Alzheimer’s and Dementia

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?

What is Lewy Body Dementia?

What is Frontotemporal 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  

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 caregiving.  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?
  • Is 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 Day Center in Provo is a Specialized Adult Day Program

The Aspen Senior Day Center in Provo is the only program of it’s kind in Utah Valley. The Aspen Senior Day 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 Day 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!

Every year thousands of individuals are misdiagnosed in the emergency room with harmless headaches or dizziness when they really are experiencing signs of stroke. A study published by David Newman-Toker, M.D., Ph.D. last April found that many emergency room doctors where overlooking or discounting these symptoms, especially in people younger than 45.

The research showed that a significant number  “of people later admitted for stroke had been potentially misdiagnosed and erroneously sent home from an ER in the 30 days preceding stroke hospitalization. Those misdiagnosed disproportionately presented with dizziness or headaches and were told they had a benign condition, such as inner ear infection or migraine… About half of the unexpected returns for stroke occurred within seven days, and more than half of these occurred in the first 48 hours.”

Stroke is a leading cause of vascular dementia and it’s important for families and  caregivers to recognize the symptoms.

11214719_689671047811285_3361388868696977187_n

Receiving treatment quickly can decrease the amount of long-term effects and has been shown to decrease the chance of repeat stroke by as much as 80%.

Aspen Senior Care is dedicated to providing quality care to seniors in their homes. We have well trained caregivers and staff who love seniors and know the challenges that family caregivers face.  For more information please call 801-224-5910.

 

 

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.