Communication and dementia

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.

When a person is diagnosed with dementia, it affects the whole family.  Most families don’t know where to begin when it comes to finding help and resources.  Taking a team approach to dementia care is the best way to support families as they support their loved ones.

What is a team approach?

When we think about a team, we think about individuals working together towards the same goal. For families caring for a loved one with dementia, the goal is to provide good care as the disease progresses and also to support each other. Life doesn’t stand still for family members caring for their loved one. Families need to be able to continue with their hopes and dreams, even if some of those hopes and dreams have changed due to their loved one’s illness.We love working with our clients! It takes a team approach!

This is why a team approach to dementia care is so important.  There are agencies here in Utah County that share the same caregiving and quality-of-life goals for people with dementia that caregiving families have.  They offer dementia care education, respite care, and other kinds of support to these families.

Knowing where to find these resources can sometimes be a challenge, especially for families who have just received a diagnosis of dementia. This is where a caregiver coach can be of help.

A Caregiver Coach

Teams usually have a coach – someone who helps the team members by providing education, guidance, and support to help the team succeed. A Caregiver Coach helps families caring for loved ones with dementia. There are many resources available for such families –  the challenge is knowing where to find this information and what applies to their situation.

Each family caring for a loved one with dementia has unique challenges. A caregiver coach meets one on one with family caregivers and helps them find the right resources for them.

A family caregiver coach can:

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

    Caregiving takes a team

Aspen is here to help

The caregiving journey doesn’t have to be made alone. There are people who want to help and who know from experience the challenges families face. Aspen Senior Care takes a team approach to dementia care and wants to help you meet your caregiving goals. This is why we have a Caregiver Coach to help families meet the challenges of caregiving.  Meeting with our caregiver coach is a complimentary service we offer. To find out more about this service please call 801-224-5910. We are here to help!

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 Dementia?

Dementia is not a specific disease, it is the term used to describe several different diseases of the brain which affect:

  • MemoryAspen Senior Care. We love our clients!
  • Language skills
  • Visual Perception (being able to see and understand what is being seen)
  • Capability to focus and pay attention
  • Capability to reason and make decisions

About Dementia

It is important to understand that dementia is more than just memory loss, it is brain failure. Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells thru a head injury, blockage to the blood flow, or certain types of proteins that build up and interfere with brain function.

Different parts of the brain are responsible for making different parts of the body work.  Therefore, the type of dementia a person has is determined by how and where the cell damage occurs in the brain. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, when the cells in the brain are damaged it prevents the brain from communicating efficiently. This can affect behavior, thinking, and feelings.

There are many different types of dementia. Dementia is an “umbrella” term used to cover many causes of brain failure.

The four most common types of dementia are:  Dementia is the term used to describe several different diseases of the brain which affect memory, language, and more.

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Vascular Dementia
  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies
  • Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

It is not uncommon for a person to have two types of dementia combined, and this is called Mixed Dementia.  However, different brain imaging tools (PET Scan, MRI) can help determine which type of dementia one is dealing with. These scans can help solidify a diagnosis and are less invasive and more definitive.

Caregiver and client at an Aspen Senior Care event.

How can you support someone with dementia?

It is important for caregivers to have a general understanding of how dementia affects seniors and their families. While all dementia has some common characteristics, it’s helpful for caregivers to know the distinguishing characteristics of each type of dementia.

The more a caregiver knows about the type of dementia a senior has (if a diagnosis has been given) the more they will recognize and understand behaviors and learn how to use the positive approach when working with them.  However, it is important to remember that each person is unique and the course their disease follows will be unique.

Most importantly, remember that those dealing with dementia are not doing these things on purpose. When providing care, caregivers sometimes trigger behaviors without realizing it.

When they understand more about the many different types of dementia, caregivers will begin to improve quality and enjoyment of life at whatever stage of dementia a senior happens to be in.


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

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

What is Vascular Dementia?

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

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.

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

Aspen Senior Care is excited to share some great on-line dementia care help for family caregivers!

With all of the information about dementia care out there, it can be an overwhelming task to sort through and figure out just what information is best and how it applies to your situation.

At Aspen, we understand the difficulties family members face while caring for loved ones with dementia and our goal is to be a source of support, education, and information to which family members may turn as they cope with the daily challenges of caregiving.

Learning from the best and looking for the positive

Because there is so much material on dementia care out there, we have looked long and hard to find up-to-date, quality information that is both useful and practical for families to implement, and we believe we have found this resource in Teepa Snow, a dementia care education specialist with over 30 years of experience in this field.

 

Teepa Snow,
Dementia Care Specialist

She has developed The Positive Approach to Care training series to help professional and family caregivers better understand the physical changes that happen with dementia, and develop skills to understand and care for people with dementia

Our professional caregivers use Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach to Care training series to better understand memory loss and how using this approach improves the quality of life for both the caregiver and the person receiving care.

The positive approach focuses on what individuals with dementia CAN do at each stage of the disease instead of focusing on the skills they have lost.

 

Online Caregiving Tips

With this in mind, we have put together a list of short video clips taken from Teepa Snow’s training DVDs. More can be found at Teepa’s YouTube channel and The Pines of Sarasota YouTube channel.

These are just a few of the on-line dementia care help available for family caregivers.  Aspen Senior Care has some of the full-length DVDs from which the above clips are taken. Family caregivers are welcome to come and watch the entire DVD if they would like. Just give us a call at 801-224-5910 to check on availability and schedule a time to come in.

Aspen Senior Care is here to help families meet the caregiving challenges they face. We want families to feel they aren’t alone, that there is hope and help available. Please visit our website at aspenseniorcare.com and call us at 801-224-5910 for more information. We’re here to help.

Preventing Elder and Vulnerable Adult Abuse

This month we had the opportunity to learn about Adult Protective Services and the prevention of abuse for vulnerable and elderly adults.  Debbie Booth from Adult Protective Services taught how we as professional caregivers can prevent abuse, neglect, and exploitation of the seniors in our care.   

Who is considered a Vulnerable Adult?

  • An elder adult, defined as anyone 65 years of age or older.
  • An adult 18 years of age or older who has a mental or physical impairment which substantially affects that person’s ability to:
    • Provide personal protection
    • Provide necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, or mental or other health care
    • Obtain services necessary for health, safety, or welfare
    • Carry out activities of daily living
    • Manage the adult’s resources
    • Comprehend the nature and consequences of remaining in a situation of abuse

What can Adult Protective Services do? 

  • Investigate reports of abuse, neglect, or exploitation
  • Perform needs assessments
  • Coordinate with and refer to community resources for services

What can Adult Protective Services not do?

  • Take custody of an adult.
    • Adults have the right of self-determination unless there is imminent danger of injury or death
  • Under APS authority, place an adult in a nursing home or other facility.
  • Provide any service without the voluntary consent of the alleged victim or their guardian/conservator unless court ordered to do so.

“…Caretakers are our eyes and ears in terms of protecting this very vulnerable population.”

– Debbie Booth

Debbie also taught our team how to spot and report abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults by being aware and watchful of the following signs:

ABUSE

  • Unexplained bruises or welts
  • Multiple bruises in various stages of healing
  • Unexplained fractures, abrasions, and lacerations
  • Multiple injuries
  • Low self-esteem or loss of self-determination
  • Withdrawn, passive, fearful
  • Reports or suspicions of sexual abuse

NEGLECT

  • Dehydration
  • Lack of glasses, dentures, or other aides if usually worn
  • Malnourishment
  • Inappropriate or soiled clothes
  • Over or under medicated
  • Deserted or abandoned
  • Unattended

SELF-NEGLECT

  • Over or under medicated
  • Social isolation
  • Malnourishment or dehydration
  • Unkempt appearance
  • Lack of glasses, dentures, or hearing aides, if needed
  • Failure to keep medical appointments

EXPLOITATION

  • Possessions disappear
  • Forced to sell house or change one’s will
  • Overcharged for home repairs
  • Inadequate living environment
  • Unable to afford social activities
  • Forced to sign over control of finances
  • No money for food or clothes

In the state of Utah, it is the law that any person who has reason to believe that a vulnerable adult is being abused, neglected, or exploited must immediately notify Adult Protective Services intake or the nearest law enforcement office.

 

To Report Elder and Vulnerable Adult Abuse, Please call:

Salt Lake: 801-538-3567

Statewide: 800-371-7897

Click here to learn more about APS
Visit our website at aspenseniorcare.com for more information regarding in-home senior care.

**All information was provided by Debbie Booth from the Division of Aging and Adult Services for the State of Utah Department of Human Services**

 

 

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  

Family caregivers of loved ones with dementia often hesitate to ask for help. There’s a variety of reasons to not want to ask for help, but a diagnosis of dementia is a life-changing event for the entire family.

It is alright to ask for help when you need it.

G. L., an LCSW with Mountainland Department of Aging and an advocate for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia says that part of being a good caregiver is asking for help. Caregivers who don’t take care of their own needs and health – physical, emotional and mental – won’t be able to provide good care for their loved ones.

But where should caregivers go to find help when they need it and what kind of help is available?HISCCaregiverStress-multimedia-content-placeholder

Karen Rogers is Aspen Senior Care’s Family Caregiver Coach.  She can help family caregivers navigate the challenges of caregiving. As a caregiver coach, Karen can help you:

  • Feel encouraged and supported.
  • Cope and problem solve.
  • Better understand memory loss and dementia.
  • Manage stress and take better care of yourself.
  • Be aware of community resources.
  • Deal with challenging behaviors.

Mountainland Department of Aging here in Utah County and the Utah Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association has many resources available to help families caring for loved ones. The Aspen Senior Day Center in Provo, 3410 North Canyon Road, hosts a Family Caregiver Support Group every first Tuesday of the month at 6:30 pm. The support group is free and is a great way to meet with others who are caring for loved ones with dementia, share stories and experiences and just talk. Geri Lenhardt is the facilitator and can answer questions about community resources. Susan Johnson with Aspen Senior Care is also there to answer questions and provide support.

Aspen has caregivers trained in dementia care who go into seniors’ homes to provide respite for family caregivers. Aspen Senior Day Center is an adult day program that allows family caregivers to bring their loved one for the day and know they will be safe, provided with nutritious meals and participate in stimulating activities. For more information call Susan at 801-420-5167.