Wandering and Alzheimer’s: Why It Happens and How to Help

dementia care experts

Wandering is a common side effect of Alzheimer’s disease.

Of the many effects of Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps one of the most concerning is the individual’s tendency for wandering as well as the potential dangers that may occur if the senior becomes disoriented or lost. Wandering can take place when the older adult is:

  • Scared, confused or overwhelmed
  • Trying to find someone or something
  • Bored
  • Seeking to keep a familiar past routine (such as going to a job or shopping)
  • Taking care of a basic necessity (such as getting a drink of water or going to the bathroom)

The objective is twofold; to help keep the senior safe, and to make certain his / her needs are fulfilled to attempt to prevent the need to wander to begin with. Try the following safety measures in case your senior loved one is likely to wander:

  • Be certain that the residence is equipped with a security system and locks that the senior is unable to master, such as a sliding bolt lock above his or her range of vision. An assortment of alarms can be bought, from something as simple as placing a bell over door knobs, to highly-sensitive pressure mats that will sound an alarm when stepped upon, to GPS devices which can be worn, and more. It’s also a great idea to register for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return Program.
  • Conceal exits by covering up doors with curtains, setting temporary folding barriers strategically around doorways, or by wallpapering or painting doors to match the surrounding walls. You could also try placing “NO EXIT” signs on doors, which can sometimes dissuade people in the earlier stages of dementia from trying to exit.
  • Another danger for individuals who wander is the additional risk of falling. Look over each room of the house and address any tripping concerns, such as removing throw rugs, extension cords, and any obstacles that may be obstructing walkways, adding extra lighting, and placing gates at the top and bottom of stairways.

It is important to keep in mind that with supervision and direction, wandering is not necessarily an issue. Go for a walk together outside anytime weather permits and the senior is in the mood to be mobile, providing the extra advantage of fresh air, physical exercise, and quality time together.

While often tricky to manage, the dementia care team at Generations at Home has been specially trained to be equally watchful and proactive in deterring wandering and to utilize creative strategies to help seniors with dementia stay calm and happy. Email or call us at 727-940-3414 for more information!

 

Why Is Dad Being So Irrational? Tips To Understand and Respond to Senior Paranoia

St. Petersburg FL home care

Dementia can cause irrational thoughts.

“I’m telling you, there is a dog in my closet! I hear it growling all night long. We have got to find its owner!”

Hearing a senior loved one express worries such as this that you know to be untrue is unsettling – yet not abnormal. Your very first impulse could be to attempt to rationalize with the person with a response such as, “Nonsense! There’s not a chance a dog may have gotten into the closet!” All the same, for several different reasons, this can be the least successful option to handle irrational ideas and behaviors within the senior population.

Alternatively, at Generations at Home, we suggest the following strategies to help restore a feeling of calm and wellbeing:

  1. First and foremost, schedule a check-up with the senior’s doctor. It’s important to identify any cognitive problems and to make certain he or she receives appropriate treatment if necessary. There also could possibly be prescription medication side-effects taking place.
  2. Seek out the thinking behind the irrationality, and then decide how to solve the issue. For instance, possibly the heating and cooling vent in the closet is loose, or an air vent is blowing onto a row of hangers and bringing about a strange sound.
  3. Instead of wanting to correct the individual, react lovingly with assurance and empathy. Focus on acknowledging the feelings being expressed, as well as on letting the person know that you’re going to be there to assist. Accompanying the senior into a different area and providing interesting distractions, such as listening to music, baking, gardening, or browsing through photos together, can help you restore calm.
  4. One of the most helpful ways to conquer any obstacle is by determining what has helped others in a similar situation. Consider joining an in-person or online community of family caregivers, allowing for the exchange of insightful recommendations and information. A wide range of choices are readily available, such as AgingCare.com’s caregiver forum.
  5. Enlist the support of a professional in-home care provider, such as Generations at Home. Our caregivers are proficient at helping aging parents remain active and engaged, as well as helping to decrease challenging behaviors. Partnering with a trusted caregiver also gives you necessary respite, to take a break from caregiving duties while knowing your loved one is benefiting from superior care.

For additional suggestions about assisting your parent through obstacles with aging, dementia or chronic illness, reach out to the senior care experts at Generations at Home. We’re always available to answer any questions, share resources specific to the challenges you are encountering, and to provide a free of charge in-home consultation and development of a customized care plan to improve quality of life for a senior loved one. Reach out via our online contact form or call us any time at 727-940-3414.

Plan for Senior Falls Now to Prevent a Future Injury

caregiver assisting senior woman with walker outside

Learn proactive steps to take now to prevent senior falls.

Falls among senior citizens are all too common and may have serious outcomes. Taking precautionary measures is crucial, such as examining the house for fall risks like area rugs along with other trip and fall hazards, inadequate lighting, and a lack of appropriate grab bars and railings. But there’s a new approach being suggested now: making a fall plan of care, which, when implemented properly, has been demonstrated to reduce fall-related hospital visits by up to 40%.

So while we certainly do not want to plan for a senior loved one to fall, we can be better equipped by helping the person take the following steps:

  • Stay aware – Avoid letting your mind wander and instead keep your full concentration on your surroundings.
  • Check vision – Frequent eye tests and regularly wearing eyeglasses if needed can ensure tripping risks are noticed and bypassed.
  • Practice stability – Exercises as straightforward as lifting one foot off the ground and remaining balanced on the other foot for 30 seconds will help.

If a fall does occur, knowing how to fall more safely can minimize the possibility of injury. In particular:

  • Prevent head injuries by intentionally turning your face away from the fall, or tucking your chin to your chest if falling backward.
  • Bend the knees and elbows to avoid the stiffness which can lead to a break to the elbow or wrist when attempting to catch your fall.
  • Roll with the fall, which distributes the impact of the fall over an increased portion of the body instead of concentrating it on a single location.
  • Attempt to land on fatty tissue, such as on your thighs or bottom, instead of on more bony surfaces such as hips, knees, and elbows.

Using the following proactive steps can go a long way towards avoiding a fall:

  • Be sure that all walking areas both outside and inside of the house are free from clutter and any potential tripping hazards, such as extension cords.
  • Keep floors, particularly in the bathroom and kitchen, dry and clean.
  • Put up grab bars around the tub and toilet.
  • Make sure handrails are in place and secure alongside all stairwells.
  • Remove and replace any worn out carpets and remove all loose rugs.

At Generations at Home in St. Petersburg, FL, our caregiving team is trained in making your home environment as safe from falls as possible, and we are knowledgeable in providing ambulation assistance and oversight when necessary to help make sure fall risk is decreased. We’re also on hand to take part in physician-sanctioned exercise programs to increase balance and flexibility, resulting in overall improved overall health. Call us at 727-940-3414 for a free in-home assessment to discover more ways we can help!

Striking a Balance Between Senior Safety vs. Independence

St Petersburg FL home care

Learn how to strike a balance between safety and independence for seniors

It’s a conflict that emerges for a number of families: seniors adamantly want to age in place at home, while their family members worry about their health and safety. And there’s an argument to be made in both scenarios. Seniors, especially individuals who live alone, encounter multiple dangers: falls that could lead to serious injury, trouble in maintaining the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed as aging progresses, even a vulnerability to con artists. Yet independence is vital to self-worth, irrespective of age.

Striking a balance that meets the requirements of both sides may very well be difficult, but there are some important factors to take into account that will help.

  • Let go of ageism. While there is certainly credibility to worries over safety for older adults at home, especially if they live alone, the other side of the picture is our perception of aging. Pioneer Network President/CEO Penny Cook explains, “Our negative perception helps marginalize older adults. They become ‘less than’ because that helps us cope and then we take on the parental model.” A shift in this reasoning allows us to retain the respect for seniors which they so appropriately deserve, as well as know how integral it really is for them to remain as independent as possible throughout aging.
  • Know their rights. Legally, unless older adults are contending with cognitive challenges, they continue to have the ability to make decisions independently – no matter if the choices made are not the ones we would have selected for them. Attorney Barbara Cashman explains, “Even if I decide to give my money away, a judge could say that it’s my money and my choice what to do with it.”
  • Dialogue is key. As with any issue, calm, logical discussions are definitely the best remedy in diffusing difficult situations and arriving at an answer that really works for everyone. Sit down with your parent and clarify your concerns, but prepare yourself to listen with an open mind to his or her thoughts and views. Realize that a resolution will not be reached in a single discussion; use an initial discussion as a beginning point, and agree to revisit the matter periodically to reevaluate.

Most especially, be aware that there is a viable option: the professional in-home care services of Generations at Home. We can aid in a number of ways to enhance well-being, delivering family members peace of mind, while empowering your loved one to maintain independence, making his or her own choices and decisions in the comfort and familiarity of home. Contact us at 727-940-3414 for an in-home assessment to find out more.

How Concerned Should You Be About Guns and Dementia?

senior aiming a revolver pistol

What you need to know about guns and dementia.

With an impassioned level of debate rivaling the Hatfields and McCoys, it appears insurmountable to come to a resolution around the issue of gun control. Yet in spite of which side of the fence you are on, there’s one little-discussed scenario that will cause all of us to take pause: the frightening mixture of dementia and firearms.

A third of all seniors in the United States report owning a firearm, and an additional 12% are living in the house of a gun owner. Bearing in mind that nearly 9% of those over age 65 have some form of dementia (and that number is anticipated to more than double by 2050), it totals an incredible number of older adults with dementia living with guns. Together with irregular states of confusion, aggression, and other difficult behaviors, having guns in the house sets the stage for possible tragedy.

Within the state of Washington alone, a government study found that tens of thousands of older adults (54,000) reported memory decline and confusion along with access to firearms – and as many as 15,000 of those respondents reported that the firearms they had access to were both unlocked and loaded.

In fact, in one single year alone, a Kaiser Health News report uncovered upwards of 75 reported homicides or suicides committed by people with dementia, in addition to instances of firearms being brandished against those closest to them – family members, neighbors, caregivers. Additionally, the suicide rate for older adults is greater than for any other age bracket, with guns being the most prevalent source for senior men, as reported by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

The Alzheimer’s Association recommends removing firearms from the houses of those with dementia; however, if that isn’t a choice families are prepared to consider, it is vital that you be certain firearms are stored properly – locked, unloaded, and kept separate from ammunition. A bit of creativity can help as well – as an example, replacing real guns with toy models that allow a person who was an avid hunter to safely maintain his connection to that activity.

For more recommendations on keeping people who have dementia safe, call the skilled dementia care team at Generations at Home. Our fully trained and experienced caregivers are adept in assisting with the more challenging components of dementia, and in determining when a senior might be in crisis and require medical help. Our dementia respite care services allow family caregivers the chance to rest and renew, understanding their loved one is incompetent and caring hands. Call us at 727-940-3414 to find out more.

Tips for Aging for Seniors Without Children

Senior woman with laptop

This strong and self-reliant genre faces a number of unique issues in aging.

Are you a “solo ager“? This is the new term being passed around to describe baby boomers who do not have children. This strong and self-reliant genre faces a number of unique issues in aging, chiefly who to designate as guardian and decision-maker in case they become unable to do so themselves. In her book, Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers, author Sara Zeff Geber, Ph.D. outlines several options to consider: Read more

The Alzheimer’s Supplements to Avoid

Senior couple looking at medications

Always obtain your health care provider’s approval prior to trying anything new.

As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That can easily be applied to the recent increase of corporations offering alternative supplements, dietary programs, and herbal concoctions in order to treat, or at the very least lessen, the ramifications of Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association aims to alert us, however, to go forward with careful attention when investigating treatment options for a loved one with dementia – and always obtain the health care provider’s approval prior to trying anything new. Read more

Tips for St. Petersburg Seniors to Prevent Cognitive Dysfunction After Surgery

Senior Woman in hospital

POCD occurs in more than 25% of seniors after non-cardiac surgery.

Undergoing surgery for older adults always involves some inherent risks, but there’s a little-known effect impacting a substantial number of seniors after surgery that we all should be informed about: POCD (postoperative cognitive dysfunction). POCD occurs in more than 25% of seniors in the days and sometimes even weeks after non-cardiac surgery, and can present with an array of symptoms, several of which are often almost indiscernible: forgetfulness, lack of concentration and focus, as well as other forms of cognitive decline that impact quality of life. Read more

Could Your Loved Ones Fall Prey to The Latest Senior Scam?

senior scamsTelephone cons intended for seniors are nothing new, with an astonishing $36 billion lost every year to financial abuse. And the current senior fraud scheme circulating is difficult for most older adults to identify until it is too late. Center for Elder Law and Justice attorney Nicole K. Parshall explains, “There is always a new variation of a phone scam. Scammers are very good at developing new tactics in order to engage with specific types of individuals.”

The latest company to look out for is Utility Savings Expert, which guarantees to cut seniors’ utility, phone, cable, as well as other monthly bills by 50 percent. Seniors are invited just to share account information from the bill they would like to reduce. The organization then actually takes care of the bill in full, with the arrangement that the senior will reimburse half of the cost by wire transfer only – no checks or bank cards accepted.

After the senior’s funds have been received, the organization reverses the charge to the phone or utility company, leaving the senior liable once again for the full amount – in addition to the additional 50% they have paid to the scammers.

The elderly are regular targets of con artists, for many different reasons: expected vulnerability, accrued wealth over a very long time, and a feeling of courtesy and manners which could limit their capability to hang up quickly on a caller. Additionally, recent research from Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research revealed a decline of as much as one percent each year after age 60 in decision-making skills, further contributing to the risk of falling for phone scams and fraud.

So just how could you protect your older family members from falling prey to extremely sophisticated, and frequently believable scams such as these? The Federal Trade Commission advises individuals to never engage in a transaction with an unfamiliar business. Another red flag appears when a business asks for a wire transfer as payment. Screening calls and just answering those from known and trusted sources – and hanging up immediately on anyone who calls asking for personal or financial information – is also recommended.

The fact is, many older adults fall victim to fraud simply because they’re lonely and enjoy the chance to talk with someone on the phone. Generations at Home can alleviate senior loneliness and minimize the chance of a senior scam with our professional in-home care companionship and caregiving assistance. Give us a call to learn more about how exactly we can keep your senior loved ones safe and sound.