Everyone with Alzheimer’s disease at some point will need help from a professional caregiver. Sometimes a family member and a paid caregiver will meet this need. Whomever is filling the role, they will need to make many adjustments from the time the diagnosis is given. Fear of what will happen and how they will be able to manage the manifestations of the disease is very common. Thus, the best thing that a family caregiver can do is to gain understanding of the disease. Most of all, if you are feeling overwhelmed, do not feel guilty if you are unable to fill the caregiver’s role yourself. Not everyone can fill this very difficult task.
If hiring a home health assistant, they must: provide adequate supervision with activities of daily living, ensure the patient’s medical well being, provide assistance with daily chores, provide assistance with personal care, and provide companionship and psychological support. If the family member is working as a daily caregiver, here are some valuable tips:
For more information call our office to find out about the Statewide Medicaid Program in Florida, the Aid and Attendance Program, and other resources. We can also recommend a good Elder Law Attorney. Contact us at: 561-235-2490 if you'd like to get a free copy of our booklet designed to help you through the maze of decisions you will need to consider. A complimentary care management meeting with you and your parent can be scheduled right in your home to help sort it all out. Olga Brunner has had experience as a case manager for the Statewide Medicaid Program. This experience can indeed help you find the solutions you are looking for.
Posted 31st January 2016 by Olga Brunner
Keeping the mind and body active and busy is important for everyone, but especially for the person with Alzheimer’s disease. Activities should focus on the person’s abilities, not their limitations. Activities should be safe, with enjoyment, not achievement being the intent. Recognize that the A.D. person’s interests can change from day to day and hour to hour. Activities that provide mental stimulation are best done in the morning, while soothing or calming ones are best done in the late day or evening. Realize that the attention span is likely to be short and the person may not be able to initiate activities but may be able to do them once the caregiver starts.
Following are some ideas for useful and interesting activities:
1. Helping with chores gives the person a feeling that they are still part of the household. Examples include: setting the table, folding the laundry, sweeping the floor, and sorting the silverware. My mother loved to fold dinner napkins.
2. Exercise releases tension, meets physical needs, and provides a feeling of accomplishment. A stationary bicycle or easy video can be used effectively.
3. Gardening – simple tasks under supervision can provide satisfaction as the person “watches their garden grow’.
4. Arts and Crafts – For example making pencil holders or vases from tin cans, trivets with glued tile pieces, painting shells and stringing beads for jewelry.
5. Games appropriate to the individual’s level of function can be stimulating.
6. Puzzles can be fun but first find the most appropriate for their stage. Sorting buttons, cards, coins, keys or socks can be a good activity for a lower functioning individual.
7. Drives to interesting places can be calming and life enhancing. A trip to the zoo, the botanical garden, or to a Florida Wetland is fun and provides the basis for positive communication.
8. Reading aloud and using visual aids to share stories, poems and pictures about days gone by is Best! I used to play my walkman and it was heaven to watch mom move her head to the tune of her favorite music.
9. Use of a VCR or DVD player – old movies can bring back pleasurable memories. Nature and travel films move more slowly and are easier to follow. Never have a person with Alzheimer's. watch the news. Especially during time of impending hurricanes- this can serve to agitate unnecessarily.
10. Scrapbooks to put in favorite or treasured small items or pictures could be fun.
11. Busy Boxes and Reminiscence Boxes can include everything from kitchen gadgets to sports equipment, sewing supplies or cosmetics depending on the person’s interests and the safety of the objects.
12. Again, music which the person enjoys can be soothing or stimulating. This includes everything from active listening to sing-a-longs.
Meaningful activities can give the Alzheimer's person a feeling that they are making a worthwhile contribution and thus enhance their self-esteem. Some positive ways to introduce an activity are: “Can you please help me with…” or “Could you show me how you do …., “ “It would be nice if you would make this for me.” It is not a good idea to ask the person to do a simplified version of an activity or craft in which they once excelled, as this could be upsetting. Above all, the Alzheimer's person needs to feel a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction and involvement from the activities you are presenting. And as we know, caring for pets provides a sense of accomplishment as I realized when I got mom a small puppy. It gave her an excuse to do her walking exercises while keeping little Jimmy safely in her walker's basket.
As a former Activities Director in long term care I understand the importance of activities. Please go to our contact page and complete the page if you are interested in setting up an activities program for your loved one with Alzheimer's disease. Please feel free to post your comments below. Thank you.
Posted 30th of January 2016 by Olga Brunner
Labels: A Good Daughter Elder Care Management; Activities planning for seniors; Alzheimer's
I have a very special place in my heart for persons suffering with Alzheimer's related disorders. You see, in 1997 I left California, moving to South Florida to care for a parent with this condition. Not only was it a labor of love but I was introduced to a whole new world, encountering much of what today's family members go through. It lead to my profession as an Elder Care Manager, learning much of which I will share with you today.
If you are experiencing problems being heard, make sure that you have the person’s attention by saying their name and making eye contact. Remember cognition level may vary from day to day, time of day, location and conversational topic. Limit the number of people in a conversation when you are communicating. Use short, simple words and sentences with minimal information. This really makes life easier all the way around. Reduce distractions and extraneous noise when trying to communicate. Use more than words to communicate. Body language, gestures, and facial expressions also communicate meaning so learn to use appropriate ones. Encourage the person to express thoughts even if having difficulty. Be careful not to interrupt. Demonstrate tasks in easy to understand steps, one at a time. Use recognition rather than recall questions when introducing someone. Try saying, “This is Mary who we met last summer”, instead of saying “Don’t you remember Mary from last summer?” Expect that the person may ask the same question over and over again. Repetition is very common in this disease. Try to have patience, be reassuring, and move on. While on the subject of patience, ask one question at a time. If asking a question, then wait for a response. Sometimes there may not be a response, so gently move on. Above all, and this is very critical and may take some practice, but you must avoid criticizing, correcting, and arguing. It is always counterproductive. Remember, you can no longer teach them something like you can do with a two-year-old, it is up to you to. Here's more which was learned as an Activities Director in a Nursing Home:
Above all, patience is essential. The person with a dementia disorder may have little or no control over their strange verbal, physical, or sexual behavior. The affected person may not remember enough about their past reasoning or behavior patterns to always respond appropriately. What can seem like manipulative behavior is just the disease talking. If you are a long distance family member and need someone to partner with you in achieving goals for someone dear to you, call the offices of A Good Daughter Solutions in Boynton Beach at 561-235-2490. I will be happy to discuss how we can be of help and are available for a free consultation in your loved one's home.
Please feel free to comment or ask questions below. Thank you.
Posted 29th of January, 2016 by Olga Brunner
Labels: communicating with Alzheimer's disease patient geriatric care management
I don't know why but every winter season in Florida numerous seniors slip and fall, fracturing femurs and hips and/or often needing admission for a host of antibiotic resistant infections. Family members fly in to see their loved ones and wind up suffering in the process because many hospitals are under pressure to keep nursing staffs lean and communication suffers. A personal advocate such as an Elder Care Manager can be a valuable resource. It may even be a relative or friend - as long as it is someone who can advocate on the senior's behalf. Families are allies and partners in the well being of a parent and should not be simply seen as visitors when parents are hospitalized. They should not be in the waiting room, wondering what's going on. Hospital staff worry that family input will take up valuable time but in the long run, it will save time since families are a valuable source of information.
Recently, an 82 year old Alzheimer's client was recovering from a twisted bowel. Her condition worsened and her doctor gave orders to have her moved to ICU. Because the charge nurse refused to follow orders, the transfer was delayed. Luckily, I had ordered a night shift caregiver for my client on admission. This nursing assistant was present when the charge nurse cancelled the doctor's order, calling me at 2:00 am. I was able to communicate with the physician explaining the charge nurses resistance to follow orders in the middle of the night. We were fortunate to have had a knowledgeable "team player" who didn't think twice about contacting us. Sometimes it makes a difference between life or death.
Sometimes family members don't see the value of employing private caregivers when parents are in the hospital. Because family members cannot be present 24 hours a day, advocacy in any form is the best protection. At the very least it is another set of eyes while family members get their rest. For family members who choose to go it alone however, please remember to employ the following techniques:
Ask everyone who enters your parent's room if they've washed their hands; ask nurses to read out loud the drug orders; make sure they check your loved one's ID braclet; always ask the reason mom or dad are getting new medications; be alert for pressure wounds; make sure parents are moved often and lifted when transferring; bring games to help family with brain stimulation; keep a journal for observations; be patient and appreciative with staff as they may be administering to more sickly patients; don't hesitate to speak up if you have concerns, and if all of the lingo and the sight of blood makes you ill, hire an advocate such as a professional Elder Care Manager who has sufficient experience interacting with medical personnel and can advocate for you on your parent's behalf. An Elder Care Manager can partner with you to ensure the right procedures are being maintained and is someone who understands the medical process and today's limitations in healthcare. Thank you and feel free to comment.
I Have worn many hats in my day: Nursing Home Assistant Admin and Activities Director, Assisted Living Admin, Case Management for the State-wide Medicaid Program, and Trainer for Dept of Elder Affairs.