How Can I Make the Spring Time Change Easier on a Spouse with Alzheimer’s?

How Can I Make the Spring Time Change Easier on a Spouse with Alzheimer’s?

Dear Donna:

My husband was diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s almost two years ago. So far, I’ve been able to manage his disease at home. Recently, however, he’s started trying to leave home. It mostly happens in the evening. While our home security system alerted me both times he exited our house, I know I have to be vigilant.

I’ve read the statistics about wandering and how dangerous it is for people with Alzheimer’s, so I’m trying to be as proactive as possible. I ordered a GPS watch that my husband wears all the time now. In the event the worst does happen, it will help me locate him quickly.

I have a question about something that was mentioned in my Alzheimer’s caregiver support group. Several caregivers have noticed that the time changes in fall and spring seem to exacerbate their loved one’s Alzheimer’s disease. Thinking back, last fall’s time change might have been challenging for my husband, too. I didn’t make the connection then.

As the spring time change gets closer, I’m wondering if there are steps I can take to make it easier for my husband. Any advice would be much appreciated.


Meghan in Scio Township, MI

Helping a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Navigate the Time Change

Dear Meghan:

Great question! It’s one we’ve been asked before and we always appreciate the opportunity to share tips to help families manage the seasonal time change.

While many people find the time change difficult to adjust to, it can be much more challenging for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Here are some suggestions you might find useful:

What Kinds of Senior Care Will the Veterans Benefits Pay For?

What Kinds of Senior Care Will the Veterans Benefits Pay For?

Dear Donna:

My mom is almost 80 years old and starting to require more help than our family can manage in her home. My husband, children, and I have been providing support to my mom every day for over two years now. She needs assistance with household tasks, transportation, meal preparation, and laundry. Some days, mom even needs a helping hand to take a shower and do her hair.

My father passed away several years ago, and he was a veteran. I’ve been told there is a special benefit that veterans and surviving spouses can qualify for, but I’m not familiar with it. While my mother and father were always good at managing their money, my mom lives on a fairly tight retirement budget.

We hope to find some financial assistance to help pay for in-home care for her while we search for an assisted living community. What types of care does this benefit cover and would my mom qualify?


Theresa in Williamsburg, MI

Learn More about the Aid and Attendance Benefit

Dear Theresa:

I’m glad you wrote to me about this benefit that helps qualifying veterans and surviving spouses connect with the senior care they need. It isn’t very well known, so it is frequently overlooked.

Let me start by saying it sounds as if your family is on the right track. People often use home care services as a short-term solution. It provides support that gives families time to look for an assisted living community that best meets their senior loved one’s needs.

In addition to assisted living communities and nursing care centers, home care services may be covered by the VA Aid and Attendance benefit. That’s because having professional caregivers visit the senior’s home to perform tasks such as bathing, grooming, meal preparation, laundry, and light housekeeping improves safety, health, and quality of life.

Requirements for Aid and Attendance Benefit

To qualify on the physical needs side of the benefit, the veteran or surviving spouse must meet at least one of the following physical requirements:

  • Need another person to assist with everyday tasks, such as grooming, meal preparation, bathing, and dressing.
  • Be bedridden or spend long periods of time in bed due to an illness or disability.
  • Be a patient in a nursing home due to a disability that led to the loss of physical or mental abilities.
  • Have limited eyesight, such as 5/200 with glasses or contacts or a concentric contraction of visual field to 5 or fewer degrees.

Answering how a veteran or surviving spouse qualifies to receive additional money through the Aid and Attendance benefit is a little tougher. There are income and net worth limits, dates of service requirements, as well as other factors. One of the Heritage team members can likely walk you through this part of the process.

I hope this information is useful to you, Theresa. I invite you to call one of our Heritage Senior Communities locations near your Michigan home. We’ll be happy to schedule an in-person meeting to answer your questions about this benefit and assisted living.

Kind regards,


How Does Lifestyle Impact Heart Disease?

How Does Lifestyle Impact Heart Disease?

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States. Research shows one person in this country loses their life to a cardiac-related disease every 33 seconds. That translates to one in five people for an estimated 695,000 deaths each year.

While genetics can play a role in your risk for developing heart disease, so can lifestyle choices. In honor of National Heart Month, which takes place every February, we are shining a spotlight on the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.

Know Your Genetic Risks for Heart Disease

When a doctor assesses a patient’s genetic risk factors for a heart-related disease, they’ll usually start by asking questions related to family medical history. These are some examples of what they’ll look for:

  • Relatives with heart attacks or heart surgeries: Has a first-degree relative (a parent or sibling) had a heart attack or required stents or bypass surgery at a younger age? This includes men who are under the age of 55 and women younger than 65. If so, you may have a higher risk for heart disease.
  • Family history of heart abnormalities: Certain types of heart-related abnormalities and conditions can be genetic, too. Those include amyloidosis, arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, and bicuspid aortic valve disease. Being diagnosed with some connective tissue disorders, such as Marfan Syndrome, can also impact risk. If you aren’t sure of your family medical history with regard to these conditions, talk with loved ones before your doctor’s appointment.
  • Loved ones with certain health conditions: There are some medical issues that can make you predisposed to cardiac disease. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are a few of the most common ones.

While the conditions outlined above can increase a person’s likelihood of experiencing heart disease, lifestyle factors can also play a role.

Lifestyle Choices Linked to Heart Disease

Here are some of the steps you can take to lower your risk for heart disease:

  • Control cholesterol: An estimated 86 million adults over the age of 20 in the U.S. have high cholesterol, a leading contributor to heart disease. A healthy cholesterol can often be maintained with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Unfortunately, for some it will take more than healthy lifestyle choices. Work with your primary care doctor on a plan to regularly monitor and manage cholesterol.
  • Avoid tobacco smoke: Lung cancer is the disease most closely associated with smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke. But experts at the CDC say tobacco use is also linked to heart disease. Living with or being around smokers on a regular basis can be dangerous too. If you are a smoker or live with one, talk with a doctor about a cessation program.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: This is another lifestyle choice that many people are unaware is linked to heart disease. Consuming more than moderate amounts of alcohol increases blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiac disease. It also adds empty calories to your diet. That can lead to weight problems and obesity, which also raises the odds for heart disease. If you aren’t sure what constitutes a safe amount of alcohol, check with your doctor or the CDC’s Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol.
  • Be active: Exercise plays a key role in heart health, as does staying active throughout the day. A sedentary lifestyle is linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and more. By limiting the amount of time you spend sitting, you may be able to protect your heart’s health. If you have a job that requires you to sit, try to get up and move around at least once every hour. Do some simple stretching movements, make a lap around your office, or even march in place. Just keep moving.

Enjoy a Healthy Retirement at Heritage Senior Communities

From well-balanced meals and daily fitness opportunities to life enrichment programs that promote activity, we strive to create a healthy environment at Heritage. The best way to learn more is by calling a nearby Heritage community to set up a time for a personal visit soon!