Dementia Archives - SeniorAdvice.com Blog

Tag: Dementia

Adult Daughter Comforting Mother Suffering With Dementia

If you are a caregiver for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it can be difficult to come up with useful activities for your patient or family member with the disease. mmLearn.org offers real-life, quality caregiver training to anyone seeking practical ways to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of older adults in their care.

Below is a link to one of their videos, which talks about how to use tupperware for patients with dementia. This activity can help the patient exercise their mind and body, as well as spark memories from their past.

http://training.mmlearn.org/video-library/activities_using_tupperware

Happy Senior Man And His Dog

There has been a great deal of research on the way in which pets, particularly dogs can impact the lives of seniors today. Pets can help prevent loneliness, encourage seniors to get exercise and even help seniors fight off depression. However, there is one very specific way in which dogs are helping seniors who battle dementia and mores specifically Sundowners Syndrome.

When seniors have a canine companion in their lives they are able to have constant love, support and companionship from their pets. This can really go a long way in helping seniors feel loved and appreciated as they deal with the devastating effects of dementia. Since dogs need to be on a specific schedule with eating, exercising and going to the bathroom, many seniors with dementia also find that the constant mental stimulation that pets provide can really go a long way in improving their dementia symptoms.

Many studies have found that routines and responsibilities can keep the mind sharp and keep dementia patients focused. It can also help them remember more of their own daily routine, when they have the constant reminder of an animal to keep their day structured. This type of structure and the need for care can also provide seniors with the mental stimulation that they need in order to keep their brains sharp and functioning. While stimulation such as this won’t cure dementia or prevent it from worsening, it can slow down the progression of the disease significantly.

The non-verbal communication that dogs provide can also really help those that experience Sundowners Syndrome. Sundowning occurs when seniors with dementia get confused or agitated at night, so much so that they can enter a state of complete confusion and even do harm to themselves. These episodes can also make it very difficult for seniors with dementia to sleep. The structured schedule that dogs provide can help many dementia patients with Sundowners Syndrome, as can the tactile stimulation of interacting with pets.

Many times, the non-verbal communication and acceptance that dogs offer can soothe those with Sundowners Syndrome, especially when they are struggling to communicate verbally about their own agitations. One of the biggest challenges that Alzheimer’s and dementia patients tend to have has to do with acceptance and understanding. The presence of non-judgmental support systems such as dogs can provide dementia patients with that support that they seek. Some individuals are simply comforted by the presence of an animal when they become agitated, while others find the art of petting an animal or walking a calm dog can provide them with a soothing activity that can calm their nerves and help them refocus their energy in a more positive way.

Pet therapy has long been a common practice for seniors as well as children, the seriously ill, mentally disabled and physically challenged individuals. However, for those seniors who are particularly struggling with dementia and Sundowners, the presence of a furry friend may help them have the support and the structure they need to get through these difficult spells.

Senior Adult On The Passenger Seat Getting Ready For Trip

The truth about transportation is less than kind for those over the age of 65. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 586 seniors suffer automotive injuries each day. This translates to more than 214,000 total yearly collisions (and more than 5,000 total fatalities).

The open road serves as the ultimate symbol of independence, allowing seniors to maintain control and dictate their own schedules. The ability to drive, however, too often fades with age – with limited physical or cognitive functions interfering with basic acceleration, stoppage, and more. There comes a time when men and women must slip into the passenger seat.

When exactly is that time, though?

Understanding Personal Limitations

The purr of the engine may prove appealing – but it’s not always safe. Seniors must instead examine themselves carefully, identifying potential impairments.

Physical Impairments

According to the United States Census, approximately 40% of the senior population suffers from (at least) one form of physical disability – such as arthritis, ambulatory difficulties, and weakened muscles. These directly impact the ability to respond to changing traffic conditions. It’s crucial, therefore, to consult with a physician and understand the extent of each mobility issue. Note flexibility, strength, and reflexes.

Visual Impairments

The American Foundation for the Blind reports that those between the ages of 65 and 74 experience a 12.2% increase in vision loss (while those 75 and over experience a 15.2% increase). Impacted acuity – including weakened depth perception, glaucoma, and macular degeneration – drastically affects the ability to drive.

Seniors must undergo regular eye testing. While there is no national standard for visual performance, the AMA Journal of Ethnics notes that several states follow a 20/40 ratio per eye. Consult with the DMV to verify specific requirements.

Cognitive Impairments

The Alzheimer’s Association notes that mild cognitive impairments (MCIs) are common among seniors, with 10% to 20% of the total population affected. This leads to an inability to complete simple functions, an inability to recall information, and elevated mood swings (with depression and anger experienced more frequently). The mental and emotional health of each individual may be compromised – which greatly increases the chance for an automotive injury.

Seniors should consult with a physician to identify potential MCIs.

Medications

The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists reports that nearly 92% of the senior population has at least one chronic condition. Of these conditions, 40% will require long-term medication – and with every prescription comes a series of side-effects, each interrupting logic skills and slowing reaction times.

According to the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 18% of those involved in fatal automotive crashes test positive for the presence of drugs (whether OTC or prescribed). Seniors must recognize the dangers of driving while medicated and be aware of all possible side effects.

Driving is a thrill. It’s also, however, a potential danger – and seniors must understand the risks they take when sliding behind the wheel. Examine physical impairments, visual restrictions, cognitive impairments, and medications to determine whether alternative transportation is needed.

Be smart. Be safe.

 

With increases in the numbers of individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, substantial research has been done recently to try and find new and promising ways to manage and treat these conditions. While much of the research in the past has centered around using prescription drugs and natural supplements, there are a number of emerging therapies that are proving successful at helping individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Pet Therapy

Pet therapy, also referred to as animal therapy, has found traction for individuals dealing with a wide range of medical conditions including diabetes, PTSD, and anxiety. However, pet therapy also has been found to have a number of significant benefits for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, both in terms of helping with interaction and helping patients to manage the day-to-day effects of their conditions.

For example, trained and certified service dogs can help individuals make their way through their daily routines and use their sense of smell to guide people to important locations if the person has trouble remembering where they are going or how to get there. Additionally, these animals provide invaluable companionship to individuals who may have trouble maintaining relationships with other humans.

Research has shown that Alzheimer’s and dementia patients frequently interact and bond with animals in a way that they no longer do with people, and display increased levels of interaction with these caring creatures. Whether a person has a permanent service dog or they simply have regular visits from a volunteer dog, interacting with animals can have significant benefits on those living with dementia.

Art Therapy

Art therapy provides individuals dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease with an outlet for expressing their thoughts and emotions when their words might fail them. Individuals living with dementia can experience significant frustration and result in isolation from being unable to effectively communicate with others due to their memory loss.

Because it doesn’t rely on verbal communication to allow deep and meaningful expression, many dementia and Alzheimer’s patients are able to experience significant improvements to their mood and emotional health after expressing themselves through activities like drawing and painting. Even when words fail a patient, they are still able to effectively communicate their feelings, fears, and hopes, alleviating the frustration that often comes from being unable to articulate these thoughts and emotions.

Music Therapy

Listening to and interacting with music has a number of significant benefits for patients with dementia. Numerous studies have shown that even the passive act of listening to music can help to stimulate brain activity. However, music can also help individuals with memory loss to recall certain activities, actions, or memories. This can be effective when trying to help a patient recall an earlier memory or experience, and it can also be extremely useful when trying to help individuals build new responses or patterns of behavior.

Therapists can match a specific song or type of music to a specific activity and then repeat that music later when they want an individual to repeat the learned behavior or response. Even once a patient has entered the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, music can still be used to elicit certain responses from an individual, as patients do not require cognitive processing in order to do things like enjoy/appreciate music, sing, or play a specific rhythm.

Please Wait... Your Information is Processing