5 Benefits of Joining an Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group Online

5 Benefits of Joining an Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group Online

Dear Donna:

I’ve been the primary caregiver for my dad for over 3 years. He has Alzheimer’s disease and moved in with my husband and I. His forgetfulness made it unsafe for him to live alone. He was neglecting to take his heart disease medication and was beginning to wander from home and become lost.

While I am retired and fortunate not to have to work outside the home, some days I struggle to keep up with my dad. He doesn’t sleep much, so I have trouble keeping an eye on him.

My friend suggested I look for an Alzheimer’s caregiver group to join. In all honesty, I think it’s just one more thing to fit into my schedule.

In your experience, what are the benefits of joining a caregiver support group? Is it worth the time it takes to attend?


Barb in Saginaw, MI

Why Join a Caregiver Support Group?

Dear Barb:

What a great question! I’m sure other family members wonder the same thing. While it might initially seem like more work, there are important benefits of joining a caregiver support group:

  1. Validate your feelings: Family caregivers experience a range of emotions. It’s sad watching a loved one’s decline. You may fear you aren’t doing a good job. Then there is the unspoken emotion: guilt. Caregiving for a family member often means sacrificing your personal time. It can make even the best-intentioned caregiver a little resentful. When you talk with fellow caregivers, you’ll quickly discover these feelings are normal.
  2. Share ideas: Being part of a support group gives you access to others who’ve likely experienced similar struggles. They can offer tips for how to prevent wandering or what to do when a loved one won’t eat. You can learn what’s worked for other caregivers so you have new ideas to try.
  3. Vent frustrations: Let’s face it, caregiving can be emotional. Families often disagree about how to handle vital issues. It’s especially tough when loved ones have strong opinions on how things should be done but aren’t willing to help. A caregiver support group provides a place to vent your anger and frustration.
  4. Feel connected: Family caregivers often feel isolated and lonely. This is especially true if the elder has Alzheimer’s and isn’t safe staying alone. Commiserating and laughing over common struggles with people who relate can help you feel less alone.

Online Support Groups for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Because the challenges Alzheimer’s caregivers face are so unique, it might be easier to connect with an online support group. ALZConnected is one that is hosted by the Alzheimer’s Association.

I hope this helps, Barb! I wish you the best of luck caregiving for your dad.

Kind regards,


Memory Care at Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities has been caring for adults with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia since 1946. Our family-owned company is dedicated to helping people with dementia enjoy their best quality of life, despite the disease. Call the Heritage community closest to you to learn more!

Shining the Spotlight on Home Fires and Seniors

Shining the Spotlight on Home Fires and Seniors

Home fires are a concern for people across the U.S., especially older adults. According to the National Fire Protection Association, one home fire is reported every 85 seconds. While home fires can happen anytime, they generally occur more during cooler weather. Because of this, we observe National Fire Prevention Week every October.

This awareness campaign is designed to prevent home fires and save lives. It also serves as a reminder to review your emergency preparedness plan with every member of the family. If you are the adult child of or caregiver for a senior, take time to help them do the same.

Understanding how to prevent home fires is particularly important for seniors, especially those who live alone. From vision loss to mobility challenges, older adults may have trouble evacuating quickly in the event of a fire. The good news is many fires can be prevented by following a few solid safety tips.

Home Fire Safety Tips for Seniors

It’s a good idea to do a room by room fire safety assessment a few times a year. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Kitchen Safety
  • Don’t leave the kitchen while food is cooking on the stovetop, even for a short time. If you must leave the room, set a timer that can be heard throughout the home.
  • If you are worried that a senior loved may neglect to turn off burners or forget they have something cooking, consider having an automatic shut-off device installed. These turn the stove off if movement hasn’t been detected in a pre-determined amount of time. CookStop is one with good reviews.
  • Avoid wearing loose-fitting tops while cooking. Billowy sleeves may drop against a burner and ignite. Instead, opt for short or close-fitting sleeves.
  • Don’t hang towels or curtains too close to the burners on a stove. Like loose-fitting sleeves, they can pose a fire hazard.
  1. In the Bedroom
  • Find a place to store essential items by the bedside and help family elders do the same. Include anything they’ll need to reach quickly if they need to escape. A cell phone, eyeglasses, and assistive devices such as a cane or walker are a few.
  • Keep the bedroom door closed while sleeping. This improves chances of escaping if there’s a fire in another area of the home.
  • Never smoke in bed or if you are feeling drowsy.
  • Turn off and unplug space heaters before going to bed.
  1. Around the House
  • Every level of the home should have a smoke alarm. This guide from the National Fire Protection Association will help you learn more about installing and routinely testing smoke alarms.
  • Make sure all furniture, curtains, and other flammable items are kept at least three feet away from any heat source, especially space heaters.

Have an Escape Plan

Map out at least two evacuation routes to follow in the event of a fire. Practice them regularly. The goal is familiarizing everyone in the home with both routes so they know how to quickly use one when under stress.

If you or an older family member has a mobility impairment or vision or hearing loss that might make escaping more difficult, contact your local fire department. They may have programs to track households where residents have special needs.

Fire Safety at Heritage Senior Communities

At Heritage Senior Communities, resident safety is one of our leading priorities. That includes smoke detectors and a sprinkler system. You can learn more by calling the Heritage community nearest you today!

Food Choices That Help Manage Cholesterol

Food Choices That Help Manage Cholesterol

If you or a senior you are the caregiver for has high cholesterol, you aren’t alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than 102 million adults in this country have total cholesterol levels at or above 200 mg/dL. This elevated level is considered unhealthy. Of them, 35 million have cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL or higher, increasing their risk for heart disease and stroke.

To help manage it, the doctor may prescribe a cholesterol-lowering drug called a statin. For many people, the side effects of this class of drugs are tough to manage. They include skin rash, muscle pain, nausea, diarrhea, sleep problems, and an inflamed liver.

While statin concerns can be troublesome, it’s important to know how dangerous high cholesterol can be. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among older adults, and stroke is a leading cause of disability. High cholesterol increases the chances for both.

Is it possible to lower your cholesterol without taking medication?

For some adults, the answer is yes. Lifestyle plays a key role.

Using Diet and Exercise to Lower Cholesterol

A heart-healthy diet combined with exercise might lower your cholesterol without medication like a statin. But do you know what foods make up a heart-smart diet? Or what forms of exercise are senior-friendly?

Researchers are finding new evidence every year that the lifestyle of people living in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea might be a solution. Residents of these areas tend to enjoy longer lives with fewer incidences of heart disease, dementia, and some types of autoimmune diseases.

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

If you love the tastes of Spain, Italy, and Greece, you’re in luck. Olives, nuts, garlic, and healthy fats like olive oil and avocados form the backbone of the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle. Residents consume fewer servings of meat and greater amounts of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, fish, and lean protein.

People that live along the Mediterranean Sea also adhere to a lifestyle that promotes natural forms of exercise. Instead of working out in a fitness club, they swim, garden, walk their dog, and more. Instead of driving, many bike or walk to work. The sedentary lifestyle common in Western cultures is rare here.

What else can you do to maintain healthy cholesterol?

It is also important to note there are few smokers in Mediterranean zones. Despite the proven risks, the CDC estimates that 13% of the US population are smokers. Not only does smoking increase your risk for many forms of cancer, it also impacts cholesterol.

Smoking increases bad cholesterol (HDL) and decreases good cholesterol (LDL). If you are a smoker, it’s just one more reason to quit. Talk with your physician for advice on which smoking cessation programs have the best outcomes.

Live Well at Heritage Senior Communities

At Heritage Senior Communities, we understand the importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise. Whether you are searching for independent living, assisted living, or memory care, well-balanced meals and senior-friendly fitness activities are part of daily life. Call the community nearest you to learn more!

Flu Prevention during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Flu Prevention during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dear Donna:

My grandmother is an active 92-year-old. Due to coronavirus concerns, she meets with friends and family outdoors, which I’ve heard is safer. However, I worry that she is still out and about a little too much.

As flu season approaches, I think the time has come for me to talk with her about prevention. While I love that she is so independent, I worry her risk for getting seriously ill will be even higher.

Do you have any tips I can share with my grandmother to help her avoid the seasonal flu?


Kaisey in Grand Haven, MI

Seasonal Flu Prevention in a Time of COVID-19

Dear Kaisey:

Sounds like your grandmother has been blessed with good health, and her active lifestyle probably helps. That said, you are right to be concerned about her safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts predict this flu season could be rough.

Here are a couple helpful tips to share with your grandmother about flu prevention:

  • Get the annual flu vaccine: Unless your grandmother’s physician advised her against the flu shot due to an allergy or other health concern, it’s one of the best prevention steps adults of all ages can take. The general recommendation is to get vaccinated in early- to mid-October to give the body time to build immunity. Advise your grandmother against waiting to see how bad the flu season gets, as some seniors are prone to do.
  • Practice healthy self-care: It’s important for you, your grandmother, and anyone else she regularly comes in contact with to take good care of yourselves. That can help each of you build immunity and avoid catching a bug and passing it to one another. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean protein is a great start. Exercising for 30 minutes at least 5 days a week is vital, as is getting a good night’s sleep. Hydration also matters. Drinking 8 glasses of water a day and consuming foods high in water content (e.g., cucumber, melon, and leafy greens) can both prevent dehydration.

Many of us have heard these final suggestions repeatedly since the COVID-19 pandemic began last spring, but it’s good to revisit them:

  • Maintain physical distance: Physically distance from people in public. When flu season is peaking, avoid crowds as much as possible. If you must be in public, maintain a distance of 6 feet from others.
  • Wear a mask: While initially debated, mask wearing became essential as researchers learned more about the novel coronavirus. Doing so is a good prevention measure for both the seasonal flu and the coronavirus.
  • Practice good hygiene: Washing your hands for 20–30 seconds in warm, soapy water several times throughout the day is another must. For times when you don’t have access to soap and water, keep a small hand sanitizer in your pocket or purse. Make sure it contains at least 60% alcohol.

I hope these tips help, Kaisey! Wishing you and your grandmother good health and many more happy times together.

Kind regards,


Learn More About Flu Shots

At Heritage Senior Communities, we take the seasonal flu seriously. That includes creating informational resources for residents and their families to read. “Seniors, It’s Time to Get Your Flu Shot!” and “Flu Shot Questions from Alzheimer’s Caregivers in Michigan” are both useful articles to help you learn more.