Senior Care Considerations During Polar Vortex

Since most of the United States is locked in the grip of a fierce “polar vortex”, or sub-zero temperatures, I thought it might be a good time to revisit special considerations of elderly care during this time of extreme weather. Here in Chicago, yesterday’s low temperature was -16F, with a windchill of -50F. Elsewhere in the Midwest and Plain states, all-time low temperature records were broken. Exposure to the elements could result in frostbite or hypothermia in just a few minutes.

The elderly are vulnerable during extreme weather, especially those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia who are prone to wandering. In New York state, an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease left her home and was found dead in the snow, not more than 100 yards from her door. So as the frigid temperatures make their way east and south, all the way down to Florida, be on guard for the special needs associated with the aged.

Older adults lose body heat more quickly than the young, and hypothermia can set in fast. According to Stay Safe in Cold Weather, by the National Institute on Aging, “for an older person, a body temperature colder than 95 degrees can cause many health problems such as a heart attack, kidney problems, liver damage, or worse.”

Certain medications can make it easier for the elderly to get hypothermia, so check with a physician if that’s a concern.

Keep the house warm by restricting open rooms. Shut their vents and doors to maximize heat in the living and sleeping areas. Close blinds and curtains to help eliminate drafts.

Food is fuel, so make sure the senior eats enough. Also, cold air is drier, so make sure they keep hydrated. Caregiver training recommends a senior drink 64oz. of liquid (preferably water) daily.

If space heaters are used for supplemental heat, be sure they are turned off before bed and when unattended and make sure a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector are nearby, as these are common concerns.

If your senior family member or client shows the following signs, call 911 immediately, as these are signs of advanced hypothermia:

  • moving slowly, trouble walking, or being clumsy
  • stiff and jerky arm or leg movements
  • slow heartbeat
  • slow, shallow breathing
  • blacking out or losing consciousness

As always, if you or a senior in your care needs special help, contact your state's Area Agency on Aging. Until this arctic weather passes (and it shall, just not soon enough!), Caregiverlist wishes all seniors and their caregivers to stay warm and safe.

 

Alzheimer's Prevention Tips Shared By The Brain Games App: Caregiverlist Senior Care App Review

Alzheimer's prevention requires an effort on the part of senior caregivers and their clients to keep their minds and bodies active as they age. No single cause of Alzheimer's can be found, though. The Brain Games app offers several valuable tips for seniors and caregivers on specific habits for daily life to help prevent Alzheimer's.

The title of the app is slightly perplexing as it highlights tips instead of actual games, but nonetheless provides useful information. The app features a very simple layout with the ability to pick a tip highlighted on a card and then flip it over to read more about it. Users can see that one of the first tips is to read a good book. If they flip the card over, they learn that reading draws on the imagination which forces the brain to make connections. Users then can easily move onto the next tip when they're done reading with a swipe of the screen. 

The free version of the app presents 11 tips for users, some of which include less common Alzheimer's prevention suggestions such as eating a protein based breakfast to fuel the brain and cutting back on alcohol. The app does lack depth in Alzheimer's education outside of these tips, though. Adding a section with information on how Alzheimer's develops and affects the brain would be useful for furthering caregiver and senior knowledge of the disease. This app is best used to offer tips and supplement information from other sources on Alzheimer's disease. 

 

The Brian Games App is available for free for Apple products.

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

The Alzheimer's Store Provides Quality Products for Families and Caregivers

Caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients or those with dementia or memory loss deal with a special set of caregiving needs. That’s something that our friends at The Alzheimer’s Store know all too well. They’ve made it their mission to bring to the senior care market a variety of products to make caring for those living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia easier and make the Alzheimer’s years just a little more safe and comfortable. Here, they discuss a popular product that makes life easier.

It’s Easier Than Ever to Celebrate Time with Loved Ones

Time is so precious. We often take it for granted. That at the fact that we’re naturally aware of the day and time or can easily find out at any given moment. It’s not so easy for Alzheimer’s patients. Caregivers and family members of those with Alzheimer’s are very familiar with the questions: “What time is it?” and “What day is it?” It can be taxing on both you and them.

Since our goal at The Alzheimer’s Store (ALZSTORE.COM) is to help ease the stress in caring for loved ones, we feature a wall clock that is large enough for Alzheimer’s patients to see from all areas of the room. Knowing the day and time reassures the patient and puts them more at ease, which in turn relieves stress for both caregivers and family members.

This high quality precision clock displays the time, day of the week and date clearly and automatically. It has a sweeping hand, as Alzheimer’s patients do not recognize digital, and a large day date and month. Both at home and in facilities, those who struggle with Alzheimer’s can take pride and comfort in knowing the correct day and date with this excellent reminder.


Wall Clock with Day & Date

We know caring for someone you love with this disease can be a roller coaster of emotions. Alzheimer’s affects more than five million people worldwide and is the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death. In fact, my grandfather George was inspiration behind our dedication and commitment to helping others with Alzheimer’s. Nothing gives us more satisfaction that helping others care for loved ones; it helps us honor our grandfather’s memory.

We can’t say enough about the positive feedback we’ve been getting on this top-selling product. The Alzheimer's Store's continuously searches to offer quality products at the most affordable rate and we have not been able to find a more reliable timepiece. If you’ve purchased the clock or plan to, we’d love to hear your feedback! Email us and share your story at brittany@alzstore.com.

Senior caregivers may also find online caregiver training and apply for a senior caregiving job near them, as more companion caregivers are always needed to assist seniors with memory loss.

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo of the Week

Caregivers employed with senior care companies know the realities of caregiver stress. Caregiverlist invites all family caregivers and professional caregivers to take a moment for relaxation with our photo of the week and inspirational quote. This week's photo features amber sunset. Thank you caregivers for caring for our seniors and please refer your friends to apply for part-time and full-time job positions on www.Caregiverlist.com and visit our career center for additional career tools.

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo Amber Sunset

"Kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see." 

Mark Twain

New York Times Crossword Puzzle App Provides Mental Challenge: Caregiverlist Senior Care App Review

Many caregivers and their senior clients may have grown up doing crossword puzzles from the newspaper with their loved ones. Crossword puzzles are great for killing extra time by yourself or for bringing out in a group to collaboratively come up with answers to the clues. The New York Times Crossword Puzzle app takes the crossword puzzle featured in the newspaper each day and presents it in a digital format. 

Crossword puzzles offer cognitive exercises for seniors to support healthy aging. The act of reading a clue, thinking about it and devising an answer helps keep the brain active and sharp. To prevent Alzheimer's and dementia, seniors should make a conscious effort to partake in an activity each day that stimulates their mind, even in a basic way. Seniors can do the crossword puzzles on their own or work with their caregivers to come up with the answers. Working together on the crossword puzzle may help come up with more answers based on each of your individual knowledge and also gives you an opportunity to bond with your senior client.

New crossword puzzles are featured every day. Try making a game to see how many clues you can get correct each day, and try to top that number the next day. 

App Name: NYTimes Crosswords

Available for free for Apple platforms. 

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help to relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

Brain Game App Keeps Mind Active for Alzheimer's Prevention: Caregiverlist Senior Care App Review

Exercising the mind contributes to healthy aging just as much as regular physical activity. Senior caregivers can help their clients keep their minds sharp by picking up a new habit or hobby that engages the mind. Something as simple as doing a crossword puzzle or playing a basic game helps keep the brain active. The smartphone app Binaural Brain Game combines brain exercise for Alzheimer's prevention with the need to relieve stress and relax. 

The games feature an icon that the user moves around the surface of the screen to collect crystals whilst avoiding spinning colored wheels. The motions in the game help keep the mind sharp whilst doing something seemingly almost mindless.  Once the user collects their first 1,000 crystals in the first game, they can unlock the second game in the app. There are five different games total that the user can unlock by gathering more crystals in a lower level. Mental stimulation is key in Alzheimer's prevention, along with physical diet, exercise and social connections, as outlined by the Alzheimer's Association

Senior caregivers can benefit from the app as well as it plays tranquil music during games to help calm and soothe the user. After a long day as a caregiver, come home and play the game for a few minutes to clear your head from the day and put you in a good headspace to relax for the rest of the night. 

 

The app is available for free for Apple users. There is also a paid version free of advertisements. 

Name: Binaural Brain Game: Relaxation Therapy for Stress, Insomnia & Alzheimer's 

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help to relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo of the Week

Caregivers employed with senior care companies know the realities of caregiver stress. Caregiverlist invites all family caregivers and professional caregivers to take a moment for relaxation with our photo of the week and inspirational quote. This week's photo features reflections dancing in the calm waters of the lake Michigan. Thank you for caring for our seniors and please refer your friends to apply for part-time and full-time job positions on Caregiverlist.com and visit our career center for additional career tools.

Caregiverlist Stress Relief Photo of the Week Calm Waters

"Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is ready cash, use it."

Kay Lyons

Tips for Handling Seniors with Cognitive Impairment

Guest blogger Christian Wilson tackles the arduous task of caring for those with memory impairment with some very practical tips.

Caring for an individual with memory problems can be difficult and stressful. Even more stressful, however, is realizing a loved one—or yourself—may be beginning to show the signs of memory issues or mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This can lead to both worry and denial, since MCI is considered a very early stage of dementia. It’s important to note that a person who has developed MCI won’t necessarily develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, though those who do develop MCI are at a much higher risk for further impairment.

What is mild cognitive impairment? It’s often classified a change in cognition, essentially the way a person thinks. Cognition includes memory and the ability to understand and comprehend one’s environment. Unfortunately, while it can be an ambiguous condition and there isn’t a consistent way to diagnose MCI, there are several recognizable symptoms to look for. These symptoms can include:

  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Difficulty forming short-term memories
  • Difficulty speaking or communicating complete thoughts
  • Easily distracted
  • Forgetfulness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Mental fog

Diagnosing mild cognitive impairment. Because MCI is a more ambiguous condition, diagnosing it can be a challenge for doctors and health care providers and oftentimes won’t receive the proper response. Since much of the MCI diagnosis process is based around observation, it can take an extended period of time to come to a firm conclusion. Blood testing can be done, as well neurological tests, and brain imaging. Blood tests can determine vitamin B-12 deficiency and hypothyroidism, both which can produce symptoms of MCI. If these conditions are discovered, treatment can improve symptoms, and if symptoms improve then the individual isn’t likely afflicted with MCI.

Caring for patients. So, if you’re in the position of caring for someone diagnosed with MCI, what can you do?

Educate yourself. If you’re providing care for a person or loved one with MCI, the better educated you are about the condition, the better you’ll be able to provide positive care. It can be as simple as knowing and understanding the signs of MCI or preparing for the possibility of caring for a person with a worsening condition.

Monitor and assess. Observe the individual and look for signs of improvement, stability, or decline. Being aware of their current state of mind will determine how you care for them. If they improve, your role may eventually be reduced. If their condition declines, the quicker you will be able to respond, which will result in greater likelihood the patient will be able to receive proper treatment, especially if the MCI begins to be manifested as dementia.

Create a positive environment. Make sure the person has plenty to do. An active mind is a healthy mind and keeping their mind and body active is often the best thing a caregiver can do. This can include reading a book or playing games (both video and board), visiting a museum, as well as going for a walk or hike. Additionally, having patience will contribute to a more positive environment and reduced stress.

Diet and exercise. A change in diet can help to ease and reduce the signs of MCI. Develop a involving more fruits and vegetables, while decreasing the high fat and high sugar foods. Increase the person’s intake of omega-3 fatty acid supplements and vitamin B (particularly if a change in diet rich in these nutrients is not enough). Coupled with a healthy diet, regular exercise has been shown to have a very positive impact on the brain and cognitive function. Ensure the person participates in physical activity, such as gardening, swimming, or walking, on a daily basis.

Before embarking on any plan of action, it is imperative that you work with a doctor in order to help your senior, whether they be a family member or client, age well.

Christian Wilson currently works in the home care industry. He writes about issues facing the elderly and spends a lot of his work day answering questions regarding home care. When he’s not at work he enjoys traveling with his family and meeting new people.

Living and Aging Well at Home

Caregiverlist welcomes Dr. Doris Bersing, PhD. as our new Home Care Expert. Dr. Bersing is the founder and president of Living Well Assisted Living at Home, Dr. Bersing discusses how to successfully age in place at home. If you have any questions regarding the elderly aging at home, especially those with Alzheimer's disease or dementia, feel free to post your questions here.

How to Have More Choices to Age Well at Home?

We all hope to age in a healthy way and most of us avoid thinking about frailty or problems before they arise. However, If we force ourselves to plan, we can make informed choices.

90% of people want to live in their own homes. This has been true for all of our history. Moving out of home to an “age segregated community” is a modern phenomenon. Maximize your choices by planning your estate, your home, your health, and your wellness.

To Maximize your Choices:

Do some planning: financial and legal

It’s no surprise that with age, seniors often experience increased limitations, the loss of certain abilities and require more assistance with the activities of daily living. It is equally unsurprising that one’s finances largely influence the types of services and long-term care available to that individual. An experienced financial planner and long term care specialist can provide you with invaluable advice on money issues and more, to help you find the appropriate solution to your particular situation.

Aging well at home usually involves not just healthcare but money and legal matters, as well. That might include estate planning, getting legal forms such as advance health care directives and power of attorney for finances in place, and understanding the coverage and policies -such as Medicare and Social Security benefits – available to you of the person in your care.

Look at your home

Is it safe? Can you make it more safe? Can you use new techologies to enhance your wellbeing. These technologies are improving everyday and offer real benefits. Look into Universal Design options. Can your home be made more suitable for your changing needs? Does it make sense to move to smaller home and use the extra money to pay for your support?

Be active

It matters less what you do, but that you do something that is meaningful to you and that uses your mind, spirit and body. No need to commit to one thing – change your mind as often as you want, and give any challenge a try!

Take charge of your health

Your Doctor may know best, but does she know and hear you. Do you have a system for understanding what you need to do to care for yourself and for learning about recommended procedures? Are your medical records and Powers of Attorney in a safe place? NOBODY should face serious medical decisions alone. We all need advocates. Medications are potent (that’s why they work). Learn about them and find ways to take them as prescribed.

Tackle your fears about memory changes

Learn about what things you need to worry about and what you can adapt to. Don’t panic! Don’t let others around you panic! – But don’t deny and pretend you are OK, if you are having problems. Changes to your environment and social support can make all the difference. Talk to your friends, doctors and family. Dementia is not a new problem – humans have been having memory loss for centuries – let’s learn from our predecessors.

Be open to smart technology

There are numerous studies, projects, and research aiming to use integrated information technology systems to support and enhance the health, safety and social connectedness of older people living in their own homes. Currently, there are many exciting technologies being developed to help seniors to stay independent and aging in place are many, some of these are: home-monitoring systems, telemedicine devices, tracking systems like GPS shoes and GPS watches, electronic walking aids, intelligent phones, and even robotic nurses.

Never give up your home without weighing all the choices

Is this the right time? Be curious about why you are making life changing decisions, weigh the consequences, think about your motivations, get input from trusted people. It’s rarely a good idea to make a life transition when grieving, adapting to a change in health status, or because you are appeasing anybody. It somebody tries to persuade you to make big changes during these times, question their motivation. The old choices of struggling alone at home or moving to an institution are being replaced by new ones. Stay on the cutting edge. Learn what the options are, participate in creating those options. Make your voice heard. 

Alzheimer's Research Charity: August Quilts

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative auctions 27 quilts online each month. Quilts range in size-- 9' x 12' and smaller. Please take some time to view the August quilts for auction the 1st through the 10th. All proceeds from the auction fund Alzheimer's research.

Read more on the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative

Please look at a few of the quilts for auction below.

 

 

 

Review all August 2013 quilts here.

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative® is a national, grassroots charity whose mission is to raise awareness and fund research. The AAQI auctions and sells donated quilts, and sponsors a nationally touring exhibit of quilts about Alzheimer's. The AAQI has raised more than $916,000 since January 2006. Ami Simms of Flint, Michigan is the founder and executive director of the AAQI, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit operated entirely by volunteers. She is a quilter. Her mother had Alzheimer's

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