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Caregiver Resolutions: Care for Yourself This New Year

Thursday, January 4th, 2018 3:49:50 PM
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Memory care and Alzheimer’s services can provide the professional help your loved one needs

After the stress of the holidays has calmed and we return to our normal schedule, it can be easy to fall back into bad habits. However, the start of the new year is an excellent opportunity to set goals and recommit to our personal health. For family caregivers or those providing memory care to a loved one with dementia, finding the time for self-reflection and personal improvement is challenging.

In this week’s blogs, we will explore Three Caregiver Resolutions that can be implemented by family caregivers. But first, let’s take a look at who a caregiver is, what the job entails, and common challenges faced:

Fact 1: Emotional support makes up a big part of caregiving

While the role of family caregiver often includes tasks such as meal preparation, laundry, transportation to appointments, and medication reminders, emotional support is a significant part of the job as well. According to the Pew Research FactTank, in 2015 68% of adult family caregivers say that they sometimes support their aging parents emotionally. [Source]

Fact 2: Caring for an aging parent can become a full-time responsibility

On average, family caregivers spend 24.4 hours providing care. When providing memory care for a family member with Alzheimer’s or dementia, family caregivers on average will provide care for 1-4 years. [Source]

Fact 3: The average caregiver is middle-aged, with a career and family of their own

Of the 43.5 million unpaid, family caregivers in the U.S., the average age is 49 years old. 42% of family caregivers are providing memory care or other senior care services for a parent.

With a better understanding of who family caregivers are and the role they assume, it is easy to see some of the challenges they face. Providing care for a loved one is not only time consuming but can become expensive. Travelling and time spent away from work or children can take a toll. The emotional and physical difficulties of providing memory care can become overwhelming.

If you or someone you love is a primary caregiver for a senior loved one, consider these Three Caregiver Resolutions to start the new year off right:

1. Make your mental and physical health a priority

Family caregivers are loving, compassionate, and often selfless people. However, always caring for others can lead to neglect of yourself. Remember that you can only help others if you are at your best. Prioritize your mental wellness by building a support system, knowing when to ask for help, or seeking a therapist to help you cope with stress. Promote physical wellness by getting enough sleep, eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly.

2. Spend quality time with loved ones

As a caregiver, especially to a parent or other family member, it can be hard to separate your caregiving responsibilities from your relationship. Spend quality time connecting with a loved one through an activity, exercise, or trip where you are a son, daughter, sister, or friend but not a caregiver. Many Alzheimer’s facilities and senior centers offer adult day programs for families to interact while professionals provide care assistance. Spending quality time takes you both out of the daily care routine and can be very beneficial [Source]

3. Plan for future care

If you provide memory care for an aging parent, there will come a time when you are no longer able to offer the care and support they need on your own. As Alzheimer’s or dementia symptoms advance, seniors will need more specialized care. Researching memory care homes in Wichita, KS, can help you reduce stress now and in the future. While you cannot predict what will happen, understanding the options and support resources available to you and your family will be helpful no matter what the future holds.

 

For more information about memory care services provided by Comfort Care Homes, please call our office at (316) 444-0532 or visit our website: http://comfortcarehomeswichita.com/

Why I Walk – Pam Crawford

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 2:51:46 PM
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I walk for my Father who had Parkinson’s Dementia and for my Grandmother.

My memories of my grandmother as a Pastor’s wife are full of feeding us gum and candy bars in church to keep us kids quiet. She loved to cook and believed any ailment you had was remedied by food. Every one of us grandkids knew we were loved immensely and enjoyed the twinkle in her eye and laughter as she watched us eat together as a family. Memories of picking veggies from the garden and her canning – always remember her homemade Apple Butter.

Last but not least, was her legacy to us of her beautiful crocheted blankets, tablecloths, baby hats, doilies, etc. This was my fondest memory, of watching her sit for hours to make beautiful things that made others smile. It was extremely difficult to realize she could no longer remember how to crochet. Those treasures I keep close to my heart as does my daughter now that Grandma is no longer with us.

I struggled as my Grandmother began to lose her memory over time. I knew Grandma was still there even when she could no longer live at home. When her natural inhibitions no longer worked because of this illness, it was difficult to watch. Nevertheless, we wanted her to know she was loved in any way that we could. Watching my family struggle with this illness also wasn’t easy. You can’t argue with someone with this illness and when she began to live in her past thinking it was the present, it was difficult to watch my family try to persuade her. While we all learned over time the right way to react and interact, those struggles are so real. I am comforted to know that we had each other through the entire journey with my Grandmother.

My father’s journey with Parkinson’s dementia was different and yet equally as challenging. When you know someone who was so full of life and opinions, with a contagious unique laughter who served his country and loved his God with all his heart and then…….you see loss of independence in every facet of life, you cry a bit inside each time knowing that this could be you one day.

Watching him lose his ability to get his words out, lose his strength to sing and praise in church and even eat much, it hits your heart hard. What was so sweet to watch was putting on music he loved or having musicians come to play old hymns, he could still tap his foot and use his hands to show you that it was soothing to him. Even when he couldn’t eat much, you knew a soft Reeses peanut butter cup would offer him some enjoyment and of course, we all have his love of Reese to take with us.

There is not a lot in the way of medications to truly help a person with dementia who develop behavioral challenges. It pained me to see him have to be so medicated at times to finally allow him some inner peace. Watching his struggle to the very end until he took his very last breath, knowing that he was surrounded by family who sang/talked to him until that very last moment…..is another reason I walk.

Though I am so grateful we all had each other – there is still so much more to be discovered to help those who suffer with the illness and their families who have to endure along the way.

Help Pam by making a donation to the Comfort Crusaders Team – Click here to make a donation.

For more information about The Walk to End Alzheimer’s and how you can get involved, please visit our event page here. If you have any questions, feel free to call our office at 316-267-7333.

                

Brain Games and Activities to Make Memory Care Fun

Thursday, August 10th, 2017 7:34:48 PM
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Professional memory care providers know how to keep seniors active and engaged

A major challenge faced by family caregivers of loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is the unpredictability. As dementia progresses, memory and word retrieval become more difficult. Behavioral changes and mood swings can be common as well as disinterest in favorite hobbies and a desire to be left alone. Providing adequate memory care can be challenging because you are not certain how your loved one will respond from one day to the next.

Facing the uncertainty and seemingly randomness of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can make interacting with a loved one difficult. You want to support their health and happiness without causing confusion or irritation. In coordination with other methods, professional memory care providers suggest brain games and activities as a fun way of engaging seniors.

Brain games, in a way, disguise dementia and Alzheimer’s care as a fun activity. While you and your loved one will definitely enjoy these activities, brain games do more than pass the time and offer a few laughs. Specific activities and games help the brain relearn how to recall specific words, exercise cognitive abilities, encourage focus, and increase alertness. Brain games don’t have to be high-tech or on your smart phone. Often times, the simplest of games are the most beneficial to seniors with dementia.

Memory Care Games for Seniors and Family Caregivers

Bingo – Bingo is an ideal game for seniors with dementia because it can be easily modified based on their personal abilities. It requires matching of letters and numbers or colors and shapes, which are both beneficial on a cognitive level. Bingo is enjoyed and understood by people of all ages, so the whole family can be involved. These social interactions can have a positive impact on your loved one’s mood. [Source]

Card  Matching – Like Bingo, card matching games can be easily adjusted for seniors of all levels of memory loss. For early stage dementia, try placing the cards in even rows and columns face up for 2 minutes, then flipping them so the back side shows. Try to find matching pairs by flipping over two cards at a time. If a match is found, remove the pair from the rows. Repeat until all matches have been found. For advanced dementia, leave all the cards face up and have your senior loved one point out pairs. Card matching games help seniors recognize familiar objects and utilize short term memory.

Puzzles – Completing puzzles can be a fun activity to do together and promotes cognitive and tactile abilities. While the main purpose of brain games is to have fun, seniors with dementia may become agitated or frustrated by tasks they are unable to complete. Keeping high-spirits through conversation and friendly assistance can help make puzzles an enjoyable activity.

Want more brain games and activities? Check out 101 Activities for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease.

Help is Available When You Need It

Mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise, especially for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Assistance from a professional memory care provider or facility can help your loved one stay mentally active on a regular basis. If you’re concerned about your loved one’s well-being while you’re away at work, adult day care services are available. Not only do professional care providers know how to keep your senior safe, other senior residents provide companionship and conversation.

Your senior loved one’s dementia or Alzheimer’s disease will continue to progress and their symptoms will change. As you find your family in need of long term care options, consider specialized care facilities. Adult day care can be a great way to ease your loved one into the idea of assisted living so the transition into full-time care is more comfortable.

If you are providing senior care for a loved one with dementia, know that you are not alone. Utilize local resources and expert assistance from ComfortCare Homes of Wichita.

To learn more about memory care and how specialized care can help, please call ComfortCare Home of Wichita at (316) 444-0532 or visit our website by clicking here.

Music Therapy and the Impact on Memory Care for Seniors

Thursday, April 6th, 2017 2:09:15 PM
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If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another dementia related disease, then you may be aware of the later-stage developments of the disease and the benefits of memory care that includes music therapy. This type of treatment can be applied for dementia and similar illnesses to reduce isolation and to improve memory recall.

Music Therapy and Dementia

Music affects a certain area of the brain which is processed instantly due to the fact that recognition of music and familiar patterns requires little to no neural processing.  It has been shown to be successful in allowing for more effective communication between caregivers and memory care patients at varying stages.

In earlier stages of memory loss, it is encouraged to remain socially engaged with activities that involve dancing or movement. This is a good time to try new places, finding venues and allowing the person to establish a connection with music that the person liked in the past. For our grandparents today, think like Frank Sinatra or classic rock. If possible, karaoke is also a good idea.

As a person progresses to the moderate stages of their disease, music therapy is used often around the home as a background soundtrack to improve mode and to relax. Once a person can no longer go out of the home safely, dancing maybe replaced with walking or swaying.

As memory diseases develop, patient’s often undergo emotional withdrawal. Reductions in degeneration have been noticed for those using music earlier in their memory care process, but interestingly, it has been proven that even introducing music therapy in later stages can provide a positive effect.

In fact, some would say that this is where music therapy has made some of the most noticeable changes, mainly because when the treatment is included in late stage degeneration, there is an increased chance of lack of communication or being able to express wants and desires. It has been noted that once patients were introduced to the therapy at this stage by incorporating familiar music from their past and encouraging as much participation as within the patient’s capability.

Spreading the Word About Music Therapy

In 2008, Music and Memory was established as a solution to connect seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s to be able to have readily accessible playlists. They worked with caregiving facilities in New York to get iPads for seniors living with memory loss conditions. The results were outstanding and it proved to make a dramatic difference in the understanding and acceptance of the therapy. Then, in 2012, a documentary entitled Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory was released in America. The documentary detailed the improvements made by seniors, showing the work done by the organization that revolutionized access to this therapy. It acted as an educating tool and continues to foster a sense of acceptance and utilization of the music therapy benefits as part of a person’s memory care treatment.

References:

http://www.musictherapy.org/about/history/

https://www.alzfdn.org/EducationandCare/musictherapy.html

ComfortCare Homes of Wichita, KS provides memory care services to the following cities and neighborhoods:

Wichita, Derby, Augusta, El Dorado, Newton, Hutchinson, Pretty Prairie, Kingman, Norwich, Conway Springs, Belle Plaine, and the surrounding areas of Kansas.

Testimonials

“This is the best place for people with memory problems that are advanced.  I am very comfortable leaving my mom in your care.  I don’t know how we could have made it through till now without you.  Now that my mom is at Founders Crest (ComfortCare’s newest Home), I believe there is no other place she could be more well taken care of.  Mama is treated as an inidvidual and not just any old lady.  Thankful!”

- Lisa Boorigie

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