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Tips for Dementia Caregivers: Overcoming Bathing Anxiety

Tips for Dementia Caregivers

Nightingale Homecare has gathered these tips for dementia caregivers in order to reduce bathing anxiety.

As any family caregiver to a loved one with dementia knows, regular bathing can be a struggle. The person with Alzheimer’s could regard bathing as scary, uncomfortable, or embarrassing, and therefore physically or verbally protest when it comes time to bathe. These protests can escalate until they become dangerous or upsetting to either the caregiver or the loved one receiving care. Luckily, there are a few tips for dementia caregivers that can make bathing a whole lot easier, and even pleasant.

Take some time to prepare the bathroom in advance. Whether the senior simply needs a reminder to bathe or assistance with the entire process, a little preparation goes a long way. Adjust the room temperature until it’s comfortable for an unclothed person, then lay out soap, shampoo, a shower stool, and large towels to provide plenty of privacy and warmth. A washcloth is particularly useful to cover the senior’s eyes to prevent stinging from soap or shampoo. And don’t forget to check the water temperature frequently; someone with dementia may have difficulty telling when the tub or shower has gotten too hot or too cold.

While every individual will prefer a different bathing routine, here’s a sample routine you can try and then modify to meet a loved one’s needs:

  • Give the individual living with dementia options. Ask if she or he wants to bathe now or in a half hour, or let your loved one choose between a shower or a bath.
  • If the senior opts for a bath, fill the tub with a few inches of warm water to let him or her test the water out with a hand or foot. If the senior complies, fill the tub all the way up once he or she is safely seated.
  • Encourage the individual to take an active role in the bathing process. Let the senior hold a sponge or a bottle of shampoo, and encourage him or her to participate in the bathing process as much as his or her abilities will allow.
  • If the senior is afraid of bathing or feeling embarrassed, consider bringing a trusted friend or family member of his or her same gender into the room. If the senior becomes agitated, try a soothing activity like listening to music or singing a song together.
  • Prioritize privacy, comfort, and dignity. Always offer your loved one a towel for warmth and for covering up during the bathing process.

There are a few other tips for dementia caregivers that might make bath time with a loved one easier. To prevent confusion, try bathing at the same time every day. Use simple verbal cues and gestures to guide the senior through the bathing process, and step in to help as needed. If bathing every day is simply not realistic, try bathing one part of the body each day, or give the individual a sponge bath when a full bath isn’t feasible.

After-bath care is just as important as bathing. Be sure to check for rashes and sores, and make sure the senior is completely patted dry. Try drying between the toes with cotton swabs, and gently apply lotion all over the body. You may also try using cornstarch or baby powder under the breasts and between folds of skin to prevent chafing.

For additional tips on caring for a loved one with dementia and to learn about the benefits of partnering with an in-home caregiver who can take the stress out of bathing, reach out to Nightingale Homecare . We offer a free in-home consultation so that families can learn more about why we’re one of the premier caregiver agencies in Phoenix AZ. Simply contact us online  or give us a call on the phone at (602) 504-1555.  For a full list of all of the communities where we provide care, please visit our Service Area page.

Sundowning and Sleep Challenges in Alzheimer’s

Sundowning

Overcome common sleep challenges such as sundowning in Alzheimer’s with these tips.

After a busy day providing care for someone you love with dementia, a good night’s sleep is essential to recharge and prepare for the next day. This is easier said than done in many cases, however. Sundowning and changes to sleeping patterns are common in Alzheimer’s, and often the overnight hours are the most wakeful – and can be fraught with challenging emotions and behaviors, too.

Our experts in dementia home care assistance in Peoria, AZ and the surrounding areas are here to help you understand why these changes occur, and what you can do to help.

What Is Sundowning?

Simply put, sundowning is a state of enhanced agitation, confusion, and anxiety that sets in as the sun goes down and can last throughout the night. Sundowning is one of the most difficult challenges for family caregivers, who are exhausted at the end of the day. Rather than being able to relax and unwind, there’s an increased and immediate need for patience, creativity, and calming techniques.

Even if sundowning isn’t a factor, the circadian clock in those with dementia is often upset, causing the person to feel wide awake overnight and wanting to sleep throughout the day.

Although the cause for sundowning and other sleep changes isn’t fully understood, there are some contributing factors that can make the situation worse:

  • Problems distinguishing dreams from reality, which enhances disorientation
  • Shadows that can distort the senior’s visual perception and cause fear and agitation
  • Physical and/or mental exhaustion
  • A family caregiver’s own stress and agitation, which can exacerbate the senior’s own feelings and reactions

How to Prevent Sleep Difficulties

It’s often more effective to take proactive measures to try to prevent sleep challenges from occurring than to manage them in the middle of the night. Try:

  • Helping the senior stay active throughout the day
  • Limiting naps, especially later in the day
  • Sticking as closely as possible to a predictable routine of meals, activities, and bedtime
  • Spending time outside with the senior for fresh air and sunshine when weather permits
  • Preparing a larger meal at lunchtime and a lighter meal for dinner, avoiding caffeine and alcohol
  • Minimizing distractions and stimulation during the early evening, such as by turning off the TV and providing quiet, calming activities
  • Closing the curtains before sunset and keeping the home brightly lit

It’s also a good idea to talk to the senior’s doctor for recommendations.

What to Do When Sundowning Occurs

In the midst of sundowning, it’s very important to remain calm yourself. Use a quiet, soothing voice and try to see if there’s an underlying issue that you can help resolve, such as hunger, thirst, or the need to use the bathroom. If all of the senior’s physical needs are met, reassure him or her that everything is ok, and that it’s time for bed – but never argue with the person or use physical restraints. Pacing is common in sundowning, and perfectly acceptable within a safe area.

At Nightingale Homecare, we’re always on hand to “take the night shift” and help a senior with sundowning issues to stay engaged and safe throughout the night, so you can get the rest you need. Contact us to learn more about our Connections dementia care program and to schedule a free in-home consultation to see how we can help with the particular challenges your loved one is facing.

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 related personality changes?

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 dementia related personality 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 Phoenix care at home and care in the 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.

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 Phoenix area in home care services or care for the surrounding areas, 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.