Archive for July, 2014

Top Tips For Visiting Someone Living With Dementia

Dementia covers a group of symptoms such as memory problems, decreasing ability to think or reason and difficulty communicating.

People with Dementia often find it hard to let you know how they feel. They often become confused, anxious and sometimes frightened.  Finding it hard to recognise people.  However, feelings remain and visits can stimulate warm feelings and be comforting.

Here are some things you can do to help when you visit someone with Dementia

  • Wear something bright and colourful and approach them from the front, don’t be tempted to tap them on the shoulder or approach them from behind.
  •  Introduce yourself with an explanation of who you are
  •  Smile and make eye contact, sitting down next to them at their level
  • Touch their hand or arm gently if appropriate
  • Make sure you speak simply, one comment at a time
  • Listen and give them time to answer or comment.  Be patient.
  • It is important to be positive and reassuring.
  • Try to avoid questions or choices, try ‘A cup of tea?’ (not, tea or coffee?) Be Patient.
  • Accept incorrect statements as they may be caused by memory loss or faulty logic. Acknowledge the emotions behind the words.

I find these tips very helpful. They were based on work undertaken by Dr. Jennifer Bute a retired GP who is living with early onset Alzheimer’s Dementia.


Making Difficult Decisions For An Elderly Relative

Caring isn’t easy and it is quite normal to feel lonely, misunderstood; unappreciated and angry about what is happening to the people we love. Question Mark

However much care we give our elderly loved ones, decline in strength and health is usually painful and it can be very discouraging to know this is happening despite our best efforts. Unfortunately there are no magic formulas or training manuals and we just have to strive to do our best.

Sometimes it becomes necessary to make unpopular decisions about “what is best” for people we love. This can make us feel as if we are betraying them or letting them down in some way, which was certainly the case when we made the decision to move my Mother into a care home. Although we considered every possible option and I knew there was no other way Mum could be looked after because of her obsessive dependence on my father whose own health was deteriorating, I felt guilty at being unable to come up with a solution that would have enabled them to stay together.

Guilt is an emotion commonly associated with caring for an elderly relative and it can sometimes cause us to delay making a decision, until suddenly it reaches a crisis.

However, I would advise you to avoid making life-changing decisions during a time of crisis if you can. Consult with health and care professionals, discuss the matter with your relative and other family members, make the decision and know that you have done the best you can.

6 Ways To Slow Progression of Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease

Over the years, desperate statements from medical research teams have made the world believe that once you show signs of Alzheimer’s disease, there is little you can do to about the condition. Not anymore because current research has revealed that there are several things a person living with early onset Alzheimer’s disease can do to slow progression of the disease. Here are six ways to slow down Alzheimer’s disease.

1. Regular exercise Sepia Grunge Sign - Stay on Trail

According to ARPF or (Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation) physical exercises minimizes the danger of developing this disease by fifty percent. Here are important tips that can help you get started and stick to your exercise plan:

• Do aerobic exercises five times a week for at least 30 min per day. Swimming, walking, laundry, gardening and cleaning all amount to exercise so long as their intensity increases your heart rate.

• Undertake balance and coordination exercises like yoga, Tai Chi, balance balls and balance discs

• Build muscles through lifting moderate weights and other forms of resistance training to pump up your brain.

• Hang on for more than 21 days without skipping daily exercise, as this will help turn exercising into a habit.

Over and above these benefits, exercising also helps you reduce stress, improve your memory, increase your energy levels and boost your mood.

2. Healthy diet Foodswings Meal

Medical experts say that glial cells can be very helpful in removing toxins and debris that contribute to Alzheimer from the brain. This means you have to eat such foods as soy products, green tea, ginger, fatty fish and all forms of berries that inhibit properties that may keep these crucial cells from damage. Your brain, just like the rest of the body, needs a specific and proper diet to work well. You should therefore plan to eat a lot of healthy fats, fresh fruit, lean protein, and vegetables.

Important Tips:

  • Learn more about a Mediterranean diet and subscribe to it.
  • Keep off from saturated fats and Trans fats.
  • Maintain a diet that supports the health of your heart.
  • Include lots of Omega 3 in your diet.
  • Instead of taking three huge meals, break it down to four to six small ones across the day.
  • Eat vegetables and fruits across the rainbow.
  • Take some well-done steaming cups of tea every day.

 3. Mental Stimulation Radio Rectangle : Hobby

People who challenge themselves to learn new things every now and then are less likely to become victims of Alzheimer’s disease. You should therefore make resolve to take up this challenge. Some things that you can do to stimulate your brain may include;

  • Learning a sign language; learn foreign language; learn a musical instrument;
  • Read a good book or informative newspaper articles
  • Adopt a new hobby.
  • You can also embark on the practice of memorization.
  • Do riddles and puzzle games.
  • Practice asking yourself the; Who? What? Where? When & Why? questions from you own experiences on a daily basis
  • Do unusual things like eating with your less dominant hand etc.

 4. Quality sleep sleep

On an average, you are supposed to take at least 8 hours of sound sleep every night. This is because the human brain needs consistent and proper sleep to be able to function to its required capacity. Lack of enough sleep will only leave you feeling tired, cranky and impaired in your thought process. To achieve this you therefore need to;

  • Come up with an organized sleep timetable that is observed without compromise.
  • Master the art of napping.
  • Set the bedroom mood by keeping your bed exclusively for sex and sleep.
  • Remove gadgets like computers or television from the bedroom.
  • Come up with a bed time ritual to help you relax as you head on to catch sleep. This can include doing some easy stretches, taking a hot bath writing a journal or even dimming the lights.
  • Tone down your inner chatter. Anxiety, stress and negative inner dialogue can easily rob you of sleep and keep you awake most of the night. When in this state, you can quieten it by getting out of bed and moving to the next room where you can relax with an easy book for say 20 minute before you resume.

5. Stress management ~ oneness meditation ~

Owing to the fast pace of modern life stress has become every man and woman’s nightmare. If unchecked, stress can shrink part of your brain better termed as the hippocampus. This negative development can hamper the growth of your nerve cells thereby increasing the risk of being afflicted by Alzheimer. To manage your stress levels you can do the following:

  • Learn the art of breathing. Respond to your stress by taking three deep, abdominal breaths.
  • Have an organized daily schedule of relaxation activities.
  • Nourish your inner peace through observations like prayer, meditation, reflection and the like.

 6. Fill your social life with activityiPad

As senior social creatures, human beings cannot do well in isolation. Therefore living contrary to this social need will do much to expose you to the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. To be socially active, you can do the following;

  • Actively interact on social media.
  • Join a social group or club.
  • Sign up for group classes.
  • Volunteer for community service.
  • Know your neighbors well.
  • Make several phone calls or email mutual friends on a regular basis.
  • Visit parks, museums; go to movies or any other places that allow you unwind.

As mentioned earlier, Alzheimer’s disease is not a condition to dread anymore. Just observe these tips and you can slow down early onset Alzheimer’s Disease For more professional and detailed information simply apply for an EHIC card and reap the benefit of guidance from the real medical experts.

Mum, Dad and Dementia

I was on a residential course for my social work training over 30 years ago when I first heard my mother had been diagnosed with dementia. She has had chronic mental and physical health issues all her adult life including anxiety and depression for which she had electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) Talking therapies such as counselling and CBT were not used in those days and I believe that ECT was responsible for her memory loss in the early days.

Mum has always been reserved, strong willed and used to getting her own way. She has also had a low self esteem for as long as I can remember, the reason for which I have never been able to understand.

I have seen first hand from working with people living with dementia how dementia effects everyone differently and how big a part personality, character, life experience, past occupation and lifestyle play in shaping a person’s dementia journey.

Mums dementia journeyleg-lifters

Over the years Mum’s memory deteriorated. Making choices became difficult for her and she would avoid answering the phone, asking my father to take over calls. Dad has always been a source of reassurance for my mother. Just by being around he provided her with a sense of security.

As Mum’s faculties declined my father gradually assumed responsibility for the things she could no longer manage – cooking, cleaning, laundry, finances and arranging and escorting her to the many appointments she had.

The impact of dementia on relationships

My parents had been happily married for over 60 years when my father’s eyesight and health began to fail. His previously placid manner began to change as he increasingly became frustrated with my mother, constantly correcting her when she said or did something wrong. I repeatedly asked him not to give in to the urge to ‘put Mum right’ when he knew something she said was wrong but he was unable to stop doing it.

It was sad to see two people who loved each other struggling to cope, My mother’s cognitive decline and deteriorating memory on the one hand and my father’s failing health and ability to cope on the other, both unable to understand each others’ perspective. They were both experiencing emotional reactions to debilitating, frustrating and frightening changes to their inner world and increasing dependence.

Dementia affects the whole family especially those closest to the person living with dementia. The impact on my father was made worse by his own deteriorating health. He was overcome with guilt at no longer being able to care for my mother and the anger and frustration he felt towards her was a new experience for him. This happened alongside increasing exhaustion due to his illness and it was painful to watch this proud, competent and kind man fighting dependency.

The end of an era

Eventually Dad could no longer cope. Mum’s frequent need for reassurance (the result of  anxiety and memory impairment) and her mental and physical dependency on my father got the better of him and my mother had to move into a care home, something I had always dreaded and done everything possible to avoid.

Separation anxiety

For a long time, my mother was even more anxious than usual. She refused to leave her room in the care home, refused to be compliant with staff (the only way she was able to maintain control) and talked of wanting to die. I think she was experiencing Separation Anxiety; a state of excessive anxiety when an individual is apart from a person (Dad) or place (her home) that makes them feel safe and secure. For people living with dementia, separation anxiety is one of the most common causes for wandering (or as I like to call it ‘wondering’ as there is always a reason) but as Mum was unable to walk unaided, she was unable to wander.

About a year after moving Mum  into a care home, my father’s health deteriorated. I moved in to care for him at the end of his life and he passed away soon after. Mum eventually had to leave the care home due to her poor mobility, lack of compliance with staff and challenging behaviour. However, I will save that story for next time!