Dementia Home Safety Tips

Dementia Home Safety Tips

Determining if a home is safe for someone who is living with dementia can be difficult. There are some key factors to making the most accurate assessment possible, and it first starts by identifying possible areas of danger and hazards. We’ll discuss some of these factors in this article, and provide some dementia home safety tips.

Identify Tripping Hazards & Ensure Adequate Lighting

As people age, vision changes occur that include needing more light to see things and losing peripheral vision. These changes make it important to have a well-lit living spaces and to remove items that may become tripping hazards such as throw rugs and coffee tables. As someone progresses through dementia, they lose even more of the peripheral vision and tend to only see what is directly in front as if they are looking through binoculars, as well as having trouble with depth perception and knowing the distance of an object. These changes make it more difficult to move around safely.

Identify Dangerous Areas

Are there dangerous areas such as the garage, pool or outdoor areas? When someone is living with dementia, they can begin to have difficulty navigating their environment both in the house and outside of the house. People living with dementia can become turned around very easily and get lost. It is important to ensure that the areas of the house that may be dangerous to an elder are clearly marked or guarded. This can prevent unwanted accidents.

Ensure Emergency Devices Are Working

While there are many types of emergency devices, a few to confirm are in working order are:

  • Smoke alarms
  • Carbon monoxide detector
  • Smoke detectors
  • Locks
  • Fire extinguishers

Other Factors To Consider For Dementia Home Safety

  • Is the hot water heater temperature set at 120 degrees or less?
  • Is there access to weapons, cleaning solutions and poisons or medications?
  • Can your loved one safely use appliances?
  • Can your loved one utilize safety devices and their phone if necessary?
  • Do you have an emergency kit and numbers somewhere accessible in case it is needed quickly?

This list is certainly not exhaustive, so we do also recommend you take a look at the Health In Aging and ADT websites for more tips when assessing the safety of someone’s current living situation who is living with Dementia. Orchard at Athens is also here to offer guidance to Atlanta area residences in making adjustments to your home or if a change in living is needed. Please contact us for learn more about our community.

Importance of Cognitive Function With Age

Importance Of Cognitive Stimulation With Age

Dementia is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people worldwide. As the disease progresses, seniors become less and less independent. Because caregivers are often family members, this can also cause strain on the family unit. Brain activity and engagement is one of the best ways to fight off decline as a result of dementia.

Importance of Cognitive Stimulation With Age

Keeping the brain active can yield great results. Some ways that this helps individuals with dementia are:

  • Lessen any anxiety and irritability that Alzheimer’s may bring
  • Foster emotional connections with others
  • Encourage self-expression
  • Make people with Alzheimer’s feel more engaged
  • Stir memories

Ways to Stay Cognitively Active

Some ways to keep a person’s mind active is by engaging in simple activities. We’ve provided some activity ideas below and also discuss these in the below video.

  • Bake or cook simple recipes together.
  • Clean around the house. Sweep the patio, fold towels, clean down the table, or try other household tasks so the person can feel a sense of accomplishment.
  • Organize household or office items.
  • Take up arts and crafts, such as painting or knitting. Keep tools and patterns simple.
  • Look at books the person used to enjoy.
  • Read the newspaper.
  • Sing songs or play music.
  • Tend the garden or visit a botanical garden.
  • Work on puzzles.
  • Watch old family videos.

These types of simulations are enjoyable for the senior as well as the caregiver. It gives them a time to bond while being able to do something good for the brain.

Orchard at Athens is dedicated to keeping brains healthy. We offer daily activities that foster the use of the mind to keep our residents thinking. Please contact us to schedule a tour and learn more about our community.

Dementia and Effective Communication

Dementia & Effective Communication

Communicating with someone living with dementia can be difficult, but this does not have to be the case. When someone has dementia, many things are changing in their brain and one of them is the temporal lobe which is the primary place of language location. When the temporal lobe is affected by dementia, people will begin to have difficulty finding words, understanding what words mean, and also talking and forming words. And yet, even though people living with dementia may not be able to understand others or express themselves, they are still able to communicate with us. We must make a few, simple adjustments with how we communicate. In this article we’ll discuss some dementia communication techniques to help you communicate more effectively.

Understand What’s Happening

The first step to effectively communicate with someone living with dementia is to understand what is happening to the brain. When someone is living with dementia they may:

  • Misremember events or people or may use the wrong name for people
  • They may misunderstand what you are saying
  • Lose comprehension, vocabulary
  • Lose nouns
  • Lose every fourth word you say
  • Speak in words salads (this sounds like a bunch of mixed up words)
  • Lose the ability to produce speech, may misname something or someone, may use words that have no meaning to you

Recognize Abilities

The second step is to recognize the abilities of that person.

Understanding brain change and having the skill to notice and support the abilities that people still have is extremely important to the quality of life for people living with dementia. Therefore it will be important, if considering senior living for someone with dementia, to look for communities that have specific training. Orchard at Athens is a senior living community in Athens that has specialized training. This highly qualified staff will understand and support the abilities of people living with dementia.  These abilities of people living with dementia include:

  • Rely on visual information much more than verbal information
  • Retain the ability to sing and pray
  • Can use social chit chat
  • Expresses themselves in actions
  • Know their likes and dislikes
  • May use profanity to show displeasure especially it they have never used these words

Making Adjustments

The third step is to make adjustments based on their abilities.

Making adjustments based on someone’s abilities does not have to be a difficult process but it will take some practice.  The suggestions below are some easy ways to make adjustments that may make a big difference for someone living with brain change. Try practicing one of the steps listed below and practice until it feels natural.  Set a goal that you can reach before you try to do each of these steps.

  • Use less words
  • Use more visual aides
  • Slow down and give more time for the person to respond  (as the dementia progresses, give more time for a response)
  • NEVER say remember
  • Be in their field of vision
  • Help them talk about something rather than try to find the word
  • Ask them to show you what they want rather than trying to get them to find the specific word

Provide Continued Support

The fourth step is to never give up because we can make a big difference in the lives of people living with dementia as long as we keep trying to support them.

It can be stressful being a caregiver. Orchard at Athens is a new assisted living community in Athens Georgia that is committed to supporting people living with dementia and their caregivers. Whether you have someone living in our community or are looking for support as a caregiver in the home, our staff is here to help. Please contact us more information about our community.

Signs Of Normal vs Abnormal Aging

Signs Of Normal vs Abnormal Aging

Consider the following question, “How does someone know if what they are experiencing is normal aging or something else?” This article highlights some of the normal signs of aging and how to identify someone who is experiencing abnormalities as they change.

Signs of Normal vs Abnormal Aging

A brain that is aging without dementia, still requires a longer amount of time to process information and learn new things. These individuals need less distractions such as playing music or background sounds when reading or trying to pay attention to a conversation. As we age, the brain holds on to more and more information. This leaves less room for new information. Therefore, recalling a name might become more difficult because there are more people to remember. However, if someone starts to forget the names of people closest to them, or has always been excellent at remembering names, then this may be an indication of something more than normal aging.

Most people become concerned about dementia the older they get and this is for a good reason. As we age, the probability of dementia increases. But just because someone forgets why they go into a room, or cannot find a word, does not mean that they have dementia. The inability to recall information after a prolonged time can be one sign of concern for someone who is aging.

Identifying Significant Change

One thing to pay attention to in someone who is aging is significant CHANGE in their behaviors. Behaviors that are not typical of an individual may indicate underlying issues in someone’s brain. There are several tests that are given that help provide a good idea of brain function and health. The AD8 is one of those assessments. You can download the AD8 test here.

Getting a baseline cognitive test is a very good idea because it is important to know if there is a change in brain function, not just normal aging changes. If you do find that there is something that is not a normal process of aging, it is best to find that our as soon as possible in order to start making plans, which includes looking into possible support services if ever needed. Orchard at Athens is a focused senior living community in Athens Georgia for people needing support and has a variety of living opportunities in several neighborhoods within the community. These smaller neighborhoods offer a variety of choices, purposeful support, individual support plans and a highly trained team. Please contact us to learn more about our community.

Tips for How to Talk With Someone With Dementia

Tips For How To Talk With Someone With Dementia

Words are a powerful source of communication. They can leave a huge impact on large groups of people and they can change the way we see the world. We often forget how important words are. This can create obstacles in relationships. We forget how dangerous and beautiful words can be. Orchard at Athens knows that words are important, especially in the aging population. Often the words that we use to describe people who are aging are unflattering, and even more so when talking about people living with dementia or when talking about dementia itself. In this article we’ll explore the importance of choosing the right words in more detail, and provide tips for how to talk to someone living with dementia.

Tips For Talking About Dementia

Words are powerful. We must be intentional and cautious when we are talking about dementia.

Below are some examples of how to use words to shed a positive light on dementia:

  • Do not use dementia as the primary word to describe someone. When we do this, we are putting a person in a box and this is not the whole of the person’s identity.
  • Use uplifting language when explaining dementia to a younger person. This will have a strong influence on how they see individuals who have dementia.
  • Referring to people with dementia as ‘sufferers’ or as ‘victims’ implies that they are helpless.  This can alter an individual’s self esteem and self-image. It reinforces inaccurate stereotypes and heightens the fear and stigma surrounding dementia.
  • Using the correct terms avoids confusion.  There are over 100 forms of dementia, all coming with different challenges. Make sure you are using the correct vocabulary when discussing dementia with someone else.

How Words Can Impact People Living With Dementia

The words used to talk or write about dementia can have a significant impact on how people living with dementia are viewed and treated in the community. Words that are used in speech and in writing can have huge influence over:

  • Mood
  • Self-esteem
  • Feelings of happiness
  • Feelings of depression
  • Sense of hopelessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feelings of loneliness

A casual misuse of words or the use of words with negative connotations when talking about dementia in everyday conversations can have a profound impact on the person with dementia as well as on their family and friends. It can also influence how others think about dementia and increase the likelihood of a person with dementia experiencing stigma or discrimination. Appropriate language must be:

  • Accurate
  • Respectful
  • Inclusive
  • Empowering
  • Non-stigmatising

How We Talk About Dementia

The words that we choose to use are ones that describe our residents and future residents as vibrant and healthy. We choose this  because we know that there is still a lot of life to live for someone who has dementia. Our staff is conscious to use language that:

  • Is appropriate
  • Is accurate
  • Is respectful
  • Is inclusive
  • Is empowering
  • Is non-judgemental

We know that people living with dementia can thrive and have a wonderful quality of life. We use words to advocate for them as productive members of society. We also are sure to explain that older adults can be fully engaged in their life, maintain relationships, experience joy, be creative, learn new activities and teach others. We communicate with our words that even though someone has dementia, their diagnosis does not limit them from being able to live their life to the fullest.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a tour of our community, please contact us.

Dementia And Memory Care

Dementia And Memory Care

Are you beginning to feel you need someone else to provide full time care for your loved one living with dementia? Do you need to know what makes a good dementia care community?

Choosing A Memory Care Community

People living with dementia will go through different stages of care need because dementia is progressive, chronic and terminal.

In all of the stages, the person will have definite strengths and abilities, and while these abilities do change and decline, there are always things that we can do to support the remaining abilities. If plans are not made before these changes occur, families can find themselves in a crisis.

Below are questions and tips you want to be sure to ask about when searching for the right memory care support for your parent, spouse or friend.

Mission & Vision

  • What is the mission of the community?
  • When I visit the community do I see the same vision I felt when reading the brochure or website?
  • Was I greeted or spoken to by team members other than the sales director touring me through the community?
  • Did I meet or see the directors or leaders during my visit?
  • Did I observe positive resident and staff interactions?
  • Notice where offices of leadership team members are located.  Are they easily accessible for residents and families?
  • Are outside affiliate service partners encouraged and made available?
  • Does the community have residents or family members willing to share about their personal experience with visitors?
  • How are person specific care fees determined and are there online billing options for families?
  • Are there occasions, like hospital recovery, when the community would require you to provide additional paid staff or services?
  • Is a family notified ahead of time when care or assisted service supports are added to a monthly bill?

Qualified Staff

  • What is the retention rate of team members?
  • What is the ratio of staff to residents?
  • Does this ratio include hands on care staff only or servers, housekeeping, activity and concierge team members?
  • Does this ratio exceed state and national standards?
  • How many hours of initial training are required before staff can begin working?
  • What are their required credentials and qualifications for new hires?
  • Is there ongoing monthly continuing education and training?
  • What specifics can I expect from the staff?
  • What happens if my loved one does not get along with a particular staff member?
  • In a 24 hour period how many different staff can I expect my loved one to be interacting with?
  • Is the community staffing ratios different on weekends?
  • Are there opportunities for staff and families to communicate about residents needs?
  • Are staff schedules and care tasks consistent or always changing?
  • Do you observe the staff engaging with residents about more than their physical or medical care?
  • Is there a variety of engagement and activity opportunities spread throughout the day?
  • What activity is happening after 7pm for residents who don’t want to be alone or have late bedtimes?
  • Who from the staff communicates with family and how often?
  • What is the protocol if there is an emergency for the person or in the community?


Engagement is extremely important when looking at memory care as communication abilities of residents are often limited. Connection must come first in most cases before a person living with dementia will allow or receive the help they need.

Orchard at Athens understands not all states or stages of dementia require the same support.  The Spectrum of Care needs for persons living with dementia is quite varied and includes a wide range of personal ability.

  • How do staff members engage residents before attempting physical care?
  • Is there a separate engagement or activity team?
  • Are the families provided with a monthly calendar or schedule of events and activities taking place?
  • Are families encouraged to participate in celebrations or daily happenings?
  • Is their variety in activity?
  • Are the residents provided the opportunity to be engaged in activities that promote well-being; leisure, rest, health and wellness or productive types of activity?
  • Does the programming general or does it reflect the individual preferences, and skills?
  • What is the method to discover and match personal preferences and skills?
  • Are all activities held onsite?
  •  Are there opportunities to connect with the local Athens area outside of the assisted living community to attend, for example, church, concerts, or festivals?


Many dementia support communities in Athens and the surrounding areas of Bogart, Winterville, Hull, Statham, Ashland, and Winder  provide dementia care but only security in a very small area of their community. What specifically does “security” mean for the community you are visiting when it comes to caring for someone with dementia?

  • What specific measures has the community taken to ensure security and safety when someone is living with dementia?
  • Is the community partially or totally secure when it comes to locked doors within the building or to the outside?
  • Do residents have access to the outdoors or outside of their personal living space?
  • Will residents have the experience of being “trapped” or “locked inside”?
  • Is there a pass code or easy entrance for visitors and families to secure areas?
  • How often are residents allowed outside of secure areas?

Caregiver Strengths

Everyone has things that they are good at and things that they struggle with, and it is important to know the difference.

When someone finds themselves in the role of a caregiver, it is important to take an honest look at strengths and struggles so that you can begin to look for help if you need it.  And Orchard at Athens seeks to always encourage the  personal strengths of others.

Research suggests that 65% of primary caregivers will have a major health crisis or die before their loved one.  This is often due to lack of self awareness and attention toward the personal needs of the caregiver themselves.

When a primary caregiver attempts to take on all responsibilities required in supporting someone living with brain change, it can be very difficult on them.

Identifying strengths and struggles will assist you in finding the right support community that can strengthen the relationship and quality of life for both people.

Family Resources

There are a lot of variables to consider when looking at senior living and memory care. Orchard at Athens is a community that was intentionally designed to provide the most innovative and best dementia care available in Athens, Georgia.

We are committed to being a dementia friendly and inclusive community.  We welcome any family wanting to learn more about dementia care and have an enormous number of resources and connections to help you navigate your journey now and or in the future. Join us for an educational event, a dementia support group, or a private 1 on 1 consultation. Take a next step for yourself and come visit or talk today!

What is Dementia

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is a Syndrome

Many people 60+ will experience changes in brain function as they age. Some changes come with normal aging, but those that significantly impact daily functioning may be due to a medical condition.

It’s important to know that dementia is not a diagnosis. It is syndrome made up of a collection of symptoms impacting brain function. There are currently more than 120 various medical causes or conditions that cause symptoms of dementia.

Orchard at Athens is an assisted living and memory care community in Athens, Georgia dedicated to supporting families living with Alzheimer’s or related dementias like vascular, Lewy body or frontotemporal disease.

The leadership team and staff of Orchard are specifically trained and prepared to support the very wide range of unique needs that can present themselves throughout the wide spectrum of dementia care.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Testing for Alzheimer’s may be considered if a person begins to have difficulty learning new information and remembering new or recent experiences. Symptoms will present because Alzheimer’s proteins in the brain may be causing damage to the hippocampus area.

People may find they also have difficulty with directions, finding things, getting lost, or struggle with dates and time. Difficulty with time can include accuracy about how much time has passed, what time of day it is, or even being able to identify their present age or season of life.

Living with Alzheimer’s may, for instance, cause someone to think that they are in a different time in their life. They can become confused about the people they are currently in a relationship with and may suddenly not recognize those closest to them. For example, someone may think that their daughter is their sister. This can be a very difficult and emotional experience for families.

For more information please visit

Vascular Dementia

When the brain is affected by events such as a TIA, or what is commonly called a mini-stroke, symptoms of vascular dementia are common. Cardiovascular issues will affect blood and oxygen flow to the brain. Symptoms of vascular dementia vary depending on what part of the brain has been affected by a stroke and can include:

  • Sudden changes in thinking and executive function
  • Emotional liability and energy shifts
  • Personality change in judgment or reasoning

For more information please visit

Frontal Temporal Dementia

A less known form of dementia specifically affects the brain’s prefrontal cortex. Families will report they begin to notice a loved one struggling with self-control, awareness of themselves, decision making, managing impulses, making good judgments, or the ability to begin and complete a task.

FTD and can be quite challenging for families. A loved one may be quick to lose their temper or say what’s on their mind even if it is not socially appropriate. Many people will also begin to lose interest in past hobbies or tasks.

Damage to a person’s temporal lobe may also create impairment in speech production and some people will develop Aphasia. A person with non- fluent aphasia has difficulty forming words. A person with fluent aphasia has difficulty with comprehension and may make errors such as pointing to their nose when asked to point to their ear.

This is an extremely frustrating experience for the person living with the disease and can include:

  • Loss of impulse control
  • Saying mean or rude things to others
  • Unexpected or triggered behavior
  • Dis-inhibition with food, sex, emotions, actions
  • Difficulty with finding words
  • Difficulty with understanding the meaning of words
  • Difficulty saying words
  • May speak words others cannot understand

For more information please visit

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Lewy Body Dementia

Resembling Parkinson’s disease, Lewy Body dementia affects the brain’s ability to move and fine motor skills. It typically also creates sleep disturbances such as nightmares and hallucinations.

It is imperative to get a diagnosis if you suspect Lewy Body dementia as persons living with this disease are extremely sensitive and often react differently to commonly used medications for Alzheimer’s or other dementia’s. Antipsychotics, for example, can have a toxic or even life-threatening effect.

Specific symptoms may include:

  • Disturbing dreams or night terrors
  • Problems with gross motor movement
  • Fine motor changes in hands or swallowing
  • Rigidity or episodes of syncope
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme drug responses

For more information on Lewy Body please visit

If you or a loved one may be experiencing any of the dementia symptoms described in this article, please go to the links above. If symptoms are progressing and you would benefit from the support of an assisted living community, contact Orchard at Athens to schedule a free consultation. A team member will be able to share more information with you and guide you to local resources and supports that can help.