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How to Overcome the Challenges of Bathing with Dementia

senior home care Phoenix

Learn how to overcome the challenges of bathing with dementia.

One of the more common challenges facing those living with dementia is the issue of bathing and personal care. As the top providers of senior home care Phoenix families need, our dementia caregivers are faced with this challenge on a daily basis. Fortunately, there are tactics you can employ that will turn bathing into a less challenging experience for you, and a more comfortable one for your elder loved one.

Bathing is an intimate experience; the person with dementia may experience it as threatening, embarrassing, or painful, and may exhibit behaviors to express those feelings, such as resisting, screaming, and even hitting. The behaviors occur because the person does not clearly understand the purpose of bathing and may react to unpleasant aspects such as lack of modesty, feeling cold or experiencing discomfort.

Resistance to bathing begins in the middle stage of Alzheimer’s disease, when the person has the cognitive capacity of about three years of age. This is important to remember when the person gets upset with bathing. Ask yourself: would a three-year-old get upset with the manner in which I am bathing this person with Alzheimer’s disease? If the answer is yes, then you need to find another strategy!

Effective Dementia Bathing Tips:

  • Do everything you can in advance to make the process easier, such as:
    • Increase the temperature of the room
    • Reduce overhead lighting
    • Make sure bath towels, and if possible, a terry cloth robe are nearby
    • Provide familiar soap (the type and brand the patient has used in the past)
    • Test the temperature of the water
  • Help the person feel in control. Allow the person to decide if he or she prefers a bath vs. a shower, and at what time of day the bath is preferred.
  • Create a safe and pleasing atmosphere. Provide non-slip adhesives on the floor surface and grab bars in the bathtub to prevent falls and provide security. Provide a pleasant, clean aroma and indirect lighting.
  • Respect the person’s dignity. Allow the person to hold a towel in front of the body, both in and out of the shower if desired. This may ease anxiety.
  • Don’t worry about the frequency of bathing. It may not be necessary to bathe every day. Sponge baths can be effective between showers and baths.
  • Be gentle. The person’s skin may be very sensitive, so avoid scrubbing and pat skin dry instead of rubbing.
  • Be flexible. The person may experience the most difficulty when attempting to shower or shampoo the hair. If this is the case, avoid spraying water on the person’s head; use a washcloth to soap and rinse hair, reducing the amount of water on the person’s face.

For more help in easing the challenges of bathing for your loved one with dementia, call on the expert in-home care team at Nightingale Homecare. Our specialized dementia care program, Connections, provides compassionate and creative solutions for some of the more difficult aspects of dementia, including personal hygiene, and we are always available to assist family caregivers to ensure their loved ones receive the highest possible quality care at all times. Call us at (602) 504-1555 to learn more.

The Six Pillars of Alzheimer’s Prevention

Phoenix home care

Learn key factors to minimize the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s disease has truly become an epidemic among seniors, with an estimated 5 million diagnoses currently, and that number expected to soar to 14 million by the year 2060. As researchers scramble for a cure or at least an effective treatment option to slow the progression of the disease, there are steps that we can all take to reduce our risk of developing the disease. Known as the six pillars of Alzheimer’s prevention, these steps include:

  1. Physical activity. Regular, ongoing exercise is beneficial to all of us in a variety of ways, and boosting our defense against Alzheimer’s disease is now another benefit to add to the list. Studies show that remaining physically active can reduce our risk of dementia by as much as 50%. The key is in exercising at least 150 minutes per week at a moderate intensity level, with a combination of strength and cardio activities as well as exercises to improve balance and coordination.
  2. Socialization. Isolation is, unfortunately, often a concern among the elderly. Maintaining social connections can be difficult for older adults who no longer drive or who are experiencing health concerns. Several suggestions for boosting socialization include becoming involved in the local senior center, making a point to visit regularly with neighbors, and volunteering in the community. The caregivers at Nightingale Home Care can help by providing accompanied transportation to outings, classes, activities, and more, as well as serve as a friendly companion to stave off loneliness.
  3. Healthy diet. Maintaining a diet low in sugar, trans fat, and refined carbs, and high in fresh fruits, vegetables and foods containing omega-3 fats (such as salmon and tuna) gives your body the defenses it needs to help prevent the inflammation and insulin resistance that can damage brain cells.
  4. Brain boosters. The jury is still out on the effectiveness of memory games in preventing dementia, but strengthening the brain through learning is shown in some research to have long-lasting effects on cognitive functioning. Any kind of new learning can help: a new language, playing an instrument, even trying to do everyday activities with your non-dominant hand.
  5. Sleep. Recently, sleeping difficulties in seniors have been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s. Strive for 8 hours of sleep per night, by creating a soothing bedtime ritual, limiting caffeine and heavy meals later in the day, and avoiding napping.
  6. Calming activities. Ongoing stress has been shown to impact the area of the brain responsible for memory. Reduce stress through incorporating calming activities into each day: meditation, prayer, deep breathing, yoga, a warm bath, soft music, a good book.

If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, the Phoenix home care experts at Nightingale Home Care are on hand to help with our specialized Connections dementia care program. Our Alzheimer’s care specialists are highly trained and skilled in effective management of the disease, and can create an individualized plan of care to ensure that those with dementia are able to live life to their fullest potential.

Contact us for additional Alzheimer’s care tips and resources, or to schedule a free in-home assessment to learn more by calling (602) 504-1555, or complete our simple online contact form to let us know how we can help, and we’ll be in touch with you as soon as possible.

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.


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.

Don’t Fear, Healthy Brain Tips Are Here

healthy brainThis 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.