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Free Resources for Dementia Caregivers to Explore

Being a caregiver for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia can be both rewarding and challenging. It often leaves caregivers navigating a rollercoaster of emotions. Many wonder how well they are doing caring for their family member or friend. If you find yourself in this situation, learning more about your loved one’s disease might help.

Fortunately, there is a wide range of information online to help you gain confidence in your caregiving abilities.

7 Free Dementia Resources for Family Caregivers

1. Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association is one of the foremost authorities on the disease worldwide. Their website is rich with information and tools designed for people with the disease and their caregivers. One popular feature is educational guides you can download at no cost. They cover a variety of topics, such as driving after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, treatment options, and care partner packets.

2. ALZConnected

Created by the Alzheimer’s Association, this resource helps caregivers remember they aren’t alone. Finding and connecting with those who share your path is easier with ALZConnected. The site is home to forums for adults with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia and their family caregivers. You’ll find advice and support for coping with some of the most physically and emotionally difficult aspects of this journey.

3. National Center on Caregiving

Created by the Family Caregiver Alliance, a leader in caregiving, this site hosts online support groups and chat forums. You’ll also find tools, information, and opportunities to learn more about advocating for people with dementia. Learn more about the NFCSP support program.

4. AFA Care Connection webinar series

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) shares many great resources on their site, including a dementia caregiver webinar series. Past topics range from home safety to using cognitive behavioral therapy to help a senior with Alzheimer’s overcome insomnia. There is no cost to watch or use these tools.

5. National Institute on Aging

Another site to visit is the Alzheimer’s Disease & Related Dementias page at the National Institute on Aging. Here you will find resources on topics ranging from dementia basics to connecting with a clinical trial near you.

6. Community Resource Finder

Families are often unsure where to turn after a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Community Resource Finder, from AARP and the Alzheimer’s Association, makes finding support easier. You can search for local care options, medical services, and more for free.

7. Family Caregiver Toolbox

Created by the Caregiver Action Network, the Family Caregiver Toolbox has videos on caregiver topics, including some specifically for dementia. As is true of the resources listed above, there is no charge to use these tools.

Finally, if you think you may need more support in the form of residential memory care living options, contact the Five Star Senior Living team to learn more about a community near you.

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6 Tips for Planting an Alzheimer's Sensory Garden

Finding meaningful activity for adults with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia helps make the days feel productive and purposeful. It improves self-esteem and gives a sense of independence. Gardening is one such activity.

Gardening reaps many health benefits, especially for people with a memory impairment. Planting and nurturing flowers and vegetables calms the mind while boosting the spirit. Gardening also helps the senior maintain core strength and balance, both of which are key for preventing falls.

Gardens that stimulate the senses through aromatherapy can be of special interest to adults with dementia. These are known as sensory gardens.

6 Tips for Planting a Sensory Garden with an Adult Who Has Dementia

Aromatherapy has long been used in memory care communities as a tool for elevating mood, increasing appetite, improving sleep, and more. Sensory gardens can offer similar benefits. The smell of roses and peonies can be a reminder of pleasant times. Many find the texture of herbs like rosemary or lavender soothing to touch.

Sensory experiences like these can trigger memory centers in the brain. It may help the senior reconnect with memories the disease has stolen. If you aren’t sure how to start a sensory garden, this step-by-step outline can be useful:

  1. Find a space: A sensory garden doesn’t have to be very large. You can even set one up in containers on a porch or patio. Just make sure the spot you choose is secure and accessible for your senior loved one. A location with neighborhood distractions might encourage wandering, so keep that in mind.
  2. Monitor light: Watch the area you’ve designated for your garden to see how much and what type of light it receives in a typical day. Is it in direct sunlight? Or is it more on the shady side? This will determine what types of flowers and vegetables will thrive in your sensory garden.
  3. Choose plants: Once you know how much shade or sun your garden will receive, you can start choosing what goes there. You and your senior loved one can search online to find fragrant flowers and herbs or enticing vegetables. Once you have a list, make sure each plant isn’t toxic if ingested.
  4. Invest in good soil: Inexperienced gardeners may underestimate the role soil plays in a thriving sensory garden. A garden center is usually the best place for advice on local soil conditions. Call one near you to find out what you need. If your sensory garden will be planted in the ground versus in containers, call your county extension offices to inquire about soil testing. They will ensure you are planting in good dirt or offer suggestions for amending the soil.
  5. Purchase plants safely: If you are trying to avoid crowds because of coronavirus concerns, find a local greenhouse or garden center that offers curbside pickup. You may also be able to have the plants shipped directly to your doorstep from an online nursery.
  6. Read plant markers: A marker with directions is typically included with each plant. Make sure you save and follow the directions for each type of plant. It can help you and the senior determine how often to water and fertilize.

Depending upon the climate you live in, a sensory garden can encourage more quality time with your older loved one.

Memory Care at Five Star Senior Living

Gardening is just one of many activities you’ll find at Five Star Senior Living communities across the country. If you are searching for memory care for a senior in your life, we invite you to consider Five Star. Call (853) 457-8271 today to learn more!

 

What Is Lewy Body Dementia?

It’s common for people unfamiliar with dementia to use the terms Alzheimer’s and dementia interchangeably. Alzheimer’s is actually one type of dementia. While Alzheimer’s is most common, accounting for between 60 and 80 percent of all cases, there are others. One is Lewy body dementia (LBD).

What Is Lewy Body Dementia?

Lewy body dementia is an umbrella term that encompasses Parkinson’s dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. It is named for neurologist Dr. Friedrich Lewy, who discovered LBD while researching Parkinson’s.

According to the Lewy Body Dementia Association, nearly 1.4 million people in this country live with LBD. Until the death of popular comedian and actor Robin Williams, few people had heard of it. Williams’s death by suicide was linked to depression attributed to LBD.

Lewy body dementia is a progressive brain disorder which causes abnormal protein deposits to accumulate in the brain. Over time, these deposits damage the areas of the brain that govern thought, movement, behavior, memory, and sleep. It also impairs basic bodily functions, including bowel and bladder control.

9 Symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia

Because this type of dementia isn’t as prevalent, people experiencing it may be misdiagnosed. Symptoms may be attributed to stress or aging. The most common signs of LBD often include:

  1. Tremors
  2. Memory problems
  3. Delusions or hallucinations
  4. Insomnia or other sleep disturbances
  5. Difficulty with abstract thought
  6. Fatigue or sluggishness
  7. Decreased attention span
  8. Muscle rigidity
  9. Loss of coordination

Unfortunately, there currently isn’t a cure for Lewy body dementia. Physicians work with other health care professionals to create a care plan for their patients to help manage the difficult symptoms of LBD. Here are a few ways they do that.

3 Ways to Manage the Symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia

  1. Utilize therapies: A care plan that incorporates a variety of therapies is important. Combining physical, occupational, and speech therapy may help patients navigate mobility impairments, diminished verbal skills, and other physical deficits caused by LBD.
  2. Try pharmacological interventions: If an adult with LBD is suffering from delusions or hallucinations, their quality of life and their caregivers suffer. A physician can prescribe pharmacological solutions that may keep these difficult symptoms under control.
  3. Consult a sleep specialist: Sleep issues are another common symptom that can prove difficult for a person with LBD and their family caregiver. This is where the assistance of a sleep specialist can be beneficial. Among other interventions, they can order sleep testing. This aids in developing a treatment plan that may allow the patient to enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Memory Care Communities Improve Quality of Life

As is true for many types of dementia, managing the care of a loved one with LBD at home can be challenging. If you are a family caregiver struggling to provide quality care to a family member with LBD, a memory care community might be an ideal solution. Memory care can improve the quality of life for both the person living with LBD and their caregiver.

With communities in more than 30 states, Five Star Senior Living is a leader in dementia care. Call the community nearest you to learn more today!

How Alzheimer’s Impacts Family Caregivers

When a senior loved one lives with Alzheimer’s disease, the impact on the entire family is significant. It can be physically exhausting and emotionally draining. While caregiving for a family member can be a labor of love, juggling so many responsibilities and difficult emotions can be overwhelming.

From safety concerns to diet and hydration, the tasks are many. Then there is the sorrow from watching a loved one’s decline. It’s a path 15.7 million Americans find themselves on.

When a Senior Loved One Has Alzheimer’s Disease

It’s common for family caregivers to experience health problems of their own. Those cited most often include:

  • Headaches
  • Sleep issues
  • Digestive problems
  • Sadness or depression
  • Stress, agitation, or anxiety
  • Neck and back problems
  • Unintended weight gain or loss
  • Prehypertension or high blood pressure

Protecting your own health—mental and physical—when you are a family caregiver is essential.

5 Survival Tips for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

  1. Get organized: Worries about missing a deadline or appointment cause stress for family caregivers. Alleviate some stress by establishing a system and sticking with it. Organize and update your loved one’s medical history, medication list, physician contact information, and appointments. Setting up 3-ring binders with copies of everything may be the easiest option. If you are comfortable with technology, a few apps can help. Healthspek and CareZone are two to explore.
  2. Accept help: Family caregivers often believe they should handle all aspects of the role alone. Some are driven by concern for their loved one’s quality of care, and others by a sense of duty. They feel the need to independently care for the person who cared for them.
  3. Eat healthy: When you are pressed for time, as most family caregivers are, it’s easy to rely on convenience foods and drive-through restaurants. Unfortunately, these foods typically contain unhealthy fats and high amounts of sodium. If you aren’t able to prepare healthy meals, consider services such as Freshly or Silver Cuisine.
  4. Exercise regularly: Exercise might seem like something a busy caregiver doesn’t have time to do. But exercise offers a variety of health benefits, including better sleep, a stronger immune system, and reduced stress. Regular exercise also helps build muscle strength, which can reduce the odds of caregiving-related injury.
  5. Laugh often: It’s also important to take time to enjoy yourself. Laughing with loved ones helps lower the risk for depression, an issue Alzheimer’s caregivers often struggle with. If you don’t have anyone you can count on to help while you take a break, consider utilizing respite services at an assisted living community.

Respite Care at Five Star Senior Living

With 270 Five Star Senior Living communities in over 30 states, you’re sure to find a respite care solution nearby. Call (853) 457-8271 to learn more!

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Virtual Reality and Alzheimer's

The very nature of Alzheimer’s disease often causes stress and anxiety. When faces or places don’t look familiar, it can be frightening and isolating. It’s a difficult situation for seniors and their friends and family.

The unpredictability of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia also makes it a difficult disease for family caregivers to navigate. A senior loved one with Alzheimer’s may start the day feeling happy and positive. As the day turns to night, sundowning syndrome may cause agitation and even anger.

Dementia experts say keeping older adults engaged in meaningful activity may be the secret to calming anxiety and restlessness. However, it can be difficult to find activities that allow older adults to feel successful while considering memory impairment and coordination or mobility difficulties.

This is why the idea of using virtual reality in dementia care is gaining in popularity.

What Is Virtual Reality?                                                                   

If you aren’t familiar with virtual reality (VR), it is a broad term that encompasses everything from three-dimensional games teenagers play online to programs used to train professionals, such as police officers and airline pilots.

VR participants wear a headset and goggles that work together to simulate a situation or environment. For example, the police might set up a scenario where an officer is responding to a terrorist threat. VR can aid in training them how to respond to the situation.

Many researchers believe virtual reality can help caregivers conquer a common challenge: helping people with dementia engage with their environment and feel joyful.

VR and Dementia Care

Memory impairment, especially short-term memory loss, is common among adults with many forms of dementia. It makes it difficult to maintain a conversation, play games, or even enjoy a movie.

While short-term memory may be gone, long-term memory might remain. That’s where VR can help. Virtual reality can allow a senior to be transported to a time in life that looks and sounds familiar.

One program, The Wayback, is connecting people with dementia to virtual reality. For co-founder Dan Cole, The Wayback’s mission is personal. Dan’s father had Alzheimer’s. He watched helplessly as the disease robbed his father’s memory and communication skills. Dan’s goal was to make it easy for families to use familiar photos and props from a senior’s past to create short virtual reality experiences.

Another virtual reality platform for families of seniors with dementia to explore is Rendever. Their custom reminiscence tools allow an older adult to virtually revisit cherished times and favorite destinations, such as their childhood home or their wedding. It can also be used to help the person check items off their bucket list. If a senior never made it to the Grand Canyon or the Eiffel Tower, you can use Rendever to help them get there.

Visit the Physician through Virtual Reality

If you’ve ever struggled to take a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia to a doctor’s appointment, you’ll appreciate the idea of using VR to take the place of an in-person visit. Instead of requiring an already-overwhelmed caregiver to interrupt the senior’s day to bring them to the doctor, VR brings the office to them.

It is more than just a simple Skype call. Virtual physician appointments utilize tools like a digital stethoscope to listen to a patient’s heart or a digital otoscope to check their ears.

Memory Care at Five Star Senior Living

At Five Star Senior Living communities, we take an innovative approach to memory care. Our goal is to use old and new practices to allow seniors with dementia to live their best, most independent lives.

You can learn more by scheduling a personal tour. Contact the Five Star community nearest you or call (853) 457-8271 to set up a time!

Healthy Dining with Alzheimer's

People who have Alzheimer’s often lose an unhealthy amount of weight as the disease progresses. Research shows up to 40 percent of people with advanced Alzheimer’s lose too much weight. Learning more about what causes this type of weight loss and how to work around those issues is essential for family caregivers.

From vision changes that make it difficult to distinguish food on the plate to loss of dexterity, which impedes hand-eye coordination, here’s what you should know to help your loved one.

Causes of Weight Loss in People with Alzheimer’s Disease

A leading reason for weight loss is impaired manual dexterity. This causes difficulty manipulating silverware. It can cause the senior to become frustrated and give up.

Vision changes are another cause. Issues with depth perception and the ability to see color make it difficult to see food on a plate. While chicken tenders are easy for people with Alzheimer’s to eat, they can disappear on a plate of the same color.

Other challenges that lead to weight loss in adults with Alzheimer’s disease include:

  • Loss of appetite or change in taste buds that makes food unappealing
  • Difficulty swallowing or frequent choking episodes
  • Improperly fitting dentures that make it hard to chew

Lastly, the dining environment can also affect mealtime for adults with memory impairment. Noise can be especially problematic. It can make it tough for someone with Alzheimer’s to concentrate on eating. A busy or cluttered dining room can also increase anxiety and agitation. Both can result in pacing and wandering instead of eating.

Steps to Good Nutrition for Adults with Alzheimer’s

Here are a few ways you can encourage healthy nutrition in a senior loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease:

  1. Dining room: An orderly dining room free from noise and distractions can encourage the senior to eat. Remove everything from the tabletop except necessary dinnerware. If your loved one responds positively to music, play it softly in the background.
  2. Finger foods: Serving finger foods, those that don’t require utensils, can promote nutrition while requiring less hand-eye coordination. A few to consider are chicken nuggets, fruit smoothies, sandwich wraps, fresh vegetables, and chicken quesadillas.
  3. Place settings: Use plates and placemats in contrasting colors. Colorful plates and dishes make food easier to distinguish. Red has been particularly useful in encouraging appetite. The Red Plate Study at Boston University showed people with Alzheimer’s ate 25 percent more food if it was served on red dinnerware.
  4. Adaptive serving ware: If your loved one is having difficulty manipulating silverware, talk to their primary care physician or an occupational therapist about adaptive options. Plate guards and food bumpers are two devices that make it easier to pick food up off the plate.
  5. Flavorful seasonings: Since taste buds may be impaired by Alzheimer’s, adding flavorful seasonings and herbs may stimulate appetite. It may also help to add more seasoning than you typically would to enhance the taste.
  6. Dental checkups: If you haven’t taken your family elder to see the dentist in a while, an appointment may help. There may be an undetected tooth problem or their dentures may not fit due to weight loss. The dentist might be able to detect a problem that makes chewing painful.

Finally, be flexible. If your loved one feels best during the morning, serve a hearty breakfast. Or if your family member has difficulty sitting very long, serve small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day instead of several large ones.

Memory Care at Five Star Senior Living

In our memory care neighborhoods, residents benefit from specialized dining. It helps them maintain a healthy weight. The best way to learn more is to visit a Five Star Senior Living community in person. Call (853) 457-8271 to schedule a time!

5 Symptoms of Alzheimer’s You Might Not Know

Dementia impacts the lives of an estimated 50 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Another 10 million new cases are diagnosed each year. Of those living with dementia, nearly 80% have Alzheimer’s disease. It’s by far the most common form.

In the United States alone, 5.8 million people have Alzheimer’s. As baby boomers continue to grow older, researchers believe this number will climb significantly. It’s important for adult children to be aware of signs a parent may be struggling with memory impairment. While many symptoms associated with mid- and late-stage Alzheimer’s are clearly noticeable, others aren’t.

Less Common Symptoms of Alzheimer’s in a Senior

Most people think of memory problems or even a senior getting lost while driving when asked about the signs of Alzheimer’s. While those are classic symptoms, they aren’t the only ones.

Some symptoms of Alzheimer’s are easy to overlook or mistake as something else, including:

  1. Change in disposition: If a senior loved one has undergone a marked change in disposition, discuss it with their physician. For example, if your father has always been friendly and kind but is becoming short-tempered or suspicious, there might be something wrong. While he may just be going through a difficult time, it can also be an early sign of Alzheimer’s.
  2. Financial mismanagement: Another easily overlooked red flag is an older adult making mistakes with finances. Because seniors are often the target of telemarketing or other scams, family members don’t realize something is wrong. They just think their loved one was the victim of a con. Other financial warning signs include making purchases they can’t afford or loaning large sums of money to people they don’t know well. A senior with dementia may neglect to pay some bills, while paying others multiple times.
  3. Withdrawal from social activities: If an older adult is beginning to recognize something is wrong, they may be afraid to admit it. It often results in self-isolation. Seniors may drop out of volunteer projects, social clubs, and even skip religious services. They are often embarrassed when they can’t hold up their end of a conversation or remember people’s names.
  4. Difficulty writing: Verbal skills aren’t the only communication difficulties a person with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia may develop. For some, an early warning sign is trouble writing a letter, a grocery list, or even a check. It is often linked to short-term memory problems common early in the disease.
  5. Loss of interest: A senior with Alzheimer’s or dementia may appear less empathetic and more apathetic than they previously were. This personality change is caused by both physical and emotional challenges of the disease, not by a change in the senior’s feelings about loved ones.

Protecting a Senior with Dementia

As one of the nation’s largest providers of memory care services for adults with dementia, we understand the struggles family members face. One is protecting their loved one’s pride and self-esteem as the disease progresses. You can learn more about this by visiting “Helping a Senior with Alzheimer’s Maintain Dignity.”

For questions about memory care or to schedule a tour of a community near you, please contact us!

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The ABC’s of Alzheimer’s Prevention

The ABCs of Alzheimer’s Disease

A: Awareness

Awareness is key when it comes to raising funds for Alzheimer’s research. It’s also important for early detection and prevention. If you are concerned that a senior you love may be developing the disease, it might help to learn more about the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s.

Some early symptoms include:

  • Memory loss that disrupts everyday life
  • Difficulty completing common tasks
  • Loss of decision-making abilities

If you or a loved one is experiencing memory loss, a memory screening with their primary care physician could be the first step to Alzheimer’s detection.

B: Brain Exercise

The brain acts in a manner that is similar to a muscle.  And like any muscle, the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. Using your brain in new, engaging ways helps it form new neural connections that can keep it strong.

Brain aerobics—including activities such as reading, mastering a foreign language, or learning how to play an instrument— can help keep the brain strong. The Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Organization says learning a new skill can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 70 percent.

C: Care for Alzheimer’s Patients

“C” represents care and the importance of learning more about the best ways to support people with Alzheimer’s at any stage of the disease. Care for Alzheimer’s patients includes engaging activities, a healthy diet, and medications that may help slow the progression of the disease.

A person with Alzheimer’s is still exactly that, a person. They may remember events that occurred decades ago much easier than recent ones. Reminisce about these times, share stories, and help them preserve these memories as long as possible.

D: Detection and Diagnosis

It is worth adding the letter “D” to the ABCs of Alzheimer’s Awareness because early detection and diagnosis is so important in attempting to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. This is another reason beyond adherence to routine health screenings that maintaining a strong relationship with a primary care doctor you trust is important.

If you suspect Alzheimer’s in yourself or a loved one, see a physician right away. They can perform the proper cognitive tests to determine if the symptoms might be Alzheimer’s or another entirely treatable illness.

E: Exercise

In 2013, the results of a 35-year study on the health habits of over 2,200 men were published. One of the key findings was that regular exercise seemed to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and similar forms of dementia. Most health care experts say getting 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week is best.

F: Make Brain-Healthy Food Choices

We all know there are many reasons we should eat a well-balanced diet. Alzheimer’s prevention is one more reason to add to the list. Eating well may help you avoid developing diabetes and high cholesterol, which some researchers say increase the risk for Alzheimer’s. A few tips for eating a well-balanced diet include consuming:

  • Lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Very little dairy or red meat
  • Omega-3 rich foods, like fish and broccoli

G: Gardening, Yoga, Mindfulness, and Other De-Stressors

It’s fairly common knowledge that stress can do terrible things to the mind and body. Now there is growing evidence that stress may be linked to Alzheimer’s disease. A long-term study in Sweden found that women who experienced high levels of stress were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s or a related form of dementia later in life. That’s why it’s important to find healthy ways to manage your stress. Meditation, nature walks, gardening, and yoga are a few to consider.

Montessori Techniques for Memory Care
Alzheimer’s disease affects 5.4 million Americans and their loved ones. It’s why exploring ways to treat the symptoms and finding a cure is a task for everyone.
Montessori-based Dementia Programming, based on the Montessori methodology taught in primary schools, focuses on adults with Alzheimer’s as unique individuals with different traits.

A Montessori-based memory care program focuses on residents’ individual interests, capabilities, strengths and needs. It builds on their existing skills and capabilities, enabling and encouraging participants to complete tasks on their own.

Memory Care at Five Star Senior Living

The Bridge to Rediscovery Memory Care program at Five Star Senior Living uses Montessori-based Dementia Programming to treat older adults with care and dignity. Call us today to find out if the program is right for your loved one.

Could Your Lifestyle Choices Be Increasing Your Risk for Alzheimer’s?

<!–[CDATA[5.8 million people in this country are living with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050, experts believe that number will soar to 14 million. While the cause and a cure continue to elude researchers, evidence shows lifestyle may play a role in developing Alzheimer’s. If you have been diagnosed with it, lifestyle choices might help slow the progression.

What can you do to lower your risk?

Here are a few suggestions that may allow you to keep Alzheimer’s at bay.

Alzheimer’s Prevention: Making Healthy Lifestyle Choices

1. Keep moving.

While most adults know exercising for thirty minutes at least five days a week is important, fewer know the dangers of sitting too much. Even if you regularly exercise, spending the remainder of your time sitting on the couch or at your desk is just plain bad for you.

In fact, research shows a sedentary lifestyle is almost as dangerous as smoking. One health condition linked to sitting too much is type 2 diabetes. Growing research suggests Alzheimer’s might be linked to type 2 diabetes.

If you have a desk job or are performing tasks that require you to sit all day, get up and move around every hour. Many fitness trackers have the option to alert you when you’ve been sitting too long.

2. Consume a healthy diet.

Researchers say diet likely plays a role in whether you do—or don’t—develop Alzheimer’s disease. The Mediterranean Diet is often touted for its cognitive health benefits. It is modeled after how people in the Mediterranean eat.

People in these areas often live longer, healthier lives with fewer incidences of Alzheimer’s. The Mediterranean Diet is composed of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, lean protein, and little red meat.

Another option thought to help lower the risk for Alzheimer’s is the MIND Diet, considered to be a blend of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. It is more restrictive, including limiting fruit to just berries.

3. Keep learning and growing.

Just like the body needs a good workout, so does the brain. It’s essential to keep learning after you retire. Reading, writing, games, and puzzles are a few activities to engage in each day.

Other options for promoting brain health include:

  • Taking a foreign language class
  • Learning to play a new instrument
  • Writing your autobiography
  • Joining a book club
  • Debating current events

Any activity that requires learning new information gives your brain a healthy challenge.

4. Stay connected with others.

Avoiding isolation and staying engaged with the world is another way you can protect cognitive health. Make and spend time with friends. Volunteer for a nonprofit organization. Babysit the grandkids or great-grandkids. The more connected you are, the lower your likelihood of falling victim to health consequences associated with loneliness and isolation.

5. Relax and sleep well.

Experts from the Cleveland Clinic consider the combination of managing stress and sleeping well one of their six pillars of brain health. Finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as yoga, walking, meditating, and swimming, can result in improved sleep and brain health.

If you struggle with sleep problems, talk with your primary care physician. You may have a sleep disorder that requires medical intervention.

Bookmark the Five Star Senior Living Blog

If you are interested in the latest trends in successful aging, we encourage you to subscribe to or bookmark the Five Star Senior Living Blog. We share updates several times each week to make it easier for older adults and family caregivers to access helpful resources and tools!
 

5 Causes of Agitation in Seniors with Alzheimer’s

<!–[CDATA[It’s heartbreaking to watch a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease lose their memory and struggle with daily activities. Tasks such as getting dressed or eating can become a challenge.

But when a loved one with Alzheimer’s becomes agitated, it’s especially difficult to deal with. If you don’t have any medical or senior care training, you may be at a loss about what to do.

Understanding some of the main causes of Alzheimer’s-related agitation can help you minimize anxiety and angry outbursts by avoiding stressful situations.

And if you can’t prevent a difficult behavior completely, at least you will be better prepared to manage it.

5 Reasons a Senior with Alzheimer’s Gets Agitated

1. Fear or fatigue

Older adults with Alzheimer’s live in a scary, unfamiliar world. The fatigue that comes from trying to understand their surroundings often causes agitation.

By creating a calming, distraction-free atmosphere most of the time, you may be able to decrease some of the agitation your loved one feels.

2. A break in routine

It’s hard enough for someone with Alzheimer’s to understand their everyday world when things around them remain stable. A break in routine—even seemingly positive changes like a visit from friends—can cause agitation.

To prevent agitation in these situations, explain in advance to your loved one what’s happening.

Whether it’s a trip to the doctor, a visit from the grandchildren, or a family celebration, remind your loved one what’s happening, what they can expect, and that you’ll be with them through it all. You may need to repeat this over and over depending upon how great their memory loss is.

3. Perceived threats

People with Alzheimer’s often become agitated when they perceive a threat. And what we view as normal could be seen as a threat to someone with Alzheimer’s.

To minimize this risk, strive for a stress-free, calming environment. Avoid too much noise, or even “loud” colors and patterns, which can cause agitation.

If your loved one perceives a threat, don’t try to invalidate their feelings.  Instead, tell them it will be okay and that you will stay with them until they feel better.
Speak in calming tones. Ask how you can help. You might also distract your loved one with an easy chore or some light exercise.

4. A change in caregivers

Any change can cause agitation in someone with Alzheimer’s. But one of the most disruptive changes relates to caregiving. Changing caregivers removes someone the senior has grown to trust and rely on, and introduces a new person. This is tough for a person with memory loss.

If you think about a toddler with separation anxiety, it’s easy to understand what a senior with Alzheimer’s may be feeling when a new caregiver joins the family. Consider making a slow transition to the new caregiver, and expect some agitation until your loved one settles into the new routine.

5. A change in location

There is, perhaps, no change more jarring for a senior with Alzheimer’s than a move—especially a move from a lifelong home.

Moving your loved one into a memory care community, staffed with experts trained to manage agitation and other Alzheimer’s symptoms, can ease the transition. From moving day to the weeks following, the staff will ensure your loved one feels safe and protected, while also caring for their daily needs.

Change is one of the most common causes of agitation, but a move to Five Star Senior Living doesn’t have to create anxiety for your loved one. Contact our expert team for advice on making this transition go smoothly.