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Dementia Symptoms and Expert Tips for Great Dementia Care

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Today, we share with you our Slideshare presentation about dealing with dementia symptoms such as Sundowners Syndrome and wandering. Our experts have put together the best practical tips for dementia care and pointers for managing common dementia symptoms.

Caregiver tips for dementia from Aging Wisely and EasyLiving

Some of the common dementia symptoms you may encounter over the course of the disease include:

  • Difficulty carrying out day-to-day tasks and self care due to poor memory and inability to manage multiple steps in a task (for example, it becomes difficult to shop, plan and prepare meals)
  • Early dementia symptoms often show up in the form of problems with more complex tasks: financial problems, leaving bills unpaid, being scammed or mismanaging appointments or medications
  • Language difficulties/communication problems
  • Mood swings
  • Fear, which results in anger or lashing out and/or refusing care or activities
  • Withdrawal from socialization or activities
  • Sundowners syndrome, also known as sundowning: late afternoon/evening worsening of dementia symptoms
  • Wandering and restlessness; difficulty focusing on tasks
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Memory issues causing the person to forget whether they have done tasks, thus repeating or ignoring things like personal hygiene or meals

With some basic tips, you will find that dealing with dementia symptoms becomes easier. Dementia caregivers get creative with managing various behaviors and day-to-day challenges, and you may find a support group or caregiver forum to be helpful in sharing ideas and dealing with your feelings. Also, consider the value of respite care from experienced dementia caregivers, so that you can take an occasional break. Another benefit of professional respite care is having a prepared back-up care team that knows your loved one.

If you need help with dementia symptoms, obtaining a diagnosis and good medical/care team and or managing dementia care, call us any time at 727-447-5845. Our comprehensive care management assessment provides vital information about dementia symptoms, resources and a plan of care so you can be prepared.

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Ten Signs Your Aging Parent Might Have Dementia

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dementia warning signsToday, we’ll revisit an important topic that we get asked about often. Many people notice problems with an aging parent’s memory and wonder whether it could be dementia. They’re often unsure what is normal for an aging person (and if there’s something wrong, is it dementia or Alzheimer’s–what’s the difference?). To understand more about the terminology, you might also want to read our Understanding Memory Loss in Old Age article.

Top Ten Dementia Warning Signs

  1. Memory gaps, especially short term memory. Does Dad repeat the same questions or stories over and over? Does Mom forget what you just told her? Occasionally forgetting an appointment does not necessarily indicate a problem, but this type of pattern and change is a strong sign that something might be wrong.
  2. Disorientation. The person with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia may become confused about whether it is morning or afternoon and may get lost on familiar routes. On the other hand, it is not unusual for someone not to be aware of the day or date on occasion, especially a retired person who may have less routine need for that information.
  3. Difficulty performing everyday tasks. Someone with dementia may not be able to follow the steps necessary to perform tasks like personal care and household maintenance. This is especially true for things that require planning or multiple steps and you may notice a decline in personal hygiene and household upkeep. You may notice that your aging parent has stopped shopping or cooking.
  4. Misplacing things frequently. We all occasionally forget where we put something, but this increasingly becomes a problem for the person with Alzheimer’s. They may put things in very unusual spots and even forget the use of common items.
  5. Poor judgment. Early signs often come in the form of finding out your aging parent has been scammed or is making poor decisions about safety and well-being. Of course, everyone has the right to make poor decisions occasionally, but dementia’s effects on higher level thinking rob the person of their normal judgment and decision-making process.
  6. Language difficulties. People with Alzheimer’s disease often have trouble “finding” common words or substitute incorrect words. Those in the early stages may try to cover this up and spouses may also help compensate by speaking on behalf of the person (another possible sign something may be wrong).
  7. Mood swings and behavioral changes. You may find that the person angers easily or is withdrawn or prone to crying spells. Typically, you will notice that this behavior is not characteristic of the person’s lifelong patterns. Some of this may be related to actual changes in the brain, while other behaviors may be an expression of the fear and anxiety the person feels due to the symptoms they’re experiencing.
  8. Changes in personality. Often, the person with dementia becomes more withdrawn than usual or develops anxiety or paranoia. A person who previously was somewhat independent may become extremely dependent or quiet.
  9. Problems with complex thinking. You may not realize how much abstract thinking goes into our everyday lives, until you see the person with dementia struggling with this. Handling numbers and finances can be especially difficult and abstract reasoning impacts judgment, as mentioned before.
  10. Loss of initiative and withdrawal from normal activities. The person may find it difficult to initiate plans and may withdraw from favorite activities. The main activity often becomes sitting in front of the TV or excess sleeping. Often, just making and following through on plans becomes difficult but the person may also withdraw out of embarrassment about their decreasing abilities.

So, what should you do if you notice these signs? First, we want you to know that we welcome your calls or emails to discuss what you are seeing and possibly set up a care management assessment. Aging Wisely occasionally hosts the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Mobile, which offers free dementia screenings and your medical professional can perform one of these as well. Then, a comprehensive workup will be important to determine the most accurate diagnosis and rule out reversible causes. Our team can help with this process, as well as planning what to do from there and setting up in-home help with our dementia-trained caregivers.

Don’t face this alone! Click here to contact Aging Wisely’s eldercare experts (or call 727-447-5845) for help today!

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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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Alzheimer’s Awareness and Dementia Caregiver Resources

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Our team has been promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness throughout June (Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month). This past week we officially kicked off our journey to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, during which we will continue our educational campaign and hold various events for fundraising and awareness. On October 25th our team will join colleagues, friends and families in the Pinellas County Walk to End Alzheimer’s Disease.

Please check out our schedule below and join us on Facebook for regular updates and ways to get involved.

alzheimer's awareness Aging Wisely

For the five million Americans with dementia and their families, raising awareness and funding is so vital to getting them the help they need. For all of us, funding is essential to helping understand disease causes, find treatments, and hopefully discovering a cure so that we can see all see the realization of the Alzheimer’s Association’s vision of a world without Alzheimer’s.

If you are struggling with dementia or want to learn more, here are some helpful Alzheimer’s and dementia care resources:

Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch® is a free, easy-to-use clinical studies matching service that connects individuals with Alzheimer’s, caregivers, healthy volunteers and physicians with current studies.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center

ALZConnected: community and message boards run by the Alzheimer’s Association

Aging Wisely’s Care Management Support for Alzheimer’s and Dementia (with links to resources)

Recommended Reading Related to Dementia

EasyLiving’s Alzheimer’s Specialty Care in Pinellas and Pasco Counties

Contact our senior care team at 727-447-5845 if you need help today, have questions or simply want to find out how to participate in our Alzheimer’s awareness and fundraising campaign.

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Alzheimer’s Awareness and a Visit from the Memory Mobile

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Alzheimer's Association memory mobile

As we prepare for “The Longest Day” and our participation in this fall’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, we continue our Alzheimer’s awareness activities. Today, our team had a visit from the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Mobile.

Program Specialist, Karla Lindeen, welcomed individuals to come on board and take a 15 minute memory screening. The results of which were given to the individual so that they could share them with their physician. Our care managers were also invited to participate to take the memory screening and learn more about the benefits of the Alzheimer’s Association.

“The Florida Gulf Coast Chapter’s Memory Mobile is the only mobile support, prevention and education service delivery vehicle in the country. The Memory Mobile provides outreach education, care consultations, memory screenings and caregiver education targeting targeting low income, rural, isolated and/or inner city people living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. To learn when the Memory Mobile will be near you or to schedule the Memory Mobile for an event, call 1.800.272.3900.” You can read more about other services of the local Alzheimer’s Association here.

Aging Wisely is looking forward to participate in the Clearwater Walk to End Alzheimer on October 25, 2014 to help raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Join us in supporting this worthwhile organization: check out the local Walk to End Alzheimer’s page.

Florida Gulf Coast Alzheimer's Association

If you or a loved one is concerned about memory loss or dementia, please contact our team at 727-447-5845 for help. We can connect you to great resources such as those offered by our local Alzheimer’s Association and ensure you get the answers and help you need now and in the future.

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The Alzheimer’s Disease Epidemic and Caregivers

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Alzheimer's disease

The Alzheimer’s Association just published their updated Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures Report for 2014. Some of the key statistics to note include:

  • Approximately 5 million Americans who are 65+ have Alzheimer’s, while approximately 200,000 who are under 65 have early-onset Alzheimer’s. By 2025, the total should reach 7.1 million who are 65 or older (40% increase); by 2050, the numbers are expected to reach 13.8 million (or almost three times what they are today).
  • One-third of all seniors who die each year have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
  • Americans devoted $17.7 billion hours worth of unpaid care to individuals with Alzheimer’s last year (family, friends and other informal caregivers). The national cost of care (Medicare, Medicaid, healthcare and program spending) related to the disease was $214 billion this year.

We know this is a disease that has a particularly strong impact on caregivers and families as a whole. Many times, people live with Alzheimer’s for a fairly long period of time and the progressive nature of the disease means that caregiving needs are also progressive. Some of the statistics from this report indicate the impact on caregivers, and the particular impact on women:

  • Thirty-nine percent of those who cared for someone with dementia said they were depressed (versus 17 percent for non-caregivers). Caregiving responsibilities often impacted the informal caregiver’s health.
  • Almost seven times as many female Alzheimer’s caregivers as male caregivers cut back from full-time to part-time work, with twice as many women as men saying they had to stop working or had lost their job benefits. Women caregivers tend to receive less outside help than their male counterparts.
  • Women are more than twice as likely as men to provide the end-stage disease care for an Alzheimer’s loved one (often 24 hour, hands-on care).

Women are also more likely to develop Alzheimer’s (1 in 6 chance, versus 1 in 11 for men). This year’s report includes a special section on the disease’s impact on women. The report goes in to great detail about the impact on caregivers and the types of tasks caregivers are doing. Some important points include: 59% of caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high and a large percentage indicate a good deal of strain regarding financial issues and family relationships.

This report is important as a guide for policy decisions and hopefully influencing increased funding and programming to assist families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. It also serves as a reminder to all of us working in eldercare of the great need for assisting families with the caregiving process and identifying resources.

If you are dealing with Alzheimer’s in your family or want to learn more, here are a few resources we offer to get you started in the right direction:

Guide to Memory Loss: An overview of terminology to help you understand the difference between dementia, Alzheimer’s and normal aging as well as the warning signs of dementia.

The Essential Eldercare Checklist: What you need to know and do at various stages of pre-caregiving and caregiving

A Caregiver’s Guide to Dementia: Our EasyLiving caregiving team’s advice and practical tips for dealing with various care concerns and handling the different stages of dementia care.

Under our Eldercare Resources, you can also find a dementia quiz and fact sheet, recommended reading and helpful links.

Some of the key ways our advocates can help Alzheimer’s caregivers include:

  • Planning ahead and developing a care plan for different stages/needs
  • Providing resources and help to navigate various programs and options
  • Assessing the comprehensive situation to assist in smart decision-making (answering questions such as: What are the best options for the family? What are the hidden and opportunity costs?)
  • Assisting with financial concerns by creating a care budget, helping to access resources and assisting with program eligibility
  • Mediating family conflicts and serving as a liaison between various family members and care providers
  • Advocating for the person with dementia and caregivers
  • Setting up respite care for the caregiver’s continued well-being

If you have questions about dementia care or need help with any aspect of eldercare, please call us at 727-447-5845. Though these statistics are scary, having the knowledge and resources to help can empower any family facing this difficult disease.

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Sundowner’s Syndrome

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aging care

Sundowning or “sundowner’s syndrome” is a commonly used term among professionals working with patients who have Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. This term describes a pattern of increased behavior problems in the late afternoon and early evening. Persons may exhibit increased confusion, agitation, wandering, hallucinations and general disorientation.

Want more information on terms and conditions related to dementia? Grab our guide to memory loss and dementia here.

While the cause is not definitive, there are likely several factors. Primarily, the person may be tired after daily activities and caregivers may suffer similar weariness which shows through to the care recipient. The change from light to dark and the “internal clock” may also play a role during this time which has traditionally been transitional (i.e. returning from work, or family time in evenings).

Here are some practical tips, compiled from our experience and advice from the Alzheimer’s Association website:

  • Anticipate this problem and schedule accordingly. Try to reduce activities and outings at this time. Plan some quiet, alone time in late afternoons.

  • Keep a routine (always important for a person with dementia). Naps or quiet activities may be helpful during this time (and you may want to avoid naps earlier that might interfere with later sleep).

  • Reassure the person and redirect them when agitated or restless. Do not attempt to argue with them or use “reality therapy”.

  • Examine causes of agitation. Noise or stimulation may increase these behaviors.

  • Identify causes of physical discomfort. If you notice a major change in behavior, a person may be feeling pain or have an underlying infection. Many times, our care managers will note a significant change and when a culture is done, the client has a UTI (urinary tract infection).

  • As a caregiver, get plenty of rest and recognize your need for a break. Your irritation or exhaustion may further exacerbate your care recipient’s behaviors.

  • Consult with a physician knowledgeable about dementia. With problem behaviors, it can be helpful to use the services of a geriatric psychiatrist. Medications may alleviate symptoms.

Aging Wisely’s care managers support many clients with dementia and their family members in this difficult journey. Whether it be for advice and caregiver consultations, referrals to professionals and programs, coordination and oversight, or a full assessment, we’re your resource—for solutions when you need them.

Contact us online or at 727-447-5845 for help or questions.

 

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Our goal is to enable every individual we work with to live the most fulfilling life possible, with utmost dignity, focusing on their physical, mental, spiritual, family and financial wellbeing.