Technology to Help Caregivers Keep a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Safe

Technology to Help Caregivers Keep a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Safe

Adults with Alzheimer’s disease experience increased forgetfulness and a decline in mental acuity, both of which can affect their safety.

Thankfully, there are many tech safety products available for adults with Alzheimer’s. Using the right technology can improve the safety of your loved one and give you some peace of mind knowing they are safe. Here is a list of some of the best safety products for adults with Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Gadgets That Help With Wandering

Wandering is one of the top concerns for Alzheimer’s caregivers. Those with Alzheimer’s may wander when they feel uncomfortable or agitated. Here are 4 safety devices you may want to consider:

  1. GPS watches: You’ve heard of GPS devices for driving, but did you know GPS devices can also improve the safety of those who wander? They do so by making it easier locate an older adult, often in real time, if he or she roams away.
  2. Door alarms: Door alarms are devices that sound when the door opens. Even though they are simple, they can be lifesaving, especially if your loved one wanders at night.
  3. Smart locks: Smart locks can track when doors open and close. You can also program them to alert you when doors are used during specific times of the day. This can be useful if your loved one tends to wander during specific times of the day.
  4. MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®: MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return® is an emergency response service specifically designed for adults with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia who wander or have a medical emergency. If your loved one wanders, you can call the 24-hour emergency line to report. A community support network will be activated to help locate and reunite them to you.

 

Products That Assist With Falls

Falling accounts for the majority of injuries among adults aged 65 and older. Those with Alzheimer’s are at an even greater risk.

There are many ways to reduce falls, and technology can supplement traditional precautionary measures. The following products can help prevent falls or notify you if a fall occurs.

  • Motion sensor lights: Motion sensor lights are programmed to turn on when they detect movement. This can be extremely beneficial in the homes of adults with Alzheimer’s. They can be set up around the home to turn on whenever your loved one enters a room.
  • Fall detection devices: There is a large selection of fall detection devices on the market today. There are bracelets where you can push a button for help, as well as more advanced devices that detect falls based on sensation.

 

Tech Safety for Everyday Life

  • Automatic pill dispenser: You can’t assume that a person with memory problems always remembers to take their medication, regardless of how minor their problems may seem.

Automatic pill dispensers can make it easier for adults with Alzheimer’s to take their pills as prescribed. You can program the dispenser to distribute and alert them to take their medication at a given time. Only the programmed amount is dispensed, which helps to prevent them from accidentally double-dosing.

  • Voice control assistants: There are many ways voice control assistants can improve safety for older adults:
    • Make calls or send messages if your loved one needs emergency assistance.
    • Set reminders to turn off cooking appliances.
    • Set reminders to do everyday tasks such as feed pets and take medications.
    • Ask questions without getting up.

 

Tips for Introducing New Technology

Introducing new technology can be challenging for even the most tech savvy adults, but new technology can be even more complicated for adults with cognitive difficulties. Here are a few tips for you to successfully introduce new technology in to your loved one’s life.

  • Make sure the technology is easy to use. New technology should improve their quality of life, not leave them frustrated and agitated.
  • Don’t introduce too much at once. Make sure they understand how something works before attempting to introduce something else.
  • Include them in the process. Let your loved one feel included by making them a part of the decision-making process, if they are able.

 

Technology Does Not Replace a Person

It’s important to remember that technology does not take the place of a person. Socialization has been shown to prolong the mental acuity of adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Keep that in mind as you decide which tech products to take advantage of.

At Heritage Senior Communities, we know technology can significantly improve the safety of adults in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. As the disease progresses, however, your loved one’s needs may exceed the abilities of even the most advanced tech gadgets.

Many of our communities have dedicated memory care programs for adults with Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia. Contact us to learn about our specialized dementia care or to schedule a tour of a community near you.

How to Manage Sleep Problems in Adults With Alzheimer’s

How to Manage Sleep Problems in Adults With Alzheimer’s

Sleep problems are common among older adults, but especially among those with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. A lack of sufficient rest can lead to irritability, anxiety, daytime drowsiness, disorientation, and additional behavioral issues that can create stress for both senior loved ones and their caregivers.

Follow these tips and consult a physician to help your loved one get a better night’s sleep.

  1. Discuss the issue with a physician.

Although sleep problems are common among adults with Alzheimer’s, other underlying issues can make them worse. It is a good idea to consult with your loved one’s primary care provider to determine whether the sleep disturbances are caused by something that can be managed, such as restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, or depression.

Some medications may also cause sleep disturbances. If this is the case, you may want to ask the provider about changing medications or ask if your loved one can take it at a different time of day.

  1. Keep a consistent bedtime.

Consistency and routine are important for seniors with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, and that applies to bedtime as well. Caregivers can help their loved ones go to bed at the same time every evening. This may also include regular waking times and meal times.

  1. Encourage exercise.

Experts frequently recommend exercise as a way to improve sleep without medication. It is best to do this earlier in the day, as exercising a few hours before bedtime can disrupt the sleep cycle.

The best type of exercise will vary depending on your loved one’s physical health and the severity of their symptoms. Walks around the block, simple stretches, fitness video games, or water aerobics are a few possibilities.

  1. Get natural daylight.

Bright, natural daylight in the morning and early afternoon often helps people achieve a normal sleep/wake cycle, also known as the circadian rhythm. For seniors in less sunny climates, or during the winter, a light therapy box may help simulate daylight.

Make sure your loved one experiences plenty of natural light soon after waking up and throughout the day. In the early evening, dim the lights. It may be a good idea to limit screen time as well—the brightness can interfere with the sleep cycle.

  1. Make the evenings relaxing.

Caregivers of seniors with Alzheimer’s may want to plan more physically taxing activities, such as doctor appointments or family visits, for earlier in the day. This can help keep your senior loved one from becoming overly tired and agitated later in the day which can make it more difficult for them to sleep.

For the same reasons, seniors with Alzheimer’s should avoid consuming large meals, alcohol, caffeine, and other stimulants too close to bedtime.

While sleep disturbances are common in seniors with Alzheimer’s, there are ways to manage them. These tips can help seniors and their caregivers establish good habits that promote restful sleep.

Quality Care for Seniors With Dementia

Heritage Senior Communities provides quality care for seniors across Michigan, including specialized dementia care for residents with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Contact us today with questions or to schedule a tour.

Emergency Room Safety Tips for a Senior With Alzheimer’s

Emergency Room Safety Tips for a Senior With Alzheimer’s

An emergency room visit can be stressful for anyone, but especially for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Research even shows that hospital stays can be hazardous for adults with dementia.

Caregivers can make the experience easier on themselves and their loved ones by following a few helpful tips.

 

How to Navigate Emergency Room Visits for a Senior With Alzheimer’s

 

  1. Ask someone to come along.

Even if they have mild dementia, seniors should always bring another person with them to help explain symptoms to hospital staff and remember instructions. If you are the caregiver of a senior with more advanced Alzheimer’s, bring a second caregiver to divide up the responsibilities. Even if only one caregiver can be present, contact other family members to inform them of the situation.

  1. Be patient and comfort your loved one.

Hospitals can be confusing, frightening, and stressful. A familiar and comforting item from home, such as a pillow, photograph, or music player with headphones can help your loved one relax. Calmly and simply explain to them what is going on. Stay positive and reassuring.

  1. Tell providers your loved one has Alzheimer’s.

Let hospital staff know that your loved one has Alzheimer’s. Explain to them how your loved one prefers to communicate. This will help them better provide for their needs and reach a diagnosis.

  1. Know the symptoms.

Make sure you understand your loved one’s symptoms and can explain them to the hospital staff. Be prepared to explain them to different people multiple times. Let them know of any unusual behaviors or if symptoms start getting worse.

  1. Bring the right items.

The right paperwork can help an emergency room visit go more smoothly. Be sure you have the following:

  • Health insurance cards
  • List of current medications, allergies, medical conditions, and providers’ contact information
  • Copies of healthcare advance directives
  • Personal information sheet with your loved one’s preferred name and language, emergency contacts, need for assistance devices such as glasses or hearing aids, and living situation
  • Snacks and bottled water
  • Incontinence briefs, if needed, along with moist towelettes and plastic bags
  • A change of clothing and toiletries for any caregivers
  • Paper and pen for writing down information from hospital staff
  • Cell phone and charger

If possible, keep these items packed at home and easily accessible in case of additional emergencies.

  1. Ask questions.

Don’t be afraid to bring up any issues or concerns with hospital staff. Ask for clarification when needed. Write down all of the information each of their physicians and health care professionals share. Make sure you fully understand follow-up care.

 

Compassionate Memory Care

 

Seniors with memory loss, such as those with Alzheimer’s disease, often require special levels of care. At Heritage Senior Communities, we have several assisted living communities with dedicated memory care programs. Each one is focused on reducing stress and enhancing quality of life for residents. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.

Is There a Link Between High Cholesterol and Alzheimer’s Disease?

Is There a Link Between High Cholesterol and Alzheimer’s Disease?

For senior loved ones and their families, an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis can be devastating. There are many ways to help manage this disease, which affects memory and other parts of cognitive function. Because there is not yet a cure, it is understandable that older adults want to do what they can to reduce their Alzheimer’s risk.

Researchers are still learning about the disease. There is no single, definite cause, but scientists have uncovered several risk factors associated with the disease. This may include cholesterol levels.

Is There a Connection Between Cholesterol and Alzheimer’s Disease?

While some studies suggest a link between Alzheimer’s disease and high cholesterol, it is not a certainty. For example, the research has not yet shown whether high cholesterol leads to Alzheimer’s, or if this form of dementia can actually cause higher cholesterol. Other research has found no connection at all between cholesterol and Alzheimer’s.

One 2011 study published in the academic journal Neurology found that people with high cholesterol levels had more brain plaques compared to people with normal or lower cholesterol levels. Brain plaques, or accumulation of the protein amyloid, are considered a trademark sign of Alzheimer’s.

Another study published in 2017, however, found no connection between high cholesterol and increased risk of Alzheimer’s. The research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also found no association in people who carry the APOE4 gene variant. This variant has been connected to cholesterol metabolism and a risk of memory disorders.

What to Do About Cholesterol

The mere presence of cholesterol is not a health threat. In fact, people cannot live without cholesterol. It is important for the development of cell membranes, hormones like testosterone and estrogen, and the bile acids used for digestion.

However, high levels of a certain type of cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) can be harmful. LDL cholesterol has been linked to health risks like heart attack and stroke.

Many lifestyle factors can help reduce LDL cholesterol:

Genetics may make some people more likely to develop high cholesterol. If diet and exercise do not resolve high LDL cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe medication.

How to Reduce Alzheimer’s Disease Risk

A lot of advice for healthy cholesterol also applies to Alzheimer’s risk, including physical activity and consuming a diet full of lean protein, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables. Here are some other ways you can reduce Alzheimer’s risk factors:

  • Quit smoking
  • Get your blood pressure under control
  • Reduce risks of falling in the home
  • Get enough sleep at night
  • Engage in mental activities by taking classes, reading, or learning a new hobby or skill
  • Nurture friendships and stay socially connected

Heritage Encourages Both Mental and Physical Health

The caring staff at Heritage Senior Communities provides enriching experiences for residents, including wellness programs and optional dining services. We also offer specialized dementia care for residents with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Contact us today for questions or a tour.

5 Statistics About Men and Dementia

5 Statistics About Men and Dementia

Age-related dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease, consists of a group of symptoms related to memory and thought. Common symptoms include difficulty with short-term memory, mood changes, aggression, and confusion.

While both men and women can develop dementia, the condition appears to affect women more often. However, research continues to uncover new information about how dementia affects older men.

Here are 5 statistics that provide important insight about dementia in men.

  1. Dementia risk actually may be equal between men and women.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, many studies have found no significant difference in the proportion of women and men who develop some form of dementia at any given age. Dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease, appears to be more prevalent among women. However, this may be due to a variety of factors, including life expectancy and overall health later in life.

  1. Men tend to have different dementia symptoms.

Each individual with dementia may demonstrate varying degrees of different symptoms. One study of 1,600 individuals found that men with dementia tended to have less common symptoms, possibly leading to fewer men being diagnosed with dementia.

The study found that men were less likely to show damage to the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory. However, men were more likely to demonstrate aphasia, a condition related to language problems. They also showed more corticobasal degeneration, which can cause movement problems.

  1. Men with better cardiovascular health may be less likely to develop dementia.

One study points out that middle-aged men have a higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to middle-aged women. Because of this, men who live to be older than 65 may be more heart healthy overall, lowering their risk of dementia compared to similarly aged women.

Because of this “survival bias,” the men who are included in studies of older adults tend to be healthier. Therefore, they may be at lower risk of developing dementia than the men who had already died of cardiovascular disease at an earlier age.

  1. Dementia symptoms progress more slowly in men.

In a Duke University Medical Center study, cognitive abilities of females with dementia declined twice as fast as those of males over an eight-year study.

The slower decline may lead to fewer men being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia until much later in life.

  1. Some genetic risk factors may be less harmful for men.

The same Duke University study noted that the difference in dementia progression among men and women was even stronger among participants who had the APOE-e4 genotype.

Studies have already connected this particular genetic variation to Alzheimer’s risk. Scientists are not yet sure why it may be a stronger risk factor for women, but it may be because of how the genotype interacts with estrogen.

Caring for a Loved One with Dementia?

Heritage Senior Communities offer specialized dementia care to provide for the needs of individuals with memory impairments. Contact us with any questions about dementia care or to schedule a tour.

Do Food Choices Impact Your Alzheimer’s Risk?

Do Food Choices Impact Your Alzheimer’s Risk?

Researchers have already found links between diet and health problems like cardiovascular disease and cancer. Now, evidence suggests that some food choices can influence a person’s risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

The American Academy of Neurology and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine estimate that there could be 13.8 million people with Alzheimer’s disease by the year 2050.

How could dietary changes help efforts to prevent the growth of Alzheimer’s disease?

How Diet Might Impact Your Alzheimer’s Risk

The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet may help reduce Alzheimer’s risk, researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found. This diet combines Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and the heart-friendly Mediterranean diet. Study results indicate that this combined diet may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

In the study, more than 900 people aged 58 to 98 filled out food questionnaires and received neurological testing. The volunteers who most closely followed the MIND diet had cognitive function similar to a person 7.5 years younger than themselves.

What Foods Make Up the MIND Diet?

Here are the major foods that this diet includes:

  • Plenty of whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat, or oatmeal) daily
  • Green leafy vegetables nearly every day
  • Other vegetables every day
  • Two servings of berries weekly
  • Limited red meat intake
  • Fish and poultry as the main source of meat
  • At least three servings of beans weekly
  • Five servings of nuts weekly
  • Olive oil as the primary cooking oil

The MIND diet encourages moderate alcohol consumption, limited to one glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage daily.

Foods that should be consumed only rarely include sweets, pastries, cheese, red meat, butter, and anything fried.

Small, Incremental Dietary Changes to Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk

The study found that even moderately following the MIND diet could have a positive impact on the risk of Alzheimer’s.

This means that the MIND diet does not require an “all or nothing” approach, or making many big changes all at once.

Instead, you might start by gradually making a few small changes to your eating habits.

  • If you tend to consume a lot of sweets, start cutting back.
  • Snack on fruit, nuts, and vegetables instead of chips or cookies. This will help increase consumption of healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.
  • Use brown rice instead of white, and whole-wheat bread in sandwiches.
  • Exchange butter for olive oil.
  • Have salads for lunch, including a wide variety of vegetables.
  • Try turkey or veggie burgers instead of hamburgers.
  • Choose foods stir-fried in olive oil instead of fried foods.

Help Senior Loved Ones Follow a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle

Although diet is an important part of good health, it is not a guarantee against Alzheimer’s. Keep your brain healthy with a combination of clean eating, physical exercise, social support, regular checkups, and learning.

Heritage Senior Communities provide healthy, balanced meal options that help seniors stay healthy. Contact us to learn more about our residences, including new locations in Saline and Holland, Michigan.