Posts Tagged ‘dementia’

Is It Alzheimer’s?

A senior couple. The wife is caring for the husband.

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is not a normal part of aging. The disease usually strikes individuals 65 years and over, but younger people are not without risk. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are treatments available that can help slow the progression of the disease and help manage symptoms. Early detection can make a huge difference in the quality of life of someone who is diagnosed with this disease.

So what are some of the symptoms and how do you know whether to worry? According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 early warning signs that you or your loved one may have Alzheimer’s disease. If you are suddenly forgetting dates or information you just recently learned, having difficulty completing tasks or following a conversation, and misplacing things, it may be time to call your doctor. The Alzheimer’s Association’s 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease is a great guide for knowing when a symptom is something to worry about or whether it is just a normal part of aging. Knowing your risk factors for this disease and knowing the early warning signs can help you identify red flags—and seek appropriate medical help sooner rather than later.

Your Brain Health and Aging

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The human brain is a wonderful, complex organ, which, among other things, is responsible for our cognition and memory. Unfortunately for many, aging brings a host of unwanted changes, both physical and mental. Many people mistakenly believe that you either get dementia (or other forms of cognitive decline) as you age or you don’t—but research has found many factors can contribute to or make cognitive decline worse. The good news is that a number of these risk factors are within our control and, like so many other chronic diseases and health conditions, can be managed by making healthy lifestyle choices.

Did you know that poor oral health has been linked to chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oral Health Basics)? Researchers are currently studying whether a common bacteria associated with chronic periodontal disease could play a role in dementia. A small study at the University of Central Lancashire found products from the bacteria, Porphyromonas gingivalis, in the brains of several deceased individuals who suffered from dementia. Visiting the dentist on a routine basis, along with consistent daily brushing and flossing can help bolster oral health.

The ACL, NIH and CDC have collaborated on several wonderful resources to help you better understand certain risk factors for dementia and steps you can take to keep you and your loved ones healthy. Check out their Brain Health as You Age fact sheet and their Medicine, Brain and Your Age informational resource to learn more. Exercising, eating a diet high in fiber with lots of fruits and veggies, quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce your risk of cognitive decline as well as many other chronic diseases.

Financial Strain: Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s

Young woman helping and supporting her grandfather to walk outdoor in the garden with his support walking stick.

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease takes a toll on the family caregiver, not only emotionally and physically, but financially as well. With over 5 million Americans living with the disease, the “costs of care” are having a profound financial impact on many families in the U.S. The 2016 Facts & Figures report by the Alzheimer’s Association highlights the monetary hardships facing these family caregivers.

According to the report, family caregivers spend over $5,000 annually on care. For some, this means they have to sell personal items to cover their bills; for others, it means forgoing their own medical appointments and even groceries. At the same time these families are dealing with the costs of caring for their suffering loved one, many caregivers are forced to cut back their hours at work, which further exacerbates the financial hardship. The report shows that on average, over $15,000 annually is being lost due to caregivers’ reduction in working hours or having to leave their job altogether to provide care.

Just this year alone, the cost of Alzheimer’s care in the U.S. is expected to reach $236 billion (2016 Facts & Figures, Alzheimer’s Association)—with Medicare paying for just under half of this amount. With the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease expected to nearly triple by 2050, there is plenty of work to be done, including increased planning and educational support for those suffering from the disease and their families, to help ease the financial burden of care.

Visit Alzheimer’s Association’s website, www.alz.org, for the full report.

 

Our April Caregiver of the Month is Bernice M!

Bernice McMcKenzie

Home Care Plus would like to recognize Bernice M. as our April Caregiver of the Month. Bernice has been with us for almost a year but has over 20 years experience in this field.  She works primarily with our Alzheimer’s/dementia clients.  We are so happy to have Bernice as part of our team and know that we can count on her to show professionalism and empathy to our clients and their families.

Thank you and congratulations Bernice!

 

Documentary on the Healing Power of Music on Memory Loss

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winning documentary AliveInside highlights the profound effect music has on individuals suffering from memory loss/dementia. It’s a must see for anyone caring for a loved one with memory loss!

FAQs: Concerned About Your Aging Love One?

Below are the answers to some common questions you many have about in-home care and helping your loved one remain at home as long as possible.

What are some signs my aging parents might need extra help?

You come home for a weekend visit with your elderly parents and are shocked by what you see. Maybe your always put together mother looks disheveled, your dad hasn’t shaved in days and there are dishes, laundry and bills piling up around the house. Perhaps the grass is overgrown and the garden needs weeding. It might not be this drastic–you might only notice one or two things that seem out of the ordinary, but it’s obvious that keeping up with a house and yard is slowly overwhelming your parents, despite their assurances to the contrary.  An in-home caregiver can help your parents maintain their independence at home while keeping up with household tasks such as cleaning, laundry, meal preparation, and personal hygiene.  Visit our blog for more warning signs your parents may need a little extra help around the house.

 

How can I be sure my dad is eating nutritious meals now that mom has passed away?

Cooking for one can be a lonely task and isn’t very appealing to a lot of people. If your loved one has come to rely on fast food, cereal, or canned soup for their meals, they might need some extra motivation or external help to maintain a healthy diet. If you live close, have them over for a home cooked meal once or twice a week. Offer to take them grocery shopping and help them choose instant oatmeal, fresh fruit, frozen veggies that can be heated on the stove, and healthier prepared foods to have on hand. If you work full-time or live out of town, a caregiver can help with the grocery shopping and meal preparations, while keeping an eye on any dietary restrictions. Our blog Healthy Food Choices for Budget-Conscious Seniors offers advice on shopping for nutritious, easy to prepare foods that are friendly on the wallet.

 

What can provide peace of mind that my aging parents are keeping all of their medications and dosages straight and making it to all of their doctors’ appointments?

While managing multiple prescriptions, including dosing, refills, and potential drug interactions, can be daunting for anyone, it can be downright dangerous for someone whose cognitive abilities are declining due to Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Missed doses and overdoses can have serious consequences. If you are concerned about your parents’ capacity to manage their prescriptions, it’s never too early to get involved. If you live close and are comfortable that all they need is a reminder, there are several medication reminder apps available. If their cognitive function is declining because of dementia or another reason, an in-home caregiver can make sure they are taking the right doses at the right times, help with transportation to pick-up refills and more. Our blog Taking Senior Safety Seriously highlights popular apps that can help keep medications, doses and dosing schedules straight.

 

How can I be sure mom doesn’t fall and suffer a serious injury while living home alone when I can’t check on her?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three Americans age 65+ fall each year. Unfortunately, many people don’t discuss their fall with family or their physician because they are worried how everyone will react and don’t want to feel like their independence is threatened. Falls are serious—they are the leading cause of nonfatal and fatal injuries in older adults according to the CDC. There are a number of things you can do to help “fall proof” your parents’ home. Visit our blog for tips. If you can’t check in on your loved one but worry they are at high risk for falling, an in-home caregiver can help give you peace of mind that your loved one is safe when you can’t be there with them.

 

When is the right time to have a conversation with mom and dad about their future health and care needs?

While it is a difficult conversation to have, everyone will be happier in the long run if you have a conversation with your parents about long term care options sooner rather than later. Try starting the conversation by saying you want to make sure their wishes are met and that having the conversation before any serious decisions have to be made will keep the discussion open-minded and rational rather than emotional and heated. Topics to cover are who do they want to have power of attorney, are their wills updated, their financial situation and any long term health care insurance they have. Try to involve all of the siblings in the conversation so that everyone will be on the same page when and if something happens to mom or dad. Other important topics to discuss are whether they wish to remain in their home as long as possible or would they be more comfortable in a senior facility. Are they comfortable having an in-home caregiver help out should the need arise? Depending on where you are in the process, it might even make sense to research in-home care options with your parents. Read our blog Timing the Talk for more tips on long term care planning.

The Latest Facts & Figures on Alzheimer’s Disease

According to Alzheimer’s.org, over 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. This number is expected to grow to over 7 million by 2025, with staggering repercussions for the healthcare system and healthcare costs. Visit Alzheimer’s.org to read the latest facts and figures on this disease.

Our Caregiver of the Month for November is Linda C.!

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Home Care Plus would like to recognize Linda C. as our Caregiver of the Month for November. We have been lucky enough to have Linda on our caregiving team for over three years.  She is the primary caregiver for a client with dementia and has been a godsend to both the family and client. Her kindness and compassion are just two of the characteristics that make her such a great caregiver.

Congratulations Linda!

 

New Blood Test May Be Able to Accurately Predict Dementia/Alzheimer’s

The blood test looks at levels of circulating fats in the blood to determine, with 90% accuracy, the likelihood that someone will develop some form of dementia in the near term. Blood tests are easier to process, less invasive, and generally less expensive than the PET scans or MRIs commonly used to screen for the disease today. For more information, read the Healthday article “Blood Test May Have Power to Predict Alzheimer’s”.

Keep This in Mind for your End-of-Year Giving

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 44 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. You can make a difference now! Visit their website and have your donation matched!