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When Mom Isn’t Mom: What to Expect with Dementia Related Personality Changes

What to Expect with Dementia

Understanding what to expect with dementia means being ready for personality changes.

For her whole adult life, Mom has been quiet, reserved, and kind to everyone. Her friends and family have always known they could count on her to provide wise advice without judgment or condescension. Yet suddenly, since her dementia has begun to progress, it’s as though a switch has been flipped. Mom has become belligerent, angry, and rude. What happened? Is this what to expect with dementia?

Unfortunately, personality and behavioral changes such as this are quite common in someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. They’re part of the natural progression of the disease’s impact on brain cells. Other changes you may notice include:

  • Disinterest in previously enjoyed activities and hobbies
  • Anger, anxiety, and depression
  • Pacing and wandering
  • Hiding items, or thinking others have hidden things from them
  • Inappropriate sexual behaviors
  • Hitting you or others
  • Misinterpreting reality, including seeing or hearing things that aren’t there
  • Neglecting personal hygiene

The first step if you notice any of these changes in a senior loved one is to schedule a checkup with the doctor. There are a variety of other health conditions that could be causing the changes, so it’s important to rule those out first.

If it’s determined that the changes are dementia-related, there are ways to help manage them more effectively:

  • Limit distractions. Turn down (or off) the TV or radio, and limit time spent with groups of people talking, all of which can add to confusion and frustration.
  • Make simple alterations to the home accordingly. If looking in the mirror frightens the senior, take down or cover mirrors. If a comforter with busy patterns leads the senior to believe there are bugs crawling on it, replace it with a solid colored one.
  • Avoid asking open-ended questions. Phrase your statements and questions simply, giving a choice of two answers. For instance, “It’s time for lunch. Would you like tuna or chicken today?”
  • Create and adhere to a daily schedule and routine.
  • Pay attention to what the senior may be feeling, rather than what is being said. Someone with dementia who is lashing out angrily may actually be feeling fear or worry. Offer reassurance that the person you are there to help, and that he or she is safe.
  • Never argue or correct someone with dementia. If you find yourself becoming angry or upset, step away for a few minutes (if it’s safe to do so) to calm down; or try deep breathing and counting slowly to ten.

Knowing what to expect with dementia and how to provide the best care for someone you love isn’t easy. A trusted, professional care partner, like Nightingale Homecare, can help tremendously with education, resources, and respite care services.

With Nightingale Homecare, the leading providers of in-home care in Paradise Valley, AZ and surrounding areas, you’re never alone. Call us at (602) 505-1555 to learn more about the ways we can make life better for a senior you love with dementia and allow you a healthy life balance as well.

Protect Seniors from Post-Heart Attack Depression

Post-Heart Attack Depression

Post-heart attack depression can be better managed with these tips.

Surviving a heart attack is cause for celebration – yet rather than joy, many seniors experience a surprising but common condition: post-heart attack depression. And by the same token, those with depression are more prone to having a heart attack later in life than those without mental health concerns.

Nightingale Homecare, the leading senior caregivers in Phoenix and surrounding areas, is here to help older adults and those who care for them understand what to watch for and what steps can be taken to alleviate depression following a heart attack or other significant health scare.

A senior may be clinically depressed if the following red flags are noted:

  • Problems with falling or staying asleep
  • Feeling restless, apathetic, sad, hopeless, and/or worthless
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Lack of concentration

If a senior you love is exhibiting signs such as these, try the following:

  1. See the doctor. First and foremost, check in with the senior’s primary care physician for a depression assessment and recommended treatment. The earlier depression is diagnosed and treated, the better.
  2. Look into cardiac rehab services. Post-heart attack depression can be helped through learning and implementing lifestyle changes such as eating healthier and exercising properly. Cardiac rehabilitation is often conducted in a group setting, allowing for social interaction with others who can empathize and understand what the senior is going through and provide necessary support.
  3. Ensure medication adherence. Not taking heart medications as directed can lead to depression – and someone who is depressed may not be motivated to take his or her meds, leading to a vicious cycle. Nightingale Homecare can help with medication reminders and management; contact us to learn more.
  4. Talk with a counselor. Professional counseling can be extremely beneficial for a depressed senior, providing the opportunity to work through the varied feelings that accompany surviving a traumatic event like a heart attack.
  5. Incorporate mind/body relaxation. Studies have shown that depression can be eased through the mindfulness, deep breathing, exercise and clearing of the mind through activities such as yoga, tai chi, meditation/prayer, and deep breathing exercises.
  6. Stay social. The pandemic has made it challenging to maintain social connections, but isolation can have a tremendously negative impact on our mental health. If in-person get-togethers with friends and family aren’t possible, using technology such as Zoom and Skype to stay in touch can make a world of difference in a depressed person’s outlook.
  7. Explore antidepressant options. Antidepressants may be a temporary option to ease symptoms. Ask the doctor for a recommendation, and carefully consider the pros and cons (i.e., any potential negative side effects). It’s important to keep in mind that antidepressants typically take several weeks before their full impact is realized.

Let Nightingale Homecare’s compassionate, skilled, and experienced caregivers in Phoenix and the surrounding areas provide the assistance a senior with post-heart attack depression needs. We offer friendly companionship, planning and preparation of heart-healthy meals, motivation to stay physically active, help with ensuring medications are taken properly, and many other services, according to each person’s particular needs.

Call us today at (602) 505-1555 to get started on a brighter tomorrow for a senior you love!

Take Steps to Better Senior Health: Exercises for Any Ability Level

Portrait of a smiling senior woman lifting dumbbells during a workout session in her living room at home

One of the keys to senior health is staying physically active.

It’s one of the most common New Year’s resolutions for good reason: exercising more has numerous benefits for all of us, regardless of age or ability level. As one of the leading caregiver agencies in Phoenix, AZ and surrounding areas, we at Nightingale Homecare encourage all of the seniors in our care (with doctors’ approval, of course) to stay as physically active as possible and to achieve maximum health and wellbeing. Just some of the many ways exercise is good for senior health include:

  • Improved blood pressure
  • Better blood sugar management
  • Lower levels of lipids in the blood
  • Enhanced joint and bone health
  • Preserved cognitive functioning
  • A healthier immune system
  • A boost in metabolism and better GI functioning
  • More confidence
  • The release of endorphins that help improve mood
  • And so much more

Many older adults, however, experience a decline in physical activity throughout aging, and while it’s true that some exercises may not be realistic or safe for some seniors to engage in, there are plenty of modifications that can be made and alternative activities with equal health benefits.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

Aerobics:

Cardio exercise is extremely important for heart and lung health. The typical recommendation is 30 minutes per day, but it’s perfectly fine to break this 30-minute period into smaller chunks throughout the day. Water exercises are low-impact and a great choice for many seniors; check with the local YMCA or senior center for classes specifically geared toward older adults.

Strength/Resistance:

Strength and resistance training help strengthen the bones and improve balance, which can prevent falls. These types of exercises can be done two or three times each week for maximum benefit, and can include simple, repetitive motions with small weights or resistance bands. Even a bottle of water or can of soup lifted up and down with each arm for two or three sets of ten can help build endurance.

Stretching:

Warming up and cooling down with stretching exercises helps prevent any stiffness or soreness in muscles after exercising, and also helps seniors maintain flexibility. Yoga and Pilates exercises are great ways to isolate different muscle groups to focus on and to develop a strong core, leading to better balance and posture. The YMCA or senior center can again be helpful, offering these types of classes specifically for older adults.

Our aging care experts love nothing more than helping the seniors in our care enjoy life to the fullest and to remain as healthy, safe, and independent as possible. One of the many ways we can help is by providing the motivation, encouragement, and support to enjoy staying physically active. We’ll even exercise right along with your senior loved one – it’s always more fun with a friend!

We’re also on hand to provide transportation and accompaniment to exercise classes, to prepare healthy meals, run errands, and so much more that leads to an overall better quality of life.

Contact us and ask for your free in-home consultation to find out more about our customized in-home care services for seniors. You can reach us any time at (602) 505-1555.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Startling Link Between Dementia and Nutrition

Dementia and Nutrition

It’s important to understand the link between dementia and nutrition.

We are what we eat, as the saying goes, and that’s shown to be the case with certain types of foods and an increased risk for dementia – and with others that may actually improve cognitive functioning. While many of us are resolving to live a healthier lifestyle in 2021, we can also help the seniors in our care maximize wellness by understanding the link between dementia and nutrition, and adjusting dietary habits accordingly.

Why It Matters

A diet high in processed foods, carbs, and sugar produces toxins in our bodies that cause inflammation and plaque buildup in the brain. A senior who consumes too many of these types of foods while limiting fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins may be experiencing impaired cognitive functioning as a result, as the brain isn’t receiving the right type of fuel it needs.

Foods to Avoid

Many popular go-to food choices, unfortunately, are on the list of those linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, including:

  • White sugar, rice, bread, cakes, and pasta, which increase insulin levels and send toxins to the brain
  • Processed meats and cheeses: bacon, smoked meats, mozzarella sticks, American cheese, etc. which build up the proteins linked to Alzheimer’s
  • Beer, which contains the nitrites that are also linked to Alzheimer’s
  • Microwavable popcorn, which contains a chemical, diacetyl, that is linked to an increased level of amyloid plaques in the brain

Foods to Enjoy

It’s not easy to create and stick to new dietary habits, but replacing the foods above with the recommendations below will lead to better health outcomes for the seniors you love – and for yourself. All of the following are linked to improved memory and overall cognitive functioning:

  • Cold-water fish, such as salmon
  • Green, leafy vegetables
  • Dark-skinned fruits and berries
  • Extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate

If the thought of overhauling a senior loved one’s diet is overwhelming, let us help! As one of the top-rated caregiver agencies in Phoenix, AZ and the surrounding areas, the aging care experts at Nightingale Homecare are trained, experienced, and skilled in planning and preparing meals that are both nutritious and delicious, in accordance with any dietary restrictions or recommendations.

Not only that, but our caregivers are adept in creative Alzheimer’s care techniques, understanding and effectively managing some of the more challenging aspects of the disease, while helping seniors engage in meaningful, enjoyable pastimes and activities to make each day the very best it can be.

Contact us at (602) 504-1555 to learn more about our customized home care services for seniors, and to request a free in-home consultation to let us get to know you and the challenges you’re facing. We’ll be happy to create an ideal solution for your particular circumstances – from just a little support for a few hours each week, up through and including full-time, live-in care.

The Perfect New Year’s Resolutions for Family Caregivers

Resolutions for Family Caregivers

New Year’s resolutions for family caregivers help make self-care a priority.

The dawning of a new year brings with it hope, optimism, and a chance to start fresh. For family caregivers, the new year is an ideal time to take stock of caregiving routines, making adjustments that benefit both you and a senior you love.

While there are countless instances of joy when caring for a senior, too often family caregivers place all their focus and energy on their caregiving responsibilities, leaving no time or energy for their own needs. Since the ability to provide effective care is directly linked to maintaining your own health and wellness, the new year is a perfect time to commit to making and keeping resolutions for family caregivers.

  • Ask for help. Reach out to family or close friends and ask for assistance with caregiving responsibilities. Think about ways in which those close to you can help with tasks such as bringing over a meal one night each week, managing finances, scheduling appointments, and more. Set up a recurring schedule so that you know you can count on assistance each week, thereby freeing you up to make and keep your own medical appointments, maintain an exercise routine, or have lunch with a friend.
  • Be present. Family caregiving requires not only physical stamina, but emotional stamina, too. All too often, family caregivers can feel drained by the emotion of caring for a senior loved one. They hope a situation will change, even when they’ve seen the same outcome time and again. Whether wishing for assistance from your siblings or hoping that your dad, who has Alzheimer’s, will stop asking the same question repeatedly, it’s important (and sometimes difficult) to accept things the way they are. In doing so, and in being fully present in reality, you can focus emotional energy on positive things, while at the same time caring for your emotional health.
  • Make self-care a daily priority. Set aside short blocks of time throughout the day to focus on self-care. Start your day with stretching, meditation or prayer. Take a brief walk around the block or simply sit outside and enjoy the sunshine for a few minutes each afternoon. Connect with friends on the phone, read a book, or start streaming a new series in the evenings. Make “me time” a priority, even if it’s only for short periods of time each day.
  • Schedule routine breaks. Trying to take on all of the caregiving tasks day in and day out is a recipe for burnout. Partner with an in-home caregiver like Nightingale Homecare to schedule respite services so that you can take a break each week or plan a weekend away to indulge in some much-deserved R & R.

Let Nightingale Homecare help you keep your New Year’s resolutions by providing the trusted in-home care that families in Phoenix and the surroundings areas have turned to since 1994. In addition to respite care, our professional and highly-trained care team can customize a care plan designed especially for your loved one and can include:

  • Assisting with housekeeping and laundry
  • Planning and preparing healthy and nutritious meals
  • Providing transportation to social outings and medical or personal appointments
  • Engaging companionship to enhance socialization and reduce isolation
  • Helping with personal care needs such as bathing, dressing and using the toilet
  • A full range of skilled nursing care services
  • And so much more

Reach out to Nightingale Homecare today at (602) 504-1555 to learn more about how our skilled and non-medical home care in Phoenix and the surrounding areas can help you and a senior you love live life to the fullest in 2021.