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

dtages of Alzheimers

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? 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 the professional Alzheimer’s care team at 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!

Don’t Forget: Memory Loss Causes that Aren’t Alzheimer’s

Phoenix live-in home health care When a senior loved one begins to show signs of memory loss, our first thought might immediately be whether he might be in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease. After all, memory loss is one of the hallmark characteristics of the disease, and it’s becoming increasingly prevalent in our society.

Yet there are a number of conditions unrelated to Alzheimer’s that can cause memory loss as well. It’s important to rule out the following with your loved one’s physician when memory loss issues occur, in addition to checking for Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Delirium: The main difference between delirium and dementia is in the onset of symptoms. With delirium, mental changes such as memory loss and confusion, occur suddenly, while in Alzheimer’s, there’s a slow, gradual progression. If delirium is suspected, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Medication Side Effects: Certain medications can produce dementia-mimicking effects, including memory loss. Check with the doctor if your loved one is taking any of the following:
    • Sedatives
    • Anti-anxiety or anti-depressant meds
    • Antihistamines
    • Corticosteroids
    • Narcotics
    • Cardiovascular meds
    • Medications to treat Parkinson’s disease
  • Thyroid Disorder: Either too much or too little production of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism) can result in cognitive problems.
  • Deficiency in Vitamin B12: Pernicious anemia, while rare, is caused by low levels of B12. Along with confusion and memory problems, other symptoms include fatigue, a yellow tint to the skin, headaches, numbness, shortness of breath, and difficulties with balance. If the physician determines this to be the problem, B12 injections started early can often reverse the symptoms.
  • Alcoholism: A particular condition in those with an alcohol addiction, Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome can lead to confusion and memory deficiencies. Abstaining from alcohol may help to restore mental functionality.

Whatever the cause of your loved one’s memory problems, the Phoenix live-in home health care team at Nightingale Homecare can help. Our Connections Dementia Care Program provides seniors with the expertise of our highly skilled Alzheimer’s Whisperers®, who have been uniquely trained to effectively manage even the most challenging of dementia-related behaviors.

We work hard to ensure that each senior in our care receives the services needed to enable the highest possible level of functionality, dignity, and independence at all times, through a full range of care that can include, as needed, skilled nursing, physical, occupational, and/or speech therapy, companionship and non-medical caregiving, and so much more.

Whether the need is for just a few hours each week of respite care, or full-time, live-in home health care services (or anything in between), families know they can trust Nightingale Homecare for the professional home care services their senior loved ones need to achieve the highest possible quality of life. Serving Phoenix and the surrounding areas, contact us to learn more at (602) 504-1555.

How to Know if You Have Pre-Diabetes & What You Can Do About It

professional Phoenix caregivers If you were at risk for a serious chronic illness like diabetes, chances are you’d know it, right? Turns out, you might not. According to the CDC, one in three Americans has pre-diabetes, and most, 90% in fact, don’t even know it. Because November is National Diabetes Month, our professional Phoenix caregivers want to give you the heads up on how to know if you have pre-diabetes and what you can do about it if you do.

What is pre-diabetes?

Because it often doesn’t present with any symptoms, many people don’t know that pre-diabetes exists or how serious it is to their health. In fact, pre-diabetes frequently goes undetected for years until a person experiences a major health problem caused by elevated blood sugar levels that put the person at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. So, how can you know if you’re at risk for pre-diabetes?

It’s important to talk to your doctor about your risk for pre-diabetes, but certain lifestyle and hereditary factors can increase your risk, including:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Being 45 years or older
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Having a close family member (parent or sibling) with type 2 diabetes
  • A previous diagnosis of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
  • Being of African American, Hispanic/Latino American, Native American, Pacific Islander, and/or Asian American race

What can you do now to prevent diabetes?

If you have pre-diabetes or are at risk for the disease, there is good news. The steps for prevention are basic, healthy lifestyle choices that you can start making now.

Step 1: Start exercising. A simple thirty minutes a day, five times a week of brisk walking or a similar activity is recommended to help increase your physical activity.

Step 2: Reduce your weight if you are overweight. A modest weight loss of five to seven percent can make a significant difference.

Step 3: Eat better and smarter to help lower blood sugar. Eat a variety of foods—particularly whole grains and fruits and vegetables, limit serving sizes so you don’t overeat and eat regular meals and small snacks.

Step 4: Find support. Making lifestyle changes to support your health, while important, can often feel daunting, so it’s vital to find support to help keep you on the healthy path. Nightingale’s professional Phoenix caregivers can help support your healthy lifestyle changes by shopping for and preparing nutritious meals that meet your unique dietary needs and encouraging and supporting you in exercise programs recommended by your doctor.

Additionally, our Pathlink Chronic Disease Management program is known for improving outcomes and decreasing re-hospitalizations for patients with a wide variety of chronic conditions, including diabetes, through improved health literacy, self-management skills, and more.

If you or a loved one has pre-diabetes, our dedicated Phoenix caregivers can help. Call us at (602) 504-1555, or contact us online to let us know how we can help, and we’ll be in touch with you as soon as possible.

What Happens When a Caregiver Has a Chronic Illness?

caregivers Phoenix

Learn how to care for the caregiver with chronic illness.

Chronic illness has become a major issue in the U.S. in recent years. According to the National Health Council, approximately 133 million Americans, representing more than 40% of the total population of the country, are currently affected by chronic disease, and that number is expected to grow to an estimated 157 million Americans by 2020. When it comes to caregiving, we’re often concerned with how to care for seniors who are living with chronic conditions, like diabetes, COPD, dementia, etc., but what happens when it’s the person providing the care who has the chronic illness?

Caring for a loved one is demanding and stressful, but can be even more challenging when the family caregiver has a chronic illness too. Chronic conditions like diabetes and COPD are also stressful and demanding in their own right, and family caregivers who are living will these types of conditions need to take extra measures to ensure they are caring for themselves.

The following are ways in which caregivers with chronic diseases can keep up with their loved ones’ care and their own health:

  • Practice self-care. The stress of caregiving coupled with the stress of caring for a chronic illness can take a big toll on a family caregiver’s mental, emotional, and physical health. Practicing self-care is incredibly important for caregivers with chronic illness as it helps them relax and regain balance. Small things like taking a hot bath, meditating, taking a yoga class, or sitting down for coffee with close friends can help caregivers relieve stress and feel refreshed.
  • Keep up with doctors’ appointments. Just as a caregiver strives to ensure his senior loved one is going to her doctors’ appointments, the same needs to happen for the family caregiver, especially if he suffers from a chronic illness. Keeping up with doctors’ appointments and taking prescribed medications on time and correctly are essential for the caregiver’s health and wellbeing.
  • Have a backup plan. As a senior’s care needs progress, so do the demands of the family caregiver. For example, a senior who falls and injures herself may now need lifting and transferring assistance, which can be difficult, if not impossible, for a family caregiver with rheumatoid arthritis. It’s important to have a backup care plan for the progressing care needs of your loved one, and for the times when you as the caregiver need to take a break for your own health needs. Respite care services, like those offered by Nightingale’s caregivers in Phoenix and surrounding areas, can help family caregivers take time off to care for themselves while ensuring their loved ones get the care and attention they need.

While caregivers are amazing people, they aren’t super human, and it’s vital to ensure they keep their own care needs in check as well as their senior loved ones’. If you’re caring for a senior loved one and could use a helping hand, contact Nightingale Homecare’s professional caregivers in Phoenix and surrounding areas to learn how we can be there for you.

Ensure Senior Safety and Comfort at Home with These Tips

Phoenix live-in home health care When asked, most senior adults agree that they would prefer to age in their own homes and maintain as much independence as possible. And yet, most homes are not equipped to meet the needs of an older adult, leaving many unsafe. Unsafe homes lead to accidents or falls, resulting in over 2.3 million accidents involving seniors in their homes per year! Nearly one third of the senior population falls each year, with more than 70% of those occurring in their own home.

With Nightingale Homecare as your partner for Scottsdale senior home care services, your nurse or therapist will help identify potential hazards and make recommendations to keep you safe in your home. Therapists will also provide treatments and exercises to reduce fall risk by focusing on strengthening, balance, ambulation training with or without an assistive device, and energy conservation. Training to help keep you safe while getting ready for the day by bathing and dressing is also a priority.

Here are some genera tips your therapist or nurse will review with you to help ensure senior safety:

  • Keep all your pathways clear of clutter and pets.
  • Install smoke detectors.
  • Keep emergency numbers within reach of your telephone.
  • Keep fire extinguishers serviced and throughout your home.
  • Use medications safety.
  • Make sure that loose cords, such as telephone wires, are tucked under furniture and out of the way.
  • Rearrange furniture to keep walkways clear.
  • Remove all throw rugs or secure tightly to the floor and ensure there are no edges that could be a tripping hazard.
  • Check all furniture for stability and ensure unsteady furniture is removed or repaired.
  • Don’t walk over or around cords or wires.
  • Avoid the use of extension cords and don’t place them over walkways.
  • Lift up feet when walking and walk with proper equipment as prescribed (cane, walker, crutches, gait belt).
  • Install automatic nightlights that turn on when the room is dark so that pathways are lit if you get up in the night.
  • Make sure to use chemicals according to the directions on the package, and make sure that the containers are properly sealed when not in use. Drain cleaners, bleaches and strong acids can be dangerous if mixed, causing explosions or dangerous gasses.

At Nightingale Homecare, it’s our goal to help seniors achieve their desire to remain in the comfort of home through a full range of Scottsdale senior home care services. We’re always happy to provide a home safety assessment to make recommendations on how to reduce the risk of falls and other accidents. Additionally, our Paces Fall Prevention Program incorporates the expertise of our professional therapists, dietitians, social workers, home health aides and others to provide a well-rounded fall prevention plan that can be implemented to enhance safety even further.

Make home the safe haven it’s intended to be with a little help from your care partners at Nightingale Homecare! Contact us any time at (602) 504-1555 to learn more about our home care services in Scottsdale and the surrounding communities!