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Displaying items by tag: memory care

Talking to a teen about a family member diagnosed with dementia can be incredibly difficult for caregivers. The approach taken when you have this conversation can help your teen cope effectively with the news and empower them to preserve a meaningful connection with their loved one. 

When to Tell a Teen About a Loved One Diagnosed with Dementia

For most teens, the family member with dementia will be a grandparent or older family member, but for some it may be a parent.  Even if, at some level, a teen had some awareness that the diagnosis was coming, hearing it spoken aloud is a hard-hitting reality. It’s imperative to have the conversation as soon as possible after a diagnosis of dementia is confirmed, so that your teen does not find out “accidentally” from someone else in (or outside) the family; this would compound stress for all and may feel like a breach of trust to the teen.

Beginning the Conversation about Dementia with Your Teen 

Be prepared for the fact that your teen will experience a jumble of emotions from shock and anger to grief and even shame. Many teens feel they can’t talk to their peers about such devastating news. It’s also not uncommon for them to feel like they can’t go to other adults in the family whom they may see as struggling to cope with their own emotions while trying to plan for the family member’s medical care. 

First, plan ahead for when and where you will have the conversation. If at all possible, avoid having the conversation with your teen when they’ve had a lousy day at school, work, or practice. Give them some space at home to recover from their day and then invite them to sit down for a chat.

Second, manage your own emotions. Begin the conversation about a family member with dementia when you feel as centered as possible. Your teen will need your guidance and support; they should not feel like they have to support you. You want to create a safe space for them to experience whatever emotions come-up for them.

Third, be prepared to provide support. Make sure you have resources ready to share with your teen, should they need them. Of course, they can lean on you; also, be able to recommend other family members, community resources, or support groups. The teen probably won’t want this at that very moment, but you can tell them you have these resources ready for them, should they be interested.

What to Say to a Teen about a Loved One with Dementia

When you do speak share the news with your teen, be honest and open from the start. If a rapid decline is expected, let them know this. Be forthcoming with whatever knowledge you have about the family member’s diagnosis. And, remember:

  • Keep information simple; don’t use complicated medical terms. Explain treatment plans in concise terms so the teen knows what to expect going forward.
  • Give only the information you know; don’t speculate. 
  • Be realistic; don’t encourage false hope. There is no way to reverse dementia.
  • Accept your teen’s feelings. They will move through many different ‘feeling states’ during the course of a loved one’s struggle with dementia. 
  • Help the teen to understand changes in behavior, thought process, and personality that can occur in their loved one with dementia.
  • Encourage your teen to utilize appropriate resources to help them learn how to respond as their loved one changes and so they can effectively process their own feelings as these changes occur. 

Some teens will understand more about dementia than others. They may dive into researching information to better understand how their loved one will be affected. Others may not want to know any details about the diagnosis. These are both coping strategies. For most teens, it may be helpful to have a family meeting with the medical providers or medial support staff who can answer questions and provide more specific advice to help you teen cope.

What Can Your Teen Do Once They Learn of a Family Member with Dementia?

In the days and weeks that follow the news about a family member having a diagnosis of dementia, your teen may wonder how they should act around this person. What should they—or shouldn’t they—say or do? 

Teens often will be concerned about how their own behavior may affect the family member with dementia. Additionally, the teen will be concerned about the safety and quality of life of the family member with dementia. This is a lot for a teen to think about on top of all the usual excitement and stress that comes with being a young person on the verge of adulthood. 

Help Teens Stay Connected with a Family Member with Dementia 

There are quite a few things that your teen can do to help them maintain meaningful interaction with their loved one who has dementia include:

  • Continue with usual routines, such as a weekly visit, with the family member with dementia.
  • Play simple games such as cards, puzzles or even rolling a ball back and forth
  • Bake cookies or muffins.
  • Play with molding clay or even Play-dough.
  • Enjoy time outdoors by taking a walk or sitting in the park.
  • Look at photos or create a memory box or scrapbook.
  • Watch re-runs of their favorite TV show.

If the teen does not live near the family member, these approaches can help them maintain connection:

  • Write letters to the family member with dementia. Letters can be read by, or to the adult with dementia. It creates a more meaningful connection than email or text. If the family member can use technology, it’s okay to text or email as long as it is medically prudent to do so. 
  • Call and leave a voice message. Frequent calls and voice message can be appropriate ways to let a loved one know they are in your thoughts. Video calls are another good option. 
  • Send a care package. Everyone loves to receive goodies in the mail. Include art or and photos or other personalized items that the teen creates, if desired. Be sure to check with medical providers for items that should not be sent.
  • Plan a visit. It is really hard to know for sure how quickly a person will decline with dementia. Don’t delay in planning an in-person visit. 

There are many other activities that a person with dementia can continue, depending upon the degree to which the illness is affecting them. Be sure to check with your family member’s medical support team for specific suggestions.

As you and your teen navigate the care of a family member with dementia, encourage your teen to talk or journal about their experiences and emotions. When necessary, meet with a grief counselor as a family. And remember, as you demonstrate healthy emotions and model ways of maintaining connection, you will help your teen work through their own concerns and feelings about how dementia will affect their loved one.

Everbrook Senior Living Helps Families Cope with a Dementia Diagnosis

When it comes to the support a family needs to cope with dementia diagnosis, the staff at Everbrook Senior Living go above and beyond to provide resources and support for all. We, too, are son and daughters, nieces and nephews, of person’s who have been placed in long term care due to dementia. We are available and approachable – often giving out our cell phone numbers as we help families navigate challenges that come with declining health due to dementia. You can trust in our healthcare experience; you can count on our compassion. Learn more about our Memory Care services and our EGIS program.

Resources 

Parent Guide to Helping Children and Teens Understand Alzheimer’s Disease

https://www.alz.org/documents/national/brochure_childrenteens.pdf 

Alzheimer Society. Helping Teens Understand Dementia

https://alzheimer.ca/en/help-support/i-have-friend-or-family-member-who-lives-dementia/helping-teens-understand-dementia 

When a Friend or Family Member Has Dementia: Resources for Kids and Teens

https://www.alz.org/help-support/resources/kids-teens 

Published in Helpful Tips

Feeling a sense of purpose or meaning in life is associated with a 19% reduced rate of clinically significant cognitive impairment later, according to findings from a review of evidence led by researchers at University College London (UCL).

The UCL researchers examined several positive psychological constructs (e.g., maintaining a positive mood, being optimistic, having a sense of life purpose) to determine if these constructs have a significant association with reduced risk for dementia and other cognitive impairment in later life. 

The results showed that having purpose and meaning in life were key factors consistently associated with reduced risk of dementia years later:

  • Among people who had higher purpose or meaning in life, there was significant association with a reduced risk of multiple cognitive impairment outcomes, including dementia and mild cognitive impairment. 
  • Having a sense of purpose, most notably, was associated with a 19% reduced rate of clinically significant cognitive impairment. This finding—reduced risk for cognitive impairment—did not apply to other positive psychological constructs, such as having a positive mood state.

For this study, the UCL research team conducted what is known as a systematic review and meta-analysis, which involves and in-depth approach to pooling and analyzing data from multiple studies. The researchers gathered evidence from nine previously published studies, yielding data from 62,250 older adults (age 50+) across three continents. This makes the findings quite meaningful because they have relevance across different demographics. 

Meaning in Life: How Does it Protect the Brain from Impairment?

One theory about how purpose and meaning, as well as other positive psychological factors, may protect against cognitive decline has to do with the physiological effect that positive mood and resiliency has in the body, including the brain. 

Positive mood promotes a state of balance (homeostasis) in the body. This reduces the circulation of stress hormones and other chemicals that are known to increase inflammation in the cells and tissues, Inflammation, which causes damage to cells and can alter physiological function, is a known underlying factor in many disease processes, including Alzheimer’s Disease and heart disease among others. 

Having a sense of purpose in life seems to promote positive mood, which supports resiliency from stressful events; in turn, this reduces inflammation in the brain—both of which are linked with reduced risk of dementia.

Reinforcing the positive psychological effects that come with having a sense of purpose is the fact that, when people feel their life has meaning and purpose, they are more likely to engage in activities that support their health: exercising, socializing with peers, doing volunteer work—all of which may protect against dementia risk.

The researchers suggest that prevention programs for people at-risk for cognitive impairment and dementia should prioritize activities that help bring purpose and meaning to one’s life. Staff who work with older adults can devote programming time to helping the elder identify what is important them, what their values are, and how they might act in alignment with these priorities and values. The researchers suggested “taking small steps.” For example, if an elder values “education for all,” they could benefit from volunteering as a literacy coach or as a reading buddy in a local school.

Everbrook Senior Living Residents Find Meaning, Purpose in Ageless Communities

The Everbrook philosophy is that, in later life we become ageless: As we fully accept our health and functional status, and that of our friends and neighbors, we recognize how interdependence helps to preserve independence. Our staff design and deliver activities that are suitable for all residents without regard to their functional status (independent living, assisted living, memory care). It is very important to all of us at Everbrook—and to our residents—that there is mutual respect and support among residents and that all residents experience belonging. 

To promote a sense of belonging, meaning, and purpose (as suggested by the research study), our staff plans activities that enrich intellectual, social, and emotional wellbeing and help to give residents a sense of control over their aging process. Our interdisciplinary team is well-trained to deliver stage-appropriate activities that are matched to a resident’s functional and cognitive abilities. We employ adaptive methods of communication to evoke and sustain a positive emotion throughout the day. 

Our Wellness 4 Later Life™ program model encompasses seven dimensions of wellness: physical, spiritual, emotional, social, intellectual, vocational, and environmental, as are advocated by the International Council of Active Aging. We help our residents discover what is significant in their life, now. Residents, with as much support as is needed, identify ways to add meaning/purpose to their self-care, in their activities at Everbrook, and in the community beyond Everbrook.

Original Research
Positive psychological constructs and association with reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementia in older adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis” by Georgia Bell et al. Ageing Research Reviews. The study was supported by the Alzheimer’s Society

Supporting Research, Resources

Dockray, S., & Steptoe, A. (2010). Positive affect and psychobiological processes. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews, 35(1), 69–75. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2010.01.006 

Ong, A. D., Mroczek, D. K., & Riffin, C. (2011). The Health Significance of Positive Emotions in Adulthood and Later Life. Social and personality psychology compass, 5(8), 538–551.https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-9004.2011.00370.x 

National Institute on Aging. Positive Mood in Older Adults Suggests Better Brain Function. (2020, Research Highlights 

Published in Health & Wellness
Thursday, December 09, 2021 16:10

Festive Games to Stimulate Senior Minds

During the holidays as we gather with family, young and old alike, we may feel concern for a senior family member who is showing signs of difficulty with memory and cognition. While there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, the leading cause of dementia, engaging your elderly loved one in “brain games” can help to protect brain function, lower the risk for, and even slow the progression of dementia. So, put on your ugly holiday sweaters and gather everyone ‘round for these festive holiday games to stimulate thinking, cognition, recall, and problem-solving. 

Holiday Themed Games for Seniors

Holiday-themed Word Search

Crossword puzzles and other types of word-search games are fantastic activity for sharpening reasoning skills and stimulating multiple areas of the brain. Word searches generally involve using clues to solve a word-puzzle. This stimulates recollection from stored knowledge and memories, uses problem-solving skills, and provides a sense of reward when finding the right word to fit the space. You can find crossword books and games (in the app stores) that cover any theme and are suitable for any level. If your loved one is already struggling with signs of dementia, consider using a crossword designed for school-age children, which will utilize simpler words and clues.

Festive Jigsaw Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles are a great activity to do with family members of all ages. This provides your elder family member with a sense of inclusion. Jigsaw puzzles require reasoning, problem-solving skills, and creativity. To personalize jigsaw puzzles, you can have one made of a favorite family photo or destination that is meaningful to your senior. Imagine their joy to put together a puzzle depicting a happy memory! This can spark conversation about the “time when” or the events that are associated with the photo. And don’t forget the many other types of puzzle games… from Rubik’s Cube to Sudoku!

Board Games

Plenty of board games have holiday twists to them… we’ve listed a few below. Much like jigsaw puzzles, playing board games stimulates multiple brain functions:  recall, retention, formation of new memories, problem-solving, use of logic (and wit), creativity, and much more. Also, games with two or more players reinforce social skills, communication skills, and collaboration. 

Here are just a few games that you can find through a quick search online:

  • Christmasopoly - You guessed it… the Christmas version of Monopoly.
  • Dreidel Roulette takes a fun spin on a traditional Hannukah game.
  • Diwali Bingo introduces you to the meaning of the Hindi Festival of Lights in entertaining fashion.
  • Any Reindeer Game is a board game that the young and old will enjoy—and up to 10 people can play!

Though this may not sound like a big deal, fun games like these can improve a senior’s cognitive function. Try them out with your loved one and see what they like best. Everyone has different preferences. 

Many other board games have holiday themes, based on the beautiful range of holiday spiritual traditions from around the globe; others have a festive take on a popular game. Many games that were once only board games also have counterparts for mobile devices and are suitable for multiple players. If your elder loved one is savvy with a smart phone, they can play Monopoly, Life, Battleship, and the online platform Luminosity is a popular brain training game site.

Signs of Concern for Memory Decline in an Elderly Loved One

While you are spending time with your elderly loved one, keep tabs on how they are functioning. The following are just a few of the signs that may raise concern about memory decline or dementia in seniors:

  • Difficulty with everyday tasks, like following directions.
  • Trouble paying attention and/or following a conversation.
  • Repeating stories or asking the same questions multiple times.
  • Personality changes that make you think “this really is not the same person I knew.”
  • Confusion about time, place, or order of events/tasks.
  • Acting out in ways that are not typical, such as angry outbursts.
  • Withdrawing from friends and family.

Is it Time for Memory Care for Your Elderly Loved One?

If you’ve observed your elderly family is struggling with age-related memory decline, it’s time for a  thorough medical evaluation and consideration as to whether or not it is best for them to remain living on their own or in a family member’s care. The ongoing care of someone who is in cognitive decline requires a tremendous commitment of time and resources emotionally, mentally, and financially.

Have you asked yourself:  Is now the time for compassionate memory care arrangements for my loved one? 

At Everbrook Senior Living Communities, we provide a range of high-quality, compassionate care to support the social, emotional, and physical needs of older adults at every stage of later life. Our residents—your loved one—is considered an extended member of our own family. Through our Memory Care Program we provided enhanced support and specialized services to address memory impairment, while the caregivers need to revitalize their own lives so that the time they spend with their afflicted loved one is of high quality.

Every aspect of the Everbrook Memory Care Program is designed using evidence-based research combined with personalized care and services delivered by well-trained professional medical and attentive support staff. 

If you feel that your loved one is ready for memory care, you can speak with an Everbrook community advocate right from our website. Our advocates provide compassionate guidance to help you make the best choice for your elder family member. 

Ready to visit? Schedule an on-site tour of an Everbrook Community.  

Sources

3 Cognitive Games for Seniors that You Have to Try” Port St. Lucie Hospital Blog 

The Best Free and Paid Games for Seniors”  Sixty&Me Blog

Brain Health Initiative Newsletters  (presented by Harvard Health)

Published in Memory Care

The holiday season can be one of the most difficult times of year for our elderly loved ones. Do you know how to recognize the concerning signs that can indicate your older adult family member is struggling with more than just the holiday blues?

There are several reasons why an elderly family member may experience sadness around the holidays, any of which can be a common part of growing older:

  • Widowed within the past year or previous loss of a partner during the holidays
  • Caretaking for a partner in declining health
  • Coping with their own declining health
  • Loss of the ability to drive or other forms of personal independence
  • Changes in their ability to care for themselves (bathing, household chores)
  • Coping with the death of close friends/family members to COVID-19 and other illness

Grieving over any type of loss and the range of emotions that comes with it is to be expected and it varies by person. However, when grief, sadness, despondency, or other difficult emotions are prolonged and interfere with a senior’s day-to-day vitality, they may be suffering from depression.

More than two million of the 34 million Americans age 65 and older suffer from some form of depression. Depression in seniors can be recognized by concerning signs, such as

  • Not keeping-up the cleanliness of their home environment. Or, if living with you, not keeping their room and personal effects well-maintained.
  • Finding unpaid bills or unopened mail. Receipt of debt collection notices.
  • Noticing that they have lost or gained a noticeable amount of weight.
  • Changes to their eating habits. (forgetting they ate, eating less)
  • Noticing they are not taking prescribed medications. 
  • Avoiding people, loss of interest or enthusiasm for usual activities.
  • Noticeable personality changes, mood swings, or irritability for no apparent reason.
  • Reacting out of proportion to a circumstance.
  • Hearing them be overly critical about or dismissing holiday celebrations/obligations.
  • Noticeable changes in their mobility, balance, or thought process.

Perhaps you have taken steps to address some of these concerning signs:

  • You’ve kept in touch by phone, mail, email and text
  • Encouraged and even arranged for social activities, friendly visits, or home care
  • Helped them explore former and new hobbies, and shared in them together
  • Arranged a support community through local organizations or a type of home care

If the concerning signs you’ve observed in your elderly family member have not improved, then they may be experiencing more than just the holiday blues. Your older-adult family member may have clinical depression—it may be more than they or you can handle on your own. 

You may be asking yourself: Is it time for compassionate assisted living care for my elderly loved one? 

At each of the Everbrook Senior Living Communities, we provide a range of high-quality, compassionate care to support the social, emotional, and physical needs of older adults at every stage of later life. Our residents—your loved one—is considered an extended member of our own family. Through our Assisted Living Program we provided “life at home, with a little help.” We design every aspect of the assisted living program using evidence-based research combined with personalized care and services delivered by well-trained professional medical and community staff. We continually evaluate and implement an up-to-date menu of services to meet the needs of your loved one. It is our passion for service excellence that places each of our senior living communities at the very pinnacle of the industry.

If you feel that your loved one is ready for assisted care, you can speak with an Everbrook community advocate right from our website. Our advocates provide compassionate guidance to help you make the best choice for your elder family member. 

Ready to visit? Schedule an on-site tour of an Everbrook Community. 

Sources

Learn More about Everbrook Assisted Living

Sadovsky, R., “Prevalence and recognition of depression in elderly patients,” American Academy of Family Physicians, 57;5 (1998):1096.

National Institute of Mental Health: 

Depression and Older Adults 

Twitter Chat on Older Adults and Depression

MHANational.org:  Depression and Older Adults: More Facts

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