Comprehensive Dementia Care Includes Educating Family Caregivers

What is Dementia?

Dementia is the loss of many or all cognitive abilities, such as thinking, remembering, and reasoning, as well as behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of living.

What happens to many caregivers of loved one’s with Dementia?

Caring for a loved one with dementia can be challenging and, at times, overwhelming. Frustration is a normal and valid emotional response to many of the difficulties of being a caregiver. While some irritation may be part of everyday life as a caregiver, many caregivers feel feelings of extreme frustration.  Frustration and stress negatively impact their physical health and may cause a caregiver to be physically or verbally aggressive towards their loved one.

What are the Warning Signs of caregiver frustration?

  • Shortness of breath or knot in the throat
  • Stomach cramps or chest pains
  • Headache which could be severe
  • Compulsive eating or excessive alcohol consumption
  • Increased smoking or drug use
  • Lack of patience or the desire to strike out
  • Sleepless Nights

Why is dementia education important for families caring for loved ones with dementia?

Dementia is called a family disease, because the chronic stress of watching a loved one slowly decline affects everyone. Education helps caregivers understand their loved one’s challenging behaviors and how to respond to them correctly. Often starting out caregivers use intuition to help decide how to respond to a challenging behavior. Unfortunately, dealing with Dementia is counter intuitive, and often the right thing to do is exactly opposite of what seems like the right thing to do.  Caregiver education also helps families understand the progression of their loved ones disease. They will learn what to expect and therefore have an opportunity to prepare for these changes. Changes in their loved one’s cognitive abilities wont be a shock every timeskydd they happen, because a caregiver will be prepared for them to happen. Caregivers will also learn which skills are typically retained the longest and can tailor their interactions with their loved ones’ based on these abilities.

How can communities help educate dementia care givers?

There are a wide variety of ways to educate and support family caregivers. Some of these ways are:
  • community workshops and educational forums
  • lecture series followed by discussion
  • support groups
  • skill-building groups, case studies
  • individual counseling and training
  • family counseling
  • technology-based training that can be done at home

The Takeaway…

At Orchard Senior Living, we find all of the above methods useful. Each of these methods should be utilized by a community whose priorities are to provide comprehensive dementia care to their residents and their family caregivers. Currently we offer our 3 Step Navigating the Transition Program to individual and families. We also offer our monthly 2 hour Live and Learn Series which combines skill building, lecture, discussion, as well as an educational forum. Both of these programs are presented by a dementia specialist, specializing in family counseling and dementiaARP-Caregiving-Summit_80327224-750x485 training. We also offer a support group facilitated by a Clinical Social Worker. We are currently in the final stages of bringing a web based training program to our residents’ family members to help them on a daily basis. We believe comprehensive dementia care is more than the traditional model of a secure memory care, care partners helping with ADLs, and an Activity Calendar. Comprehensive Dementia Care is taking care of a resident and their families from the time prior to a move in, as well as throughout their entire journey. To find out about the Comprehensive Care Programming at the Orchard call us at 404-775-0488 for a private counseling appointment to determine how we can help. If we can’t help you in your unique situation, will will provide you with the information for those who can.

Elevated Emotions Even Without Memory while Living with Dementia

Which last longer for those with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease? Memories or Emotion?

Have you seen long lasting emotions in a loved one with Dementia or Alzheimer’s after the memory causing the feelings have faded? I have on many occasions. Although I have seen it live on so many occasions, there is now science behind it. It’s no surprise that people with Alzheimer’00000s have trouble recalling memories. It is, after all, the hallmark symptom of the disease. However, a new study has found that events can have a longer term and profound effect on how they feel even if they do not remember the particular event.

The Study..

A new University of Iowa study further supports an inescapable message: caregivers have a profound influence—good or bad—on the emotional state of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. They may not remember a recent visit by a loved one or having been neglected by a loved one, but those actions can have a lasting impact on how they feel. University of Iowa researchers also showed individuals with Alzheimer’s disease clips of sad and happy movies. The patients experienced sustained states of sadness and happiness despite not being able to remember the movies.

The Emotional Life of those with Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease….

These studies confirm that the emotional life of those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease last far beyond the tangible memory of an event, regardless if the event was good or bad. “This confirms that the emotional life of an Alzheimer’s patient is alive and well,” says lead author Edmarie Guzmán-Vélez, a doctoral student in clinical psychology, a Dean’s Graduate Research Fellow, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.

The Take Away…

Despite the considerable amount of research aimed at finding new treatments for Alzheimer’s, no drug has succeeded at either preventing or substantially influencing the disease’s progression. Against this foreboding backdrop, the results of this study highlight the need to implement new care giving techniques and care models aimed at improving the well-being and minimizing the suffering for the millions of individuals afflicted with Alzheimer’s. These studies prove that traditional thinking about the emotional life of someone with Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease is lacking immensely. Traditional thinking still tries to convince people that if they don’t remember it does not matter. At the Orchard at Tucker, we feel it Not Only Matters, but it Matters More. Although these studies are wonderful, we see the importance of emotion based care each and everyday by watching our residents.


The Biggest Misconception about the Dementia Brain in Dementia Care

Why is our brain so important?

The brain is the most important organ in the human body. It controls and coordinates actions and reactions, allows us to think and feel, and enables us to have memories and feelings.  Furthermore the brain runs everything. It is the guiding, maintenance, and managing system for hundreds of a human beings needed abilities.

When does dementia occur? The quick answer…

Dementia occurs when the brain is damaged by disease. Sometimes it is one part of the brain, sometimes it is multiple parts.

To understand dementia, we must first understand the brain…

The brain can be divided into different parts: the brain stem and cerebellum, the limbic system, and the cerebral hemispheres.  Each part has different functions.

Brain stem and cerebellum…

The brain stem is at the base of the brain. It controls basic bodily functions such as heartbeat and breathing. The cerebellum
controls balance and posture. Breathing and staying upright are things that we normally do automatically.

The limbic system…

The limbic system is deep inside the brain. It links the brain stem and the cerebral hemispheres. The limbic system includes structures with key roles in memory (the hippocampus) and emotions (the amygdala). The limbic system is the first part of the brain to develop and is sometim6bb16d242f0a68490dfe0106d79a5168es referred to as our “primal brain” and manages many of our survival reflexes. It includes the amygdala which is in charge of the “flight, fright, fight response.

Cerebral hemispheres

The tissue that makes up three-quarters of the brain is called the cerebrum. It is responsible for consciousness, memory, reasoning, language and social skills. A deep groove that runs from the front to the back of the cerebrum divides it into left and right halves: the two cerebral hemispheres.
The left and right cerebral hemispheres have different functions. For example, language is usually dealt wit
h mainly by the left hemisphere. In contrast, awareness of where things are around us is usually dealt with mainly by the right hemisphere.

The lobes….

The four lobes are: occipital, temporal, parietal and frontal lobes. Each lobe does different things, though they also work closely together.The lobes are responsible for our senses. There are 5 ways human beings take in information (data) about the world through their nervous system.. WhatPrint you see, hear, touch/feel, smell, and taste.

The lobes are some of the first areas effected by Dementia..

Dementia diseases often impact abilities in the occipital lobe of the brain which affect a person’s visual field.  Dementia commonly affect the temporal lobes asymmetrically; typically attacking left temporal lobes before the right. This means more loss in language stored on the left, and more preserved skills for much longer. In dementia, different forms of damage to the lobes in the brain can cause someone to become either over-emotional or lacking in feelings. This is one of the reasons that a person with dementia exhibits changes in behavior along with memory loss. Sometimes the changes in behavior may be more pronounced than the memory loss. In these cases, many times dementia gets misdiagnosed since common thinking is, that dementia causes just memory loss.

What is the biggest misconception about the dementia brain  and those with dementia?

Emotional memory is stored in the hippocampal area and is commonly a  preserved skill.  Persons living with dementia may not remember the details of what happened, but will almost always remember how an experience made them feel. Traditional thinking is if someone does not remember what they did specifically shortly after they did it, their day has less relevance, their life should be less purposeful. This is the biggest misconception in traditional dementia care. Those with dementia may get to a point that they don’t remember going to a great concert the next day, or helping to bake and delivering cookies to a police department, but they remember till almost the very end how much they enjoyed the concert, and how good they felt delivering those cookies over to those officers.

The Take Away…..

Orchard Senior Living is determined to bring a new type of dementia care to those inflicted with dementia. It is an engagement focused cognitive care model, where we focus on activities that will be stored in our residents’ emotional memories which they will have with them till they take their last breath.


The Subtle Signs of Swallowing Problems for Those with Dementia and Other Diseases

How does swallowing actually occur?

The oral phase of swallowing requires a complex interplay of chewing, food bolus formation, and push of the bolus to the back of the throat for the process of swallowing and movement to the esophagus and stomach. Multiple facial and oral muscles, such as the tongue, are responsible for this phase. Once the food bolus is to the back of the throat a series of muscular contractions occur to move the bolus into the esophagus and away from the airway. The airway is temporarily closed as the food bolus is pushed past the tracheal opening and into the esophagus. The food bolus then makes its way to the stomach through another series of coordinated muscular contractions within the esophagus.

Sounds Complicated Right? It is and lots can go wrong..

Due to the complexity of the swallow mechanism, a multitude of problems that can arise. The most common cause of oral dysphagia (swallowing trouble) is stroke, with up to 45 percent of stroke patients develop swallowing problems following the stroke. Other neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease are known to cause swallowing difficulties. Lesions, re flux conditions, and cancer have also caused swallowing troubles but to a lesser extent.

There are obvious and less obvious signs of swallowing difficulties…

Everyone knows that if a person coughs up food or gags while eating, they likely have swallowing troubles. However there are other more subtle signs that can go easily unnoticed such as long breaks between bites, being horse, drooling, frequent heartburn,  and acid re-flux.

What can happen if these subtle signs are ignored?

If subtle signs are ignored they can result in choking, where food partially or fully obstructs a person’s airway, aspiration or inhalation of food or liquids, oral secretions or gastric secretions into the airway and lungs. Also gastric secretions may be inhaled without bacteria causing aspiration pneumonia. A person may aspirate not only food or fluids that are introduced into the mouth but also their own saliva or any gastric secretions, which may be re-fluxed into the airway.

What can be done?

In a community setting, all care partners must be trained to carefully observe each resident for not blatant signs such as chocking, but for the subtle signs such as drooling, and long pauses and usually get confused for something other than swallowing challenges. When a person lives alone, the signs of swallowing trouble usually go ignored until they end up in the hospital. In many setting, little attention is paid to dining room observation. Orchard at Tucker understands the importance of monitoring these subtle symptoms and finding the problem while it is minor,Nutella-Stuffed-French-Toast-with-Strawberries and before it causes a resident irreversible harm.

Transition Care Giving is Essential in Dementia Care

Transition and change in general is hard on everyone…

Have you ever moved into a new house? Started a new job? If you answered yes than you can recall your first week.  Do you recall how stressed out you were with the change? Change of location, change of routine is hard on everyone, however having Dementia and Alzheimer’s makes change about 10 times harder.

Transitioning While Having Dementia? About as Hard as Sky Diving While Being Afraid of Heights..

Dealing with an aging loved one that has dementia or Alzheimer’s can be very stressful, especially when it is time to move that senior into an Assisted Living or Memory Care Community. Many families see how important a familiar environment is to their loved one. Being in a familiar place with a familiar daily routine is something that many with Dementia come to rely on. Families worry about the stress that can happen with their loved one during the transition. Stress is escalated in seniors whose cognitive capacity is limited by their Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. This is a very real fear. Depending on the progression of disease, changes can be very upsetting and disruptive to the patient. Seniors suffering with progressive degenerative brain disease cannot frame their fears and anxiety with logic, as the rest of us can.  A change in environment can often cause tremendous stress for the senior.

What is Transitional Care?

A private duty caregiver meets the senior prior to the move into a community and accompanies them to the community. The caregiver than spends between 4-12 hours each day for 3-14 days with the senior. They accompany them to activities and trips. The caregiver helps a senior learn their new environment. The caregiver stays with the resident for the scheduled hours. The caregiver is there at arm’s length if a senior gets anxious, confused, or stressed out. The amount of hours and days of transitional care depends on the seniors’ cognitive level,  as well as their stress and anxiety threshold.

Why is Transitional Care Important?

Many seniors whose cognitive abilities are hampered by Dementia and Alzheimer’s, have heightened levels of anxiety. They also experience higher levels of stress in many situations. They also retain less new information, which makes change this much harder. The transitional care giver is there to help lessen the stress of transition by being there with the senior to guide them one on one. Once the senior is settled in their new home, the caregiver remains a part of their care plan until they have become accustomed to their new surroundings.  A transitional care taker may start out by spending 12 hours with the senior for the first 3 days. After the 3 days, they spend 8 hours for the next 4 days. After the first 7 days, the hours go to 4 hours for the next 3 days. After that the hours go to 4 hours a week. Each senior is different, however it is recommended that transitional care giver hours get cut slowly based on the seniors’ needs. It usually takes about 30 days to get adjusted to a new community and getting a transitional caregiver involved softens that blow.

Do Communities Offer Transitional Care?

Some corporate giants like Brookdale do have their own agencies. Most smaller companies partner with an agency so that transitional care is provided by a caregiver that is not employed by the company. Orchard Senior Living now has a sister company Peach Home Care which provides transitional caregivers and private duty caregivers to residents.

Nutrition Assessment is a Part of Dementia & Alzheimer’s Care

Determining if your loved one needs additional nutrition care or nutrition therapy starts with a nutrition assessment.

What is Nutrition Assessment?

Nutrition assessment is a process that nutritionist or dietitian uses to evaluate your nutrition level and determining your current nutrition needs. Your nutrition level ranges from great to extremely deficient. The first step is to determine your individual nutrition needs for optimal health. This step includes knowing a thorough history of your diet, lifestyle, medical, chronic conditions.  The second step is the evaluation of your nutrition status, calorie, protein and nutrient needs, adequacy of your diet, possible deficiencies or food intolerance(s), need for further testing, recommendations for diet and lifestyle changes and supplements.

Your Nutrition Assessment looks at all these areas:

  • Diet history
  • History of Weight Loss
  • Recent illnesses or Diagnosisexps21585_THCA153054D10_15_4b
  • Lifestyle history
  • Medical history (such as Dementia or Alzheimer’s)
  • Evaluation of blood and diagnostic tests
  • Recommendations for testing (testing for allergies, for vitamin deficiencies)
  • Evaluation of nutrition status (how serious is the deficiency)
  • Calorie needs (based on height, weight, activity level, sex)
  • Protein needs
  • Nutrient needs
  • Adequacy of your diet
  • Possible diet deficiencies
  • Food intolerance

The Takeaway…

Identifying malnutrition is an important first step in identifying a problem. Eating and enjoying a meal is part of our everyday life and important to everybody, not least to people living with dementia. A healthy diet and nutrition is fundamental to well being at any stage of life and to helping to combat other life-threatening diseases. Under nutrition is common among older people generally, particularly common among people with dementia. Under nutrition tends to be progressive, with weight loss often preceding the onset of dementia and then increasing in pace as the disease progresses. Although we can’t avoid these symptoms which lead to malnutrition and under nutrition, we can manage them with a variety of Nutrition Therapy Options. Orchard at Tucker’s 2018 Nutrition Therapy Program is designed to help combat under nutrition and bring back the joy of eating to those who have lost it. However it all starts with an nutrition assessment.



Providing Nutrition Care in a Dementia Care Facility

What Role Does Eating Play in Dementia?

Eating plays an important role in all our lives. Eating is often a social event, as
well as quality time shared with family and friends. Eating can also provide structure to the day.indeeee
For seniors with dementia, eating and drinking can become more difficult. They
may be less able to feed themselves and may also have a poor appetite or
lose interest in food, making it more challenging to achieve good nutrition.
This can be a source of great distress for both the resident and their family and also lead to malnutrition.

What Role Do Fluids Play in Dementia?

Drinking is also important for everyone, including for seniors with Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease.It is important to aim for at least 8 cups of fluids a day. Fluids can include water, tea, coffee, fruit juice, liquid soup, and milk.
Although it is difficult for some people of all ages to drinking 8 cups a day, it is particularly difficult for seniors and extremely difficult for seniors with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Some seniors with Dementia may not recognize that they are thirsty or even
may forget to drink all together. This lack of fluids can cause dehydration which leads to constipation, urinary tract infections and can also increased confusion and irritability.

Tips you can use to make eating easier for seniors with dementia?

  • Avoid distracting noises from television by eating in a dining room
  • Meal presentation must be appetizing, neat, and organized, as well as appropriately portioned.
  • Avoid serving meals of one color or one texture
  • Eating in company will enhance eating
  • Offer a variety of foods, including a variety of textures and colors
  • Provide frequent gentle reminding
  • Offer extra food if it seems a person is really eating well that day.

Tips you can use to make drinking easier for seniors with dementia?

  • Make drinks available frequently throughout the day, offer numerous times
  • Put the cup into the seniors hand to prompt them to drink, rather than leaving it on the table and them forgetting itdehydration-lead
  • Offer a variety of fluid options, not everyone will drink water
  • If you are offering water, put it in a pretty cup
  • Offer flavored water over plain water
  • Do not fill a cup that is too large and seems overwhelming

Dementia Care Combined with Comprehensive Nutrition Care

What is Comprehensive Nutrition Care?

Comprehensive Nutrition Care is a creative and comprehensive way to provide care. It takes a complete approach to nutrition care with the purpose of supporting individuals with chronic or life-threatening disease, and healthcare providers who support them, to better manage their health through optimal nutrition.

Why is Nutrition Care Needed for Dementia Care?

Eating and enjoying a meal is part of our everyday life and important to everybody, not least to people living with dementia. A healthy diet and nutrition is fundamental to well being at any stage of life and to helping to combat other life-threatening diseases. We believe it plays as important a role in relation to dementia progression, and a resident’s quality of life. Under nutrition is common among older people generally, particularly common among people with dementia. Under nutrition tends to be progressive, with weight loss often preceding the onset of dementia and then increasing in pace as the disease progresses.

In what ways are the elderly susceptible?

  1. Age related changes in the gastrointestinal tract combined with changes in diet and immune system reactivity affect the composition of gut microbiota, leading to increased numbers of bad bacteria, decreased number of beneficial bacteria such as anaerobic lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.
  2. Osteoporosis is a disease which is characterized by decreasing bone density and increasing fragility of bones due to microexps21585_THCA153054D10_15_4b-architectural deterioration which increases the risk of fracture. Osteoporosis is exacerbated by malnutrition, low weight, poor intake of vitamin D and calcium, and in women, low levels of sex hormones.
  3. Older people need higher quantities of some nutrients, for example, calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12 due to dementia and other physiological changes making absorption of nutrients more difficult. Studies show that calcium, vitamin D, folate, iron and vitamin B12 are the most important micro nutrients in which deficiencies commonly occur in older people.
  4. Physiological changes to the digestive system affect appetite which can affect nutrient intake. Protein energy malnutrition is common among older people with estimates that 1 in 10 people over 65 living in the community are malnourished. These numbers triple for the elderly with dementia.


How to Prevent Malnutrition in the Elderly with Dementia?

In order to prevent malnutrition in an elderly person with dementia, functional foods need to be added to their diet. Due to the age related changes that can make it more difficult for older people to obtain the nutrients they need from their diet, functional foods can have a role to play in improving nutrient intake.

What is a Functional Food?

Functional food is a conventional food product modified in some way to give a health benefit above and beyond basic nutrition. Functional foods can also be designed to fight a certain health condition. Functional foods are generally considered to be those food products which provide a specific health benefit over and above their basic/traditional nutritional value. Examples of functional foods are breakfast cereals with folic acid, yogurt with additional probiotic, vitamin D and calcium fortified orange juice are just a few examples.

The Takeaway..

An elderly person with dementia that has lost weight and is exhibiting symptoms of malnutrition, needs abundant additional assistance to get out of the malnutrition danger zone. Because of the chemical and physical changes, nutrition therapy may be the only option to help them stay healthy and thrive. Nutrition Therapy is a daily ongoing person centered care program that can change lives.


Proper Hydration Care is Essential in Dementia Care

Why is Proper Hydration Important?

Drinking fluids is crucial to staying healthy and maintaining the function of every system in your body, including your heart, brain, and muscles. Water and fluids carry nutrients to your cells, flush bacteria from your bladder, and prevent constipation. Dehydration is the most common fluid and electrolyte problem and one that can have devastating long-term effects.

Who is most at risk of getting dehydrated?

Seniors often don’t get enough fluids and risk becoming dehydrated, especially during summer when it’s hotter and people perspire more. Older people don’t sense thirst as much as they did when they were younger. And that could be a problem if they’re on a medication that may cause fluid loss, such as a diuretic.

What are the Symptoms of Dehydration..


  • Increased thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Tired or sleepy
  • Decreased urine output
  • Urine is low volume and more yellowish than normal
  • Headache
  • Shriveled Skin
  • Dizziness and Vomiting
  • Muscle Weakness/Muscle Cramps
  • Increased Pulse Rate

Why is Dehydration so detrimental to Proper Dementia Care?

Dehydration increasesdehydration-lead confusion, causes muscle weakness and extreme fatigue. Increasing confusion in a person with dementia may lead to a dangerous and a negative event such as falling and breaking a hip b405bf69ae40082ad930857892a8991a. Increased muscle weakness in a person who already has dementia makes them many times more likely to have a fall and end up in the hospital or rehab.

How to Defeat Dehydration?

In a Community caring for residents with Dementia or Alzheimer’s, who are normally confused or forgetful, extra diligence in providing proper hydration as well as monitoring for dehydration is essential. Those who have dementia, need to be reminded to drink fluids throughout the day. Fluids should also be brought directly to the person with dementia and they should be encouraged to drink. Flavored waters in pretty containers are helpful and yield a more positive outcome. A group hydration station is a fun activity that could be done daily. A variety of colors and flavors should be offered each week, to keep hydration fun. You should also remind those with dementia and their family members that fluids will decrease pain, keep them more alert, reduce constipation, and keep them out of the hospital. Dementia or not, no one wants to go to the hospital.



Anxiety is Another Road Block to Dementia Care at Home

Common Psychological Conditions

Apathy, depression and anxiety are common conditions experienced by people with dementia. They are known as psychological conditions because they can affect a person’s emotional and mental health.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal feeling that everyone experiences now and again. In
some people, however, these feelings can be very strong and persistent.
This can interfere with a person’s everyday life. Anxiety is the main symptom of several conditions, such as
anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias and obsessive
compulsive disorder.

Who gets Anxiety or One of the Related Disorders?

About one in 10 people will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in
their lives and many people will have more than one form. Anxiety is substantially more
common in people with dementia than those without.

Why do those with Dementia get Anxiety?

In the early stages of dementia, anxiety may be linked directly to a person’s
worries about their memory and about the future. Changes to the brain, caused by the
dementia, may also lead to anxiety. Anxiety in people living alone has been linked to unmet needs,
including a lack of daytime activities and a lack of company. As dementia
progresses, people become more disorientated and confused, more forgetful and worse
at thinking things through and planning. This constant struggle to make sense of the
world around them can therefore be an underlying cause of anxiety.

How to Manage Anxiety?

People with Dementia and Anxiety benefit from being listened to and reassured. Living in an environment where someone is always available if needed to reassure a person and to make them feel safe is crucial to minimizing feelings of anxiety. Other ways of helping include creating the right environment, so that their living environment is calmer and safer, and they have an improved structure to everyday life. Social Engagement is very important in soothing anxiety. Providing the right activities and encouragement for those with dementia and anxiety has been shown to be very effective. Productive activities include exercise and activities which have meaning for the person.