The Dangers of Denying a Relative Has Memory Problems

The Dangers of Denying a Relative Has Memory Problems

It’s not uncommon for family members to miss the signs of a senior loved one’s memory problems. They often assume their increased forgetfulness and trouble recalling new information is a normal part of aging. While minor cognitive challenges are usually nothing to worry about, significant changes might be cause for concern. Ignoring a loved one’s memory loss can lead to more significant problems down the road and affect their safety. Here are a few signs that your loved one’s memory loss may be more than age-related decline and the costs of denying their symptoms.

 

Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

  • Regularly forgetting recently learned information
  • Increased difficulty planning or solving problems
  • Trouble completing familiar tasks like driving or organizing a grocery list
  • Losing track of time or forgetting where they are and how they got there

If you suspect a loved one has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, take them to a specialist as soon as possible.

 

The Dangers of Denying a Loved One’s Memory Loss

There are risks to putting off having a senior loved one evaluated for Alzheimer’s disease including:

  1. It’s difficult to avoid safety risks

Many safety risks come with Alzheimer’s. Wandering, for example, is a common behavior among those with dementia. Studies have shown the longer a person with memory loss is gone, the higher their risk of injury. Without a diagnosis, it might take longer for you to notice they are missing. Denying a loved one’s memory loss can also increase their risk of:

  • Home fires
  • Crime
  • Driving accidents

Accepting your relative’s memory loss can help you take steps to keep your loved one safe.

  1. They won’t benefit from early intervention

Ignoring a loved one’s symptoms means they won’t be able to get the help they need. Medications can alleviate some symptoms of Alzheimer’s and improve the affected person’s quality of life. Specific treatment plans can delay the disease’s progression and allow people to maintain their independence longer.

  1. You avoid making assumptions

It’s important to remember not to assume a loved one has dementia. There can be another underlying cause, such as medication interactions or infection. Dehydration can also affect brain function. Regardless of the reason for their memory challenges, identifying the underlying cause will help keep your loved one safe and allow them to prepare for the future.

 

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease

If you think your loved one might have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, schedule an appointment with a neurologist or gerontologist to get a proper diagnosis. Help prepare your loved one to answer questions about their memory. They’ll probably be asked how their memory has changed, when they first noticed these changes, and how often memory issues occur. They may also be asked if they have trouble remembering important dates or struggle to take medication.

 

Specialized Dementia Care at Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities offers Specialized Dementia Care for adults with memory impairment. Our staff takes a person-centered care approach, meaning care is tailored to each person’s needs. Our goal is to enhance our residents’ quality of life by enabling them to live as independently as possible. Contact us today to learn more about our Specialized Dementia Care Communities.

4 Food Groups That Boost Memory

4 Food Groups That Boost Memory

Over time, you may notice diet plays an increasingly important role in your overall health and wellness. The foods you consume can affect everything from your waistline to your energy levels. More importantly, they can affect your memory and brain health. Here’s how nutrition needs change with age, along with a few ways seniors can use food to boost their memory.

How Nutritional Needs Change with Age

Dietary needs can change with age in many ways, and seniors often:

  • Require more nutrient-dense foods than high-calorie foods
  • Have a slower metabolism, meaning they require less food
  • Need naturally high-fiber foods to support bowel health
  • Limit sodium intake to maintain a normal blood pressure
  • Drink more water to stay hydrated

Now that you know some of the ways dietary needs change with age, here are a few tips for eating a brain-boosting diet.

4 Food Groups That Boost Memory

  1. Fatty fish

Fatty fish, like salmon and albacore tuna, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are a building block of the brain. Omega-3s are linked to several brain benefits, including improved memory, mood, and protection against cognitive decline. Try to eat fish 2 times per week or consult with your doctor about taking an omega-3 supplement.

  1. Berries

Berries may benefit the brain in several ways. First, they contain flavonoids. In addition to giving these fruits color, they have been shown to improve memory. Berries also contain antioxidants, which may improve memory and delay brain aging. Excellent options include blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

  1. Green, leafy vegetables

Leafy vegetables, like kale, spinach, broccoli, and collards, may also help slow cognitive decline. They are often full of brain-boosting vitamins, including vitamin K, folate, lutein, and beta-carotene.

  1. Nuts

Nuts, particularly walnuts, contain healthy fats and proteins. Walnuts contain alpha-lipoic acid. This is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that helps lower blood pressure and protect arteries, which benefits the brain. Many nuts also include vitamin E, antioxidants, and plant compounds, all of which support brain health.

Considering the Blue Zone Diet

When exploring diets that benefit the brain, you may want to look into the Blue Zones Food Guidelines. These 11 guidelines were derived from the diets of the world’s longest-lived people. The Blue Zones Food Guidelines are mostly plant-based and emphasize eating plenty of leafy greens and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Only about 5 percent of the diet includes animal products. The diet also insists on minimizing sugar, snacking on nuts, and sticking to sour or whole wheat bread.

Speak with a Medical Professional

It’s common for people to notice changes in their memory as they age. Some have a harder time recalling information such as names, dates, and times. Others describe themselves as more forgetful. Minor changes in your memory are normal, but significant changes are not. If you have a noticeable decrease in your thinking skills, there may be an underlying cause, such as medications or a medical condition. It’s best to speak with a health care provider about your symptoms.

Heritage Senior Communities Supports a Healthy Diet

At Heritage Senior Communities, we know how important it is for older adults to eat a nutritious diet. That’s why we prepare meals with senior bodies in mind. To learn about how we keep seniors healthy or to learn about our memory care program, contact us today to schedule a private tour.

4 Tips for Helping a Senior Find a Primary Care Doctor

4 Tips for Helping a Senior Find a Primary Care Doctor

Dear Donna,

My mom’s doctor announced he is retiring soon. He has been her primary care doctor for over 30 years, so she is nervous about finding a new one. I want to help, but I am unsure where to start. How do you help an older loved one find a primary care doctor?

Sincerely,

Jen from Norton Shores, MI

Helping Senior Loved Ones Find a Primary Care Doctor

Dear Jen,

Choosing a new doctor can be difficult for anyone. In addition to verifying their credentials and experience, you need to find out if they are taking new patients. You also want your loved one to feel comfortable talking with their doctor about their health. Consider factors like bedside manner and communication skills. Here are a few tips for helping your loved one find a new primary care doctor.

4 Tips for Finding a New Doctor

  1. Ask friends and neighbors

Many people find success in a doctor recommended by someone they know. Have your senior loved one ask their friends for a referral. Also, encourage them to explain what they like about their doctor because their needs can be different. For example, someone might recommend a quick and efficient doctor, while your loved one might prefer more time and attention. If you don’t have luck with friends and family, you might want to check with your local senior center. They are often great resources for local referrals.

  1. Read online reviews

In addition to recommendations from friends and family, you can look online for guidance. There are many sites where patients can review their experience with a doctor. Even a quick Google search can give you the average rating of a specific doctor. Some websites, such as Zocdoc, will provide you with additional information, like wait time and bedside manner.

  1. Check their health plan list

Before making an appointment with a new doctor, make sure they accept your loved one’s insurance. You can find out by calling the doctor’s office or the insurance company. Their health plan list is also an excellent place to start if you don’t have referrals. You can look at the list of doctors provided by the insurance plan and then research their reputation online. If your loved one has Medicare, you can reach out to them or visit their website to access a list of local doctors who are accepting new patients.

  1. Consider convenience

When looking for a new doctor, consider accessibility. The doctor’s office should be easy for your loved one to get to, and the hours should work with their schedule. Also, find out how easy it is to schedule an appointment. Is the doctor booked far in advance? What is the average wait time? Consider all these factors before you decide.

Explore Your Options

Helping a senior loved one find a new primary care doctor can be difficult, especially if they have had the same one for a long time. But their doctor plays an important role in keeping them healthy. Meet with a few doctors until you find one you are confident can meet your loved one’s needs.

I hope this helps you find a doctor for your mom!

Sincerely,

Donna

Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities is designed with senior wellness in mind. From independent living to assisted living and memory care, Heritage Senior Communities has a senior living solution to meet your or your loved one’s needs. Contact the community nearest you to schedule a private tour.

6 Tips to Assess a Senior’s Bathroom for Safety

6 Tips to Assess a Senior’s Bathroom for Safety

Dear Donna,

My dad’s 90th birthday is coming up. He lives alone, and I am a little concerned about his safety. His mobility has decreased over the years, and I am worried about him falling. I heard a lot of falls that happen in the home occur in the bathroom.

For his birthday, I am thinking about helping my dad make a few adjustments to his bathroom to make it safer. How do I assess a senior’s bathroom for safety?

Sincerely,

Joyce from Holland, MI

Assessing a Senior’s Bathroom for Safety

Dear Joyce,

It’s understandable why you might worry about a senior loved one who lives alone. Falls are a leading cause of injury for seniors. One in four American seniors falls every year and up to 80 percent of falls in the home happen in the bathroom. Fortunately, many falls are preventable. Here are a few tips to help you assess a senior’s bathroom to reduce their risk of falling.

6 Tips for Preventing Falls in the Bathroom

  1. Keep floor surfaces slip-free.

Floor tiles, bathtubs, and the shower platform can become slippery when wet. Keeping them slip-resistant is an essential step in preventing accidents. Here are a few tips to keep bathroom surfaces safe:

  • Place non-skid mats or non-slip strips on the bathtub and shower floors.
  • Use slip-free rugs to step on when exiting the bath or shower.
  • Replace the floor with a slip-resistant material like rubber or non-slip vinyl.
  1. Be mindful of where you store items.

The constant need to reach and bend down to access items can increase the risk of an accident. Keep your loved one’s most-used items in easy-to-reach places. These include toilet paper, towels, and soap.

  1. Replace towel bars with grab bars.

Grab bars can be particularly helpful for seniors with balance or mobility challenges. These are most helpful near the shower and toilet.

  1. Invest in a barrier-free shower.

A raised entrance to the tub or shower is another tripping hazard. Walk-in bathtubs and showers are easier to get in and out of. Consider installing one to reduce your loved one’s chances of falling.

  1. Install a raised toilet seat.

Seniors with reduced strength or mobility may struggle to get on and off a low toilet. Installing a higher toilet seat or adding a seat extender to their existing toilet is a simple way to make their experience more comfortable.

  1. Ensure there is adequate lighting.

Proper lighting is vital throughout the entire home, but especially in areas your loved one commonly visits after dark. To keep your loved one safe, make sure they can easily access light switches as they enter the bathroom. Night-lights can also be useful in areas like this. You can even plug in night-lights that turn on automatically to ensure optimal safety.

Most Falls Are Preventable

Up to half of the falls that occur among seniors are due to environmental conditions, like poor lighting, slippery floors, and uneven surfaces. This suggests that although common, falling is often preventable. Hopefully, by using these tips, you can make your loved one’s bathroom safer and prevent them from falling.

Sincerely,

Donna

Heritage Senior Communities Puts Senior Safety First

If your loved one is at risk of falling or you are concerned about their safety, you may want to explore senior living options. Many communities, including Heritage Senior Communities, are designed with safety in mind. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.

4 Common Triggers for Anger and Agitation in People with Alzheimer’s

4 Common Triggers for Anger and Agitation in People with Alzheimer’s

People with Alzheimer’s disease commonly experience anger and agitation. It can be challenging for caregivers to help their senior loved ones when they are experiencing these negative emotions. In most cases, there is a reason behind their feelings. By learning what causes a loved one to become upset, caregivers can take steps to put them at ease.

4 Common Triggers for Anger and Agitation

  1. Unmet needs

Many seniors with Alzheimer’s disease struggle to understand their needs. They may become frustrated when they can’t identify pain or another form of discomfort. As a result, their frustration may turn into anger. If your loved one becomes upset, do your best to figure out why. Here are a few things you can try:

  • Offer them a snack and a cup of water to see if they are hungry or thirsty.
  • Ask your loved one if they need to use the restroom.
  • See if they are touching an area of their body, which could indicate the area hurts.
  1. Environmental factors

Many environmental factors can cause a person with Alzheimer’s to become angry or agitated. One common trigger is overstimulation. Because people with dementia may have trouble processing information, situations that are crowded, loud, and busy can be overwhelming. Seniors with dementia might become upset because they are unable to cope. To keep your loved one at ease, try to keep their space quiet and organized.

  1. Tiredness

It’s not uncommon for seniors with Alzheimer’s to have trouble sleeping. Not only have studies suggested the disease reduces deep sleep, but it has also been shown to affect circadian rhythm. Common sleep-related disorders, like sleep apnea, can also negatively impact sleep quality. Regardless of the reason, lack of sleep can cause anyone to become irritable. Do your best to ensure your loved one maintains healthy sleeping habits. Best practices include establishing times to wake up and go to bed and a nighttime routine.

  1. Sundowning

Many caregivers notice their loved one’s symptoms worsen in the evening. This is a process referred to as sundowners syndrome, or sundowning. Many caregivers manage their loved one’s sundowning symptoms by helping maintain good sleep habits. In addition to staying on schedule and establishing a routine, take steps to wind down before bed. Listen to relaxing music or work on a quiet activity, like coloring.

Managing Anger and Agitation

Although it’s not always possible to eliminate anger and agitation, there are ways to ease these feelings. Understanding triggers can help caregivers know how to respond when their loved ones are upset. Doing so can have a huge impact on your caregiving relationship.

Specialized Dementia Care at Heritage Senior Communities

If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease and are struggling to manage their feelings of agitation and anger, you might want to consider memory care. Heritage Senior Communities provides specialized dementia care across Michigan. Our communities are designed to reduce many symptoms of Alzheimer’s, including agitation and anger. Contact us today to learn more.