alzheimer's care

Archive for Alzheimer’s

Art Therapy for the Elderly

Artistic Expression Helps Seniors

Creative expression benefits seniors in many ways, including those with dementia. Imagination and creativity can flourish despite cognitive difficulties. New areas of potential can even be discovered that were never before realized. Creative expression benefits seniors in many ways, including those with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or other degenerative disorders.  According to Barbara Bagan PhD., older adults are in the final developmental stage where they must integrate their past, present, and future life experiences. When meaningful activities are pursued, seniors can achieve growth while overcoming feelings of longing and despair. Expressive art can also boost neural pathways by forging new and stronger dendritic connections which fight the effects of degenerative disease.

10 Reasons to use Art Therapy

  • Promotes relaxation. To strengthen this effect, create ambiance with soft music and minimum background noise.
  • Provides means of expression and communication. When words fail, art can provide a means to communicate and express experiences. Creating art can also be a wonderful time to invite your loved one to communicate with you verbally. Creativity may cause a usually quiet person to become more talkative.
  • Provides a sense of control. Avoid “taking over” or imposing assistance if it is not needed, by being sensitive about when to offer help. Make sure to recognize accomplishments, and avoid overly long creative sessions that might cause tiredness or frustration.
  • Improves socialization. When possible, group art activities can enhance feelings of social connection. If a group is not available, join in and make art together. Display your loved one’s art work where it can be seen.
  • Promotes playfulness and humor. Keep a light heart and look for moments to encourage play and humor.
  • Boosts cognitive functioning. Make the most of it by choosing a time of day when your loved one is at their best level of alertness and focus.
  • Stimulates the senses. Working with one’s hands in a variety of mediums and textures can provide an abundance of tactile stimulation. When possible, enhance this experience by taking your art session outdoors or near an open window. Play his or her favorite music. Create items that can stimulate the senses long after they are completed, through textures, scents, or memory recall.
  • Strengthens identity and self-esteem. Offer compliments and keep completed artwork displayed.
  • Engage Spirituality. When thinking of ideas for free-expression, provide prompts that invite your loved one to connect with spiritual concepts and values that are meaningful to them.
  • Alleviates boredom. Creative sessions don’t have to be initiated on a schedule. When possible, make materials accessible to your loved one so he or she can choose art activities at will.

Tips

You don’t have to break the bank. Art supplies can be quite inexpensive, and remember, the activities you choose don’t have to be complicated. Drawing, painting, or collage may be just the right thing, but really, the possibilities are endless. Beautifully designed coloring books for adults are now available which can provide hours of relaxation with just a handful of markers or colored pencils. If your loved one has a previous art hobby or interest, this may be the perfect time to encourage renewed interest. If not, providing a variety of new activities could result in a newly discovered passion. Remember to use caution and avoid unsupervised use of materials that could be a safety hazard. And don’t forget to allow opportunities for your loved one to experience and appreciate art created by others. A local co-op or museum may be a great choice for your next outing.

Music Therapy for the Elderly

Elderly woman with headphones listening to music.

Music Therapy Touches Hearts and Memories

Not long ago, a documentary clip went viral. It featured the story of Henry, an elderly man with dementia who sat locked inside himself day after day… until they placed headphones over his ears and let him hear the music he loved during his youth. Suddenly, everything changed.

One of the greatest challenges the elderly face is a lost sense of belonging, independence, freedom, and enjoyment. These unmet needs result in feelings of isolation, sadness, and loss. For those suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, the inability to communicate this experience can be both complex and devastating.

Music therapy is a powerful tool in caregiving. According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation, music can trigger lost memories, promote communication and movement, manage anxiety, stimulate creativity, and renew identity. Simply stated, music has the power to reach across the barrier of time and functional limitations to evoke joy and vitality. Keep reading to learn how you can share this wonderful therapy with your elderly loved one.

Six Tips for Using Music Therapy to Help Your Elderly Loved One

Explore their music history. Old hymns, swing, and wartime songs are often favorites among the elderly; however, take care to avoid songs that bring up unpleasant memories. Because of the powerful associations music creates, it can sometimes return someone to an experience that was emotionally painful. Watch for signs of distress. If this occurs, stop the song immediately and move on to something else.

Compile a playlist. An iPod or other type of mp3 device can be a great way to amass a variety of songs that can be played easily through a small speaker or headphones. Playlists can be grouped by themes for specific moods and activities.

Make music accessible. When possible, allow the person access to the player as a source of comfort when needed. As always, use good judgment to avoid any risk of the person becoming entangled in the cords. If mobility or confusion is an issue, close supervision may be necessary.

Play music during exercise. Listening to music while walking may help improve gait, and it can encourage interest in other types of exercise.

Create an ambiance. Using background music during the general day-to-day can enhance mood. Make a special playlist of calming music to reduce sundowning, anxiety, or problems with behavior.

Encourage drumming and sing-alongs. Music can promote a sense of emotional connection. Use facial expression to engage and communicate with the person through the sound of the music.

Visit the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America for more information about using music therapy with the elderly. If you’d like more ideas on how to improve an elderly person’s quality of life, check out our post on pet therapy.

Sundowner’s Syndrome Symptoms

Boise Home Health Care

Lady showing concern of elderly person with sundowning

Sundowner’s syndrome, most commonly called sundowning, affects some twenty percent of people who have Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. People with dementia who “sundown” get confused and agitated as the sun goes down — and sometimes through the night.

Sundowning may prevent people with dementia from sleeping well. It may also make them more likely to wander. Due to the stress it puts on caregivers, sundowning is one of the leading causes of caregiver burnout.  As a caregiver for someone dealing with sundowning, it is important to know the symptoms to help understand what you are going to be contending with. Read More

Spotting the Warning Signs of Depression

Boise Home Health Care

man depressed

Everyone feels blue now and then. It’s part of life. But if you no longer enjoy activities that you usually like, you may have a more serious problem. Being depressed without letup can change the way you think and feel. This is called “clinical depression.”

Being “down in the dumps” over a period of time is not a normal part of getting older. But it is a common problem, and medical help may be needed. For most people, depression will get better with treatment. “Talk” therapy, medicine, or other treatment methods can ease the pain of depression. You do not need to suffer.

There is a similarity between the symptoms of depression and dementia but the two are completely different.  Sometimes the signs of depression can mask themselves and appear as if it’s dementia. Knowing the signs can help differentiate the two. Read More

How You Can Help an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

caregiver-stress-300x198Many Alzheimer’s caregivers are deeply dedicated and feel like they can handle anything. Usually they are often so burned out they can’t even imagine how anyone could assist them. In addition, they may be reluctant to ask for help because they don’t want to impose and because they’re afraid people will refuse to help.  Reaching out will help avoid getting burned out. We have put together some information on how to get the assistance the caregiver needs. Read More

Avoid Caregiver Burnout – Part 3

95613396-300x208This is part three of a series that offers some helpful tips to avoid caregiver burnout when dealing with someone suffering with Alzheimer’s disease. Learning as much as possible about Alzheimer’s can help alleviate burnout and make life easier for you and the person afflicted with this disease. This part discusses realistic expectations and setting up a game plan.  This is the final part of that series. Read More

Avoid Caregiver Burnout – Part 2

in home careFamily Cooperation

If the person with Alzheimer’s is a member of your family, your immediate family is likely to be your primary source of support and relief. Siblings often trade off care duty and share financial obligations.

But there are tremendous emotional benefits to a united family, too. Decision making is much easier when families are in general agreement. You’ll also be less likely to feel guilty or isolated, second-guess yourself, or waste mental energy feeling resentful or unappreciated if you can all work toward consensus (or at least mutual respect). Read More

Avoid Caregiver Burnout – Part 1

caregiver-stressMost people simply dive in to the responsibility of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease and then take it one day at a time. That sounds like the best course of action right? Before you find yourself combating both his disease and your own emotional strain and battle fatigue, be sure you have these stress-busters on your side.  If you don’t cover yourself first then your no help to him. Read More

Dementia & Alzheimer’s Care

Planning and Preparing for the Road Ahead

 

Alzheimer and Dementia CareAlzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia can be a challenging journey, not only for the person diagnosed but also for their family members and loved ones. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia can seem overwhelming at times, but the more information and support you have, the better you can navigate the demanding road ahead and determine the long-term care options that are best suited to you and your loved one.

When planning for care of a loved one who suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s consider these: Read More

6 Ways To Reduce Sundowners Syndrome

148035231Sundown syndrome, also called sundowning or sunsetting or sundowners disease, is a behavior common in people with Alzheimer’s disease. As the day progresses, he/she may begin to become more anxious, confused, agitated or disoriented. This distressing behavior can last a few hours or throughout the night, making life very difficult for the caregiver and the patient. Read More