Sunday, 29 November 2015 23:05

Approaching Alzheimer’s with a Plan

dementiaWhen mild forgetfulness turns into serious memory problems, seniors and their families have to accept the difficult new reality that Alzheimer’s disease may be forever changing their lives. Recognizing dementia early on is key to ensuring that a loved one receives the highest quality of care and can adequately express his or her wishes for the future.

A medical exam is the first step in getting answers. A doctor can run tests to rule out other causes for symptoms such as forgetting the names of family members or important dates. Someone with Alzheimer’s may withdraw from social activities, display rapid mood swings for no discernable reason, display poor judgment, misplace things, and generally become easily confused.

Seniors may feel a range of emotions upon receiving confirmation, from a sense of relief to know what’s wrong to anger that life is taking a different course then the one they had planned. Knowing that they are not alone in confronting the disease provides relief from some of the stress.

The Alzheimer’s Association recommends that families do not put off difficult conversations about preparing for the future. Eventually, Alzheimer’s progresses to the point of affecting everyday life and incapacitating the ability to make decisions about treatment, management of assets and legal arrangements. Someone with the disease may live for many years after receiving the initial diagnosis – the quality of their life depends greatly on the choices made in the early stages when they make their wishes known and get their affairs in order.

“As the disease progresses, you will need the support of those who know and understand you. Concealing or denying your diagnosis will limit your ability to cope with the challenges ahead,” the Alzheimer’s Association advises on its website www.alz.org. “Putting legal, financial and end-of-life plans in place is one of the most important steps you can take. It allows you to participate in making decisions that help family and friends know your wishes.”

Planning for the future includes:

  • Legal Planning (Creating or reviewing legal documents, making legal plans for finances and property, naming someone to make decisions on the senior’s behalf)
  • Financial Planning (Identifying the cost of care, reviewing government benefits or long-term care insurance policies, etc.)
  • Caregiving Decisions (Determining who will help the senior with everyday tasks)
  • End-of-Life Planning (Discussing the senior’s wishes if they become seriously ill, arranging eventual funeral/burial plans, etc.)

These can be very difficult topics to bring up, especially when the senior and his or her family are still feeling overwhelmed by the diagnosis and fearful of what lies ahead. “If you don't have an honest talk about these topics, how will others know and respect your wishes?” the Alzheimer’s Association asks on its website. “Ideally, it's best to express your wishes now while you are able to make decisions for yourself. Addressing your wishes with family members, your care team or a legal professional will ensure that your expressed requests will be followed when appropriate.”

While many family members will take on the caregiver role in their home, Regency Retirement Village offers secure memory care in many of our communities, offering the person with dementia a structured environment and specially trained caregivers working around the clock to maintain seniors’ dignity and comfort. To learn more about Regency Retirement Village, call (615) 598-0245.

The Alzheimer’s Association offers tools on its website for Alzheimer’s patients. Alzheimer's Navigator® is an online assessment program that helps you create an action plan to meet your specific needs. It also connects you to information, support and local resources. Learn more at https://www.alzheimersnavigator.org/

Written by Steven Stiefel

Published in Memory Care

Chattanooga seniors stay hydratedIt’s already been a scorching hot summer and the season has only just begun. With that in mind, here are some tips for making sure you and the ones you love stay cool. Infants and anyone with a chronic illness need special attention, as do outdoor pets.

Dehydration from being in the heat and not getting adequate liquids can lead to hospitalization. Older adults are particularly at risk due to changes in renal function and body water composition.

Signs include confusion, problems with walking or falling, dizziness or headaches, dry or sticky mouth and tongue, sunken eyes, inability to sweat or produce tears, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure or blood pressure that drops when changing from lying to standing, constipation and decreased urine.

A caregiver like the ones at Regency work to keep our seniors healthy and hydrated, but what about friends and family who may live alone and struggle to keep cool in the oppressive heat?

Some tips to remember:

  • If going outdoors is necessary, it is best done in the early morning or late evening when tempera-tures will be cooler.
  • Fill a plastic bottle with water and put it in the freezer; grab it when ready to go outside and enjoy cold water longer as it melts.
  • Use fans to help circulate air because even a home with air-conditioning can feel warm if the air is not getting to you.
  • Wearing loose-fitting, light colored clothes will keep us cooler. Cotton clothing is cooler than syn-thetics.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which promote dehydration. Sugary drinks can also have a negative effect.
  • If someone lacks air-conditioning, they can spend time during the day in climate-controlled public places such as a shopping mall, public library, movie theater, or other space. Some cities also dedicate space for cooling centers open to the public.
  • Avoid activities in direct sunlight.
  • Try eating fruits and vegetables with a high water content (cucumber, celery, watermelon, toma-toes, lettuce/spinach). Avoid cooking foods that require using a stove.
  • Plan indoor activities such as organizing scrapbooks, reading books, listening to music, getting organized, etc.
  • With a little caution and following these steps, you can stay cooler this summer and help your loved ones remain safe in the shade. 

 

Written by Meghan O'Dea

Published in Active Senior Living

There's no time like spring to inspire a fresh start. Even with so many of your daily needs taken care of at your retirement community, it can feel good to get newly organized and set up for all the fun things you want to enjoy this spring and summer. After all, there's nothing more frustrating than having last season's clothes at the front of your closet, old medications cluttering up your medicine cabinet, and not being able to put your hands on the exact letter or piece of memorabilia you were thinking of right away. Here are some ideas for how you can do a little spring cleaning so you can hurry up and enjoy the best parts about these warm weather seasons.

Clean out your drawers of all the little things that accumulate or mail you need to respond to. Take clothes you never wore this winter or that no longer fit for spring and summer out of the closet and donate them to a charity like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. The same for any tchotchkes or knick knacks that are taking up too much space. If there are family heirlooms you no longer have room for but can't bear to part with, see if a family member has space. Your children or grandchildren might love to have a special piece of you in their home.

One way to keep track of special mementos like letters, ticket stubs, clippings from magazines, or photographs sent from friends is to start a memory box or scrapbook. Putting it together in the first place can be a fun activity in its own right, but it will also give you a way to keep track of such things while they accumulate throughout the year. As soon as you get home from a baseball game, for example, you will immediately have a place to put your ticket or a photo from the paper the next day. Interesting articles you enjoy from various periodicals can be pasted into a journal, allowing you to recycle the rest of the magazine to save space. A memory box would let you save larger keepsakes, like a rock you found during a special walk with a loved one or pressed flowers from a plant you grew yourself.

Another important thing to stay on top of is your daily prescriptions and over-the-counter pills. It's can be easy to get confused about what you've taken throughout the day, especially if you have several medications to keep track of. Start by organizing your medicine cabinet. Put the smaller and least-used items up top, and the things you need every day front and center in the order you use them, left to right. Having everything in the exact same spot makes it simple to stick to a routine and know when you need a refill. Color code the lids with stickers or a marker if you find visual aids helpful. Dispensing your daily medications into a pill box with a section for each day of the week can help you stay on track, too.

While you're setting up your medicine cabinet, set aside anything that's expired, that you're no longer taking, or that you never use. Instead of flushing old medications down the toilet or throwing them away, take them to a drug-take-back site. Most police departments accept expired medications or can tell you where nearby pharmacies or hospitals do. Also set aside any old makeup, toiletries, or sunscreens that are expired or that you never use. There's no reason to keep around items that take up space but aren't going to do you any good.

These are just a few ways to savor spring by setting up your life to work better for you. Just a few minutes here and there will save you so much time in the long run, time you could be spending on the golf course, with friends or family, or starting an exciting new hobby like gardening, painting, or walking with friends.

Published in Active Senior Living

Ooltewah seniors celebrate the holidaysWe've all experienced it: A family Christmas gathering, with familiar scents drifting from a kitchen and wrapped presents sitting under a decorated tree. It's a scene most Chattanooga-area seniors look forward to each year. With so much hype and commercialism, it's easy to forget sometimes that the holidays are about preserving traditions and bonding with family.

Here are 6 tips to have a great family Christmas this year:

Give It Some Thought: Note a loved one's interests, hobbies, and collectibles. A handmade gift that appeals to someone's favorite things is beloved more than an expensive present that feels like a shot in the dark from out of left field.

Be Gracious: Imagine how you'd feel if a grandchild acted unappreciative of a gift. According to the etiquette experts at Debretts, we "must never, ever look anything but delighted with a present. Lack of taste is regrettable, but not a criminal offense."

Stick to a Budget: We can feel obligated to spend beyond our means, but generosity can actually create problems rather than happiness. Says Debretts: "Costly presents may detonate waves of guilt, obligation and social embarrassment; not everyone will be able to match your generosity, nor should they be expected to... If someone showers you with extravagant presents you are not under a moral obligation to reciprocate, or outdo them."

Give Yourself Time to Shop: You won't get the best deals or find that toy that a grandchild said he wanted if you wait until it is sold out.

Be Appropriate in Gift-Giving: Ask your children before you buy their son a drum kit or their daughter a puppy. Don't play favorites when it comes to grandchildren. Although it may seem impersonal, teenagers will prefer a gift card to clothes.

Give Experiences: A trip to the Tennessee Aquarium, the Creative Discovery Museum or other Chattanooga area attractions can inspire and entertain a family member more than a toy.

Make Experiences: Take time to share stories about past family holiday gatherings, cook traditional meals, play games, watch favorite Christmas movies, sing Christmas Carols, etc. Rituals become the things that grandchildren carry on into their own families.

With just a little effort, this holiday season can be a great one for Ooltewah seniors.

Published in Active Senior Living

With the holidays ahead, Chattanooga area families are going to be gathering for meals and chatter. Around at least some of those dinner tables, there are going to be inevitable talks with an aging relative about whether they need a helping hand with the tasks of daily life.

If you have a parent who needs assistance with housekeeping, meals, transportation, medication administration, or personal care, they may find Regency Retirement Village to be a great option for taking the next step. The same is true if you are a senior who wants to explore new opportunities for staying socially and physically active in a place where help is available when you need it.

Some families anguish over such a transition because of concerns about uprooting a loved one from their home of many decades into unknown situations that may be cloaked in misconceptions of what to expect. We all want the comfort of knowing the next chapter in our story is one of happiness rather than misery.

The freedom to come and go is part of the Assisted Living experience at Regency in Ooltewah, as is forming new friendships. Until one researches the options and understands what they are dealing with (typical costs, living arrangements, etc.), they may have misconceptions about what lay ahead and assume the worst.

Elder Advisor Gail Samaha says it is best to broach the topic with an open mind and a focus on the positives. Grown children should tell their parents that they are bringing it up out of a desire to know what their wishes are going to be in case their health starts to fail or they need more help than family caregivers alone can provide. Samaha advises people to tell their aging mom or dad that "in order for us to provide your wishes and your needs, we need to have an idea of what you can afford."

This provides an opening for the conversation. Once the senior sees what they can expect at Regency, they may transform their outlook from fear of uncertainty to eagerness to begin a new living arrangement that offers abundant opportunities to stay active and enjoy new friendships.

Some families may want to consult a doctor for his or her opinion, especially if there are indications the senior may be suffering for early stage dementia. In the mind of a senior, the recommendations of an objective professional can carry more weight in reaching a tough decision than the opinions of relatives. A son or daughter sharing their worries about an elder falling without anyone around to help can show the right motivations are at heart.

Moving is stressful for anyone, but particularly a frail senior. One advantage to living at Regency in Ooltewah is the range of services we offer, from Independent Living to Memory Care. Finding the facility that can meet their present and future healthcare needs, such as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) will ensure the elder's life doesn't have to be disrupted a second time down the road due to declining health.

The next step is to arrange a tour at a time when the parent and other family can visit and ask questions. Speaking with residents about their experience living at Regency goes a long way toward helping because most will say they wish they'd made the move sooner.

To arrange a visit, call (615) 598-0245 or fill out the form at http://regencyseniorliving.com/chattanooga-retirement-community . After meeting with you, we can advise you on the services you may need and tell you more about the lifestyle Regency offers.

Published in Retirement Communities