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It is helpful to begin by answering the question, what are Lewy bodies? Named after the scientist who discovered them, Lewy bodies are tiny abnormal protein deposits (also known as alpha-synuclein) found in the brain.

Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) is caused when Lewy bodies build up in the brain’s nerve cells. Eventually, Lewy bodies overtake the cells and cause them to die. They are so small they can only be seen with a microscope and can affect any part of the brain. According to The Lewy Body Dementia Association, these Lewy bodies affect individual’s behavior, sleep, body movements, and the ability to reason and make decisions. 

Image of a Lewy body in a neuron of the brain.

Unfortunately, LBD is believed to be underdiagnosed. This is due to overlapping symptoms found in Alzheimer’s as well as Parkinson’s Disease. 

Although the symptoms of LBD are similar to these diseases, LBD affects the brain differently. Because of this, getting an accurate diagnosis is important in managing this type of dementia. Some medications used to treat Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia may actually cause dangerous and permanent side effects in people with LBD.

Three Presentations of Lewy body dementia

Lewy body dementia is a term used to describe three related clinical diagnoses:

  • There are some individuals who present with neuropsychiatric symptoms (hallucinations, issues with difficult mental activities, and behavioral problems) which lead to an initial LBD diagnosis.
  • Some people may be initially diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after experiencing movement disorders. Later they develop dementia and are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD).
  • Others will first experience memory and cognition disorders which can be mistaken as Alzheimer’s Disease. Over time these people develop more distinctive features of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), resulting in an accurate diagnosis of Lewy body dementia.  

According to The LBDA, “A rather arbitrary time cutoff was established to differentiate between DLB and PDD.  People whose dementia occurs before or within 1 year of Parkinson’s symptoms are diagnosed with DLB.  People who have an existing diagnosis of Parkinson’s for more than a year and later develop dementia are diagnosed with PDD.

Symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia include:

  • Detailed visual hallucinations
  • Individuals may experience depression, anxiety, agitation or other behavioral or mood symptoms
  • Difficulty with movements such as walking, tremors, or stiffness
  • Difficulty sleeping, interruptions to sleep, or vivid dreams
  • Losing the ability to manage body functions such as bladder or bowel control, blood pressure, or body temperature

Because Lewy bodies can affect many different parts of the brain, there are multiple symptoms that can occur. As more and more nerve cells deteriorate, symptoms can increase and become worse.

Treatments

At this time there is not a cure for Lewy body dementia and the course of treatment will vary from person to person. Because each person experiences different symptoms, and each symptom requires a different form of treatment, it is important to seek medical advice from a doctor to determine the best plan of care.

How you can help your loved one 

A woman with her arm around a friend

Learn what you can do to support your loved one.

The Alzheimer’s Society recommends developing tactics which may assist individuals who are experiencing symptoms. Making lists, writing events on the calendar, or setting reminder alarms can be good techniques to use for memory loss. Walks or other active daytime activities may help with sleep disturbances. Seeking professionals such as neurologists, or physical therapists may help with movement symptoms.

It is also recommended to reassure those experiencing hallucinations that you are there to help them and not that what they are experiencing is not real.

Most importantly, remember that those dealing with any form of dementia are not doing these things on purpose. When providing care, caregivers sometimes trigger behaviors without realizing it. By understanding more about the many different types of dementia, caregivers can begin to improve quality and enjoyment of life at whatever stage of dementia a person happens to be in.

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Learn about different types of dementia in our other blog posts!

Understanding Dementia

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

What is Vascular Dementia?

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Aspen Senior Care helps seniors with all types of dementia. We provide professional caregivers to assist them in their homes and to give the family caregivers the break they need.

Aspen Senior Day Center in Provo provides adult day care services (fun activities and personal care) for seniors with all types of dementia.

Contact Karen Rodgers, Family Caregiver Coach, for a free assessment to help you navigate the challenges of caregiving. You can reach her at 801-224-5910.

With so many families caring for a loved one with dementia, we decided it was important to have a family caregiver coach on our Aspen Team to support and encourage caregivers.

What is a Caregiver Coach?

Often families are so caught up in the day-to-day challenges of caregiving they don’t know where to go to find help. A caregiver coach is someone who meets with families and helps them find support and resources specific to their needs.

Our caregiver coaches will help you by:

  • educating families about the type of dementia their loved one has
  • offering ideas about creating a safe home environment
  • being a listening ear for caregiver challenges and frustrations
  • helping problem solve challenging behaviors and situations
  • finding support groups the caregiver might feel comfortable attending
  • helping families access respite, in-home care, and adult day programs in the area.

Aspen Senior Care has a Caregiver Coach!

Karen Rodgers is Aspen’s Family Caregiver Coach

Karen Rogers is our Family Caregiver Coach. She has received special training and has worked with the local Area on Aging to help families navigate the challenges of dementia care. She is a CNA and has served as a professional caregiver for 10 years and also as a supervisor. Karen is also currently a family caregiver to her in-laws.

Karen is happy to help anyone with questions or concerns about caregiving. She can help find community resources, support groups, or help families understand what is happening with their loved one’s illness and offer ideas about coping with challenging behaviors.

Here is an example of how Karen has helped some of our clients:

Recently Karen met with two amazing ladies who are in their 80’s. Rachel was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last year and her friend, Barbara has been caring for her but having some difficulty keeping up with the changes Rachel was experiencing.  Food would disappear from the fridge and Barbara would find it several days later, spoiled in the garage or bedroom. Sometimes she’d never find it. Rachel couldn’t remember taking it or where she put it.  Barbara was also wearing herself out constantly caring for and supervising Rachel, who couldn’t be left alone for very long.

Clients love creating their own works of art at the Aspen Senior Day Center

Barbara and Karen brain-stormed about the food issue and Barbara ended up putting a safety lock on the fridge. She just uses it at night and it has helped with food disappearing.

Karen also suggested Rachel attend the Aspen Senior Day Center (an adult day care center) two times a week. Barbara was really hesitant about this at first, not thinking Rachel would like it. However, Rachel loves it! She has made some new friends and especially loves doing crafts. Barbara has decided she really likes it, too. She hadn’t realized how tired she was and now she uses this time to rest so she can enjoy time spent with Rachel when she comes home.

Aspen Senior Care takes a team approach to dementia care and wants to help you meet your caregiving goals!

Meeting with our Family Caregiver Coach is a complementary service we offer.

If you have questions please call us at 801-224-5910 or call Karen directly at 385-208-8709. We are here to be of service.

Thank you to Marie VillezaElderImpact.org) for contributing this piece to our August blog!

Living far away from a senior loved one can be stressful, especially if they have health issues or limited mobility. It can be difficult to know how to help from afar, but often, finances and commitments keep us from being able to travel.

Fortunately, there are several apps, websites, and services that will allow you to help your loved one no matter how far apart you are. Whether there are health issues involved or you just want to give them assistance around the house, technology has ensured that it can be done. Think about the best ways to help your loved one thrive, then read on for the best tips on how to get started and where to find the best services.

Health-related

Making sure your loved one stays in good health is a priority, but it’s not always easy when you live in a different city or state. Now, they can download an app on their smartphone to help them keep track of their blood pressure; it even allows them to record notes about what they had to eat or drink that day, their weight, and their resting blood pressure. The app uses the phone’s camera to record the pulse in their finger for a readout.

You can also invest in a Fitbit, which is worn on the wrist like a watch and tracks several different bodily functions, including steps taken over the course of the day.

For brain health

Keeping the brain active is vital for seniors, especially those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or are at risk for it. Playing brain games on a tablet or smartphone can help boost memory and keep brain cells active and healthy.

For seniors who have trouble remembering the little things–like where they parked in a large parking lot–there’s an app that will help them out every time they leave the house. Park And Forget is specially made for people who can’t keep track of the area they left their car in when they go to big places like the mall.

For ease of everyday activities

For seniors who have trouble reading small print even with glasses, there’s an app called Eyereader that enlarges the text in a book or magazine and lights it up through the phone screen. Used like a magnifying glass, this app prevents eye strain and helps seniors have more independence.

Pillboxie is another great app for seniors; it’s a reminder tool that helps the user remember to take their medication. This is perfect for seniors who have a lot of medicine to keep up with, especially if there are some that have to be taken at different times of the day.

Apps aren’t the only way you can help your senior loved one; you can also take advantage of services online, such as Rover.com, which allows you to set up a dog walker to come and take care of their pet. Although many seniors enjoy getting out and exercising with their dogs, some have limited mobility and can’t always do it safely. Hiring a dog-walker ensures that your loved one won’t have to choose between endangering their health or keeping their pet from going on its daily walk.

With so many apps and services to choose from, it can get a little overwhelming. Try not to stress; simply help your loved one set up the ones they want to try and show them how to get started. Once they’ve gone through the steps a few times, it will become much easier, and you can rest assured that they are in good hands even if you can’t be with them all the time.

Author: Marie Villeza (Author: ElderImpact.org)

What is it?

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia and makes up about 60% to 80% of dementia cases.  However, many researchers believe this number is too high and that other forms of dementia may be under diagnosed. On average, a person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s will live with the disease for 4-8 years depending on the person’s health and age.  The majority of cases are people aged 65 and older.

In some cases, individuals with this disease aren’t diagnosed until they have had the disease for a few years because the symptoms come on gradually and can be confused with normal aging.

A healthy brain versus a brain affected by Alzheimer’s Disease.

What causes Alzheimer’s Disease?

Although there are ongoing studies, Alzheimer’s Disease is believed to be caused by protein build-up in the brain. These abnormal protein particles are called tangles and plaques and as these tangles and plaques start to attach to nerve cells in the brain, they block communication between the cells and also keep the cells from getting nutrients and oxygen to survive. When a nerve cell dies, that part of the brain shrinks causing the disease to gradually worsen over time. Subsequently, this begins to affect memory, thinking, and behavior as the brain’s “file system” is progressively removed.

Symptoms include:

  • Forgetting how to use common, everyday items
  • Forgetting how to do common activities, such as cooking and driving
  • Misplacing things and not being able to problem solve to find them
  • Becoming fearful or jealous of people
  • Unable to find the right words to speak or write
  • Repeating the same question over and over
  • Poor judgment about appropriate behavior
  • Confusion about time and place
  • Mood and personality changes
We Are People Who Have Alzheimer’s. We Are Not Alzheimer’s.

We Are People Who Have Alzheimer’s. We Are Not Alzheimer’s.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are different stages of the disease which will progressively worsen over time, although the disease will affect each individual differently. Initially, early-stage Alzheimer’s Disease will result in mild memory loss but as it progresses towards late-stage, the disease removes functionality and the ability to make conversation or respond to what is happening around one’s environment.  

Unfortunately, medication does not slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease.  However, there are both drug and non-drug treatments which can help neurons in the brain to fire, aiding in cognitive and behavioral symptoms. 

 

To learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease and other Dementia related topics, visit our blog or the following websites:

Alzheimer’s Association  (24/7 Helpline: 1-800-272-3900 and Find Your Local Chapter)

NIH –  National Institute on Aging

Mayo Clinic

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Learn about different types of dementia in our other blog posts!

Understanding Dementia

What is Vascular Dementia?

What is Lewy Body Dementia?

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At Aspen Senior Day Center in Provo, we provide adult day care services (fun activities and personal care) for seniors with all types of dementia.

Aspen Senior Care provides in-home care for seniors with all types of health challenges, including all forms of dementia.

Contact Karen Rodgers, Family Caregiver Coach, for a free assessment to help you navigate the challenges of caregiving. You can reach her at 801-224-5910.

Visit aspenseniorcare.com or call our office at 801-224-5910 for more information.

 

 

Helping Seniors Prevent Falls

Now is a great time to take some simple steps to make sure the only things falling this autumn are LEAVES.

Falling is a serious issue for seniors and the chances of falling increase with age. While there are various reasons for falling down (medications or health issues) a lot of falls can be prevented  by planning ahead.

If you must have throw rugs, make sure they are skid-proof.

If you must have throw rugs, make sure they are skid-proof.

1. Look over your medications. Take all your medications (including prescriptions and over-the-counter medicine) to your next doctor’s appointment. By having your doctor review what your are taking, he or she might want to change doses or try a different medication if it makes you dizzy.

2. Make a fall prevention plan with your doctor.  Your healthcare provider may want to check your balance, leg strength, blood pressure and heart rate or may want to examine how you walk and your vision. He or she might have you do strengthening exercises or recommend a cane or a change in shoes.

3. Make your home safe.  There are a number of simple things you can do to minimize the risk of falling at home:

  • Make sure pathways are clear of cord and clutter
  • Remove loose carpets and throw rugs. If you insist on having throw rugs, use rugs with nonskid backing.
  • Make sure your house is well-lit, especially at the top and bottom of stairs or inside and outside the doors to your home.

    Make sure all rooms and hallways are well lit. Add grab bars in the bathroom

    Make sure all rooms and hallways are well lit. Add grab bars in the bathroom

  • Add grab bars near the toilet and bath tub, and use slip-proof mats in tub or shower.
  • Wear firm shoes that aren’t slippery.  Wear non-skid socks.

4.  If you have a fall, talk with your doctor about what might have caused it. Did you trip over something, feel dizzy or lose your balance?  Figuring out what caused the fall can be helpful in avoiding another one.

Falling is very  traumatic for seniors and can have devastating results.  For more information on preventing falls visit Healthinaging.org

Wearing non-skid socks can help prevent falls.

Wearing non-skid socks can help prevent falls.

Aspen Senior Care is dedicated to improving the lives of seniors in our community! We do this by providing quality in-home care and day center programs, and helping seniors and their families connect with support groups, health services and other resources in the community.  If you are in need of assistance or have any questions, please give us a call at 801-224-5910 or visit our website at aspenseniorcare.com.

Keeping Your Mind Sharp at Any Age

Everyone knows that the human body needs good nutrition and exercise to keep it strong and healthy.  We can actually build muscles and tone our bodies with diet and exercise, but did you know that the human brain can be strengthened and toned too?

The less we use our muscles, the more they deteriorate. The human brain works much the same way – it needs to be constantly challenged, conditioned and fed in order to thrive. Otherwise it too falls into a state of atrophy.brain-running

What many don’t realize is that it’s never too late to build up your brain’s ability to think!  Keeping your mind active by socializing, reading, engaging in problem-solving puzzles and word games, arts and crafts, and feeding your brain healthy food can actually increase the cognitive reserves in your brain no matter what age you are.

A recent article at Truth About Cancer lists seven ways to keep our minds sharp and clear: 

  • Continue to Learn and Grow Your Mind
    Experts say keeping mentally active, whether through engaging in a new hobby, continuing education, or learning a new skill, helps keep brain cells communicating well with each other.
  • Use All Your Senses
    The more senses you use in learning something new, the more involved your brain will be in retaining it in your long-term memory.
  • Don’t Get Down on Yourself
    Positive thinking really does work! Just because we older doesn’t mean our memory is going to fail. Think positively, work hard, and believe in yourself. You’ll achieve so much more that way!
  • Simplify Your Life
    Spend your mental energy on tasks that require critical thinking − not on trying to find your keys for the umpteenth time.  Removing clutter and unimportant distractions from daily life will help maintain brain function.
  • Repeat What You Want to Remember
    If you find yourself forgetting things all the time, repeat the things you don’t want to slip your mind until they’re stuck in your head.
  • Space Out Your Repetitions
    For more difficult concepts to remember, try spacing out your repetitions. For example, start at once an hour, then every few hours, then every day, and so on. Practicing this technique helps improve memory as it relates to retaining lots of new information.
  • Ever Heard of a Mnemonic?
    Piano players learned at an early age how to remember the musical notes E, G, B, D, and F by memorizing “Every Good Boy Does Fine.”  Mnemonic devices can help us remember important things like people’s names or lists. Another example of a mnemonic device is an acronym, in which each of the letters spelling out a particular word stand for another word or phrase that starts with that letter.

It’s never too late to start exercising your brain. Find something that interests you or something you’ve always wanted to try but never have. By keeping positive and learning new things you can build brain power and have fun doing it!cognitive-reserves-never-too-old-or-too-late

Aspen Senior Care is dedicated to improving the lives of seniors in our community! We do this by providing quality in-home care and day center programs, and helping seniors and their families connect with support groups, health services and other resources in the community.  If you are in need of assistance or have any questions, please give us a call at 801-224-5910 or visit our website at aspenseniorcare.com. We also have services in Salt Lake County.

Aspen Senior Care’s Award-Winning Services for Seniors

If you are looking for the best in-home care possible, Aspen Senior Care’s award-winning services for seniors is it. Here at Aspen Senior Care we understand the difficulty that families face when searching for in-home care. There are many home care agencies out there, but none of them are like Aspen Senior Care.2016-BOHC-Provider-of-Choice (High Res)

We have contracted with a company called Home Care Pulse® to help take the guesswork out of finding care. Being a third-party company, Home Care Pulse can collect unbiased, honest feedback without outside influence. They do so by conducting phone interviews with a number of our clients or their responsible party each month.

Clients have an opportunity to rate our services on a scale of 1 – 10 in areas such as:

  • Timeliness of caregivers.
  • Knowledge of caregivers.
  • Compassion of caregivers
  • Communication with office staff.
  • Services provided as promised.
  • Overall quality of care.

Clients are also asked where we are doing well and where we need to improve.  If they wish they can remain anonymous when answering these questions.

Once Home Care Pulse completes these phone interviews they send us a report of their findings and also show us how we compare with other companies in the home care industry. Each year they award the top companies with the Best of Home Care Certified – Trusted Provider Award. Aspen Senior Care has won this award for the past 7 years in a row.

Aspen Senior Care’s goal is to provide the best home care possible and we want our clients to feel assured that we are constantly taking steps to improve our service.

Certified – Trusted Providers are committed to:

  • Actively gathering important feedback from their clients each month.
  • Using client’s feedback to help them provide excellent care.
  • Giving you or your loved one the best in-home care possible.

Best of Utah Vally.2016Aspen Senior Care has also been voted Best in Utah Valley by the Daily Herald Reader’s Choice Awards for the past 4 years.  We are committed to providing good, quality care.

Our caregivers are warm, caring and skilled individuals who have been carefully screened and well trained. We don’t hire anyone we wouldn’t trust to care for our own family members.

Our caregivers love working here!

Our caregivers love working here!

Call us at 801-224-5910 to see if Aspen Senior Care is a fit for you or your loved one!

Helping Seniors Take their Medications Properly

It’s estimated that up to 40% of the elderly take more than five different medications a day.

With this number being so high it’s important to help our clients or elderly parents or loved ones take their medications properly and regularly.

Life After 60 recommends the following:

  • Use a pill organizer
    • There are many different styles from which to choose depending on the needs of the individual. A pill organizer should be easy to look at to tell whether or not the pills were taken.  It also should be easy to access. However, many of these pill organizers are not child proof and need to be kept in a secure place.
  • Make a dosage schedule
    • Make a list of all your medications, when and how you take them. Create a check list so you can mark when you’ve taken them.
    • Set aside time each week to fill medication organizer for the coming week.automatic pill organizer
  • Check prescriptions labels carefully
    • Dosages change and medication expires. It’s a good idea to read the label with each new prescription. This also helps you know when it’s time for a refill.

Often our clients or family members don’t feel well or get confused about their medications and it becomes necessary to gently offer to help. Taking a little time and helping them organization their medication can help them stay safe and feeling well.

At Aspen Senior Care we have caregivers trained to remind and assist clients with their medications. We cannot handle or set up medication but we have a nurse on staff who can be consulted. Our caregivers are diligent in knowing our clients’ medication schedules and paying attention to what prescriptions they take and when they are taken. Visit our website for more information or call us at 801-224-5910.Weekly pill organizer

Gardening Therapy and Seniors with Dementia

Gardening is good for the soul! Simply getting outdoors and digging in the earth, planting seeds, watering, and watching plants blossom and yield flowers, fruits and vegetables can be beneficial for everyone, including people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

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Horticulture Therapy professionals believes that therapeutic gardening has an important place is the care and treatment of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

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Some of the benefits are cognitive, physical and mental/emotional:

  • Enhance cognitive functioning
  • Promote physical health
  • Improve concentration
  • Prompt memories
  • Help social interaction
  • Increase self-esteem
  • Reduce stress and help with anxiety
  • Decrease depression
  • Give participants a sense of accomplishment

V__EB15Aspen Activity Days at the Taylorsville Senior Center has seen this happen first hand!

They started a garden in April and had everyone participate in preparing the soil, planting the seeds, watering, nourishing and weeding the plants. They have grown a beautiful garden and you can see how much they have enjoyed it. They even made chili for lunch last week with vegetables from the garden!

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Aspen has an Activity Day Program in Salt Lake City and an Adult Day Center in Provo where families who have loved ones with dementia can take drop them off for the day and know that they will be well cared for and participate in activities they will enjoy and feel connected to others. To see more of what benefits these programs have to offer visit  www.aspenseniorcenter.org  and  Aspen Activity Days  or call us at 801-224-5910.
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Legal Documents Family Caregivers need to know about

Being a family caregiver takes a lot of time and energy , so when families hear about making sure their elderly parents’ legal affairs are in order, it’s often something that gets overlooked in the day to day tasks of care-giving. There are, however, important legal documents that seniors and their caregivers (whether family caregivers or professional caregivers) should have and refer to when making medical decisions. Many people don’t think about these types of medical decisions until an emergency happens and decisions need to be made quickly. Not having a plan in place could mean that seniors’ wishes about medical care aren’t known or honored, or even worse, having their children have to go to court for the right to make their parents’ wishes followed.

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