How to Cope When a Senior Doesn’t Know They Have Alzheimer’s

How to Cope When a Senior Doesn’t Know They Have Alzheimer’s

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is hard. But what if the person you are caring for doesn’t believe they are sick? The damage that occurs in the brain can cause people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia to refuse the reality that they are ill. This is called anosognosia, and it can create many challenges for both seniors and their caregivers.

Understanding Anosognosia

Anosognosia is the “lack of awareness of impairment,” and it may affect up to 81% of people with Alzheimer’s. When someone has anosognosia, the changes in their brain make it impossible for them to understand they are cognitively impaired.

It’s important to note that anosognosia is different than denial. With denial, a person is aware they have dementia but refuses to accept it. With anosognosia, a person is unable to understand there is something wrong with them.

Anosognosia can be frustrating for both seniors and their families. While caregivers want nothing more than to help, their senior loved one lacks the ability to understand why they should accept help. Those with anosognosia may even try to complete tasks that put their health at risk. Many caregivers find that communication between them and their loved one usually leads to an argument. They are left feeling defeated, anxious, and unsure how to manage their loved one’s disease.

5 Ways to Cope with Anosognosia

  1. Don’t try to convince them.

It’s normal to want to convince a loved one with anosognosia of their disease. But it’s important to accept that they might not understand no matter how much proof you show them. The damage that dementia causes to their brain limits their capacity to perceive and acknowledge that they have a disease.

  1. Don’t take anything personally.

When your loved one says or does something hurtful, remember it’s the disease causing them to act out of character. Like most advice, this is easier said than done. Try to remember that their condition will likely cause a lot of arguments. Save your battles for the ones that can affect their safety.

  1. Be mindful of how you say things.

Even though dementia may cause your loved one to say hurtful words to you, it’s crucial that you don’t follow the same pattern. Communicate with empathy and help in a way that lets them feel like they are in control. For example, “Let’s cook dinner together tonight” is often better than saying “I’ll cook because it’s not safe for you to be in the kitchen alone.”

  1. Be okay with stretching the truth.

As a caregiver, your job is to keep your loved one safe. This means you may have to stretch the truth to protect them from harm or becoming overly anxious. Don’t feel guilty if you have to refer to their medications as vitamins if it’s the only way they will take them or if you have to “lose” the keys to prevent them from driving.

When Anosognosia Becomes Too Much

Caring for a loved one with anosognosia requires lots of patience and hard work. Don’t feel guilty if the job becomes too much to handle. Often, help from professionals, like the caregivers in memory care communities, can improve the quality of life for both you and your loved.

Memory Care at Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities provides specialized dementia care in Michigan. We invite you to stop by for a tour to learn how we care for seniors with dementia.

Trusts versus Wills: What Are the Differences?

Trusts versus Wills: What Are the Differences?

If you or a senior loved one is developing an estate plan, you are likely familiar with the terms will and trust. While most people have heard about these types of estate planning, many struggle to understand their differences.

We created this quick overview to help you learn more.

Understanding the Similarities and Differences between a Will and a Trust

  1. Effective date

One of the differences between a will and a trust is when it goes into effect. A will becomes effective at the time of death. A trust, on the other hand, becomes active immediately after it’s signed.

A trust can be advantageous because it considers circumstances that can occur while the person is alive. This includes mental disabilities like Alzheimer’s or other health issues that can cause incapacitation.

  1. Protection from probate

A will and a trust both control the disbursement of your assets. A will must go trhough probate, a process where the court distributes the assets according to the terms of your will. A trust is not required to go through probate.

  1. Handling of property

To leave property through a trust, the grantor (the person creating the trust) must transfer it into the trust. A living trust can manage and distribute any property that it was funded with. For example, if you transfer your life insurance policy and jointly owned property into the trust, it can legally govern and distribute them according to your wishes.

  1. Minimize tax obligations

One advantage a trust has over a will is that it helps to minimize the total tax obligations of the estate. While it can be expensive to set a trust up initially, that cost can be more than offset by the tax savings.

More Differences between Wills and Trusts

  • Naming an executor/trustee: An executor is a person who oversees any remaining financial obligations after a person’s death. A will allows you to name an executotor. A trustee manages the Trust. In most cases you will be the trustee and upon death or incapacity a successor trustee will take over.
  • Ease of creating: A trust is longer and more comprehensive than a will, and it requires you to transfer your property. A will is typically less complex and only requires two witnesses in most states.
  • Naming guardians for children: Both a will and trust allow you to make provisions for your minor children. In both cases, a court would need to approve the guardian. A trust allows you to instruct the trustee on how and when to distribute the assets. For example, the interest can be used to care for the children and the principle is distributed when the children reach a certain age. A will simply holds the assets until the children are adults.

Creating an Estate Plan That Meets Your Needs

Creating a will is a necessary part of any estate planning process. Whether you need to include a trust depends on your personal situation. At Heritage Senior Communities, we always recommend seniors and families seek help from a professional when creating legal documents. A lawyer with estate planning experience can help you develop a plan to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities offers several senior living options throughout Michigan including assisted living, independent living, specialized dementia care, and respite care. Contact us for more information.

How to Choose a Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center for an Aging Parent

How to Choose a Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center for an Aging Parent

Dear Donna,

My dad recently had hip replacement surgery. His doctor recommended that he stay at a short-term rehab center before returning home.

How do we choose a skilled nursing and rehab center? We aren’t sure where and how to get our search started.

Jan from Holland, MI

Choosing a Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center

Dear Jan,

It’s not uncommon for seniors to require additional assistance after they are discharged from the hospital. Skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers can be very effective at helping seniors regain their strength and reduce their chances of returning to the hospital.

Choosing a skilled nursing and rehab center is an important decision. You want to pick a center that works diligently to rehab your loved one so they can return home as soon as possible. Knowing what to look for is the first step to ensuring that your loved one finds a center that meets their needs.

4 Things to Consider When Comparing Skilled Nursing and Rehab Centers

  1. View the state survey results.

One step caregivers can take to find a skilled nursing center is to view the state survey results. Caregivers can do this easily by visiting Nursing Home Compare. Nursing Home Compare is a government-run website that allows you to find and compare nursing homes certified by Medicare and Medicaid. It gives you a quick snapshot of the center’s overall rating. You can also see how they rated in specific areas including performance on health and safety inspections, staffing, and quality of resident care.

  1. Ask the rehab center for its success in outcomes.

You are looking for a short-term stay that focuses on rehab. The goal is for your loved one to be healthy enough to return home. Asking the center about its success in outcomes—specifically those with the same health condition or injury as your loved one—is a great way to gauge whether their center will be a good fit.

  1. Visit the therapy room and talk to therapists.

When comparing communities, it’s also a good idea to visit their therapy room. Talk to the physical therapists and find out what types of therapy they offer. Ask about the frequency and duration of their therapy sessions. Be sure to ask them to estimate how long it may take for your loved one to recover in their care.

  1. Consider the location.

Also consider location when comparing assisted living communities. Choose a community that is close to friends and family. Being nearby will make it easier for loved ones to visit and ensure your senior parent feels supported and connected.

Making Sure Your Loved One Is Taken Care Of

Finding a skilled nursing and rehab center requires a lot of research. Taking time to learn about your options and visit centers is a great step towards making sure your loved one receives the care they deserve.

I hope this helps you find a skilled nursing and rehab center for your father parent.



Heritage Senior Communities

Many seniors struggle to regain the same level of health they had before their hospital visit. Assisted living can be an excellent option for those who want to reduce their risk of returning to the hospital.

Heritage Senior Communities, including our communities in Appledorn, is dedicated to helping seniors and their families find a living arrangement that meets their needs. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.

4 Fears That Keep Seniors from Moving to Assisted Living

4 Fears That Keep Seniors from Moving to Assisted Living

Dear Donna,

My mom has been falling a lot recently. Every time she has an accident, I tell her we need to start touring local assisted living communities. She says she knows, but she’s afraid. I am more afraid for her safety.

What fears keep seniors from moving to assisted living? I’m trying to better understand what might be holding her back.

Brenda from Saline, MI

Fears That Keep Seniors from Moving to Assisted Living

Dear Brenda,

Moving to an assisted living community is a major transition, so it’s understandable that your mom is afraid. Even when seniors think their quality of life would improve at a community, a variety of factors can prevent them from taking the next step.

Many times, an older adult’s hesitations center around fear. With a little understanding, family caregivers can reduce their loved one’s concerns and start touring assisted living communities.

4 Reasons Why Seniors Are Hesitant to Move

  1. Loss of privacy and independence

One of the most common reasons seniors fear assisted living is that they associate it with loss of privacy and independence. They assume they will be monitored and kept from doing many activities they love.

In reality, assisted living tends to have the opposite effect. Assisted living communities understand how important independence is for seniors. They often take extra steps to ensure residents feel in control of their lives. At the community, residents are free from many of the responsibilities they had living on their own. When chores like cooking and cleaning are taken care of, seniors have more time for leisure activities.

  1. Feeling forced to participate in activities

Another reason your loved one may be resistant to assisted living is thinking they will be forced to participate in every community activity. This is simply untrue.

Many communities offer a variety of activities tailored to different interests. Seniors can choose to participate only in the activities that interest them or avoid them altogether.

  1. Being forgotten

Many seniors worry that their loved ones will forget about them if they move to a community. The thought of loneliness can be frightening.

Moving to an assisted living community doesn’t mean you will lose touch with your friends and family. Most communities encourage friends and family members to visit. Also, assisted living can prevent isolation by surrounding seniors with people their age.

  1. Costs associated with moving

Price is another reason seniors may shy away from assisted living. In some cases, the cost of assisted living is less than other long-term care solutions.

There are a variety of resources available that may help with some expenses. Long-term care insurance, employee benefits programs, VA benefits, and Medicaid are resources worth exploring.

Understanding Fears about Assisted Living

Deciding to move to an assisted living community can be unnerving. It’s important to listen to your loved one and try to understand their hesitations. This will allow you to better help them get past their fears.

I hope this alleviates some of the fears your mom has about moving to assisted living.



Heritage Helps Reduce Fears about Senior Living

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living Center, provides support to seniors and their families considering assisted living. Our team members can help reduce many of the fears associated with moving. Contact us today to learn more!