Caring for a loved one with even mild dementia can be challenging. Advice and support from a professional source can help ease the burden. The following story is a typical day in the life of couples when someone in the partnership is experiencing memory loss and confusion. It offers some tips about how to handle difficult situations.
Myron starts his day around 7am. He gets up and goes through his morning routine, which includes washing up, getting dressed, and starting the coffee. At around 8am, he goes in to wake up his wife, Talia. She would sleep longer if Myron did not wake her up.
Since researchers have not yet determined what causes Alzheimer’s disease, you may be wondering if there is anything we can do to prevent it?
The answer is YES. RUSH University nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, ScD, and colleagues’ research has shown a link between nutrition and the role it may play to prevent or delay the onset of dementia decline. One of the studies showed the benefits of the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) on cognition – it included 960 participants with an average age of 81. The research analyzed food frequency and cognition scores over 10 years. Those on the MIND diet scored being 7.5 years younger cognitively!
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that antipsychotic medication is overprescribed for patients with dementia. Antipsychotic medications were created years ago to treat serious mental health conditions such as schizophrenia. Over time, these drugs came into use to treat dementia patients with symptoms that put them and others at risk, including physically aggressive behavior and wandering.
However, research shows these drugs are not effective for most dementia behaviors, and can cause unnecessary and sometimes dangerous side effects. Experts agree that all dementia patients on antipsychotics should have their medical plans reviewed, since some patients may benefit from either reducing or stopping the medication.
How many times have you heard a song and gotten a strange sense of déjà vu? With even just a few notes played, you are reminded of people, places, and events you may not have thought about for years. New research is confirming and expanding an idea long held by those who work with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients: music has a way of invoking memory.
Getting the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease today is much like what getting a cancer diagnosis used to be for some people: devastating, often debilitating, and leaving one not knowing who to tell or where to turn. Years ago when I was a nurse, some patients didn’t want their families to know they had cancer. While cancer patients have gotten braver about their need for support and advocating for treatments and cures, many individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease still fear the stigma…and the confusion over what to do next.
Anne is a memory care patient in long-term chronic care at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center Roslindale. To learn more about our memory care offerings, please click here.
Families personally affected by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are robbed of many things others take for granted, but though speech and other faculties may decline, a person’s light and spirit are indelible. Now living with advanced dementia, Anne radiates kindness and warmth and is a valued member of our community. See her story.
The center will serve people with all types of memory concerns, and also family members and friends of those with memory issues. We’ll start with a comprehensive assessment for a person with a memory complaint. That assessment will provide answers about whether the complaint is due to a memory condition like Alzheimer’s, or something else such as depression. Once the assessment program is in place, treatments will focus on family support and care management, including a focus on person-centered goals to adjust to memory concerns and improve quality of life.
You’ve been with Hebrew SeniorLife for several years. Can you share a little about your background and your career at HSL?
I came to Boston from Spain on a Fulbright scholarship to do a masters-level viola performance degree at New England Conservatory. In Boston, I discovered the incredible world of music therapy and the field fascinated me. I found that the combination of science and art was a calling and a home for me in a way I never experienced as a performer or teacher. I then earned a second master’s degree in expressive art therapy at Lesley University and became a licensed mental health counselor.
When Alzheimer’s disease becomes part of a marriage, or a family, caregivers can usually find resources to support the member facing memory loss or to support the family caregiver seeking peer connections and information. Yet, until the last few years, there wasn’t much designed to support the evolving spousal or parent/child relationship itself. All that changed with the advent of the “Memory Café” concept in the Netherlands, a unique model of social programming designed as a welcoming place for caregivers and their loved ones with memory loss to relax together in a stigma-free environment that offers both socialization and support.