Things Never to Say to a Parent With Alzheimer's

As those with firsthand experience know, there are guidelines to follow when talking to someone suffering from Alzheimer’s. People with Alzheimer’s or other dementia can become easily upset, especially when reminded–unintentionally or not–of the faults of their fading mind, so it’s essential to be sensitive when dealing with this kind of situation.

Knowing that sensitivity is important when dealing with a parent with Alzheimer’s, below are five things never to say to a person with Alzheimer’s, adapted from advice from award-winning author Marie Marley:

Don’t tell them they’re wrong. A golden rule of talking to someone with Alzheimer’s is to let them save face if they are wrong about something. Try not to contradict them, as there’s no good reason to do so. Sometimes, your loved one will realize they’ve made a mistake and correct it. If not, though, your correction may embarrass them.

Don’t argue. “It’s never a good idea to argue with a person who has dementia,” Marley notes. Why? Because you can’t win. Also, arguing may upset them or even make them angry. Instead, try to change the subject to something pleasant when a conflict arises.

Don’t ask if they remember something specific. While tempting, it’s best not to ask a your loved one with Alzheimer’s if they remember a specific person or event, even something as recent as asking about what they had for lunch. “Of course they don’t remember,” Marley writes. “Otherwise, they wouldn’t have a diagnosis of dementia.” A good point. Rather, keep the conversation open-ended, saying things like “It was nice when we had lunch together last week.”

Don’t remind them that a loved one is dead. It’s common for those suffering from dementia to believe a deceased spouse, sibling, or parent is still alive. They might even feel hurt that the person doesn’t visit. Still, by informing them that their beloved are dead, they might not believe you and even become angry. And if they do believe you, they will likely become very upset at the news. “An exception to this guideline is if they ask you if the person is gone,” says Marley. In this case, give them an honest answer, even if they’ll soon forget.

Avoid other topics that may upset them. Simply put, there’s no reason to bring up something that you know will upset your loved one. Leave your personal frustrations aside if you disagree on something. Like we touched on above, it can easily lead to an argument you can’t win.

Can you think of any more topics to avoid when talking to a loved one with Alzheimer’s? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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Elder Care Preventing Hospital Readmissions

Many elderly patients who find themselves in the hospital are not fully prepared for the lifestyle changes they’ll have to make after they’re discharged.

Even with a full summary of instructions from the doctor–what medications to take, how often to return to the pharmacy, new diet restrictions, etc.–it is often difficult to perfectly follow all the new rules, especially after an exhausting stay in the hospital.

An article from the New York Times points out that many seniors are susceptible to complications from non-compliance, and often find themselves right back in the hospital within 30 days. Naturally, this isn’t good for the hospital, the patient, or his or her family. Those who suffer from heart failure, pneumonia, and acute myocardial interaction are the most at risk of readmission, according to a study from the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The Times offers the following suggestions, adapted from research from the University of Colorado and other institutions, on preventing your loved one from having a repeat visit to the hospital:

  • Hospital staff should spend more time teaching patients AND caregivers about the best ways to manage the condition.
  • Assess the kind of support a patient may need, including assistance with transportation, meal delivery, and home health care.
  • Schedule routine follow-ups with patients after they leave the hospital, and deal with their concerns.
  • Make sure that patients see their primary care doctor within a week of their discharge, and be sure the doctor has an official account of what happened during the hospital stay.
  • Educate patients as to who is responsible for coordinating their care, and what to do if a health care provider is unavailable.

Other key points from the article include:

  • Remember that when patients leave the hospital, they become their own care coordinator by default, so the more that patients can embrace that role and communicate their needs to health professionals, the better.
  • Patients should insist that a family member or caregiver be at their side when they receive instructions from hospital staff on what to do after returning home.
  • Don’t leave the hospital until you have the answers to questions like, “Why was I in the hospital? What was done to me? What needs to happen going forward? What should I be doing to maintain a stable condition?”

Do you know of any other measures that seniors and their caregivers can take in order to avoid future trips to the hospital? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.private-duty.pchhc.com.”


Elderly Driving Statistics

One of the hardest privileges for seniors to give up is driving. Driving allows seniors to stay mobile and independent, and also becomes an activity embedded into the daily routine of a person’s life.

Still, studies have shown that the older a driver is, the greater their chances are of being injured in a car accident. With more than 33 million licensed drivers over the age of 65 in the U.S., elders behind the wheel are a growing concern–especially with millions more Baby Boomers soon to reach their golden years.

Below are some statistics via the CDC that show just how big of a problem elderly driving can be, and who is at risk:

  • In 2008, more than 5,500 older adults were killed and 183,000-plus were injured in crashes, averaging 15 older adults killed and 500 injured in crashes every day.
  • In 2009, there were 33 million licensed elderly drivers, a 23 percent jump from 1999.
  • Fatal crash rates spike for those 75 and older, and again for those over the age of 80. “This is largely due to increased susceptibility to injury and medical complications among older drivers rather than an increased tendency to get into crashes,” the CDC notes.
  • Other factors that can affect a senior’s driving ability include age-related declines in vision, cognitive functioning, and/or physical changes.

If your elderly loved one is still able to drive but you are worried about their safety, there are a few things any driver can do to improve safety behind the wheel, including:

  • Simply put, wearing your seatbelt–no matter what your age is–decreases your risk of injury during a crash.
  • Only driving when conditions are safe. “Older drivers tend to limit their driving during bad weather and at night and drive fewer miles than younger drivers,” the CDC reports.
  • Don’t drive impaired. Luckily, research has shown that older adults are less likely to drink and drive than younger drivers. Only 5% of senior drivers involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol concentration above .08 grams per deciliter. Compare that to 25% of drivers between the ages of 21 and 64.

Other steps older drivers can take to stay safe on the road include:

  • Have a regular exercise routine to increase/maintain strength and flexibility.
  • Have your doctor or pharmacist review medications to help reduce side effects and interactions.
  • Get a yearly eye exam and always wear glasses or corrective lenses while driving.
  • Plan your routes before driving. This will help an older driver find the safest route with well-lit streets, easy-to-navigate intersections, and easy parking.
  • Make sure to leave large following distances behind other cars.
  • Avoid driving distractions like listening to a loud radio, talking on a cell phone, and eating.
  • When available, consider alternatives to driving, such as taking public transportation or riding with a friend.

What are some other measures older drivers can take to stay safe while driving? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.private-duty.pchhc.com.”


Heat Stress and the Elderly
The summer months typically bring extremely hot conditions along with them. This year is no exception, as temperatures are again expected to be above average. (Just look at the temperatures the last few weeks on the East Coast and Midwest if you need any more proof).

And considering that people over the age of 65 are less likely to sense and respond to temperature changes according to the CDC, it’s important to know the risks of heat stress and the elderly.

If you have an elderly loved one who may be at risk of heat stress–which without emergency treatment can cause permanent disabilities and even death–make sure to remind them of the following information (adapted from the CDC):

  • Stay inside and in the air conditioning as much as possible. Your local agency can locate an air-conditioned shelter in your loved one’s area, if need be.
  • A fan should not be relied on as a primary cooling device during extreme heat.
  • Seniors should drink more water than usual when out in high temperatures, and they shouldn’t wait until they’re thirsty to drink.
  • Have a friend or neighbor check on your aging loved one–and perhaps you could do the same for someone in your area.
  • Avoid using the stove or oven to cook as much as possible, as that only makes the house hotter.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down as needed.
  • Keep an eye on local news for health and safety updates.
  • If your loved one has any of symptoms of heat-releated illness, seek medical care immediately.

While seniors won’t always be at risk of heat stress when outside during the summer, it can never hurt to be too careful. Being proactive and taking all the steps you can will help ensure that your elderly loved one stays cool and beats the summer heat.

Do you have any other tips for avoiding heat stress? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.private-duty.pchhc.com.”


Is Mom's Memory Loss a Sign of Dementia or Normal Aging?
A person becoming more forgetful in old age doesn’t necessarily mean that they are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. In some cases, perceived memory loss could be due to a number of other factors–hearing loss, poor vision, side effects from medication, etc.

With that said, it’s still good to know the signs of dementia, which is a brain disease that causes the slow decline of memory, thinking, and reasoning skills.

Below is a list of the 10 early warning signs of Alzheimer’s and other dementia, adapted from the Alzheimer’s Association.

Changes in memory that disrupt daily life. Your loved one uncharacteristically forgets important dates or events, or asks for the same information over and over.

  • Normal aging: Occasionally forgetting names/appointments/etc. but remembering them later.

Trouble planning or solving problems. Your elderly mother has changes in her ability to work with numbers, follow a recipe, or track bills.

  • Normal aging: Makes occasional mistakes balancing a checkbook.

Difficultly completing familiar tasks. Dad has trouble driving somewhere familiar, or remembering the rules of a game.

  • Normal aging: Occasionally needing help with settings on an appliance, or recording a TV show.

Confusion with time or place. Your loved one loses track of dates or seasons, or forgets where they are or how they got there.

  • Normal aging: Initial confusion about the day of the week but remembering it later.

Trouble with visual images and spatial relationships. Mom has difficulty reading, judging distance, and/or determining color.

  • Normal aging: Vision change due to cataracts.

Problems with speaking or writing. Your loved one has trouble keeping up in conversation.

  • Normal aging: Occasional trouble finding the right word.

Misplacing things and trouble backtracking. Dad starts putting things in unusual places, losing things, or accusing others of stealing.

  • Normal aging: Losing things from time to time, but being able to retrace steps to find them.

Decreased/poor judgement. Your loved one makes bad decisions with money, or falls behind on grooming.

  • Normal aging: Making a bad decision every now and again.

Withdrawal from work or socializing. Your mother stops going to neighborhood meetings, going out to dinner with her friends, or has trouble keeping up during a trip to the store.

  • Normal aging: Occasional weariness of work, family, and social obligations.

Changes in personality. Dad uncharacteristically becomes confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious.

  • Normal aging: Developing specific routines and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted. 

An individual may experience one or more of these signs in varying degrees. If you notice your loved is suffering from one or more of them, it’s important to see a doctor. Keeping a cautious eye out on your aging loved ones is essential to making sure they receive the correct care they need.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.private-duty.pchhc.com.”


Long-Term Care Demands on the Rise in the U.S.
A new report from the AARP Public Policy Institute, National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD), and Health Management Associates (HMA) highlights challenges that states will have in providing long-term care services and supports (LTSS) in the future.

Essentially, the report says that as the number of elderly Americans increases substantially over the next few decades, few states have indicated increasing funding for non-Medicaid services like senior centers, information, transportation, and support for caregivers.

States still recovering from the recent recession, especially those in the South and Western U.S., are faced with revenue shortfalls, but also an increased demand for help with aging and disability, leaving them struggling to do more with less.

Even so, according to the report, reforms are under way to transform the financing and delivery of LTSS. This means that many states are restructuring agencies that administer aging and disability services so that they can eventually provide comprehensive plans that integrate LTSS options with Medicaid and the forthcoming American Care Act.

Unsurprisingly, the study found Nebraska and Iowa–two states that recovered swiftly from the recession–both to be in relatively stable positions to provide adequate LTSS services as needed in the future. Click here to read or download the entire 47 page report.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.private-duty.pchhc.com.”


Elder Abuse: 5 Signs of Financial Fraud

It’s no secret that America’s elderly population is particularly at risk of being taken advantage of financially. In fact, each year those who are 60 and over lose $3 billion due to financial abuse–affecting 5 million people annually.

Financial abuse comes in many forms: sham telemarketers, junk mail, phony sweepstake scams, bogus charities, identity and credit card theft, and even dishonest family members. And according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, for every case of elder financial abuse that’s reported, 43 are not.

With all of that in mind, it’s important to be able to identify the signs of financial fraud, especially since your elderly loved one is at risk. Below are five signs that should raise alarm, adapted from the AARP:

1. Vanishing funds from accounts, missing belongings from the house, unpaid bills, or signs of confusion from your parent about personal financial transactions.

2. A change in spending habits. Is your aging mother suddenly secretive about her money? Are there unexplained charges on her credit card?

3. A family member refusing to be forthcoming about your parents’ finances.

4. A new person befriending you, your parent, or another friend in a way that seems “off” to you. Look for this person’s name on joint accounts, and make sure he or she doesn’t mysteriously have power of attorney. Check property titles, mortgages, deeds, trusts, wills and other documents for mysterious changes if you suspect something is up.

5. A lack of checks and balances for a professional caregiver with access to your loved one’s money.

If you suspect that your elderly parent is a victim of financial fraud, report it to Adult Protective Services. The state of Nebraska takes allegations very seriously and will probe to see if there is any abuse going on. Social workers and nurses are mandatory reporters–which means if Encompass staff suspects abuse of any type we are mandated, by law, to report to the proper authorities.

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here . Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.encompass-assessments.com.”


Senior Care: Top 5 Blogs for Caregivers

There’s an array of information on the internet. And, as we all know, most of it isn’t useful or any good. As a caregiver, it can be frustrating trying to find online resources that share good, honest advice about caring for an aging loved one. It’s a difficult journey, full of physical and emotional stress, wrought by new beginnings and an unsavory end. In the year or so we’ve been writing the Encompass blog, we’ve drawn from many articles and websites. Below is a list of the blogs we find to be most interesting with the best content. If there are any other senior care blogs you recommend, let us know on Twitter or in the comments.

The New York Times’ New Old Age Blog–Written by a variety of experts, the New Old Age blog is targeted at baby boomer caregivers. There’s also comprehensive health guides to conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease and heart attacks.

Huff/Post 50–While the Huffington Post’s Post 50 section covers more than taking on the role of a caregiver, it has regular articles from senior health experts and top-notch authors who all are or have been caregivers.

Watching the Lights Go Out–An ongoing memoir written by David Hilfiker, a who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2012. As a retired physician, Hilfiker’s perspective on suffering from the onset of the debilitating disease is both professional and heartfelt.

Life in the End Zone–Written by palliative care physician and Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Muriel Gillick, Life in the End Zone offers insight on current senior care trends, new studies and other related news.

AARP’s Take Care Blog–A branch of the AARP’s fantastic online Caregiver Resource Center, the Take Care blog offers useful tips and advice for caregivers during any stage of their journey.

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here . Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.encompass-assessments.com.”


Long-Distance Caregiving: Points to Remember

Whether it’s hands-on or long-distance, all types of caregiving can be difficult and time-consuming, to say the least. Stress aside, it can be a rewarding experience. Think of it like this: The purpose of you becoming a caregiver is to make your aging parent’s life easier. While keeping upbeat and positive at all times is not necessarily healthy or realistic, being prepared to deal with any situation–from doctor’s visits, to medical bills, to home modifications, et al–is your best bet to having a satisfying experience.

The National Institutes of Health recommends keeping the following points in mind if you find yourself in a long-distance caregiving role:

  • Know what you need to know. Any experienced caregiver will recommend that you learn as much as you can about your parent’s illness, including information on medications and other resources that might be available. This will help understand the illness as it progresses and make you more apt at talking with doctors.
  • Plan your visits. It’s common to feel that there is too much to do when visiting your parent. If possible, talk to your parent (or another family caregiver) ahead of time about what they would like to you, as well as what needs to be taken care of. This will help you get more accomplished during your visit.
  • Be sure to spend time visiting with your family member. Make time to do things unrelated to caregiving. Watch a movie together or arrange a visit with old friends or other family members. If your parent is able, take them out for dinner or to one of their favorite activities. These simple and relaxing activities will put everyone at ease.
  • Get in touch, and stay in touch. Schedule a routine time to call your loved one and other family members–and stick to it! Also, create an email list of people invested in your loved one’s condition. Keeping everyone in the loop makes the caregiving experience more of a team effort, and less burdensome on any single person.
  • Learn more about caregiving. Consider getting some caregiving training, as many of us don’t automatically have natural caregiving skills. Ask your parent’s doctor, nurse or senior care provider to recommend caregiving resources in Omaha.

Are there any more points worth remembering that we didn’t cover? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments.

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.encompass-assessments.com.”


Long-Distance Caregiving: What Are Your Strengths and Limits?

We’ve already talked about getting started as a long-distance caregiver and offered tips on managing your care duties. In this post we’ll share some advice from the Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) on examining your strengths and limits as someone offering care to an elderly parent or loved one from a distance.

First off, the FCA recommends taking a step back and making an honest assessment of both your strengths and limits, keeping in mind that caring for a relative is a team effort. As a long-distance caregiver, you may or may not be the team leader. No matter what, it’s important to be realistic with yourself and the rest of the “team” as to how much you can offer.

As far as examining your strengths, the FCA recommends asking yourself the following questions:

  • What, in general, are you particularly good at?
  • Are you best on the phone, finding information, keeping friends and family up to date regarding your loved one’s care, or offering emotional support?
  • Are you good at supervising employees?
  • How comfortable are you discussing your loved one’s health with medical staff?
  • Are you good with numbers, i.e., paying bills, keeping track of bank statements, going over insurance policies, etc.?

When reflecting on your limits, the FCA recommends considering the following:

  • Both financially and mentally, how often can you afford to travel?
  • Are you prepared emotionally to take on a role reversal between you and your parent?
  • Can you be patient and assertive when communicating from a distance?
  • How will taking on care responsibilities affect the rest of your family and your work?

From here, work with your team so that your skills will compliment theirs. Ideally, the FCA notes, each team member will take on duties that are the easiest and most rewarding to them. Trusting the people working at a care agency is also key.

At Encompass, we encourage long-distance caregivers to have their “eyes on the ground, and have complete trust in the caregivers and staff. We know Omaha and all it offers, and can help them maneuver the system.

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.encompass-assessments.com.”