By the time I realized there was something really wrong with my mom’s memory, I had already had my last “real” conversation with her. It happened that fast. And suddenly, I no longer had any idea how to talk to her. If I asked her a question (which I frequently did without thinking), she wouldn’t know the answer and would get pretty agitated. Then I would feel like a heel.

But you can learn from my mistakes and have meaningful conversations with your loved one who has Alzheimer’s or dementia. Just prepare for them to be mostly one-sided.

Here are some caregiver tips for interacting with someone for whom you’re providing dementia care:

  1. Be patient: You have to be a good listener when talking to someone with dementia. Let them say what they’re trying to say without interrupting or trying to finish their sentences (unless you’re asked for help).
  2. Keep questions to a minimum. Try not to ask questions like, “Did you have breakfast?” or “What have you been doing today?’ Your loved one will likely not remember and become frustrated. It’s okay to ask questions like, “Would you like a blanket? or “Are you hungry?” Those are the type of questions someone with Alzheimer’s may still be able to answer.
  3. Talk about yourself. Talk about something interesting you’ve done recently, like that new place you discovered in Independence or Leawood. Or about how your children are doing in school. Or just tell her (or him) about your day.
  4. Keep it short: Speak slowly and in short sentences. Some people who have dementia can still digest some of what you’re saying, but it will be much more difficult if you are speaking in a monologue.
  5. Don’t argue. You’re not going to convince someone with Alzheimer’s that you’re right, so don’t even try. Unless the person is trying to do something harmful, just agree and move on.
  6. Use pictures. Photos can sometimes jog a person’s memory, so they can be a good conversation starter. One day, I was looking at old pictures with my mom, and she could still name everyone in most of the photos.
  7. Find other ways to communicate. My mom loved music, so one of my sisters used to just sit with her and sing. Surprisingly, my mom could still remember the words to the songs and would sing along.

Whatever methods you use, it’s important to find a way to interact with your loved one who has Alzheimer’s. If you’re still having trouble, try enlisting the help of Thoughtful Care™ in Kansas City, your choice in home care providers.

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Recognizing the Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

If you have an elderly loved one who lives at home alone, it’s important to understand the signs of Alzheimer’s Disease so he or she can get the appropriate help and treatment. Thoughtful Care provides full-service Alzheimer’s and dementia care to seniors across the Kansas City community. If any of the below symptoms are present, we encourage you to schedule a free in-home consultation with our trained caregiver staff.

  • Short-term memory loss: When an aging loved one begins to have trouble with recently learned information or needs to ask for the same details over and over, Alzheimer’s could be to blame.
  • Difficulty with speech: Early signs of Alzheimer’s can include difficulty forming sentences or remembering words.
  • Trouble following instruction: Whether it’s following the steps of a recipe, balancing a budget or paying bills, Alzheimer’s sufferers can become confused or lack concentration.
  • Difficulty performing routine tasks: Day-to-day tasks, such as driving to familiar locations or cleaning the house, can become difficult for those with Alzheimer’s.
  • Vision and perception impairment: When a loved one begins to have difficulty reading, judging distance or identifying colors, Alzheimer’s might be at play.
  • Frequently losing items: If items begin to go missing and your loved one has difficulty retracing his or her steps, it could be due to Alzheimer’s.
  • Social withdrawal: Lack of interest in social events or outside activities is another symptom of Alzheimer’s.
  • Changes in personality: Look for increased confusion, heightened temper, anxiety and frustration.

As the holidays draw near, time spent with family becomes more frequent. This extra time is often when the daily struggles of our elderly loved ones become more apparent. How do you know when it’s time to seek in-home care for an aging Kansas City senior? Look for these signs:

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3 Heart-Healthy Fall Recipes for Seniors

Fall is in full swing and we’re all craving warm, hearty foods. Treat your favorite Kansas City senior to a fall meal that’s both seasonal and heart-healthy. Here are three of our favorite recipes:

  1. There’s nothing quite as comforting as a warm homemade stew. Featuring healthy ingredients like sweet potatoes, carrots and peas, this Slow Cooker Harvest Beef Stew from the American Heart Association is perfect for a chilly fall evening.
  2. Fall wouldn’t be complete without a bevy of pumpkin-inspired food and drink. We love this easy-to-prepare Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce recipe from Mayo Clinic.
  3. Perfect for preparing ahead of time, this Chicken, Mushroom and Wild Rice Casserole from Eating Well will provide several days’ worth of heart-healthy dinners for your aging loved one.



Safe-proofing a Home for Seniors

With a growing number of seniors remaining in their homes until later in life, there is a strong need to adjust certain household features. Reduce the risk of injury and provide your aging loved one with a safe and comfortable home by following these four simple steps:

  1. Safe-proof the stairs: Falls are the leading cause of in-home injuries among seniors (source) and staircases are one of the most dangerous areas of the home. Plus, certain elderly conditions, like arthritis, can make it extremely difficult to move up and down the stairs smoothly.
  • What you can do:
    • Tighten existing handrails so he or she has something sturdy to hold.
    • Install additional handrails where needed.
    • Remove loose carpeting or rugs to reduce tripping.
    • On hard-surface floors our outdoor staircases, place anti-slip tape on each step.
    • If he or she has truly limited mobility, consider investing in a chair lift.
  1. Reduce the risk for fires or burns: Reaction times, low vision and forgetfulness can all play a part in increased risk of unattended kitchen fires.
  • What you can do:
    • Install automatic turn-off devices in stove and oven.
    • Reduce clutter on countertops.
    • Have a working fire extinguisher easily accessible and make sure he or she knows how to use it.
  1. Make bath time easier: Simple hygiene tasks become more difficult in old age, especially taking a bath or shower. Wet, slippery floors and hard surfaces mixed with limited mobility can lead to an increased risk for injury. In fact, 80% of senior falls happen in the bathroom (source).
  • What you can do:
    • Invest in an adjustable bath bench, which is designed to aid seniors in safely transferring in and out of the tub. Amazon, Walmart and other retailers offer dozens of options. Find the fit that’s right for your loved one, based on his or her mobility.
    • Rework the bathroom to have a walk-in shower versus a step-in shower, which will preserve balance and reduce the risk of tripping or falling.
    • Add anti-slip tape or slip-resistant mats to the bottom of senior baths and/or showers.
    • For added safety around the toilet, tub or shower, install handrails to support your loved one as they maneuver around the bathroom. A variety of handrails and grab bars can be found at your local hardware store.
  1. Install a home security system: Living independently is important to many aging seniors, and a home security system is one of the best ways to give you peace-of-mind.
  • What you can do:
    • Make sure the security system provides all the basic safety features that will prevent burglaries, robberies or fires. These include window and door sensors, motion sensors, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide monitors and video surveillance,
    • Look for a company that includes a built-in medical alert system. Most will allow your loved one to request medical help at the push of a button in a time of emergency. Some systems will even detect falls and will call for help immediately.
    • Consider adding remote control access, which would allow your loved one or his or her caregiver to monitor the security system, thermostat and other features, even when he or she is away from home.