alzheimer's care

Tag Archive for dementia

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

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

Mood changes — a warning sign that care may be needed series

Dramatic mood changes can be a sign of mental decline. Sometimes depression can mask as dementia.  Swinging from anger to tears is a possible sign of early Alzheimer’s. Other things to watch for are forgetfulness and withdrawal from friends. Loneliness can also be a factor in elder mood changes. If that is the reason, find activities to help ease the loneliness.

See other warning signs that care may be needed. Download our printable checklist to see if care might be needed. Read More

Alzheimer’s diagnosis via blood test

We welcome a guest blogger today — Lorenzo Mejia, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Qualified Dementia Care Specialist

The BBC reports an exciting finding in the ongoing battle to understand and diagnose Alzheimer’s.  Researchers in Britain are looking at markers in blood that could lead to a diagnosis in the disease’s earliest stages. This would mean that it could be caught decades earlier, which could result in better treatment all around.

The test would look for proteins that are linked to Alzheimer’s.  In addition, researchers say that they have identified other markers — linked to inflammation — that show potentially high correlation.  This latter element comes at no surprise.  In all the reading I have done, it appears that the inflammation process in our bodies is akin to aging and overall body deterioration.  If any of you have read the recent book, The Alzheimer’s Diet, you will find the same concept …. that an anti-Alzheimer’s Diet is an anti-inflammatory diet.

Read More

Alzheimer’s and Respite Care

Just as we require a day off weekly and several days of rest annually, primary caregivers should require respite.seniormanhappy

Caregivers, especially unpaid family members, often need an interval of relief more—but utilize it less. One factor is the emotions tied up in the act of caregiving. You may feel you are the only one who can truly provide adequate care—or that seeking respite shows either weakness or lack of care. You might also worry that you cannot afford assistance or that no one would help if you asked.
According to HelpGuide.org, “Those with strong support systems, creative respite arrangements, and regular time away not only fare better, they also find more satisfaction in their caretaking roles.” Read More

Seasonal Depression or Winter Blues for Caregivers

Seasonal Depression If you have lately found yourself reaching for carbohydrate-rich foods, desiring more sleep/feeling fatigued or decreased levels of energy, you may be experiencing some symptoms of “Winter Blues” or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). According to Web MD, people with SAD have many of the normal signs of depression.

Other symptoms may include: Read More

Financial Elder Abuse: Recognition and Prevention

154435_199045503546847_441023954_n-300x168Unfortunately, seniors are often the target of financial exploitation, and even more unfortunately, it is often family members who are doing the exploiting. Just this morning, my office received a call from one of our caregivers expressing concern about one of our clients. In this case, extended family members may be stealing funds from the senior who is suffering from dementia. I cannot begin to explain how angry this makes me when I hear about seniors being abused by their own family! Of course, our office is reporting this to our local Area Agency on Aging, and an investigation will be conducted. But since this is something that I see happening over and over again, I just want to remind you what to look for if you feel your loved one is being exploited. Read More