Relationship dynamics change when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia. And it can be hard to find ways to communicate or connect. Here are some tips for dementia caregivers:

Find new ways to communicate. Communicating with someone who has dementia can be frustrating. Odds are you’ll have to do most of the talking, especially in the later stages of your loved one’s disease. Keep questions to a minimum, and stick to those with “yes” or “no” answers.

Be prepared to tell your loved one about your day or what your kids or grandkids have been doing. Or the new Kansas City restaurant you tried.

And don’t argue. You won’t win. If an argument seems imminent, change the subject.

Learn what not to say. Knowing what not to say to someone with dementia can be just as important as finding new communication strategies. For example, if your loved one is looking for a deceased relative, don’t remind him (or her) that person is dead. Just say something like, “She’s not here right now,” and change the subject.

Plan activities in which your loved one with dementia can participate. If your loved one is unable to participate in the usual family activities, find new things that you can all do together. Some examples may include looking at old photos, listening to music, baking cookies, or just taking a walk around your Kansas City neighborhood.

Maintain a positive attitude. Dementia can cause frustration for both you and the person who has dementia. Starting each day with a positive outlook can set the tone for the rest of the day.

Be flexible. Unfortunately, dementia is a progressive illness. So you’ll have to learn to adapt to new routines and activities as your loved one’s disease progresses. For example, you may need to replace “game night” with “movie night” when games become too difficult for the person with dementia.

Get help if you need it. Being a dementia caregiver is challenging, so it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. Remember, you can’t be an effective caregiver if you don’t also take care of yourself. Enlisting the help of Kansas City home care agency that specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care can take some of the pressure off of you and allow you some much needed respite.

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The cost of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, or other form of dementia, can vary greatly depending on what type of care the person needs and for how long. If you, or someone you love, have been diagnosed with dementia, advance financial planning can help you determine how much money you have vs. what type of expenses lie ahead. Here are some financial planning tips:

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You’ve probably heard the word care plan before, but you may or may not know exactly what it is or why someone with dementia might need one.

For a person with Alzheimer’s, or other form of dementia, the care plan is an outline of his or her daily routine, current needs, and medical status. It lets you, and everyone on your medical team, know who is responsible for what and when. Which is particularly important for people with dementia because their short-term memory has been compromised, and they’ll need a lot of help as the disease progresses.

Here are some tips for developing a dementia care plan:

Get organized.

Determine who all will have access to the plan and how it will be documented and shared. Assign roles for different aspects of care, including who is responsible for updating the care plan.

Create a daily schedule.

People with Alzheimer’s, or other form of dementia, tend to be more comfortable with a daily routine. So set scheduled times for things like meals, bathing and grooming, activities, quiet time, and a daily walk around your Kansas City neighborhood (and/or other forms of exercise).

Address current and potential upcoming issues.

Some things to consider include home safety, communication barriers, aggression, shared activities, medication management, transportation, financial resources, and sleep problems.

Note behavioral patterns.

To avoid potential behavioral problems, try to identify any triggers. For example, if your loved one gets agitated or aggressive, note things like the time of day, noise level, and/or medication changes.

Review and update, as needed.

Care plans need to evolve as dementia progresses. Periodically review the plan, and update as needed.

Get help

If you need help developing a care plan or implementing your plan of care, contact a Kansas City home health agency that specializes in dementia or Alzheimer’s.

For more information about THOUGHTFUL CARE services, or to view more topics in our Care Video Library, visit https://www.thoughtfulcare.com/care-videos.

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It’s hard to know how much time you’ll have to prepare for the future if you or a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia. Disease progression can vary greatly from one person to the next. So for your peace of mind (or for the sake of a loved one who will be caring for you) there are some things that need to be discussed in advance. Here’s a checklist to help make sure you’re covered:

Determine what resources are available. Living with Alzheimer’s or being an Alzheimer’s caregiver is tough, so you’ll want to take advantage of the Kansas City Alzheimer’s resources that are available. Educational resources are particularly important; they can prepare you for meeting new challenges head on.

Evaluate lifestyle. Be aware of what you (or your loved one with dementia) do on a day-to-day basis. If you own a computer, make a list of passwords for future reference. Consider what else you might need to do that will help as the disease progresses.

Develop routines. It’s important for people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia to have daily routines. A consistent routine will help with focus, decrease anxiety, and allow for some sense of independence. Create a family calendar and enlist volunteers to help with appointments.

Store all relevant care information in one place. Get a notebook to store all important information about your dementia care. Include all medical and legal contacts, family contact information, test results, a current medication list, a weekly appointment calendar, and anything else for which you might need easy access. This will also help as you make the transition to home care or long-term care.

Encourage healthy living. As you’re establishing a daily routine, make sure you include activities that encourage healthy living and eat healthy meals. If you don’t already have an exercise routine, consider enlisting family members for a 30-minute walk around your Kansas City neighborhood after dinner each night. If you live alone and don’t have relatives nearby, you might want to purchase a treadmill instead. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy.

Deal with financial and legal issues. You’ll want to make sure you (or your loved one with dementia) develop a living will and designate a healthcare power of attorney before the disease becomes too advanced. You’ll also want to designate a financial power of attorney and put alerts on credit cards to curb overspending.

Know where to go for help. While you’re still able, develop a plan for the future. Choose a Kansas City home care agency that specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care to help with bathing and grooming, meal preparation, light housekeeping, and cognitive exercises. If your plan is to eventually transition to long-term care, you’ll also want to tour facilities with experience in dementia and Alzheimer’s care.

For more information about THOUGHTFUL CARE services, or to view more topics in our Care Video Library, visit https://www.thoughtfulcare.com/care-videos.

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It’s heart breaking to see someone you love begin to lose control of bodily functions; and dealing with urinary or fecal incontinence can be really awkward. Not just for the caregiver, but also for the person with dementia. Here’s how you can help:

  1. Look for a cause. There are many things that can cause incontinence, and not all of them are dementia related. Examples include weak pelvic muscles from childbirth, certain medications (e.g., diuretics, narcotics, sleeping pills), diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and limited mobility. Talk to your loved one’s Kansas City primary care physician about any potential causes or contributing factors.
  2. Offer frequent bathroom breaks. Frequent reminders and/or helping your loved one with dementia to the bathroom upon waking, every two hours thereafter, and before bed can help cut down on accidents.
  3. Make the bathroom stand out. Sometimes, people with dementia have episodes of incontinence because they have a hard time finding or getting to the bathroom. Make the bathroom more easily accessible by decluttering the hallway, putting a sign that says BATHROOM in big bold letters on the bathroom door, leaving the bathroom light on at night, and/or installing nightlights in the hallway (and in the bedroom where your loved one with dementia is sleeping).
  4. Pay attention. People with dementia may show signs of stress when they need to urinate (or defecate). Watch for telltale behaviors like crossing legs, pacing, and restlessness.
  5. Use comfortable clothing. Incontinence in a person with dementia can be due, in part, to difficulty removing clothing. If your loved one with dementia doesn’t own any clothing that’s easy to slip on and off, you may want to purchase a few comfortable (and machine washable) outfits.
  6. Prepare for accidents. Despite your best efforts, accidents do happen. You’ll save yourself a lot of time if you invest in some washable protective pads for the bed, a waterproof mattress cover, and/or adult briefs. If you use the briefs, check them frequently, and change them when wet. And don’t use baby powder; it holds in moisture.
  7. Get help. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, or other form of dementia, can be exhausting. Even more so when the disease progresses to a point where the person with dementia becomes incontinent. If you need assistance, enlist the help of a Kansas City home care agency that specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Your home health caregivers can help keep your loved one clean, groomed, and dry.

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We all become forgetful with age. But if your mom frequently forgets recent conversations, is unable to answer simple questions, and/or often seems confused, she may be suffering from dementia. So, what do you do next? Here are some suggestions:

Get a definitive diagnosis. Before you begin planning for dementia care, you need a definitive dementia diagnosis. Since there’s more than one type of dementia (e.g., Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, Huntington’s disease), you’ll need to know which type you’re dealing with in order to develop a plan of care.

Start with a visit to your mom’s primary care physician to rule out any illnesses, allergies, or medication reactions/interactions that could be causing the dementia symptoms. Once other medical issues have been ruled out, ask for a referral to a Kansas City dementia care specialist.

Educate yourself. Look to appropriate organizations (e.g., Alzheimer’s Association, Lewy Body Dementia Association) for educational resources related to your mom’s dementia diagnosis. Also learn communication techniques and things not to say to someone with dementia. Look for activities that will engage your mom and allow you to spend more quality time with her.

Identify support systems. Who will you be able to contact to help with caregiving, appointments, and/or respite? Do you have siblings nearby who are willing to help? Friends? Neighbors? If your mom is a church member, does the congregation offer any formal or informal assistance? Do you attend a church or live in a community where people might be willing to lend a hand?

Ask for what you need. Write down a schedule of what you need and when. For example, do you need someone to help run errands? Take your mom to appointments? Help with house cleaning or meals?  Visit with your mom while you take an afternoon off? Distribute the list to those who have agreed to help and request volunteers. Update and redistribute the list periodically.

Get outside help. If you don’t have friends, family, or neighbors to help you care for your mom, or if you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed, enlist the help of a Kansas City home health agency that specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care. A good home care agency can help with things like bathing and grooming, cognitive games, transportation, meal preparation, light housekeeping, and more.

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Being a caregiver of someone who requires 24/7 care is tough under any circumstances. Add in dealing with confusion, aggression, sundowning, wandering, and all the other behaviors that go along with Alzheimer’s disease, and it’s not a wonder why as an Alzheimer’s caregiver, you may be sleep deprived.

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