • Set yourself or another trusted person up as co-signer/co-owner on bank accounts.

Most importantly, sit down with your loved one post-diagnosis, along with any other family members, close friends, and perhaps clergy. Talk honestly and openly about your loved one’s current care needs and those projected for the future, taking into consideration any of his or her wishes and addressing any concerns.

Keep in mind that those with Alzheimer’s disease, in the later stages especially, require close supervision in order to remain safe, and without specialized Alzheimer’s disease training, it can be extremely challenging for families to provide the level of care needed to optimize quality of life and wellbeing, as well as to prevent danger or harm to the senior.

At Nightingale Homecare of Phoenix, we partner with families to provide professional Alzheimer’s disease care at home through our Connections Dementia Care Program. Our caregivers are certified as Alzheimer’s Whisperers®, with extensive training in compassionate, patient, creative care, combined with physical, occupational and speech therapy as needed – resulting in the highest possible level of functioning and quality of life for the person with Alzheimer’s, and peace of mind for his or her loved ones.

If your loved one has been given an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, call us at 602-504-1555. We have resources to share, and can schedule a free in-home consultation to talk with you further about how we can help. Your loved one is in good hands with Nightingale Homecare!