Benefits of social engagement on dementia

Social Engagement & Benefits For Dementia

It is common knowledge that dementia affects an individual’s cognitive abilities. As a result of this, social settings can become difficult to navigate. Social connectinectedness is strongly linked to aging and dementia. Some early signs of a decline in cognitive ability are loneliness and isolation. Social engagement can benefit the symptoms of dementia. Explicitly, social settings help to increase what the brain can remember, build mental capacity and decrease the amount of stress people tend to feel with dementia.

Studies have shown that individuals who socialize often tend to feel the effects of dementia less rapidly. Research also shows that as dementia progresses, social engagement lessens. This is why it is important to keep people who have dementia involved in the world around them. The social interaction with others not only helps the brain, but it also helps an individual with the internal struggles they may have.

Social Activity Ideas For Dementia

Because socializing is such an important factor in dealing with people who have dementia, below are a few ways that you could consider promoting social outings with a loved one or someone you know who has dementia.

  • Accompanying someone on errands
  • Calling them on the phone once a week
  • Going to the movies
  • Skyping or FaceTiming regularly
  • Scheduling visits with friends
  • Weekly dinners
  • Attending smaller social events that are local (i.e craft fairs, small concerts, art showings, etc.)

Social Activities Benefits For Dementia

Participating in activities such as these can lead to many benefits for individuals with dementia. Social engagement is known to:

  • Increase memory
  • Promote “regular” conversational skills
  • Provide a sense of belonging
  • Decrease feelings of loneliness or depression
  • Create new opportunities to meet people
  • Support existing relationships with friends and family

If you are unsure about ways to engage with someone who has dementia, remember to keep it simple! You could read to them, play a familiar game or even just watch T.V. The important part is to help people not feel so alone. Here at Orchard at Brookhaven, we provide a multitude of opportunities for our residents to interact with one another. Our staff is friendly and willing to spend time with the residents when they need it. If you would like to know more about all we have to offer, please contact us.

Signs of Early Stage Dementia

Identifying Early Stages of Dementia

The number of people living with dementia worldwide is currently estimated at 50 million is expected to triple in the next 50 years. With this kind of increase, it is important to be able to recognize if you or someone you love is being affected by dementia. While aging comes with many changes to a person’s mind and body, there are some specific signs to look for to help identify the early stages of dementia.

Early Dementia Warning Signs

Before dementia progresses, there are several signs to be aware of in people. Keep in mind, dementia is not considered “normal” aging, therefore if you notice these signs/symptoms it is important to seek professional help and guidance.

  1. Memory – an individual will forget important dates or events often and may not remember them at all.
  2. Language – an individual may have difficulty determining the correct vocabulary to use for familiar objects.
  3. Familiar Tasks – an individual may have difficulty remembering processes that are familiar to them i.e cooking, turning on the T.V, making the bed, etc.
  4. Disorientation – an individual may have difficulty remember where they are, the time of day, or what day it is.
  5. Thinking – an individual may show decision making that is illogical or irrational (i.e not knowing how to pay for something at a store)
  6. Judgement – an individual may make poor choices and not recognize the error in those choices (i.e using Monopoly money to pay for groceries)
  7. Spacial Awareness – an individual may not be able to determine how far away something is or how close it is.
  8. Misplacing Items – an individual will not remember where they have put items.
  9. Mood – an individual’s mood may alter suddenly for no apparent reason.
  10. Engagement – an individual is not as interested or engaged in activities that they normally participate in.

While these signs and symptoms are not conclusive, they are a starting point for determining if someone may be in the early stages of dementia. It is most important to talk with the individual and medical professionals about the causes of concern.

Getting Proper Care For Early Stage Dementia

After assessing (yourself) that someone you know or love may need additional help, here are some steps you can take to get them the care they deserve.

  1. Talk to the individual of concern. Let them know what you have observed and get their take on things.
  2. Research medical professionals in your area who can help. Find the right place and person to give you the help you need.
  3. Have a meeting with the individual and their family or close friends. It is important to have a good support system and this begins with a conversation.
  4. Set up an action plan with the individual for how they want the situation to be handled. Let them be a part of the decision making process.
  5. Create a calendar with important dates, specifically appointments, so that nothing is missed.
  6. Research living arrangements that will be needed once individuals cannot live on their own.

The early stages of dementia can be a difficult time for everyone. There are a lot of unknowns coupled with new challenges. Orchard at Brookhaven seeks to provide a solution to your problems. Our staff is very understanding of this difficult time and is happy to answer any questions you may have at any point. For more information please schedule a consultation.

Technology Benefits For Dementia

Benefits Of Technology For Dementia

In this day and age, most of us do not go 5 minutes without encountering or using technology. At times, this can be seen as a curse and other times, it is a blessing. Technology keeps us connected to the people in our world who are not geographically close to us but it also can keep us distracted for hours at a time. That being said, there are many beneficial and practical ways to utilize technology with someone who has dementia.

Benefits Of Technology For Dementia

Listed below are a few ways that technology could benefit individuals with dementia.

  • Allows the feeling of independence to be present
  • Aids an individual in decision making
  • Provides assistance with existing or deteriorating skill set
  • No attention being brought to the fact that the user has a disability
  • Serves as a reminder that remedies are available
  • Can be used at all times provided the information is readily available to read or access

Benefit Of Cell Phones For Dementia

The invention of cell phones has kept people just a touch of the key pad away for many years. This is the same for someone who is moving through the stages of dementia. Cell phones are an easy way to keep them connected to their loved ones. It is also a great way for them to look up information they may have forgotten. Someone could use navigation apps if they have lost their way. It is also easy to set up reminders to help stay on track with medicine schedules, daily routines or doctor’s appointments.

Other technologies can be classified as follows:

  • Devices that are utilized by the individual (radio, TV, (mobile) telephone, car);
  • Systems and devices that others have set up, but which the person uses (electricity, water supply system, air condition);
  • Monitoring and surveillance systems and devices which are either:
    • activated by the user (safety alarms)
    • activated automatically when an incident occurs (fire alarm, fall alarm)
    • monitors continuously or when the operator decides (cameras installed at public places, tag- ging devices).

When the person with dementia has an active role in handling the assistive technology, considerations as to their ability due to clinical needs must be taken. Orchard at Brookhaven is ready and willing to accommodate all the needs of our residents. Our staff is highly qualified and extremely flexible when it comes to making our residents feel comfortable. For more information on all that we have to offer, please contact us with any questions you may have.

Holiday Tradition and Dementia

Dementia & Keeping Holiday Traditions

Holidays can be times filled with joy for many reasons, one being that we have the opportunity to participate in traditions. These traditions can be unique to our family, social organizations or groups, and community of faith. Traditions are kept for a reason. One of the best reasons to keep a tradition is because it fosters a sense of community, belonging, and connectedness. In this article we’ll discuss how to keep holiday traditions when someone has dementia.

Dementia & Importance Of Keeping Holiday Traditions

Social isolation and loneliness often occur when someone is experiencing brain change. Therefore, it is very important to encourage and help people living with dementia continue to be active and participate in activities and celebrations. Keeping holiday traditions is one way to do this. The staff of Orchard at Brookhaven understands this and have been working diligently to keep holiday traditions going for our residents.

Traditions can be extremely important to helping families living with brain change continue to stay connected and promote a sense of wellbeing within the family unit. The most significant part of a tradition is connectedness.

When thinking about including your loved one in a holiday celebration, consider the following:

  • How does the person living with brain change respond to crowds of people?
  • Are they sensitive to light and noise?
  • Are they able to manage being around a lot of conversation or would they rather be with just one person?
  • What is their energy level and when would it be best to engage in an activity?
  • What kind of assistance do they respond to and will the people around them be able to engage appropriately?

Holiday Traditions & Cues

What is the tradition or celebration you are considering including your loved one in? What are the visual symbols, sights, and sounds of the tradition? Someone living with brain change will need more visual cues, less verbal communication. Old familiar songs are retained until end of life. Does your tradition have these pieces and therefore opportunities for the person to be involved and connected?

Involving Loved Ones In The Tradition

Are there ways to support your loved one continue to take part in a tradition? Can a person who has prepared food all of their life be involved in the preparation even if it is in mixing up a bowl of cookies that we may never eat or to tell us if the food smells good?  Can the person hold onto the star and tell you if you have placed it properly on top of the tree?  Can they hold and hand you the candles as you light the menorah?

Making Adjustments To Holiday Traditions

Traditions, time honored ways of connecting to what is important in our life, and ways in which we keep families and communities together, can be used to fill our days with meaning and find moments of joy when we keep in mind what is most valuable about life.

Take a few moments and think about the traditions that you have in the holiday seasons ahead and plan for adjustments that will make your tradition be special.  Remember that we have the healthy brains and are the ones that will be able to make the adjustments and changes that will help the person living with brain change continue to be connected to the traditions and people that they love.

Questions to think about ahead of time as you prepare for a holiday season with brain change:

  • Who is the person living with brain change?
  • What kind of brain change is present? Abilities, needs such as different ways of communicating, assistance needed and ways to be engaged.
  • What is happening with health and wellness?
  • Are there new physical challenges that will need some adjustments like time of day, energy level, medication interaction, and/or side effects that may change someone’s ability to be part of the tradition?
  • Who has been involved and what was their participation?
  • Does any of this require adjustments and what would those adjustments look like?
  • Can the person living with dementia participate in the same way or do they require the just right assistance so that they still feel valued and important?
  • Is the environment friendly, familiar, functional, and forgiving?
  • What are the sights, sounds, smells, and feel of the environment, and will they be overwhelming to the person living with brain change or can you modify them to help make the experience positive?

Our relationships and connectedness to who and what holds value and meaning can remain a source of joy when we take into account what we know about our past, when we make accommodations for and celebrate our present, and when we acknowledge and adjust for our future.

Orchard at Brookhaven understands the importance of traditions, and we are here to support you and your family during the holiday season. Please contact us to learn more.

How to talk about dementia

How To Talk About Dementia

Words can inspire. They can leave a huge impact and create a lasting memory that will be either good or bad. We often forget how important words are and this can create obstacles in relationships while also creating difficulties where opportunities could have been. We forget how dangerous and beautiful words can be. Simple words can completely change a person’s life. Orchard at Brookhaven 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 words in more detail.

How To Talk About Dementia

Words are powerful. Below are some examples of how we do and/or should talk about dementia:

  • The word dementia can be used to put a person in a box, this is not the whole of the person’s identity and is deeming and strips someone of their dignity
  • The language used to talk about younger people with dementia can strongly influence how others treat or view them, and how they feel about themselves.
  • Referring to people with dementia as ‘sufferers’ or as ‘victims’ implies that they are helpless.  This not only strips people of their dignity and self-esteem, it reinforces inaccurate stereotypes and heightens the fear and stigma surrounding dementia.
  • Young onset dementia is not necessarily the defining aspect of someone’s identity.  Life does not stop when dementia starts.
  • Using the correct terms avoids confusion.  There are over 100 forms of dementia, all coming with different challenges.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is just one of type of dementia, therefore, the terms dementia and Alzheimer’s are not interchangeable.
  • Using the term early stage can cause confusion between dementia that is diagnosed before the age of 65 and the early stages of dementia.
  • ‘Young onset’ or ‘working-age’ dementia are preferable terms to ‘early onset’ dementia.

How Words 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. The words 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

Recommendations For How To Talk About Dementia

The words that we choose to use are ones that describe our residents and future residents as vibrant and healthy. This is because we know that there is a lot of life to live when someone has dementia. Our staff take care to use language that:

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

People living with dementia can:

  • Thrive and have a wonderful quality of life
  • Can be productive members of society
  • Can be fully engaged in their life
  • Can maintain relationships
  • Can experience joy
  • Be creative
  • Learn new activities
  • Teach others

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

Early Stage Dementia

Symptoms Of Early Stage Dementia

Early stage dementia is often difficult to assess or recognize. Many people mistakenly assume that the changes they see are changes of normal aging. Symptoms may also develop gradually and go unnoticed for a long time. When it is determined that someone has early stage dementia, finding the right support is essential. In this article we’ll discuss some of the symptoms and signs of early stage dementia.

Symptoms of Early Stage Dementia

Common early symptoms of dementia include:

  • memory problems, particularly remembering recent events
  • increasing confusion
  • reduced concentration
  • personality or behavior changes
  • apathy and withdrawal or depression
  • loss of ability to do everyday tasks.

Top 10 Early Signs of Dementia

Below we have included the top ten early signs of dementia. If you or your loved one has several of these symptoms, consult your physician.

  1. Memory Loss – It is normal to occasionally forget appointments, names or information. Someone with normal aging will remember them later. A person with dementia may forget things more often or not remember them at all.
  2. Difficulty with tasks – While it is common to become distracted during a task and forget part of that task, someone living with dementia will have difficulty either initiating, stopping, or doing all of the steps of a task.
  3. Disorientation – A person with dementia may have difficulty finding their way to a familiar place or feel confused about where they are, or think they are back in some past time of their life.
  4. Language – We all forget words and names, but usually we can remember them later. Someone living with dementia may have difficulty finding words, understanding words or may mis-hear words, leaving them feeling confused and frustrated.
  5. Abstract thinking – A person with dementia may have trouble knowing what the numbers mean or what to do with them. They may also have difficulty taking in information and coming up with a rational conclusion about that information making others think they are being paranoid.
  6. Changes in judgement – When this ability is affected by dementia, the person may have difficulty making appropriate decisions, such as what to wear in cold weather. Another common situation is determining whether it is still safe to drive.
  7. Spatial skills – A person with dementia may have difficulty judging distance or direction when driving a car. This can happen because peripheral vision is decreased with dementia and therefore depth perception becomes challenging.
  8. Misplacing things and not knowing what things are for or do – A person with dementia may not know what the keys are for. They may put the keys in the refrigerator or attempt to start the car with a screw driver.
  9. Personality changes – Someone with dementia can have rapid mood swings, for no apparent reason. (The reason is that they are experiencing dementia.) They can become confused, suspicious or withdrawn. Some can become disinhibited or more outgoing.
  10. Loss of initiative – Dementia may cause a person to lose interest in previously enjoyed activities or require cues prompting them to become involved.

Supporting Someone With Early Stage Dementia

Orchard at Brookhaven is a senior living community in Atlanta that has specialized programming and opportunities for fully engaged life for people with all stages of dementia. Our programming for each stage is developed and implemented by a dedicated staff member. Below is a list of some upcoming events we have, but you can always check our events page to see a full and updated list.

  • Neurosize – Friday Dec 6th and 13th at 3:00 pm
  • A white Christmas Virtual Music Voyage – Tuesday Dec 17th at 3:00 pm
  • Ginger bread house making – Wednesday Dec 18th at 3:30 pm
  • Holiday Sing Along – Thursday Dec 19th at 2:30 pm
  • Harp Glass performance – Saturday Dec 21st at 3:00 pm

If you or someone you know are experiencing changes in your life, reach out to your physician and look for community support and services to help create ways to continue to be fully engaged in your life.

Mild Cognitive Impairment

Mild Cognitive Impairment

Orchard at Brookhaven is a senior living community in Atlanta that supports people living with brain change. Our staff are undergoing a new method of training and use their knowledge and skill to support people in any stage of brain change. When people experience difficulty with memory or other functions of the brain, it’s possible they could be experiencing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and not dementia.

What Is Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)?

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is the stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia. It can involve problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes. But these changes aren’t severe enough to significantly interfere with daily life and usual activities.

Mild cognitive impairment may increase your risk of later developing dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease or other neurological conditions. But some people with mild cognitive impairment never get worse, and a few eventually get better.

Types Of Mild Cognitive Impairment

There are two types of MCI. In both, symptoms are not severe, although they can be upsetting and disruptive.

Amnestic MCI

  • Memory-specific and is marked by signs like forgetting conversations and misplacing items.

Non-amnestic MCI

  • Involves changes in other brain activities regardless of whether you have memory loss.
  • Problems with language (you lose your train of thought during a conversation)
  • Attention (you have a hard time accomplishing tasks like bill paying)
  • Spatial sense (you can’t find your way around a familiar place).

Signs & Symptoms Of Mild Cognitive Impairment

Symptoms of mild cognitive impairment include:

  • Forget things more often.
  • Forget important events such as appointments or social engagements.
  • Lose train of thought or the thread of conversations, books or movies.
  • Feel increasingly overwhelmed by making decisions, planning steps to accomplish a task or understanding instructions.
  • Start to have trouble finding your way around familiar environments.
  • Become more impulsive or show increasingly poor judgment.

If you have MCI, you may also experience:

  • Depression
  • Irritability and aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Apathy

Medical Condition & Lifestyle Impacts On MCI

Medical conditions and lifestyle factors have been linked to an increased risk of cognitive change. Some of these include:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Low education level
  • Infrequent participation in mentally or socially stimulating activities
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Medication side effect
  • Underlying health problem
  • Sleep deprivation.

Diagnosing & Treatment For Mild Cognitive Impairment

There is no specific test to confirm a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). A doctor will decide whether MCI is the most likely cause of your symptoms based on the information you provide and results of various tests that can help clarify the diagnosis

Because MCI may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, it’s important to see a doctor or specialist every 6 to 12 months.

There are no drugs or other treatments currently that are approved specifically for mild cognitive impairment. However, MCI is an active area of research. Clinical studies are underway better understand the disorder and find treatments that may improve symptoms or prevent or delay progression to dementia.

Orchard at Brookhaven is a senior living community in Atlanta that supports people living with brain change. Contact us for more information about our programs and how we can help you or your loved one.

Dining Choices With Dementia

Adaptive Dining For Seniors

There are many seniors who struggle with eating. Supporting the dining experience for these people with varying abilities is a challenge that often gets overlooked. The preceding article addressed loss of appetite in seniors. We’ll discuss some of the common reasons there are challenges, and provide tips for how to help improve the dining experience.

Seniors Mealtime Challenges

Below are some common reasons why eating can become more challenging for seniors:

  • Hand tremors
  • Weakness
  • Parkinson’s
  • Alzheimers disease
  • Dementia
  • Arthritis
  • Limited Hand mobility
  • Changes in ability to chew and swallow food

Making Eating Easier For Seniors

There are many adaptive utensils that are specifically designed for people who are experiencing difficulty with eating. Below are some examples:

  • Non slip plates, cups and bowls – Parkinson’s and Dementia
  • Dividers – Dementia, Stroke, Tremors, Parkinson’s
  • Contrasting colors dementia vision changes
  • Red cups, bowls and plates – a study showed a 24% increase in food intake  84% fluid intake for people living with Alzheimers
  • Weighted – Parkinson’s, Dementia
  • Larger grip – Arthritis, Neuropathy, Grip strength, Parkinson’s
  • Click For More Examples

When someone is living with dementia, their brain changes will also affect their ability and desire to eat.

The staff at Orchard at Brookhaven is educated in helping our residents with their nutrition. Our dining staff is trained in helping people feel more able and willing to participate in meals. Our support staff are trained in helping the residents with changing abilities be able to participate in meal-time for meeting both social and nutritional needs. Some of the ways that we create a more supportive environment for dining include the understanding in changing abilities and what support is needed.

Improving The Dining Experience For Seniors

Retained abilities can be supported in the right environment. Consider the following:

  • Vision changes can be supported by contrasting colors.
  • A black mat may be “seen” as a hole.
  • If the environment is familiar and its function is obvious, it is easier to manage.
  • Visual cues and landmarks help make it easier to navigate.
  • Entrances need to be clearly marked and accessible.
  • Friendly and welcoming (indicators that I am wanted here)
  • Retained abilities are supported and support given when required.

Tips To Improve The Dining Experience For Someone With Dementia

It may become more difficult for someone living with dementia to make decisions. Consider the following to better support these people:

  • Reduce the amount of information
  • Give two choices
  • Offer visual aids
  • Limiting sensory stimulation
  • Familiarity
  • Offering time to make decisions and not rushing
  • Consistency

Physical Skills & Dining

As we age, the following physical skills can change and impact our ability to eat:

    • Balance and coordination
    • Fine motor movement in hands
    • Tracking with eyes
    • Fine motor movement of mouth
    • Aging slows our ability to process information and respond to that information.
    • “Outpacing” is a term used to describe providing information too quickly to be processed, thus rendering a person incapable of completing tasks that he or she might otherwise have accomplished. The staff at Orchard allows ample time for people to respond and make decisions.

Vision Change & Impact On Dining

As we age, the following vision degradation issues can impact our ability to eat.

      • Loss of peripheral vision.
      • Loss of depth perception.
      • Object use recognition
      • Differing interpretation of sights
      • Sensitivity to visual stimulation

Below are some common signs of challenges with vision, if you are wondering if someone’s vision is changing, look for these signs.

      • Lack of eye contact
      • Unusual head movements
      • Inability to recognize familiar objects
      • Inattentiveness
      • Tripping or bumping into objects
      • Withdrawal from activities
      • Losing or misplacing things
      • Misinterpretation of sights

Tips For Improved Meal Experience With Loss Of Vision

Below are some meal-time changes and tips to consider for improving the dining experience:

      • Begin interaction in visual field – peripheral vision is limited when someone is living with dementia
      • Give person time to recognize faces and information – it takes longer for someone living with dementia to process information including faces
      • Simple, limited visual cues – help people understand their environment and the information that you are giving
      • Contrasting colors – Red plates, bowls and cups have been found to help people eat better who are living with Alzheimers better who are living with Alzheimers

If you are looking for more information on how a senior living facility can help improve the dining experience for someone with dementia, please contact us today.

Spirituality and Dementia

Importance Of Spiritual Life On Dementia

Care can mean a lot of different things to different people. Let’s consider, for a moment, how we help take care of someone’s spiritual life when they have dementia. For many of us our spiritual paths are important aspects of our life. For many of us our beliefs about spirituality are also the foundation of our life. What happens when someone is living with dementia? How do we help them continue a spiritual practice, and how can we celebrate their spiritual life?

Spirituality & Dementia

When someone begins experiencing brain change, one of the first things that families do is stop going to their community of faith. This can make someone feel marginalized and isolated. Why does this happen? Because services and gatherings of people can become overwhelming for many reasons, including having to be able to follow instructions, behaving in ways that are considered to be appropriate, remembering the names of people that you know you should remember, and a general feeling of not being able to navigate a complicated social setting.

Families tend to pull back from services because it’s difficult to find people who understand the complexities and difficulties that can accompany dementia, such as making mistakes in social settings and having trouble remembering words and names. These are some of the realities of dementia and yet this reality also provides us with an opportunity to practice some of our faith traditions such as compassion and the sacredness of life.

After interviewing many people living with dementia, I found that there are both challenges and opportunities for communities of faith to help continue the experience of spirituality for people living with dementia.

Dementia & Faith Challenges

  • Sensory overload
  • Confusion with instructions and routines
  • Noise
  • Remembering names
  • Sitting for an extended period of time
  • Social norms
  • Time awareness
  • Understanding dialogue
  • Making mistakes and feeling inferior

People living with dementia can experience sensory overload in communities of faith because of all the information that is happening at one time. For example, walking up to receive communion or some other ritual will include sights, sounds, smells, tastes and require physical action. Putting all these things together and or sorting through all this information can be over whelming. The sound of music and people talking, air conditioners running, and paper being shuffled can become noise when someone has a difficult time being able to figure out all the sounds that they hear. Furthermore, sitting for an extended time can seem too long for someone having difficulty with comprehension and for someone who has a different sense of how time feels. Communities of faith also have different expected social norms, such as remembering names, routines and rituals, which can be difficult for someone with dementia and make them feel inferior.

Dementia & Faith Opportunities

There are many things that people living with dementia are still able to do. The key is to find these things and support them! Consider the following:

  • Providing respite for the family by having someone support the person living with dementia during the service.
  • Offer alternative services
  • Educate the community
  • Use familiar music (old hymns using only the first two verses which most people know without having to read the words)
  • Use more visual cueing and instructions
  • Making a safe space where mistakes are ok

Because, as those of us who travel a spiritual path know, our spirit continues to be whole and beautiful regardless of the limitations of this life and even after this life is over. Therefore, we have a wonderful opportunity to watch this belief in motion. Orchard at Brookhaven will provide many opportunities to continue your spiritual life while living in this community. Some of these will include:

  • Opportunities to attend services on site and in the local community
  • Engage in service projects
  • Be involved in practices such as mediation and yoga
  • Music groups
  • Prayer groups
  • Discussion groups

Having a spiritual practice has been determined to help overall health. Orchard at Brookhaven is committed to helping you stay connected to your practice. Please contact us to learn more or schedule a tour of our community.

Identifying Brain Change

Identifying Brain Change

When things begin to change in the brain, it can be confusing as to what is happening and if it is something which requires taking a closer look.  “Is what I see normal aging or just the person being a little more confused?”  “Is it something of concern?” These are questions that you may be asking yourself as a caregiver, so we wrote this article to discuss ways for identifying brain change so you are better informed on what may or may not be normal.

When someone gets older, the red flag that determines whether this is a significant development in the person’s life or not is if this is a change for the person.  The AD8 is a set of questions that will help determine if changes are something that requires a closer look.

Often families and loved ones notice changes in a person but because the changes are small and come on slowly, the significance can be missed until there is a crisis at hand. Below are some examples that may be helpful in alerting you to an important sign.

Indicators Of Brain Change

Have you ever observed a loved one experiencing any of the following brain change indicators?


  • Someone who walks out without paying
  • Repeats a story, question, action
  • Looks to spouse for the answer
  • Who is the person? (everything we know about them including what kind of day they were having)
  • Gets lost

Challenges with planning or problem solving

  • Saying I cant use my computer because it doesn’t work anymore
  • Saying I don’t cook because I am tired
  • Turns in a document and does not understand the errors

Difficulty starting, taking the appropriate steps, and/or completing a task

  • Unable to count change or handing the cashier a handful of bills to pay for a small item
  • Someone pulls into a church parking lot when going to get gas
  • Walking home and leaving the car in the store parking lot

Confusion of time and place

  • Thinking it is time to go to work in the middle of the night
  • Wanting to go home when they are already at home
  • Being confused about the building they are in, for example; thinking the hospital is a prison
  • Thinking they are at home while actually in a restaurant

Trouble understanding visual signs and spatial relationships

  • Not understanding which direction an arrow is pointing
  • Difficulty with traffic lights
  • Sitting on the arm rest of a chair rather than the seat
  • Difficulty placing items safely on a counter, table, or self

New problems with words in speaking or writing

  • Difficulty finding a specific word
  • Using vague words like “the thing”
  • Talking around a word “you go down there then turn it on and go”

Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

  • Going into a building and not being able to find their way out.
  • Putting car keys in the freezer
  • Going to church and not knowing why they are there

Decreased or poor judgement

  • Driving when they have had several accidents
  • Spending money on unnecessary large purchases
  • Contributing to online scams

Withdrawal from work or social activities

  • Not going to choir practice because “no one knows how to sing”
  • Not letting anyone in the house because people are stealing
  • Not cooking because “I’m tired”
  • Withdrawing from a social or work group because “it’s boring” or “ they don’t act right anymore”

Changes in mood and personality

  • Becoming angry when this is out of character
  • Dramatic swings in mood
  • Laughing or crying for apparently “no reason”
  • If sad, not being able to be comforted
  • Speaking out at inappropriate times

All these are possible indicators of brain change. If you or your loved notice several of these indicators, we’d recommend you consult a doctor for further evaluation.

Orchard at Brookhaven is Senior Living Community in Atlanta that is here to help families and loved ones when they notice changes. We have a trained staff and consultants that will help provide the support and guidance needed for people experiencing brain change. If you have any questions, or would like to schedule a tour, please contact us.