If you’re caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia, you may have noticed a change in his or her sleep patterns. For example, my mom often slept a lot during the day, then was awake half the night. Other people with Alzheimer’s might wake up on and off throughout the night. Some often become confused or agitated in the late afternoon (a phenomenon known as “sundowning”).

These sleep problems can also keep you up at night, either trying to coax your loved one back to bed or worrying about the very real possibility that he or she will go wandering around Kansas City.

So, what can you do? Here are some tips:

Stick to a routine. Keep a regular schedule for meals, bedtime, and getting up in the morning.

Try to limit daytime sleeping. Plan activities that can keep your loved one engaged. Discourage napping, especially later in the day.

Encourage exercise. Physical activity fosters better nighttime sleep. But keep it to a minimum within four hours of bedtime.

Avoid caffeine and other stimulants. Limit coffee and any type of screen exposure (e.g., television, computer) to early in the day.

Ask about pain. It’s tough to sleep if you’re in pain, so make sure you’re giving prescribed pain medications regularly, as needed.

Provide a cozy sleeping area. Make sure the room is set at a comfortable temperature. Provide extra blankets in case it cools down at night. Put nightlights in the hallway and bathroom.

Review medications with your Kansas City physician. Make sure your loved one isn’t taking stimulants too close to bedtime.

If you need help maintaining a routine, fitting in daily activities, or ensuring your loved one gets regular exercise, enlist the help of a Kansas City Alzheimer’s home care provider.

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It’s almost summer in Kansas City! The days are getting longer. It’s getting warmer. And you’re longing to go outside and soak up some sunshine or enjoy the warm night air.

If you’re caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, you may be wondering how they can also enjoy summer in Kansas City. Here are some activities you can try:

Have a barbecue. You’re in Kansas City!!! Invite some family members over and throw something on the grill! Or order carry out from your favorite barbecue restaurant. Ask everyone to bring a dish to share so you don’t have to spend the day cooking. Make sure you find a shady spot for the person who has Alzheimer’s and help him or her apply sunscreen.

Plan a family reunion. Rent a shelter at a Kansas City Park so your family will have some privacy. If you’re inviting people who haven’t seen the person with Alzheimer’s for some time, make sure you give them an update on your loved one’s condition. Sing some songs. Play some games. Share old pictures. Do whatever your family used to do when you all got together.

Go to a show. Outdoor shows like those at StarlightTheatre in the Park or the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival are a great way to enjoy a warm summer evening in Kansas City. My mom, who had Alzheimer’s, loved shows and didn’t seem to mind the crowds. But we always made sure she had a seat where she wasn’t surrounded by people. It might be best to arrive close to showtime when people are mostly settled in. Try to get a seat on the aisle or anywhere that your loved one won’t feel boxed in.

Do an art walk. If the person with dementia enjoys art, why not do a local art walk? The Kansas City Crossroads Arts District has an art walk every first Friday. The Englewood Station Arts District has their art walk every third Friday. Depending on which one you go to, there may be artist demonstrations, music or other entertainment, and even some food trucks.

Have lunch on the Plaza. Go during the week, and ask for an outdoor table in the shade so there will be less noise,

Watch the fireworks. You’ll want to be conscious of how sensitive your loved one is to noise, but there’s no reason someone with dementia can’t enjoy a Kansas City fireworks display. To avoid the crowds and lessen the noise, watch from your own back yard if there are good displays in your neighborhood. If not, drive to a local fireworks display and watch the show from your car.

Get some help. If you’re spending so much time trying to help your loved one who has Alzheimer’s with routine daily activities that you don’t have the time or energy to enjoy the Kansas City summer, get help from a Kansas City home health agency that specializes in working with people who have Alzheimer’s.

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Although all seniors need to take certain safety measures, people who have Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia can pose some additional safety issues. Here are some things you can do to improve the safety of your Kansas City home for yourself, or as the caregiver a loved one who has Alzheimer’s:

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If you live alone in your Kansas City home and have just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you may be wondering what to do next. Here are some strategies that will help you maintain some independence and quality of life:

Do your homework. Find out what Kansas City Alzheimer’s resources are available so you’ll know where to go for health care, educational resources, emotional support, and other needs.

Find transportation. Once you’ve been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it’s probably not safe for you to continue driving. So you’re going to need to enlist help. If you have friends or relatives nearby, see if they can help drive  you to places you need to go or pick things up for you. You may also be able to use Uber or Lyft for a time, but ask for your doctor’s opinion before booking any rides.

Stay engaged. You may want to let the people who are closest to you know about your illness, so they won’t be alarmed when you become forgetful. But continue to participate in activities you enjoy to the best of your abilities. Staying engaged may help slow the progression of your disease, and will help you live a more fulfilling life.

Invest in technology. There are a lot of technological devices available at Kansas City discount or technology stores that can help you with things like communication, appointment or medication reminders, wandering, and other activities that may become more difficult with time.

Sign a living will and a healthcare power of attorney. A living will lets doctors know what type of health care you do or do not want if you’re unable to make that decision at the time of care. A healthcare power of attorney gives someone you trust permission to make healthcare decisions for you. Ask your Kansas City Alzheimer’s caregiver for the appropriate paperwork.

Enlist help. Staying home by yourself isn’t going to be a long-term option unless you have a full-time caregiver. If not, you can always enlist the help of a Kansas City home care agency that provides both personal care and dementia care services.

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Technology is an invaluable tool if you or a loved one has Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia. And touch screen devices (e.g., an iPad) make technology easy for people with Alzheimer’s to use. If you don’t own one, you can pick one up at most Kansas City discount, department, or electronics stores.

Apps that you can download to these devices (many of which are free) can be used to improve cognition and memory, schedule reminders, play games, listen to music, watch videos, and more.

Here are some popular apps for people with Alzheimer’s:

Lumosity: Provides cognitive training games that focus on speed, memory, attention, flexibility, problem solving, language, and math. Cost: Free

Mind Mate: Offers games to challenge people with Alzheimer’s, reminders, music, television, and more. Cost: Free

GPS Tracker. There are tons of GPS tracking apps currently on the market that can help you find a loved one who might wander. Some examples include GPS SmartSole, MindMe, and Yepzon. Cost: Varies

Medisafe: A simple smartphone app that includes a virtual pillbox to let you see what you’ve taken and what’s due next, medication reminders, motivational progress reports, daily tips, and relevant discount prescription offers. Cost: Free

CareZone: A simple app that helps you manage your healthcare (or someone else’s if you’re a caregiver). You can use it to generate a medication list, schedule reminders, keep track of appointments, organize important contacts, share access to information, and more. Cost: Free

YouTube: This popular app can be used to watch entertaining videos, listen to music, or play games. Cost: Free

Pandora: If you (or your loved one) just want to listen to music, you can find artists of any genre on the Pandora app. Cost: Free

If you need additional help with mental awareness stimulation activities, cognitive games, medication management, or engaging your loved one in activities, contact a Kansas City home care provider.

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When my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, we had no idea where to go for help in Kansas City. It took some research, but we discovered there were a lot of places we could turn to for educational materials, health care, Alzheimer’s home care, and more. Here are some of the resources we uncovered:

Health care. The University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center has a memory care clinic where you, or your loved one, can get an initial diagnosis and continuing medical care. Call 913-588-0970 for an appointment.

Educational resources. The Alzheimer’s Association – Heart of America Chapter has a comprehensive library of Alzheimer’s resources to help you learn what to expect and how to best deal with it.

Home care. It doesn’t take long for some people with dementia to stop bathing and/or brushing their teeth. And they may not be real cooperative if you try to help or do it for them. A good Kansas City home care agency, such as Thoughtful Care, can not only provide assistance with hygiene and bathing, but also help with grooming, meal preparation, house cleaning, and more.

Support groups. The emotional toll Alzheimer’s can take on the person who is ill, or on a caregiver, can be overwhelming. So it’s important to get support. The Alzheimer’s Association has compiled a list of Kansas City area support groups for caregivers and for those who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Advance registration is required.

24/7 Helpline. If you have a question about Alzheimer’s that requires an immediate response, you can call the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900. For potentially life-threatening emergencies, call 911 instead.

Clinical trials. There’s currently no cure for Alzheimer’s. That’s why researchers at The University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center frequently conduct clinical trials in their quest to find a cure. A clinical trial can give you, or your loved one who has dementia, an opportunity to try Alzheimer’s medications that aren’t yet on the market.

Respite. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, or other form of dementia, can be exhausting. So it’s essential to find someone to provide respite care, so you can relax and rejuvenate. Thoughtful Care, Kansas City’s Alzheimer’s and dementia home care provider, offers respite services that include interactive activities for your loved one that are designed to promote cognitive function and physical fitness.

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Spring is my favorite time of year in Kansas City. The trees are blossoming. The flowers are blooming. The air is beginning to warm. And I’m itching to go outside!

If you’re caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia, getting outside to enjoy the spring weather may seem next to impossible. But there are actually quite a few spring activities in Kansas City the two of you can share. Here are some suggestions.

Tip: If you don’t have time to plan all of these activities, maybe your home care provider can help:

Have lunch on the Plaza. Having lunch on an outdoor patio on the Plaza has always been one of my favorite things to do in the spring. And outdoor patios tend to be quieter than eating indoors, which is good for people who have dementia. It might also be a good idea to plan a late lunch so you’ll miss the mid-day crowd.

Take a walk in the park. Loose Park is one of my favorite places to walk in the spring, but there are tons of parks in and around Kansas City where you can go for a scenic walk. You probably already have a favorite Kansas City park, but if not, here’s a link to the Johnson County Parks. This link will take you to the Kansas City parks.

Plan a picnic. If you feel like it would be difficult to take your loved one who has Alzheimer’s on a picnic in a Kansas City Park, plan one in your own back yard. Even when my mom was in the later stages of Alzheimer’s, she still seemed to enjoy family gatherings. So invite some family members over and ask them all to bring a dish so you don’t have to do all the cooking.

Go for a drive. Admiring nature was another thing my mom still enjoyed when she had Alzheimer’s. So try taking your loved one on a scenic drive to see the trees blossoming. Blue River Road was always one of my favorite spring drives. If you don’t have a favorite, any tree-lined roads in your neighborhood should be lovely in the spring.

Visit a Botanical Garden. Nothing says spring like seeing flowers in full bloom. And a botanical garden will allow you to take a leisurely stroll past thousands of flowers (and maybe even some wildlife) in a peaceful setting. Powell Gardens and the Overland Park Arboretum are two Kansas City-area botanical gardens.

Do a tour of fountains. Kansas City is the City of Fountains! Find out which Kansas City fountains are closest to you, then map out a plan to take a driving tour.

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Everything suddenly changes when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Social interactions become more difficult. Planning a simple Kansas City outing becomes a chore. And there are new safety issues to be dealt with.

Here are some tips that can help if you find yourself living with someone who has Alzheimer’s (or other form of dementia):

Learn to communicate. People who have Alzheimer’s can’t communicate as effectively as they did in the past. For example, they may have a difficult time answering questions about short-term events. But there are still ways you can interact meaningfully with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s. Examples include talking about that new Kansas City restaurant you just tried, keeping sentences short and simple, and singing.

Safeguard your home. Wandering can be a big concern for people who have Alzheimer’s, so you’ll want to take prevention measures. These might include installing locks up high, maintaining a routine, adding alarms, and hiding the car keys. Other safety measures might include removing clutter, tossing cigarettes and lighters, ensuring adequate lighting, locking up guns and medications, and creating wheelchair pathways.

Engage the person in activities. Staying socially engaged is important for people who have Alzheimer’s; but that can be difficult because they can’t participate in the same types of activities they may have enjoyed in the past. Try things like listening to music, reading together, simple craft activities, jigsaw puzzles, or looking at old photos.

Learn to manage aggression. Aggression is common in people with Alzheimer’s; but keep in mind it often stems from frustration, confusion, too much stimulation, or unmet needs. To manage aggression effectively, speak calmly and listen to what your loved one is saying. You can also try moving to a quiet location, asking about pain, and changing the subject.

Find respite. Caregivers need a break once in a while. Enlist the help of an organization that provides respite care services or a Kansas City adult day care facility. Respite services are not only good for you, as a caregiver; interacting with others can also be good for your loved one who has Alzheimer’s.

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Caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia is more than a full-time job. It’s 24 hours a day, every day of the week. That’s not a pace anyone can maintain for long.

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Whether you’re in a situation where you still have to go to work every day, or you just need some part-time respite, you may decide you’d like some assistance with your role as caring for a person who has Alzheimer’s (or other form of dementia). Adult day care services from Thoughtful Care specialize in caring for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

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