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.

5 Tips to Help a Senior Who Has Memory Loss Remain Independent

5 Tips to Help a Senior Who Has Memory Loss Remain Independent

If you have a loved one with memory loss, it can be challenging to know when to help and when to step back. Though your intentions are probably in the right place, you and your loved one may disagree about your role in their life. Here are a few tips to help a senior with memory loss remain independent.

Helping a Senior with Memory Loss Remain Independent

  1. Try not to make assumptions.

When caring for a loved one with memory loss, it’s important not to make assumptions about their abilities. Everyone experiences memory loss differently. Some may need help with day-to-day activities, while others may only struggle with tasks that require organization, such as finances.

The rate that their symptoms progress also varies. Your loved one may not need assistance for years, or they may require help sooner. Unless they are putting their safety in immediate danger, assess their abilities before offering your support. More often than not, it’s best to let them ask you for help.

  1. Play up their strengths.

One simple way you can help your loved one remain independent is by adapting everyday tasks to accommodate their abilities. For example, if your loved one struggles to use utensils, you can prepare finger foods. Or perhaps your loved one has difficulty with buttons. Help them pick out a sweater without buttons so they can get dressed on their own.

  1. Stick to a schedule.

It’s common for people with memory loss to rely on routine to complete their daily responsibilities. Doing activities in the same sequence helps them remember what they need to do. Knowing what to expect can give them a sense of security. Too many changes from day to day can be confusing. Although adjustments in routine are inevitable, it’s helpful to try and stick to a schedule as much as possible. Make sure their routine includes consistent times for waking up, having meals, enjoying social activities, and going to bed.

  1. Offer emotional support.

Many caregivers focus on keeping their loved ones safe from physical harm, but emotional support is also important. Your loved one is going through a difficult time. You can help them cope with memory loss by listening and being empathetic to their struggles. Do your best to keep the lines of communication open and encourage them to share their feelings.

  1. Support a healthy lifestyle.

A healthy lifestyle is essential for independence, regardless of whether a person has memory loss. Encourage your loved one to stay active and eat a healthy diet. Here are a few additional suggestions for healthy living:

  • Manage stress with healthy techniques like meditation or yoga.
  • Take medications and report unfavorable side effects to a doctor.
  • Stay on track with medical appointments.

Maintaining a Loved One’s Independence

Keeping loved ones safe while preserving their independence isn’t always easy. There is a fine line between being helpful and taking over too many responsibilities. By understanding your loved one’s disease and supporting them through their challenges, you can help them stay independent for as long as possible.

Specialized Dementia Care at Heritage Senior Communities

If you are concerned about your ability to help your loved one with memory loss remain independent, you may want to explore local memory care programs. Heritage Senior Communities offers specialized dementia care across Michigan. Our communities are designed to create a safe, controlled environment so seniors with memory challenges can live independently.

Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a private tour!

4 Ways to Keep a Senior with Dementia Safe on Halloween

4 Ways to Keep a Senior with Dementia Safe on Halloween

For many, Halloween is a time for costumes, spooky decorations, and trick-or-treating. Unfortunately, many of these traditional celebrations can be overwhelming for a person with dementia. Because this disease affects the ability to process new information, it can be difficult for those affected to distinguish reality from fiction. 

By understanding the challenges a person with dementia may experience on Halloween, caregivers can take steps to keep their loved ones safe.

Halloween Safety for Seniors with Dementia

  1. Be considerate when wearing a costume.

Dressing up is one of the most popular ways people celebrate Halloween. Because your senior loved one might struggle differentiating reality from pretend, costumes can be confusing. They may not realize painted blood is not real or that there is a friendly face behind a scary mask. This may cause them to become scared or anxious.

If you are spending Halloween with your loved one, avoid wearing anything that conceals your identity. Instead, opt for something simple, like a festive tee or holiday-themed jewelry.

  1. Deter trick-or-treaters.

Trick-or-treaters are a hallmark of Halloween. Unfortunately, the continual ringing of the doorbell can be overwhelming for a person with dementia. Repeatedly opening the door to strangers can make matters worse, especially when they are wearing strange outfits.

Do your best to limit noise by placing your candy bowl on the porch. Or turn off the porch lights and leave a note on the door politely asking guests not to ring the doorbell.

  1. Avoid the commotion.

On Halloween night, the streets are often busy. Kids are trick-or-treating, neighbors are hosting haunted parties, and people are wearing costumes. The excess stimuli can be a lot for a person with dementia to handle.

Seniors with dementia are usually most comfortable staying inside with a close friend or family member. If no one is available to keep them company, you may want to consider respite care.

  1. Create a safe room.

Decorating is a common tradition on Halloween. Although it may be fun for you, a decorated house is not always easy for a person with dementia to navigate. They often rely on familiarity and structure, so changing their living space may lead to unnecessary stress.

Do your best to limit decorations. It may even be a good idea to create a safe room. Having a place free from decorations and unnecessary stimuli can be helpful if they become anxious or scared.

Having Fun on Halloween

Caring for a person with dementia on Halloween can be difficult, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. There are plenty of festive activities you and your loved one can do safely. 

Seniors who love to cook may enjoy baking a homemade pumpkin pie. Others may prefer to bring out their creative side by decorating a pumpkin. Sometimes, soothing music and a good meal is all you need to have a nice evening.

Memory Care at Heritage Senior Communities

Predicting possible dangers can be difficult for caregivers. By understanding the challenges a loved one with dementia experiences, you can better prevent accidents.

If you are struggling to keep a loved one with dementia safe, you may want to consider dementia care. Heritage Senior Communities offers specialized dementia care for seniors with memory impairments. Contact us today to learn more.