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Taking care of an elderly parent or relative is a heartwarming experience and it can enhance the lives of those you care for ten-fold. But even the most patient and attentive caregivers need a break from time to time. While some might argue that spending every minute you can with an ailing parent is the best use of your time, others would point to the growing concern around self-care and encourage caregivers to take time away as needed to replenish and regroup. Taking care of someone you love is a lot of work, and while it is incredibly rewarding, you need to take a break sometimes too. You might be worried about how to leave a family member you care for to take a vacation or break, but with these tips, you can be on your way.

Plan in Advance

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (Free-Photos)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (Free-Photos)

You can’t know how long you are going to be caring for an ailing loved one, so it’s important to take the time you need when you need it. Start planning your vacation in advance so that you have plenty of time to ensure that everything is in order and looked after before you head out. Because you will need to find someone to care for your family member while you are away, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of lead-time to arrange for that additional care. Plus, if you are being paid for your time as a caregiver, consider how you can earn money to cover your time away from “work.” Giving yourself a few months notice allows you to save some of your money for such a vacation.

Talk to Other Family Members

When it comes to being paid for your time and effort as a caregiver, you’ll most likely need to plan to offer some form of payment to another family member who takes over. If your family member in care receives CDPAP, or another benefit, you may want to start putting some of those funds away now to ensure you have enough to cover the time away for additional care. You’ll want to organize a family meeting to discuss options for care while you are away. Keep in mind that family members might not want to take on the responsibility of caring for aging parents, even for a week, and they might expect you to find someone else to do the job while you are gone.

Hiring an Outside Source of Help

If it happens that your existing family members don’t want to pitch in to care for your aging parents while you are out of town, you might have to consider hiring an outside source of help. There are a number of home care services that can come for short or extended periods of time. You’ll need time to place an ad or contact an agency and arrange for an interview before leaving on your vacation.

Walk Through the Day

Photo courtesy Pixabay (silviarita)

Photo courtesy Pixabay (silviarita)

When you do find suitable care for your family member, whether that is another family member of an outside source of help, you’ll want to take the time to walk them through a typical day of care. It’s important to do this once or twice so that everyone is comfortable with the temporary situation. Remembering that this is just temporary will put everyone at ease. Elderly parents or family members might not want you to go away for a week or even longer, but because it is so important to maintain your self-care as a caregiver, you’ll need to come to terms with what leaving for a period of time means and decide to do it anyway. Taking time to acquaint new caregivers and your family member is important.

Finally, talk to your family member about how important it really is for you to be able to take time away from your job there and come back ready to tell them wonderful stories and share adventures with them. You need a break and while you might feel guilty about what that could feel like for your parents, remember again, that it is just temporary. And if you are really worried about taking time away from your family member, don’t go far so you can come at a moment’s notice if necessary. That way, you get a break, and you can sleep at night if you are worried about your parents or family members.

Contributed by Baruch Leifer

Freedom Care

Like nurses, caregivers can be more prone to injury or illness associated with caring for someone. Muscle strain from lifting a client, mental stress from various caregiving roles, and infection from contact with many patients across different healthcare settings can not only make the caregiving job harder but be detrimental to a caregiver’s overall health.

When it comes to avoiding common caregiving injuries, don’t miss these quick tips:

Practice Good Lifting Technique

Photo by Pixabay (sasint)

Photo by Pixabay (sasint)

The nature of caregiving doesn’t leave much room for waiting. If the person you’re caring for falls or needs help to get to the restroom, the burden of supporting their weight and helping them get up quickly or reposition falls on you.

Not only is lifting a human being more difficult because they are heavy, often unbalanced, and the body positioning is awkward, but lifting an entire person from a chair or bed can require even more exertion than normal (not to mention pushing wheelchairs with clients in them up steep ramps.)

Commonly, both formal and informal caregivers will experience muscle strain and injury to the back, shoulders, neck, and knees. This can manifest into a serious injury like rotator cuff tears, joint inflammation, and pinched nerves which make the caregiving job that much more challenging and increase safety risks for clients.

Caregivers can practice good lifting techniques by:

  • Calling for help if there is any concern about the lift being unmanageable or dangerous
  • Utilizing transfer and lift aids like shower transfer chairs, swivel seat cushions, hoya lifts, and lifting belts

  • Taking a minute to assess the lift before taking action, i.e. move clutter out of the way, reposition your client so they can help
  • Having your client help with the lift by supporting themselves on a sturdy piece of furniture or with their mobility aid
  • Lifting with the legs from a squat position, and keeping the head up and back in neutral (straight) position

Prevent Infection

Constant contact with clients in different health settings can make caregivers prone to infection or illness like colds or the flu. And any caregiver knows that clients who require care, especially seniors, are more susceptible to complications (like pneumonia) from even small infections that people accidentally pass to them.

Infection prevention is relatively simple. Caregivers should always remember to:

Photo by Pixabay (gentle07)

Photo by Pixabay (gentle07)

  • Thoroughly wash hands with soap and water before and after caring for a client in any way (or use hand sanitizer)

  • Wear gloves when completing tasks that deal with bodily fluids

  • Wear a face mask if a client is ill, sniffling, coughing, etc.

  • Avoid seeing clients when you are under the weather yourself

  • Take care of yourself with a healthy diet and routine exercise that bolsters your immune system

Practice Self-Care

While caregiving is definitely fulfilling and provides you with a sense of purpose, it can also take its toll physically and mentally. More than most, caregivers should practice regular self-care that helps prevent injury, tends to emotional stress, and equips them with the tools and strategies to maintain optimum health while seeing to their client’s health.

If you are dealing with chronic back pain or nagging knee pain, see a doctor for a formal evaluation. They may recommend stretches and exercises to strengthen the muscles used in caregiving, prescribe a brace to stabilize the neck to minimize painful neck movement or to support the knee when lifting, as well as educate you on lifting technique.

If you are feeling stressed or burnt out, see to your own emotional wellness by speaking with a counselor, finding a hobby outside of caregiving that helps you relax (knitting, coloring, rock climbing, etc.), and addressing the caregiving tasks that are posing the greatest challenges. For example, if lifting has become overly strenuous, find out if your client’s doctor can write an order for a lifting aid or device.

To learn more about Aspen Senior Care or to get caregiving support, call our office today at 801-224-5910.

Author: Joe Fleming

Co-Founder, Vive Health

Are you a senior making your spring and summer travel plans? You’re not alone. In fact, AARP’s 2017 Travel Research reveals that the majority of Boomers travel during the spring and summer months. Whether it’s a weekend getaway, summer vacation, or a big family reunion, taking trips is a great way for seniors to get out of the house, socialize with others, problem solve, and check some life goals off their bucket list.

Travel doesn’t come without its own challenges, however; everything from cost, health, and security concerns to long lines at the airport and unexpected snafu’s with reservations can throw a wrench in your well-designed travel plans. These challenges are made even more difficult if you have mobility problems or another disability.

enjoy-the-little-things-Pixabay(Alexas_Fotos)

Photo by Pixabay(Alexas_Fotos)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures that you will get equal treatment under the law and that all the accessibility standards and requirements in both public and private places are regulated. However, it does not always work out that way in real life, especially when traveling abroad. More than one-third of people with disabilities reported they experience difficulties, inadequate facilities, prejudice, higher prices, and other associated problems while traveling.

If you’re looking for effective tips to make traveling easier and more enjoyable as a senior, don’t miss this quick list:

Save time and money planning online

For more efficient cost-comparison and travel planning, technology can be your best friend. Websites like TripAdvisor, Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, and Hotwire can help you search for a great flight, hotel, and car rental deals as well as enlighten you about your destination. If you’re looking into potential vacation rentals, sites like Airbnb or HomeAway are your ticket. And use smartphone apps like Yelp and Zomato to check menus, pricing, and reviews of potential restaurants or other destinations on your itinerary.

Call a travel agent

If you have built up airline loyalty miles, are looking guided tour vacation opportunities, or simply prefer to coordinate travel plans with a real live person, give a travel agent a try. Travel agencies in the United States, Canada, and Europe offer niche services which can be tailored to your specific needs, i.e. if you have mobility problems. Since they deal with seniors regularly, they know all the potential travel pitfalls and hurdles you could encounter and how best to avoid them. Working with an experienced travel agent alone can make your travel more accessible and convenient.

Choose your flight wisely

Senior Travel Plane -Pixabay(bosmanerwin)

Photo by Pixabay(bosmanerwin)

If possible, try to choose a direct flight and avoid connecting flights. Getting off the plane, waiting during a layover at another airport, and boarding again is nothing but an added hassle. However, if you have a hard time using the tiny restrooms on a plane, a long flight can be uncomfortable. In that case, you may want to opt for a connecting flight, but make sure that there is ample time for you to get from one gate to the other.

Be a smart packer

As a senior, there are a handful of items you want to be smart about packing. Take medicine, for example – always take more medicine than you might need, sort and store it in a pill organizer if possible, pack it in your carry-on (not in your checked luggage which has the potential to get lost), and keep your refill prescriptions with you just in case.

For avoiding aches and pains when traveling you may also want to bring items that offer greater comfort, cushioning, and support on your journey. Always wear proper-fitting walking shoes with smooth bottoms and consider getting gel inserts for added comfort and support, especially if you have sensitive feet or are not used to staying on your feet a lot. It makes your travel a lot easier, even if you get caught up in unexpected delays, long lines, and other unwanted situations.

Travel neck pillows and padded seat cushions can also alleviate neck, back, and hip discomfort on long plane or car rides by helping you maintain good posture and better distributing your weight in your seat.

If you use a wheelchair to get around, consider packing accessories (like your pedals) in a bag in your carry-on and bringing a small wheelchair repair kit along (or going ahead and looking up local repair shops at your destination) just in case. Moreover, if you are planning on traveling internationally, make sure you know your rights as a person with a disability by going to the website of the local border agency.

Contact your hotel early

Contact your hotel or other lodgings at least 24 hours before your time of arrival, so they have enough time to make necessary arrangements if needed. If you use a mobility aid like a walker or a wheelchair, make sure to share those details and verify you will be staying in a handicap-accessible room (they have wider doorways, grab bars, walk-in showers, etc).

You may even want to go so far as to bring a doctor’s note with you with their phone number, as well as a travel statement and a list of any special needs written down on a piece of paper.

Taking even just a couple of these steps in your travel planning can save you time, money, and stress. Good luck, and have a great trip!

Author: Joe Fleming

Co-Founder, Vive Health

There are many services available to help seniors who may need extra assistance. Unfortunately, this transition can be hard for those needing extra care. Some adults resist having strangers come into their home. Sometimes they do not want to attend an adult day program or move into a senior housing community. The senior who needs help may see these services as a loss of independence, an invasion of privacy, or are unwilling to pay for services.
 

Here are suggestions family caregivers have found helpful in making these transitions easier.

Listen and involve your loved oneHow can I get my family member to accept help?

Your loved one wants to have a say in what is happening with their care. Listen to their concerns and why they are fearful of accepting help.  Maybe they feel that their choice is being taken away from them. Perhaps they feel they have become a burden. Whatever it may be, express that you understand their concerns and that their feelings are valid Involve your loved one when choosing the in-home care company, adult day care program, or residential facility. Having a voice will help your family member feel more comfortable with the decision.

Take it Step-by-step

Next, take time to introduce the new assistance into your family member’s life. For example, begin by having an initial meeting with your loved one and an in-home care company. As your loved one builds a relationship with a caregiver, add hours and days throughout the week. A senior day center may be a better fit. Your family member can begin with two days per week to adjust to the new routine and structure.

Communicate your needs

Acknowledge your needs as a caregiver and express your thoughts to your loved one. Let them know that it helps ease your concerns when you know they are in good care. Confirm that you are still there to help and that you love them.

Be Respectful

In most cases, your loved one is in a place where they have the right to help make decisions for themselves. Their final decision may not fall in line with what you consider to be the best choice for everyone involved, especially if they have dementia. Encourage them to give the new change a try for two weeks and then evaluate after that. Be respectful and supportive. This may be a difficult time for them and they need your love and support.

Senior Financial Literacy

In 2004, the American Society on Aging sponsored a study to test the financial knowledge of Americans age 50+. This included a survey of three simple yes/no questions that assessed the knowledge of the respondents on concepts such as inflation, risk diversification, and interest rates. At that time only one-third of respondents could answer all three questions correctly.*

Since 2009, broader studies have been made within the wider population and the results were similarly dismal. However, there was a clear correlation between age and a failure to understand some basic financial concepts that make up financial literacy. This is especially worrisome given that money and debt management issues are most consequential to seniors.

This may seem an overwhelming topic to tackle for a senior or their family. While getting sound financial advice is one of the first things most money professionals recommend, that can be easier said than done. Many older adults rely on the advice of relatives, friends or neighbors. Yet, this is a strategy that as many as 70 percent of fraud victims report having used. Become more informed and consider learning more from an accredited Financial Advisor. These are the best first steps to improve one’s financial literacy. One online resource for understanding some of the basics is ConsumerCredit.com. This site offers useful tools designed for the 50+ population.

Here are several topics which seniors and their families may wish to consider when evaluating their financial health.

Know where your money is going Do you know where your money is going?

Based on a 2014 survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, over 60% of Americans don’t have a budget. This is the first place to start in developing financial literacy. You cant make informed choices about your money if you don’t know where it is going.

Address your debt 

Now that you know where your money is going, its time to develop a strategy to start eliminating it. This means identifying expenses that you can trim and develop strategies to change your spending habits.

Check your credit report 

Your credit report can impact not only your ability to get a loan but to rent an apartment or land a job. Therefore, it is critical that you check your credit report often and understand the factors that affect it. If your score is low, there are many agencies available to help you start improving it.

Understand your retirement portfolio 

Check your investment choices. For those seniors with retirement portfolios, it is important to understand your risk. While the safety of bonds has always been attractive, a perfect storm may be upon the bond market in the form of anticipated increases in interest rates, tax cuts and a ballooning national debt which will all impact the value of bonds. If your portfolio favors bonds, it may be time to consider a more diversified financial plan. Know whether your total living expenses could ride out a drop in value.

Prepare 

We’ve all heard the rule—you should have three to six months of expenses on hand for an emergency. Even if you don’t think you can get there, start somewhere. Have a set amount put away so if there’s an emergency you have something to fall back on.

* For more information on this study and a more in-depth discussion on the topic of financial literacy, go to asaging.org.

Adapted from The Seniors Choice ‘Improving Senior Financial Literacy’

Best of Home CareⓇ – Provider of Choice 20182018 Best of Home Care Provider of Choice

We happily announce that Aspen Senior Care has again won the Best of Home Care – Provider of Choice Award for 2018. That makes 9 years in a row!  We are one of the top home care agencies in the country and the only award-winning provider in Utah County!

We have absolute proof of quality of care as awarded by Home Care Pulse, a third party quality assurance company. Home Care Pulse interviews different clients or their family members each month. During the interview, our clients rate us in various categories such as:

  • Compassion of Caregivers
  • Recommend Provider
  • Confidence in Office Staff 
  • Communication from Provider
  • Daily Life
  • Work Ethic of Caregivers
  • Ability of Caregivers
  • Client/Caregiver Compatibility

These ratings compare with hundreds of other agencies across the nation. Only those with consistently high ratings are awarded Best of Home Care each year.

“This is not an easy award to win, but shows our dedication to our caregivers and our clients,” says Susan Johnson, Relations Manager. “It also shows our willingness to be transparent in all that we do.”

Certified – Trusted Providers commit to:Home Care Pulse - Trusted Provider

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

We credit our fine team of compassionate caregivers and office staff for making us an ongoing award-winning agency. Thanks to our clients as well for providing ongoing feedback — both positive and constructive — each month. This helps us continually look to improve our services.

“Our team here at Aspen Senior Care are looking forward to another great year of providing quality service to seniors in our community! We are grateful to see our daily efforts to provide quality care to seniors recognized.”

-Gary Staples, Owner and Administrator

Fitness for Seniors

With age, most people tend to become sedentary. Work, kids, and relationships can push your health and well-being down on the list of your priorities. However, staying fit is a primary key to a long, healthy, and productive life, and being able to take care of others around you.

Benefits of exercise for seniors

By leading an active life, seniors benefit more than people of any other age. Exercising regularly not only improves your overall physical health but also boosts your mental health.  Key physical benefits include increased mobility, flexibility, and balance. You’ll be able to control your weight, even lose a few pounds, and the impact of chronic diseases and illnesses can decrease. Your brain also undergoes positive changes, you’ll sleep better, and your self-confidence and mood will lift.

Obstacles to an active lifestyle

Maintaining an active lifestyle is hard at any age, and it gets harder as you get older. The biggest hindrance is the thought that you’re too old to exercise. Sure, it’s not easy, but people that become active in older age show better progress, both physically and mentally. Some older adults are scared they’ll fall if they exercise, but the opposite is true. You’ll gain strength, stamina, improve balance, and avoid bone density loss.

Another excuse seniors have is that they will never be as athletic as they once used to be, and that’s true. But you don’t have to; your goals will be different from someone half your age. Chair-limited seniors are the least active and think they can’t exercise, but they are the ones who need to be active the most. Chair aerobics, chair yoga, weight lifting, and tai chi can be done from a chair to increases flexibility, muscle tone, enhance the range of motion, and promote heart health.

Fear or pain or hurting oneself may also hold you back. There are many aids and gadgets available to ease aches and pains that may arise from exercise including braces, wraps, and orthoses. You’ll especially need to take care of your feet if you have diabetes like 25% of seniors do. If your feet feel the heat when running, find the best insoles for heel pain for some added cushion and relief for your feet.

A plan just for you

Since every person is unique, you’ll need a tailored workout program. Depending on your level of flexibility and mobility, you can walk, run, join senior classes, do water aerobics or yoga, practice tai chi or qi gong, dance, play tennis, play basketball, go swimming, or do all of these. To stay motivated, find an exercise buddy, someone who you like spending time with. Try new activities to keep your brain and body involved. Even if you don’t like a particular activity, you’ll still get to spend some time with a good friend.

Making sure your plan is balancedFind balance to fit your health needs

While doing any physical activity will improve your health, doing new or at least different activities will make sure you cover all the five blocks of fitness:

Concentration and focus:  Exercises like yoga will keep your brain focused and active. Depending on how flexible you are, you can do any easy poses like cobra, down dog, seated twist to advanced poses like power yoga and Bikram yoga. Brain games can also keep your brain guessing and engage your memory.

Balance:  Exercise like tai chi and yoga can help improve balance and become more stable. This not only reduces your risk of falling but can also help improve your posture.

Cardio:  Jogging, cycling, swimming, playing tennis, rowing, and other fast pace exercises use large muscle groups an extended time. You should feel your heart pumping, get short of breath and sweaty. Cardio gradually builds stamina and reduces shortness of breath and fatigue.

Power training:  Exercises that involve lifting weights can help build muscles and prevent bone mass loss. This promotes independence and allows you to do many tasks, such as lifting heavy items or opening a jar, that many other citizens will need help with.

Flexibility:  Stretching exercises and yoga increase your range of motion and encourage your joints to move freely. Doing daily chores, playing with your grandkids, and doing other routine physical activities will be a lot easier as your flexibility increases.

How seniors can stay motivated

Remember these quick tips if your motivation level seems to be going down:

–          Listen to your favorite music while working out

–          Get competitive, especially when playing any sports

–          Socialize and meet new people

–          Keep changing your exercise routine and the type of exercise you do

–          Keep a log of your activity and reward yourself every time you hit a new level

Staying safe

The goal is to get active, but safety always comes first. Start slow and gradually increase intensity and frequency. Consult your doctor before starting a new activity, especially if you have an underlying condition. Listen to your body, you might be sore, feel tightness in the muscles, but it should never hurt. If it does, stop immediately and consult your doctor.

Author: Joe Fleming

Vive Health

Aspen Senior Care Honored Among Top In-Home Senior Care Agencies in the Nation — Named “Caring Star of 2018” for Senior Care Service Excellence

CS - Aspen Senior Care awarded with Caring Star 2018

Aspen Senior Care is pleased to announce it has been selected as a “Caring Star of 2018” for top in-home senior care excellence. In ratings and reviews from family caregivers and cognitively healthy older adults, Aspen Senior Care earned a 5-star consumer rating (the highest possible score) within the last year, while also having a high volume of positive reviews and meeting other qualifying criteria for this national honor. Aspen Senior Care is the only Caring Star 2018 agency in Utah, and overall Aspen Senior Care is among 253 home care agencies across the nation who earned the Caring Stars 2018 distinction.

“Thanks to our clients and their families for providing ongoing positive and constructive feedback throughout each year! We are so grateful to be in your service. We appreciate Caring.com for recognizing us as a Caring Star of 2018.”

-Gary Staples, Owner and Administrator of Aspen Senior Care

Online reviews help families research and select the best senior care providers for aging or ailing loved ones. In multiple Caring.com research studies, the majority of family caregivers have indicated that they turn to the Internet and consumer reviews when narrowing their options among home care agencies in their area. Most say they have relied on these perspectives as much as or more so than in-person recommendations from geriatric professionals or medical personnel. Now entering its seventh year, the Caring Stars annual list helps consumers see which home care agencies are top rated by other families just like theirs – which is particularly helpful as families gather for the holidays and discover increased or urgent senior care needs for their parents or grandparents.

“Congratulations to Aspen Senior Care for achieving this award after earning accolades on Caring.com from clients and their loved ones,” said Karen Cassel, Caring.com CEO. “This important milestone speaks volumes about the positive difference Aspen Senior Care is making in serving older adults, and we celebrate their accomplishment.”

Some of the positive feedback that led to Aspen Senior Care being a Caring Star of 2018 includes:

“Aspen Senior Care has caring, good, and kind caregivers. Aspen Senior Care makes my life easier because I am with the client every day, and the services give me a break a couple nights out of the week.”

-Mary A.

“Aspen Senior Care is dependable, on-time, does a good job, and is interested in doing the best for you.”

-Elaine P.

“I have found that Aspen Senior Care is a dependable company and their caregivers are dedicated to their work. I have just one caregiver that comes to my home and she does really good work. She knows what I need and does it for me. I am 88 years old and appreciate any help that I get.”

-Bob H.

Read the full text of these reviews and others on Caring.com. Learn more about the Caring Stars program and view the complete winner list here.

About Aspen Senior Care

We specialize in trustworthy, caring, diligent caregivers who are qualified and well-trained to provide all of the services we offer. We have been awarded Best of Home Care for 8 years in a row and work hard to please our clients and provide peace of mind to their family members. We are the most established personal care agency in Utah Valley with many wonderful caregivers.

About Caring.com

With three million unique visitors to its website monthly, Caring.com is a leading senior care resource for family caregivers seeking information and support as they care for aging parents, spouses, and other loved ones. Headquartered in San Mateo, CA, Caring.com provides helpful caregiving content, online support groups, and a comprehensive Senior Care Directory for the United States, with more than 150,000 consumer ratings and reviews and a toll-free senior living referral line at (800) 325-8591. Connect with Caring.com on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and/or YouTube.

Positive Consumer Ratings Led to this Industry-Leading Distinction from Caring.com

According to The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD), Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) refers to a progressive disease process which causes a group of brain disorders. These disorders result in cell damage to specific areas of the brain – the frontal lobes and/or the temporal lobes.  The atrophy of these nerve cells interferes with brain activity and causes a loss of function in these regions of the brain.

Frontotemporal Dementia is different from other types of dementia in two important ways:

  • The trademark of FTD is a gradual, progressive decline in behavior and language with memory usually remaining intact. As FTD progresses it gets more difficult for the person to plan or organize activities, interact with others appropriately, and care for themselves.
  • In the majority of cases, FTD occurs earlier in life in people between the ages of 45 to 65, although it has been seen in people as young as 21 and as old as 80.

Frontotemporal Dementia is often misdiagnosed as a psychiatric problem or a movement disorder, such as Parkinson’s Disease. This is because certain symptoms of FTD mimic other diseases and in other cases, individuals are considered “too young” to have dementia.  According to AFTD, Alzheimer’s Disease is another possible misdiagnosis; however, the largest difference is that FTD affects language and behavior, while AD affects memory. 

Brain image of FTD vs Alz: image from medschool.ucsf.edu

Image from medschool.ucsf.edu

FTD makes up about 10%-20% of all dementia cases and the course of FTD ranges from 2 to over 20 years. The average length is about 8 years from the beginning of symptoms. It affects both men and women and, in some cases, can be inherited.

According to HealthLine.com, symptoms of FTD differ depending on the area of the brain affected, but most symptoms fall under behavior or language.

Common Frontotemporal Dementia behavioral issues include:

  • Loss of empathy
  • Inappropriate actions
  • Compulsive behavior
  • Lack of inhibition or restraint
  • Neglect of personal hygiene and care

Common Frontotemporal Dementia language-related symptoms include:

  • Difficulty speaking or understanding words
  • Problems recalling language
  • Loss of reading and writing skills
  • Difficulty with social interactions

Cognitive and Emotional symptoms of FTD include:

  • Difficulty planning, organizing, and/or executing activities
  • Becoming less involved in daily routines
  • Abrupt mood changes
  • Apathy
  • Emotional withdrawal
  • Becoming distracted
  • Reduced initiative

FTD Movement symptoms include:

  • A difference in gait, such as walking with a shuffle
  • Tremors
  • Muscle weakness, or cramps
  • Clumsiness
  • Apraxia (Loss of ability to make motions which are usually common and easy, such as using utensils)

Proper diagnosis is crucial because some medications used to treat other types of dementia may be harmful to a person with FTD. Unfortunately,  AFTD reports no cures at this time. However, research is ongoing and rapidly increasing, and new drugs are beginning to be clinically tested.  

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.

Visit The Association for FrontoTemporal Degeneration

AFTD helpline: 866-507-7222


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

Understanding Dementia

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

What is Vascular Dementia?

What is Lewy Body Dementia?

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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.

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?

What is Frontotemporal 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.