Dementia confusion, a typical occurrence in Alzheimer’s, can lead to recent memories being forgotten about or distorted, while those from the more distant past commonly continue to be intact. This may cause the past to make more sense to an older person with dementia than the present. A person’s alternative reality could be his or her way of making sense of the present through past experiences. Continue Reading →
“How on earth could you think that I have dementia? There is not a single thing wrong with me!”
If an aging loved one with dementia communicates statements like this, you might have thought to yourself that the senior was merely in denial and unwilling to acknowledge such a challenging diagnosis. Nevertheless, there may be a different reason: anosognosia and dementia often go hand in hand, and occur when the person with dementia experiences a true unawareness of his/her own condition. Continue Reading →
Look online for the phrase “activities for seniors” and you’re likely to find a mixture of crafts, games, memory stimulation puzzles, and of course, the requisite bingo. What you will not find, unless you search much more, are the meaningful, philanthropic activities that provide purpose to our lives. And yet, if you ask aging adults what they would most wish to do, the majority of them will not mention games, art projects, or bingo. What they want more than anything is to feel useful.
The University of Minnesota reveals details on how the most vulnerable times in our lives are the initial year of life, and the first year after retirement. The loss of a sense of purpose that comes from a rewarding occupation can bring about considerable health concerns – and even an earlier mortality rate, if that sense of purpose is not redefined in some way to let the older person experience a continued sense of being needed.
One program, the Baltimore Experience Corps, matches older individuals with young children in schools that are understaffed, supplying them with the priceless opportunity to mentor, provide help with reading abilities, and serve as a warm and nonjudgmental buddy to the children. And they are undoubtedly helping themselves in the process as well. As Michelle Carlson, Ph.D., of the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shares, “By helping others, participants are helping themselves in ways beyond just feeding their souls. They are helping their brains. The brain shrinks as part of aging, but with this program we appear to have stopped that shrinkage and are reversing part of the aging process.”
When supporting a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, it may require a bit of creativity to determine engaging activities that promote their sense of purpose and meaning. Providing home care services in Florence and the surrounding area, New Horizons In-Home Care offers the tips below to help get you started:
- Check out local and nationwide agencies that provide help to those in need – the homeless, veterans, animals, women and children in poverty or crisis, etc.
- Determine if these businesses have any volunteer options that older individuals or those with cognitive difficulties could help with, such as:
- Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving have ribbon campaigns that necessitate folding, cutting, and stapling lengths of ribbon to cards for distribution.
- Animal rescue shelters and humane societies are often in need of donated towels and blankets that need to be cleaned and folded up at home; or aging adults and family members could prepare homemade pet treats together, or possibly even take dogs for walks together or pet and give attention to the cats.
- Assemble care packages for the homeless or veterans with travel-sized toiletries, snacks, etc.
- Work on coloring pages or other easy crafts together, letting the older adult know they will be given to a local domestic crisis shelter to brighten the day for women and children.
Be sure the older adult has opportunities to help with as many duties as possible around the home: sorting and folding laundry, snapping beans, setting the table – letting the senior know how much his or her help is required and valued.
At New Horizons In-Home Care, our home care in Florence and the surrounding areas goes beyond just providing care in the home; our caregivers are dedicated to helping seniors live lives full of purpose and meaning. For more recommendations on helping older individuals maintain the highest quality of life, reach out via our online contact form or call us any time at 541-997-8115. See our full northern Oregon service area.
“Hold on – let me help.”
“Don’t over-exert yourself!”
“You just sit down and rest; I’ll take care of that.”
How often have we said things such as these to seniors without thinking? We want to do anything possible to assist our older loved ones, to ensure their safety and to look after them in the same way they took care of us when we were children. However, there’s a hidden hazard in trying to do too much for older adults and denying them the opportunity to do as much as possible on their own – the danger of damaging senior self-esteem and sense of meaning and purpose in life.
Take, for instance, a senior gentleman who spent his entire life taking care of his family, and now has entered into the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Given that he has always self-identified as a provider, becoming dependent on another person to provide for him can be quite challenging and even feel demeaning. It’s critical to help him preserve the sense of being needed by others, and there are a number of ways to achieve this. Try these guidelines from New Horizons In-Home Care to help promote self-worth and independence in seniors:
- Obtain guidance. Being provided with the opportunity to share knowledge and wisdom is a great boost to a senior’s self-esteem, and there is certainly a lot we can learn from older adults. Think of small ways throughout the day to ask the older person’s advice on how to make a perfect pan of lump-free gravy, how to fix the draft coming in underneath the windowsill, how to soothe a cranky baby, etc.
- Find hands-on assistance. As in-home caregivers, it is our responsibility to support seniors with assorted needs, but we also recognize the value of allowing seniors their own tasks and responsibilities. It doesn’t need to be a monumental project in order to maintain the feeling of being needed. Be aware of the senior’s cognitive and physical limitations, and request his/her help accordingly. For instance, a senior who is in a wheelchair can sit at the table and help with meal preparation tasks, polish silverware, or sort hardware in a toolbox.
- Verbally demonstrate your respect. While you may assume the senior knows how you feel, it’s a wonderful feeling to be told how much we mean to one another. Take time to point out specific ways the older individual has assisted you in some manner and how much you appreciate that help, from learning to drive a car, to parenting techniques, to the ability to draw or paint or carve wood. Be truthful in your compliments, and speak them frequently, from your heart.
A qualified in-home caregiver, such as those at New Horizons In-Home Care, is adept in sustaining the delicate balance between supplying care for older individuals and boosting their sense of purpose and meaning. Contact us to learn more about our senior care in Eugene and the surrounding areas, or to schedule a free in-home consultation for your senior loved one.
Providing home care assistance for a senior with Alzheimer’s can be challenging under the best of scenarios; add in a worldwide pandemic, one that calls for social distancing, gloves and masks, and careful sterilization of both ourselves and our home environment, and the challenge may seem insurmountable.
New Horizons’ Alzheimer’s care team provides the following guidelines to help reduce fear and frustration for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, while keeping both them and their caregivers safe:
- Be sure to make self-care a top priority. Now more than ever before, it is important to gauge your own personal level of stress, and make a plan to make certain you are healthy – both physically and emotionally. You can only supply the best caregiving help for your loved one if your own needs are met. This could possibly mean restricting time spent watching the news as well as on social media, maintaining connections with close friends and family, and taking time for pleasant, rewarding hobbies.
- Take care of personal hygiene. Proper handwashing techniques are vital for all of us, but might be hard for a senior with Alzheimer’s to uphold. Depending on the individual’s stage of the disease, it might be beneficial to wash your hands with each other, demonstrating for your loved one; or, position signs next to the sink in the bathroom and kitchen with a reminder to scrub for 20 seconds. And keep in mind that repetition, a typical behavior in dementia, can work to your advantage in this case.
- Choose your words carefully. When speaking to a loved one about changes related to COVID-19, it’s critical to keep it very simple, utilizing a calm and reassuring tone. Beth Kallmyer, Vice President of Care and Support at the Alzheimer’s Association, recommends statements such as, “We have to stay inside because that’s most safe for us, but we’ll do it together. I’ll be with you and we’ll be okay.”
- Be sure to have a backup plan. In case you contract COVID-19 or another health condition that would prevent you from safely providing help for a loved one with dementia, it’s vital to have a plan in place for who could take over to execute your care duties. A professional home care agency, such as New Horizons, is the perfect choice, with aides who are knowledgeable in specialized dementia care.
Allow New Horizons In-Home Care, the experts in eldercare in Eugene and the surrounding areas, to help you. Our highly skilled Alzheimer’s caregivers are fully trained and experienced in both following proper protocol linked to decreasing the danger for contracting coronavirus, and in the specialized types of care that are most effective for a senior with Alzheimer’s disease. Reach out to New Horizons’ Eugene eldercare experts at 541-687-8851. Or contact an one of our offices nearest you: 541-752-9059 in Corvallis; 503-400-3000 in Salem; or 541-997-8115 in Florence to schedule an assessment within the safety and comfort of home and to find out more about how we can help your loved ones. To see our full service area, click here.
Of all the outcomes of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, perhaps one of the most concerning is the individual’s tendency for wandering, together with the potential dangers which may arise in the event the senior becomes disoriented or lost. Wandering may occur when the older adult is: Continue Reading →
Medications can both enhance and save lives, but there is a hidden risk that can lead to dire consequences — the threat of medication non-compliance. Continue Reading →
April 1, 2019
Making Your Home Safe for Loved Ones With Alzheimer’s
If you are becoming the caregiver of a loved one who has Alzheimer’s, you know you need to make some changes. One of the first places you’ll need to start is your home. Use these helpful tips to help make your home safer and more secure for your loved one Continue Reading →