How to Manage Rummaging Behaviors for Seniors with Dementia

Forgetful Senior Man With Dementia Looking In Cupboard At HomeDigging through boxes, cabinets, and closets, pulling out odds and ends from drawers, and sorting repetitively through a variety of items can be frustrating for those providing care for a loved one with dementia, but actually these behaviors are fulfilling a purpose. Rummaging can provide a measure of comfort for those with dementia, with the reassurance of recognizing familiar objects and finding purpose and meaning.

The key then is not to discourage rummaging, which can cause agitation, but to better manage this behavior if it becomes disruptive. These tips can help:

  • Keep rummaging to a controlled area. Put together boxes of items the senior seems particularly drawn to, such as keys, paperwork, a wallet, tools, gardening equipment, sewing implements, sports memorabilia, etc. When your loved one begins to rummage in other areas, pull out one of the boxes and direct his or her attention there.
  • Create an activity centered on rummaging behaviors. Let the senior know you could really use his or her help with a particular activity that utilizes these behaviors, such as folding towels or socks, sorting nuts/bolts in a toolbox, or placing paperwork into folders.
  • Find other stimulating activities to alleviate boredom. Rummaging may be the result of feelings of restlessness, loneliness, or boredom. Experiment with different activities you can suggest and do together with the senior, such as arts and crafts, puzzles, taking a walk, listening to music, etc.
  • Keep valuables out of reach. Knowing that your loved one has the propensity to rummage, be sure that any important documents, jewelry, keys, credit cards, etc. are all stored securely away. It’s also a good idea to tuck away the mail when it arrives, to ensure bills and other items aren’t getting tossed or misplaced.
  • Step up safety precautions. Now is a good time to assess how dangerous items are that are stored in the home could be to your loved one, such as sharp knives, cleaning products, even certain types of foods such as raw meat that the senior may accidentally mistake for another food product and ingest. Keep all items that may cause the senior harm in secure locations, preferably locked away.

Generations at Home can help with the professional in-home care services that provide companionship and engagement in creative, enjoyable, and fulfilling activities for those with dementia that lead to fewer challenging behaviors. Contact us at 727-940-3414 for additional dementia care resources or to schedule an in-home assessment to learn more about our services.

A New Disease That Mimics Alzheimer’s: LATE

An individual who exhibits memory loss, confusion, poor judgment, repetition, and challenges with performing daily activities has the telltale symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, right? As a matter of fact, what seems to be an obvious case of Alzheimer’s may in fact be a recently discovered dementia.

Known as LATE, or limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy, this condition presents with almost the same symptoms, but the root cause is another story. Rather than the buildup of amyloid plaques and tangles inherent in Alzheimer’s, LATE is distinguished by deposits of TDP-43 protein, as reported by Dr. Julie Schneider, associate director for the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

And TDP-43 protein troubles are in fact quite common in elderly people, with as many as one out of four older people over age 85 affected enough to cause obvious cognitive and/or memory problems. Nevertheless, it remains an under-diagnosed condition, which could lead to misdiagnoses, and consequently, inappropriate treatment plans.

The most up-to-date recommendations call for those who have been diagnosed with LATE to be removed from Alzheimer’s medication research, focusing research alternatively on establishing biomarkers to better detect LATE, to locate therapeutic intervention methods, and to increase testing to include a broader array of diverse populations, in an effort to increase both prevention and treatment.

Understanding the differences between both types of dementia is paramount to the best treatment, and per Dr. James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, “This evidence may also go some way to help us understand why some recent clinical trials testing for Alzheimer’s disease have failed – participants may have had slightly different brain diseases.”

Key aspects of LATE include:

  • Generally affecting older adults over age 80
  • A slower progression than Alzheimer’s
  • Typically only affects memory
  • May be accompanied by Alzheimer’s disease, which leads to a far more rapid decline

Whether Alzheimer’s disease, LATE, or some other form of dementia, Generations at Home offers the highly customized, skilled and creative caregiving that can help seniors live the highest possible quality of life where it is most comfortable: at home. Our care aides are thoroughly trained and experienced in helping those with dementia, along with helping family caregivers, to more fully manage the varying challenges experienced in each stage.

Call us any time at 727-940-3414 to inquire about further dementia care resources, find answers to the questions you have, or to schedule an in-home consultation to learn more about how we can help a family member you love with dementia.

How One Woman Uses Her Sense of Smell to Diagnose Parkinson’s Disease

You may not recognize her by name, but you’ve probably heard her story. Joy Milne has an exceptionally unique talent: recognizing Parkinson’s disease by using her nose. Her gift came to light when she detected what she details as an “overpowering sort of nasty yeast smell” in her husband of ten years. Subsequently observing other differences in her husband, in particular personality and mood shifts, he ultimately went to the doctor for medical help, and was given a diagnosis of Parkinson’s.

Upon walking into a Parkinson’s support group meeting, that identical scent permeated the room – although evidently only Joy was able to notice it. Actually, she was even able to pick up on varying levels of the odor – some whose odor was faint, while for other people, it was much stronger. With both her own and her husband’s medical backgrounds (she a nurse and he a physician), this finding was definitely meaningful and required further action.

Her story led her to assist Tilo Kunath, a Parkinson’s disease researcher at the University of Edinburgh, with the aim of developing a tool to offer earlier detection – and ultimately, treatment – of Parkinson’s.

While initially skeptical of the probability of Parkinson’s being found through odor, he was open to additional exploration after finding out about the success dogs were having in identifying the odor of cancer in individuals. He then designed a way to assess her skills, by giving her a random assortment of t-shirts – half which had been worn by someone clinically determined to have Parkinson’s, and the other half by those without the disease – and, her accuracy rate was astonishing. As a matter of fact, she missed the mark on only one of the t-shirts, worn by someone without Parkinson’s, but who in fact was later identified as having the disease as well.

Kunath explains, “Imagine a society where you could detect such a devastating condition before it’s causing problems and then prevent the problems from even occurring.” Dr. Thomas Hummel of the Technical University of Dresden’s Smell & Taste Clinic, said that while the idea is interesting, there are still an assortment of questions to first sort out.

Parkinson’s disease, in addition to a variety of other chronic health issues, can be more effectively managed with the help of an in-home care provider like Generations at Home. Call us at 727-940-3414 for additional information.

Get Better Results by Using Journaling in Dementia Caregiving

Portrait of middle-aged lovely womanIn St. Petersburg, FL, being a dementia caregiver for someone you love is a fluid, ever-evolving undertaking. One day may be calm and peaceful, with your family member enjoying activities, eating healthy meals, and sharing laughter with you; while the next day could be fraught with agitation, anxiety, and sullenness. What will today bring?

Identifying how to best manage the difficult behaviors as well as ensure life is as enjoyable and comfortable as it can be for an individual with dementia can be made easier through a simple tool: journaling. Here’s how you can implement it in your daily caregiving routine, and how to utilize your journal to enhance quality of life for a senior in your life:

  • Monitor symptoms and caregiving needs on a daily basis. Your notes don’t have to be lengthy, but record any difficulties that occur, particularly time of day and what could have initiated the issues. Additionally, include tasks the individual was able to accomplish independently, together with the ones that were challenging. At the conclusion of every week, look back over the behaviors to determine if a pattern can be noticed – such as heightened agitation before meals or bedtime.
  • Track eating habits. Note which foods are most appealing to your senior loved one, which are least difficult for him or her to self-feed, exactly how many meals/snacks are being eaten as well as what times throughout the day, etc. Make sure to record beverages, to guarantee the older adult is taking in sufficient quantities of water to remain hydrated. In going over your notes, you could find that six smaller meals through the course of the day are better for your senior loved one than three larger ones, for instance.
  • Track safety concerns. Maintaining safety is a top priority in dementia care, with a variety of dangers that can result from wandering, dizziness/balance problems, hallucinations, and misunderstanding what common items are used for, such as thinking a household cleaner could possibly be a sports drink. Securing dangerous items or putting them in out-of-reach places is essential, and keeping a list of changes made to the house environment for safety’s sake can be extremely helpful to alert other loved ones to potential risks.

It is also a good idea to bring your journal with you to your loved one’s medical appointments, and bring any concerns documented to the doctor’s attention. This enables you to be completely prepared prior to appointments with concerns you want to get addressed, making the most of the limited time available to consult with doctors.

Make contact with our highly skilled and knowledgeable St. Petersburg, FL dementia care experts to get more tips along with specialized in-home care that increases safety while maximizing independence, purpose, and meaning – making every day the very best it can be for a person with dementia.

Best Ways to Manage Incontinence with Dementia

senior woman drinking orange juice in a seat at homeDementia care requires both empathy and creativity to manage a range of complicated behaviors and effects, and that is particularly true in relation to incontinence, something that is quite frequent in Alzheimer’s along with other forms of dementia. These tried-and-true strategies are usually successful in decreasing the effect of incontinence and reducing an escalation of emotions in someone you love with Alzheimer’s.

  1. Pick your words very carefully. As opposed to describing incontinence products as “diapers,” for instance, call them “briefs” or “pull-up underwear.” Nevertheless, take the cue from your loved one; if she or he chooses to make use of the expression “diapers” and appears to be confident with that, then follow along.
  2. Clear away regular underwear from the senior’s dresser. To avoid misunderstandings or opposition to wearing incontinence products, make certain that those are the sole option in his or her wardrobe.
  3. Try a variety of products. With different brands, sizes, and absorbency levels available, it might take some trial and error to come across one that is most comfortable and effective.
  4. Use backup products overnight. To help stop the older adult from waking up during the night from incontinence-related issues, try placing booster pads inside the absorbent underwear, and use products marked for heaviest coverage. Waterproof mattress protectors and disposable bed pads are also extremely helpful.
  5. Ensure easy access to the bathroom. Conduct a walk-through of the areas the older adult spends time in to evaluate how straightforward it is for him or her to get to the bathroom. Specifically, get rid of any clutter, cords, or throw rugs in the person’s walking path to protect against falls.
  6. If an accident does occur… Maintain a calm demeanor so as not to offend (or further upset) the senior loved one, and say something like, “It looks like something may have spilled on your pants; let’s get you some clean clothes,” or “It appears as if your pants are wet; that happens every now and then.”
  7. Address reluctance to keep products on. For seniors who frequently try to remove incontinence products, first see if you can discover the particular reason why. If discomfort is a factor, try different types of products for one that might be more comfortable. Or your loved one might be trying to change if there’s a feeling of wetness.

In all cases, watch the senior’s skin for indications of rash or irritation, and contact her or his medical professional if observed.

For more incontinence care tips, or to learn more about Generations at Home’s reliable, professional Alzheimer’s disease care, contact us at 727-940-3414.

Help Calm Agitation for a Senior with Alzheimer’s Disease with These 5 Steps

happy senior woman with dogAgitation is among the more difficult results of dementia, and can be exceedingly complex for family members to handle. The key is in taking steps to address agitation before it’s felt and conveyed by the older adult, which involves keeping an eye on what has initiated these feelings in the past, and establishing a home environment in which those triggers are removed or minimized. The following tips can help:

  1. Designate an area of retreat. When life begins to get overwhelming, having a specially created area for the senior to go to de-stress often works wonders in restoring calm. This can be a designated room, or merely a comfortable corner with numerous calming activities readily available, quiet music, a relaxing scent to enjoy like lavender or vanilla – whatever delivers peace and relaxation for the older adult.
  2. Evaluate the home for upsetting items. Look closely at exactly what your senior loved one is easily agitated by, such as specific decorations, mirrors (that could give the illusion of somebody else watching), window coverings that may not sufficiently filter out the darkening evening sky (prompting sundowning issues), etc.
  3. Minimize noise along with other distractions. Soft carpeting is frequently more soothing for those with dementia than harder floor materials that could reverberate or accentuate the noise of footsteps. Keep the television or radio at a reasonable volume, and set to a station that plays soft music as opposed to alarming, graphic news presentations. Close windows if outside noises seem to trigger discomfort.
  4. Change lighting. Make sure that each room the senior may enter is well lit, with natural light whenever feasible, or higher wattage lightbulbs, very carefully adjusting to remove any abnormal shapes or shadows created by the light.
  5. Keep commonly used items easily accessible. Whatever the older adult has a tendency to want to utilize or hold regularly ought to be put into a prominent location where he or she can find it quickly. Placing labels with words or pictures of what the senior may want to locate in cabinets or the refrigerator is also a great way to help prevent aggravation.

Let Generations at Home’s experienced dementia caregivers help preserve the most calming and peaceful environment for a senior you love, and provide the skilled, innovative, compassionate care that makes life the very best it can be. Some of the many ways we are able to improve life for those with dementia include:

  • Specifically created activities based on a senior’s particular interests and abilities
  • Companionship in order to help seniors stay socially engaged
  • Evening respite care, allowing family caregivers the chance for a restful night when a cherished older adult is challenged by sundowning
  • And a lot more

Give us a call at 727-940-3414 to ask about an in-home consultation and learn more about our top-quality dementia care for seniors today!

How to Help when Dementia Affects Vision

Pondering manThe intricate steps necessary to enable us to see are mind-boggling. In the blink of an eye, our brains are able to take transmitted details of the world around us, interpret that information based on input from other senses, memories, and thoughts, and then create a perception of that information for making us aware of what we’re seeing.

It’s no surprise that those with Alzheimer’s disease can suffer from visual deficits and misperceptions, especially in the aspects of:

  • Depth and/or color perception
  • Contrast
  • Motion recognition
  • Peripheral vision

Furthermore, individuals diagnosed with dementia can often suffer from a distorted sense of reality in the form of illusions. As an example, an individual with dementia might see a shadow on the ground, and mistake it for something harmless, such as the family dog, or a threat, such as an intruder – which may pose quite a challenge for family members. Some other examples of visual misperceptions in dementia can consist of:

  • Misjudging reflections in glass or mirrors for another person. This could easily lead to distress in thinking another person is present, or thinking that a bathroom mirror reflection means the bathroom is already Believing that images on television are real and taking place in the room.
  • Difficulty with sitting in a chair or on the toilet, fearing a fall.
  • Stress in overstimulating surroundings that cause confusion.
  • Reaching for objects that are not there, or missing the mark in trying to grab an item.
  • Issues with self-feeding and drinking.

Here are some ways to help:

  • Maintain sufficient lighting through the entire residence, and take away any particular items which cause anxiety or visual confusion if possible.
  • Use contrasting colors whenever feasible, for example, serving dark-colored soup in a light-colored bowl, or a fried egg on a brown plate. If at all possible, carry this notion through to home furnishings, with darker furniture on a light carpet, and different paint colors on trim vs. walls.
  • Close blinds or curtains both in the evenings and anytime the sun causes a glare.
  • Take advantage of adaptive tools such as remote controls and phones with large buttons to provide the senior loved one with sufficient opportunities for independence.
  • Ensure your loved one has ongoing access to eye care, and notify the eye doctor about the older adult’s dementia diagnosis.

Our professional dementia care team in St. Petersburg, FL can help implement these strategies and so much more to reduce the effects of vision problems. Call us at 727-940-3414 for more information.

Why Laughter May Be the Best Medicine in Dementia Care

two happy elderly women spending time with each other at homeProviding dementia care for a person you love is certainly not something to laugh about. Yet scientific studies are frequently pointing towards the benefits of laughter, and incorporating it into dementia care may be just what the doctor ordered to enhance quality of life for your loved one.

For example, an Australian study just recently revealed that humor therapy can aid in eliminating agitation in people who have dementia as successfully as antipsychotic medications, with no unwanted side effects. Shared laughter connects us, and helps people who have cognitive difficulties to feel accepted, safe, and at ease. As stated by Lori La Bey, founder of Alzheimer’s Speaks, “When anyone is sick or having a hard time, they still like to laugh. I spend a lot of time teaching people that feelings don’t go away, and it’s okay to get back to that zone.”

Laughter also produces endorphins, which suppress stress hormones, and can even improve blood pressure and minimize pain for aging parents – all of which make it well worth adding to your dementia care regimen, either by enrolling in a laughter yoga class together with your loved one (which incorporates clapping, singing, silly poses, and of course, laughter) or simply implementing ideas including these in your own home:

  • Add some lightheartedness and silliness randomly through the day. Sing goofy songs, dance around the house, tell simple jokes, and develop an environment of happiness for the senior.
  • Recognize that what works today might not work tomorrow – and sometimes even an hour from now. Evaluate your loved one’s responses, and if anything seems to boost anxiety, shelve the idea and attempt again at a later date.
  • Remove arguing and correcting from conversations with the older adult. A straightforward “yes” and redirection to a different subject or activity goes a long way in preempting negativity.
  • Emphasize to yourself that it is completely acceptable to be joyful. Laughter and dementia don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Let Generations at Home help brighten life for a cherished older adult with dementia! Each one of our specialized dementia caregivers is completely trained and experienced in numerous creative, effective care techniques. Older adults achieve the added benefit of improved socialization, coupled with necessary respite from care duties for family members, making a partnership with a Generations at Home caregiver a win-win!

Researchers Are Taking a Second Look at This Promising Alzheimer’s Treatment

people looking in brainAfter sixteen long years without having any truly viable treatment options for Alzheimer’s, there is some hope on the horizon, in a stunning reversal regarding the previously-rejected antibody therapy, aducanumab. The most recent research shows that large quantities of the medication do, actually, lessen cognitive decline at the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s.

As stated by Rebecca Edelmayer, director of scientific engagement at the Alzheimer’s Association, “It could be a game-changer for the field. It could be one of the first disease-modifying therapies approved for Alzheimer’s disease.”

Biogen, the maker of aducanumab, has discovered noticeable benefits for dementia patients in a number of areas: activities of daily living, memory, language, and orientation. Biogen stated its plans to pursue regulatory approval in the United States, with a long range aim of releasing the medication internationally.

With a forecasted request for approval by the FDA as soon as early 2020, the medication is slated to potentially become the first treatment method to actually reduce the clinical decline of Alzheimer’s. Likewise, it will open doors to other treatment options that impact amyloid beta plaques, connecting other trials that target the immune system, inflammation, blood vessels, and synaptic cell health. As discovering the most effective treatment of the disease is a challenging endeavor, it’s expected that a mixture of these treatments will be essential, according to Edelmayer.

The next challenge? Convincing the FDA to approve the medication after earlier failed trials. If approved, aducanumab will first be provided to individuals who had signed up for previous clinical trials, and hopefully, soon offered to other individuals dealing with the problems of Alzheimer’s as well.

For the nearly six million senior Americans battling Alzheimer’s (and that figure is expected to more than double in the next 30 years), and the loved ones who take care of them, these current findings could very well be life-changing, as there are currently only minimally effective symptom-management medications available. Even as we wait for a cure, we at Generations at Home are ready to help dementia patients through highly skilled, trained, and qualified caregivers who utilize creative, therapeutic approaches that focus on each person’s distinct strengths and making sure that each individual is living to the fullest.

For more information regarding highly effective Alzheimer’s care that helps strengthen quality of life in the comfort of home, reach out to the dementia care professionals at Generations at Home at 727-940-3414 and ask for an in-home assessment or additional useful resources.

Why Nonverbal Communication for Alzheimer’s Patients is Often Better Than Words

Senior woman spending quality time with her daughter

When communicating with a loved one with Alzheimer’s, it is helpful to use a range of nonverbal communication methods.

Connecting with a cherished older adult struggling with Alzheimer’s, especially in the middle and later stages, is often discouraging – both for you and also for your loved one. Brain changes affect the ability to listen, process, and respond appropriately to conversations, and it’s up to us to put into action new methods of communicating to more effectively interact with a senior loved one with dementia.

What’s promising is, it is easier than it may look. We already communicate nonverbally in a variety of ways:

  • Physical contact
  • Posture and body movement
  • Eye contact
  • Facial expressions
  • Gestures
  • Personal space

Take a look at these techniques to include nonverbal communication in your interactions with a senior loved one:

  • Offer support through caring touch. If your family member is comfortable with touch, hold and pat the senior’s hand, rub the senior’s back, place an arm around his or her shoulders, and share warm hugs.
  • Look the person in the eye. Eye contact expresses interest in the senior, even when no words are spoken.
  • Recognize personal boundaries. Refrain from overwhelming the person by allowing adequate personal space, and making sure you are at the same level as the person, never towering over the senior. Your face should be at eye level.
  • Always keep a relaxed, patient and confident attitude. Quash any anger, annoyance or impatience, and focus on maintaining a peaceful and pleasant look on your face when communicating with your loved one. If this proves to be problematic because of challenging behaviors, step away briefly and practice deep breathing or other relaxation strategies, such as:
    • Square breathing: Use a finger to draw the shape of a square in front of you. When tracing the first side, breathe in deeply for a count of three; for the next side, hold your breath for one second; for the third side, breathe out for a count of three; and for the fourth side, hold your breath for one second. Do it again as necessary.
    • Relaxing phrase repetition: A couple of examples to get you started: This will pass, and everything is ok. I can handle this. I am secure and well.
    • Distracted thinking: Practice concentrated refocusing. Try saying the alphabet backwards, stating as many state capitals as you can, or singing the words to a popular song.

Learn more creative methods of effective Alzheimer’s care by getting in touch with Generations at Home. Our care providers are specially trained in the most current Alzheimer’s care techniques, and we’re always available to assist a family member with dementia to remain safe and calm, and to enjoy life to his/her greatest possible potential. Reach out to us at 727-940-3414 at any time for assistance.