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!

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.

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.