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Posts Tagged “Alzheimer’s Care”

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!

Tips to Overcome the Repetitive Behavior of Alzheimer’s Disease

Overcome the Repetitive Behavior of Alzheimer’s DiseaseFolding a big pile of laundry, sorting buttons, snapping beans for soup: those repetitive but necessary activities can tend to become mind-numbing and perhaps even irritating for most of us. But for those with Alzheimer’s, there’s great comfort to be gained in familiar, repetitive activities, and after completing an exhausting task, they may even want to undo the work and start all over again.

The staff members of Nightingale Homecare are qualified as Alzheimer’s Whisperers® and offer care, management and support through our Connections Program. Our caregivers, nurses, therapists, social workers and managers have all been trained in a unique approach by Dr. Verna Benner-Carson, a national expert in dementia care. This training has led to highly-developed expertise throughout our agency in managing even the most challenging behaviors associated with a dementia diagnosis.

Thank goodness that the experts in Alzheimer’s care and management have developed tools to manage these and other behaviors to help prevent family members from actually going crazy!  Here are some tips from Dr. Benner-Carson and the clinical staff of Nightingale Homecare’s Connections Program.

ASSESS THE REASON
When a patient exhibits repetitive behavior, first look for a reason behind the repetitive behavior. It may occur around certain people or surroundings, or at a certain time of day. This repetition may be a way of the patient trying to communicate something. In this case, focus on the emotion and not the behavior. Don’t think so much about what the person is saying or doing, but how he or she is feeling. Understanding this may provide insight into circumstances that may begin to aide in eliminating the behavior.

STAY CALM AND REASSURING
During periods of repetition, it is normal for loved ones to become frustrated or anxious. Try to remain calm with a gentle voice and gentle touch. It is important not to engage the loved one in an argument over the repetition. Because of the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, many patients are unaware that they’re repeating words or activities.

GIVE THE ANSWER
If it is a repetitive question, give the answer, even if you have to repeat it multiple times. If your loved one has the ability to read, you can write the answer down on paper. You may also be able to create a photo collage around the question that helps answer it. This activity can be done with your loved one’s help, creating meaning to the collage by adding photos to clarify the question. This is especially helpful for loved ones who have lost the ability to read. You can also use a calendar for recurring events your loved one has questions about, and refer him or her to the calendar. Place the memory aide in a prominent location, then refer your loved one to the note/calendar or collage when the question is raised again. Another great way to give the answer is to make up a song in a familiar tune that your loved one knows well, and in the song, provide the question and the answer!

TURN IT POSITIVE AND PRODUCTIVE
If the person is running her hands across a chair or table, give her a rag and praise her for the good work at shining the furniture. Sometimes, repetition evolves because of just plain boredom. This is easily resolved with activity. Give her something to do: sort coins, play with a pet, go for a walk, enjoy a snack, sweep the floor, fold laundry, play music and dance!

For more tips on managing the challenging behaviors of Alzheimer’s, or for some respite care from our highly trained and experienced dementia care staff, contact us any time at 602-504-1555.

Managing the Challenging Behavior that Accompany Alzheimer’s

Challenging BehaviorManaging the behaviors that often accompany Alzheimer’s disease can be tricky even for the experts. Based on the training provided by Dr. Verna Benner Carson and Catherine Vanderhorst of C&V Senior Care, in this blog the clinical staff of Nightingale Homecare outline guidelines to help caregivers manage some of the more distressing behaviors experienced with patients who have Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. A series of critical tools developed by Carson and Vanderhorst that can be applied to nearly every behavior challenge is the use of the 4 R’s:

1. Reassess
When you are confronted with challenging behaviors, ask yourself these questions:

• Is there a reason for this behavior?
• Is the person for whom you are providing care frustrated because of his/her inability to do something?
• Is he/she uncomfortable about a situation?
• Is there too much noise?
• Is there too much activity going on around him/her?
• Or, is there too little stimulation?

Keep in mind that often just small changes in the environment can create stress for the person with Alzheimer’s. These changes, coupled with the inability to express feelings and the inability to understand others, can result in a behavioral change.

2. Rechannel
If your loved one is doing something you find annoying and/or repetitive, try to redirect him/her by providing a task; for example:

• Folding clothes
• Straightening magazines
• Organizing familiar items (buttons, nails, etc.)
• Pushing in chairs; wiping off tables

If he or she is exhibiting an annoying/repetitive behavior, get creative and discover new ways to eliminate the annoyance. For example, if your loved one likes to throw out the newspaper before you read it, simply hide today’s paper and replace it with yesterday’s paper.

3. Reassure
Try to remember, people with Alzheimer’s disease live in a world they no longer can easily understand. They might not recognize people, even close family members, and the environment may be too noisy, too busy and too hurried. Alot of reassurance is needed. When you talk to your loved one, use soothing words and a tender touch. Often, the words you speak are not understood, but the tone and care you place on the words is what they hear. Keep in mind, your loved one’s memory might be gone but he or she still has feelings and often lacks the ability to express them.

4. Reconsider
Try seeing the world from the perspective of the person with Alzheimer’s disease. Everything is a misconception and increasingly abnormal. Everyone appears to be a stranger and speaks a language the person can no longer understand.

Considering the 4 R’s before you approach a person with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia can make your interaction more successful and pleasant for everyone. You can rely on Nightingale Homecare as your expert Alzheimer’s and dementia support partner during your loved one’s diagnosis, care and progression through all stages of the disease. Our clients and families experience success in living with Alzheimer’s and dementia! Call us any time at 602-504-1555 or contact us online to learn how our specialized Connections Program services, provided by our specially trained, expert and compassionate Phoenix home care team, can maximize your senior loved one’s health, wellbeing and comfort.

Make Sure These Tools Are Part of Your Alzheimer’s Support Arsenal

Alzheimer’s Support ArsenalAt Nightingale Homecare, we believe that knowledge is empowering, and strive to provide you with timely information on helping your aging loved ones thrive throughout the aging process. In our last blog, we outlined the three main stages of Alzheimer’s disease to help you better relate to the particular challenges your loved one with Alzheimer’s is facing. We’d like to take that concept a step further this week and offer you some additional resources that can ease the strain of caring for someone with dementia.

A sad reality about Alzheimer’s disease is that, while family members may suspect a problem, their loved one is often in denial about the situation for months or even years before actually finally a diagnosis. This makes Alzheimer’s a disease of isolation from the beginning and most certainly in the final days. Alzheimer’s often begins with a beloved family member living in a state of “impending doom,” seldom sharing, and more often hiding, their periods of forgetfulness and confusion, until the disease ultimately robs the individual of any meaningful connection to the friends and family surrounding them. Once the Alzheimer’s diagnosis is delivered, it is often described as a “loss” or “slow death” of that beloved person we once knew, and can initiate the grief process, including feelings of denial, anger, sadness and regret.

Following the denial, anger and any other myriad of emotions you may experience, understanding and preparing for the stages of Alzheimer’s is the first step in confronting the many possible issues that often accompany the disease process. Thankfully, there is no end to the support patients and families living with Alzheimer’s have available in this country.

Scientists work tirelessly on a cure for Alzheimer’s, but until that time, there is much we can do to create a sense of meaning, peace and improved quality of life throughout the progression of the disease. Developing a plan for your loved one and your family that includes care options at each stage of progression should be a goal a primary goal following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

The professional staff of Nightingale Homecare recommend the following:

  • “Elder Rage” by Jacqueline Marcell is a wonderful book to aide in understanding the numerous issues related to managing and navigating an adult loved one’s progress through the disease and the medical system.
  • C&V Senior Care offers a variety of resources for those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Nightingale Homecare has implemented their “Alzheimer’s Whisperers” training into our own caregiver training process, ensuring all of our caregivers are specially trained and experienced in safe, compassionate, creative dementia care techniques.
  • The Alzheimer’s Association provides a goldmine of assistance and support for families across the country.
  • Most importantly, we recommend partnering with a professional home care agency, such as Nightingale Homecare, qualified in the care and management of Alzheimer’s disease. Our experienced staff can assist with patient and family education, caring for the patient, and managing the symptoms that accompany Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s disease impacts not just the person diagnosed, but everyone in that person’s network of family and friends. Call us at 602-504-1555 and let our professional Alzheimer’s care team share the journey with you.

Posted in Alzheimer's Care, Dementia Care on October 28th, 2015 · Comments Off on Make Sure These Tools Are Part of Your Alzheimer’s Support Arsenal

How Alzheimer’s Disease Is Targeting Women – and How We’re Fighting Back!

Fighting Alzheimer'sAll of us who have dedicated our lives to working with the elderly and improving their quality of life are only too familiar with the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. We walk side by side on a daily basis with the courageous older adults and their families who are impacted by Alzheimer’s, and are encouraged by the latest research developments that seem to be drawing us ever nearer to the hope of a cure.

The report 2014 Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures, however, presented some sobering facts for women and the disease. Not only are women far more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than men (with one in six women over the age of 65 being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s during their lifetime, compared with one in 11 men), but they’re also more likely to be the primary caregivers for a loved one with the disease.

For the primary caregiver of a loved one with Alzheimer’s, life is dramatically impacted in a variety of ways, including the potential need to cut back on work, lose benefits or leave a job altogether. This is over and above the physical and emotional toll the disease exacts on the caregiver!

Based on current research, the disease is now considered to be about the third leading cause of death in the United States. Alzheimer’s is also one of the most expensive disease states due to the constant care people need as the disease progresses.

With Nightingale Home Care, however, you can take comfort in knowing that we’re battling the complications faced by those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers head-on! We’re equipping our staff with the latest knowledge and skills to provide compassionate, professional, respectful care, and allowing them to remain in their homes. Each and every one of our caregivers is trained in how to manage the most common challenging behaviors seen in those with Alzheimer’s disease through our Connections dementia care program. In fact, we’re the only Phoenix home care agency providing certified Alzheimer’s Whisperer® care. And, all care is always supervised by a registered nurse.

Don’t face the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease alone; contact us any time at 602-504-1555 and allow us to journey beside you through the ups and downs of life with Alzheimer’s, and find fulfillment and purpose each step along the way!

Posted in Aging Issues, Alzheimer's Care on August 19th, 2015 · Comments Off on How Alzheimer’s Disease Is Targeting Women – and How We’re Fighting Back!