Promising Alzheimer’s Vaccine on the Rise

If 2021 will be recalled as the year for COVID-19 vaccines, perhaps 2022 will be marked with a different type of life-changing vaccine: one which may actually slow or prevent the further advancement of Alzheimer’s disease. 

The first human trial of Protollin, delivered by way of nasal spray, is underway in 16 seniors with-early stage Alzheimer’s symptoms and who are between the ages of 60 and 85 years old. The predicted outcome will be to activate immune cells which will eliminate the beta-amyloid plaque thought to cause the disease.

Arriving on the heels of controversial results of Biogen’s Aduhelm, the first new approved drug for Alzheimer’s in decades, the stakes are high. Aduhelm is an antibody infusion that at first appeared to fail in its goal of improving memory and cognition functioning, leading Biogen to discontinue clinical trials. Yet several months later, there did seem to be a beneficial impact in a small group of participants, leading the FDA to approve its use – even though the outcomes are not definitively clear.

Identifying an effective preventative or treatment option is vitally important. The most current statistics show approximately 6 million Americans currently diagnosed with the disease. It is also among the leading causes of death in adults within the U.S., with a steep incline in mortality rate of 88% between 1999 and 2019. And that statistic may only be scratching the surface, as it represents only those clinically diagnosed. We know that those with cognitive impairment may struggle with receiving the correct diagnosis, and they often are challenged by other health issues as well.

Scientists are hopeful that Protollin, along with Aduhelm and other antibody drugs undergoing study, is positioning us on a promising path forward. Jeffrey Cummings, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas brain-science professor, goes as far as to say, “It just feels like we have turned a corner.” 

Our elder care experts are helping older adults with Alzheimer’s each day, and we excitedly look forward to a point in the future when the disease is defeated. Until then, we’re here for your needs with personalized, creative care in order to make life the very best it can be for those diagnosed with dementia. 

It’s vitally important for loved ones caring for a person with dementia to protect their own health by ensuring ample time for self-care. Our dementia care team can help you set up a schedule for regular time away – just as much or as little as you wish. We are skilled in effective management of many difficult effects of the disease, including wandering, aggression, agitation, sundowning, and many others.

Reach out to us at any time at 727-940-3414 for a free assessment to learn more. 

Learn How to Respond Safely to Aggression Caused by Dementia

adult-son-talking-to-senior-father-with-dementiaOf the many challenging behaviors typical in Alzheimer’s, possibly the most challenging to manage is aggression. An older adult who may have always been mild-mannered can unexpectedly lash out in outbursts which are truly intimidating: hitting, cursing, kicking, yelling, biting, or throwing things. How can you, as a family care provider, safely diffuse aggression caused by dementia and help reestablish a feeling of calm?

To begin with, remind yourself that the aggression is caused by the disease. It’s not something the individual can control, and it is not intentional. With that being said, it needs to be diffused to keep both you and the senior loved one protected from harm.

The 6 R’s of Managing Difficult Behavior,” developed by Dr. Peter Rabins and Nancy Mace in their book The 36-Hour Day, could be an effective way to help. Read through and refer back to them so you are equipped for the next burst of aggression.

The 6 R’s

  • Restrict. Maintain a calm demeanor and tone of voice as you strive to help the individual disengage from the behavior.
  • Reassess. Consider what could have provoked the incident. Causes may include physical pain, an excessive amount of noise or other distractions in the room, hunger, thirst, fatigue, etc. Keeping a journal of what was occurring before and during each incident can help provide clues.
  • Reconsider. Empathize with the senior loved one by picturing yourself dealing with a disease that impedes your ability to clearly convey your wishes and needs, to accomplish tasks independently which were once very easy, to feel disoriented and confused, etc.
  • Rechannel. Redirect the older adult to an activity the senior enjoys, or relocate to an alternative environment, such as stepping out onto the front porch or going into the dining area together for a snack.
  • Reassure. Let the senior know that everything is ok and that you are there. In the event that the person responds favorably to touch, place your hand on their shoulder, offer a pat on the back or hug, or take their hand in yours.
  • Review. Make note in your journal what went well – or what didn’t – to assist in utilizing the most effective response when the aggression arises again.

Understanding that aggression may occur at any time in someone with dementia, it’s helpful to assess the home environment and make a plan to make certain it really is as comfortable and calming as possible, such as:

  • Playing relaxing music the older adult enjoys in the background.
  • Placing familiar, comforting objects within quick access.
  • Staying clear of movies that may display violence or other disturbing images.
  • Opening the blinds in the day to allow an abundance of natural light to stream in.

Generations at Home is here for you as well with specially trained dementia caregivers who understand the nuances associated with the disease and how to most effectively manage the related challenges. Contact us to learn more about our in-home Alzheimer’s care in St. Petersburg and the surrounding areas.

Study Reveals a Distinctive Progression of Dementia in Latinos

senior with dementia hugging caregiverA new study sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association is revealing some surprising results in the progression of dementia in Hispanic people. While further exploration is needed to fully understand whether these differences are the consequence of social/cultural nuances or the dementia itself, it’s worthwhile information for Latino families to know.

Daily Activities

One highlight of the study was the significantly faster decline in the ability to perform everyday activities, such as getting dressed, walking, and taking a shower, in comparison to other ethnicities. Andrea Ochoa Lopez, the University of Houston doctoral student who carried out the research, explained that the cultural dedication to caring for elderly loved ones could be a contributing factor.

“Some families want to start doing everything for their older members to try and remove some of the burdens and make their lives easier,” she mentioned. “But there is research showing that when cognition is declining, older people actually do better when they stay active. And there is also still stigma. They may not want their elder family member to be seen as ill or mentally unstable.”

Anxiety and Depression

While we realize that anxiety and depression are risk factors for dementia, a separate research study of 5,000 individuals showed a noticeably higher percentage of Hispanic people reporting these concerns: more than 25%, when compared with almost 16% and 11% in black and non-Hispanic white participants, respectively. Concentrating on the mental health of those with dementia is essential. Clinical psychologist Michael Cuccaro explains, “We have lots of great evidence that medications and talk therapy help, but minorities have the lowest rate of getting this help.”

Although more extensive research is required to better comprehend these ethnic differences in dementia, finding minorities to take part in studies has been an issue. Latinos currently make up less than 8% of present dementia scientific research studies – in spite of the reality that the prevalence of dementia in Latinos is as much as 50% higher than it is in non-Hispanic whites.

Families who want to learn about current Latino dementia research opportunities can go to the Alzheimer’s Association’s TrialMatch page to find out more.

At Generations at Home, our professional caregivers are extensively trained and experienced in helping seniors with whatever their particular challenges are, making life the best it can be. We achieve this by meeting with each older adult in his or her home before the beginning of services, enabling us to generate a customized care plan. We then diligently monitor the care plan ongoing to ensure that needs are always met thoroughly, both now and as needs change with time.

Whether the need is for a little help with meals and housework, transportation and companionship, or if more specialized dementia care assistance is necessary, Generations at Home has got the perfect solution. Call us at 727-940-3414 to arrange your free in-home consultation to find out more.

Understanding the Different Stages of Dementia

Female home carer hugging senior male patient at care homeOne of the first questions in most people’s minds when a family member is diagnosed with dementia is precisely what can be expected in the weeks, months, and years to come. We realize that the hallmark of Alzheimer’s is the progressive decline in cognitive abilities and also the skills required to manage everyday life. Yet, every person advances through these changes in a different way. There are a number of factors that will impact the rate of decline, such as:

  • Prescriptions the individual is taking
  • Overall health and physical makeup
  • The system of support available
  • The person’s general emotional wellbeing and resilience

There are other determinants to factor in based on the specific type of dementia diagnosed. As an example:

  • MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment): Mild cognitive impairment affects up to 20% of seniors. More than the typical minor cognitive decline experienced in aging, MCI involves difficulties with language, judgment, thinking, and memory which are obvious to the senior individually and frequently to others as well. Researchers found that about 38% of seniors with MCI later developed dementia. The other 62% never progressed further than MCI – and in a number of cases, their condition actually improved, for unknown reasons. Indications of MCI include forgetfulness, impulsiveness, depression, apathy, anxiety, aggression and irritability, and others.
  • Vascular Dementia: Because vascular dementia is caused by a blockage in the flow of blood to the brain, the kind of blockage will affect the progression of the disease. For example, if small blood vessels are blocked, the decline is typically gradual. Major blood vessel blockage may cause a sudden onset of symptoms, accompanied by intense periods of change thereafter.
  • Lewy Body Dementia: Progression of Lewy body dementia can be gradual, but could also include widely differing degrees of alertness and attention during the early stages. One day could find the senior lucid, while the following day – or even several hours later – could bring hallucinations, confusion, and memory loss. In the later stages of the disease, restlessness, agitation, aggression, tremors, and stiffness become more prevalent.
  • Frontotemporal Dementia: Unlike other forms of dementia, short-term memory is usually not impacted in the early stages of frontotemporal dementia. Instead, early symptoms include behavioral changes, such as distraction, rudeness, apathy, and disregard for social norms. As the disease advances, difficulties with language become noticeable as well, in addition to memory loss, vision problems, and other typical symptoms observed in Alzheimer’s disease.

Reach out to the dementia care team at Generations at Home for more informative resources to help you better understand and care for someone you love with Alzheimer’s. We are also always here to assist with creative, compassionate care in order to make life more fulfilling for a senior with dementia, and to help family members achieve an improved life balance. Call us at 727-940-3414 to learn more.

Lessons From Late Stage Dementia: What the Return of Lucidity Is Teaching Us

caregiver comforting senior coupleEven as memory loss and confusion increase during late stage dementia, there’s a fascinating and pleasant reprieve that frequently occurs. Previously termed “terminal lucidity,” it is more frequently referred to now as “paradoxical lucidity.” It signifies an unexpected, short-term regaining of clarity to a nearly pre-dementia state of mind. During this time, the effects can cover anything from nonverbal but emotional connections to significant cognitive recovery.

For loved ones, it is a special gift to be cherished. It provides the chance for meaningful conversations and reminiscing, as well as the mutual sharing of feelings and thoughts, if only for a brief period of time. For researchers, it means a lot more.

Dr. Basil Eldadah, supervisory medical officer in the Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology at the US National Institute on Aging, looks at the opportunities as exceptional. “It gives us some pause with regard to our current theories and understanding about the nature of dementia. We’ve seen enough examples of this to be reassured that dementia can be reversed – albeit temporarily, very transiently – nevertheless, it does reverse. And so the question then is how.”

Currently, there are six studies ongoing to answer that very question, and to gain more extensive insight into the condition and to explore future therapeutic approaches. Based on initial data from the studies, it’s clear that it is a far more frequent phenomenon than previously realized. Dr. Sam Parnia, lead researcher and critical care doctor, pulmonologist, and associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center states, “If you talk to hospice nurses and palliative care doctors, they all know about this. But no one’s ever studied it properly because no one ever thought anyone would take it seriously enough. So what I wanted to do is to help move this into the scientific realm.”

Education for families taking care of a member of the family with Alzheimer’s is also critical. It’s essential to remember that this short-lived clarity may occur, making it possible for the opportunity to reconnect with the senior, while recognizing that it is not indicative of improvement in his/her condition.

For additional dementia educational materials and care resources, connect with Generations at Home. We’re also always here to provide customized in-home dementia care to help make life the best it can be for people with Alzheimer’s disease as well as the families who love them, through services such as:

  • Memory-stimulating games, activities, conversations, and reminiscing
  • Knowledgeable, compassionate help with the distinctive challenges of dementia, such as aggression, wandering, sundowning, and more
  • Help with safe bathing as well as other personal care needs
  • Household chores and meals to allow members of the family to savor more quality time with the senior they love
  • And so much more

Reach out to Generations at Home, the experts in elder care in Belleair Beach and surrounding communities, at 727-940-3414 to discover the best possible quality of life for a senior you love with Alzheimer’s.

Fun Activities for Seniors with Dementia and Low Vision

two ladies dancingFinding activities which can be engaging and fun for a family member with dementia tends to be a challenge. Add in vision impairment, and it might seem extremely daunting. Yet it is very important to ensure every day holds opportunities for joy, purpose, and meaning – minimizing the level of frustration, agitation, and other difficult emotions and behaviors in dementia.

The first step is to think through the senior’s current and past hobbies, interests and lifestyle. Then brainstorm approaches to tap into those preferences. We’ve collected a few ideas to help you get started:

  • Put together a playlist of the older adult’s favorite songs or genre of music, and then sing along, dance, keep the beat with a tambourine or a sealed container of uncooked rice or dried beans. Reminisce about memories the music raises.
  • Read aloud, choosing stories or articles that are simple to follow and on topics that are interesting for the older adult. For example, a sports fan may enjoy hearing an update on his/her favorite teams and players, and then talking about highlights from the past as well.
  • Get up and moving for increased muscle tone and circulation, as well as to help encourage daytime wakefulness and better nighttime sleeping. If weather permits, exercising outdoors is an excellent option to add in fresh air and vitamin D. Try walks in nature, pointing out the specific trees, birds, flowers, etc. that you pass on the way.
  • Try out a variety of tactile art mediums that can be manipulated without the use of vision, such as sculpting sand or clay. Or try creating a 3-D work of art by gluing shells, buttons, dried pasta, etc. into a shape or pattern.
  • Include the senior in ability-appropriate tasks around the home. Food preparation offers many different options, such as washing and tearing lettuce for a salad, peeling and breaking apart bananas or oranges, and mixing ingredients for a dessert. Or ask the senior to help with folding laundry or sorting nuts and bolts in a toolbox.
  • Try pet therapy. Specially trained pet therapists can provide a safe, trusted cat or dog for the senior to hold or pet. Even though this might seem simplistic, the joy and relaxing effects of spending time with an animal can be significant.

Our care professionals are skilled in creative tips to engage seniors of any ability level to help make daily life more fulfilling. Call us at 727-940-3414 for a trusted care partner today!

Dementia Caregiver Tips: How to Handle Shadowing

Granddaughter giving a surprise gift to grandmotherPrimary caregivers for those with dementia are frequently all too familiar with the complications experienced in trying to take a quiet moment or two alone – to use the bathroom, get a quick shower, and even step into another room. Those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can experience enhanced fear when a family member is out of sight – a condition known as shadowing. And the ensuing behaviors can be extremely challenging to manage: crying, meanness and anger, or continuously asking where you are.

It can help to understand the reasoning behind shadowing. You are the older adult’s safe place, the main one who helps make sense of a disorienting and confusing world, so when you’re gone, life can feel frightening and uncertain. And keep in mind that shadowing isn’t a result of anything you have done; it is simply a natural part of the progression of dementia.

Generations at Home offers the following dementia caregiver tips that can help:

  • Expand the senior’s circle of trust. Having another person or two with you while you go through the senior’s daily routines might help him/her begin to trust someone aside from yourself. Slowly, once that trust is in place, the senior will become more at ease when you need to step away, knowing there’s still a lifeline readily available.
  • Record yourself. Make a video of yourself doing laundry or taking care of other day-to-day chores, reading aloud, singing, etc. and try playing it for the senior. This digital substitution may be all that’s needed to provide a feeling of comfort while he or she is apart from you.
  • Take advantage of distractions. Finding a soothing activity for the senior to engage in could be enough of a distraction to permit you a brief time period of respite. Try repetitive tasks, such as sorting silverware or nuts and bolts, folding napkins, filing papers, or anything else that is safe and of interest to the senior.
  • Avoid conflict. Your senior loved one may become combative or angry as a way to express his or her fear of being alone. No matter what he or she may say, it is imperative that you keep from quarreling with or correcting the senior. An appropriate response is to validate the person’s feelings (“I can see you’re feeling upset,”) and redirect the conversation to a more pleasing topic (“Would you like to try a piece of the cake we made earlier?”)
  • Clarify the separation period. Because the sense of time can be lost in individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, telling a senior loved one you’ll just be away for a minute may not mean very much. Try using a common wind-up kitchen timer for brief separations. Set the timer for the amount of time you’ll be away and ask the senior to hold onto it, explaining that when it rings, you’ll be back.

Engaging the services of a highly trained dementia caregiver who understands the nuances of dementia and can put into practice creative techniques such as these can help restore peace to both you and the senior you love. The dementia care professionals at Generations at Home are fully trained and available to fill in whenever you need a helping hand. Give us a call at 727-940-3414 or fill out our online contact form for a free in-home consultation and learn more about how our customized dementia care in Kenneth City and other surrounding areas can help with your particular challenges.

How Creating a Memory Book Can Help a Senior with Dementia

memory book

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” – Dr. Seuss

Memories are the glue that binds together our past with who we are today; and for a senior with Alzheimer’s disease, confusion around these memories may have a deep impact. One of our goals in caring for seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is to help them store and share memories in order to make sense of daily life.

Creating a memory book can help a senior with dementia, with photos and short descriptions to refer back to when the older adult has questions relating to his or her identity, loved ones, etc. Memory books are great for responding to repetitive questions and for helping to clear any muddied waters. For instance, if an older adult asks who his brother is, whether she’s married (and to whom), where he used to live, etc., an easy response of, “Let’s go through the memory book,” can be extremely effective – and, can help with redirection as well for a senior experiencing difficult behaviors or emotions.

The book can (and should) be basic and straightforward. Simply pick out a sturdy binder, scrapbook, or photo album and place 1 to 2 photos on each page, with a short description underneath. Include such details as:

  • Close family and friends, including those from the senior’s childhood, if possible
  • The senior’s place of work
  • Milestones and special events
  • Hobbies/interests
  • Pets
  • Previous homes
  • And more

You may also create individual sections for every category, so it will be easier to find a certain image when wanted. For a more elaborate or extensive book, you can make use of the template, identifying which pages you wish to include that’ll be most helpful for your loved one.

For additional creative dementia care tips and resources, call Clearwater home care provider Generations at Home at 727-940-3414. We are also pleased to offer a free in-home assessment to share how we can help with the particular challenges your loved one is facing. Our highly trained, compassionate dementia caregivers can:

  • Encourage socialization
  • Offer creative approaches to manage challenging behaviors
  • Ensure safety in bathing/showering, dressing, etc. in addition to reducing fall risk
  • Provide trusted respite care for family caregivers to take some time for self-care
  • Engage seniors in enjoyable, meaningful activities
  • Assist with preparing meals and clean-up
  • Run errands, such as picking up prescriptions and groceries
  • And so much more

Reach out to our Alzheimer’s care specialists today to discover a higher quality of life for a senior you love.

Differentiating “Senior Moments” from Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

handsome senior man looking thoughtful while sitting in his homeYou altogether forgot about the physician’s appointment scheduled for last Wednesday, misplaced your sunglasses for the umpteenth time, and cannot remember the name of the new neighbor for the life of you. Is all of this simply a regular part of aging, or could it be the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia?

The fear of developing dementia is not unusual; and increasing, as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have gained increasing awareness, resulting in worries about our own possible decrease of independence and functionality, along with memory difficulties. In addition, it raises questions regarding future care and living arrangements, if the time should come that assistance is necessary to stay safe and to take care of everyday needs.

Nonetheless, it’s important to know there are a number of reasons behind forgetfulness which are entirely unrelated to dementia, and some amount of memory impairment is merely part and parcel of aging. Recent statistics show that only 5% of seniors ages 71 – 79 actually have dementia, though that number increases to 37% for those aged 90 and over.

The first step is to consult with your primary care physician about any cognitive impairment you’re experiencing, so that you can receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment. Before your appointment, make a note of details such as:

  • When the impairment began
  • Whether it was a sudden or gradual decline
  • If it is impacting day to day life: eating, getting dressed, taking care of personal hygiene needs, etc.

The doctor will want to eliminate issues that can mimic dementia – such as delirium and depression – as well as see whether the issue might stem from treatment side effects. Dementia progresses slowly, and in addition to memory deficits, may affect the ability to:

  • Communicate
  • Reason, judge, and problem-solve
  • Focus and pay attention

For anyone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, or any other condition that affects the capacity to manage day to day life independently, Generations at Home is always here to provide just as much or as little help as needed by thoroughly trained and experienced care professionals. A few of the numerous ways we can enable seniors with dementia or any other challenges to remain safe, comfortable, and independent at home include:

  • Assistance with personal care needs, like showering and dressing
  • Transportation to medical appointments and enjoyable outings
  • Running errands
  • Planning and preparing meals
  • Household chores
  • Engaging activities and socialization
  • And a lot more

Give us a call at 727-940-3414 or fill out our contact form for a free-of-charge in-home consultation for more information on how we can help.

How to Help Someone with Dementia Who Refuses to Change Clothes

Adult Daughter Helping Senior Man To Button CardiganBeing a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or some other type of dementia requires creativity, patience, and empathy, the ability to step away from your individual reasoning and logic and realize why a certain behavior is occurring, and then to determine how exactly to effectively manage it. That’s certainly the situation with a family member who will not change his or her clothing, regardless of how unkempt or dirty an outfit has become.

There are lots of explanations why a senior with Alzheimer’s disease may insist on wearing the same outfit, including:

  • Memory or judgment problems, such as losing track of time or thinking the clothes were just recently changed
  • The comfort and familiarity of a certain piece of clothing
  • A desire to exert control
  • Problems with the task of changing clothes
  • Feeling stressed by the choices involved with selecting an outfit
  • Fatigue and/or physical pain
  • The inability to detect scent or to clearly see stains on clothes

Our dementia care team has some recommendations for how to help someone with dementia experiencing these challenges:

  1. First of all, do not ever argue or attempt to reason with someone with dementia.
  2. Purchase additional outfits that are the same as the one your loved one insists on wearing.
  3. When the senior is bathing or asleep, take away the soiled clothing from the room and replace with clean items.
  4. Make getting dressed as simple as possible, using only a couple of choices that are uncomplicated to put on and take off, and allowing as much time as needed for dressing.
  5. Offer clothing options in solid colors rather than patterns, which could be confusing, distracting, or visually overstimulating.
  6. Take into consideration any timing issues: is the senior loved one extremely tired and/or upset at a certain period of the day? If so, try incorporating dressing into the time of day when he or she normally feels the most calm and content.
  7. Determine if your own feelings are exacerbating the matter in any respect. For example, is it a matter of embarrassment that’s driving the desire for the senior to dress in a specific way?

Remember that wearing a comfy outfit for an extra day might be preferred over the emotional battle involved in forcing a change of clothing. When it truly becomes a problem, however, call us! Sometimes, an older adult feels more at ease being assisted with personal care needs such as dressing and bathing by a skilled in-home caregiver in place of a family member. Generations at Home’s dementia care experts are skilled and experienced in assisting people who have Alzheimer’s maintain personal hygiene with compassion and kindness, and they are always here to help.

Give us a call at 727-940-3414 for additional helpful tips or to schedule an in-home consultation.