Repetitive behaviors (e.g., doing or saying the same thing over and over) are common in people who have Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia. Some repetition can be attributed to short-term memory loss (i.e., the person simply can’t remember what he or she just did or said). Other causes may include anxiety, frustration, insecurity, or an attempt to communicate a specific need or thought.

Whatever the cause, repetition can be annoying and/or frustrating for Kansas City Alzheimer’s caregivers. Here are some things you can do that may stop repetitive behaviors:

  • Look for a cause. Is there a specific need that isn’t being met? Does the person with Alzheimer’s need to go to the bathroom? Is he or she in pain? Is there too much noise? Is the person trying to tell you something?
  • Stay calm. If you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, you need to be a good listener. And it requires patience. Getting upset about repetitive behaviors is only going to aggravate the person more, which could exacerbate the repetitive behavior.
  • Be creative. One evening, my mom kept asking for my dad, who was in the room with her in their Kansas City home. She thought my dad was another guy she’d dated in college, and we didn’t know how to convince her otherwise. So he walked around the block. As he was coming back down the street, my brother-in-law looked out the window and said, “Here he comes now.” When my dad walked in the door, my mom scolded him for not telling her where he was going. He apologized, and that was that.
  • Use reminders. If the person who has Alzheimer’s repeatedly asks the same questions, write down the answers and put them where they can be easily seen.
  • Try distraction. If you can’t find the cause of the person’s repetitive behavior, try engaging him or her in another activity.
  • Answer questions. If the person who has dementia is repeatedly asking the same question, keep answering. But be mindful of the things you shouldn’t say to someone with Alzheimer’s.
  • Get help. If you need help with Alzheimer’s home care, or just need some temporary respite, you may want to enlist the help of a Kansas City home care agency that specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care.

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Communication is difficult for people who have Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia. It’s also not easy for someone who doesn’t have Alzheimer’s to communicate with someone who does. Here are some tips that might help improve communication between people with dementia and their friends and family members and/or caregivers.

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If you’re diagnosed with Alzheimer’s while in your 30s, 40s or 50s, you’ll likely be faced with a lot more challenges than your older counterparts.

For example, people with younger-onset Alzheimer’s, also known as early-onset Alzheimer’s, are more likely to:

  • be gainfully employed at the time of diagnosis
  • still be raising children
  • still have significant debt (e.g., mortgage, car payments)
  • be more reluctant to accept their limitations

Here are some things you can do to prepare yourself for life with early-onset Alzheimer’s:

Tap Kansas City Alzheimer’s Resources

Kansas City has a multitude of Alzheimer’s resources that will help you find appropriate healthcare, Alzheimer’s information, Alzheimer’s home care, support groups, and more.

Tackle Career Issues

If you’d like to continue working, you may want to consider sharing your diagnosis with your direct supervisor. See if there are options available that will allow you to work shorter hours, adapt your job responsibilities, and/or switch to a job that will better suit your abilities.

While you’re still working, you’ll want to visit your human resources department and review your benefits. In particular, ask about:

  • An Employee Assistance Program
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Short-term disability
  • Long-term disability
  • Early retirement benefits (if you’re close to retirement age)
  • Continuing life insurance benefits in the event you should stop working
  • COBRA

Address Changing Family Dynamics

As your disease progresses, you and your spouse may no longer be able to be equal partners in raising your children. Your relationship with your spouse will also change. Here are some things to consider:

  • Let your spouse and your children know that you have younger-onset Alzheimer’s. You may also want to periodically give your family an update on any disease progression.
  • When reasonable, allow children to participate in major decision making.
  • Talk to your spouse about future child-rearing responsibilities
  • Discuss things that you and your spouse may still be able to do as a couple.
  • Find new activities you can all still do together as a family.

Manage Legal Matters

Talk to a financial counselor and an attorney about current and future financial needs. Some things you may want to discuss include:

  • Developing a will, if you don’t currently have one
  • Designating a power of attorney to make decisions on your behalf when you’re no longer able
  • Signing a living will to let healthcare workers know your wishes in the event you’re not able to make a decision at the time of care
  • Designating a healthcare power of attorney to make healthcare decisions for you when you’re no longer able

Make sure your spouse or next of kin knows how to take care of the family finances and has copies of all of these documents and your life insurance policy.

Maintain Independence

Just because you’ve been diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s doesn’t mean you can’t still maintain some sense of independence. Here are some things you can do:

  • Take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and follow your doctor’s orders.
  • Make your home safe. People with dementia need to take additional safety measures.
  • Use technology. Vast improvements in apps and other technology over the last several years can help you maintain some independence.
  • Find transportation. You’ll want to continue participating in activities you still enjoy for as long as you’re able, but it may not be safe for you to drive. So you’ll want to look for alternative transportation methods (e.g., friends, relatives).
  • Get help. A part of maintaining your independence is knowing when you need help. A good Kansas City home care agency that specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia can help you with things like bathing and grooming, meal preparation, light housekeeping, transportation, and more.

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Medical problems in people with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia often go unnoticed due to impaired communication between the person with dementia and the caregiver. If you’re caring for someone who has dementia, here are some potential health problems to look out for:

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It’s difficult enough for an adult to comprehend and adjust to what’s happening when a loved one suddenly develops Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia. Imagine how your children must feel when Grandma or Grandpa starts behaving oddly and doesn’t always seem to know them. Or can’t remember the last trip you all took to the Kansas City Zoo.

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I have five siblings. And aside from normal childhood squabbles, we’ve always gotten along. But there was still some tension around who would do what when my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My dad would send out a list of things he needed help with, and we’d all wait for someone else to sign up to do them. Or try to choose the easiest tasks before someone else got them.

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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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