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Dementia Care Tips: Best Approaches to Avoid Personal Care Resistance

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Use these tips to help a senior loved one with dementia manage personal care tasks.

Of all the challenges related to providing care for a senior loved one with dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association indicates that the most prevalent difficulty is with personal hygiene, for a variety of reasons:

  • Diminished sense of vision and smell
  • Comfort associated with familiarity (i.e., wanting to wear the same clothes again and again)
  • The challenges of bathing, compounded by cognitive impairment and confusion
  • Anxiety about falling, the sounds and feelings associated with the water, and so much more

Cajoling, quarrelling, and reasoning are rarely practical techniques to employ with those impacted by Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Alternatively, consider these creative approaches in the event your loved one resists maintaining suitable hygiene:

  • Organize the bathroom ahead of time so the room is likely to be comfortable and you won’t need to juggle acquiring supplies together with helping the senior. Warm the room with a space heater, and set soap, shampoo, towels, washcloth, etc. within easy reach, plus eliminate any throw rugs or any other tripping hazards.
  • A shower chair and hand-held sprayer frequently make an even more calming bathing experience for anyone with dementia. Position the chair away from the faucet, and use towels to cover up parts of the body before and after they have been cleaned to help keep the senior warm and to prevent feelings of exposure.
  • Have the senior help with bathing tasks whenever possible to maintain independence. It could be as basic as providing a washcloth or the shampoo bottle for the senior to hold on to.
  • If hair washing is hard for either of you, forego that task during bath time, and schedule regular outings to the salon instead.
  • Arrange a special excursion together with the senior, such as a lunch date with a good friend, and center bath time around getting ready for the event.
  • Bring in the assistance of a healthcare professional, who can advise the senior regarding the increased chance of infection or skin issues without proper hygiene. Often hearing from a dependable third party holds more weight than hearing the same information from family members.
  • Engage the services of a caregiver, providing your loved one the dignity of having personal care needs tended to by a professional, rather than a relative.

At Responsive Home Care, each of our caregivers is experienced in safe hygiene procedures for older adults, with specific training to help those with Alzheimer’s disease to feel comfortable with personal hygiene tasks, including creative approaches to safe bathing, skin, hair, and oral care, restroom assistance, and much more. Give us a call at 954-486-6440 or contact us online to discover practical solutions to the worries you and your loved one are facing!

Best Ways to Avoid Crossing the Line From Motivation to Bullying with Aging Parents

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Sometimes the words we use when speaking to our elders can do more harm than good. Learn how to uplift seniors with these helpful tips!

As a family caregiver, you no doubt encounter a variety of emotions during the day: shared laughter over a joke with your loved one; worry due to a health concern; and of course, occasionally, irritations. We want only the best for people we love, and if an older adult is resistant to doing something we know is beneficial, it may be hard to choose the most appropriate reply.

The important thing is to try to supply motivation and encouragement, while also being cautious not to cross the line into bullying the senior. These tips are important to remember:

  • There’s no one-size-fits-all. An approach that has worked in one situation is possibly altogether ineffective in another. In the event a loved one refuses to take a bath, for example, you could simply prefer to let the matter slide and attempt again another day. Or, maybe reframing bath time into a relaxing spa activity will carry some more appeal. Including humor may work nicely one day, whereas using a kinder, softer tone of voice may be the answer on another. Having a number of strategies at the ready can help cut down on irritation for both of you.
  • Encourage the senior to remain in control. Have a heart-to-heart chat with the older adult during the course of a relaxed, peaceful moment to obtain suggestions as to how the caregiving relationship is going, and what she or he wishes to see modified. It is essential to then take to heart the older adult’s feedback and incorporate it into your caregiving approach.
  • Be careful to avoid progressive bullying. Although we certainly would not set out to bully a loved one into submission, it is possible to slowly move from encouragement and inspiration into pushiness and forcefulness without noticing it. Take an honest look at your inclinations in speaking with your loved one, and then take steps to improve upon them as needed.
  • Remember the overarching priority. Apart from the many tasks required in delivering care for a loved one, preserving a healthy, happy and fulfilling relationship with one another is vital. If you realize that the worries of providing care are outweighing the rewards for either of you at any time, there is always the possibility of exploring alternate care options such as in-home respite care, letting you place your focus on spending quality time together with the older adult you love.

Responsive Home Care is the ideal partner for family caregivers. Our caregiving staff are highly trained and skilled in the many areas of senior home care, and will provide the assistance family members need to preserve healthy relationships with those who they love. Contact us online or call us at 954-486-6440 and request an in-home consultation to discover the difference respite care can make in both a senior’s total well-being and yours.

CAN INJECTIONS OF YOUNG BLOOD REVERSE AGING?

It sounds like something from a sci-fi movie: injecting blood from a young person into an aging, Alzheimer’s patient, and watching as renewed youth is awakened. But that’s exactly the outcome realized in studies of mice, which showed astounding brain cell growth in the area of the brain critical to memory and learning—the hippocampus. Perhaps just as incredible was the effect on the brains of the younger mice who received injections of older mouse blood, resulting in stunted neuron growth.

The first human trial is already underway on Alzheimer’s patients, led by Tony Wyss-Coray, neurology professor at the Stanford School of Medicine, with results expected by the end of the year. But what will the impact be if the study proves that young blood does reverse aging in humans? Practical applications may involve short periods of infusions to help older patients heal faster after a surgery, but there are many fears about the unknown impact of interfering with the body’s natural aging process.

Learn more by listening to Wyss-Coray at a recent TED conference.

FACT OR FICTION? DISCOVER THE TRUTH BEHIND THESE AGING MISCONCEPTIONS

It’s certainly no surprise that the aging population is exploding, and poised to increase exponentially over the next few decades. The statistics are staggering: 900 million adults age 60 and older currently worldwide, and expected to rise to 2 billion in the next 20-30 years.

The twist in thinking, however, lies in the demographics. While the impending impact on first-world countries is a given, the challenges ahead for less developed areas has been less explored. For example, take a look at some of these assumptions and the realities behind them:

  • Developed countries will be hit the hardest by aging challenges. Actually, according to Dr. Linda P. Fried, geriatrician and dean of the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, China’s population of elderly is about to surpass that of the U.S. It’s anticipated that by 2050, third-world countries will have shifted from a population of mostly younger residents to an equal number of young and old.
  • Cities are for the young. While cities have a long way to go in improving accessibility and age-friendliness issues, urban populations are steadily aging—by one estimate, up to 16 times more elderly in cities worldwide by 2050. The World Health Organization is taking steps to make life easier for seniors  in cities through its Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities project—such as reinstalling bus stop benches that had previously been removed in New York City.
  • Chronic diseases of aging impact the wealthiest nations. Surprisingly, it’s the less developed countries that are battling the most cases of diabetes and heart disease, along with diseases related to smoking and alcohol; and, the vast majority (88%) of health conditions related to environmental issues.
  • Families value the elderly in other cultures, so care is superior. In both Africa and India, for example, there’s an assumption that elders are revered and cared for by family members; but sadly, as many as one in five Nigerian elders require care from family, but are not receiving it. And, because of limited resources, family care that is available is “severely compromised,” according to Isabella Aboderin of the African Population and Health Research Center in Nairobi, Kenya.

Clearly, the effects of aging are reverberating around the globe, and thankfully, professional home care agencies, like Responsive Home Health, are positioned to provide the quality care and solutions needed for seniors today and into the future.

STUNNING REVERSAL IN ALZHEIMER’S RESEARCH

Earlier this year, we reported on the discovery that microglia cells, a known fighter of infection, were at the heart of preventing Alzheimer’s plaques from forming. Already, however, a new twist to unraveling the Alzheimer’s puzzle has developed.

Utilizing a specific mouse model with the ability to develop Alzheimer’s disease, immune system abnormalities were studied, and it was discovered that a repressed immune system, rather than the previously determined amplified immune system, is in place for those with Alzheimer’s. According to Matthew Kan, the study’s first author, “It’s surprising, because [suppression of the immune system] is not what the field has been thinking is happening in Alzheimer’s disease.”

Dr. Carol Colton, the study’s senior author, notes, “We see this study opening the doors to thinking about Alzheimer’s in a completely different way, to break the stalemate of ideas in Alzheimer’s disease.” Read the full article from Alzheimer’s News Today, and keep an eye out for exciting new developments as this research progresses. Read the entire study article in the Journal of Neuroscience here.