4 Repetitive Tasks That Help Decrease Alzheimer’s Agitation

4 Repetitive Tasks That Help Decrease Alzheimer’s Agitation

Repetition is a common behavior among adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Those affected may repeat words, questions, or activities. This is their attempt to comfort themselves when they are feeling agitated.

Adults with Alzheimer’s disease, especially those in the later stages of the disease, often lose their sense of the world. Their disease causes them to become confused, and they start looking for ways to alleviate their discomfort. Repetition can provide this relief.

Repetitive tasks can be highly beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s disease. They can improve self-esteem and give them a sense of purpose and normalcy—things they often lose as their disease progresses. Here are 4 repetitive activities that can help decrease Alzheimer’s agitation.


4 Repetitive Tasks That Can Help Decrease Alzheimer’s Agitation


  1. Knitting and Crocheting

Knitting and crocheting can be very calming for adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Not only do they give them something to focus on, but they allow them to be creative. Provide them with a ball of yarn and make sure to give them large needles and hooks so they can easily see what they are doing.  Your loved one will be excited to show you their creations.

  1. Folding Laundry

Folding laundry can be satisfying for adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Try to give them simple items like towels to fold where the motions required are the same. Not only is this repetitive, but it can make them feel like they are being useful and increase their confidence.

  1. Organize Papers

If you are like most people, you have a stack of papers somewhere in your home that you don’t need. Turn this in to an activity for your loved one by having them sort the papers. They will be happy to help you organize your papers, even if you only plan to throw them away after they are finished.

  1. Sorting Cards

People with Alzheimer’s love sorting. Give your loved one a shuffled deck of cards ask them to sort them. They can do this in any way they choose.

One great idea is to find cards with a theme they enjoy or that has to do with one of their hobbies. Do they love baseball? Get them baseball cards. Are they in to golf? Get them a golf-themed deck.


More Repetitive Tasks


Finding activities for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be challenging, but it often just requires a little creativity. Here are a few more activities that involve repetition.

  • Rolling a ball of yarn
  • Tying knots in a rope
  • Organizing items by color, shape, or design
  • Stringing paper clips
  • Sorting buttons by color, size, and shape

Whatever task you choose, remember to be mindful of your loved one’s cognitive limitations. Typically, the simpler the activity, the better.


Memory Care for Seniors with Alzheimer’s


If you are struggling to manage your loved one’s Alzheimer’s symptoms, it may be time to start visiting memory care communities. Heritage Senior Communities provides specialized dementia care across Michigan. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a tour.

Holiday Shopping for a Family Member With Dementia?

Holiday Shopping for a Family Member With Dementia?

Dear Donna,

Ever since my grandmother was diagnosed with dementia, I find it impossible to shop for her. Nothing I give her ever seems to make it out of its original packaging.

Do you have any advice on how to find a gift for a family member with dementia?


Angela from Holland, MI


How to Find a Holiday Gift for a Family Member With Dementia


Dear Angela,

Many caregivers struggle to find gifts for family members with dementia. After all, you want to get them something they will be able to enjoy.

It’s important to remember that those in the early stages of the disease can still enjoy many of the same gifts they did before their diagnosis. The middle and late stages of the disease are when your options become limited. Here are a few things to consider when shopping for a holiday gift for your family member with dementia.

  1. Keep Them Safe

Safety is often a huge concern for someone with dementia. A few gifts that can help keep family members with dementia safe include the following.

  • A new chair. Those with dementia often have a difficult time getting in and out of chairs that sit too low to the ground. This can easily be solved with a chair that sits higher off the ground.
  • Night lights or motion sensors. Older adults often have a harder time seeing at night. Motion sensors or night lights can improve their safety, especially if they have to get up and use the restroom in the middle of the night.
  1. Give Them a Sense of Purpose

Adults with dementia may feel like they’ve lost their sense of purpose. Restoring this feeling can be one of the greatest gifts of all.

One way to add meaning to their life is to give them something to take care of. This can be anything from plants to dolls and stuffed animals.

  1. Inspire Their Creativity

Creative projects can be tremendously beneficial for adults with dementia. These gifts can boost their self-esteem and reduce feelings of loneliness. Plus, you can enjoy them together.

Coloring books, painting supplies, and puzzles are great gifts to spark their artistic side.

  1. Stimulate Their Senses

Sensory gifts are excellent for adults with dementia regardless of what stage they are in. Sensory gifts include anything that stimulates one of the five senses.

A few sensory gifts that are great for adults with dementia include the following:

  • Tangle toys, fidget blankets, and even toys designed for children are great for stimulating touch sensors.
  • A photo album can be an excellent gift for jogging their memory.
  • Music can be extremely beneficial to adults with dementia. Try loading songs from their childhood or young adulthood on to a playlist to trigger happy memories.
  • Stimulate their taste buds by cooking their favorite foods.
  • Scented lotions can be great for adults with dementia. Lavender scents can help them relax while more energizing smells like lemon can lift their mood.
  1. Give the Gift of Time

Sometimes your time is the best gift you can give a family member with dementia. This is especially true for those in the later stages of the disease. Spend time enjoying your loved one’s company this holiday season.

I hope these ideas help you find the perfect gift for your grandmother.

Many of our senior communities, including our Appledorn Assisted Living community in Holland, offer specialized care for people with dementia. Contact us to learn more about how we improve the lives of adults with dementia each day



Is Alzheimer’s Disease Hereditary?

Is Alzheimer’s Disease Hereditary?

Dear Donna,

I am the primary caregiver for my mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease. As her disease progresses, I can’t help but worry that I am eventually going to get it.  

Is Alzheimer’s disease hereditary? Is there a test I can take to find out if I’ll get it, too?


Alisha in Holland, MI


Do Genes Cause Alzheimer’s Disease?


Dear Alisha,

After a family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it is common to wonder if you too will inevitably get the disease.

For the majority of cases, the answer is no.

Only a small percentage of Alzheimer’s cases develop from one of the three genetic mutations known to cause the disease. Alzheimer’s is guaranteed to occur if any one of the following genetic mutations occurs:

  • The gene from the amyloid precursor protein
  • Genes for the presenilin 1 proteins
  • Genes from presenilin 2 proteins

This form of the disease is referred to as early-onset Alzheimer’s because its symptoms usually develop before the age of 65. Not only does this form of the disease develop early, but it progresses rapidly. Thankfully, early-onset Alzheimer’s accounts for less than one percent of cases, making your chances of developing it extremely low.


What You Should Know About Genetics and Late-Onset Alzheimer’s


Most cases of the disease are late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Late-onset Alzheimer’s presents itself much differently; symptoms begin after 65 years old and progress gradually.

  1. Genes can affect the risk of Alzheimer’s, but they are not the cause.

Current research doesn’t show a sizeable hereditary risk associated with this disease. Late-onset Alzheimer’s has a genetic component, but the genes themselves rarely cause the disease. Instead, the genes are considered genetic risk factors, and they slightly increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

  1. Having the APOE e4 gene doesn’t mean you will get Alzheimer’s.

The genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s is having apolipoprotein E e4 (APOE e4). The presence of APOE e4 does not mean you will get Alzheimer’s. Many people have the gene yet never develop any symptoms of the disease.

Some people don’t have the APOE e4 gene yet develop Alzheimer’s anyway. This means that although APOE e4 affects your risk of developing the disease, it isn’t the cause.

  1. The number of APOE e4 genes you inherit affects your risk.

Your risk is also determined by the number of APOE genes you inherit. If you inherit one from only one of your parents, you have a higher risk of developing the disease than someone without the APOE e5 gene. If you inherit one from each of your parents, meaning you have two APOE e4 genes, your chance increases.


Should You Get Tested?


Many factors can affect your likelihood of getting the disease. However, genes are only a small part of the equation. Lifestyle is the greatest.

Because the link between having the genes and developing Alzheimer’s is so low, it is not recommended that you get tested. It would be nearly impossible to get an accurate prediction as to whether or not you will get Alzheimer’s.

Instead, adopting a healthier lifestyle will have a more significant impact on lowering your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Here are a few steps to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.


Dementia Care at Heritage Senior Communities


If the care you are providing your mother is preventing you from being able to care for yourself properly, it may be time to consider an assisted living community that specializes in dementia care. The Heritage Senior Communities Appledorn Assisted Living Center is one.

Contact us to learn more about specialized dementia care at Appledorn Assisted Living.



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.