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Communication and Dementia

Communication is a key part of every person’s day, but seniors with various types of dementia may have a difficult time communicating their needs and feeling comfortable around people who may be unfamiliar to them.

It is important to be aware that the way we communicate with seniors needs to be handled with care and awareness.  By learning the best way to approach, we can help them to feel understood and contented in many different situations.  

Below are many different ways of communicating which you can practice with a senior or loved one dealing with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.   

Connect – Always use this sequence for CUES:

  1. Visually- show
  2. Verbally- tell
  3. Physically- touch

Basic skills to develop when working with people with dementia

Positive Physical Approach –  to greet a person with dementia consistently use this approach:

  1. Pause at edge of public space
  2. Offer your hand and make eye contact
  3. Approach slowly within visual range
  4. Shake hands and maintain hand-under-hand  
  5. Move to the side
  6. Get to eye level and respect personal space
  7. Wait for acknowledgment

Supportive Communication

Make a connection by offering:

  • Your name –  “I’m (name) and you are…?”
  • A shared background –  “I’m from (place) and you’re from…?”
  • A positive personal comment –  “You look great in that sweater,” or “I love that color on you.”

Support to help them accomplish the task you would like them to do

  1. Give simple and short information
  2. Offer concrete choices
  3. Ask for their help
  4. Ask the person to TRY
  5. Break the task down to a single step at a time

Give simple information

  1. Use visual and verbal cues (gesture and point) – “It’s about time for…,” or “Let’s go this way…,” “Here are your socks…”
  2. Acknowledge the response/reaction to your info
  3. Limit your words – keep it simple
  4. Wait! Be patient

*Remember – Be a Detective, NOT a Judge. Look, Listen, Offer, Think!*

For more information and topics about in-home care, visit aspenseniorcare.com

Adapted from Teepa Snow – “It’s All in Your Approach”-training DVD  

The topic of death and losing a loved one, for many, is a difficult topic to address and understand. Every individual will go through a different process and each caregiver will experience different emotions. There is no right or wrong way to feel when the one you love is reaching the final act of living.

“I truly believe it’s all about the living. We are born and we die and everything in between is living, clear until our last breath.” – Diana Cazier

For our in-service for the month of February, Aspen Senior Care had the wonderful opportunity to have Diana Cazier from Elevation Home Health and Hospice teach our team about the sensitive topic of recognizing the signs to look for when your loved one is in the final act of living. She referred to the booklet by Barbara Karnes, RN, titled, “The Final Act of Living: Reflections of a Long-Time Hospice Nurse”.  

The final act of living is a challenge.  This is a flexible guideline for what caregivers can watch for because no one knows the exact date that someone will pass.

Signs to look for in the Final Act of Living

One to three months before death:

  • Withdrawal from world and people
  • Decreased food intake
  • Increase in sleep
  • Going inside self
  • Less communication

One to two weeks before death:

Mental Changes

  • Disorientation
  • Agitation
  • Talking with the unseen
  • Confusion
  • Picking at clothes

Physical Changes

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Pulse increase or decrease
  • Skin color changes; pale, bluish
  • Increased perspiration
  • Respiration irregularities
  • Congestion
  • Sleeping but responding
  • Complaints of body tired and heavy
  • Not eating, taking little fluids
  • Body temperature: hot, cold

 

 

Days or hours before death:

  • Intensification of one to two week’s signs
  • Surge of energy
  • Decrease in blood pressure
  • Eyes glassy, tearing, half open
  • Irregular breathing: stop, start
  • Restlessness or no activity
  • Purplish, blotchy knees, feet, hands
  • Pulse weak and hard to find
  • Decreased urine outlet
  • May wet or stool the bed
  • Acetone breath

Minutes before death:

  • “Fish out of water” breathing
  • Cannot be awakened

Through this presentation, we were taught how to be more aware and understanding of the different signs we may observe as one approaches death from disease or old age. We are so grateful to Diana for her presentation as it will continue to help us be more supportive and observant as professional in-home caregivers.

“At Aspen Senior Care, we like to align ourselves with the finest Home Health and Hospice agencies in Utah. We appreciate their willingness to present at our in-service training and reach us about important topics.  We are better because of it.”

Gary Staples, Owner and Administrator

 

If you have any questions, or if you need further support, contact us today at 801-224-5910. You can also refer to “The Final Act of Living: Reflections of a Long-Time Hospice Nurse” by Barbara Karnes, RN.

For more information and topics about in-home care, visit aspenseniorcare.com

Best of Home Care Ⓡ –Provider of Choice

At Aspen Senior Care we continuously strive to be the leading provider to those seeking a reliable and trustworthy in-home care service for their loved ones. Once again we are proud to announce that we have been awarded the Best of Home CareⓇ – Provider of Choice for 2017!

What does this mean to those seeking in-home care?

This means that we have received the highest customer satisfaction scores from our clients compared to other in-home care providers.  Aspen Senior Care is an award-winning option for those searching for caregivers devoted to providing the highest level of care, respect, love, and professionalism.   

                

How are we rated?  

Because it is important to us that we provide the highest standard of care, we have contracted with Home Care PulseⓇ to gather feedback directly from our clients and their family members.

Those who participate can choose to be contacted throughout a six-month period and are able to remain anonymous, so our feedback is gathered independently from our agency.

Home Care Pulse speaks with our clients over the phone to review and rate the service we provide to determine which areas we excel in, and where we may need to improve.

Some of these areas we were rated to excel in include:

  • Work ethic, ability, compassion, and professionalism of Caregivers
  • Confidence in Office Staff
  • Communication from Provider
  • Client/Caregiver Compatibility
  • Service as Expected
  • Recommend Provider
  • Daily Life

“We greatly appreciate the feedback we receive and use our results to ensure each caregiver is trained and able to perform with the highest quality of care for your loved one.  We are pleased by this award once again and strive throughout the year to be true to it.”

– Gary Staples, Owner and Administrator

To learn more visit www.homecarepulse.com today.

Whether it’s short-term medical care after a hospital stay or a chronic illness needing on-going medical care, home health agencies are dedicated to providing quality medical care in the comfort and convenience of a patient’s home.

Most home health agencies offer a variety of services such as

  • Skilled nursing
    • Wound care
    • Infusion therapy
    • Catheters
    • Pain management
    • Injections, immunizations
  • Rehabilitation therapies: physical, occupational & speech-language
  • Medical social services and counseling
  • Case management
  • Home health aid services (bathing, personal care)Medicare will pay for these services only while a patient is receiving medical treatment in the home and as often as the doctor determines, usually 2 to 3 times a week.  Visit Medicare.gov  to find out what services are covered.

Medicare doesn’t pay for long-term care. It’s all about helping seniors heal and improve their health and strength.  Seniors must be making improvement to qualify or re-certify for home health services.

Aspen works with some of the best home health agencies in Utah. They take care of the medical side of things and we take care of everything else.

Questions to ask before you begin receiving home health care.

There’s a lot to consider when looking for a home health agency. Below are some questions to ask:

  • Does the agency have national accreditation?
  • Is the agency Medicare approved and what will Medicare cover?
  • Will the agency take other insurance and what will insurance cover?
  • What kinds of ongoing training do your professional caregivers receive?
  • What are their educational backgrounds?
  • Is a nurse is available 24/7?
  • Will there be someone to cover if the nurse or aid is ill?
  • Are you flexible with visits? Can the nurse and/or aid come when it’s convenient for me?cmh_health_services_logo_no_lettering

The home health agency you are considering should tell you how much Medicare will pay and services they won’t pay for that will be your responsibility. They should explain this both by talking with you and in writing.

It’s perfectly fine to ask for references and ask people you know who may have used home health before. Ask how their experience was with the agency they used.

Home health is a great service for providing medical care in the home. It is usually less expensive than hospital care and seniors heal better in their own homes.

Aspen Senior Care fills in the gaps

When home health isn’t enough, Aspen Senior Care can step in and provide quality personal care and homemaker services.

Our services include:

• Shower assistance
• Hygiene care
• Medication reminders
• Homemaking
• Meal planning and preparation
• Light housekeeping
• Errands and transportation
• Alzheimer’s and dementia care
• Respite and Hospice care
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We are dedicated to providing the best care possible in the home. Please visit our website at aspenseniorcare.com or call us at 801-224-5910 for more information. We’re here to help!

What is respite care?

Respite care is short-term care provided to a dependent, disabled, or elderly person with the purpose of giving the main caregiver a break from caregiving responsibilities. This is done while at the same time making sure your loved one is well cared for and able to follow his or her regular routine.

Respite care allows family caregivers to care for loved ones long-term, avoiding caregiver burnout. The care can be designed for a few hours, a day or for longer periods of time depending on what the caregiver needs and what type of care is needed and what services are available in your area.

What types of respite care are there?

There are several types of respite care available.

  • In-home care is provided by a licensed agency specializing in care for seniors or others needing special care. This may be for a short period of time or up to several days to a day, whatever the family caregiver might need in order to get a much-needed break or visit with family or friends. Respite care provided by an agency allows the caregiver peace of mind knowing their loved one is being cared for by someone who is trained to provide personal care, make nutritious meals, and handle challenging behaviors or situations that may come up.
  • Adult Day Care Centers provide licensed care during day-time hours, usually five days a week at a warm & welcoming facility. This is a great option for family caregivers who work during the day. Some caregivers choose to bring a loved one a few days a week on a regular basis.Adult day centers are a nice option in that they provide socialization, activities and nutritious meals. All adult day programs are NOT the same so it’s important to visit and ask questions when considering this type of respite option.
  • Specialized respite care facilities are places with staff trained for specific care, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, where a loved one may stay for several days or a couple of weeks when the caregiver needs to go out of town or has other obligations.
  • Emergency respite care offers help and care on an emergency basis. Usually, home care agencies or respite care facilities offer this type of care.
  • Informal respite care is provided by family members or neighbors and usually allow a limited but much-needed break for the primary caregiver to run errands, go to a doctor’s appointment or simply take some time off from caregiving.dsc01792

What are the benefits of respite care?

Caring for someone with special needs can be overwhelming at times. Family caregivers today have family, work, church and community obligations on top of providing care for their loved-one.

They want to provide the best care and attention to everyone in their circle of influence but this is unrealistic and overwhelming. It can lead to caregiver burnout.

Respite care allows the caregiver to step back and take time for themselves, to refresh and recharge their energy and focus. It actually helps caregivers become better caregivers and take care of their responsibilities longer.

Dementia Orem, UtahIf you are interested in learning more about respite care options call Aspen Senior Care at 801-224-5910. We can help you find options and help determine what type of respite might be right for you. We provide in-home respite care and we also run the Aspen Senior Day Center in Provo which is an adult day center that specializes in working with individuals with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.

Visit our websites at www.aspenseniorcare.com and www.aspenseniorcenter.org to learn more about the services we provide and how we can help.

Families caring for aging loved ones struggle to balance work, family responsibilities and care-giving.  Adult Day Care programs provide a respite opportunity for family caregivers and a fun, engaging, safe place for seniors to spend some time during the day.

Often family caregivers don’t think about an adult day program until they are exhausted, anxious and overwhelmed. Many times  the longer they wait to help, the more dependent their loved one becomes on them, making a new transition more difficult.

It’s actually more beneficial to have a loved one begin coming to a program while he or she can fully participate and enjoy the activities and company of others. Then as their abilities and needs change, they are familiar with the setting and feel loved and cared for.

Considerations when thinking about having a loved one attend adult day care

Even when seniors may seem “just fine” alone during the day, they may feel lonely or unsure about what to do with themselves.dementia care Salt Lake City They may not be able to do things they used to do, like cooking, so they just eat something cold or they skip eating.

Think about the following when asking yourself if your loved-one could benefit from an adult day care program:

  • Do they have difficulty planning their day?
  • It it hard for them to focus on a task such as reading or watching TV?
  • Do they feel lonely or isolated?
  • Can they be safely left alone during the day?
  • Do they feel uncertain and anxious when left alone?
  • Do they need attention that causes you to feel anxious, depressed and uncertain about what to do?

Choosing an Adult Day Care program

There are several different types of Adult Day Care programs depending on your loved one’s care needs:

  1. Social – These types of programs provide meals, recreational activities, social interaction and  some health-related services.
  2. Medical/health – These programs provide some social activities as well as more in depth health and therapeutic care and are often associated with medical or skilled nursing facilities.
  3. Specialized centers – These programs focus on specific care recipients, such as those with diagnosed dementias or developmental disabilities.

The Aspen Senior Center in Provo is a Specialized Adult Day Program

The Aspen Senior Center in Provo is the only program of it’s kind in Utah Valley. The Aspen Senior Center is dedicated to helping seniors with memory loss maintain their cognitive skills for as long as possible while enjoying a safe, fun environment.

Aspen’s philosophy is all about quality of life and we believe that no matter what stage of memory impairment, seniors deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. We want them to be able to enjoy life as fully as possible.11059815_900059750015402_5107562697583380608_o

The Aspen Senior Center also strives to empower family caregivers by helping them find community resources and educational material about dementia-related issues and sponsoring a monthly support group for families caring for loved ones with memory loss.

We would love to hear from you and answer any questions you might have about our program. For more information and to schedule a tour call 801-607-2300. Visit aspenseniorcenter.org and our Facebook page for more information and to see some our fun, engaging activities.

Professionals are discovering what we here at Aspen Senior Care already know – art therapy helps seniors with memory loss maintain their cognitive abilities longer and improve their quality of life.

a9bbda48a8b459c8f20aa8e7d67a7f58The Boston Globe recently had an article on how Art Therapy has become the “cutting edge” in Alzheimer’s treatment because it reaches people on a personal level – something that drug treatment for memory impairment doesn’t seem to do.

We have seen that music has the ability to transcend time. Even individuals who seem to have lost the ability to speak will open their eyes and hum or sing the words that go with the songs of their youth.

John Zeisel , president and co-founder of Hearthstone Alzheimer Care Centers in Massachusetts and New York, uses art to engage and connect with people with dementia. He states:

“When you are cared for, you lose your sense of who you are.  Everybody with dementia has a lot going for them. They can experience, they can be present, and they can develop.”

We want to focus on what individuals with memory loss can do. Providing an opportunity to experience the arts does more than just give these people a nice way to spend an afternoon. It improves many of the symptoms of memory loss and helps them connect with others and their surroundings in a personal way.

Robert Stern, a professor of neurology and neurosurgery at Boston University, said a growing body research suggests music can boost recall of personal memories.  He states:

“Whether it be fine arts, music, listening to music, going to museums…[these activities] get through to the person with Alzheimer’s by exploiting the areas of the brain which are least impaired. Anything that can touch the patient through that network of brain [areas] can have a profound impact.”Music Therapy

Dementia medications developed so far have only been able to slow down memory loss in some people, making it possible for them to live independently a little longer.

Rather than wait for new drugs to be developed, John Zeisel said, “Our present challenge is to provide people with a life worth living while they’re alive.”

This is why we are always trying to increase our knowledge and improve our skills in working with our clients with memory impairment. Our goal is to help our clients feel successful and worthwhile while struggling with this illness and provide support for their families.

Aspen Senior Care has caregivers specially trained in memory care who come prepared with engaging activities such as music, crafts or memory games, along with providing compassionate care and support to our clients with memory loss. We believe in treating each client with dignity and the respect they deserve. 
To find out more about our services call Aspen Senior Care at 801-224-5910.

Most of us look forward to the holiday season with eager anticipation and remember past celebrations with fondness and happy memories.

However, high expectations we have for the upcoming holidays can set the scene for some stressful moments and big disappointments, especially if we are caring for a loved one with dementia.

Last week in our blog we talked about informing guests about changes in their loved one‘s behavior before they arrive. In this article we want to talk about adjusting our expectations so we can still enjoy the holiday season but be realistic about what we can and can’t do. These suggestions are from the Alzheimer’s Association.Planning ahead can help create happy Christmas moments.

Invite family members to a planning meeting

The responsibility of keeping up family traditions can be stressful enough but combining it with already overwhelming caregiving duties can create tremendous stress.

  • Ask family and friends to a face-to-face meeting to talk about plans for the holidays, or
  • Set up a telephone conference call if family live out of towm
  • Make sure you explain your caregiving situation.
    • This doesn’t necessarily mean people will understand but even if they don’t, that is their problem and not yours.
  • Have realistic expectations about what you can do.
  • Be honest about any limitations or needs, such as the importance of keeping a daily routine for your loved one.

Be good to yourself

  • Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage. You may have invited 15 to 20 people over in the past, but think about having only a few people come at a time.
    • Smaller visits of two or three people at a time will help keep the person with Alzheimer’s and yourself from getting overtired.
  • Have everyone coming bring something so that you don’t have to cook.
  • Ask them to host Christmas festivities at their homes if they don’t offer.Dementia Care Utah

Be flexible

  • If evening confusion and agitation are a problem, consider changing a holiday dinner into a holiday lunch or brunch.
  • If you do keep the celebration at night, keep the room well-lit and try to avoid any known triggers.
  • Remember it’s alright not do the things you have “always” done in the past.
  • It is alright to decline invitations if you and your loved one don’t feel up to them.

With some planning and preparing, you and your loved one can create enjoyable moments this holiday season. To connect with other caregivers and get ideas on caregiving during the holidays ideas visit Alz-Connected.

At Aspen Senior Care we have caregivers trained in dementia care.  Our sister company, the Aspen Senior Center of Provo has a specially designed program for seniors with memory loss. We provide fun, engaging activities, music and lunch, plus peace of mind for families caring for loved ones with memory loss. Please visit the center or call us at (801) 607-2300 for more information. Visit our Aspen Senior Center Facebook page to see some of the fun activities they do!

The holidays are a joyous time for many, but for families dealing with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia the holidays can be very stressful and depressing.

The Alzheimer’s Association has some great suggestions to help family caregivers and their loved ones enjoy the holidays as well.

We’ll be focusing on a different idea each week throughout the next two months so make sure and check back often.

Explain the situation beforehand

This special time of year brings many emotions with it. It might be helpful to let extended family and other guests know what to expect before they arrive.

  1. If the person is in the early stages of dementia, changes in appearance and behavior may not be noticeable, but the person with dementia may have trouble following conversations or may repeat the same thing over and over.
    • Explaining the situation ahead of time and encouraging family and friends to be patient, respectful and allow the person time to finish his or her thoughts without interrupting or correcting will help him or her feel part of the group.
  2. A loved one in more advanced stages of dementia will have noticeable changes in behavior that may be difficult for loved ones who haven’t seen him or her for awhile to accept. It’s important to help family and friends understand that the behavior and memory changes are from the disease they have and not the person.Planning ahead can help create happy Christmas moments.

Write a letter  or send an email to family and friends

It might be easier to create an email to send out to family and friends explaining the changes that have occurred, what to expect and the most positive things family members can do to make their visit a pleasant one.  Some examples of letters:

  • “I’m writing to let you know how things are going at our house. While we’re looking forward to your visit, we thought it might be helpful if you understood our current situation before you arrive.”
  • “You may notice that ___ has changed since you last saw him/her. Among the changes, you may notice are ___.”
  • “Please understand that ___ may not remember who you are and may confuse you with someone else. Please don’t feel offended by this. He/she appreciates your being with us and so do I.” (www.alz.org)

For more ideas on helping extended family and friends understand the changes their loved one with dementia is experiencing visit Alz-Connectedcaregiving-through-the-holidays

At Aspen Senior Care we have caregivers trained in dementia care.  Our sister company,
the
 Aspen Senior Day Center of Provo has a specially designed program for seniors with memory loss. We provide fun, engaging activities, music, and lunch, plus peace of mind for families caring for loved ones with memory loss. Please visit the center or call us at (801) 607-2300 for more information. Visit our Aspen Senior Day Center Facebook page to see some of the fun activities they do!