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Dementia: Avoiding Isolation and Building Connections

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Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can be isolating, for the person and the caregiver:

  • A study in the U.K. found that about 1/3 of people reported losing friends after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Also, almost 40% of people living with dementia reported being lonely (increasing to 2/3 of those who lived alone).
  • Social engagement, on the other hand, can have a protective effect against dementia symptoms.
  • Many studies indicate that social isolation and withdrawal from activities are common among caregivers.
  • And, on the other side, dementia caregivers who are satisfied with their social relationships show fewer negative psychological symptoms.

Why is social isolation common for those with dementia?

  • Many times, people don’t understand the disease or how to interact with the person. They may be afraid of the disease (or even irritated by symptoms they don’t understand) and withdraw from contact.
  • The individual may feel ashamed and embarrassed by mistakes and therefore stop participating in activities.
  • Practical concerns may get in the way. The person may not be able to get to activities after he/she stops driving and have difficulty remembering appointments and trouble taking initiative.
  • Dementia caregiving is often a 24/7 job, meaning that most caregivers reduce activities and social time. Dementia caregivers may also feel emotionally isolated from friends who aren’t in the same situation.

Tips for overcoming social isolation for dementia patients and caregivers

  • Help friends and family understand the disease and encourage them to ask questions or express their concerns. Here’s a list of great books to help children understand dementia and you might want to share some basic resources with friends as well as being honest about your experiences and feelings.
  • Encourage humor! Laughter can be a lifesaver for dealing with uncomfortable feelings and awkward moments in dementia.
  • Facilitate visits and continued activities. This might require a little logistical planning and modifications, but it’s worth the effort. We offer suggestions for senior-friendly activities and ways to modify activities on our EasyLiving blog, as well as concierge support for attending outings.
  • Caregivers often benefit from support groups and/or professional counseling. This is an outlet for dealing with feelings and challenges of caregiving, which can help you maintain healthy relationships with friends, colleagues and spouses.
  • Respite care should be incorporated into dementia care early in the process (get a free respite care checklist!).

What can friends or community members do?

  • Keep an open dialogue. Don’t be afraid to ask “stupid questions”.
  • Offer concrete assistance, as well as emotional support, to the caregiver. Understand if they turn down your invitations, but also ask if there are ways you might help or what they need to be able to attend. Keep reaching out and don’t be offended when a caregiver does not reciprocate.
  • Educate yourself to reduce fear and misunderstanding. Check out some tips about communicating with people with dementia and how to connect.
  • Increase Alzheimer’s awareness and help debunk myths and fears.

Are you facing the challenges of dementia care? Get help from a care manager, your partner in caregiving!

 

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Free Alzheimer’s Disease Class in Clearwater

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florida alzheimer's resources

Why is it so important to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease?

Every 67 seconds someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s disease.

An estimated 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease in 2014, including approximately 200,000 individuals younger than age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease may nearly triple, from 5 million to as many as 16 million (barring breakthroughs to prevent, slow or cure the disease).

In 2013, 15.5 million family and friends provided 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. With the projected rate of increase, this disease will have a rising, devastating toll on all parts of society.

Despite its prevalence, Alzheimer’s is feared and often misunderstood. People frequently misunderstand the terms dementia and Alzheimer’s and are not sure how to distinguish normal aging changes from signs of possible dementia. Elders may avoid getting screened due to fear, potentially missing out on treatment of reversible conditions. Even if you have worked with or cared for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, this is a great opportunity to learn something new (and we hope you’ll also join us in supporting the Pinellas County Walk to End Alzheimer’s on October 25th!).

Join us!

We welcome anyone with an interest in learning more to join us at our upcoming Alzheimer’s/dementia Educational Workshops. Our certified RN shares important facts and information about dementia and will also take time to answer your questions. This free workshop includes handouts and 2 CEUs for professionals as well!

RSVP online (you can also leave us your contact information if you cannot make these dates but would like to attend future events) or call 727-447-5845.

If you’d like to get started with some reading on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias now, check out our Memory Loss Guide and helpful eldercare resources (recommended reading and topical links). Contact us at 727-447-5845 for help with Alzheimer’s resources, assistance with getting a diagnosis, and patient and caregiver advocacy. Our Senior Care Consultant will meet with your family free-of-charge to answer your questions and assess your needs.

 

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Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Awareness

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Alzheimer's disease education

In our ongoing efforts to promote Alzheimer’s awareness and provide education to clients, family, friends and professionals, we’re offering two free Alzheimer’s classes. Check out the flier here Alzheimers_Class_Sept-Nov_2014_Clients and RSVP soon to reserve your seat.

When?

September 12th 10:00-12:00

November 14th 10:00-12:00

Where?

1180 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Suite 701, Clearwater, FL

What?

Educational workshop with state-certified Alzheimer’s trainer, Marilyn Fratello, RN. Information from an experienced nurse who has also had personal experience with the disease in her family, Q&A opportunities and free handouts. Two CEU credits for professionals.

Contact us at 727-447-5845 to reserve your space at the Alzheimer’s workshop.

 

For more Alzheimer’s information, check out:

Guide to Memory Loss and Aging (terms defined)

Aging Wisely’s Dementia-Related Recommended Reading

The Alzheimer’s Association

We offer a free needs analysis if you have concerns about memory loss. We can link you with our expert care managers for an assessment, resources and a wide array of assistance.

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Alzheimer’s Awareness Update

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Aging Wisely Alzheimer's Awareness event

Join us this month for a number of great Alzheimer’s awareness and fundraising events! First up, this week the Memory Mobile will be visiting us again. On August 13th, the Florida Gulf Coast Association’s Memory Mobile will be visiting the Aging Wisely office from 11-2:30. Come by and learn about dementia, find out more about Memory Mobile and other Alzheimer’s Association services and/or take part in a memory screening.

Our 50/50 raffle last month raised $262. Thanks to everyone who participated! Our Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraiser this month is wine tasting. We will have two wine tasting parties (see above)…come join us for some good company for a good cause! Bring a bottle of wine or a soft drink to share and we’ll contribute all the donations ($10 suggested) through our team’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s efforts. Help raise funds for vital Alzheimer’s services and research while having an enjoyable evening together!

We also hope you’ll make plans to attend (or share with someone you know who might benefit) our Alzheimer’s classes, coming up this fall. You can click here to get all the information on the Alzheimer’s classes at Aging Wisely/EasyLiving, led by our Alzheimer’s certified R.N. The classes will help you understand Alzheimer’ disease, offer you the opportunity for Q&A with a professionally and personally experienced nurse, and provide handouts and CEUs.

If you have a loved one or client dealing with Alzheimer’s disease or a possible dementia diagnosis, don’t forget that we offer free consultations (phone or at your home if you live in Tampa Bay) with our expert Senior Care Consultant. Call us at 727-447-5845 to set up a time.

We have several Alzheimer’s resources on our Senior Care Resources page that you might want to check out. We cover a variety of topics on our blog each week to help you and we welcome your feedback about topics you’d like to see.

 

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