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7 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

Can Researchers Figure Out How Your Brain Ages?

While Alzheimer’s is a slowly progressive disease, it seems like it comes out of nowhere for the loved ones. What went from simple forgetting, suddenly turns into not knowing how to get home, not recognizing faces, and other symptoms. But there are small signs that can happen before the major ones. Here are seven early signs of Alzheimer’s.

7 Early Signs of Alzheimer's

7 Signs of Alzheimer’s

 

1. Stealing or Other Law Breaking Behavior

While behavioral changes are to be expected, this specific change can be a sign of Frontotemporal dementia that strikes people between the ages of 45 to 65. People’s executive functions, like knowing right from wrong, can be affected by this disease.

2. Falling a Lot

While falling does become more of a risk as we age; if you notice a loved one consistently falling, it can be an early sign of Alzheimer’s.

3. Forgetting How Objects Work

Not remembering where you put your keys is fine, but forgetting what they are for is a problem.

4. Eating Inappropriate Things

Even though people with Alzheimer’s tend to eat more than their other aging counterparts, they still lose weight. Doctors are not sure why this is happening or why people with Alzheimer’s tend to eat inedible objects. There have been reports of paper being eaten as one of the most common.

5. Not Being Able to Recognize Sarcasm

As we have already written about before, not being able to sense sarcasm is a sign of possible Alzheimer’s.

6. Depression

Also written about previously, depression can be a factor in Alzheimer’s. Studies have shown that if you’ve been severely depressed that it may make you more susceptible to Alzheimer’s.

7. Unfocused Staring

An unfocused stare could mean an unfocused mind. This can be an early sign of the “tangles” in your brain that cause Alzheimer’s.

Read more here.

New Gadget May be Able to Diagnose Alzheimer’s

There is so much effort going into the detection and treatment of Alzheimer’s, now there’s a new device that may be able to help. Sophomores at the University of Maryland, won first prize in a National Institutes of Health (NIH) competition for their prototype of portable EEG device. This new gadget may be able to diagnose Alzheimer’s.

New Gadget may be able to Diagnose Alzheimer's

New Gadget may be able to Diagnose Alzheimer’s

 

What started as a focus on detecting concussions turned into Alzheimer’s detection because members of the team had relatives who had died of Alzheimer’s. The students were thinking of using an electroencephalogram (EEG), a test that records the electrical activity of the brain.

An EEG used in a doctor’s office or a research lab has as many as 256 electrodes and is the size of a desk. The team wanted to shrink that down to 8  or 16 electrodes.

This new design is easier to use and more affordable. The new EEG, called the Ultracortex, is a open source headset that you can connect to a laptop. The headset costs less than $2,000, while most EEG machines cost hundreds of thousands.

The machine is able to diagnose Alzheimer’s with an 83% accuracy. It’s not perfect but it’s a start. The students plan on doing more research and getting the device to the point of a 98 or 99% accuracy.

Read more here.

11 Ways to Prevent Wandering

There Isn't Enough Help for Seniors

Having a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s wander away is a terrifying experience. According to the American Alzheimer’s Association, more than 60 percent of people with Alzheimer’s or dementia will wander, and if they are not found within 24 hours, will suffer serious injury or death. Here are 11 ways to prevent wandering.

11 Ways to Prevent Wandering

11 Ways to Prevent Wandering

 

1. Try to make time

for regular exercise to help with restlessness.

2.Have locks that need a key to open,

and position them high or low. It’s been shown that many people with dementia will not think to look beyond eye level. Also keep in mind, these locks should be accessible to other family members for safety reasons.

3. Use a curtain to mask the door.

A stop or do not enter sign may work as well.

4. Place a black mat

or paint a black space in front of the door. This may appear like a big hole to someone who has dementia.

5. Try childproofing

the knobs by using plastic covers over the knobs.

6. Don’t be afraid to use technology for help.

You can install a home security system or monitoring system to keep watch over your loved one from anywhere. You can also use a wearable GPS device to track someone who wonders off.

7. Try hiding things like their coat, keys, or purse.

Some people will not go off without certain items.

8. Have your loved one wear an ID bracelet

and sew ID labels into their clothes.

9. Always keep a current photo

of your loved one, in case you need to report them missing.

10. Register your loved one

with your local police department or the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return program.

11. Tell the neighbors about your loved one’s tendency to wander,

they can keep an eye out and call you if they see something.

Read more here.

Portsmouth has Become the First Dementia Friendly Community in NH

Portsmouth Becomes the First Dementia Friendly Community in NH

There’s about 24,000 people in New Hampshire suffering from Alzheimer’s. That doesn’t even include the different types of dementia. Recognizing this huge number, the city of Portsmouth decided to do something. Portsmouth has become the first dementia friendly community in NH.

Portsmouth Becomes the First Dementia Friendly Community in NH

Portsmouth has Become the First Dementia Friendly Community in NH

 

How did the city manage to do that? They gave proper training for the people who interact the most with people with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Who are they? First responders, grocery store cashiers, bank tellers. Each one of these people can significantly help someone with dementia or alzheimer’s.

The idea came when Jenna Dion, senior living program specialist at Wentworth Senior Living, heard of the national Dementia Friendly program. She immediately got other professionals within the senior community to join her in creating a Dementia Friendly Community in Portsmouth.

Ronda Randazzo, manager of education programs for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Massachusetts and New Hampshire chapter, is in charge of training these individuals. The first being the Portsmouth police officers and firefighters, who are at the front lines when it comes to interactions with seniors.

Each of the officers and firefighters will receive two to four hours of training by the beginning of the new year.

Read more about the training and the national Dementia Friendly program here.

9 Tips to Make Visiting a Loved One with Dementia Easier

9 Activities Seniors with Limited Mobility Can Do

When a loved one develops dementia or Alzheimer’s it can be difficult to communicate. This is not only hard but heartbreaking. Someone you used to have such deep conversations with, now may not be able to remember your name. You may end up feeling frustrated after repeating something numerous times and without meaning to, snap at your loved one. Here are 9 tips to make visiting a loved one with dementia easier.

9 Tips to Make Visiting a Loved One with Dementia Easier

9 Tips to Make Visiting a Loved One with Dementia Easier

 

1. Realize that there will be adjusting on your part to match your loved one.

It’s not fair to think that your loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s is able to match your speed. You need to enter their world, not the other way around. The conversations may be more emotional than intellectual and that’s okay, adjust for that and you can have a wonderful visit.

2. Try redirecting whenever the conversation gets difficult.

A way to do that is to focus on what memories a person with dementia still has instead the ones they lost. Maybe there is a fond memory of childhood you can listen to, or maybe listen to music. Many studies have shown that the connection to music stays strong even while memories fade.

3. Be in the moment with them when you visit.

Instead of asking about their activities, talk about objects in the room that they can look at. Don’t try to engage a memory about the object, instead see it as something new and comment on it physically. You can even bring props, like flowers, baked goods, or photos to start a conversation.

4. Do not underestimate the power of eye contact and touch.

A lot of communication is through body language, come in with a smile and that will already make the visit easier.

5. Be careful of how you discuss the past.

While not off limits, the past can be hurtful to someone with dementia. Saying things like “You remember so and so,” can make them feel like they are disappointing you when they can’t remember. Instead, you can incorporate the past in ways that will make them feel helpful. Ask them for advice, for example, this will make them feel needed.

6. Help your loved one become comfortable with their memory loss.

When they are frustrated about forgetting something, make a joke about how you have the same problem. Try to be engaged with the story they are telling, even if it doesn’t make sense or they get details wrong.

7. Try to have the least amount of outbursts.

One way of doing that is not arguing with them when they are upset. Try to remember empathy as you interact with them, they may feel like you are not taking them seriously or invading their space. Try to convey to them that you understand, but you both need to work through this together. If you can, try to be as calm as possible because the interactions are more emotional; your loved one may mimic your anger, not knowing what else to do.

8. At the same time, don’t be afraid of outbursts either.

Outbursts may help your loved one communicate something is bothering them, if you shut down, you miss that chance to connect. Ways to get through an outburst is, once again, listening to them. You can also redirect the conversation, and even sometimes getting up can dispel the anger. The only bright side with dementia is that if they are angry, in a few minutes they won’t remember and be happy to see you.

9. Give your loved one and yourself a break.

Having dementia is incredibly tough on both you and your loved one. Try not to take to heart anything your loved one says, instead maybe take it as a way to see your loved one in a whole new light. If you make some missteps, don’t beat yourself up. No one is prepared for this situation, the best thing is to move on and not hold onto those negative feelings.

Read more here.

Taking Care of Seniors with Judy

Taking Care of Seniors with Judy

On the final segment of “Caring for Seniors” Rich and Judy discuss the difficulties that come with caring for an elderly loved one. It can be draining emotionally, physically, and financially. Between lost wages trying to provide care or investing in a community or agency that doesn’t work out, it can be hard to stay afloat. This segment focuses on taking care of seniors with Judy providing all of her collected knowledge of caring for seniors.

Taking Care of Seniors with Judy

Taking Care of Seniors with Judy

 

Recently Judy spoke to a group called the “Silver Liners” who are between the ages of 70 and 90 at a local church, Bethany Covenant. Two caregivers that work with Judy are from there and wanted to help spread information around. Which is exactly what Judy did with the Silver Liners.

A half an hour talk turned into over an hour because Judy wanted to be as helpful as possible. One question was, “What does it look like getting a service started?” and Judy believes this is the biggest stumbling block for people.

They may imagine a much bigger process than it actually is. With Seniors Helping Seniors NH, it’s a matter of getting a casual visit to talk about what the care goals are and what would you want for a schedule. Not only that, but we want to learn more about the person who is getting the care. Who are they? What do they like to do, what is their past, what’s their personality? We want to create companionship on top of our care.

To create that connection we find a caregiver that would be a perfect match for our prospective client. Once a bond has been established, that caregiver will stay with the client until they are no longer needed. This unlike most agencies who just assign caregivers randomly and someone new might show up every time. It can be a little overwhelming and hard to trust this people, in the perspective of the client.

Check out the whole segment here.

Clowning Around for Dementia Patients

Two visitors dressed in costumes visit dementia patients hoping to make them smile. Their names are Dapper Dan and Beatrice, stage names of Dikki Ellis and Ilene Weiss. They work for Vaudeville Visits, a program at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J., which is run by Healthy Humor.  They hope clowning around for dementia patients will make them feel better.

Clowning Around for Dementia Patients

Clowning Around for Dementia Patients

 

Though this duo are not your average clowns, they focus more on Vaudeville style of entertainment. They dress in a variety of costumes from a cow girl, to a used-car salesman, to “Melvis,” supposedly Elvis Presley’s brother. At one point Beatrice dressed as a bride and encourage eligible bachelors to “marry her” and for women to be her bridesmaids.

Beatrice says that they recognize the image of bride and that feeling  of joy that comes with weddings. It might also bring memories of their own wedding. They sing songs and will take requests. They try to trigger memories from the patients and try to get them to interact with them. It seems to be working because Dapper Dan and Beatrice leave patients feeling good and laughing.

A recent study in  Journal of the American Geriatrics Society  showed that clowning helped with behavioral problems with dementia patients.

“We found that after the residents interacted with the clowns for 12 weeks, there was a significant reduction in their neuropsychiatric symptoms,” said Pia Kontos, a scientist at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and the lead author of the study. “Our study found elder clowns were just as effective as medication in bringing down aggression levels in seniors with dementia.”

Read the whole article here.

98 Year Old Mother Moved into the Same Community to Take Care of her Son

98 Year Old Mother Moved into the Same Community as her Son

As a wise women named, Ada Keating, says “You never stop being a mum.” This is spectacularly true for Ada, who has an 80 year old son named Tom. Tom is in an assisted living community and Keating decided she was going with him. The 98 year old mother moved into the same community as her son.

98 Year Old Mother Moved into the Same Community as her Son

98 Year Old Mother Moved into the Same Community as Her Son

 

Tom moved into Moss View because he needed more support. This can be a hard decision for some people. If you are having trouble bringing it up to your loved one, check out 7 Ways to Start the Senior Living Talk.

Ada, a widow and mother of three other kids, followed him. They enjoy playing games together and watching TV. Ada wishes Tom a good morning and good night every day.

Tom is happy to be able to spend more time with his mom and loves to give her big hugs. Age does not stop Ada from occasionally scolding Tom and telling him to behave himself.

The duo have popular on the internet as their sweet story spreads. This duo goes to prove that a mother’s love is never ending.

Read the whole article here.

Alzheimer’s In The Family

Alzheimer’s In The Family

Alzheimer's care, Parkinson's Disease

Wandering, looking for a connection.

Come join Judy Loubier as she gives a free talk on the latest research on Alzheimer’s and presents an opportunity to share the struggles and the joy Judy-Profile-pictureof caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease.  When your parent or spouse has dementia and is increasingly confused, it can be hard to remember the person they were before the disease took over.  Your parent may be ‘different’ than the person you have always known, but they still long for connection and companionship.  Nurturing is a crucial part of what makes life worth living for all of us.  Connecting with others is at the core of our humanity and it remains the same when a person has dementia.

Judy possesses a wealth of ideas on connecting. Ideas for how you can grow that connection with your loved one, despite the advancement of the disease.

Grandma Needs Senior Care

Finding and keeping that connection

You will enjoy the evening.  This talk is FREE.  We know how hard it is to arrange your day and find alternative care at home.  But we also know you will find, like so many others, that this evening will be well worth your effort.

If you leave with some encouragement and just one more small tip, you will walk away refreshed!!

When: Thursday November 12,  2015
Where: Seniors Helping Seniors, 360 Rt 101, Suite 3B, Bedford, NH
Time:  6:30pm to 8:30pm

Seating limited to 16, reserve your seat now by filling in below. [vfb id=1]

About Judy Loubier

Judy has spent a lifetime in caring for others.  She is a Licensed Physical Therapist, a Certified Dementia Practitioner, a Certified Senior Advisor and she is the Owner and Executive Director of Seniors Helping Seniors NH, one of the fastest growing home care companies in NH.

Judy’s radio program “Caring For Seniors” is enjoyed on Wednesday mornings on the Girard at Large Radio Broadcast.  Judy covers the hot topics of Senior Care:

Care Giver Stress Home Safety
Fall Prevention Dementia Care
Alzheimer’s Care Advanced Directives
Taking the Keys Away From Dad How to Research Senior Care

.

Alzheimer’s patients literally go back in time

Judy Loubier anchors “Caring For Seniors”

Loving Your Parent With Dementia

Loving Your Parent With Dementia

When your parent has dementia and is increasingly confused, it can be hard to remember the person they were before the disease took over.  Your parent may be ‘different’ than the person you have always known, but they still long for connection and companionship.  Nurturing is a crucial part of what makes life worth living for all of us.  Connecting with others is at the core of our humanity and it remains the same when a person has dementia.

It’s important to keep in mind that Dementia:

    • Is NOT something your parent can control
    • Is NOT a mental illness
    • Is NOT always the same for every person
    • It’s vital to remember that someone suffering from Dementia is an adult and needs to be treated as one

Dementia takes away the Roles and Responsibilities that always made us WHO we are.  If we honor our loved one’s wishes and help them to live a lifestyle as close to the one they had before they got sick, it will bring them a lot of comfort and reassurance.

The way we treat them and the activities we choose can both have a significant impact on making life easier for all.

 

Avoid taking on a parental tone

    1. Choose your words carefully. Always refer to undergarments as underwear-don’t call them diapers.
    2. Use an apron if they need to protect their clothing while eating and don’t refer to it as a ‘bib.’
    3. Avoid using the word ‘potty’ when you can just as easily ask if they need to use the bathroom.

 

That Little White Lie Can be Therapeutic

We often feel guilty when we lie to a loved one, but often we can relieve that guilt by using “Therapeutic fibbing.”  The Alzheimer’s Association refers to a therapeutic fib as a “fiblet.”

People with dementia can struggle with logic, rational thought, and emotional control. Therapeutic lies or fiblets may be appropriate when telling the truth might cause confusion, stress or anxiety, especially if our parent is experiencing life in a different “time zone.”

Let’s say your parent wants to drive to the market, but you believe he’s no longer a safe driver. Rather than saying he’s no longer safe to drive, say the car is in the shop for repair, you’ve misplaced your keys or offer to drive to the store, since you need to go out anyway.

We can remember to use the fiblet if we remember why we are using it.  Keeping the conversations pleasant is the objective.  Why? Your parent may not remember the details of the last conversation they had with you (regardless of how recent it was, even minutes), but they do remember the emotion of that conversation.  They remember if it was pleasant.  They remember if it wasn’t pleasant.  The memory of the emotion is in a different portion of the brain (amygdala) than the memory of the facts; and often the amygdala is unaffected by dementia (particularly Alzheimer’s form of dementia).

We hope these tips help you care for and understand your parent with dementia.