Watch this personal account of the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and how it impacts both the patient and caregiver, as seen on CBS’ 60 Minutes. It follows a couple for 10 years from diagnosis to the final stages of Alzheimer’s and how important it is to have support for caregivers.
You’re all gathered together for the holidays when this conversation comes up…mom and dad are considering a move. Although mom loves the home where she raised her family, she now feels it is too big and the stairs have become a daily challenge. Dad is tired of all the yard work and thinks maintaining their existing home’s interior and exterior is too time consuming. They want to relax during their retirement years and spend their time on activities they enjoy.
In many families, broaching the subject of moving to a senior living community can be uncomfortable. Fortunately, having a discussion about a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) makes it easier. That’s because a CCRC offers a homelike environment for seniors across varying stages of dependence—starting with independent living. Many residents are as young as 62 years old.
A CCRC or all-inclusive Life Care program allows residents to move into an independent living apartment or home then transition to more intensive care—assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing—as the need arises. When a new resident enters the Life Care program at St. Catherine’s Village, for example, he or she typically pays a one-time entrance fee; however, there is a Life Care option with no entrance fee. The program then offers unlimited, all-inclusive Life Care where services are guaranteed throughout that resident’s lifetime at a predetermined rate. As a result, they know monthly expenses from day one and can plan accordingly.
So, how do you know when it’s time to move to Independent Living?
Dad no longer wants to spend time on yard work and home maintenance. Mom is tired of house cleaning and laundry. Relax. Independent living also means maintenance-free living. All outdoor living spaces and common areas are cared for. And any exterior repairs are taken care of. Depending on the level of service, linens and housekeeping also may be included in monthly fees. Independent living offers just that—independence from the hassles of home repairs, outdoor chores and so much more.
Mom and dad don’t get out socially as frequently as they’d like. Most, if not all, CCRCs offer age-appropriate activities galore…fitness classes, group events, games, sports, hobbies, clubs, and more…all on-site. They often coordinate off-campus driving-free excursions, as well. At St. Catherine’s Village, full-time activities directors plan parties and classes to keep residents engaged.
Everyone wants to feel secure at home. Living alone can be daunting. At a CCRC, residents are surrounded by others their age and have access to helpful staff 24 hours a day. Plus, at St. Catherine’s Village, they reside in a secure environment with 24-hour on-site security, which offers peace of mind. Leaving home for a vacation is worry-free.
Most seniors don’t want to burden others. In independent living, residents are still self-sufficient and able to maintain their independence. At the same time, their families feel more comfortable knowing that their loved ones have a support system to rely on.
As you gather with family and celebrate your holiday traditions this year, be open to the opportunities that come with making a move. Don’t be afraid to talk about a CCRC or all-inclusive Life Care community…and all the benefits that come with independent living.
When the time comes and you need to trust someone else to care for your loved one, nursing homes often have a negative reputation. In reality, these skilled nursing facilities offer 24-hour care and support that individuals usually cannot receive at home. When researching the best living options for your family member, consider the following facts and myths.
Skilled Nursing Facilities Are Cold And Clinical
People often assume skilled nursing facilities resemble hospitals. In most instances, that’s simply not the case. Yes, residents receive care from medical professionals and assistance with daily tasks, but rooms present a more comfortable and homelike ambiance. Common areas are designed to be warm and welcoming. Plus, individuals are encouraged to participate in planned or group activities as they prefer and their abilities allow. Social and emotional support is provided for your loved one—and you—as well.
Residents Do Not Make Their Own Decisions
While each resident may face unique challenges based on their physical and cognitive health, they are free to make their own choices. Individuals can express their will regarding dining options and engage in social and recreational events as well as cultural and spiritual activities. They also have the right to make decisions about treatment and healthcare.
Meals Are Bland And Unappetizing
Most skilled nursing facilities pride themselves on their cuisine. Yes, there are medically required dietary needs at times, but the culinary staff work hard to balance nutrition with taste and presentation. Many even offer vegan, gluten-free, low-sodium, diabetic, or organic options. The trend across the country is a shift from rigid menus and stringent meal times to a more individualized approach toward food.
Residents Never Move Out
Some elder residents of skilled nursing facilities will stay for the remainder of their lives; however, others are recovering from an illness or surgery and require only a short-term stay. Once they regain their health and mobility, they can go home or—in the case of a Continuing Life Care community—move to another area of the property such as assisted living or independent living.
Skilled Nursing Is Unaffordable
Costs for skilled nursing facilities vary greatly based on location and whether a room is private or semiprivate. A resident at a Continuing Life Care community is guaranteed housing at a predetermined monthly rate. Plus, everything is included—three meals a day, snacks, utilities, cable television, and housekeeping along with medical care. With home healthcare, the individual or family continues to pay for groceries and living expenses on top of the healthcare provider’s services. So while it may seem more affordable to hire a home health aide, be sure to consider all expenses to make an accurate comparison.
It may be difficult when you realize that your family member needs round-the-clock care that you cannot provide. But when you separate fact from fiction, you’ll gain peace of mind knowing that you can find skilled nursing facilities where your loved one will receive the highest level of care and compassion.
At first, they forget little things like where they placed their keys or someone’s birthday. That’s natural—it happens to everyone as they age. How do you know when the forgetfulness is becoming a bigger issue that may require memory care support? Other signals that something serious may be wrong include agitation, disruption in sleep, personality changes, and even delusions. Ask yourself the following questions to determine if your loved one may need memory care that is beyond what you can provide.
Early Signs Of Dementia Or Alzheimer’s Disease
Are your loved one’s finances in order? Are bills going unpaid? Has he or she made unusual purchases? Has your loved one become vulnerable to scams and sweepstakes? Experts say that an early sign of dementia is the inability to understand money, debt, credit, and contracts. That’s because the disease impacts cognitive skills, problem solving and judgment.
Has her physical appearance changed? If you notice that your family member has lost weight, it may be because she has no appetite or is forgetting to eat. The opposite also can occur—she may forget that she has already eaten and then eat again. Is she no longer well groomed? Some patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s neglect their hygiene, either because they simply forget or because they are apathetic. The disease affects procedural memory, which is the ability to carry out certain routine actions such as bathing, dressing, brushing teeth, medication management, and more.
Behavioral Changes As The Disease Progresses
Does your loved one appear confused or disoriented? Does he wander off and then not know where he is? More than 60 percent of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia wander. Since the disease destroys brain cells responsible for not only memory but also thinking and behavior, they often get lost even in a familiar setting.
Has his behavior become unpredictable? Often, a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia has mood swings and may become aggressive and suspicious for no apparent reason. These shifts in behavior may be caused by physical discomfort and the inability to express it. Or it may be a factor of the environment and being easily confused. Lack of sleep can also contribute to erratic behavior. Sunset and early evening can bring on increased memory loss, confusion, agitation, and anger. This is known as Sundowner Syndrome.
Unsafe Living Conditions
Are you concerned with your loved one’s living conditions? Household issues such as water damage can indicate repeatedly forgetting to turn off the water. Burn marks may mean he left something on the stove too long. Another indicator of a problem is too much or too little food. When shopping, he may not recall what he needs and buy more or not enough. Or perhaps his daily medications are piling up.
If you feel your loved one may be suffering from more than age-related memory loss, don’t hesitate to get help. Great advances are being made in person-centered care for those with advanced dementia and Alzheimer’s. A licensed memory care facility may be the best, and safest, option for your loved one. Click here for more information on Campbell Cove and the Hughes Center at St. Catherine’s Village.
Art created by residents at St. Catherine’s Village is on display at the Mississippi Museum of Art now through September 4, 2016. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
Paintings were created as part of The Perfect Palette Art Group at St. Catherine’s Village and include submissions in oils, pastels, graphite, and acrylics. Led by Boo Richards, the program includes beginners all the way through virtuosos.
“We are thrilled to have works of art from our residents on display at the museum,” said Mary Margaret Judy, executive director at St. Catherine’s Village, Mississippi’s preeminent continuing life care community. “It gives our group members—and their families—the opportunity to celebrate their artistic achievements.”
The Perfect Palette Art Group is the second in the Mississippi Museum of Art’s Art in Us All: Community Exhibition Series. The exhibition program invites nonprofit organizations in Mississippi to showcase art created by their constituents. It is intended to cultivate creativity in the community for people of all ages and backgrounds while deepening the relationship between the museum and its visitors.
Through this series, the museum develops partnerships with Mississippi nonprofits that incorporate visual art into their social service work. The Perfect Palette Art Group was selected because it is the manifestation of art being used to lift the spirits and challenge the minds of an often underserved population—in this case, seniors.
“The beauty of the Perfect Palette Art Group is the manner in which it serves to renew, resurrect or awaken someone’s potential…from fostering the enjoyment of an accomplished artist who had put the brushes aside to seeing the utter joy of a new artist upon producing that first work of art that makes the heart smile,” said Judy. “The results are many beautiful compositions of art, friendship, holistic wellness, and creativity.”
The Perfect Palette Art Group is one of many enriching activities in which those living at St. Catherine’s Village can participate. The continuing care retirement community encourages residents to stay engaged, energetic and excited, and has an activity director to coordinate a variety of clubs, groups and events.
“Our philosophy is to make available every tool to enhance holistic health, healing and wellness. The creative arts is one such program,” said Judy. “Its focus is on living life to the fullest and maximizing one’s total potential: physically, mentally, socially, spiritually, and educationally.”
Located on 160 acres in Madison, St. Catherine’s Village is a life care community offering the right care at the right time through independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing. For more information, call (601) 856-0123 or log onto www.StCatherinesVillage.com.
To view the approximately 40 works of art from St. Catherine’s Village residents, visit the Mississippi Museum of Art at 380 South Lamar Street in Jackson. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. (Closed Monday.) Find more information at www.msmuseumart.org.
We all have those moments when we forget where we put our glasses, blank on a friend’s name, or discover at the supermarket that we’ve left the shopping list at home.
Such occasional lapses are common, especially once we hit our forties. And while it may be alarming to have a “senior moment” now and then, the good news is that we are not destined to increased memory gaps as we age. Research shows that by keeping your brain healthy with the right diet, and exercising it to keep cognitive function strong, you can boost memory and brainpower. Here are 10 fun, easy things you can do to stay sharp.
Have fish once a week
People who eat fish once a week have a 60% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to research by Martha Clare Morris, ScD, an epidemiologist and associate professor of internal medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. The reason is DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid found in large quantities in the brain and in cold water species of fish, such as salmon, tuna, and cod. Morris recently found that a weekly seafood-based meal may slow cognitive decline by 10% per year—the equivalent of turning back the clock 3 to 4 years. Try these healthy fish recipes to get your omega-3s. Not a fish fan? Take a bite of these other brain-boosting foods.
Take a daily brain break
When it comes to the brain, the one factor we often neglect is mental stimulation. We are creatures of habit and tend to engage in the same activities and behavior patterns. In fact, the brain “prefers” novelty and unexpected events. When we mentally challenge ourselves on a regular basis, we can maintain good intellectual potential as well as reduce our risk for age-related memory loss. Challenge yourself with our brain games, scientifically developed to give your mind a workout. From Mah Jongg to Sudoku, you won’t know which gave is your favorite until you try them all.
Keep family meetings
If you doubt the power of staying connected, consider this: Experts now believe that socializing, like other forms of mental exercise (such as crossword puzzles), may build cognitive reserve—a reservoir of brain function you draw from if and when other areas of your brain begin to decline. “When you interact with other people, it’s likely that structures in the frontal lobe that are responsible for ‘executive functions’—like planning, decision making, and response control—get fired up,” explains Oscar Ybarra, PhD, associate psychology professor at the University of Michigan. Regular socializing also keeps your brain sharp by reducing cortisol, the destructive stress hormone.
Maximize your workouts
Aside from eating a healthy diet, one of the most important ways to preserve your brain health is through regular exercise. “Cardiovascular activity pumps more oxygen-rich blood to the brain, which is like giving a car a shot of gasoline,” says Thomas Crook, PhD, an expert on cognitive development and memory disorders. With that blood comes nutrients such as glucose, which fuels every cell in the brain. Daily workouts also have long-term benefits. “Cardio exercise strengthens blood vessels and helps prevent illnesses that impair cognitive function, like stroke,” says Crook.
Keep your happy thoughts
Experts know that positive emotions have a beneficial effect on your ability to process information and are linked to better brain health over the long term. In 2007, one study found that people who frequently experience positive emotions were 60% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, while another found that older adults with lower levels of chronic stress scored better on memory tests. If you’ve had a bad day, simply press “eject” on your mental DVD player and pop in a feel-good memory instead, says Crook. Think about a time in your life when you were utterly happy. Rehearse the scene as though you were reliving it, complete with the dialogue, sights, smells, and feelings. “The memory itself will spark brain changes that can help turn your mood—and your long term health—around,” Crook explains. If you’re going through a longer rough patch, take heart—new studies show that depression can actually help your mental and emotional health in the long run.
Don’t sweat what you forget
Know what and when to forget. A daily overload of information often makes us think our memory is declining and we have memory loss when in fact it’s simply glutted with too much useless data. Most of the information that comes at us every day is, frankly, not worth remembering. A fit brain will efficiently screen out and discard worthless or meaningless data so it can remember what’s important. For example, the faster you forget your old PIN or access code, the quicker and more accurately you will recall your new numbers. Can’t concentrate? Try these 10 tricks to reboot your brain.
Take a nap
Go ahead, doze off during your lunch break: Napping for as little as 6 minutes can improve your memory, report German researchers. Over the course of 60 minutes, three groups of volunteers stayed awake for the entire hour, got in just 6 minutes of sleep, or took a 30- to 45-minute nap. On a word recall test afterward, all of those who slept outperformed those who didn’t —but surprisingly, the 6-minute nappers did just as well on the memory exam as those who snoozed longer.
Source – Prevention Magazine
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