The SAGE Test: 15 Minute At-Home Test for Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer's test

Simple home test detects signs of early Alzheimer’s
If you suspect that your older adult is having problems with memory, thinking, or judgement, you may want them to take the SAGE test for dementia. This at-home pen-and-paper test is free, takes just 15 minutes, and accurately identifies early symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

And if the stress and exhaustion of caregiving are making you feel like your brain isn’t working anymore, this quick test can reassure you that there’s no problem with your cognitive function.

Why get an early Alzheimer’s diagnosis?
Alzheimer’s and dementia are incurable conditions so it might seem useless to get diagnosed. Many people would just rather not know. But an early Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis has significant benefits. The most important is that a treatable condition could be the cause of cognitive impairment. Finding out sooner means getting treatment ASAP to eliminate the cognitive symptoms.

If the cognitive impairment is caused by Alzheimer’s or dementia, a major benefit is that starting treatments early is far more effective in managing symptoms and delaying progression of the disease.

How the SAGE test for dementia works
SAGE stands for Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination and was developed by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The SAGE test has 12 questions that cover all aspects of cognition, including memory, problem solving, and language. Continue Reading

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Bathroom Safety Tips for Seniors

bathroom caution sign

Bathroom safety is a top issue for seniors
Did you know that people use the toilet 7 times a day on average? That’s why bathroom safety for seniors is so important — they’re in there all the time!

Balance issues, weakness, frailty, and cognitive issues like Alzheimer’s can make that simple activity difficult and even dangerous. As challenging as using the toilet might be, it’s also important to help them preserve as much dignity and independence as possible. Simple tips and modifications can make going to the bathroom safer, easier, and less tiring.

Why bathrooms are dangerous
Bathrooms are dangerous because they are small spaces with lots of hard surfaces and corners. On top of that, sitting down and standing up can cause dizziness or unsteady balance for seniors because of blood pressure changes. That could easily lead to a devastating fall.

4 simple bathroom safety tips for seniors

  1. Clear the path to the bathroom and make sure it’s well-lit day
    and night
  • Remove clutter or objects along the path.
  • Add automatic nightlights or stick-on lights.
  • Remove any rugs or floor mats. It’s easy to trip or slip on them.
  • If the bathroom door has a raised threshold (on the floor), get your older adult in the habit of sidestepping over it — that reduces the chance of tripping.

Continue Reading

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Doing something good for 2017

Logo for jan-U-ary healthy New Year campaign
We invited Chris Rodgers to tell us more about their annual healthy New Year’s Resolution campaign so we could share the idea with our families and caregivers. Let’s join the British and make a healthy New Year’s resolution in jan-U-ary to do something to improve your health in 2017. 

New Year is always a watershed. A time for each of us to take stock and think about what we want to achieve for the next 12 months.

January 9 marks the start of the fourth JanUary campaign in the UK – the purpose of which is to encourage everyone to do something that will improve their health in 2017, joining us in a national healthy New Year’s Resolution. The reality is that all of us could be a little healthier. And whether that means thinking and changing what we’re eating or drinking, or being a little more physically active, the results can be profound.

It’s something that everyone in the UK needs to think about. Obesity and overweight are significant problems, affecting millions of people of all ages. And that affects levels of diabetes and heart disease. It puts greater pressure on our healthcare system. And it fundamentally affects people’s quality of life.

The trick to successfully taking part in JanUary is making a resolution that you can stick to. Too many people make New Year’s Resolutions with the best of intentions, but which are ultimately unachievable. And the result is that most are dropped within a matter of weeks. The third week in January is usually when most people run out of steam on their resolutions.

This year, it’s time to do something a bit different. Take a look at your lifestyle and pick something that you can commit to for a whole year. You don’t need to set yourself a goal equivalent to running a marathon. Better that you commit to drinking water instead of a sugary drink, walking rather than taking the car or bus if you can, or maybe taking the opportunity to learn how to cook new things.

Those are New Year’s Resolutions you can stick to. No, they probably don’t feel like earth shattering commitments. But that’s the point. And by sticking to them, you’ll ultimately help your own health outcomes.

So if you’re joining us in the UK in making a healthy resolution, the best of luck. And a very happy New Year.

Chris Rodgers, guest author
White House Consulting (UK)
@HealthyJanUary

GOOD for U jan-U-ary website

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Solve Senior Sleep Problems: Leg Cramps

Man with leg cramps

A common cause of senior nighttime waking
Waking up because your senior needs help at night is exhausting and frustrating. We’ve discussed possible reasons for senior sleep issues before. Here, we’ll focus on one common cause of nighttime waking, leg cramps.

What are nighttime leg cramps?
Nighttime leg cramps are when muscles suddenly tighten up. This is common in calf, thigh, or foot muscles. It’s very painful and can jolt somebody out of a sound sleep. Another term for leg cramps is “charley horse.”

How do I know if it’s happening?
When your senior wakes, calmly ask what woke them up. You may need to wait patiently for them to think before answering. Don’t distract them by being annoyed or angry — they might forget the real reason.

If your older adult can’t communicate what’s wrong, an obvious sign is if they look like they’re in pain and they grab, point, or massage a certain part of their leg. Another sign is if they can’t successfully stand until their leg muscles are able to relax. You may even be able to see or feel a super-tight muscle.

What can I do during the night?
Here’s how to soothe a leg cramp so your senior can relax and go back to sleep. Continue Reading

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When Should Seniors Stop Driving?

Image of elder driver and her frightened passenger

Driving is a sensitive subject for seniors
In a recent article, USA Today tackled the difficult subject of asking your parents to give up driving. Many caregivers say this is one of the hardest conversations to have.

Why seniors won’t give up driving
Many older adults absolutely refuse to give up their car keys, even if they’ve had a string of accidents or close calls. They resist because not driving means losing their independence. It also means admitting that they’re getting old and becoming less capable.

Imagine how it would feel to have to ask for a ride to go anywhere and being at the mercy of other people’s schedules. After a lifetime of independence, that’s pretty hard to swallow. 

Get a fair evaluation before jumping to conclusions
Your senior could be a safer driver than you think. Your senior might have already cut back on travel distance from home or driving at night. It could be a good idea to get a fair evaluation of their driving abilities before asking for the keys. AAA has a website with tools and resources for evaluating an older person’s driving ability.

Caregivers need to offer alternatives to driving
Keep in mind, if you ask seniors to give up their keys, they’ll still need to get around. Continuing to participate in the community is an important part of preventing the negative health effects of social isolation.

You’ll need to find convenient (and safe) transportation services, arrange for regular rides, or become a part-time chauffeur. Together, make a list of regular and special occassion rides. These might include shopping, hair salon or barber, church, friends, relatives, favorite restaurants — keep going — cemetery, flower store, and more. 

Tips for successful conversations about giving up driving
Before you have a conversation about giving up driving, think of a few different ways you could approach the subject. It’s going to backfire if you try to give an order or ultimatum. Because it’s such an emotional subject, straightforward logic won’t always work either. Continue Reading

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Free Coloring Pages for Seniors: Our Top 5 Picks

Image of colorful coloring book

Coloring relieves stress
Coloring may sound like a simple activity, but more and more people are discovering that it’s an effective stress reliever and mood booster. Some psychologists have even said that coloring is a form of meditation.

Creative activities benefit seniors
For older adults, a research study shows that engaging in creative activities like coloring can improve their health, lead to fewer doctor visits, reduce medication, and decrease the number of health problems.

You can benefit from coloring too! It’s a quick and inexpensive way to help you relax and engage in a fun and creative activity for as much or as little time as you have.

Free coloring pages for seniors
Thanks to its recent popularity, there are hundreds of free coloring pages available online. Here are 5 sites with great options for older adults. The coloring pages are easy to print and use anytime!

  1. Coloring Pages for Adults
    This site has hundreds of coloring pages in a variety of themes and topics.  Browse the website hereWe especially like these flowersfamous artwork, and peaceful landscapes
  1. Everything Etsy
    Choose from 12 different designs — along with regular designs, there are bookmarks and inspirational quotes. Browse the website here
  1. Coloring. WS Spring Theme
    Some older adults will appreciate these simpler spring-themed designs. Browse the website here
  1. Free Coloring Pages
    This site has a range of designs, from simple to more complex. Browse the website hereWe like these flowers, birds, and animals.
  1. Crayola
    Crayola also has a selection of free coloring pages in a wide range of themes and complexity. Use the menu on the left to browse the categories. Browse the website hereThere are Disney characters for lifelong Disney enthusiasts — here’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves Easter eggs are a more complex design. The bee and flowers or Nascar stockcar are medium in difficulty. This ocean theme page is simple and fun

By DailyCaring.com
Image: HubPages

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Campaign to Combat Isolation & Loneliness

Seniors exercising image

Social isolation and loneliness is a real threat to an elder’s health. We are delighted with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) annual Home for the Holidays Campaign, which seeks to combat isolation and loneliness in older Americans. Team CareLinx is pleased to respond to their call to help spread the word about the educational campaign and campaign publication, “Expand Your Circles: Prevent Isolation and Loneliness As You Age.” We invite our online community of families and caregivers, investors, and social media followers to learn more about this serious issue and join us in promoting this important educational effort. For example, consider asking your senior center staff, church, public library, YMCA, and other organizations in your community if they are aware of the Home for the Holidays Campaign and, if not, share this article and the campaign details.

The n4a campaign is in collaboration with the AARP Foundation, to raise awareness of the growing problem of social isolation and loneliness affecting millions of older Americans. This topic is the focus of the annual Eldercare Locator Home for the Holidays Campaign, which will be conducted through January 2017.

Given the vital role of the Aging Network in providing crucial home and community-based services and supports for older Americans, AAAs (Area Agencies on Aging) are uniquely positioned to shine a light on this problem and to lead the way in finding solutions. Even though the campaign just launched, over 70 AAAs from coast-to-coast have already contacted us to learn how they can conduct public education campaigns in their communities!

To support your efforts, we developed a campaign toolkit, containing all the components you need to spread the word. You can also order the campaign publication: “Expand Your Circles: Prevent Isolation and Loneliness As You Age,” a full-color, glossy brochure that provides tips and resources to help older adults reduce their risk or take steps to get reconnected if they are already isolated; it also features a Self-Assessment Checklist, to enable older adults and caregivers to evaluate whether there is a potential problem.

By working together—nationally and in communities across the nation—we can make a difference in the lives of so many older Americans who are at risk or suffering today. Please join us! – n4a Communications Director Dallas Jamison

When you are home for the holidays, we urge you to refer to this publication, discuss the issues raised, and take the self-assessment checklist (see below).  What is your score? Is transportation an issue? Can you leave the house without assistance?

checklist #1  checklist #2

We commend the n4a and AARP Foundation for developing and promoting this educational campaign.
Best wishes for a joyful holiday season.

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Solve Foot Pain with Adaptive Shoes for Seniors

shoes Photo

 

Everyone needs comfortable shoes
To maintain their health, it’s important for older adults to be as active and mobile as possible. They also need to be stable and safe while on their feet. That’s why comfortable, well-fitting shoes are essential for all seniors. Also, it’s pretty tough to be happy and have good quality of life if your feet hurt all the time!

Many seniors need special shoes
Aging and health conditions (like diabetes, arthritis, bunions, or swelling) can cause changes in your older adult’s feet. This might make regular shoes difficult to put on or uncomfortable to wear. The solution is to find special shoes that adapt to their needs.

What to look for in adaptive shoes
In general, adaptive shoes for seniors should have:

  • Non-slip or non-skid soles to help prevent falls
  • Easy open and close fastener
  • Wider opening so it’s easy to get feet into shoes
  • Extra padding for comfort

Adaptive shoe and slipper options

  1. Silvert’s
    Silvert’s specializes in adaptive clothing and footwear. They have a nice selection of adaptive shoes, slippers, and socks for women and men. They also have an excellent return policy because they know caregivers are usually doing the purchasing for an older adult. See all the footwear at Silvert’s >
  1. Buck & Buck
    Buck & Buck is another well-known retailer of adaptive clothing and shoes. Their customer service is friendly and helpful and they also have a good return policy.

    Women’s ShoesSlippersSocks
    Men’s ShoesSlippersSocks

  1. New technology from Nike
    Nike launched a new type of sneaker that’s inspired by a young man with cerebral palsy. They’re designed to be easy to get on and off with one hand so people with disabilities can put on and take off their shoes independently. The Nike Flyease sneaker line has options for men and women. These are great for people who enjoy wearing athletic shoes, but need assistance to put them on and take them off.

Shoehorns are a big help!
Sometimes, bending over to put shoes on is half the battle. These sturdy, long shoehorns make putting on shoes easier and safer.

Support socks
Bunions can be removed by surgery, but that is not the only solution! There are special shoes, pads, toe separators, arch supports and support socks that provide comfort and relief.

Bottom line
Check with your older adult to make sure they’re truly comfortable and safe in their current shoes. If not, consider one of these adaptive options or adding a long shoehorn to make life easier.

By DailyCaring.com
Image: Amazon, AmberCity, Silvert’s

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The Best Caregivers are Like Family: Holiday Time is Time for Family Planning

Family planning about eldercare
The holiday season is a time for hugs, celebrations, and catching up on family news. It is also an opportunity for serious family planning about eldercare. This is especially true when they involve convincing family members they need to make big lifestyle changes. For example, is it time for a loved one to give up driving or recruit assistance from a caregiver to safely remain in their home?

Those who need assistance for their day-to-day living are often resistant to hiring a caregiver. Here are some insights that make accepting the need for home care more palatable for a loved one:

  1. Suggest a “personal assistant” to relieve some of the challenges of everyday living. The thought of having an assistant gives an elder a feeling of empowerment and worth. For example, some elders who no longer drive introduce their helper as their personal chauffer. Others introduce walking companions as their young friend.
  2. Ensure the elder feels in control of the caregiver search process. Being tended to by a caregiver for one’s personal needs is highly personal, so spend considerable effort on the selection search. Consider that your elder may like the idea of becoming a life coach to a caregiver who is also enrolled in college or raising a family.

The best caregivers become like members of the family and the relationship is one of mutual respect, says CareLinx CEO Sherwin Sheik.

Consider your future caregiver as more than a financial investment or hiring arrangement. Consider investing in the career and well-being of your caregiver.  Think about the following: Continue Reading

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Visiting Aging Parents for the Holidays

Visiting Family
Take advantage of your holiday visit
During the holidays, many of us will be visiting aging parents. It’s a perfect time to observe them in their “natural habitat” — you’ll see how they’re really doing. Plus, these tips help you focus on important details that will make a big difference in the long run.

  1. Discreetly check on independent parents
    When your parents are living independently, the holidays are a great time to discreetly check on them. If you do this every year and keep a few notes, you’ll be able to spot changes more easily in the future.Try our handy printable PDF checklist that helps you evaluate any changes in their physical, mental, and emotional health.
  1. Spend an afternoon on home safety updates
    While you’re visiting, you might have an opportunity to make a few simple safety updates. These easy fixes don’t take much time and will help your parents avoid common accidents so they can stay independent longer. They don’t take a lot of time, but they’re very effective.

Try these:

Continue Reading

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Watch Out for 5 Common Diabetes Complications

Diabetes Warning sign

Diabetes can cause health complications
Diabetes in older adults is associated with increased risk of other serious medical conditions like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and falls.

Today, more than 25% of the US population aged 65 and over have diabetes. The link between diabetes and other serious health issues is a likely reason why so many older adults have multiple health conditions.

Why does diabetes cause other health problems?
Diabetes is a disease where the level of glucose in the blood (also called blood sugar) is too high. This can happen when the body doesn’t make enough insulin.

Insulin moves glucose from the blood into the cells of the body. But when there isn’t enough insulin, glucose doesn’t get into the cells and builds up in the blood. This causes symptoms like extreme thirst or hunger, frequent need to urinate, and fatigue.

Over time, high blood glucose seriously damages the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, gums, teeth, nerves, and blood vessels.

This can lead to health complications like heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, nerve problems, gum infections, and amputation. People with diabetes are also more likely to have heart disease or a stroke and at an earlier age.

Here, we talk about the 5 most common diabetes complications.

5 common diabetes complications

  1. Heart disease
    Heart diseases are more likely to occur in older adults with diabetes. Talk with the doctor to get prevention tips, learn about symptoms to watch for, and find out about treatment options for someone who has both diabetes and heart diseases.
  1. Alzheimer’s & dementia
    Alzheimer’s and dementia are twice as likely to occur in patients with diabetes. If you notice unusual behavior or recurring memory or cognitive problems, visit the doctor for a full evaluation.
  1. Falls & fractures
    Diabetes and related conditions that make physical movement more difficult are associated with higher risk of falls and fractures. Stay on top of this by asking their doctor to regularly evaluate your senior’s fall risk.
  1. Multiple medications
    Diabetic older adults often use 6 or more prescription medications. Because so many medicines are being taken, people with diabetes have a higher risk of side effects and drug interactions. Ask the doctor to do a comprehensive medication and supplement review on a regular basis.
  1. Other complications
    Depression, vision or hearing impairment, and incontinence are additional medical conditions that are more likely to occur in people with diabetes. Be aware that these conditions may be related to diabetes and get symptoms checked by a doctor.

Bottom line
These 5 medical complications are seen at a much higher rate among older adults with diabetes.

If you notice your senior developing new symptoms or see signs of these complications, talk to their doctor ASAP to find out what’s causing the problem. Early detection and treatment can make a big difference in quality of life and treatment options.

By DailyCaring.com
Sources: NIH Senior Health, American Diabetes Association & American Geriatrics Society
Image: Your Lighter Side

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Ways to Respond to Repetitive Questions

questionsPeople with Alzheimer’s may repeat things…a lot
Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias cause problems with short-term memory. This can lead to repetitive behaviors, like asking the same question over and over again.

Your older adult isn’t doing it on purpose to annoy you, they truly have no memory of asking the first or twenty-third time.

You might be able to answer patiently the first few times, but after hearing the same thing a dozen times, it’s natural to lose your temper. That’s why it’s important to arm yourself with kind techniques that stop the flow of questions before you get too frustrated.

Why someone with Alzheimer’s repeats questions
Repetitive behaviors are often caused by stress, anxiety, frustration, or fear. People with Alzheimer’s or dementia are often unsure of what’s happening, where they are, or what time or day it is. Those are pretty unsettling feelings.

Your senior isn’t repeating questions because they need the information. They’re asking because they’re feeling stressed or anxious and need reassurance.

4 ways to respond when someone with Alzheimer’s is repeating questions

  1. Respond to the emotions, not the words
    When your older adult starts to repeat a question over and over, try to guess what feelings might be causing the behavior. If they might be feeling anxious, giving a brief hug or hand squeeze while calmly answering the question may soothe them enough to stop their need to keep asking.
  1. Keep your answers brief
    It’s tempting to answer a question from a person with Alzheimer’s the same way you’d answer anybody else. But the shorter and simpler your answer, the better. It saves you time and energy and reduces your exasperation when you have to repeat it five more times.

Continue Reading

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How Family Caregivers Can Take Care of Themselves

Picture of sunrise National Family Caregivers Month
Our friends at CaregiverMonday are celebrating National Family Caregivers Month by publishing a news release on How Family Caregivers Can Take Care of Themselves. We agree whole-heartedly that the key to staying healthy is setting aside weekly “me time.” 

NEW YORK – It is estimated that there are more than 60 million unpaid American caregivers who tend to special needs children, older parents, or loved ones with chronic illnesses or disabilities. Experts agree caregivers need to take time to focus on their own well-being, both for themselves and those they care for.

November, designated as National Family Caregivers Month, is the ideal time to focus on caregivers. The NFCM’s goals are to celebrate, educate, and raise awareness about the issues surrounding caregiving.

Linda P. Fried, dean and DeLamar professor of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, sees caregivers as critical players in maintaining good health across the lifecourse, especially as our lifespans increase. “Family members who do double-duty as caregivers need support and encouragement for the challenging role they have taken on,” she said. “It’s important for them to understand that before they can care for anyone else, they need to care for themselves.”

Caregivers can leverage Monday as a simple, effective way to nudge themselves towards healthier behavior. A study about the Monday effect, conducted by Johns Hopkins and San Diego State University, was published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The study showed that healthy thinking and behavior are synchronized to the week, with Mondaybeing the day people are most “open to buy” health. Monday can thus be a powerful leverage to help people stay on track with their health goals.

Faced with demands on their time, caregivers often forego healthy eating and exercise. They forget that keeping themselves healthy is in their loved one’s best interest, too.

Caregiver Monday, an initiative of the nonprofit Monday Campaigns, emphasizes that key to staying healthy is for caregivers to carve out a dedicated time at the beginning of each week to focus on the tools they need to keep their healthy habits consistent.

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Brushing Someone’s Teeth is Difficult with Alzheimer’s

woman helping Alzheimer's patient brush teeth

Brushing someone’s teeth is difficult
If you’ve ever tried to help someone with Alzheimer’s brush their teeth, you know it’s incredibly difficult.

Very few people are willing to sit quietly and allow someone else to stick things in their mouth. Think of how you’d react if someone tried to do that to you! They’re not trying to be difficult, it’s human instinct to resist.

Poor dental care leads to unwanted complications
However, if your older adult has Alzheimer’s or dementia and can’t properly brush their own teeth, they’ll need your help. Otherwise, their dental health will suffer and that will lead to unwanted complications.

Aside from the health problems associated with poor dental health, can you imagine having to take your senior with dementia to get a cavity filled or tooth extracted? Nightmare!!

Dementia care expert shows how to brush someone else’s teeth
Teepa Snow is a leading expert in dementia care. She has impressive credentials and when you watch her videos, you can clearly see why she’s in such high demand as a dementia educator. She really knows what she’s talking about!

In this 2 minute video, Teepa shows how to successfully brush someone else’s teeth by calming and distracting those natural instincts to resist. She demonstrates on an audience volunteer and explains why her techniques work.

Teepa’s 3 key tips for brushing someone’s teeth
It’s best to watch this brief video to see Teepa’s techniques in action so you can use them yourself, but here’s a summary of her 3 key tips from the video. Continue Reading

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Family in Denial About Seniors Needing Help?

Family denial

 

When family doesn’t believe your senior needs help
Family caregivers are often frustrated by relatives who are in denial about their older adult’s declining health. Whether it’s about Alzheimer’s, fall risk, or post-stroke recovery, their denial can make you feel angry, stressed out, and frustrated.

Why are they in denial?
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Denial is a coping mechanism that gives you time to adjust to distressing situations.” Asking someone to change how they see your older adult threatens their whole world. That’s usually why people fall back on denial.

It’s safe and comfortable to pretend that everything is fine and nothing is changing. For some, denial is a subconscious way to ignore the fact that their parent is declining. For others, it’s a way to avoid taking on caregiving responsibilities.

3 ways to deal with family in denial

  1. Stay calm and be the bigger person
    Family in denial about seniors needing help are incredibly frustrating. Even if you really don’t want to bite your tongue, it helps to stay calm and be the bigger person.Do your best to be kind and understanding when speaking with someone in denial. Showing anger or being sarcastic will only make them dig their heels in deeper or feel justified in resisting.
  1. Be ready with educational information
    Sometimes denial comes from not fully understanding the situation. Give them educational information that explains your older adult’s condition, typical symptoms, and the type of care they’ll most likely need.For example, your brother may have no idea how Alzheimer’s or dementia affects people besides the stereotypical memory loss or confusion. So, he takes mom’s side when she insists that she’s still perfectly capable of driving her car.Rather than arguing, show him the doctor’s report stating that she should no longer drive because of her advancing Alzheimer’s condition. And, point him to trusted sources of information about Alzheimer’s and dementia — like Alzheimer’s Association or here on DailyCaring.
  1. Meet together with an expert
    Some family members may not believe you, but might listen to an impartial expert. Offer to go together to talk with the doctor about your dad’s health and care needs. Or, invite a geriatric care manager, elder mediator, or spiritual leader who understands the situation to attend a family meeting.

Bottom line
It’s not fair that you have to be the voice of reason on top of everything else, but these 3 techniques will help convince family members that your senior needs caregiving help.

If you can’t break through someone’s denial, you can at least move on and make decisions without their input, knowing you did your best to help them understand.

By Connie Chow, Contributing Writer and Founder of DailyCaring.com
Image: Care Compare

Photo of Connie Chow, founder of DailyCaring

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Laughs to Remember with Tammy Scanio Smith

Laughs to Remember image of microphone with purple ribbonTammy Smith, a founder of Laughs to Remember, describes the annual comedy fun/fundraiser in support of the Alzheimer’s Association. Here is Tammy’s story on how and why she started the fun/fundraiser.

“Having worked with families in the senior space for many years and with many families who struggle daily with Alzheimer’s Disease grew my passion for the population that I love and I respect. The passion speared my desire to take my service to the next level, to be active in the fight for them, to End Alzheimer’s.

Last year I was compelled to pull the trigger on a three year idea that was burning and churning inside my head — The idea of a night of entertainment that would give joy and the healing power of laughter while raising awareness and funds for the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Illinois Chapter.  The goal was an evening of exceptional value to the cause and the guests.

This dream came to life when I sat down with two of the most driven and passionate women I know, Bev Anderson and Tracy Hoover. Eight months later we held our first event. The success and support was overwhelming. We could not stop there.

We are just weeks away from the 2nd annual Laughs to Remember Event, which takes place on Saturday evening, November 5 at Concord Place, 401 W. Lake St. Northlake, IL.  As Tammy reminds us, the more we educate, the more we care; the more we give is what will make the difference. Help make the difference!   Have fun. Do good. End Alzheimer’s.

The Alzheimer’s Association Greater Illinois Chapter serves the more than a half million Illinois residents affected by Alzheimer’s disease throughout 68 counties in the state, including 210,000 people who are living with the disease. The chapter’s mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

For more information about Laughs to Remember, or for tickets, interested parties should visit
FirstGiving or contact tsmith@carelinx.com

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Applauding Governor Brown: Quality Work Conditions Enable Quality Caregiving

Job burnout is precarious in any industry. But when it comes to the business of caregiving, the dignity and security of our families is at stake. Simply put, quality work conditions enable quality care.

Logo for Good Work CodeIn the “caring industry,” only a win-win solution can work. Tech companies, who facilitate the relationship between workers and families and who are driving the future of the industry, must play a significant role in ensuring that this future works for both the givers and receivers of care. Caregivers who are respected for what they do and who earn a living wage are not only able to support themselves and their families better but are also able to provide top quality care to the families they serve.

I saw first-hand how difficult it is to secure good home care when my family managed the care for my sister with Multiple Sclerosis and my uncle who fought the battle with ALS for seven years. I found our options for finding the right caregivers to be extremely costly, while the caregivers who worked with and helped my family struggled to financially support their own families.

Last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1015, known as the 2016 Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, into law ensuring that California’s 300,000 domestic workers, including in-home caregivers, have permanent overtime protections. This bill is historic because since the 1930s, these workers have been left out of the basic labor protections that most Americans have come to take for granted.

Having worked with caregivers for over a decade, I applaud Governor Brown and the California State Legislature for raising the standards for fair working conditions. By permanently securing overtime protections for domestic workers, Governor Brown and the Legislature have reversed the unjust conditions that have affected workers who are disproportionately low income, women, and people of color. I am proud that California is one of the first states in the country to adopt the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

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Seniors and Caregivers Should Get a Flu Shot Today

Woman with FLU blowing her nose
Flu season is here and seniors and caregivers are vulnerable.
Cold and flu season is upon us again. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone should get vaccinated before the end of October, but anytime is better than not getting a shot at all.

Getting a flu shot reduces the chance that you, your older adult, and your family will get sick.

Two of the most vulnerable populations are seniors and caregivers. That’s because older adults’ immune systems are weaker due to age and because chronic stress impairs caregivers’ immune systems. Plus, spending a lot of time with each other means you’re more likely to pass germs back and forth.

We share 4 key reasons why seniors and caregivers should get a flu shot as soon as possible.

  1. Avoid serious health complications for seniors
    For seniors, the flu can be a severe illness and may cause death. 90% of flu-related deaths and more than 50% of flu-related hospitalizations occur in people age 65 and up. The CDC recommends a high-dose shot for seniors.
  1. The shot needs 2 weeks to become effective
    Flu activity starts as early as October. After getting the shot, it takes about 2 weeks for the protective flu antibodies to develop in the body. So, the sooner you and your older adult get the shot, the sooner you’ll have protection against the flu.
  1. Getting a flu shot is quick, convenient, and free
    Flu shots are now available in many convenient locations.

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Improve Senior Dental Health and Reduce Heart Disease and Alzheimer’s

Seniors brushing teeth
Poor dental health leads to serious health conditions
When taking care of older adults, dental care isn’t just something that’s nice to have. Dental health seriously affects overall physical health, nutrition, and well-being. Poor dental health is also associated with increased risk for heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and other serious conditions.

But senior dental care isn’t always easy, especially for those with serious health conditions. We’ve got 3 tips that make it easier for older adults to practice good dental hygiene.

3 ways to help seniors keep their mouths healthy

  1. Switch to an electric toothbrush
    Arthritis, hand tremors, or weakness can make it nearly impossible to brush teeth thoroughly. To make it easier, switch to an electric (automatic) toothbrush. Less hand strength and control are needed and it takes the work out of brushing. Some toothbrushes even have built-in timers so there’s no need to guess how long to brush.

Some options:

  1. Brush or rinse after meals
    Seniors tend to have less saliva because of medication side effects and the natural effects of aging. After meals, trapped food particles can quickly become bacteria breeding grounds. Minimize bacteria in your older adult’s mouth by getting them into the habit of brushing (or at least rinsing) about 30 to 60 minutes after eating. Fortunately, that’s most likely when they’ll need to use the toilet anyway.
  1. Change to a salt water rinse
    Using salt water to rinse the mouth instead of plain water is a very effective way to improve senior dental health. Just add about a half teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water, stir, and rinse! A salt water rinse increases the pH balance of the mouth. This makes it more difficult for bacteria to grow. It’s less irritating to the mouth than a store-bought mouthwash — and cheaper too!

Bottom line
Keeping your older adult’s mouth healthy is just as important as caring for the rest of their body.

A healthy mouth helps seniors keep more of their natural teeth so it’s easier to eat, reduces the risk of pain and inflammation, and reduces risk of serious conditions like heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

 

By Connie Chow, Contributing Writer and Founder of DailyCaring.com
Image: Westgate Family Dental

Photo of Connie Chow, founder of DailyCaring

 

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CareAcademy and CareLinx Partnership

CareAcademy logoCareAcademy and CareLinx Partner to Offer Access to Online Training
and Certification Courses to Caregivers 

At CareLinx, we strive to make hiring a trusted, experienced caregiver as simple as possible for families. Today, we announced a partnership with CareAcademy, an online learning service for in-home caregivers.

Through our partnership with CareAcademy, caregivers in the 150,000+ CareLinx network have access to professional development that enables them to provide better care while also gaining the strong credentials they need to further their careers. CareAcademy’s mission is to professionalize caregiving so that caregivers can develop more stable and secure careers and families feel more confident that they can find reliable, knowledgeable people to care for their loved ones. CareAcademy CEO and co-founder Helen Adeosun values how the partnership enables her company to further their mission with thousands of CareLinx caregivers across the country.

Classes are available online through a mobile phone or laptop, and can be accessed on an Android, Windows or iPhone. They last 30 minutes to an hour and a half, but don’t have to be completed in one sitting and are available to caregivers anytime, day or night — 24/7. Classes are engaging and heavily use videos and interactive activities, discussion, and decision-making exercises. Classes use state mandates and Medicare requirements. At the end of each class, Caregivers get a certificate of completion, which is added to their account.

We are excited to offer our caregivers the opportunity to grow, while enhancing our overall caregiver capability for caring for seniors.

10-4-16 Press Release

 

CareLinx "hugging heart" logoCEO Sherwin Sheik

CareLinx CEO Sherwin Sheik

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Alzheimer’s Fidget Quilts Keep Hands Busy

Activity quilt

Alzheimer’s can cause busy hands
Your older adult with Alzheimer’s or dementia may show anxiety or agitation through fidgety hands. Signs include pulling or rubbing at clothes or bedding, rubbing hands together, tapping fingers, twisting fingers, wringing hands, and generally keeping hands in motion.

Sensory therapy or fidget toys are an effective way to reduce anxiety, calm nerves, and provide comfort. These are simple touch-based activities that help someone with Alzheimer’s keep hands busy in safe, soothing ways.

We have 6 suggestions to help your older adult stay calm and comforted.

Choose safe activities
It’s important to find activities that are safe. You know your older adult best and can choose what works best for them.

For example, some older adults tend to put things in their mouth. If that’s the case, avoid small objects that could become a choking hazard. Other seniors may like to tie strings around fingers (or necks!) and restrict circulation. If that’s true for your older adult, avoid anything with long ribbon or string.

6 ways to help seniors with Alzheimer’s keep hands busy

  1. Buy or make a fidget blanket

DailyCaring tip: For a quick DIY fidget blanket with minimal sewing, start with a fluffy bath towel or large piece of soft fleece and securely sew on a variety of embellishments. Browse the ready-made ones above to get inspiration!

  1. Try affordable sensory toys

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Art Therapy Activities for Dementia: MnemeTherapy

Painting of flowers in a vase

Art therapy activities for dementia
Seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia benefit from creative activities like art and music. Music reduces agitation and boosts mood. Art projects give a sense of accomplishment and purpose and also allow seniors to express themselves non-verbally.

A specialized type of art therapy for dementia is called MnemeTherapy (pronounced “nemma” therapy). It combines art, song, and movement to stimulate the brain. MnemeTherapy can help older adults who have Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, brain trauma, stroke, MS, or other cognitive issues.

Using this combination of activities is thought to stimulate the brain to adapt and rebuild lost function by reorienting and remapping it. Some seniors who have done MnemeTherapy have shown significant improvement in verbal skills, mobility, and reduced combativeness.

See what a MnemeTherapy session is like
Evelyn is an 89 year old woman with Alzheimer’s disease. The home care agency who takes care of her offers specialized art therapy through their partnership with Paulette, a certified MnemeTherapy instructor. Evelyn enjoys weekly sessions with Paulette and gave us a peek into her experience.

Warm up
Paulette visits Evelyn weekly in her home for one hour. They start the session sitting face-to-face. To warm up, Paulette takes Evelyn’s hands and swings them left to right as she leads her in the song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” This activity is intended to stimulate word memory.

Then, she asks Evelyn to “high five” her with one hand and then the other, engaging her in a game of “patty cake.” Next, Paulette holds up two fingers and moves them from left to right asking her how many fingers she’s holding. She then flutters her fingers like a butterfly and asks Evelyn to capture it.

These might sound like random games, but according to MnemeTherapy principles, each session is tailored for the client’s specific cognitive or physical challenges. Continue Reading

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How Is Dementia Diagnosed? A Geriatrician Explains

ALZ Diagnose

Geriatrician explains how dementia is diagnosed
Dr. Leslie Kernisan, a San Francisco Bay Area geriatrician, is often asked by family members if their older adult has Alzheimer’s or dementia. Because so many people have asked “how is dementia diagnosed?” she wrote an article explaining how doctors typically evaluate someone for dementia.

In the full article, she describes the basic diagnostic tests, what types of information are needed, and how long it will take. Here are the key points from her article.

5 key features of dementia
Dr. Kernisan explains the issues that people with dementia will experience.

  • Difficulty with one or more types of mental function, like learning, memory, language, judgement
  • Problems that are a change compared to the person’s usual abilities
  • Problems that make it difficult for them to manage everyday life responsibilities, like work or family
  • Problems that aren’t caused by another mental disorder, like depression

5 steps doctors take to diagnose dementia
Doctors typically go through 5 areas of evaluation to figure out whether someone has dementia. The doctor needs to check each area and document what they find.

  1. Difficulty with mental functions
    Usually evaluated with a combination of an office-based cognitive test and finding out about real-world problems by talking with their patient and people close to them.
  1. Decline from previous level of ability
    This can be harder for a doctor to determine, so they need to talk with people who know their patient well to understand their previous abilities versus what they can do today. For example, if a former accountant can no longer do basic math, that’s a decline from their previous ability.
  1. Impairment of daily life function
    This can also be tough to see right away. The doctor will ask about what types of help the person is getting in their daily life and what problems family members have seen.

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Team CareLinx Healthy Snacks and Fitness Campaign

Raisin Heart logo 4 Healthy Snacks Campaign

CareLinx has grown in many ways over our first five years. We outgrew our offices each year, first adding rooms and then moving to a new building with room to expand. We have added staff. And some of us have married and now care for young families. Most of us have a history of caring for family members, young and old.

Our team is committed to families and caregivers. That includes our own employees. This summer, CareLinx started its own employee Healthy Snacks and Fitness Campaign. Here is our tagline: “We care for ourselves as we care for our caregivers. We eat healthy. We stay fit.”

The bottom line is that we want to eat healthy and stay fit so we can continue to be at our best when we care for our families and caregivers. Now we have a healthy way to remind one another to take care of one another.

Let’s make health a habit!

CareLinx "hugging heart" logo CEO Sherwin Sheik
CareLinx CEO Sherwin Sheik

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