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Taken from: Alzheimer’s Weekly at alzheimersweekly.com/2013/04/8-medication-questions-for-caregivers.html

Medication Care Tips: People with Alzheimer’s generally take a lot of medicine. Some drugs boost memory and cognition, while others help with mood, behavior and other conditions. Learn how caregivers can help ensure medication is taken safely & correctly. There are 2 things that can be said about all FDA-approved medications:

  1. They help many people.
  2. They have side-effects.

The key is to get the right balance. Here is where to start:

Learn the Basics

Know each medicine (prescription and over-the-counter) the person with Alzheimer’s disease takes. Ask the doctor or pharmacist:

  1. Why is this medicine being used?
  2. What positive effects should I look for, and when?
  3. How long will the person need to take it?
  4. How much should he or she take each day?
  5. When does the person need to take the medicine?
  6. What if the person misses a dose?
  7. What are the side effects, and what can I do about them?
  8. Can this medicine cause problems if taken with other medicines?

Managing medications is easier if you have a complete list of them. The list should show the name of the medicine, the doctor who prescribed it, how much the person with Alzheimer’s takes, and how often. Keep the list in a safe place at home, and make a copy to keep in your purse or wallet. Bring it with you when you visit the person’s doctor or pharmacist.

People with Alzheimer’s should be monitored when a new drug is started. Follow the doctor’s instructions and report any unusual symptoms right away. Also, let the doctor know before adding or changing any medications.

Use Medicines Safely

People with Alzheimer’s disease often need help taking their medicine. If the person lives alone, you may need to call and remind him or her or leave notes around the home. A pillbox allows you to put pills for each day in one place. Some pillboxes come with alarms that remind a person to take medicine.

Often, you will need to keep track of the person’s medicines. You also will need to make sure the person takes the medicines or give the medicines to him or her.

Some people with Alzheimer’s take medicines to treat behavior problems such as restlessness, anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, and aggression. Experts agree that medicines to treat behavior problems should be used only after other strategies that don’t use medicine have been tried. Talk with the person’s doctor about which medicines are safest and most effective. With these types of medicines, it is important to:

  • Use the lowest dose possible
  • Watch for side effects such as confusion and falls
  • Allow the medicine a few weeks to take effect

People with Alzheimer’s should NOT take anticholinergic drugs. These drugs are used to treat many medical problems, such as sleeping problems, stomach cramps, incontinence, asthma, motion sickness, and muscle spasms. Side effects can be serious for a person with Alzheimer’s. Talk with the person’s doctor about other, safer drugs.

Other Safety Tips

Some people, especially those with late-stage Alzheimer’s, may have trouble swallowing pills. In this case, ask the pharmacist if the medicine can be crushed or taken in liquid form. Other ways to make sure medicines are taken safely:

  • Keep all medications locked up.
  • Check that the label on each prescription bottle has the drug name and dose, patient’s name, dosage frequency, and expiration date.
  • Call the doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about any medicine.

For information about medicines to treat Alzheimer’s disease, see the “Alzheimer’s Disease Medications Fact Sheet.”**


The Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center is a service of the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health. The Center offers information and publications for families, caregivers, and professionals about Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive changes.

For more caregiving tips and other resources:

National Institute on Aging
National Institutes of Health NIH…Turning Discovery into Health

** We at Alzheimer’s Texas have a PDF version we are happy to share with you, if needed, as well on guides on Prior to Diagnosis, Steps to Diagnosis, Getting a Diagnosis and much more. Visit http://www.txalz.org/ to find out more about our free services, get assistance with caregiving concerns, or to register for an educational class near you! You can also call us anytime on our 24/7 helpline at 512-241-0420.

The post 8 Medication Questions for Caregivers to Ask Doctors appeared first on Alzheimer's Texas.

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Taken from: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Weekly at http://www.alzheimersweekly.com/2015/07/when-alzheimers-disrupts-marriage.html

When a spouse is cognitively impaired, marital communication is impaired. As Alzheimer’s disease (AD) progresses, language problems increase in frequency – such as searching for the right word, repeating the same word, asking the same question over and over, or substituting one word for another.

As a result of the decline in communication, married couples affected by AD suffer isolation, depression and estrangement. Limited research has existed on communication in couples affected by AD and existing research primarily focuses on identifying communication deficits – until now.

In a unique study conducted at the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University, researchers looked at how couples affected by AD maintained their relationships, over the course of many years of marriage, and uncovered 10 patterns of communication that help couples sustain engagement in their relationships. Findings from the study are published in the current issue of the International Journal of Human Caring in an article titled “Maintaining Caring Relationships in Spouses Affected by Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Christine L. Williams, DNSc, author of the publication and professor and director of the Ph.D. in Nursing Program in FAU’s College of Nursing, is a board-certified clinical nurse specialist in adult psychiatric mental health nursing, and designed a first-of-its-kind program to study caregiver-spouse interactions.

“There is a knowledge gap regarding how couples affected by Alzheimer’s disease manage their relationship to sustain hope, connection, meaning and engagement,” said Williams. “Instead of focusing our study on what wasn’t working in their relationships, we looked at patterns that support intimacy. There is a pressing need for research on maintaining a caring relationship despite progressive decline as it may lead to interventions to foster constructive communication.”

In the study, Williams used Jean Watson’s caritas framework, which values the human relationship as the central focus and provides the appropriate framework to study caregiver-spouse interactions. Members of Williams’ research team visited 15 couples in their home once a week for 10 weeks. Couples had long-term marriages with an average of 47 years, were middle-income and generally well educated. The mean age for caregivers was 77 and 80 for spouses with AD. Most of the caregivers were female (68.8 percent) and reported that they had performed the role of caregiver for an average of four years.

Couples were asked to converse on a topic of their choice for 10 minutes, which were recorded once the researcher left the room. Using this method, researchers were able to observe naturally occurring everyday conversations, which involved both verbal and non-verbal behavior and non-linguistic aspects of the conversation such as pauses.

Thirty conversations were analyzed with qualitative methods. Three overall themes of spousal care were identified:

  1. Engaging with compassion;
  2. Patiently reaching out; and
  3. Trusting in the existence of deep attachment.

In addition, 10 communication patterns were identified. Communication patterns included:

  • “News of the day,” which provided caregivers and spouses normalcy and serenity by talking about the mundane activities of daily life;
  • “Sharing memories,” whereby caregivers attempted to reminisce with their spouses about memories of people and past events;
  • “Storytelling,” as caregivers persevered in telling a detailed story although the conversation seemed like a monologue with no verbal participation from the spouses; and
  • “Delighting in the unexpected,” as caregivers were overjoyed when their spouses contributed more to the conversation than expected.

The researchers also observed that caregivers accepted a spouse’s version of the story, valuing the relationship more than being right and therefore refrained from interrupting or interjecting.

“It was evident that caregiving spouses bore most of the responsibility in maintaining the caring relationship, but there was evidence that the spouse affected by Alzheimer’s disease actively participated as well,” said Williams. “In one conversation, maintaining eye contact with the spouse was the only obvious evidence of engagement. In another interaction, singing familiar songs provided an avenue for active involvement between partners.”

More than 5 million Americans are currently affected by Alzheimer’s disease and 15.4 million caregivers are responsible for their care. Most caregivers report significant stress and decreased well-being related to caregiving and evidence is mounting that they have increased morbidity and mortality rates. The largest proportion of AD family caregivers are spouses.

“These caring ways of relating are of value because they provide information about what is possible in marital relationships affected by Alzheimer’s disease,” said Williams. “Illuminating ways that couples demonstrate caring can be a source of strength to those who feel hopeless, discouraged and ready to give up, and can empower nurses to reach out to couples.”


Florida Atlantic University’s College of Nursing is internationally known for its commitment to nursing as a discipline focused on nurturing the wholeness of persons and the environment through Caring. The College advances Caring knowledge through education, practice, research and scholarship to transform care locally, nationally and globally. Currently, the College of Nursing offers Bachelor’s, Master’s, DNP and Ph.D. degree programs with approximately 1,600 nursing students enrolled in its programs. For more information, visit www.nursing.fau.edu.

Florida Atlantic University

The post When Alzheimer’s Disrupts a Marriage appeared first on Alzheimer's Texas.

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Taken from: IlluminAge AgeWise at http://caringstrategies.com/2018/01/2018-new-years-resolutions-alzheimers-caregivers/

Do you make New Year’s resolutions before or after the first day of January? If you are caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder, you may think you don’t have time to make them at all! But now during the first week of the year, as the holiday hustle and bustle is settling down, why not create a list of things to consider during 2018? Here are 10 tips from experienced family members and dementia care experts that could make for a healthier, happier 2018 for you and your loved one alike.

Take care of yourself

We put this at the top of the list because many studies show that dementia caregivers neglect their own health, putting themselves as risk of heart disease, depression—even Alzheimer’s disease. Make exercise, nutrition and your own health appointments a priority. Talk to your healthcare provider about stress reduction strategies. There’s an old saying: caring for yourself is an important part of caring for your loved one.

Learn more about your loved one’s condition

Understanding what underlies the changes in your loved one’s personality can help you cope with and manage distressing behavioral manifestations of the disease. For example, aggression, agitation and anxiety can be viewed as expressions of unmet needs. Understanding your loved one’s “language” can help you better address these issues. And share what you learn with others. Friends and other family members will be more comfortable with the changes in your loved one if they understand what’s happening.

Cut yourself some slack

Alzheimer’s caregivers make many sacrifices—of time, money, energy—to ensure the well-being of their loved one. And yet, many express a sense of guilt that they aren’t doing enough, or aren’t doing it well enough. If they struggle with feelings of anger or resentment, they might feel guilty about that, too. Know that you have taken on a difficult labor of love, and that your feelings are to be expected. Let go of unrealistic expectations, be flexible, and judge yourself by the “new normal” in your life, not by old promises and standards.

Don’t keep concerns to yourself

Taking care of a loved one who has dementia is physically and emotionally taxing. Bottling up your feelings and concerns raises your stress level and prevents you from getting help. Talk to friends and family if you’re confident in doing so. Talk to a counselor who is familiar with the issues of dementia caregivers. Join a support group where you can share feelings, coping strategies, and a sense that you’re not alone.

Consult professionals about legal and financial issues

Geriatric care managers (also known as aging life care professionals), elder law attorneys and financial planners can offer valuable advice about Medicare and Social Security, long-term care, powers of attorney and guardianship, advance directives and estate planning. Knowing you have these tasks under control can reduce stress considerably.

Have a family meeting

It often happens that when an elderly parent develops dementia, one adult child ends up providing most of the care. Or, the person’s spouse takes on more and more, without others quite realizing what’s happening. Get family members and others involved, in person or by phone. Ask for help, and be specific. Chances are others are willing and able to help—they just don’t know what is needed. Family members who can’t participate in hands-on care and supervision may be willing to contribute financially to your loved one’s care. If the discussion isn’t going well, a geriatric care manager or counselor can help.

Talk to your employer

Caregivers who work full- or part-time often struggle to balance their work duties with their caregiving tasks and other responsibilities. Sometimes family caregivers hesitate to explain to their employers what they are dealing with—but studies show that candor is most likely the best policy. Talk to your supervisor or Human Resources department about your current situation. Ask if your company has an employee assistance resource and referral program that offers family caregiver information and support. Find out the company’s policy on family leave, flex time, telecommuting and job sharing.

Learn to say no

This is a time in your life when you’ve taken on a very heavy workload, and a time to prioritize your responsibilities. Outside your paid employment if you work, are you serving on committees for volunteer organizations or in your faith community? Take stock of your life to decide which activities you truly enjoy, and which ones add to your stress. Explain to others that your caregiving duties make it impossible to keep up some of your normal activities at this time.


This might be the hardest one—but research shows that humor protects our brains and bodies. Watch a funny movie, TV series or YouTube videos. Experts also recommend that we try to find humor in our own lives. Some caregivers say that looking for humor in the things their loved one says helps lower frustration. This is not laughing at or deriding your loved one, but instead finding humor in the unique new ways your loved one experiences the world. This can help you have a better relationship with your loved one—and laughter lowers stress, relieves tension, and helps smooth over difficult situations.

Learn about respite services

You may be thinking that you don’t have time for ANY of the above resolutions. This is a good sign that respite services are vital for you! Sometimes family caregivers whose loved one’s care is becoming more challenging simply become bogged down by the many details they face, and they fail to look into services that could help. In some cases, a residential memory care facility is the best choice. To keep their loved one at home longer, many families have discovered the many benefits of professional in-home care and adult day centers specializing in the needs of people with dementia. These services can be an important safety net for families, who can go to work, exercise, and take care of themselves in so many ways with the peace of mind that comes from knowing their loved one is safe, content and cared for by experts.

We at Alzheimer’s Texas are here to help in every step of your caregiving journey and offer our assistance with every one of these tips. Visit http://www.txalz.org/how-we-can-help-programs-services/ to find more about our free services including Personalized Care Consultations, Educational Classes, Support Groups, Respite Locations, and more near you!

The post 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Alzheimer’s Caregivers appeared first on Alzheimer's Texas.

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If you or someone in your family is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, you know that things that might have once been easy or routine all of a sudden become new challenges. Alzheimer’s patients and their families need to take some extra safety precautions to ensure that they are safe in their homes and that they have everything they need to live comfortably. The best environment for this is usually a memory care home or similar facility that is specifically designed for Alzheimer’s patients. Here are the safety precautions Alzheimer’s patients, their families, and their caregivers need to take.

Add safety precautions to appliances

One of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s is that tasks that were once very simple can suddenly become overwhelming. Your loved one may all of a sudden forget to turn off the stove or oven when necessary or have trouble operating the shower. There are many attachments you can add to appliances to prevent Alzheimer’s patients from burning the house down. Put safety knobs on the oven and stove, and make sure they have supervision while they are using these devices. You should also install an automatic thermostat, or set limits on how far up or down your loved one can adjust it.

Use a baby monitor at night

Another common problem that many Alzheimer’s patients have is that they get up and wander during the night. This poses a lot of safety problems and can exacerbate feelings of confusion. If your loved one is in senior living assistance, they are probably already monitored at night. If they’re not, having a family member or caretaker in the home use a baby monitor is one of the best ways to ensure that your loved one stays safe. This will alert you to any abnormal movement or noise right away, so you can go address the problem quickly.

Keep the space free of clutter

As seniors get older, they lose a lot of their mobility, which can make it difficult to get around the house and poses a lot of safety issues. To prevent accidents, you should keep your senior’s home free of clutter. Keep walkways clear at all times, and place grip mats on the floor to prevent your senior from slipping. You should also ensure that walkways are well lighted and that there are grab bars and handles installed if necessary. These precautions can help prevent injuries related to falls and slipping.

It’s important to make sure the loved ones in your life who have Alzheimer’s stay safe. Senior living is really the safest option for patients who are struggling with Alzheimer’s. A quick online search can help you locate assisted living near you.

Mark steps and windows with tape

An easy tip to make sure that your loved one can see these important features of your home is just to mark them with bright tape or stickers. Alzheimer’s can make it very difficult to navigate your home, and adding these small indicators is a good visual reminder. Just be sure to check on the tape periodically and touch it up if it starts to fall off.

The post Alzheimer’s Disease Safety Precautions for Seniors appeared first on Alzheimer's Texas.

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Alzheimer's Texas by Alzheimer's Texas - 4M ago

Alzheimer’s disease affects every aspect of your family and community life.  Your holiday observances are no exception.  Holidays can be bittersweet for families affected by Alzheimer’s. The holiday season may bring mixed feelings and concerns about your loved one’s needs, his or her capacity to be involved in holiday festivities and your expectations for the experience.  Holiday memories from before your loved one developed Alzheimer’s may darken what usually is a joyful season.  Worries about how your loved one’s condition may disrupt your family’s plans and can overshadow the simple pleasure of being together.

Rather than dwelling on how much things have changed or worrying about what might go wrong, focus on making the holidays as enjoyable as possible.  Consider your loved one’s needs, but don’t forget about yourself.  These tips can make special times easier for everyone.

Preparing the Person with Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Talk about and show photos of the people who are coming to visit.
  • Play familiar holiday music and serve favorite traditional holiday foods.
  • Watch and/or help with decorations.
  • Persons with AD may recognize faces of family members and friends, but can’t recall their names – name tags may be helpful.
  • Have a “quiet” room if things get too hectic and have a familiar person stay with them so they don’t feel isolated or “left out”.
  • Prepare for distractions beforehand (i.e. use of a photo album) to divert attention if problem behaviors occur.

Preparing Visitors

  • Delegate tasks to family members to make your day easier.
  • Encourage them to visit, but to call ahead and arrange a good time to visit.
  • Have visitors come during the part of the day you know your loved one is at his/her best.
  • Familiarize visitors with behavior and condition changes of loved one with AD, so they will not be shocked by the appearance/behavior of the person.
  • Explain why you are limiting the length of the visit and the number of visitors.
  • Watch for signs of fatigues and alert family when it is time for them to leave.

Selecting Activities

  • Manage your expectations by not taking on too much and choosing a few activities that are the most important to you and your loved one.
  • Use past interests as a guide. When the activity is first introduced, if there is no interest, try again later.
  • Slow the pace of the activity to allow the person with AD to comprehend as well as enjoy the sensory pleasure from the activity.
  • Activity suggestions (based on ability to succeed and for satisfaction and safety): make ornaments; decorate tree; decorate cookies; package baked goods; polish silver or menorah; set table; wrap boxes; seal or stamp holiday cards; sing or listen to songs; enjoy photos, videos, slides of family and past holidays; stories; walks.

Preparing Your Home

  • Music and movies bring back your most cherished memories of the holidays, however, music that is too loud or vigorous may be unsettling to your loved one.
  • People with Alzheimer’s may become disoriented by blinking lights and by decorations that substantially change a familiar environment, so keep it simple.

Maintaining Safety

  • Create a clear pathway for walking; avoid wires, cords or throw rugs.
  • Use ribbon or yarn instead of sharp hooks to hang ornaments and decorations.
  • Avoid decorating with items that look edible.
  • Avoid confusing, blinking lights.
  • Do not leave lighted candles or fireplace unattended.
  • Use plastic or silk mistletoe rather than real ones; if eaten it is toxic.

Trust your instincts

Caregivers know best what their loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease are capable of doing – and what agitates and upsets them.  Resist pressure to celebrate the way others may expect you to.  You can’t control the progress of Alzheimer’s or protect your loved one from all distress.  However, by planning and setting firm boundaries, you can avoid needless holiday stress and enjoy the warmth of the season.

Gifts for the Person with Alzheimer’s

Early Stage

Individuals may be aware of their problems and need gifts that will enhance independence and activity they can still enjoy.  Simple, but familiar games are good.  Tickets to a concert, musical, sporting event, or other events that they can handle are a good choice.  Frozen meals that can be reheated in the microwave are good, or a fruit basket.  Photo albums, or preparing a collage of old family photos is a meaningful gift.

Middle Stage

Since more assistance is needed and the attention span is shorter, try gifts that focus on the remaining abilities.  Men may like to do sorting and arranging or cutting.  Picture books containing movie stars, historical places, and nature books can enhance enjoyment.  Taped religious services and music from church services make special gifts.

Late Stage

Capacity to deal with anything complicated is diminished in the later stage, so comprehension and understanding is poor.  Memory books or boxes, made up of old photos and mementos that link a person to the past, is a good choice.  Visits from well-behaved animals might be enjoyed.  Lap robes and shawls and warm footwear are important since circulation is often poor.  Things to cuddle, such as stuffed animals, dolls, or pillows, may bring a sense of comfort.  Hand and body lotion along with a massage is always nice.

The post Holidays and Gifts appeared first on Alzheimer's Texas.

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If you or someone you love has Alzheimer’s disease, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly benefits to people who are no longer able to work due to a serious disability. You may be eligible for financial aid to help pay for any medical costs, childcare, in-home nursing, rent or a mortgage, or any other of your financial needs.

Technical Eligibility for Social Security

While the SSA offers both disability and retirement benefits, the two programs are different from one another. You cannot receive Social Security disability once you are eligible for Social Security retirement. This means that you cannot supplement your monthly retirement benefits with disability benefits, regardless of your diagnosis.

If you’re unable to work due to a disability and you’re eligible for early retirement (ages 62-65), we always recommend applying for disability first. If you’re approved for disability benefits your monthly payments will be whatever you could have received on retirement had you been able to continue employment. If you take early retirement, you’ll take reduced benefits.

This unfortunately means that most people who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease will be ineligible for Social Security disability, as they’ll already be at their full retirement age. On the plus side, qualification is very easy if you have Early Onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Medical Eligibility for Social Security Disability

The SSA uses its own medical guide, known colloquially as the Blue Book, when determining who’s eligible for Social Security benefits. Early Onset Alzheimer’s is listed as a qualifying condition in the Blue Book. In fact, you’ll qualify for Social Security disability with only a diagnosis.

Early Onset Alzheimer’s so clearly warrants approval, your claim’s processing will be expedited. This occurs under the Compassionate Allowance Initiative. The SSA will automatically flag some applications for conditions that will almost certainly meet the medical criteria needed for approval. When you apply for Social Security with Early Onset Alzheimer’s, you should be approved within just a couple of weeks.

Keep in mind that while your claim will be approved quickly, it will still take a full five months for your monthly payments to begin.

Starting Your Application

If you’re ready to apply for Social Security disability benefits, the easiest place to do so will be online on the SSA’s website. You can save your process to be completed at a later time if you wish. If you’d rather apply with the help of a Social Security representative, you can make an appointment to apply in person at your closest SSA office. Call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213 to make an appointment to apply in person.

A claim for Early Onset Alzheimer’s should be approved very quickly. Once approved, you can focus on what’s important: your health.


Resources Found Via:







Written by: Eric Minghella, Outreach Specialist, Disability Benefits Help

The post Qualifying for Social Security Disability with Alzheimer’s Disease appeared first on Alzheimer's Texas.

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Alzheimer's Texas by Alzheimer's Texas - 10M ago

Allen Power, M.D. has redefined dementia from the perspective of the person living with dementia as, “Dementia is a shift in the way a person experiences the world around her/him.”

What a universal human experience music can be. Music connects us with others who are present as well as connecting us with memories. Rhythm is usually preserved in a person living with dementia throughout the process and progression of their disease. As we see a decline in formal language skills (left-brain activity) in both understanding language as well as initiation of language, rhythm is usually preserved (right brain activity). Rhythm includes poetry, prayer and most universally music. Music is an effective tool for connecting not only with a person living with Alzheimer’s as well as those living with any related dementias.

World-renowned expert on communication with a person living with dementia and creator of The Feil Method of Validation, Naomi Feil, MSW, ACSW, whose background is social work, sees music as a powerful tool. Music is not only of use in connecting with the person but may also be valuable as one of the Techniques of Validation toward resolution for events of the persons past. Music may be used to kindle pleasant memories in a person that may exhibit troubling behavior or an unmet emotional need. Naomi Feil says, “A person may be able to sing even after they have lost the ability to communicate through speech.” To witness this miracle effect of music visit vfvalidation.org to view the video of Naomi working with a person with advanced dementia, Gladys. This video may raise an emotional response in the viewer, especially one of “we are not there yet”; I offer this simply as proof that music remains effective when you are with that person living with dementia at any stage of the disease process.

Another world-renowned expert that truly believes in the power of music is Teepa Snow, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA. Teepa has a background of more than thirty years as an Occupational Therapist and relates the therapeutic effect of music. Music can be used to alter a mood or emotion, it may calm or relax, it may be used to stimulate or energize the person. The effects of rhythm can be organizational; music may facilitate movement, emotional arousal and cognitive arousal. The effects of music may elicit a rapid positive response. Music may create a feeling or joy and wellbeing. Music may also provide a feeling of self-worth and success as the person may sing, dance, clap and tapping of feet. It feels like a success to the person living with dementia and the connection made with others.

Teepa suggests the use of music no less than twice daily, for both the person and the care partner. We all need a little recharge, what better way than music! Old familiar songs and hymns are most effective with the therapeutic effect upon the person living with dementia. Teepa Snow’s website is teepasnow.com and is full of useful information and videos. Both Teepa Snow and Naomi Feil can also be located on YouTube. There are also videos available for purchase on both of their sites.

How can we use music in the home and in a facility setting?

  • Music may help to facilitate positive movement through exercise and walking.
  • May be used to facilitate calmness when assisting with a necessary care function. Singing with a person while performing care may take the edge off the situation. Using a rhythmic or singsong way of speaking may improve their comprehension.
  • May be used as a positive activity, singing together or in a group (make sure that the songs used are familiar and relatable to the person’s past).
  • May simply be used to facilitate a quiet, restful period, whether alone or shared.

To best use music, think about your own experiences with music. Do you have a favorite artist, genre or period of music? Older adults respond to Big Band era music, but do not sell them short. They may enjoy music of the fifties or even the sixties. When you listen to music that you enjoy are you tempted to sing along or dance? Are you moved to clap with the rhythm or tap your feet to the beat of the music? Well, those experiences don’t change with age or ability.

The documentary, “Alive Inside” is easily found on amazon.com or Netflix. This documentary is sure to inspire any care partner whether family or professional. The website associated with the documentary is www.musicandmemories.com.  Other resources for music and videos are www.eldersong.com and www.alzstore.com

Happy listening and happy connecting!

Stephen Catoe, CPAC, CALM, CVW, CDP

Additional Resources:

Musical Memories: One-to-one musical interactions for elders, especially those with dementia, stroke and other challenges. (512) 496-5227. http://musicalmemoriesaustin.com/ 

Swan Songs: A local non-profit providing musical concerts to terminally ill and hospice patients. (512) 416-7926. www.swansongs.org

The post Miraculous Music appeared first on Alzheimer's Texas.

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Even in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease, you will want to plan for the changes that will take place in the person’s daily life.

Types of care to consider for Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s Texas has several resource lists containing contacts for the following types of care.

  • Informal Care:
    • Family
    • Friends and neighbors
    • Community volunteers providing assistance as needed
  • Respite Care:
    • In-home respite care – providing private pay professional services in the home
    • Community Respite Centers – providing free respite with the use of volunteers in a faith based setting
    • Elderhaven Adult day centers – providing private pay professional services in a safe environment outside the home (www.ageofaustin.org)

  • Emergency respite care: 
    • Available in situations when caregiver must be absent unexpectedly
    • Arrangements need to be made prior to the emergency situation and can take place either in-home or a facility setting
  • Residential Care:
    • Provided when living at home is no longer an option:
      • Independent living for seniors
      • Personal Assisted Living Care homes
      • Assisted living facilities
      • Continuing care retirement communities – offer independent, assisted and nursing care in one location
      • Nursing facilities
  • Hospice:
    • Hospice seeks to address emotional, social and spiritual pain in addition to physical pain in the family’s desired setting.  Costs are covered by insurance.

Getting started 

When contacting a provider or residential care setting, be prepared by having the following information available about the person seeking care:

  • Name and Social Security number
  • Physician’s name and number
  • Diagnoses, other health and behavioral care needs
  • Insurance coverage including Medicare, Medicaid and long term insurance
  • Special care equipment required

Know what in-home services you are seeking:

  • Companionship – visiting, supervision and leisure activities
  • Personal care – bathing, dressing, toileting and exercising
  • Homemaking – housekeeping, shopping and cooking
  • Medical – wound care, IV or catheter care, skilled nursing, etc.

Make sure the provider is:

  • Trained in dementia care
  • CPR and First Aid certified
  • Licensed and bonded
  • Referred by past clients
  • Available when you need

What to Look For When Choosing a Facility:

  • Family Involvement:
    • Families are encouraged to participate in care planning
    • Informs families of changes in resident’s condition and care needs
    • Families are encouraged to communicate with staff
    • Visiting hours are available for family and friends
  • Staffing:
    • Personal care and assistance is provided to extent needed
    • Staff recognizes persons with dementia as unique individuals, and personalize care to meet specific needs, abilities, and interest
    • Staff is trained in dementia care
  • Programs and services:
    • Appropriate services and programming are offered based on specific health and behavioral care needs
    • Planned activities are available on weekends or during evenings
    • Activities are designed to meet specific needs, interests, and abilities
    • Transportation is available for medical appointments and shopping for personal items
  • Meals:
    • Regular meals and snack times with appetizing food in a pleasant dining environment
    • Family and friends are able to join at mealtime
    • Staff has a plan for monitoring adequate nutrition
    • Staff provides appropriate assistance based on person’s abilities
    • No environmental distractions during meal time (noisy TV, etc.)
  • Environment:
    • Indoor space promotes independence and allows for freedom of movement
    • Safe and secure indoor and outdoor areas
    • Easy to navigate
    • Designated family visiting area(s)

The post Checklist for Providing Alzheimer’s Care appeared first on Alzheimer's Texas.

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Alzheimer's Texas by Alzheimer's Texas - 10M ago

Spirit can be defined as the animating force traditionally believed to be within living beings; a human being’s essence.  It is the part of the human being association with the mind and feelings as distinguished from the physical body.  Spirituality is not a doctrine.  It is a remembrance.  It is a feeling.  It is the knowledge that you are more than your physical body, that you are an eternally living being.  It is self-exploration, self-realization.  Alzheimer’s disease cannot steal your spirituality.

People who have Alzheimer’s disease, especially those raised in religious households, are uplifted by worship services and pastoral visits. They can often take part in age-old rituals and enjoy hearing favorite hymns and scripture passages.  Some people with the disease may stop attending regular services to avoid social situations they fear or no longer understand, while others find peace and comfort in a place of worship.

Caregivers also have spiritual needs. Caring for a loved one can last for years, leaving them weary, isolated, frustrated and depressed. At the same time, they may grieve the loss of who the person once was.  Spirituality can be a support throughout their caregiving journey and serve as a tremendous source of strength.  Spirituality has been shown to provide the ability to better cope with the task of caregiving, resulting in lower rates of depression and better relationships with their care recipient (Choi et al., 2006).

  • Support and empower the person with Alzheimer’s
  • Engage in short prayers or inspirational stories lasting no more than five minutes
  • Use older translations or scriptures – and encourage interaction; the person may  no longer relate to the newer, international versions
  • Be attuned and flexible to the way the person talks about his or her spirituality
  • Foster an atmosphere of joy, trust and comfort
  • Make connections through music– traditional songs or old hymns might be better received than modern spiritual music with a heavy, pop-music beat
  • Plan short, frequent home visits rather than lengthy ones
  • Use education about Alzheimer’s to break down fears that may exist in the congregation and build compassion for those affected by the disease
  • Encourage the person to take part in services and social events appropriate to his or her abilities, like singing in the choir or attending a congregation dinner
  • Watch a taped service if they can no longer attend in person

Caring Kind of NY offers 3 keys questions to ask in order to nurture spiritual health in both the caregiver and care recipient:

  1. Do you have things you need to do? Unfinished business?  People you need to talk to?
  2. What bothers or upsets you about your present situation?
  3. What comforts you when you feel afraid? Religious practices?  Scripture reading?  Music?  Other writings?



The post Alzheimer’s and Spirituality appeared first on Alzheimer's Texas.

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Alzheimer's Texas by Alzheimer's Texas - 10M ago

Article by www.alzheimersweekly.com

Attention, alertness and cognition have dramatic fluctuations in Lewy Body dementia. Caregivers call these ups and downs “The Roller-Coaster of LBD.” Learn more about it and where to get essential support.

“I watched my husband experience a decline in cognition followed by a period of what seemed like improved function only to plunge again into confusion with more frequent hallucinations,” says one caregiver newly acquainted with Lewy body dementia (LBD). According to the Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA), these ups and downs in function are sometimes refer to by family caregivers as the “roller-coaster effect” of LBD. Fluctuating levels of cognitive ability, attention and alertness are one of the core features of LBD.

Important Diagnosis   

“The combination of the motor signs of Parkinson’s disease (slowed mobility, stooped posture and tremor) and mental confusion, especially if the degree of confusion fluctuates day to day, should raise a red flag for suspicion of LBD,” says Howard I. Hurtig, M.D., Chair, Department of Neurology, Pennsylvania Hospital, and Elliott Professor of Neurology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. “If those symptoms are accompanied or preceded by REM sleep behavior disorder (vivid dreams, dream enactment, hitting bed partner, falling out of bed) and visual hallucinations (seeing people, animals, etc., that aren’t truly there), then the diagnosis of LBD is almost certain. Even when all symptoms of LBD are present, it is critical for the evaluating doctor to look for underlying, TREATABLE causes of dementia.” A thorough assessment will include an inventory of daily medications (drugs can produce a “chemical” state of pseudodementia), CT or MRI scan of the brain, blood tests for thyroid function and vitamin deficiency and other causes of dementia that can be identified by routine study.

Following Alzheimer’s disease, LBD is the most misdiagnosed form of dementia but the second most common cause of progressive dementia, affecting 1.3 million Americans. LBD is associated with abnormal protein deposits in the brain, called Lewy bodies, that impair thinking, movement, sleep and behavior (causing people to see hallucinations or act out dreams, sometimes violently). Also, it affects autonomic body functions, such as blood pressure control, temperature regulation, and digestion. Recognizing symptoms early can help people with LBD get comprehensive and appropriate treatment and help caregivers get much needed support. It’s difficult to diagnose LBD, because its early symptoms resemble symptoms found in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.


Education about LBD is urgently needed. The Lewy Body Dementia Association offers individuals with LBD, caregivers and families a range of information, resources and support. Hurtig explains, “Caring for LBD is especially resource intense (and may be greater than in Alzheimer’s disease) because of the challenge to the provider and caregiver of treating problems created by the combination of cognitive impairment and parkinsonism, which occurs in most patients with LBD.” Like the woman quoted above, newcomers to LBD find solace and support through LBDA’s vibrant online community of caregivers. People help one another effectively cope with this devastating disease by sharing concerns, questions and experiences through LBDA’s discussion forums and social networks. To receive a packet of information or to access other resources about LBD, visit http://www.lbda.org/lewywho/.

Alzheimer’s Texas has LBD resources and educational opportunities.  Visit www.txalz.org or call (512) 241-0420 x 10 to learn more. There are three LBD-specific caregiver supports in Central Texas that can help you:

Austin Lewy Body Dementia Caregiver Support Group

3rd Saturday at 9:30AM

(AGE Building) 3710 Cedar St. Room 130

Facilitated by Tom Clark (830) 220-9155

Highland Lakes Lewy Body Dementia Caregiver Support Group

2nd Saturday at 10:00 AM

Lake Shores Church, 704 N. HWY 241, 78654

Facilitated by Tom Clark (830) 220-9155

North Austin Lewy Body Dementia Support Group

2nd Monday at 6:00 PM

1000 Rusk Road, 78665

Facilitated by Sarah Hyde-Williams (832) 794-8810

The post Lewy Body Rollercoaster appeared first on Alzheimer's Texas.

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