Independence Day Safety for Adults with Alzheimer’s

Independence Day Safety for Adults with Alzheimer’s

Independence Day celebrates the birth of our nation. It’s typically filled with parades, picnics, and barbeques. For many, attending a community fireworks event or launching a few small firecrackers in the yard are a favorite part of their annual July 4th tradition.

While most people greatly enjoy these loud and lively festivities, they can cause fear and agitation for others. This is especially true for seniors who have Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.

If you are planning an Independence Day celebration that includes an older adult with dementia, we have a few tips to help the day go more smoothly.


Dementia and Independence Day: 5 Tips for a Safe Celebration


  1. Let the senior help with preparations.

In the days before your party, find tasks your family member can do. It will make them feel like they are part of the celebration. Depending upon the stage of their Alzheimer’s, they might be able to help plant and water flowers in the yard, cover and set tables, or prepare food. Find safe ways to include the older adult.

  1. Consider the party time carefully.

Think about the times of day when your senior loved one is at their best. Is it possible to plan your July 4th festivities around tough hours of the day and night? For example, if your family member has Sundowner’s Syndrome, can you host your party earlier or later in the day?

  1. Create a peaceful place.

Make sure to have a safe place for your family member to rest if the celebration gets too loud or chaotic. If they don’t live with you, set up a space for them in a bedroom or den furthest from the party. Have soft music ready to play or noise-cancelling headphones they can wear.

  1. Plan alternative activities for the senior.

It might also be a good idea to have alternate activities for them to do if the party gets to be too much. A craft project, a basket of laundry to fold, or a family photo album can be good. You may want to ask people familiar to the senior to spend one-on-one time with them during this respite. It can be a positive experience for both.

  1. Alert guests ahead of time.

If some of your guests aren’t familiar with your senior loved one’s illness, send a quick text or email to explain the situation. While many adults have a vague understanding of Alzheimer’s and dementia, they might not be familiar with the challenges it creates.

We hope the tips above help your family enjoy a happy, healthy July 4th celebration!


Specialized Dementia Care in Michigan and Indiana


Adults with memory impairment benefit from specialized dementia care. At Heritage, we call it The Terrace. Using a person-centered approach, each resident gets the individual support needed to live their best quality of life. We invite you to call the community nearest you to learn more today!

How to Evaluate the Quality of a Memory Care Program

How to Evaluate the Quality of a Memory Care Program

Dear Donna:
My husband is the guardian for his great-uncle who has Alzheimer’s disease. Since his diagnosis a year ago, we’ve found ways to keep him safe in his own home. The time has come, however, to begin searching for an Alzheimer’s care community.

We aren’t sure what to look for or ask as we begin making appointments. Can you give us a few pointers? We are feeling a little overwhelmed.


Tina in Byron Center, MI


Tips for Evaluating a Memory Care Community


Dear Tina:

If you aren’t familiar with memory care, a term often used to describe Alzheimer’s care programs, the search can be intimidating. The sheer variety of options helps ensure an older adult gets the right type of care, but also makes the search confusing for families.

Here are a few questions to ask and factors to keep in mind as you and your husband begin contacting and visiting local memory care communities:

  • What is the community’s philosophy of care?

Each memory care community has a unique approach to care. Learning more about each community’s beliefs will help you decide which is a good fit for your uncle. Ask each community you are considering to describe their philosophy of care and what sets them apart from other local providers.

  • Will the team work hard to encourage his independence?

Research indicates doing too much for someone with Alzheimer’s can undermine their independence. It can also cause their disease to progress more quickly. By contrast, having systems in place to encourage residents to do as much as is safely possible might help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Finding a memory care community that knows how to successfully balance safety with independence is important. Be sure to ask how the team does this.

  • How does the community get to know new residents?

Because Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia often impact verbal skills and memory, a senior who moves to a memory care community may struggle answering questions or telling caregivers and staff their unique life story.

Loved ones often cite feeling frustrated that their loved one is treated as a diagnosis, not an individual. This leads to a loss of dignity and self-worth that families find devastating.

Another question to ask when you call or visit memory care is how they will get to know your uncle and learn about his life and personal preferences.

  • Are life enrichment activities offered for memory care residents?

Activities and events can enhance quality of life for people with dementia if they work with the senior’s remaining abilities. Take time to ask about daily activities for residents in memory care as you are assessing potential communities. What types of programs are offered and how often? Who coordinates activities and what is their background? Getting answers to these questions will give you a good idea of how your uncle will spend his days.

  • How does the community help make this a smooth transition?

Because a change in environment can be stressful for an adult with dementia, you’ll benefit from a community with experienced team members. The staff can work with you on a plan for the days leading up to and after your uncle’s move. Before you make a final decision, ask each community how they help new residents make the smoothest transition possible.

I hope this information is helpful to you, Tina! I wish you and your husband the best of luck in your search for memory care for your uncle.

Kind regards,



Memory Care at Heritage Senior Communities


At Heritage Senior Communities, we call our memory care program The Terrace. From specialized activities to dedicated dining, it’s designed to help adults with dementia enjoy their best quality of life. Call the community nearest you to learn more today!

5 Purposeful Activities for Seniors with Dementia

5 Purposeful Activities for Seniors with Dementia

It’s not uncommon for seniors to lose their sense of purpose after they receive a dementia diagnosis. But feeling useful is essential to overall health and wellness. Research has linked living purposefully to a longer life span, better sleep quality, and improved brain health.

Many caregivers want to help their loved one stay engaged but are unsure where to start. They struggle to come up with meaningful activities that support independence.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Emotions

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia affect a person’s memory. As the disease progresses, a person may increasingly struggle to remember certain life events. While they may not be able to recall specific details of an event, they can still remember the associated emotions. Here are a few tips for caregivers who want to help their loved ones with dementia enjoy purposeful days.

Helping a Senior with Dementia Enjoy Purposeful Days

  1. Play music that triggers positive feelings.

Music is a wonderful way to uplift a person with dementia. Try playing music from their childhood or special times in their life. For example, play a song from their wedding. Your loved one might not remember where the song is from, but they will feel happy while they listen.

  1. Sort through old photographs.

Looking at photographs is another excellent activity for seniors with dementia. Take time to sit with your loved one and sort through old pictures. These can be images from their childhood or significant life events. A photograph can trigger the emotions they felt when the photo was taken, even if they don’t remember the circumstances.

  1. Explore local art classes.

Art is increasingly used to help seniors with Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown art can strengthen the brain, improve focus, and reduce stress. Check if your local community center offers any painting or drawing classes for seniors.

  1. Try gardening.

Many people like to garden, but it can be particularly enjoyable for those with dementia. Plants give them something to care for, which can help them feel needed.

  1. Let them help with chores.

Chores can help seniors with dementia feel like they are contributing. This can improve their self-esteem. Activities that involve repetition, like folding or sorting papers, can even be enjoyable.

Emotions Last after a Memory Is Lost

It’s helpful for caregivers to remember feelings linger even after a memory is lost. This includes emotions experienced after visiting with a loved one, exercising, or completing a task that makes them feel needed. Each interaction can positively impact the rest of their day.

Specialized Dementia Care at Heritage Senior Communities in Michigan

Heritage Senior Communities provides specialized dementia care for adults with memory impairment. Our thoughtfully designed communities feature plenty of activities to enhance our residents’ self-esteem and provide purposeful days. We invite you to schedule a private tour today.

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 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.

4 Ways to Find Gratitude When You Are an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

4 Ways to Find Gratitude When You Are an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Alzheimer’s caregivers have a lot on their plate. In addition to coping with their loved one’s declining health, many of them take on additional responsibilities. As their friend or family member’s disease progresses, their workload often increases accordingly. Their growing list of duties can be stressful and overwhelming.

These feelings can make it difficult to remember the reasons to be thankful. But finding gratitude is essential to your overall health and quality of life.

The Importance of Finding Gratitude

Finding gratitude has been linked to many benefits, including:

  • Increased happiness
  • Lower stress levels
  • Boosted immune system
  • Better outlook on life
  • Improved relationships with loved ones

Despite knowing these benefits, it can still be difficult to identify reasons to be thankful when you have a lot going on in your life. Here are a few ways Alzheimer’s caregivers can cultivate gratitude.

4 Ways Caregivers Can Find Gratitude

  1. Incorporate gratitude into your daily routine.

The most effective way to find gratitude is to incorporate it into your daily routine. Set aside a specific time each day to think about the reasons you have to be thankful. Try to choose a time where you are least likely to be distracted. It can also be helpful to anchor your gratitude practice to something in your current routine. For example, first thing in the morning, after you brush your teeth, or right before bed. Doing this will help you create associations and can make it easier for you to remember.

  1. Keep a gratitude journal.

Journaling can be an excellent way for caregivers to practice gratitude. Take a few minutes at the end of your day to write down something positive that happened. You can be as specific or as vague as you want. A great thing about this method is that you can revisit your journal when you are feeling stressed or the next morning to jumpstart your day.

  1. Spread gratitude with friends and family.

Take the time to let the people in your life know you are thankful for them. You can send a loved one a text thanking them for something they did or mail a handwritten thank you card. If you are feeling extra generous, you can even give them a gift or treat them to a meal.

  1. Acknowledge the little things.

It’s easy to forget about the little things when identifying your reasons to be grateful. But the little things are just as important. For example, you can think about a sweet moment you shared with your loved one or a meal you enjoyed with a friend. Remember to include these small feats in your list of reasons to be grateful.

There’s Always a Reason to Be Thankful

Practicing gratitude doesn’t equate to feeling happy and thankful all of the time. Recognizing the reasons you have to be grateful is an excellent way to cope with stress and lessen its effects on your quality of life. Although it can be difficult, it’s important to remember that there is always a reason to be thankful.

Sometimes it just takes a little extra effort to find it. The more often you practice gratitude, the easier it will be for you to stay in a positive state and improve your perception of life.

Specialized Dementia Care at Heritage Senior Communities

If you are Alzheimer’s caregiver struggling to find reasons to be grateful, you may want to explore senior living options. Heritage Senior Communities offers Specialized Dementia Care for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory impairment. Contact us today to learn more.