4 Things to Do When a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Is Hospitalized

4 Things to Do When a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Is Hospitalized

If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, there’s a good chance they will be hospitalized at some point. Most people assume they will leave the hospital feeling better than when they arrived. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case for adults with dementia.

Hospitals and Alzheimer’s

There are many reasons why hospital stays negatively affect people with dementia. Sadly, most hospitals are not designed for people with cognitive disabilities.

Here are a few facts about hospitals and dementia:

  • Patients with Alzheimer’s are twice as likely to suffer from preventable complications.
  • The average stay for adults with Alzheimer’s is longer than for those admitted for the same condition.
  • Dementia patients are usually given less pain medication than those without the disease. Uncontrolled pain increases their risk of delirium, which can be fatal.

When a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Is Hospitalized

One of the best ways to protect your loved ones from the dangers of hospital stays is preparation. By understanding the potential threats, caregivers can prevent and minimize many common complications. Here are 4 things caregivers can do to protect their loved ones when they are hospitalized:

  1. Bring a hospital bag.

It’s common for people with Alzheimer’s to need hospitalization. It’s a good idea to prepare a bag in case the need arises. Having a bag will help you avoid unnecessary stress during an emergency.

A few items to pack include:

  • Identification card
  • Insurance cards
  • Medication list
  • Advance care directives
  • An extra set of clothes and essential personal care items
  1. Inform the staff.

Hospital staff members aren’t always familiar with dementia. It’s important to inform the doctors and nurses who will be interacting with your loved one about their condition. This can help prevent a misdiagnosis and other preventable complications.

Let the hospital know:

  • How to interact with your loved one
  • Your loved one’s mental capacity
  • Behaviors they exhibit linked to Alzheimer’s
  1. Take measures to prevent wandering.

Wandering is common among adults with dementia. This behavior can be more dangerous in hospital settings because the environment is unfamiliar. If your loved one has a history of wandering, let the staff know they may try to get out of bed. Also, take the initiative to prevent accidents if they do wander.

You can do this by:

  • Making sure they wear nonslip socks.
  • Making sure someone is with them at all times.
  • Labeling the bathroom so they easily find it.
  1. Watch for signs of discomfort.

Adults in the later stages of Alzheimer’s may be unable to communicate their feelings. This can make it difficult to know if they are in pain. It’s important to pay close attention to any signs that may indicate they are uncomfortable. If you do notice anything, inform the doctor.

Signs to watch for include:

  • Sighing or grunting
  • Pointing to a particular area on their body
  • Saying anything that may indicate discomfort like, “not right”


Memory Care at Heritage Senior Communities

If you are concerned your loved one is at risk for hospitalization, it may be time to explore assisted living. Many communities, including Heritage, have specialized dementia care programs designed to keep seniors out of the hospital. Contact us today to schedule a private tour!

3 Ways Vitamin C Can Help Seniors Sleep Better

3 Ways Vitamin C Can Help Seniors Sleep Better

It is a common misconception that you need less sleep as you age. Seniors need just as much sleep as younger adults. Unfortunately, many adults suffer from sleep disorders that prevent a good night’s rest. This can increase their risk of various health problems, including Alzheimer’s. Vitamin C may help seniors attain the sleep they need to thrive.

Understanding the Relationship Between Vitamin C and Sleep

Many people are familiar with how vitamin C benefits your immunity. What many don’t know is that vitamin C may be just as important for sleep health. Studies have shown that people with higher levels of vitamin C had better sleep health than those with lower levels. Those who met their requirements were also more resilient to the effects that occur from occasional sleepless nights.

Here are 3 ways vitamin C can help seniors sleep better:

  1. Increases sleep duration

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects about half of adults over 60 years old. The reasons why older adults have trouble sleeping can vary from physiological to lifestyle factors. Research has shown that those with lower levels of vitamin C in their blood experience more sleep disturbances throughout the night. This includes waking up frequently during the night and waking up early and not being able to return to sleep.

  1. Relieves movement disorders

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a common movement disorder that affects over 20 percent of adults over 80 years old. RLS causes seniors to experience discomfort in their legs often described as “pins and needles.” This feeling gives them an uncontrollable desire to move their legs, which can make it extremely difficult to fall asleep.

Vitamin C has been shown to minimize the symptoms of RLS. Because iron deficiency is associated with a higher risk of RLS, vitamin C can also help the body absorb and store iron.

  1. Improves obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is another common disorder among older adults. Sleep apnea makes it more difficult to breath by blocking the airway while you are sleeping. This disorder can increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease and can even affect cognitive health. Vitamin C has been shown to alleviate sleep apnea by improving blood vessel functioning.

Consuming More Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient. This means your body doesn’t produce it on its own, so you need to incorporate it into your diet. Here are a few foods that are high in vitamin C:

  • Citruses like lemons and oranges
  • Berries, including strawberries and blueberries
  • Vegetables, such as broccoli, peppers, and leafy greens

Supporting a Healthy Lifestyle at Heritage

The benefits of vitamin C extend far beyond sleep health. Seniors also need vitamin C to keep their bones, skin, and blood vessels healthy. If you or a senior loved one is struggling to meet your vitamin C requirements, it may be time to explore senior living options.

Most communities, including Heritage Senior Communities, have healthy, nutrient-dense meals prepared daily. Contact us today to schedule a tour and join us for lunch and dinner!

5 Legal Documents Every Caregiver Should Have

5 Legal Documents Every Caregiver Should Have

Dear Donna,

As my parents age, I am starting to think more about their future. I want to help them enjoy the best quality of life as they grow older. To do so, I know I will have to work with their attorney on planning.

What legal documents should I have as a caregiver so I can make decisions on my parents’ behalf?

Jessica in Holland, MI

Legal Documents for Caregivers

Dear Jessica,

It’s great that you are preparing for your parents’ future. Many families wait until a crisis occurs before sorting out their loved one’s preferences. Not only can this make the process more stressful, but it can also affect a family’s ability to properly care for their loved ones. By preparing legal documents in advance, you can help prevent your family from having to make important decisions during stressful times. Here are 5 legal documents family caregivers should have.

5 Legal Documents Every Caregiver Should Have


  1. Living will: A living will, also referred to as an advance health care directive, is a document that allows people to record their wishes for end-of-life care. This document will be helpful if your parents become incapacitated and can’t make decisions for themselves. Although Michigan state laws do not consider living wills legally binding, having these documents is a great way to ensure their end-of-life preferences are met.
  2. Durable power of attorney for finances: A power of attorney is a person authorized to manage a person’s finances if they become incapacitated. A power of attorney has access to bank accounts, properties, and other assets. This document is helpful if you need to help your mom or dad pay bills or make important decisions about their finances.
  3. Health care proxy: A health care proxy, also referred to as a durable power of attorney for health care, is a document that authorizes someone to make health care decisions on another’s behalf. This document goes into effect only if they are unable to make decisions for themselves. A health care proxy includes decisions regarding health care providers and medical treatments. Proxies can even refuse treatments.
  4. Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) orders: DNR orders inform medical providers not to perform CPR if a patient’s heart stops beating. In Michigan, DNR orders are only valid when the person is home or at an assisted living community. If your mom or dad doesn’t want to be revived, their wishes should be documented in a DNR order.
  5. HIPAA authorization form: A HIPAA authorization form is another document that can be extremely useful to caregivers. While HIPAA rules usually allow medical professionals to give information to caregivers, obstacles still arise. A HIPAA authorization can prevent unnecessary complications and provide you with access to your loved one’s medical information.

Preparing Legal Documents

Having legal documents prepared in advance is one of the best ways to ensure you meet your parents’ wishes. At Heritage, we always recommend you seek advice from an elder law attorney when creating legal documents. They can help you understand state laws, review your documents, and walk you through the process of verifying that they will hold up in court.

I hope this encourages you and your parents to start preparing legal documents!




Heritage Senior Communities Offers Personalized Support

Heritage Senior Communities provides high quality care for seniors across Michigan. Appledorn Assisted Living community in Holland, for example, offers personalized support with daily meals, laundry, and housekeeping. Contact us today to schedule a tour.

3 Signs It’s Time to Move to Assisted Living

3 Signs It’s Time to Move to Assisted Living

Dear Donna,

My mom used to be very sociable. She loved people and was the life of the party.

After she turned eighty, however, she completely stopped going out. We can barely convince her to attend a family birthday party. I think she should move to assisted living where she can be around more people her own age.

How can I tell if it’s time for my mom to move to assisted living?

Sharon from Saline, MI

How to Tell When It’s Time for a Move to Assisted Living

Dear Sharon,

Many adult children struggle to know when their aging parents need assistance. Although isolation is one sign your mom or dad can benefit from assisted living, it’s not the only determinant. Here are a few other ways to tell if a senior loved one can benefit from moving to an assisted living community.

3 Signs It’s Time to Move to Assisted Living

  1. High risk for falling

Falling is a leading cause of injury among adults over 65 years old. Some seniors are so afraid of falling they avoid leaving the house altogether. While this might make them feel safer, they are usually increasing their risk of an accident.

By not leaving the house, they reduce their movement. This can prevent them from moving the muscles needed to sustain their physical health and balance. Not only does this increase their risk of falling, but it also reduces their ability to recover from a fall.

If your loved one is at risk for falling, they might benefit from moving to a community where they can have access to a medical professional.

  1. Medical conditions

Nearly 80% of seniors have at least one chronic medical condition; 68% have two or more conditions. Older adults with medical conditions typically have a harder time managing their health independently, so they often require assistance.

A few instances when your mom’s or dad’s medical condition can make them good candidates for assisted living include:

  • Recovery from illness or injury
  • Trouble managing medications
  • Increasing or worsening chronic health conditions

Assisted living can benefit seniors with medical conditions by having someone available to monitor their health and help them manage their medications.

  1. Trouble preparing nutritious foods

Difficulty eating a healthy diet is another sign that your loved one may benefit from assisted living. There are many age-related changes that can make it difficult for seniors to eat healthily. For example, reduced mobility can make it hard to cook and grocery shop. This can cause them to forgo fresh foods in exchange for foods that are full of preservatives.

A healthy diet is crucial for seniors to maintain their health and avoid malnutrition. Here are a few signs that your loved one may have trouble getting enough nutrition:

  • Expired foods in the fridge
  • More “convenient meals” like frozen dinners and canned goods than fresh foods in their kitchen
  • Noticeable weight loss or weight gain

Assisted living can help because they have team members who are dedicated to providing nutrient-dense meals for residents each day.

The Process Happens Gradually

Determining whether your loved ones are ready to move to an assisted living community takes time and careful consideration. I hope this helps!



Heritage Senior Communities

If you are having trouble deciding if it’s time for your aging parents to move to an assisted living community, please feel free to contact us. Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living Center, can help you determine if it’s a good fit.