My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease about five years ago and while there have been many “unfunny” moments (like the day he decided to go for a walk to Foxboro Center at 4 o’clock in the morning in the middle of November). I have found that the use of laughter and humor not only helps me to keep my sanity, but it also seems to help him.
Behavioral changes can be one of the most difficult aspects of caring for someone with dementia. Up to 90% of people with dementia exhibit some form of upsetting behavior over the course of their illness. Examples of these dementia behaviors, known collectively as Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD), include:
Dementia is one of the most feared health conditions, especially in older adults. Adults with early signs of dementia and their families are often reluctant to seek advice. In fact, more than half of adults with dementia go undiagnosed.
The Easter and Passover holidays provide not only an opportunity to reconnect with our faith, but also a time to enjoy delicious meals and spend time with family and friends. For adults experiencing cognitive changes due to dementia, however, holidays can be stressful. Changes in routine are difficult for persons with dementia. Care partners can become distracted by worrying about protecting their loved one’s everyday routines at events that are anything but routine. However, with thoughtful pre-planning and with the support of others, adults with dementia and their care partners can continue to find joy and meaning in the holidays. Here are some tips:
At our adult day health programs, older adults socialize with their peers while participating in a wide variety of activities. And if nursing care is needed, it’s readily available.
Think of the alternatives.
For many seniors it might be eight or more hours of isolation. That’s because families have work and other commitments that force them to leave their loved one at home. A phone call every now and then doesn’t allow for much interaction. And what happens if the senior forgets to take his medications? Or leaves the stove on?
Although there are different causes for dementia, all types of dementia get worse over time. Advanced dementia refers to the final stage of the disease. The final stage comes at different times for everyone. On average, patients reach the advanced stage of dementia anywhere from 3-6 years after they are first diagnosed. The length of time people live with the advanced stage is also different for everyone and can range from months to years.
What are typical features of a patient with advanced dementia?
Oh the holidays – how we look forward to them with anticipated joy! And then reality hits when even the best laid plans don’t quite go as expected. Guests are late to dinner or don’t show up at all. The turkey is over cooked – under cooked. Your teen-aged children are finding “themselves.” And, the grandparents – well, they are changing as well.
People often tell me how hard it can be to feel connected to a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, especially if he or she has advanced disease. The Alzheimer’s Buddies program is one example of how you can keep that connection alive by approaching it in a different way.
Alzheimer’s Buddies is a response to the isolation many patients experience in the intermediate to late stages of Alzheimer's. The program, one of a number of activities for dementia patients we offer, teams undergraduate Harvard students with Hebrew Rehabilitation Center residents who have moderate to advanced Alzheimer’s.
Summers in Massachusetts are wonderful. After months of ice and snow, the change in seasons finally allows us to enjoy long-awaited rituals. For many people, one of these is a summer vacation.
When you are caring for someone with dementia, the thought of a vacation may be wonderful, but the actual reality of the experience can be stressful and complicated. Caregiving is a 24/7 job wherever you are. Dementia doesn’t go away like some of the other worries we leave at home while on vacation. In fact, the change in routine can make symptoms even worse.
If you decide that travelling is important and that it brings value to you and your care partner’s life, the following suggestions may help make the process easier and safer for both of you: