The Alzheimer’s Association uses a three stage approach for classification of dementia, including mild, moderate, and severe. Understanding these varying stages can make it easier to provide support, know what to anticipate, and prevent caregiver burnout.
In dementia’s mild or early stage, most people can do things for themselves, are able to drive, and participate in favorite activities. However, they may require assistance with some activities and cues or reminders for keeping appointments or remembering words and names. They may also need help maintaining familiar routines, managing household bills, grocery shopping, or preparing full meals. Fluctuations often start early and happen throughout all stages.
The moderate or middle stage of dementia is usually accompanied by difficulty with immediate recall, logic, situational memory, language, and organization. New daily care needs may arise when routine isn’t enough. An individual may have more difficulty starting and completing tasks in order. There may also be more repeated comments or questions about the situation. They may experience confusion, depression, anxiety, agitation, irritability, suspiciousness, and repetitive behaviors. Sleep changes, physical and verbal outbursts, and wandering may occur. Loss of independence and privacy can be difficult. Instead of taking over, it may be beneficial to ask for their help or present steps in order with visual cues and participation praise.
The severe or late stage is characterized by declines in environmental response, conversational skills, and movement control. Because of motor memory damage, most time will be spent resting. The person’s immune system may weaken as the brain can shrink to 1/3 of its original size.
Automatic movements like swallowing and eating can be challenging, and liquid can build in lungs. Infections or skin breakdown may result from poor nutrition. Repositioning, slow muscle movements, singing, playing music, or saying prayers may bring comfort and relaxation. Caregivers must read facial expressions, body language, and sounds to detect pain or discomfort due to a lack of communication.
Dementia progresses differently for each individual, and their ability to function varies from week to week and day to day. Staging helps determine how much help and what kind of help loved ones may need. It’s important to observe subtle changes and patterns and remain flexible as solutions may need to be adapted.
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Michelle Pekich, Director of Marketing, for in-home care provider ComForCare Home Care. She may be reached at 724-759-7674 or by email at email@example.com.
Did you know there are financial assistance programs available to veterans who need assisted living care? Our veterans made numerous sacrifices to uphold the freedom we enjoy today while their families kept the home fires burning. They are entitled to many benefits in appreciation for all they endured for America.Veterans benefits for senior living are available for qualifying veterans and their surviving spouses, as long as the veteran served at least 90 days of active duty, including at least one day during a wartime period, and received an honorable or general discharge.Veterans Aid and Attendance for assisted living careOffered through the Department of Veterans Affairs, Aid and Attendance is a monthly pension benefit that can help cover the costs of assisted living care. It is available for wartime veterans and their spouses who have limited income and require the regular attendance of a caregiver.Aid and Attendance is designed for individuals who need assistance from another person to complete everyday activities such as bathing, dressing and assistance with other daily activities. A veterans need for this benefit does not need to be the result of their military service.Funds received from Aid and Attendance benefits can offer a monthly benefit to help pay for assisted living and long-term care for a qualifying veteran and their spouse. The actual monthly benefit is determined by the veterans assets, income and medical expenses and conditions.Contact your local county Veterans Services office with questions on how to apply by visiting www.benefits.va.gov/vso.MedicareMedicare will pay for short-term care at nursing and rehabilitation facilities for seniors who need these services after an illness or injury that requires hospitalization. Medicare does not cover the cost for assisted living, home care or other senior living services.Long-Term Care BenefitsThe Veterans Administration provides both short- and long-term care in skilled nursing settings for veterans who cannot care for themselves. This benefit does not cover assisted living or home care.Housebound BenefitsVeterans confined to their homes and requiring assisted living care may be best suited to receive Housebound benefits. This program provides an increased monthly pension amount for those confined to their home due to a permanent disability.Applying for BenefitsThe Veterans Administration has regional offices that provide Veteran Service Organization representatives who may be able to answer simple questions about assisted living benefits, as well as provide free, basic advice on the application process.Many veterans seeking advice on applying for assisted living benefits hire a qualified attorney accredited by the VA or an accredited claims agent, who has passed a written exam about VA laws and procedures.The application process for assisted living benefits is often very lengthy. It is important to be thorough when completing the application and have all required documentation gathered and ready to submit.There are additional financial options to pay for assisted living care for individuals who do not qualify for veterans benefit. Click to find out more about financial options for senior living.Country Meadows offers affordable assisted living or personal care on its nine campuses in Pennsylvania and one in Frederick, Maryland. Our friendly co-workers are always available to help! Contact us today for more information.
The journey of Alzheimers and dementia is not only a medical challenge but a profound emotional experience that impacts not only the individuals affected but also their loved ones. At the heart of this journey lies the art of communication, a skill that gradually slips away as the conditions progress. In this blog post, we will explore the intricacies of communication in the realm of Alzheimers and dementia, understand the challenges faced, and uncover strategies that can help bridge the gap and bring comfort to our senior loved ones.Alzheimers and dementia are neurodegenerative disorders that cast a shadow over memory, cognition, and communication. These conditions affect millions of individuals worldwide, causing memory loss, cognitive decline, and difficulties in processing and understanding information. As caregivers and loved ones, understanding the landscape of these conditions is essential to provide appropriate care and support.Challenges in CommunicationCommunication is a fundamental aspect of human interaction, but Alzheimers and dementia disrupt this crucial channel of connection. Seniors battling these conditions often face various challenges that hinder their ability to express themselves and engage in meaningful conversations. These challenges include:Word-Finding Difficulties: The gradual decline in vocabulary leads to pauses and hesitations as seniors struggle to recall and articulate words.Limited Vocabulary: Over time, the richness of their vocabulary diminishes, leaving them with a limited range of words to express themselves.Impaired Comprehension: Understanding spoken and written language becomes increasingly challenging, making it difficult for them to follow instructions or engage in discussions.Repetitive Speech: Memory lapses can lead to the repetition of phrases, questions, or stories, reflecting their frustration and need for reassurance.Non-Verbal Communication Issues: The ability to interpret facial expressions, gestures, and body language diminishes, causing misunderstandings and frustration.Navigating the Effects on Language and MemoryThe impact of Alzheimers and dementia goes beyond communication challenges, affecting memory and cognitive abilities:Memory Loss: Both short-term and long-term memories are compromised, making it difficult to remember recent events or even recognize loved ones.Language Comprehension: The ability to understand complex sentences and abstract concepts becomes progressively challenging, contributing to the breakdown in communication.Reading and Writing Difficulties: Declining linguistic abilities can lead to struggles in reading and understanding written material, and in some cases, even writing coherent sentences.Speech Changes: The rhythm and fluency of speech are disrupted, leading to fragmented sentences and pauses, which can be frustrating for both the individual and their caregivers.Social Isolation: Communication difficulties often result in seniors withdrawing from social interactions due to embarrassment or frustration, leading to increased isolation and potentially exacerbating cognitive decline.Strategies for Effective CommunicationAs caregivers and loved ones, it is our responsibility to adapt our communication strategies to better connect with seniors battling Alzheimers and dementia. Here are some proven strategies to enhance communication:Patience and Empathy: Practicing patience and showing empathy are foundational to effective communication. Taking the time to understand their emotions and being present with them can create a sense of security.Simple Language: Using clear and concise language reduces confusion. Break down complex ideas into smaller, understandable pieces to facilitate smoother conversations.Non-Verbal Cues: Engaging in non-verbal communication through touch, eye contact, and gestures can convey emotions and provide a bridge when words fall short.Offering Choices: Providing choices empowers individuals and fosters engagement. It also simplifies decision-making and encourages their participation in conversations.Visual Aids: Visual aids such as pictures, diagrams, or objects can help convey messages and ideas, transcending language barriers and making communication more accessible.Validation: Acknowledging their feelings and experiences validates their reality. By responding empathetically, you build trust and strengthen the connection.Dealing with Challenging BehaviorsCaring for seniors with Alzheimers and dementia requires understanding and addressing challenging behaviors:Responding with Understanding: Challenging behaviors often stem from frustration or confusion. Responding with patience and understanding rather than confrontation can defuse tense situations.Redirection: Gently redirecting their attention from the behavior to a more positive activity can help shift their focus and reduce agitation.Managing Sundowning: Seniors with Alzheimers may experience increased confusion and agitation during the evening, a phenomenon known as sundowning. Establishing calming routines and minimizing stimuli can ease this transition.Addressing Wandering: Wandering is another common behavior associated with Alzheimers and dementia. Minimize safety hazards, use visual cues, and engage them in purposeful activities to curb this behavior.Empowering Communication with Tools and ResourcesEnhancing communication also involves utilizing various tools and resources:Assistive Technologies: Speech-generating devices, augmentative and alternative communication apps, and text-to-speech software offer alternative means of expression, empowering seniors to communicate effectively.Support Groups: Connecting with others facing similar challenges in support groups provides a sense of community, validation, and shared experiences.Professional Guidance: Speech-language pathologists and healthcare professionals offer expertise in developing personalized communication strategies tailored to the individuals needs.Recommended Reading: Exploring literature on effective communication techniques, active listening, and understanding cognitive disorders equips caregivers with valuable insights and strategies.In the midst of the challenges posed by Alzheimers and dementia, effective communication becomes a beacon of hope. By understanding the unique hurdles seniors face, adopting empathetic communication strategies, and harnessing the power of assistive technologies and resources, we can bridge the gap between the world of words and the world of emotions. In doing so, we illuminate the path for our loved ones, enriching their lives and fostering connections that endure beyond the shadows cast by these conditions.
Assisted Living Tours: Find the Right Fit for Your Loved OneBy: Country Meadows | Assisted LivingWe spend our entire lives raising families, managing households, working, balancing checkbooks and making countless decisions. As we age, these everyday duties can become more and more challenging. Making a well-informed and thoughtful choice about assisted living for yourself or a loved one is a significant decision that can impact overall well-being. Too often people wait until a crisis occurs, necessitating a quick decision when selecting senior living. Preparing for assisted living by researching options and taking assisted living tours allows individuals to thoughtfully select senior living accommodations.There are many reasons why visiting and taking assisted living tours in advance are important.Facility atmospherePaying visits and taking in-person assisted living tours allow you to see for yourself the overall atmosphere and ambience of the community. This includes noting cleanliness and the layout as well as the general feeling of the environment. This firsthand experience can provide insights into whether a community is a good fit for personal preferences and comfort.Staff interactionDuring assisted living tours, meeting staff members and interacting with current residents can provide valuable insights. Note the level of professionalism, friendliness and responsiveness of the staff while gauging the overall satisfaction and happiness of residents. Pay attention to staff achievements and organizational awards such as certifications in programs that recognize great places to work.Establishing relationships with co-workers and management during a visit provides customers with insights as to the teams willingness to communicate and work with residents and their families, fostering a sense of trust and confidence in the care to be provided.Services and amenitiesAssisted living communities offer various services and amenities. By visiting and taking assisted living tours, you can personally evaluate the quality and context of services offered, such as dining options, activities, care, transportation and other options. This helps ensure the facility meets specific needs and expectations.Care philosophyEvery assisted living community may have a unique approach to delivering care. By visiting and taking assisted living tours, you can ask thoughtful questions and gain a better understanding of the facilitys care philosophy to determine if it aligns with expectations.Safety and accessibilityTaking assisted living tours helps seniors assess safety and accessibility features in a community. This may include building layout, emergency response system options and general safety measures and policies. Understanding these aspects is vital for ensuring a secure living environment.Stress and anxietyKnowing and being familiar with potential living arrangements in advance reduces the stress and anxiety associated with making urgent decisions. Taking assisted living tours provides familiarity with the location and offers a sense of security during what can be a challenging time.Good fitUltimately, assisted living tours help prospective residents ensure the community is a good fit for individual wants and needs. Factors such as cultural compatibility, community engagement and overall feel of the environment is subjective and only can be assessed through direct experience.Time for questionsDuring assisted living tours, visitors have the chance to ask questions and seek clarification about various aspects of what everyday life will be like in the community. This helps individuals obtain detailed information about policies, costs and other factors that help customers make informed decisions.Plan for the futureVisiting and taking assisted living tours before a crisis allows individuals opportunities for better long-term planning. It provides the time to explore different options, compare facilities and make decisions based on careful consideration rather than under the pressure of urgent circumstances.Country Meadows
ComForCare is a premier provider of home care services with nearly 250 independently owned and operated locations in the U.S. and Canada. Home care designed around you: Whether its due to injury, illness or aging, sometimes older adults need a little extra help, especially at home. However, family members and friends cant always be there 24/7 to assist their aging loved one. That's where ComForCare Home Care comes in. Our personalized care plans and compassionate caregivers help seniors live independently in their own home and continue to do all the things they love.Studies show that people are happier when they stay at home; they recover faster, have reduced anxiety, and are less prone to depression.Common types of assistance our clients request include:Dementia and Alzheimer's careParkinson's care24-hour, 7 day a week carePatient-centered careFamily respiteSafety supervisionMeal preparation and planningLight housekeeping and laundryMedication remindersCompanionshipBathing and toilet aidChoosing clothing and dressingGrooming and hygiene helpTransportation assistanceErrands and appointment assistanceOne-time, short term, and long-term careIn Home Care For All PersonsSeniors aren't the only ones who need a little help at times. ComForCare is ready and willing to offer all services to anyone needing care in their home. We help veterans, adults with mental and physical disabilities, persons with chronic conditions, and persons recovering from surgery or an illness. Everyone needs help at some point in their lives; call on the team at ComForCare when you need us.From transportation to do errands and grocery shopping, to vacuuming and dusting, or a few hours of companionship, our compassionate caregivers are available. The services we provide will ensure you enjoy living in your home as you age or recover.As you or a loved one approaches later adulthood, you will find yourself making changes to your lifestyle and your home environment. You may first think of how to hep your parents as they age, and eventually start thinking for your own future.It is normal to start thinking in terms of retirement, but also stairs and mobility in a dwelling will come to mind.Consider the potential health declines that you or a loved one will experience over the next 10, 20, or 30 years vision may decline, strength may diminish, balance and coordination changes occur, hearing may become impaired, and the risk for falls increase. Assistive devices may be required to get around the house. Safety becomes a major concern. Now is the time to plan.Call ComForCare to answer your questions and concerns when planning and preparing for your future.We serve all persons in Greater NW Pittsburgh, PA., including Northern Allegheny County, Butler County, Beaver County, Lawrence County, PA. Call on us anytime.