Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregivers Blog

What does the word “No” really mean when you have Alzheimer’s?

Sometimes the word “No” means that the person with Alzheimer’s does not have the vast vocabulary because of the progression of their disease.  The word “No” is one of the words that they can remember and it clearly has an impact when spoken.  The expression on the caregivers face changes when they use the word “No” which may give them a sense of control.  Because they have difficulty expressing themselves it could also mean that they are cold, hungry, or even in pain. A care giver may cheerfully want to start an activity and the older person says “No.”  It is interesting that after gentle urging the person becomes more agreeable and they often start the activity.  I also recommend waiting for about ten or fifteen minutes and try again to encourage the person to do what you want them to do, they may have forgotten that they said “No.”  You may try using the word “Yes” when you make your requests.  Oh mom, “Yes” it would be so nice to go outside in the warm sunshine, and “Yes” you could even listen to song birds today.  Oh dad, “Yes,” I know that you just went to the bathroom but we need to try again, and “Yes,” did you see the pretty new towels that mom put in the bathroom. The more positive and cheerful you sound the more likely you will have success with your requests.

Remember to Join their Journey when someone has Alzheimer’s Disease

After multiple years of working with families who were caring for older adults with Alzheimer’s, I realized that the phrase “Join their Journey” was so descriptive of what a caregiver must do some days.  When you care about someone with impaired thinking you must spare them from hearing all of the details that you want to share with them especially if it would only cause them anxiety.  If you can imagine that their brain may only be able to process every third word that you speak, you would want to change the way that you talk to them.  When you “Join their Journey” let them lead the conversation or the activity.  Their conversation may not make a lot of sense but you can fill in some words for them.  They may begin to smile or laugh if you appear to be having fun.  Of course if the conversation appears to be sad or more negative, try distraction to a more positive topic, “like did you see that beautiful bird that just flew by?”  Another behavior may involve changing clothes several times each day and at this point you are tired of redirecting them.  If you “Join their Journey” you may want to participate in the dress-up time.  You could add a hat and jewelry and enjoy the time together making the experience more pleasant both of you.

Caring for the Elderly: When to Intervene

As a Geriatric Nurse I have listed many warning signs for someone who may not be doing well living independently.

 

  • RECENT HEALTH PROBLEMS
  • SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS FROM MEDICATIONS 
  • LOSS OF VISION OR HEARING 
  • REPEATED FALLS (BRUISES ON ARMS AND LEGS CAN BE AN INDICATOR) 
  • NEGLECTED HYGEINE 
  • INCONTINENCE 
  • MEMORY LAPSES
  • IMPAIRED THINKING
  • IMPAIRED COMMUNICATION (VERBAL OR WRITTEN)
  • UNAWARE OF PERSON, PLACE, OR TIME
  • INABILITY TO ACCOUNT FOR TIME
  • AGGRESSIVENESS OR ABUSIVENESS
  • ISOLATION
  • LOSS OF INTEREST IN PREVIOUSLY ENJOYED ACTIVITIES
  • NEGLECTED APPEARANCE
  • LETHARGY OR APATHY
  • ANY OTHER DRASTIC CHANGE IN ROUTINE
  • NOT PAYING BILLS ON TIME
  • UNABLE TO BALANCE CHECK BOOK
  • NOT ABLE TO ACCOUNT FOR SPENDING
  • TROUBLE GROCERY SHOPPING
  • DIFFICULTY COOKING, EATING, OR USING APPLIANCES SAFELY
  • LESS FREQUENT OR POOR HOUSE CLEANING
  • DIFFICULTY BATHING
  • POOR MOBILITY
  • NEEDS HELP DRESSING
  • CANNOT DRIVE A CAR OR USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SAFELY
  • CHECK THE AUTOMOBILE FOR ANY DENTS OR FRESH PAINT FROM A REPAIR

 

It is important to not ignore these warning signs.  The person you love may be in danger of having a serious health crisis.

Memory Loss: The Importance of Early Treatment

One of the most difficult things to encounter in life is when our health changes. But probably the most devastating is when our minds begin to fail and our thinking becomes confused. As a Geriatric Nurse I hear concerns from people about how do you know the difference about normal aging versus Alzheimer's. I tell them how important it is for them to see their doctor and be open and honest about the changes they are experiencing. About 61% of the symptoms associated with memory loss can be physically caused. It is important to treat early mild cognitive impairment with memory enhancement medications. I started working with families in 1997 and during that same year Aricept was the first drug introduced to help with cognitive impairment. The doctor's were not optimistic that it would be helpful, but it did indeed help some people. I remember Mary, a fifty nine year old computer trainer talking about her diagnosis of Alzheimer's and how much she felt that Aricept had helped to clear her thinking. She said, "You have heard about people killing for drugs?" "Well, I would kill for my Aricept!" Her words were so powerful and they continue to resonate with me even today about the importance of early treatment. Some doctor's argue that there is no cure for the disease, and I do agree, but what about slowing down the progression of the disease and allowing people more quality of life?

Our DVDs combine images
with high quality music that will engage those with cognitive decline. They are currently utilized by caregivers at multiple dementia units, nursing homes and home care environments.

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