Reduce Dementia Risk

Reducing The Risk Of Dementia

While there is no formula to follow to make sure you or a loved one is not diagnosed with dementia, there are several steps you might take to reduce the risk. Because dementia is triggered by a decline in brain function, each of these areas inadvertently are related to brain function. 

1. Be physically active

Being physically active is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of getting dementia. Physical activity is a great way to keep your heart healthy, blood pressure low, weight under control, and even weight stable. A good exercise strategy is a combination of cardio exercise and strength training. Activities for beginners can include walking, yoga or swimming. Balance exercises are also key to keeping a healthy brain. Head traumas from falling or losing your balance can contribute to your risk of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

2. Eat Healthily

A healthy, balanced diet may reduce your risk of dementia, as well as other conditions including cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, stroke and heart disease. Experts encourage eating leafy green vegetables, berries, whole grains, beans, nuts and olive oil. Foods that are anti-inflammatory and have antioxidant properties can protect against disease and keep the brain healthy.

Don’t Smoke

If you smoke, you’re putting yourself at much higher risk of developing dementia. You’re also increasing your risk of other conditions, including type 2 diabetes, stroke, and lung and other cancers. 

Smoking does a lot of harm to the circulation of blood around the body, including the blood vessels in the brain, as well as the heart and lungs.

4. Drink Less Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol increases your risk of developing dementia.

At most, you should aim to drink no more than 14 units each week. If you regularly drink much more than this, you’re at risk of alcohol-related brain damage. 

If you drink as many as 14 units in a week, try to spread them out over at least three days.

5. Exercise Your Mind

Keeping your mind active is likely to reduce your risk of dementia. Regularly challenging yourself mentally seems to build up the brain’s ability to cope with disease. One way to think about it is ‘Use it or lose it’.

Dementia and Communication Techniques

Dementia & Communication Improvement Techniques

Dementia is not an easy thing to deal with. Many times diagnoses are unexpected and this can make it difficult for families to handle. When we take the time to adapt to our new situation, it can make life a lot more enjoyable and pleasant. Below are listed 10 steps you can take when communicating with someone who has dementia. Following these steps can make the lines of communication much more clear and understandable.

10 Tips For Dementia Communication Improvement

  1. Create a positive environment for conversation. Set a positive mood by speaking to your loved one in a pleasant and respectful manner. Use facial expressions, tone of voice, and physical touch to help convey your message and show your feelings of affection. Avoid being short and impatient. This will only cause frustration and tension.
  2. Make sure the person is focused. Limit distractions and noise. Before speaking, make sure you have her attention; address her by name, identify yourself by name and relation, and use nonverbal cues and touch to help keep her focused.
  3. State your message clearly. Use simple words and sentences. Speak slowly, distinctly, and in a reassuring tone. Refrain from raising your voice higher or louder; instead, pitch your voice lower. If he or she doesn’t understand the first time, use the same wording to repeat your message or question. If she still doesn’t understand, wait a few minutes and rephrase the question.
  4. Ask simple, answerable questions. Ask one question at a time; those with yes or no answers work best. Refrain from asking open-ended questions or giving too many choices.
  5. Listen with your ears, eyes, and heart. Be patient in waiting for your loved one’s reply. If he or she is struggling for an answer, it’s okay to suggest words. Watch for nonverbal cues and body language, and respond appropriately.
  6. Break down activities into a series of steps. This makes many tasks much more manageable. Using visual cues, such as showing him with your hand where to place the dinner plate, can be very helpful.
  7. When the going gets tough, distract and redirect. If your loved one becomes upset or agitated, try changing the subject or the environment.
  8. Respond with affection and reassurance. People with dementia often feel confused, anxious, and unsure of themselves. Further, they often get reality confused and may recall things that never really occurred. Avoid trying to convince them they are wrong.
  9. Remember the good old days. Remembering the past is often a soothing and affirming activity. Therefore, avoid asking questions that rely on short-term memory, such as asking the person what they had for lunch. Instead, try asking general questions about the person’s distant past.
  10. Maintain your sense of humor. Use humor whenever possible, though not at the person’s expense. People with dementia tend to retain their social skills and are usually delighted to laugh along with you.

Learning to communicate with someone who has dementia may take a significant amount of time and practice. Once you have mastered the basics, it can become a lot easier for you and the person you are caring for. Here at Orchard at Brookhaven, we support our residents in as many ways as possible. We are always searching for new and best ways to communicate with each person. Please contact us today to learn more about our community!

Dementia & Toilet Incontinence

Dementia & Toilet Incontinence

As dementia progresses, a person will have less and less control over their physical self. One of the most difficult to deal with is going to the bathroom. It is not uncommon for people who are in the late stages of dementia to loose control over their ability to control when, where and how they go to the bathroom.

Dementia & Toilet Incontinence: Reasons For A Loss of Control

Dealing with these changes can require quite a bit of management. When a person is unable to control their need to go to the restroom, this is called incontinence. There are a multitude of causes for incontinence including, but not limited to

  • A person may already have underlying medical issues such as a UTI, prostate gland issues or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). These issues, along with dementia can really affect someone’s ability to relieve themselves properly.
  • A person may no longer be able to react quickly enough to their need to use the toilet. With reduced brain function, forgetfulness is inevitable.
  • A person may start to struggle with fine motor skills. Difficulty with these skills may translate to not being able to undo clothing or sit down properly. This could result in not making it to the toilet on time.

Reducing Dementia Related Bathroom Accidents

There are many steps that you can take to help manage and reduce the number of bathroom accidents someone has with dementia. Below are listed a few.

  • Create a sign on the toilet or bathroom door with words or a picture that can help someone identify where the toilet is.
  • Create a clear, uncluttered path to the bathroom so that getting there is easy
  • Install handrails and a raised toilet seat
  • Make sure that the person with dementia is wearing clothes that are easy to remove when the time comes to use the toilet.
  • Ask the person regularly whether they need to use the toilet and look for any signs they want to go to the toilet, such as fidgeting, pacing or pulling at their clothes
  • Regulate when the person drinks liquids throughout the day, particularly at night.
  • Use a cover on the toilet that is easy to spot so that the toilet is easier to see.
  • Ensure good personal hygiene.
  • When you’re out with the person, find out where the accessible toilets are and carry spare clothing, wipes, and pads, as well as a bag for soiled items.
  • Have the person wear incontinence pads and pull-up pants, which draw fluids away from the skin.

If a person does have an accident, try to remember that it’s not their fault. Try to be as patient and understanding as possible. You can also seek help from a medical professional on the best ways to handle a person who is in your care. Orchard at Brookhaven is here to help provide you and your family the best support possible. Please contact us to learn more about our community and programs.

Managing Dementia Behavior Changes

Managing Dementia Behavior Changes

Dementia is a progressive disease. As time goes on, the brain’s functionality decreases resulting in a decrease of a multitude of other bodily functions (physical and mental). One of the most challenging aspects to handle is the changes in behavior from dementia. It is most important to try and see things from their perspective. You may not have a very clear idea of what they are thinking or feeling, so you must be as patient as possible.

Strategies For Managing Dementia Behavior Changes

There is no right way to deal with changes in behavior. The changes and needs of a person can vary depending on many different factors. Below are listed some general tips for dealing with behavior change.

  • Help them stay in touch with loved ones- facetime, write letters, call, text, etc.
  • Encourage the person to do things they enjoy or find useful- hobbies are always a great outlet.
  • Make changes to their environment if necessary.
  • Keep familiar, comforting or personal items close to them
  • Keep their sleeping environment comfortable – adjust the thermostat, use extra cushioning or pillows if needed.
  • Be aware of the person’s beliefs and thoughts and try not to argue with them
  • Set up psychological therapies with professionals, such as cognitive stimulation therapy.
  •  Ask the person’s doctor to check for any possible physical causes, including pain, and advise on any treatments.
  • Consider whether the behavior is really a problem. If it is disrupting a particular activity such as washing or dressing, ask yourself if this task really needs to be done right now or if you could come back to it later.
  • Try to remember that the person is not behaving this way on purpose. Try not to take it personally. Their sense of reality may be very different from yours and they are responding to their own needs.
  • Think about what you know about the person and their life. For example, if you know someone used to work night shifts, it might explain why they want to stay awake or go out at night.
  • Even though a person with dementia may have problems with their memory, they still feel and respond to emotions.
  • Offer the person gentle reassurance. If you need to, try stepping away from the situation to give you both time to calm down.
  • Try not to show feelings of frustration as it may make things worse.
  • Support the person to do as much as they can for themselves. The behavior may be their response to the feeling that they are not able to contribute or are not valued by others.
  • If you think they are bored, support them to find things to do that are engaging and mean something to them.

Changes in behavior can be very difficult for you. They may make you feel frustrated or distressed and affect your relationship with the person you’re caring for. You may also worry that people are judging you or expecting too much of you, or that they don’t understand the challenges you face.

Orchard at Brookhaven aims to help our residents and their families manage changes in behavior. Our highly effective staff is flexible and willing to work individuals for what they need. Please contact us today to learn more about our community and how we can help.

Feelings & Relationships With Dementia

Feelings & Relationships With Dementia

If someone you love is diagnosed with dementia, it is highly likely that your relationship with them will eventually be impacted. Dealing with these changes can be difficult and uncomfortable. As you are asked to support this person more and more, different aspects of your relationship will be affected, as well as your own feelings towards them. It is always important to remember that you are doing the best you can for them and yourself.

Relationships With Dementia

As the person’s dementia progresses and you provide them with more support, your roles in the relationship are likely to change. This change will occur depending on your relationship to the the diagnosed individual (parent, spouse, friend, sibling, etc.) You will find the many adjustments that are necessary difficult. Some aspects of this may provide you with comfort and support and you may be able to talk about many of the same things you used to. If you need to start doing tasks that the person with dementia used to do – such as paying the bills, driving or cooking – you might find this difficult to accept or get used to.

Romantic Partners & Dementia

If you’re caring for a partner with dementia, your romantic relationship is likely to change as their condition progresses. Some people find it difficult or impossible to continue to enjoy a romantic relationship with the person they are caring for when so many other aspects of their relationship have changed. However, many couples do enjoy a physical relationship and sometimes develop new ways of sharing closeness and intimacy. Sometimes you might even feel guilty for wanting to continue your romantic relationship with a partner – though it’s natural to continue to want intimacy. Although you may not be able to have these needs met in the same way, looking after your own wellbeing and getting support for yourself is important.

Dementia Care & Common Feelings

Many people have mixed feelings about being in a caring role. The relationship between you and the person you’re caring for might be complex. Here are some of the emotions you may feel as a caregiver/partner:

  • Guilt
  • Greif
  • Exhaust
  • Resentment
  • Embarrassment
  • Anger

Positive emotions are also a possibility when you are caring for a partner with dementia. If your relationship with this person has always been strong, you may feel a desire to continue to love and support them just as you always have. You may also feel a sense of accomplishment for being able to take on such a large responsibility.

It is important to remember that all of your feelings are valid. You should not try to suppress anything that you are feeling. If you can’t talk to your partner about it, you should find someone who you can speak with. Whatever you are feeling, we want to help! If you think Orchard at Brookhaven could be the right place for your loved one, please contact us today!

Dementia And Gardening

Benefits Of Gardening For Dementia

It is well known that spending time outside has many positive effects for the human body and brain. Even as children, we are encouraged to spend as much time outside as possible. In today’s age, it is just as important to make sure we are getting an adequate amount of time outdoors. Being outdoors can help lower stress, decrease chances of depression and increase energy levels. One great way for people with dementia to ensure they are outside and have a moderate level of activity is through gardening.

Benefits Of A Dementia Garden

Gardening or green spaces can have many benefits for people with dementia. According to The Alzheimer’s Society, “exercising in the garden helps develop the appetite, boosts energy levels and promotes a better night’s sleep. Maintaining, as far as possible, existing skills that give pleasure and confidence.” In addition, spending time gardening or enjoying a garden can also:

  • Improve sleep cycles and stress (direct sunlight).
  • Lower levels of agitation and aggression.
  • Decrease isolation and aggression.
  • Provide a temporary distraction from fixations
  • Instill a sense of ownership and community.
  • Improve social interactions.
  • Increase confidence due to playing the role of caregiver for garden plants and wildlife.
  • Increase physical activity as well as decrease falls and injuries.
  • Increase attention spans.
  • Create a less ‘institutional’ environment to share with visitors.
  • Foster a happier staff who find gardens relaxing and restorative during break times.
  • Allow people with dementia to just have fun

A Safe Space

When creating a garden for people with dementia to enjoy or work in, there are several things to keep in mind for safety and comfort. The vegetation should be edible and there should be no sharp or pointed plants. You should refrain from using harmful chemicals. Sharp, heavy or complicated garden tools should be avoided. If there is furniture, it should be water-resistant and sturdy.

Walking paths should be quick-dry, non-slip, non-trip, well-lit, level, drainable and wide, with handrails to ensure the safety of older dementia patients. They should also be clear of stakes, sprinklers and wires. If it’s possible, design round or figure 8 paths; they encourage walking and make the garden less confusing to navigate. The garden should also be viewable by staff, while still feeling private for residents if it is located in a care facility.

What to Include in a Dementia Garden

  • Variety. A mix of flowers, produce, green plants and deciduous trees (different sizes, colors and type).’
  • Fast-growing plants like peas and herbs; Fruit trees and berries; Raised garden beds for functionality.
  • Lots of opportunities for weeding, seeding, digging and watering.
  • Distinct areas that encourage different sensory experiences.
  • Areas for sun exposure as well as shaded areas.
  • Covered or enclosed access for inclement weather garden viewing.
  • Water features, feeders that residents maintain, fish ponds if space permits.
  • Assorted, separate seating areas with safe, accessible lounge chairs.
  • Garden furniture that residents bring from home (provided it’s safe).
  • Occasional organized activities (chair yoga, discussion groups, a local string quartet). Afternoon refreshments.
  • Sculptures (can be built and or donated by residents).
  • Curiosities and fascinations – things that have to be opened or discovered.
  • Off Season continuity. Gardening activities, as well as some favorite plants, can be taken indoors. Herbs grown in window boxes can be harvested, dried and canned for use in preparing special meals.

Orchard at Brookhaven has lush gardens for our residents. The garden is full of life and ready to enjoy. If you think our facility might be the place for you or someone you love, please contact us for more information.

Games For Dementia Sufferers

5 Games For Dementia Sufferers

Games are a great way to socialize with other people. Games also stimulate the mind. This kind of exercise is ideal for people with dementia as some research has shown it can slow the deterioration of cognitive abilities. Below are five types of games that are especially well suited for loved ones with dementia.

1) Card Games

One of the best things about card games is that people with dementia may already be familiar with how to play the game. This eliminates the stressors of trying to teach them something new. One place to start is a more simple version of War in which each player turns over one card, and whoever has the highest card wins, taking the other cards. When you reach the end of the deck, whoever has the most cards is the champ. Dementia sufferers may also enjoy simply sorting the cards, whether it’s according to suit, color, value, etc. A game like “Uno” could be great for practicing colors and numbers.

2) Bingo

Similar to card games, bingo is another familiar activity that triggers long-term memory, making it one of the more stimulating brain games for dementia. It is best to at least start with simplified bingo boards containing less numbers, with the numbers printed larger, making them easier to locate. You can either purchase appropriate boards or make them yourself. Another option would be to have a board designed for younger children that relies more on pictures than letters or numbers. This can be less confusing and more familiar.

3) Visual Games

Games that utilize pictures are another effective form of brain games for dementia, engaging sufferers and encouraging them to reminisce. Try printing out photos of items from the past that may have meaning for those playing—photos of old card, buildings, movie stars, etc.—then place them on a table. Call out which photo you want the other players to find; or in an alternate version, print out two copies of each photo, have your loved one match the pair together, and then have them describe the contents of the images. Another picture game that can help strengthen cognitive abilities is “Memory”.

4) Word Puzzles

Recalling words can be a challenge for people with dementia. Word games are a great way to have fun and keep their minds sharp. For a challenging but fun word game, have your loved one try and complete common phrases they may be able to recall, like “An apple a day keeps the [blank] away,” or “April showers, bring May [blank].” You can also play a simplified trivia game, where you ask your loved one to name common objects, after giving them hints. For example, have them try to answer “frying pan,” after telling them about a round, metal object with a handle, used to cook food.

5) Video Games

Video games are becoming increasingly popular with seniors, even though many didn’t play them in their younger years. For dementia sufferers, the more complicated video games may be too much to learn and master, but the more basic titles—especially puzzle games like Tetris—can be a more stimulating alternative to watching TV. The process of learning and mastering these games can offer your loved one a great feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.

It is always great to blend fun with helpful activities to keep the mind going. Orchard at Brookhaven strives to nurture every aspect of our residents. If you are looking for a place that can care for your loved one, please contact us today. We would love to speak with you about all that we have to offer.

Great Reads for Dementia Patients

Great Reads for Dementia Patients

One activity that can easily fill time is reading. There are many books that appeal to people who have dementia or who may be in the late stages of dementia. This list of books includes stories that are more easy to comprehend for seniors. Here is a list of good books to read for leisure.

  1. What The Wind Showed To Me By Emma Rose Sparrow

This book has an appealing story, and it provides seniors with memory loss with the self-esteem they need. The good thing about this book is that neither the title nor the text states it is for memory-challenged adults. The author did not want seniors with cognitive decline to feel insulted.

  1. The Sunshine On My Face: A Read-Aloud Book For Memory Challenged AdultsBy Lydia Burdick And Jane Freeman

Books written for children and young adults may not be appropriate for seniors. However, this book has realistic watercolors and designs that seniors will enjoy.

  1. Simple Pleasures For Special Seniors By Dan Koffman

Simple Pleasures for Special Seniors is a great series that gives seniors several optional reads. The series contains books on fun foods, fruits, hand tools, and life in the military, and they are great for seniors with short concentration spans and limited communication skills.

  1. Blue Sky, White Clouds: A Book For Memory-Challenged Adults By Eliezer Sobel

The book is a simple read for memory-challenged adults, and it contains beautiful photographs that are large, bright, and realistic. The author was inspired to write this book after spending time with his mother and realizing she could no longer read full sentences.

  1. Wishing On A Star By Lydia Burdick And Jane Freeman

This is a read-aloud book for memory-challenged adults. It is more advanced than a children’s book because it contains words, pictures, and stories that seniors with dementia can enjoy

Orchard at Brookhaven is a luxury assisted living community in Atlanta Georgia. We offer a wide range programs to assist our residents with Dementia. Contact us to learn more about our community and the programs we offer.

Dementia Money Management

Dementia & Money Management

Encountering financial issues is not something that can be avoided for people who have dementia. It is important to learn how to help and support those who may be going through this hardship. One of the most common ways that people with dementia can lose their money is by scams. In fact, scammers will target the elderly, because they know how susceptible they can be to false promises. 

Dementia & Signs Of Money Issues

At first, managing money is still possible for those with dementia. Paying bills, balancing checkbooks, or keeping up with bank services will become increasingly more difficult as the disease progresses. There are some signs that a person is starting to struggle with managing their money such as:

  • Unpaid bill statements in the mail 
  • Multiple calls from bill collectors or the bank
  • Trouble counting change
  • Forgetting to tip at a restaurant
  • Miscalculations when balancing a checkbook 
  • Multiple purchases on a credit card 
  • Strange, new merchandise 

Families should consider designating one person to check in on a person’s finances to ensure that the person with dementia is taking care of their money and finances. This can help prevent the person from becoming a victim of financial abuse or fraud. 

Helping Someone With Dementia Manage Their Money

Money can be a difficult topic to discuss with someone- especially someone you love. However, it is best to be as upfront and honest in your conversations as possible. The clearer the conversations, the better you or someone else is able to protect a person dealing with brain disease. In order to help someone maintain their sense of independence in this matter some things to consider are:

  • Giving him or her small amounts of cash or voided checks to have on hand
  • Minimizing the spending limit on credit cards or having the cards cancelled
  • Telling the person that it is important to learn about finances, with his or her help
  • Notifying the person when changes are made or have occurred 

Tips for Money Management

  1. Have open and honest discussions about money with a family member or friend that you trust. 
  2. Organize important documents and keep them in a place that is easy to find. 
  3. Set up a trust for all financial assets. 
  4. Set up an LPA (Lasting Power of Attorney) that will allow you to choose someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf. 
  5. Seek extra support from local bank managers. 

Overall, managing money can be quite involved. When someone is diagnosed with dementia, this task becomes increasingly difficult. It is better to be proactive than reactive in this situation so that a person’s finances are fully taken care of. 

At Orchard Brookhaven, we take pride in being able to care for our residents well. We want our residents and the families of our residents to feel safe when they are here. We offer a variety of services to our residents that help to keep them independent and help them feel like they are still in control of their lives. Please contact us if you’d like to learn more about our senior living community.

Dementia and Independence

Dementia Care & Maintaining Independence

If you are caring for someone with dementia, it is likely that they are very dependent on you. One thing that helps maintain a person’s quality of life while dealing with dementia is keeping a sense of independence. There are many simple adjustments that a person can make in their life to help them with their cognitive deficits but also be in control of their life still. 

Tips For Maintaining Independence With Dementia

Here are the many ways that people with dementia can play an active role in keeping their sense of independence in their homes.

  1. Create a schedule – whether it is daily, weekly or monthly, keeping a schedule allows you to control what goes on in your life. 
  2. Set reminders – use reminders on your phone, around the house or in a journal to help you keep track with things that need to get done. 
  3. Utilize technology – If you are having difficulty with daily tasks, such as cooking, sending mail or connecting with the people around you, use the technology (computers, phones or videos) to help you. 
  4. Label stuff – Label the things in your house to help you recall words you might be forgetting. 
  5. Write it down – write down reminders, things you want to remember, memories or ideas you might have. 
  6. Take on an extra responsibility in your community – finding a way to help someone else or get a small job done in a community can bring about a sense of purpose and fulfillment. 

Tips For Dementia Caregivers To Promote Independence

Caregivers can play an active role in assisting someone with dementia keep their sense of independence. Not only is this important for the patient, but it is also important for the caregiver. 

  • Provide opportunities for social engagement 
  • Coordinate care between all caregivers . 
  • Create a safe, comfortable environment that reflects the person’s preferences and personality. 
  • Encourage participation in daily activities
  • Focus on the person’s abilities
  • Encourage physical activity

Most elderly people would agree that it is important for them to keep their independence as they age. Many people do not look forward to a day and age when we have to ask others for help. We don’t like to think about depending on others for basic needs such as paying bills, going to the grocery store or getting dressed. Keeping this in mind, independence is very important to maintain. Orchard at Brookhaven works together to help our residents keep their individuality. We even have jobs for people if they want them! If you’re looking for an assisted living community in Atlanta for you or a loved one, please contact us to learn more about our community and programs.