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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.

Fear No More! Tips to Reduce Fearfulness in Dementia

Fearfulness in Dementia

Help seniors with dementia overcome fearfulness and anxiety with these tips.

While lighthearted fear goes hand-in-hand with the Halloween season, for a senior with dementia, it’s no laughing matter. Fear and anxiety are common in dementia, and difficult for family members to help manage. Fearfulness in dementia can be the result of:

  • A recent move to a new living environment
  • Guests in the home
  • A hospitalization
  • A new caregiver
  • Simply trying to maneuver through a world that feels unfamiliar and disorienting

The dementia care experts at Nightingale Homecare offer the following helpful tips if a senior you love is feeling fearful:

  • First, talk with the senior’s primary care physician to rule out any medication side effects or other health-related reasons for heightened anxiety.
  • Ensure the home environment is as stress-free and calming as possible, following soothing routines and providing the senior with items that provide comfort (such as a favorite blanket, pillow, stuffed animal, etc.).
  • Reduce distractions, such as keeping the TV turned off or at a low volume, and avoiding news programs or other shows that may contain disturbing scenes.
  • Help the senior stay physically active through taking walks, dancing, exercising, or engaging in plenty of enjoyable activities together.
  • Listen to the senior’s concerns respectfully and without judgment. Ask for permission to help and offer reassurances; i.e., “Is it OK if I help you? I am right here with you and you are safe.”

It’s important to realize that your own expression of emotions and tone of voice can either comfort or exacerbate the anxiety the senior is feeling, so maintaining a calm, controlled voice, using slow, deliberate motions without rushing or expressing alarm, anger, or criticism can go a long way towards helping the senior relax.

It’s also a great idea to surround yourself with the support you need to provide the best care for your loved one while ensuring plenty of time for your own self-care. Find a local (or online) Alzheimer’s support group, and partner with Nightingale Homecare, the top providers of Phoenix care at home (and throughout the surrounding areas). Our dementia care team is highly skilled and experienced in effectively diffusing difficult behaviors in dementia, and are happy to provide reliable, trusted respite care that allows family caregivers the chance to step away, rest and recharge.

Contact us any time at (602) 504-1555 and request a free in-home consultation to share with us the challenges and concerns your loved one is facing, and to let us share with you how we can help with professional, personalized home care services.

Maintaining Independence in Dementia

Dementia Care Phoenix

Learn how to help someone with dementia maintain independence.

A common concern for older adults, especially for those who are adjusting to a new diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other dementia, is the fear of losing independence. Yet thankfully, there are a number of simple techniques you can use to foster as much independence as possible in your loved one throughout the progression of the disease.

Using memory prompting strategies early on can help your loved one develop patterns of behavior that can maximize safety and independence, as well self-confidence. The most important rule is to avoid taking over activities for the person with dementia. Instead, encourage the continuation of activities and personal care tasks, even if these take longer or are messier, such as allowing your loved one to feed herself.

Consider these additional tips from our Nightingale Homecare dementia care team providing the highest quality memory care Peoria and surrounding area families depend on:

Use Routines

Having a routine is one of the best memory prompts. Patterns of behavior become an aid to memory and help a person with dementia feel secure and less anxious, too.

Write It Down

Your loved one should use a daily diary for as long as possible, to write down the everyday tasks, household duties and activities that she has arranged or wants to do. She can also use them for thoughts and ideas. Family members or caregivers can add in activities or ‘must do’s’ on the list as well.

Use Bulletin Boards

Your loved one can pin reminders, timetables, ideas, schedules, and lists to bulletin boards, which provide great visual reminders. Helpers or caregivers can also put reminders of activities that she has scheduled, the date and day, and an inspiring verse or phrase.

Use Labels to Remind and Identify

Put labels on things to remind your loved one where things are stored, identify possessions, or accomplish specific tasks.

Consistently Use Address and Personal Phone Books

Keep your loved one’s phone and address book by the phone with important numbers written prominently on one page. She can also keep a notebook right by the phone to keep track of who she called, when the call was made, and what the conversation was about.

Make Use of Technology

Consider setting up electronic prompt services such as texts or reminders in your loved one’s phone calendar. These types of services can be used for reminders and cues of things that need to be done, such as taking medications or attending an important social gathering or meeting.

Organize Important Objects Together

Attempt to get your loved one into the habit of putting keys, money and glasses in the same place. This can help her keep track of these items more easily.

Use Clocks with Date Displays

Having clocks with date displays in every room helps your loved one identify the time and date of the day and can trigger her memory for activities that are scheduled at certain times. Frequent reminders of the day, date and time will increase orientation. 

Read Daily Newspapers, News Sites, or Social Media Pages

News sites not only keep your loved one in touch with current events but also act as a reminder for the day of the week. Staying up-to-date on current events can provide cognitive stimulation and allow her to more relevantly interact with others. Interestingly, some research found that older adults who spent time on Facebook demonstrated improvements in their memory.

Make Changes in the Bathroom

Using a raised toiled seat with contrasting colors will help your loved one stay independent longer in using the toilet. Install grab bars in the bathroom and hand-held shower handles as well.

Make Dressing and Undressing Easy

Use of clothing that is easy to get on and off without zippers or buttons make all the difference. Choose clothing items with elastic waistbands and replace buttons and snaps with Velcro. Speak with your Nightingale Homecare team about adaptive devices to help make dressing/undressing easier for everyone.

The goal for each of us is to maintain autonomy throughout aging, and that goal doesn’t change with a dementia diagnosis. Our specialized Connections dementia care program is a great place to start to help a senior loved one with dementia to live life to the fullest. Contact us for a free in-home consultation to learn more about our expert memory care Peoria and the surrounding areas trust!

Incorporating Art into Dementia Care Can Be Life-Changing. Here’s Why

Dementia Care

Art can be a beneficial aspect of effective dementia care.

Whether an older loved one with dementia was an art major in college or never once picked up a paintbrush, introducing art as part of the senior’s dementia care plan brings a wealth of benefits. In fact, several recent studies have cemented what those of us in the field of dementia care have known for years.

The first study looked at the program Memories in the Making, a weekly art program for those with early to mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Greater than 80% of those who participated remained engaged and focused throughout the sessions, which lasted between 30 and 45 minutes, and the majority expressed joy in a variety of ways. Participants also displayed a greater level of self-confidence than those who engaged in different activities during the program, such as crafts or conversations.

Additional studies of Alzheimer’s art programs in Japan and Britain showed enhancements in socializing, physical abilities, and overall demeanor, as well as a reduced level of apathy. And you may be familiar with art appreciation programs offered at such iconic institutions as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, whose Meet Me at MoMA program provides opportunities for those with dementia and their caregivers to engage in viewing and learning about a variety of pieces of artwork – leading to greater social connections and reduced emotional distress.

While the exact reasons behind the incredible benefits of art in dementia care are unclear, we do know that the area of the brain related to our ability to both make and appreciate art are often preserved in Alzheimer’s, and that it affords the opportunity to communicate and express feelings – something that becomes challenging to accomplish verbally. And, it provides a non-medicated, therapeutic approach to enhancing life and in helping to manage some of the more difficult aspects of the disease, such as agitation, wandering, and aggression.

At Nightingale Homecare, providers of the most trusted home care Paradise Valley and the surrounding area have to offer, our dementia care professionals are highly skilled, trained, and experienced in incorporating creative outlets for seniors at home that lead to a higher quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s disease.

Our Connections dementia care program is comprised of nurses, therapists, and caregivers who are certified Alzheimer’s Whisperers®, trained in a unique approach by Dr. Verna Benner-Carson, a nationally renowned dementia care expert. Art, as well as a variety of other innovative techniques, are utilized to ensure the highest level of functionality, contentment, and enjoyment in life are achieved. Additionally, we’re happy to provide training to family caregivers, equipping them with the skills needed to provide effective, consistent care.

To learn more, contact our dementia care team any time at (602) 504-1555 and request a free in-home consultation. We’re always here to help!

Advancing Through the Stages of Alzheimer’s: Tips to Help Manage the Many Changes

stages of Alzheimer's - alzheimer's care company in phoenix

Find tips to help with the changes that occur through the stages of Alzheimer’s from the Phoenix senior care experts.

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, families are faced with a number of questions and challenges. How will the disease progress? What changes will I see in my loved one during the different stages of Alzheimer’s? And how am I going to handle them?

It’s important for family caregivers to equip themselves with as much information as possible about the disease, and this includes creating a plan that is proactive enough to address the current needs, while preparing for those yet to come. While each person experiences the stages of Alzheimer’s uniquely, there are some commonalities to keep an eye out for, particularly as it relates to changes in the person’s personality, mood, and the behaviors that stem from those changes:

  • Increased agitation, anxiety, and irritability
  • Loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Pacing and wandering
  • Physical and/or verbal aggressiveness
  • Difficulty understanding the world around them
  • Poor hygiene habits
  • Problems with falling or staying asleep, and differing sleep patterns
  • Physical challenges such as problems with vision and/or hearing
  • And many others

These effects may also come and go as the person progresses from one stage to the next, and new challenges then become apparent. And understandably, trying to help someone who’s experiencing such a wide array of emotions and behaviors can quickly become overwhelming for family caregivers.

Try these tips to bring comfort to a loved one with Alzheimer’s, from the Phoenix senior care experts at Nightingale Homecare:

  • Minimize distractions. Often, confusion and frustration are enhanced for someone with dementia when there’s an overload sensory stimulation, such as the TV or radio playing while others in the room are talking.
  • As much as possible, stick to a daily, predictable routine.
  • Avoid open-ended questions, and instead provide choices; for instance, “Would you like chicken or fish for dinner?” is often more effective than, “What would you like for dinner?”
  • Never correct or argue with the individual.
  • Use statements that reflect the person’s feelings rather than the behaviors that have manifested from those feelings: “It looks like you’re feeling angry today,” rather than, “Why are you banging your fist on the table?”

While it’s natural for family caregivers to feel upset or frustrated themselves when a loved one’s feelings are elevated and behaviors are difficult to handle, it’s also vitally important to maintain a sense of calm, even in the face of distress. The senior will pick up on your agitation, often leading to escalated behaviors. Take a step back, breathe deeply, and count to ten before responding to the senior’s needs.

At Nightingale Homecare, our specialized Connections dementia care program helps those with Alzheimer’s by utilizing a unique, creative, and compassionate approach through qualified Alzheimer’s Whisperers® who are extensively trained in effectively managing the difficult behaviors that often accompany dementia.

We begin by providing an in-depth evaluation, and then create a customized strategic plan to fully meet the person’s needs while empowering him or her to maintain the highest level of functionality at all times.

Partnering with an professional Alzheimer’s care company in Phoenix such as Nightingale Homecare helps not just the person with dementia, but his or her family caregivers as well, providing the opportunity for the respite required to maintain a healthy life balance. Contact us at (602) 504-1555 to learn more!