Grace Manor Assisted Living Blog
17 March 2020
Maintaining the health, wellness, and safety of our residents is our number one priority. Due to the COVID-19 situation, effective immediately we are restricting visitors to our community. This is in cooperation with federal mandates regarding this situation. Letters regarding specific details are being sent to the responsible parties for our residents to provide them with more detailed information. In addition to restricting visits, our staff will be screened prior to the starting of their shifts and have been trained on the symptoms of COVID-19 as well as infection prevention techniques. This is a fluid situation and we will keep you informed as the situation changes.
Again, maintaining the health, wellness, and safety of our residents and staff is our number one priority. We want you to know that we are here to help. Contact Grace Manor Assisted Living in Nashville today with any questions and/or concerns.
2 March 2020
We have a lot in common with those of you out there providing at-home assisted living care services in and around Nashville and/or senior living care services here in Nashville. For instance, the challenges related to loss of appetite within our aging loved ones is common to both professional and at-home care givers alike. We believe you’ll find this blog post both educational and actionable in addressing the loss of appetite within the loved one under your care.
A Loss of Appetite in a Parent or Senior Loved One
A loss and changes in appetite are a natural part of aging. Although poor appetite doesn’t necessarily indicate a serious health problem such as dementia in the elderly, it is still critical to make sure seniors get enough nutrients. Along with some warning signs to be mindful of, there are some easy ways you can help your senior loved ones get the right nutrition.
Although it’s normal for our appetites to change with age, several different factors can also cause a loss of appetite in the elderly:
- Lack of energy to cook and tiredness from lack of sleep
- Lack of interest in food due to changing taste buds, depression or loneliness
- Loss of appetite due to health conditions and dementia symptoms
- Medication side effects
“I remind my clients often that a loss of appetite (and thirst) is a normal part of aging and doesn’t always mean something is wrong,” says Heather Schwartz, RD, at Stanford Hospital and Clinics. “However, minimizing the detrimental effects of poor nutrient intake is always important, no matter from where the low appetite stems.”
It is also critical to rule out any underlying health problems or symptoms. If your loved ones aren’t eating well, a good first step is always to consult a physician.
What Should I Be Concerned About?
The aging process brings with it many perceptual, physiological and other changes that can lead to decreased appetite in the elderly patient, including:
- A lower metabolic rate and lessened physical activity mean seniors need fewer calories.
- Changes to the sense of smell and taste can affect the enjoyment of food.
- Dental problems or gastrointestinal changes (like lactose intolerance) that go along with age can affect the appetite.
However, if your parents or senior loved ones are making poor food choices because of their changing tastes, or if they aren’t getting enough to eat, then that’s cause for concern. Seniors must get the right nutrition for their changing dietary needs. Vitamin or nutrient deficiencies can cause significant health problems for vulnerable groups, especially the elderly. Changes to taste or appetite also occur in conjunction with some serious illnesses, including:
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia or Parkinson’s disease
- Head and neck cancers
- Mouth and throat infections or periodontal disease
- Salivary gland dysfunction
- Thyroid disorders
Any unexplained changes to your loved ones’ dietary health, including unexpected weight gain, loss or general malaise, should be checked out with a physician so you can rule out or confirm symptoms of dementia.
How Can I Stimulate an Appetite in the Elderly?
If you’re concerned about a lack of appetite in your elderly loved ones, whether dementia is a concern or not, there are a few practical things you can do to help them get enough nutrition:
Be aware of medication side effects.
If the problem is dry mouth, Schwartz says, “Chewing sugarless gum, brushing often or using an oral rinse before meals can improve taste sensation, and ultimately nutrient intake.” If meat is tasting “off” — and a common complaint is that some medications make foods taste metallic — then try other sources of protein like dairy or beans. If water doesn’t taste right, try adding herbs, or sliced fruits or veggies like lemon or cucumber.
Consider using an appetite stimulant.
Some seniors have had success with prescription appetite stimulants. A healthcare provider must be consulted to inform the patient and caregiver of the side effects of the stimulant and to also make sure it is appropriate for your loved one.
Encourage social meals.
People of all ages may experience a reduced appetite when the thought of eating alone comes to mind. For seniors, accessibility and availability of social contact can be even more of a problem, especially if they suffer from dementia. Schwartz suggests checking out the meal options at senior centers, temples or churches, and community centers. Additionally, meal “dates” with friends, family or caregivers and even meal delivery services can help.
Increase nutrient density, not portion size.
“I ask caregivers not to increase the volume of food they serve to seniors who may have low appetites,” says Schwartz. “Rather, increase the nutrient density of the foods they serve.” In other words, don’t intimidate them with a huge helping. Alternatively, add healthy extra calories in the form of avocado, olive oil or a little peanut butter.
Set a regular eating schedule.
“Our bodies tend to thrive off regularity, as do our hunger and thirst signals, so when we stray from our usual patterns, so does our appetite,” says Schwartz. She suggests starting slowly by adding a small beverage and/or snack during a normal mealtime. This can help stimulate the body’s hunger signals.
Eating to Encourage a Good Night’s Sleep
In addition to experiencing serious changes in appetite, older adults and individuals with dementia often experience changes in their sleeping patterns. Such changes may be as a result of sleep disorders, such as insomnia or sleep apnea.3 They may also be related to pain or discomfort. It is not uncommon for people to be uncertain when addressing their elderly loved ones’ lack of eating and sleeping. However, both adequate sleep and nutrient consumption are critical for promoting optimal health.
Not eating during the day and feeling hungry at night can make sleeping even more difficult. Such unhealthy patterns increase the frequency of night awakenings. If dementia is involved, this can be very disorienting. Alternatively, chronic fatigue can make elderly adults less likely to finish meals. Consistent sleep deprivation can contribute to feelings of depression and a lack of physical activity, which can also negatively impact the senior’s appetite.
Foods To Eat for Better Sleep
In addition to getting enough to eat throughout the day, it is important that caregivers pay special attention to what is on a senior’s plate during the hours directly preceding bedtime. Try encouraging the following items for dinner and nighttime snacks:
- Moderate Amounts of Lean Protein: While consuming too much protein can be hard on the digestive system late at night, adding some protein to a late-night snack can help promote sleep due to high levels of tryptophan.
- Warm Drinks: Drinking a glass of warm milk or a caffeine-free herbal tea at night can help relax seniors and boost the production of melatonin. Stay away from drinks with caffeine and avoid putting too much sugar in drinks right before bed. It’s also a good idea to finish drinking approximately 90 minutes before going to sleep to limit middle-of-the-night bathroom trips.
- Healthy, Complex Carbs: Carbohydrates paired with tryptophan-containing protein sources can help tryptophan make it into the brain where it is converted into serotonin. However, it’s a good idea to grab whole wheat toast or sweet potatoes over white bread, cookies, or other unhealthy carbs.
- Fruit: Some fruits such as cherries, kiwis, bananas, and pineapples contain melatonin, which can help seniors get to sleep sooner and stay that way longer.
Make sure to limit meal sizes late at night and avoid overly greasy or spicy foods. Such foods may irritate the stomach and cause difficulty falling asleep. As a result, the patient might avoid future evening meals. Also, older adults should avoid alcohol before bed since it affects normal sleeping patterns.
We want you to know that we are here to help. Contact Grace Manor Assisted Living in Nashville today.
Credit: Heather Schwartz, RD
24 February 2020
As professional assisted living care support providers here in Nashville, we know it is often times intimidating when providing care for senior living or assisted living loved ones. Today we’re asking all of you in this loving struggle to take a moment and reflect if you might unknowingly make some simple mistakes that make it harder on both you and the loved one under your care. The keyword there is “unknowingly” and if we connect with just one of you out there and motivate some new degree of peace and happiness, well, we celebrate mission accomplished.
Today’s due credit is provided to Health Central, an award-winning non-profit dedicated to improving the mental and physical health of both the young and old.
Please realize that this list is only a start. While reading, when/if you discover “that’s me”, then consider avoiding or rewording these questions and statements may improve your caregiving partnership. Also, realize this blog post really is a call for you to take a moment to dedicate a few moments of your time to honest reflection. You can be your own best asset regarding constructive criticism, and when you are and you react accordingly, both you and your loved ones can enter a happier space. So, off we go.
1. “Do you remember?”
It seems natural to ask your dad who is living with Alzheimer’s (or simply the very natural memory recall decay associated with aging) about events from his past. However, doing so directly can be a problem. Why? Because he may not remember the event, but the expectation that he should remember could make him anxious. Instead, when you want to engage him in conversation about the past, leave the topic open. You can say, “Dad, I’d love to hear about what your favorite thing to do was when you were growing up.” He can then take you along on any adventure that comes to mind.
2. Don’t argue.
If your wife says that she used to live in a house that you’ve never heard of or seen, you can say “Really? I’d forgotten that.” Being right doesn’t matter and correcting or arguing will get you nowhere good. Go along for the ride. You might learn something interesting. If not, no harm done.
3. “You’re embarrassing me!”
A reminder for us all is that people living with dementia (or non-dementia memory decay) aren’t giving us a hard time – they are having a hard time. If you are at the store with your husband and he becomes anxious which causes him to become belligerent, soothe him by holding his arm in a comforting manner, use a calm voice and put the “blame” on yourself. Tell him that you forgot something and really need him to help you by going back home. Do not tell him that his behavior embarrasses you. He can’t help it.
4. “Why are you doing that?”
If your husband is pulling on the fringe around a couch cushion, he isn’t being purposefully destructive. People living with Alzheimer’s often have a need for tactile feedback. Additionally, they may have a compulsion for their fingers to be doing something. Some people will pick at their skin and cause sores. Others will spend hours tearing up pieces of paper or tissues. Your husband won’t know why he is doing this, but you can help him by buying him a lap pad or “fiddle pad.” These products, now widely available, provide both tactile stimulation and keep fingers busy.
5. “What shirt do you want to wear?”
People living with dementia have a hard-enough time navigating this confusing world without being asked open-ended questions. Preserve dignity by offering choices, which is a vital part of care, but simplify the choices by holding up two shirts and asking which she’d like to wear. He may mention the color of one shirt, but point at another, so go with the one he points to and say, “This one?” Then he’ll say yes or no, or else nod. You can say, “Great choice! Let’s put that on,” and then help him dress.
6. “That’s an orange, not an apple!”
It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. It’s up to you to remember that the person living with dementia may have a hard time with words. Don’t make your mom feel worse by criticizing her words. If you ask her if she’d like an orange and she says yes but digs for an apple, let it go. If she has what she wants, then everyone should be happy.
7. “You are home!”
No one approach will work every time, but what is consistent is that your loved one is looking for a feeling of safety and comfort when she asks this question. If you can distract her by asking her to snuggle on the couch under a blanket and watch a DVD, that may work. Or you may ask her if she misses home a lot. If she says yes, ask what she misses about it. Engage her in a conversation and, eventually, the anxiety that causes her to want to ‘go home’ should subside. There are many guides for dealing with this common issue.
8. “You just ate!”
People living with dementia often don’t remember if they ate so they may want to eat again. Often, keeping snack foods around can help. Instead of scolding your dad for asking to eat again when he just ate, when he wants to eat again you can suggest some treat that he likes and then offer a small amount. That snack may be enough to satisfy without arguing about the fact that he just had supper.
9. “We need to hurry!”
Your dad has an appointment to see the doctor and you’ve waited a month for this, but he is stuck in a fearful mode and becomes angry and throws things rather than getting dressed. Obviously, he is stressed and trying to hurry him won’t help. Calm yourself down first and offer support by agreeing that this is a stressful situation. Take time to sit and comfort him. If you began preparing early, this may work. If not, you may have to cancel the appointment. Sometimes you must just let it go and hope for a better day.
10. “Here, let me do that!”
Your husband who is living with dementia will become easily confused, and stress just makes the confusion worse. Trying to get a button in a buttonhole can be a massive frustration, yet he may not want help. Sometimes, you can distract him from the task at hand and later do it yourself, but when possible, have patience and let him finish. Note: When it comes to getting dressed, adaptive clothing can be helpful. An ingenious shirt with magnets instead of buttons can look dressy yet be easy to put on. With some digging, you may find shortcuts for other tasks, as well. The idea is that your patience is gold. Allow room for slowness and mistakes. None of this is worth a blowup on your part. Your anger or anxiety only accelerates his anxiety and can ruin what could be an otherwise decent day.
When interacting with a person living with any type of dementia it's generally better to use statements rather than questions unless you are offering a simple, obvious choice. Say, “It’s cold so we need jackets,” rather than “Do you think you need a jacket?” As your loved one’s disease progresses, words will become increasingly hard to process and decisions can be impossible to make. Watch for this progression and adjust your speech so that you have a slower cadence. Use short sentences but speak with a smile. Sometimes your body language can say it all.
You’ll never stop learning in your journey of loving care. If we helped you learn one thing here today, then we both win! When the time comes for you to seek a consult regarding how Grace Manor Assisted Living here in Nashville can improve the quality of both you and your loved one’s lives, call us!
17 February 2020
Prologue: All professional senior living and assisted living care providers like us here at Grace Manor Assisted Living here in Nashville understand and respect those of you who so lovingly carry the burden of care for your loved ones. Part of our community service campaign is to educate via this blog so that you can enjoy the maximum time at home with your loved ones. However, statistics show that unfortunately there will come a day when solo home care or professionally assisted home care is no longer enough. To every extent possible, we’ll be here for you via this assisted living and senior living care blog, week in, and week out with insights that hopefully helps ease your loving burden. When that burden becomes too heavy to bear, know that your friends here at Grace Manor Assisted Living are ready with open arms to provide the loving care necessary to deliver the quality of life that both you and your challenged loved one(s) deserve.
(Due credit for this blog post and its insights is provided to Ms. Carol Bursack, of agingcare.com. We think you’ll value her work and insight as much as we do.)
Family caregivers are now better able to take advantage of services offered by home care companies. I certainly took advantage of these services throughout my time caring for multiple seniors, including my parents and an elderly neighbor.
The biggest challenge I faced, though, was when I hired professional caregivers for loved ones who had dementia. The caregivers were not always sure how to handle unusual behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s or the tricky situations they created. Thankfully, due to increased awareness of the unique challenges that Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia present, reputable home care companies across the country are providing their employees with proper training in dementia care. Experienced and informed caregivers can provide benefits to both seniors and their family members that make in-home care well worth considering.
Dementia Care in a Familiar Environment
The biggest value that home care offers is that it allows elders to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. This option is far less disorienting for a dementia patient than a move to an assisted living facility, a memory care unit or a nursing home. Familiar environments offer a great deal of security and peace of mind for individuals with dementia. If a company’s caregivers are well versed in dementia care, in-home care can be the ideal starting point for families who need extra help with their loved ones but want to prevent or delay placement in a long-term care facility.
Dementia Patients Benefit from Routines
Just as familiar surroundings are safe and soothing, the same can be said for daily routines. Maintaining a schedule like the one a senior followed pre-dementia can help reduce anxiety and confusion. For example, an elder who watched the nightly news after dinner each evening for years may feel a sense of normalcy when it’s switched on, even if they don’t completely understand what they are seeing and hearing.
A fundamental aspect of home care is that services are provided for all clients (with and without dementia) according to personalized scheduling tools called care plans. This organizational technique easily translates into a set routine for dementia patients who thrive on familiarity and repetition. Professional caregivers are trained to facilitate daily activities, including chores and personal care tasks, at the appropriate times and provide assistance as needed. Humans are creatures of habit and preserving these very personal and deeply ingrained routines can help elders retain a sense of control and understanding of what is going on around them.
Specialized Training in Dementia Care
Home care companies aid with activities of daily living (ADLs), companionship and many other core services. In addition, many companies offer professional training in dementia care for their employees. Common aspects of this training include methods for staying engaged with the senior, managing often unpredictable behaviors through validation and redirection, communicating effectively, and breaking down activities into smaller steps that are easier to manage. There are several training programs and schools of thought when it comes to dementia care, so be sure to inquire about the particular education a home care company provides to or requires of its caregivers.
Safety training is also part of professional caregivers’ initial and ongoing education, since seniors with dementia may be prone to wandering and other risky behaviors. A 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that 90 percent of community-residing persons with dementia had unmet safety needs, particularly for fall risk and wander risk management and home safety evaluations. Increased supervision and assistance from both informal and formal caregivers are crucial components in helping elders reduce safety risks while they continue living in their own homes.
Meaningful Activities for Dementia Patients
Knowledge of the clinical aspects of dementia allows professionals to better serve their clients and enrich their lives with social interactions and activities. Perceptive caregivers can provide a positive environment for dementia patients by learning about a senior’s interests before they developed the disease and adapting the way they engage in these meaningful hobbies both in the home and in the community. For example, if golf is something an elder enjoyed, they may visit a golf course for a walk or to watch others play the game.
Sensory stimulation is another crucial component of dementia care, especially in the later stages of cognitive impairment. Studies show that participating in music therapy, dance or other creative outlets has a positive effect on mental health, physical health and social functioning in older adults. An experienced caregiver will work to engage clients in activities even as their interests and abilities change.
Care That Evolves with the Client
In-home care can be customized to provide as much or as little assistance as a family requires, and changes can be made as often as necessary. Services can be unskilled (companion care and homemaker services) or skilled (personal care and nursing care) in nature and can be provided occasionally for respite, on an around-the-clock basis or anywhere in between. This flexibility is a significant advantage for caregivers and seniors who are dealing with progressive diseases such as dementia. As a loved one’s condition declines, professional caregivers offer the adaptability necessary in caring for an individual with Alzheimer’s and related dementias.
When Home Care Is No Longer Enough
In-home services can help dementia patients delay the move to long-term care, but their growing needs will eventually necessitate higher levels of care and around-the-clock supervision. Without a robust team of informal caregivers to share the burden, it becomes necessary to look elsewhere for assistance. While it is possible to receive these services in the home, the cost of 24/7 home care is often too much for the average family to pay for privately over the long term.
The time for thinking about a move to assisted living, a memory care unit or a nursing home is different for everyone. The decision depends on whether family members and hired caregivers can continue to cope with changes in a senior’s condition at home. A competent home care company will closely monitor their ability to provide the best care for their patients. Should a client’s needs surpass what is noted in their current care plan, the company will let the family know that additional services or a change in setting is needed.
We hope you enjoyed, are encouraged, educated, and benefit from this and all our blogging efforts. When the time comes for you to seek a consult regarding how Grace Manor Assisted Living here in Nashville can improve the quality of both you and your loved one’s lives, call us!
10 February 2020
Valentine’s Day reserves special space in the hearts of many of the senior living or assisted living loved one’s that we support. Professional memory care caregivers such as us here at Nashville’s Grace Manor Assisted Living have long recognized that this Holiday can become a solemn one for many of our loved ones if the Holiday is ignored by caregivers. The reason is completely understandable when cherished Valentine’s Day memories of a deceased spouse often turn to solemn reflection.
Valentine’s Day is a perfect occasion to show the special people in your life just how much you care. Whether your Valentine’s Day plans include celebrating Valentine’s Day there at home or while visiting your aging parent or loved one residing within a professional senior or assisted living care community like Nashville’s Grace Manor, try out some of these ideas to celebrate the holiday:
Research a Special Valentine’s Day Memory
Search your photo archives of Valentine’s Day memories of both your loved one and their loving spouse who has passed. Your time and effort will bring joy to them and to you as well. Do this early in the day so that you both can move on to other activities that are likely to bring smiles to their face. The goal is to maximize positive moments at the expense of solemn reflection.
Spread the love
The “day of love” gives us all an excuse to spoil our loved ones and spread some cheer with a thoughtful gift. While the traditional Valentine’s Day presents of flowers and chocolates are always a hit, some other gift ideas for the senior in your life include things like cozy socks, a no-fuss houseplant, framed photographs or even a gift card to their favorite restaurant. At the end of the day, the best gift you can give your loved one is the gift of your time and presence.
Create DIY Valentines
Crafting is a fun activity that people of all ages enjoy. For senior adults, arts and crafts can be particularly helpful in improving hand-eye coordination and keeping their cognitive skills sharp. When you visit your older loved one in assisted living, bring along supplies to make handmade Valentine’s Day cards for friends, family members, and the caregivers at the assisted living community. Making a craft together is also a great way to keep grandchildren involved and ensure they have a lasting memory of the visit.
Take a trip down memory lane
Valentine’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to share fond memories and stories with our older loved ones. Learning about an older family member’s life and experiences firsthand is not only a powerful way to connect, but it also helps us understand who we are and where we came from. Once again, try looking at favorite family photos and letters or listening to familiar music to spark memories and prompt meaningful conversations about the past.
Here at Grace Manor, we encourage you to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your aging parent or loved one, whether they still live at home or within a professional assisted living community. Simply visiting your loved one and spending quality time with them is the best way to demonstrate your appreciation and make the holiday one to remember. Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us here at Nashville’s Grace Manor Assisted Living!
3 February 2020
In our continued support of you angels out there engaged in the loving sacrifice of providing senior living support and/or assisted living support, today we’re going to share a fantastic discussion of one of the single most frustrating conditions that caregivers like you often deal with, your loved one’s paranoia. While most of this article deals with dementia-related paranoia, this article is very relevant to you senior living care providers as you will learn that paranoia is common within non-dementia inflicted seniors. So for all of you who provide assisted living or senior living support to loved ones in and around Nashville, know that you can lean on us here at Grace Manor Assisted Living.
Brain changes from dementia can cause hallucinations, delusions or paranoia. According to Heathman, MD, a Houston psychiatrist, “paranoia, or having false beliefs, is a common trait of later stage dementia. However, it can occur in all stages of dementia.”
What Do We Mean By Paranoia?
Sometimes our loved one living with dementia will believe something we do not. When this results in undesirable emotions such as fear, jealousy or anger, we call it paranoia. It is generally the secondary emotions we are upset by. With the term, paranoia, comes an implicit judgment and the implications that, “My reality is real, your reality and your feelings are not.”
The best thing we can do to alleviate ‘paranoia’ is to discard this judgment. Start from a place of “our realities are real and different.” For the person experiencing paranoia, their reality is as real to them as yours is to you and mine is to me. For the sake of understanding in this article, I will use the term ‘paranoia’. My hope is that after reading it you, like me, will not find a use for the word anymore.
How to Help Soothe Paranoia in Dementia
We can provide reassurance and support so those experiencing paranoia feel safe and loved. Do not fall into the trap of detailed explanations or logical arguments. Try these behavioral techniques to calm someone living with dementia, who is experiencing paranoia.
What we call paranoia in dementia feels very real for the person living with it. It is their reality. Susan London, LMSW, Director of Social Work at Shore View Nursing and Rehabilitation says that, “There is often no evidence that will convince them otherwise.” Try the following in response to your loved one:
- Rule out non-dementia causes of paranoia.
Heathman stresses that, “to understand paranoia in dementia, you need to understand its cause. Paranoia can result from urinary tract infections, liver disease, systemic infections, and anxiety disorders. In many instances, treating those may put an end to the paranoia.” Rule out possible causes outside of dementia. Schedule an appointment with a physician to rule out treatable conditions.
- Validate their reality.
Do not attempt to present “proof” a belief is false. Nor should you deny that the evidence is real. Both approaches could create an intense unfavorable emotional reaction from your loved one.
Imagine I told you it is October 2nd, 2087 and you do not live in your home, it is gone. How do you feel? Is there anything I can say to convince you your reality isn’t real? No, trying to do so will only cause upset. This is the same for people living with dementia.
“Take the example of a woman looking for her deceased husband. She is certain that he is in the house. Telling her that he died a long time ago, or showing his death certificate, will make matters worse.” says London. The best thing you can do is to honor her reality. Lying can lead to more confusion and upset.
Acknowledge what your loved one is feeling. Then work to meet the need they are expressing. In the case above, you could start by saying, “You’re looking for your husband.” Then, try to uncover the unmet need looking for her husband is expressing. Does she need help with something her husband usually did? You could ask, “Is there anything I can help you with?” Does she miss her husband? You could say, “Tell me about your husband.” Get curious and uncover the ‘why’ behind looking for the deceased husband. Once you know the ‘why’ you can try to meet that need another way.
- Avoid proving them wrong.
The best way to defuse paranoia is to acknowledge the person’s reality. From there you can explore what is needed and meet that need. Imagine telling this woman her husband is deceased. She may not acknowledge his death to be true and could be very hurt by that thought. The news could also cause her to re-experience the trauma of his loss or she may strike out in anger, accusing this person of “killing her husband.”
- Stay honest.
This is a fine line to tow. You want to validate the other’s experience, but you do not want to make-up or add to their reality. In this example, imagine saying “your husband will be home later.” While at the moment this seems kind, it is not the best option. By fibbing you start a third reality. Now there is her reality, your reality and the made-up reality. This can lead to more confusion. She might wait for her husband now. Then what do you say later in the day when she expects him to be home and you have told her he would be? You will have to keep fibbing. Each one will take you further away from the unmet need ‘looking for her husband’ is expressing.
- Remain calm.
“Remember that you are not to blame for what your loved one is experiencing,” says Heathman. “Although witnessing a hallucination can be scary, it’s important to stay calm. Remember that arguing ‘something is not real’ is not helpful.”
Stay calm by:
- Research and practice meditation techniques to develop your own skillfulness at remaining calm.
- Taking three deep breaths before responding.
- Having a plan in place to prevent violence or call for help. If the situation escalates, act on your plan.
- Be cautious before responding.
Assess the situation before responding to the person’s delusions. Is anyone at risk of harm?
If not, it’s often best to ignore the behavior stemming from a false belief. “As long as the behavior does not become dangerous, you might not need to intervene,” Heathman says.
For example, your loved one is walking around repositioning the placemats on the table and refolding the napkins. You ask them what they are doing and they say “my boss is coming back soon and I need to have all of the tables in the restaurant set or I will get fired.” Refolding napkins does not harm anyone. The unmet need here may be one of purpose or they may be anxious. In both cases, offering help would meet the need and allow you to connect with them.
- Offer reassurance.
What if your loved one is upset, or wants your help? Get curious about what they are upset about and see if there is anything you can do to help.
For example, imagine your loved one is walking quickly yelling, “Help, I have to get out of here!” When you ask them what is wrong they tell you, “I am a prisoner here and I need to escape.” Ask if they would like to leave. If they say yes, go for a walk or a car ride.
Oftentimes, upset can also be calmed through reassuring physical touch combined with reflecting their reality. For example, if your loved one says, “I’m scared, I don’t know why I am here,” you could hold their hand or rub their back. Then you could say, “You are scared and don’t know why you are here. It will be okay. I am here with you.”
- Shift attention.
“In some instances, it’s possible to put an end to a delusion or for it to drastically subside if the person’s attention is shifted. You can even try turning on lights or opening blinds. Frightening hallucinations often subside in well-lit areas and if others are present,” says Heathman.
Try talking about a favorite topic. Turn on their favorite song. Suggest you both work on a puzzle together. Try this once and if it does not work, try another technique that uses more validation. Trying this repeatedly if it is not working can lead, understandably, to even more upset. Imagine if you were trying to tell someone about something bad that was about to happen, and they kept asking you about sports. Frustrating.
- Ask open-ended questions.
“Avoid being judgmental. Asking questions that are open-ended is very healing for everyone involved,” says Becky Siden, LMSW, CDWF a licensed psychotherapist in Birmingham, Michigan.
When communicating with a loved one with dementia, Siden suggests focusing on being understanding. She says some helpful things to say or ask include:
- How can I help you to feel safe?
- Let’s look at this together and see how we can come up with a plan.
- I know the feeling of being scared and I am here to help.
- Tell me more about what this is like for you.
- Modify the environment.
“It’s very important to assess the reality of the situation,” stresses Heathman. For example:
- Glare from a window may look like snow to a person with dementia. Close the curtains to remove the glare.
- A dark area rug may look like a gaping hole your loved one believes she will fall into. Remove the rug to remove the black hole.
- Your mother may see a scary stranger in her reflection in the mirror. Cover the mirror with a sheet.
- Turn on more lights to reduce shadows that could look frightening.
One elder I worked with believed he was imprisoned and being experimented on. When I explored this further his evidence included:
- The doors were locked with codes only some people knew
- People took notes on his activity such as eating, bathing and going to the bathroom
- He overheard people lying to other ‘prisoners’
- Every time he asked to leave, the person changed the subject
- There were cameras all over.
He lived in a memory care facility. All of this evidence was true in both of our realities. Our conclusions are what differed. Modifying the environment to feel less clinical would have helped him to not feel he was imprisoned and experimented on.
- Yes, and...
The tenants of improv and dementia can go hand-in-hand. They can be very helpful in forming meaningful interactions. The first step is ‘yes, and’. Whatever the other person says, say yes first. Acknowledge their reality. Then build on what they said to keep the connection going.
Imagine someone says, “They are out to get me, I have to hide.” You could respond with, “You feel they are out to get you and hiding will help. Where should we hide?” From this place of co-conspirators, the conversation could continue. From here you could get more information about why they feel they need to hide. You can then change the environment or meet the unmet need another way. Using improv helps you keep the interaction going so you can learn more.
Imagine if instead, you had responded, “No one is out to get you, just sit down it’s dinner time.” This would likely have lead to frustration and upset for both of you.
Summary – Do’s and Don’ts for Paranoia in Dementia
- See a doctor to check for other causes of paranoia.
- Try to avoid using the word paranoia and look for the underlying emotion.
- Acknowledge that you know that they are seeing or experiencing something.
- Acknowledge their feelings, fear, anger, frustration etc.
- Search for the unmet need they are expressing.
- Share that you are there to help.
- Remain calm.
- Ask open-ended questions.
- Modify the home environment to eliminate the source of scary objects.
- Have a plan in place and someone to call if things become harmful to you or them.
- Don’t be judgmental.
- Don’t show “proof” that the paranoia is unwarranted.
- Don’t make-up explanations you know to not be true.
- Don’t respond with “logical” explanations.
- Don’t deny the evidence is real.
- Don’t say you see something which, in your reality, you don’t.
When it’s time for you to seek help from a team of proven senior and assisted living care professionals in and around Nashville, contact us. Anytime.
28 January 2020
Regular readers of our Grace Manor Assisted Living blog know that we provide loving care to their assisted living or memory care dependent loved one. Today, we offer due credit to “BrightFocus Foundation” as the primary source for this blog post and for their genuine professionalism in funding research related to Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.
Today we chronicle the experiences of three caregivers of Alzheimer’s and dementia loved ones. They were asked what “best lessons” they could share with a friend who is new to Alzheimer’s or dementia caregiving. Below are their responses. But before reading further, all the professional assisted living staff here at Nashville’s Grace Manor stand ready to share our experiences and lessons learned as well.
Eileen - Years of Grieving. Then Respite. Then Clarity.
Eileen’s husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years ago. Their adult children and young grandchildren live out of state. While the children are very supportive from a distance, the daily caregiving role is all on Eileen. Through these four years, she has continued to work full time, at a job she loves.
Her husband remains mostly lucid, but increasingly there have been frustrating and scary moments, threatening behavior, and showering and bathing battles. With these episodes, and with her children’s encouragement, Eileen identified a memory care facility in her area, and reluctantly moved him there. The facility instructed her to not visit for two weeks so that he could acclimate. At the end of the two weeks, she went to see him. He was so mad at her, at first, he couldn’t even speak. But that lasted only briefly.
Marie - A Newer Caregiver Learning to Accept
Marie is newer to being an Alzheimer’s caregiver as her father was diagnosed with mid-stage Alzheimer’s just within the last year. He and Marie’s mother live with Marie, her husband and their school-age daughter. Marie and her husband both work fulltime – her workday starts at 6 am, his at 2 pm and Marie’s mother works part time. These schedules allow one of them to always be with her father, which became necessary following his recent wandering incident.
Through tears, Marie expressed her overwhelming feelings of guilt - guilt for being angry with him for having this disease, guilt for being angry that his behavior makes their life more difficult, and guilt when she wishes things were the way they used to be. She has taken classes to better understand the disease, and says she sometimes reads online caregiver comments, identifying with the guilty feelings people express. So far though, she has not been able to resolve these feelings of guilt. She remains frustrated, angry and tired, and feels bad about not yet being able to accept things as they are. She was not sure she had a “lesson” to offer. I reminded her that guilt is normal, and by doing what she is doing—taking classes and reading the online forums, she is doing all she can right now to accept it.
Edgar - Protecting His Wife
Edgar has been his wife’s primary caregiver for ten years. She has dementia, and when I asked him his best lesson as a caregiver, he was not sure he had one. “I am still learning,” he said, adding “I don’t know if I have adapted.” Then, he told me the story of his wife’s fall several years ago. She broke her femur, and then a few weeks later, fell again, and was hospitalized with three broken vertebrae. She had tremendous sciatica pain. She was prescribed pain medication that changed her behavior. From the hospital she went to rehab. Her personality remained changed as a result of the opioid medication. Because of this, Edgar then learned all about the side effects of opioids, and feels strongly that before accepting the use of these drugs, patients and/or families should consult with a second physician. Also, be diligent in weaning someone from them as soon as possible and, ideally, limiting their use to no more than 7 days.
Having said that, Edgar was quick to say that he sees many situations, in his wife’s memory care facility, with different degrees of difficulty. He cannot say his approach would be the right answer for others. His primary message, though, is to send a big caution on the use of medications in this population. He has been successful in minimizing his wife’s use of any drugs, and she has remained stable for several years during the years since recovering from the falls. If she ever has the need for more medication, he will definitely question her physicians about side effects and possible alternatives.
There is Hope and There is Help for all of You
No matter where you are in your assisted living caregiving journey, as these stories show, there are struggles and lessons. But through research, we are learning more, and through education and awareness, caregivers can better manage the questions and stresses of caregiving. With more and more resources for caregivers, local community services, and education and sharing, each and every time someone shares a tip or a resource, someone else benefits. And that’s why we offer this story and manage this blog.
When it’s time for you to seek help from a team of proven assisted living care professionals in and around Nashville, contact us. Anytime.
21 January 2020
Suppose your elderly mother or father is struggling with day-to-day activities like laundry, cleaning and cooking. But he or she is not truly ill and doesn’t need a high level of daily health care. You worry about him or her walking up and down stairs or carrying a bag of groceries. An assisted community like ours here at Nashville’s Grace Manor Assisted Living can serve as the perfect protective measure and path to providing them the very best quality of life possible.
What Is Assisted Living?
Assisted Living is perfect for seniors who are mostly independent, yet need help managing medications and meals. But there’s much more to Assisted Living than that. Nashville’s Grace Manor Assisted Living’s services include housekeeping, laundry, and a host of activities that our residents love. Hot and delicious meals are served three times a day and snacks are available all day. Assisted living is a type of communal living that seniors and their families choose when they are healthy but need a bit of extra help. Assisted living is a great intermediate step on the continuum of elderly care.
Assisted living is commonly paid for by individuals’ long-term care insurance. However, long-term care insurance coverage varies widely, and you need to know the details of your policy. In general, long-term care insurance is flexible along the continuum of care. It can pay for both assisted living and memory care services. Some policies allow you to tap long-term care policies for in-home services, but most are written to cover professional services such as ours.
If you live in or around the Nashville area and ever have questions about the challenges of creating a 24/7 safe and loving atmosphere for your senior loved on, we’re here to help. We want to develop a relationship with you based on trust and a common love for our ageing loved ones. We trust that when the time comes, you’ll team with us for your professional senior assisted living support services. Together, we’ll provide the best loving care possible. Give us a call. Let’s talk.
13 January 2020
We want to thank in advance “Active Beat” who publishes insightful works on healthy lifestyles. They recently offered advice for senior care givers regarding nutritional health. Here at Nashville’s Grace Manor Assisted Living, we gladly share the following with you today who provide any form of senior living support or any form of assisted living support services to your beloved. Afterall, we’re all in this together.
If you provide senior assisted living care for a loved one, you may already include supplements in order to boost their memory and protect against age-related memory decline. If you care for an already diagnosed Alzheimer’s or related dementia condition you likely are administering physician prescribed supplements. Regardless, researchers at Yale University claim that the body doesn’t absorb nutritional supplements quite as effectively as it does natural foods.
Whether you’re preventing a family history of dementia and Alzheimer’s, or just looking to reduce risk in general, researchers recommend following the “MIND” diet which is short for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. It touts eating a more plant-based diet with limited red meat, saturated fats and sweets, says Mayo Clinic. And when it comes to brain-boosting Alzheimer’s-fighting super foods, these 12 foods should be at the top of your shopping list.
You likely already know that berries—such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries—are considered superfoods. This is due to the fact that they deliver a boatload of antioxidants in each bite! Antioxidants have long been linked to enhance cognitive function in dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. However, a study published by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease discovered that high-antioxidant berries were able to reduce plaque in the brain, which is thought to cause Alzheimer’s.
Chatelaine writes that blueberries in particular are among the best. “They contain flavonoids, which activate brain pathways associated with less cellular aging,” writes the source. WebMD also points out that berries have been linked to slowing down the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. We suggest eating about 1/2 cup three times a week.
Do you know what spices like turmeric, cocoa, cinnamon, and nutmeg have in common? According to the journal Central Nervous Systems Agents in Medicinal Chemistry, these spices contain certain polyphenols and compounds with numerous cognitive advantages. The journal research outlines the many gluco-recovery, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties in these spices and theorizes on their Alzheimer’s prevention connection.
MindBodyGreen also explains that “these spices can all help to break up brain plaque and reduce inflammation of the brain which can cause memory issues.” The foods on this list will not only help improve brain function, but fight off illnesses that cause our brains to age prematurely like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension.
Natural foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids—namely nuts, flaxseeds, and certain types of fish—have long been linked to Alzheimer’s prevention. And even though much speculation can be found, more research must be conducted for undeniable scientific proof. However, research in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease as well as the European Journal of Nutrition, details how omega-3-rich foods can help decrease the rate of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients.
Fatty fish like salmon and trout are particularly good because the iodine and iron “help maintain cognitive function” and they contain “brain boosting omega-3 fatty acids.” You should be eating these types of fish at least two or three times a week.
I know, here we go about the coconut oil—yet again! But really, research from the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants has found evidence of coconut’s oil’s effectiveness in the fight against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Akin to olive oil, coconut oil is known for it’s rich polyphenol content. The same study credits unique phenols in coconut oil with neuro-protective abilities.
Dark, leafy green vegetables are among the best foods for us. No matter what, we should all be eating these veggies. But people who are at a high risk for dementia or Alzheimer’s should definitely be loading up on these. According to findings from the Journal of Nutritional Health and Aging, increasing your consumption of leafy greens will decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia—and they’re just plain good for you!
The best leafy greens are spinach, kale, and romaine. They are loaded with brain-boosting antioxidants and vitamin K, both of which act as brain shields when it comes to warding off age-related cognitive decline. It’s important to note that if you’re taking blood thinners, you should consult with a doctor before loading up on too much vitamin K.
Just like leafy greens, we should all be eating these veggies on a regular basis. They are just as important as leafy greens because like kale and spinach, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts are all high in vitamin K. Chatelaine also notes that they are high in glucosinolates which have an antioxidant effect, as well as folate and carotenoids that lower homo-cysteine and fight cognitive impairment, says MindBodyGreen. The source recommends eating at least 1/2 cup every week.
Other vegetables that are important to eat when it comes to improving brain health are pumpkin, squash, asparagus, tomatoes, carrots and beets. MindBodyGreen says when these foods aren’t overcooked they contain lots of vitamin A, folate and iron which can help with cognition.
Beans and Legumes
Foods like beans, chickpeas, and lentils are all good for us, specifically our brain health because they are loaded with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. MindBodyGreen writes, “these foods contain more folate, iron, magnesium and potassium that can help with general body function and neuron firing.” The source also states that they contain choline, which is a B vitamin that boosts acetylcholine (a neuro transmitter critical for brain function).
We suggest swapping out red meat for 1/2 up of beans or legumes at least twice a week.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts are one of those foods that can be really healthy for us if we eat them properly. Plus they make for a really easy go-to snack! Our first rule is that they need to be unsalted. The other golden rule with nuts and seeds is that they are to be enjoyed in moderation because they contain lots of healthy fats.
Chatelaine says walnuts are among the best nuts because they are high in “omega-3 fatty acid, a brain-protective nutrient” which also makes them great for fighting off Alzheimer’s disease. The source also suggests eating only 1/4 cup or two tablespoons of a nut butter daily.
Unless you’re a vegetarian, you probably already eat chicken quite frequently throughout the week. Thankfully, it’s a great option and should be easily substituted for red or processed meat whenever possible. However, we suggest only eating one serving a day.
Of course, it’s important to note that we’re not talking about fried chicken or flash-frozen chicken like the boxed version you probably purchased at the grocery store. We’re talking about a nice lean, grilled piece of chicken.
Whole grains play an important role in the “MIND” diet. “Choose fibre-rich whole grains like oats, brown rice, and whole-grain wheat to offset your intake of refined grains,” writes Chatelaine.
Olive oil isn’t a food or snack per se, but it’s a common ingredient used in the kitchen and should be preferred over other popular oils. You should be using it when cooking and can even try it as a salad dressing because unlike other unhealthy options, it contains monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, and antioxidants. WebMD points out that olive oil has “been shown to improve brain function over the long term and protect against dementia.”
You might be wondering what wine is doing on this list, but red wine has actually been shown to improve brain health and protect against Alzheimer’s! WebMD explains that several studies have shown this to be true, however in order for it to work, the wine must be enjoyed in moderation. Women should only drink one glass a day and in the case of men, it can be up to two. It’s important to note, that if you drink too much red wine it could have the opposite affect and make you more likely to get dementia, says the source.
We hope you found this blog post both interesting and insightful as you care for your senior or memory challenged loved one. If you provide assisted living services to a loved one in or around the Nashville area, or if you provide senior living support services to a loved one, please know that you are not alone in your support challenges. We’re here for you, anytime! Why not give us a call!
6 January 2020
Well, the new year is upon us. It’s early January and from experience, we here at Nashville’s Grace Manor Assisted Living know that many of you purposely (and understandably) chose to ignore the notion that your senior loved one is now fully dependent. That is something so many of us simply do not want to address during the Holidays. But now you feel you can no longer prolong the fact that you must prepare for a monumental life change, for everyone involved.
When a senior’s health begins to decline, an adult child or other loved one may take on a few tasks to help. Aiding with chores like grocery shopping and mowing the lawn can allow the older adult to remain in their home. As the senior’s needs worsen, loved ones often take on more responsibilities.
For some families, however, it is a crisis of some kind that causes them to assume the role of family caregiver. The senior might have experienced a fall or been diagnosed with a chronic illness. In these situations, a caregiver may find themselves struggling to juggle all their loved one’s needs. It can be an overwhelming transition for people to make.
If you are in this situation, we have some suggestions to help new family caregivers like you manage the role.
5 Tips for New Caregivers
- Accept the idea need help
One belief family caregivers often have is that they should be able to manage their senior loved one’s care on their own. This is rarely possible. Acknowledge that you will need to ask for help and give yourself permission to accept assistance when it is offered.
Support for caregivers can come in many forms. It could be allowing a friend to stay with your loved one for an hour or two while you relax and take in a movie or spend some time with your spouse. A friend may also be able to help by picking up a few groceries or dropping off dinner.
- Get organized
Caregivers say they feel an extraordinary amount of stress when initially stepping into the caregiving role. Part of that stress comes from worrying they are forgetting crucial appointments or other important tasks. Getting organized can help relieve some of that anxiety.
First, ask a friend or family member to stay with your loved one for a few hours so you can sort and organize all their important health care paperwork and legal documents. Place these in a binder by topic or date (e.g., test results, medication list, and physician contact information).
Next, add all the senior’s appointments and follow-up tasks to your personal calendar. This helps to avoid double-booking yourself or missing something crucial. Not having to rely on your memory can alleviate some of your stress.
- Establish and stick to a routine
This step may take some time to implement but having a routine to follow can help caregiving days run more smoothly. Try to cluster errands and appointments on one or two days each week. This allows you to have uninterrupted days at work and at home. It also requires fewer arrangements for a friend or family member to stay with your loved one.
- Connect with a caregiver support group
Caregivers face unique challenges that others may not understand. From offering tips on juggling a busy caregiving schedule to commiserating over how much time is spent waiting for a specialist to see the older adult, having a support network of peers is helpful.
Support groups also help with the emotional side of caregiving. Peers can empathize when you are feeling guilty, resentful, angry, or sad.
- Practice good self-care
Much like the flight attendant on a plane explaining you should place a mask over your mouth before helping others, a caregiver must make good self-care a priority. You can’t care for your loved one if you are exhausted and sick yourself. Caregivers who don’t take care of themselves often experience a medical crisis of their own.
Our Final Suggestion
Our final suggestion is to become acquainted with us before you need us. We understand what you’re going through and can help you. We want to develop a trust and understanding and when the time comes, we hope that you’ll team with us for your professional senior assisted living support services. Together, we’ll provide the best loving care possible.
Give us a call. Let’s talk.
23 December 2019
Christmas and Chanukah share a similar spiritual message: that it is possible to bring light and hope into the world. These two holidays occur together this year, which makes this an even more special holiday season.
This is a season to reflect upon how fortunate we are to have you as our customers: our friends and neighbors. During these holidays, we wish you, your family, and your friends a safe, joy-filled, and relaxing season.
Warm wishes for a Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, and a most Happy New Year! With peace, joy, and love this holiday season and beyond!
9 December 2019
Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we are smack in the middle of the Christmas/Holiday season. Your loved one who’s now living with dementia or the multiple challenges of senior life have always been the cornerstone of family Holidays and traditions. The challenges increase for all caregivers to continue the tradition with each new passing Holiday season. So, your friends and assisted living professionals, and senior living professionals at Grace Manor here in Nashville are back to offer you all some advice as once again you negotiate the Holiday season as a primary care giver.
Shop from home. Shopping, while oftentimes a large part of the season, will most likely bring undue stress to both the person living with dementia and the family caregiver. Avoid the sensory overload, large crowds, and confusing environment by shopping online or through a catalogue with your loved one. They can still choose gifts for the family but will be able to do so in the comfort and safety of their own home.
Create a new take on old traditions. Holiday family outings, such as outdoor ice-skating, caroling, or seeing “The Nutcracker” at a local playhouse, hold fond memories — but may not be feasible in the wake of dementia. Revamp these holiday traditions by taking a snowy day walk, lighting a fire and listening to Christmas music, or finding a version of “The Nutcracker” on DVD for family movie night. Time spent with family is the most important thing during holidays — the ice-skating, caroling and theatre are simply activities.
Remember a few of your favorite things. While it may seem like this year is going to be different than all the rest, it’s important (for both the caregiver and the person with dementia) to reminisce holidays past. Take the time during a holiday family get-together to share photos from previous celebrations, to recall funny family bloopers, and to engage in activities that your loved one is still able to — like decorating the Christmas tree or helping bake holiday treats.
As you’re adjusting to how things will be this holiday season (and those to come) — instead of how things once were — it’s important to remember the good and to hold onto joyful past memories in the wake of holiday stress. Focusing on the positive, rather than becoming overwhelmed by the negative, will not only help you cope and celebrate, but also encourage your loved one to enjoy such a special time, and to be at peace.
For those of you selflessly exercising the labor of love caring for you memory challenged or physically challenged loved ones, all of us at Grace Manor Assisted Living in Nashville hold you in the highest regard. We wish you and your entire family warmth and peace throughout this holiday season and going forward into 2020.
25 November 2019
Thanksgiving Day is the perfect time to remind one another of the many reasons there are to be grateful. We gather on this day to be thankful for what we have, for the family we love, the friends we cherish, the success we have had, and for the blessings that will come.
Thanksgiving is more than the festivities, it gives us time to ponder the lessons that we have learned and how we can spread happiness around, to look back at all the great memories and good people who came into our lives. We appreciate you, our customers and clients, so much.
At this time of year our thoughts turn gratefully to you with warm appreciation. Our best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving.
18 November 2019
By now I think all of you realize that here at Nashville’s Grace Manor Assisted Living, we invest in managing this blog as a service to our cherished residents, their families, and to the countless angels out there who lovingly provide self-help at-home senior care services. We feel a heartfelt responsibility to freely share our professional knowledge regarding professional assisted living care and senior living care. We are fully aware of the vast weight of the labor of love that all of you bear regardless of the level of professional support that you currently secure.
This Thanksgiving-related blog post is focused primarily on those of you who care for a loved one with memory care issues. With that said, we find that the advice given below is very much applicable to many of you caring for loved ones without memory care issues.
Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to gather to give thanks, catch up and share a special meal together. However, when a family member is diagnosed with a dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, the family dynamic changes dramatically. Nowhere is this more evident than at holiday gatherings. The hustle and bustle of a typical family Thanksgiving can cause extreme levels of anxiety for someone with dementia, turning a wonderful day into a confusing and agonizing ordeal. Consequently, for the family caregiver, it can become a day full of tension as they watch over their loved one with anxious eyes.
It doesn’t have to be that way. With advance planning and preparation, Thanksgiving can still be enjoyed by everyone, even the family member with dementia. To be successful, however, you do need to plan and structure the day for the best possible outcome.
Here are some tips we’ve gathered, contributed by individuals with dementia, families and caregivers:
- Prepare family and friends. Share your loved one’s diagnosis with those who will be attending your Thanksgiving dinner. Explain the limitations the disease has created. Educate them as to the proper way to approach and communicate with your loved one, and how to include him or her in the conversation as much as possible.
- Prepare your loved one. Make sure that he or she has had enough rest. Keep to your regular routine as much as possible during the days leading up to Thanksgiving.
- Ask for help. Ask family members for help with shopping and cooking in advance. Many families enjoy a potluck Thanksgiving to which everyone brings a dish. This can be a lifesaver in a household with a loved one challenged by dementia. You might also consider asking a relative who is close to your loved one to help by keeping an eye on his or her anxiety levels as the day progresses. They can be a big help when you are busy with other guests and duties.
- Schedule dinner early in the day. Individuals with dementia are particularly sensitive to the hours between daylight and evening. This is called “Sundown Syndrome” and, fortunately, there are ways to reduce its impact. One way is to schedule your dinner well before sunset.
- Encourage reminiscing about the past. If your loved one still has longer term memory intact, consider bringing out some old photo albums and putting them in convenient places to inspire conversation. This can be a great way for younger family members to engage with your loved one, as well as with other older family members.
- Provide a quiet place for “down time”. A short nap or some quiet time off in a separate area provides a nice break for someone with Dementia. Ideally, this would be a quiet room off the main area, where he or she can relax out of the center of activity. Often, for those in earlier stages of Dementia, a short refreshing nap is all that is needed to enable them to rejoin the festivities.
- Plan your own post-Thanksgiving “down time”. This is so important for caregivers. You need time to yourself to unwind and relax. If you are the primary caregiver, consider scheduling some short term “respite” care at a local memory care community for your loved one. That will give you time to tend to your own physical and emotional health and enjoy some time on your own with friends and family members.
If your loved one is one of our cherished assisted living or senior living care residents here at Grace Manor Assisted Living, consider bringing some of your Thanksgiving cheer to them, rather than disrupting their routine by transporting them to your gathering.
For more information about senior living or memory care services here in Nashville, contact us anytime.
13 November 2019
Today’s blog post is a tribute to our staff who work so hard each day to create the safe, clean, and genuinely attractive living environment that every resident deserves. We invite the followers of our blog to take a walk through our gallery page and see with your own eyes the physical layout of our warm and friendly community. We think you’ll be impressed, and we gladly welcome the opportunity to show it off to you personally.
For those of you who don’t know us well, we specialize in senior living and assisted living support services across the greater Nashville, TN area and beyond. We freely welcome the opportunity to engage you and your questions regarding the nature and considerations of assisted living and memory care services. To do that, contact Grace Manor Assisted Living here in Nashville.
6 November 2019
Today’s blog post is designed to help those of you out there trying to decide the strategic care plan for a loved one suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related disease. It is very common for all of you care providers to be confused regarding exactly what type of professional care is best now, assisted living or memory care. Although we specialize in senior living services and assisted living services here in Nashville, we thought we’d share the following with you while crediting dementiacarecentral.com for insightful and informative narrative on this subject.
Even with help from community-based services and respite services, providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease (A/D) or dementia becomes more difficult with time. In later stages of the disease, many people will require more care and assistance than their family members can provide. Even for people who don’t need intensive hands-on care, safety may be an issue and they may not be able to stay home alone. Residential care options may be able to provide best for the needs of some individuals. However, these options are often considerations that caregivers and their families find difficult to plan for, or to even discuss.
Residential Care Options for Dementia
The natural progression of Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as other forms of dementia, will result in the need for care for loved ones. Depending on one’s stage of Alzheimer’s/dementia, and his/her ability to function, the level of care and supervision that is required varies. For most families, this means some form of residential care. This is where assisted living, “memory care” comes into play.
Assisted Living Communities
Assisted living residences, such as continuing care retirement communities, are especially suited for those individuals in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia who do not have many medical problems, but who do need more intensive support for Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs). Many people with dementia will need help with IADLs. These are activities that we perform from day to day that add to our quality of life, but are not as basic to self-care as Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). ADLs are the basic activities that we must perform every day in order to take care of ourselves. Individuals with dementia may also need help with these tasks.
The following tasks are considered to be IADLs:
- Managing money (i.e., writing checks, handling cash, keeping a budget)
- Managing medications (i.e., taking the appropriate dose of medication at the right time)
- Cooking (i.e., preparing meals or snacks, microwave/stove usage)
- Housekeeping (i.e., performing light and heavy chores, such as dusting or mowing the lawn)
- Using appliances (i.e., using the telephone, television, or vacuum appropriately)
- Shopping (i.e., purchasing, discerning between items)
- Extracurriculars (i.e., maintaining a hobby or some sort of leisure activities)
Typically, ADLs refers to the following tasks:
- Bathing (i.e., able to bathe without assistance in cleaning or getting into tub or shower)
- Toilet Use (i.e., able to use the toilet and clean oneself afterwards)
- Control or continence of urine and bowels (i.e., able to wait for the right time and the right place)
- Dressing and grooming (i.e., able to button a shirt, choosing appropriate clothing)
- Moving about (i.e., able to move in and out of a chair or bed, walking)
- Eating (i.e., able to eat without having to be fed by another)
Those who are in the middle-stage of dementia require a greater amount of supervision and care than those in early-stage dementia, and for those in middle-stage dementia, assisted living is also a good option. In assisted living facilities, individuals generally live in a private studio, private apartment, or a shared apartment, and have staff available to assist them 24-hours / day. This type of living arrangement is ideal for those who are still able to live with some independence but do require assistance with ADLs. Transportation to and from doctor’s appointments and social activities are also offered at assisted living facilities. In addition, assisted living facilities have dining halls where residents gather to eat meals.
For individuals with dementia who require a higher level of skilled care and supervision, memory care units are an ideal option. These units offer both private and shared living spaces. Sometimes they exist as a wing within an assisted living facility or nursing home or they sometimes operate as stand-alone residences. Supervised care is provided twenty-four hours / day by staff trained to care for the specific needs and demands of dementia patients. Memory care units offer the same services as assisted living facilities, in addition to activities that are intended to stimulate the memory of those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and possibly slow the progression of the disease. Activities may involve music, arts and crafts, games, and more.
For more information, contact Grace Manor Assisted Living here in Nashville.
28 October 2019
Hello again! Your friends here at Grace Manor Assisted Living here in Nashville empathize with our senior citizen neighbors and with the those who care for them. We all are very aware that as we grow older, we suffer a decline in mental and physical fitness. But wait just a moment! A new study shows that older people who routinely partake in physical exercise can reverse the signs of aging in the brain, and dancing has the most profound effect.
"Exercise has the beneficial effect of slowing down or even counteracting age-related decline in mental and physical capacity," says Dr Kathrin Rehfeld, lead author of the study. "In this study, we show that two different types of physical exercise (dancing and endurance training) both increase the area of the brain that declines with age. In comparison, it was only dancing that led to noticeable behavioral changes in terms of improved balance."
Elderly volunteers, with an average age of 68, were recruited to the study and assigned to a group learning dance routines, or endurance and flexibility training. Both groups showed an increase in the hippocampus region of the brain. This is important because this area can be prone to age-related decline and is affected by diseases like Alzheimer's. It also plays a key role in memory and learning, as well as keeping one's balance.
While previous research has shown that physical exercise can combat age-related brain decline, it is not known if one type of exercise can be better than another. To assess this, the exercise routines given to the volunteers differed. The traditional fitness training program conducted mainly repetitive exercises, such as cycling or Nordic walking, but the dance group were challenged with something new each week.
"We tried to provide our seniors in the dance group with constantly changing dance routines of different genres (Jazz, Square, Latin-American and Line Dance). Steps, arm-patterns, formations, speed and rhythms were changed every second week to keep them in a constant learning process. The most challenging aspect for them was to recall the routines under the pressure of time and without any cues from the instructor."
These extra challenges are thought to account for the noticeable difference in balance displayed by those participants in dancing group. Dr Rehfeld and her colleagues are building on this research to trial new fitness programs that have the potential of maximizing anti-aging effects on the brain.
Dr Rehfeld concludes with advice that could get us up out of our seats and dancing to our favorite beat.
"I believe that everybody would like to live an independent and healthy life, for as long as possible. Physical activity is one of the lifestyle factors that can contribute to this, counteracting several risk factors and slowing down age-related decline. I think dancing is a powerful tool to set new challenges for body and mind, especially in older age."
14 October 2019
It’s a longstanding tradition here at Grace Manor Assisted Living here in Nashville to celebrate Halloween with our assisted living and senior living residents. Each year we research new and exciting ideas to smile, laugh, and share our love for our treasured residents. This year we found this article from SeniorAdvisor.com with a laundry list of ideas which we are not mulling over. We thought we’d share the same ideas we the followers of our blog in the hope that it navigates all of you to some special moments during Halloween.
Halloween Crafts for Seniors
Halloween crafts can be completed early in October so you can use them as decorations throughout the rest of the month.
- Decorate pumpkins.
One of the best traditional crafts for Halloween time is making jack-o-lanterns. If you’re not sure about handing sharp implements, you can have a pumpkin painting day or give them sharpies to draw designs on the pumpkins.
- Make spooky candles.
The lacy candles recommended by Elder One Stop are easy to make, made of cheap supplies, and won’t be a fire risk (they recommend flameless). They’ll add a nice bit of atmosphere to your facility.
- Make decorative spiderwebs.
You can get together to make simple and cheap spiderwebs to hang around the community out of coffee filters. Throw in a little yarn and your residents will also have the option of creating larger cobweb decorations for the space.
- Make spiral ghosts.
Some white paper, a black sharpie, and scissors are all your group needs to make these spinning ghosts. You can hang them around the shared spaces of the facility.
- Decorative Halloween garlands.
For one more addition to your homemade decorations, you can task any interested seniors with making decorative Halloween garlands for your hallways. Here are some ideas of bat and ghost garlands and glow-in-the-dark ones.
(Mostly) Healthy Halloween Recipes for Seniors
You can find loads of cute Halloween recipes on the web, but most of them are laden with sugar. Since many seniors have health concerns, we tried to pick out a few of the healthier options that still fit the theme.
- Shrunken Head Cider
From the twisted mind of Martha Stewart comes this shrunken head cider. You can skip the booze if you want and stick with the rest of the recipe.
- Sweet potato jack-o-lanterns
Sweet potatoes are just the right mix of healthy and tasty and these jack-o-lanterns will make a fun, theme-appropriate snack that’s easy to make.
- Dragon’s blood punch
Made mostly of juices (although it may still be too sugary for some), this punch is simple to make in large quantities and should make for a tasty treat.
- Devilish Eggs
Adorable deviled eggs made from healthy ingredients are easy for your residents to put together and tasty for everyone to enjoy once finished.
- Cheesy Witch’s Brooms
Cuter than any witch’s implement should be, these witch’s brooms made of cheese and pretzels shouldn’t be too hard to make and will be even easier to devour. (Note: scroll down for the English instructions).
Other Halloween Activities for Seniors
If you want to pack Halloween week with more fun, interactive activities that you might consider include:
- Halloween charades
Brainstorm as many different Halloween-related themes and ideas you can think of for your loved one to act out. You should all have fun watching people mime Dracula or try to figure out how to act like a spider. Here’s a list to get you started.
- Share scary stories
Your cherished senior loved one probably know some good ones, but you can come equipped with a book or some stories from the internet just in case.
- Homemade costume contest
Encourage your senior loved one to come up with homemade mask and costumes ideas. If you can make some materials available for them to work with, that may spark inspiration in a few of them. On Halloween, have everyone vote on which costume came out the best.
- Assisted living trick-or-treat
Most seniors probably feel silly trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, but let’s be honest, most of us loved trick-or-treating and were a little sad when we got too old for it. Why not give it a try!
- Classic horror movie marathon
Your loved one probably have some favorite old classic horror movies. Poll them to pick out a few of the most popular, and give them the option to come together and watch them on Halloween or in the days leading up to it.
Halloween’s not for everybody, so you’ll probably have those uninterested in participating in some of these activities, but those that enjoy the season will be happy to have the opportunity to celebrate it in a variety of ways.
All of us here at Nashville’s Grace Manor Assisted Living wish you the very best for a joyful Halloween celebration.
7 October 2019
Many people who are in need of assisted living services in and around Nashville put off looking for care for fear of how they will pay for it. We are fully committed to providing the highest quality and most affordable assisted living services across the Nashville area. We fully realize that assisted living services, for some, can be cost prohibitive. However, we are fully committed to assisting you with potential sources of financial aid so that you and or your loved ones can secure the care that you deserve.
Check the Veteran’s Aid & Attendance Program
Check eligibility for the Veteran’s Aid & Attendance Pension, a program which can provide financial help to those who require assistance with activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, dressing and undressing or taking care of the needs of nature.
It can pay up to $1,830 per month to a veteran, $1,176 per month to a surviving spouse, or $2,170 per month to a couple for veterans and surviving spouses (as of 2017). Certain income and asset limits also apply.
This program allows you to keep more assets than most state aid programs, and it provides a higher level of assistance. You cannot receive benefits from both the Veterans program and a state aid program, so you may want to evaluate both to determine which provides the highest level of assistance for you or your loved one.
Check with your state’s medicaid office
Find your state Medicaid office and check on their available resources. To qualify for Medicaid you'll need to have assets and income that are below the federal poverty levels.
Many state programs offer assistance with assisted living costs for those who have no financial resources. Qualifying for such assistance usually means you have less than $2,000 in assets, although exact program requirements can vary from state-to-state.
Find non-profit resources for assisted living and elderly care
With a little digging you may find a non-profit organization that can help. If they can't help they may direct you to additional sources of assistance. Start with these two organizations:
- Contact your local Area Agency for Aging. They can help you locate resources such as elder refugee or elder abuse programs, counseling, meals on wheels, volunteers who will visit, adult day care services, and much more.
- Visit Eldercare.gov to find help in your local community, or call them at 800.677.1116. They will help refer to local resources such as home health services, transportation resources, senior housing options, respite care, find financial assistance if you are eligible for it, and much more.
Ask for family support
One home health company has created a free personalized way to stay in touch with those who need in-home care or assisted living through a feature they call CareTogether. It functions like a customized form of Facebook designed just for a senior who needs care, allowing the family to stay updated on what their needs may be.
You could use a feature like this, or a Facebook page, to explain your or your loved one’s needs to extended family and then ask family members if they would be willing to contribute a small monthly amount to provide in-home or assisted living care for this family member.
We want you to know that we are here to help. Contact Grace Manor Assisted Living in Nashville today.
30 September 2019
When it comes time to begin the most difficult task of choosing a Nashville-area senior living community or an assisted living community across greater Nashville, take a deep breath and accept the fact that you are about to take on very serious responsibility. We want to help you in that endeavor by offering some guidance on how to move forward. Please know that we are here for you to help and expand upon the following advice.
At the very core of best practices to find the perfect senior living or assisted living community in Nashville is to speak with as many staff members and current residents as possible.
Questions to ask
Obviously, you can't just rely on facility tours or promotional brochures to make this crucial decision. First, get your ducks in a row. When you're ready to visit in person, turn to administrators, staff members and residents for answers to pivotal questions.
Consider Before You Visit:
Is the location realistic? Lengthy drives, not to mention flights, will affect visits and add barriers to relationships with friends and family members, including spouses still living at home.
Many families face a tough conundrum. Sometimes it's a matter of choosing between top-ranked but distant facilities versus more accessible locations for loved ones to visit regularly and monitor care.
Ask Administrators and Nursing Directors:
What are the staffing ratios? Bolster your question with research.
What is your staff turnover? Stable staffing is a good sign. In addition, consistent assignment – when the same caregivers are assigned to the same residents on a daily basis – is critically important. That way, staff members really get to know residents, anticipate their needs and can recognize and address problems early.
Which services do you offer? If you're undergoing rehab to recover from a hip fracture, you'll need a higher level of care than some nursing homes can offer. With medical conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, residents may need help managing supplemental oxygen.
Do you provide special care for people with dementia? Memory care means much more than just a locked unit to prevent residents from wandering. Staffing ratios should be no more than five residents per caregiver, including nurses and aides, around the clock. Caregivers should have special training in dementia care, and the awareness and sensitivity to best address these needs.
What kind of food do you serve? Residents rely entirely on nursing homes to meet their nutritional needs. Healthy, tasty food improves everyone's quality of life.
How do you satisfy cultural and individual food preferences? People in nursing homes still want to enjoy meals that evoke family traditions and tastes they've developed over their lives.
Do you accommodate special diets? Residents come in with their own dietary preferences and restrictions. Some also may have medical orders for soft or puréed diets, for example.
Can residents eat when they want? Some people prefer to eat outside routine schedules.
After the formal tour, explain that you'd like a chance to speak with several residents. Drop in at the activities room or a lounge, introduce yourself, say you're considering a move there and ask what it's like for them.
Are you happy here? "Do you enjoy living here?" "What do you like best about living here?" and "If you could change one thing, what would that be?" are positive ways to frame your questions and make residents more likely to respond.
Do you have freedom of choice? Does the facility offer resident-centered care? Are you able to get up when you want? Do you go to bed at the time you want?
When you ask for help, how long do you have to wait? If you always have to wait beyond five minutes for help, you're likely to try doing things on your own, which could set you up for falls.
Ask Activity Directors:
What about activities? How do you keep residents engaged? Ask to see monthly activity calendars. Offerings should be varied and appealing.
Does the facility have a resident or family council? These self-determined groups can provide a strong voice for quality care.
Is reliable transportation available? Sometimes nursing homes only provide transportation for certain medical appointments – and they don't provide transportation for social purposes. Is there staff to help residents get to a granddaughter's play?
Can residents easily spend time outdoors? Attractive courtyards are sometimes the first thing visitors notice. But how often can residents, particularly those with mobility issues, actually go outdoors? Does staff encourage and help them to do so?
For more information on senior living or assisted living services here in Nashville, contact Grace Manor anytime!
23 September 2019
Like his mother Virginia O'Brien before him, Greg O’Brien is battling Alzheimer’s disease with all his might.
O'Brien's mother did everything she could to stave off the disease as she cared for her cancer-stricken, wheelchair-bound husband. And she did somehow manage to keep things going until her husband, O'Brien's father, died from prostate cancer.
It was from watching his mother live with Alzheimer’s that allowed O'Brien to recognize the signs in himself and prompted him to see a neurologist at age 59. Brain scans that revealed he had Alzheimer’s, too. Shortly after his own diagnosis, both of his parents passed away.
“My mom taught me how to live with Alzheimer’s,” O’Brien of Cape Cod, Massachusetts told TODAY. “She fought and fought and fought. She wouldn’t give up. She kept telling me, ‘I can’t get sick, I can’t get sick.’”
Now nearly 70, he's still not giving up.
“It’s not for me, it’s for the next generation,” O’Brien said of his daily fight against the disease, choking up. “It’s for my kids, my granddaughter. We've got to stop this demon.”
Currently, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that there are 5.8 million Americans living with the disease and that the number will rise to 14 million by 2050.
As O’Brien waits for medical breakthroughs that might stop the mind-robbing disease, he’s made lifestyle changes that recent research suggests might at least slow Alzheimer’s down. He follows a Mediterranean diet and makes sure he gets enough sleep. He exercises regularly and writes every day to “reboot my brain.”
Conor and Greg look through family photos.Alexandra Galante/TODAY
Conor and Greg look through family photos.Conor and Greg look through family photos.Alexandra Galante/TODAY
Can Alzheimer's be slowed?
To help make daily life run better, O’Brien, a journalist and writer for 45 years, leans on habits he honed in his profession. With short term memory frayed by the disease, “I write everything down,” O’Brien said. He started doing that because, “I worried I would forget.”
Greg O'Brien was the caregiver for his mother, Virginia, while she had Alzheimer's.Alexandra Galante/TODAY
Greg O'Brien was the caregiver for his mother, Virginia, while she had Alzheimer's.Greg O'Brien was the caregiver for his mother, Virginia, while she had Alzheimer's.Alexandra Galante/TODAY
O’Brien tries to stay mentally engaged and hopes that his years as a writer will help him in his battle against Alzheimer's progression. The idea is simple, using your brain builds and maintains connections, kind of like putting money in the bank that you can depend on later.
“Doctors tell me I’m working off what they call cognitive reserve, as my mother did,” O’Brien said.
While Alzheimer's runs in O'Brien's family, so does caregiving. Just as Virginia O'Brien cared for her husband, O'Brien's 30-year-old son, Conor, is his father’s caregiver. After graduating from college, the young man moved home to help his dad.
“I’ve always enjoyed spending time with him," Conor O'Brien said. "You just find a way every day to take it step by step.”
Conor says he doesn’t really see the progression in his father, but there are times that it really hits home. The day his dad didn’t recognize him “was the scariest moment of my life.”
O'Brien calls Conor his “rudder” because he steers him every day.
“We've got to bring this out of the closet so people can understand there are people still working who are scared [expletive] and are afraid to talk about it because they’ll lose their jobs,” he said. “We have to try to enable people to speak about the strategies, the medicines, the supplements.”
Still, O’Brien has had to accept limitations the disease has placed on his life. Two years ago he gave up driving.
“I have this ‘Where’s Waldo’ app that tells people where I am at all times,” he said.
Greg calls his office his "memory room." Writing isn't easy for Greg, whose short term memory disappears after 30 seconds.
But making a record helps him to remember some things.Alexandra Galante/TODAY
Greg calls his office his "memory room." Writing isn't easy for Greg, whose short term memory disappears after 30 seconds. But making a record helps him to remember some things.Greg calls his office his "memory room." Writing isn't easy for Greg, whose short term memory disappears after 30 seconds. But making a record helps him to remember some things.Alexandra Galante/TODAY There are certainly hints from research that exercise may not only slow cognitive decline, but also modify the amount of the sticky amyloid protein that accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, said Maria Carrillo, chief science officer at the Alzheimer’s Association. Those studies were done in patients with Alzheimer’s tied to a dominantly inherited gene.
“We don’t know yet if you can expand that to people with late onset disease,” Carrillo said.
And there is evidence from animal models of Alzheimer’s suggesting the disease course is modifiable and that living in an enriched environment can slow the progress of the disease, Carrillo said. O’Brien takes a lot of his cues from Massachusetts General neurologist Rudy Tanzi, an Alzheimer’s researcher who is looking to cure the disease. In the meantime, Tanzi has suggestions for slowing its progression — his program, called SHIELD.
Each letter of the acronym stands for a lifestyle modification that might impact the development of Alzheimer’s.
'S' stands for sleep.
“It’s during deep sleep that you clean your brain of debris. Seven to eight hours of sleep a night is essential,” said Tanzi.
For physical exercise, Greg likes to play golf. He also goes for a run every day.Alexandra Galante/TODAY
‘H’ stands for handing stress.
Learning new things can help you make new synapses, Tanzi said. “The bottom line is in Alzheimer’s, the degree of dementia correlates most with the loss of synapses."
‘I’ is for interacting with friends.
‘E’ is for exercise.
‘L’ is for learning new things.
‘D’ is for diet.
Recent studies point to the brain benefits of a diet rich in leafy green vegetables, beans, olive oil, nuts and poultry. It's recommended to avoid red meat, sweets and fried foods.
While O’Brien and his family acutely feel what he’s lost to the disease, they do see a silver lining.
“Alzheimer’s has kind of actually brought our family a little closer,” said Conor. “I would say that’s kind of a blessing in disguise.”
“I can’t step in my dad’s shoes and feel how he’s feeling,” Conor said. “I just look at him and he’s my hero.”
23 September 2019
Modern researchers have discovered that music soothes those suffering from advanced age, dementia, and/or Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers at The University of Utah Health recently tested whether they could alleviate anxiety in seniors (with and without dementia) by playing familiar music to them using headphones and a hand-held music device. Anxiety and agitation are two of the most disruptive aspects of living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease for both patients and caregivers.
After the researchers helped the patients pick meaningful music, they used a functional MRI to record the changes in the brain while the music played. The brain images showed that music helped the areas of the brain known as the salience network, the visual network, the executive network, and the cerebellar and corticocerebellar networks all work with better connectivity. These areas of the brain activate language and memory, according to the study’s authors.
“When you put headphones on dementia patients and play familiar music, they come alive,” Jace King, lead author of the study, said in a press release. “Music is like an anchor grounding the patient back in reality.”
Music and movement are the last things to go in the brain.
It’s almost miraculous what music can do for Alzheimer’s patients and the research about the benefits is there.
Health care providers have seen firsthand how much music helps dementia patients. with the clients there.
Play songs from their era that they might recognize. Patriotic songs are also popular.
Music touches people on so many levels.
The reaction by dementia patients to music was also dramatically demonstrated in the 2014 documentary, Alive Inside. Elderly care professionals can set up personalized playlists on iPods for their patients. The music helps the patients access the deep memories not lost to dementia. It also helps them converse and socialize in ways they weren’t doing before the familiar music became a part of their daily life.
16 September 2019
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors supported by professional assisted living professionals realize a statistically significant decrease in hospitalization for heart disease. This positive report is attributed to the professional support provided by assisted living communities such as ours at Grace Manor Assisted Living (Nashville, TN) that deliver quality of life support programs as well as regular and reassuring professional health consultation.
What We Do?
The following items are primary goals of assisted living communities in an effort to reduce the rate of senior patients developing heart illnesses.
Provide Fitness and Relaxation
Keeping seniors active and relaxed improves heart health. Workout programs that range from low to moderate impact exercises are managed based on fitness levels and health status. Regular exercise helps lower stress levels and improve quality of sleep. When these two vital factors are achieved and stabilized, a healthier heart is guaranteed.
Promote Nutrition and Healthy Diet
Assisted living communities pay close attention to the nutrition and diet of their senior residents. They make sure that the food served to senior residents are both appetizing and healthy to improve food intake and facilitates consumption of important nutrients that can strengthen the heart. Also, taking note of food that must be taken moderately. Low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar diet are usually the dietary recommendation for these people.
Provide Smoke-Free Environment
We know for a fact that a smoker has a higher risk of developing chronic heart disorders including atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Grace Manor Assisted Living offers a designated outdoor area for smokers separated from non-smokers so that non-smokers will not be exposed to smoke-filled air. This is also a way to encourage current smokers to break the habit. Medical advises are also given to those smokers to support them to give up smoking.
For more information about assisted living, contact Grace Manor Assisted Living in Nashville.
9 September 2019
Caring for your loved requiring significant assisted living support is an exhaustive yet fulfilling labor of love. Without doubt it is very stressful as well. At some point this labor of love becomes an unhealthy tax on both the mental and physical state of the caregiver(s). It is at this point where guilt sets in when we recognize our inability to keep pace with the ever-increasing challenge of providing assisted living care support services. This guilt is natural but fortunately it is usually short-lived once we come to accept the realities of life that, at some point, we must turn to assisted living professionals to help us carry the load.
The key word there is “professionals”. We are programmed to believe that no one outside the family can provide the same level of loving care that a family member can. But that is simply not true. When you enlist the support of assisted living care professionals in and around Nashville you are empowering you and your family with the power of scientific research and professional expertise that will enhance the quality of life of your loved one in ways that the non-professional family simply cannot. No offense of course.
So take the step to research your transition to professional assisted living care with confidence (not guilt) that you are about to increase the quality of life of both your loved one AND yourself. Conduct thorough research of the assisted living care communities near you to experience the campus, assess the skill and attentive nature of the staff, and to simply get a feel for the memory care community as a whole. Trust your instinct, it will guide you well.
If you think it's time to move your parent or loved one to an assisted living care community, contact the assisted living professionals at Grace Manor in Nashville. Our team is available to help guide you through this difficult process and answer any questions that may arise.
22 August 2019
For most seniors, the notion of losing independence is something extremely difficult to admit. The thought of the need to move into an assisted living community is unsettling at best. Putting off the conversation between a senior and his/her caregiver(s) will only exacerbate the fear and anxiety for all parties. With a little research, planning, and yes a LOT of love, you will ensure a positive outcome.
- Talk to your parent(s) about assisted living options in Nashville as early as possible—before the situation becomes urgent. That way you can spend more time exploring different solutions, and your parent will be able to more fully participate in the process.
- Know the options and the benefits of each one. Moving into an Assisted Living Community like Grace Manor is just one option, but there are many others. Depending on the level of independence and care your parent desires and needs, there may be home care solutions or other solutions that might be a good fit. Learn more about the various options.
- Address your concerns about their current situation openly and completely. Be realistic – and help them be as well – about their health care needs and safety and the potential needs they may have in the near future. Be candid about the impact their care may be having on you and emphasize your overwhelming concern for their well-being. Now is not the time to dance around delicate topics. Being honest and upfront is the best approach, but make sure you do it with a tone of empathy and respect.
- Listen carefully to their fears and objections. It’s best to have an initial conversation to get the ball rolling, then take a few days to digest their initial reaction and comments before continuing. This also shows them that they are being heard and honored and will have a role in the process.
- Find out what’s most important to them. Perhaps they are concerned about leaving their friends behind or being forced into a routine that they don’t like. Understanding these issues can help you address them upfront and find a solution that will provide them with the care they need along with the lifestyle they want to be happy and fulfilled.
- Be prepared to talk about finances. Part of the fear of losing independence is the concern about losing control of their finances. Have a realistic assessment of their financial situation, along with ballpark costs, and financial benefits they may be able to utilize ready to discuss. Consider the potential “what if” scenarios that may arise, and how they may each impact your long-term financial situation.
- Take a positive approach and tone. Your parent will be more likely to embrace change if it’s presented in the most positive and caring light. Humor can help lighten the situation, but it’s important not to let the conversation become too lighthearted or trite. After all, this is one of the most important decisions of their life, and the decision that you make together will make all the difference in the quality of their remaining years
20 August 2019
When returning home to Nashville to visit your aging parents at Grace Manor, give your visit some thought in advance. You are not alone if you find that your visits can be stressful for a host of reasons, not the least of which is witnessing our parents in a state of physical and/or mental decline. In some cases, this decline can be as simple as realizing that you need to devote regular efforts to help a loved one manage daily life; in others, we might face the grief of knowing, or fearing, that this may be one of the last holidays together.
Because remote family members visit so often during the summer vacations and holidays, we often receive requests at this time of year to help assess whether someone is still safe, and to identify the kinds of help available and what might be needed. We also notice enormous stress in uncertain adult children hoping to do the right thing with their parents while navigating uncharted waters. We find that it helps to use these vacation visit guidelines, from how to manage taking a dependent elder a short trip away from home to considering whether a senior can continue to live alone, safely and unaided.
1. Treasure and be present with the person before you
First, it is always good to stop and remember those things that cannot be changed: aging, the effects of some illnesses, the progress of dementia, and other factors. “Old age,” as Betty Davis said, “is not for sissies.” Sometimes we see families whose holidays would improve if they paused briefly to realize that a parent will never again have the health and energy of past times. However, treasured memories can still be created with person before you. Honor that person; try to make him or her comfortable; ask to hear a story, or tell one yourself. Even in advanced stages of illness, holiday experiences can be joyous if accepted for what they are. It is good advice for life in general, and especially with aging loved ones.
2. Assign someone the task to be sure your elder is not over-stimulated
Especially for elders who are not used to being active, and have their own hopes for a vacation experience “like old times”, the temptation to try to keep too fast a pace during a holiday can lead to exhaustion. Be sure that every day someone is prepared to stay at home, or leave an event early; your elder will be happier not trying to keep up with the most energetic members of the family. Try to rotate this responsibility so no one misses too much. It can be an adult child, a younger family member, family friend, or regular caregiver. This is simple, but easy to forget.
3. If the elder is traveling, plan extra time
Whether it is security scans at airports or long car rides, the pace and distractions that many of us take in stride as part of travel can be exhausting, confusing, or frightening for elders. If you are in a rush, the problem is exacerbated. Plan ahead, allow for a slow pace and leisurely pace, and explain what is going on. This can relieve pressure on everyone.
4. If you visit home, be on the lookout for signs that help may be needed
People who visit home after an absence of several months sometimes can see the signs of decline in the condition of the home or the elder. It is important to be on the lookout for these, especially if family is not regularly present. Signs include a poorly- stocked kitchen, plumbing or appliances that do not function and have not been repaired, clutter that may be the initial stages of hoarding, or poor hygiene. Rarely to our elders call and say, “I cannot manage alone and I need help to continue living here.” Far more often, the signs appear without a request for help. If you have concerns about whether someone is safe at home, an assessment by a geriatric care manager or local senior citizens’ service center is called for.
Vacations with aging parents can be bittersweet. But with proper planning and the right attitude, the emphasis can be on the sweet. Do not try to do too much; find ways to enjoy the person as he or she is today, and to help him or her enjoy the day as much as possible. Grieve if it is called for, laugh when you can, ask for help when you need it. It is all part of life.
For information on assisted living services in Nashville, contact Grace Manor antime.
Source: Connected Home Care
16 August 2019
Grace Manor Assisted Living is a locally owned and managed assisted living community in Nashville, Tennessee, providing active seniors with a vibrant, residential-style environment. Residents participate in a daily schedule packed with fun and health-promoting activities. Our comprehensive living options are designed to meet each individual resident’s personal needs with dedicated service and compassionate care, 24-hours a day. For assisted senior living in Nashville, Tennessee, Grace Manor Assisted Living is second to none.