If you’ve ever watched a loved one suffer from dementia, you know how difficult and stressful it can be. Dementia is a general term for loss of memory, language, problem-solving, and other thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of cases. Vascular dementia, which occurs because of microscopic bleeding and blood vessel blockage in the brain, is the second most common cause of dementia. Those who experience the brain changes of multiple types of dementia simultaneously have mixed dementia. There are many other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia, including some that are reversible, such as thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies.
Dementia risk and prevention
Some risk factors for dementia, such as age and genetics, cannot be changed. But researchers continue to explore the impact of other risk factors on brain health and prevention of dementia that may decrease the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Research reported at the 2019 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference suggests that adopting multiple healthy lifestyle choices, including:
- ★ A healthy diet
- ★ Not smoking
- ★ Regular exercise
- ★ Cognitive stimulation
Current evidence suggests that heart-healthy eating may also help protect the brain. Heart-healthy eating includes limiting the intake of sugar and saturated fats and making sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. No one diet is best. Two diets that have been studied and may be beneficial to lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s are the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and the Mediterranean diet.
- ★ The DASH diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, nuts and vegetable oils. The DASH diet limits sodium, sweets, sugary beverages and red meats.
- ★ A Mediterranean diet includes relatively little red meat. It emphasizes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and shellfish, and healthy fats like nuts and olive oil.
Social connections and intellectual activity
A number of studies indicate that maintaining strong social connections and keeping mentally active as we age might lower the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s. Experts are not certain about the reason for this association. It may be due to direct mechanisms through which social and mental stimulation strengthen connections between nerve cells in the brain.
There appears to be a strong link between the future risk of cognitive decline and serious head trauma, especially when the injury involves loss of consciousness. You can help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and protect your head by:
- ★ Wearing a seat belt
- ★ Using a helmet when participating in sports.
- ★ “Fall-proofing” your home by minimizing clutter, loose rugs and poor lighting.
Patient-centered care is a great model to involve your loved one in their own care as much as possible. Maple Manor Christian Home is a skilled nursing facility, certified by the Indiana State Department of Health. Our mission is to provide outstanding care for all of our residents by being compassionate, affectionate, respectful, and enthusiastic. We welcome family and friends and encourage them to visit frequently. Call us at (812) 246-4866 with any questions and to schedule a tour.
We know that having conversations about end-of-life care can be challenging. At the same time, it is better to have these discussions with the people we love at the kitchen table — when we are calm, rational, and in control -- rather than in the ICU when it may be too late. Conversations allow family members to understand what matters most to your loved ones. Advanced care planning ensures that the wishes of our loved ones are expressed in writing and respected, which makes it easier for all involved when the time comes.
A few facts
According to The Conversation Project National Survey (2018), while 92% of people believe that talking about end-of-life planning is important, only 32% have actually done so. This means that nearly 70% of us are leaving our end-of-life decisions in someone else’s hands… a medical professional in the event of an emergency, or family members that may disagree.
The good news is that taking the initiative to begin these conversations can be easier and better than you imagined. A full 95% of the survey respondents said they would be willing to talk about their end-of-life wishes, and over 50% said they’d be relieved if a loved one initiated the conversation. It is especially important for families dealing with dementia to make these decisions early if possible.
Which legal documents do we need?
To make your healthcare decisions officially known, or those of your loved one, you will need two basic documents. The first is durable power of attorney for healthcare. This involves appointing someone to be your healthcare decision-maker (healthcare power of attorney). There is no requirement that this is the oldest child, or even a family member. It should be someone you trust to carry out your wishes. By completing this form, you are granting this person the authority to make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so.
The second document you need is a living will, which is also known as an advanced directive. In this document you state your wishes regarding end-of-life medical care. These forms differ by state and should be available either in hard copy or online through your state’s health department, your healthcare provider, or a lawyer.
Maple Manor Christian Home (MMCH)
Compassionate, Affectionate, Respectful and Enthusiastic. MMCH is a retirement home and nursing home in Sellersburg, IN whose mission is to provide outstanding care and a home-like environment for our residents. We provide meal preparation, laundry and housekeeping services, activities, medication administration, skilled therapy and assistance with daily living. We hold church services on Sunday and Wednesday nights. Call us at (812) 246-4866 with any questions or to arrange a tour. Visit our website for more information.
Sources: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2018/02/28/the-healthcare-conversation-you-need-to-have-now/#2eaddb603a35 | https://www.nhdd.org/public-resources#where-can-i-get-an-advance-directive | Image by silviarita on Pixabay
Watching a loved one struggle with dementia is extremely challenging and heartbreaking at times. It can pose many challenges along the way including mood swings, changes in personality, and the decline of memory, and decision-making skills. Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability, sometimes severe enough to interfere with daily life. While dementia is troublesome, there are multiple ways to help your loved one by finding a unique way to communicate with them. When it comes to dealing with someone who has dementia it’s all about setting the tone, making them feel comfortable, and trying to remain positive. Here are some tips to communicate efficiently with someone who has dementia.
Nobody likes to be excluded in a conversation and just because your loved one is struggling with communication and memory issues doesn't mean you shouldn’t include them in conversations. Whether it’s a casual conversation between a group of friends, family, or even medical staff, try to make a point in including them. Even if the person struggling with dementia does not understand what you are saying, chances are they can still read body language and cues. Including everyone in the conversation decreases isolation, feeling undervalued, and poor mood.
Find the right spot
Too many distractions, such as loud background noises, large groups, and even poor lighting can overwhelm someone who is dealing with dementia and make conversations more difficult. Try to find a quiet place with minimal distractions, turn off background noises if possible, and allow yourself plenty of time to communicate and be patient with the individual. Here are some additional tips from the Alzheimer’s Society:
- ✓ Speak clearly and calmly
- ✓ Speak at a slower pace and allow time for your loved one to process what you are saying without interruption
- ✓ Use short, simple sentences
- ✓ Try to use a conversational tone rather than asking a lot of questions
- ✓ Limit choices if you are asking questions
- ✓ Rephrase rather than repeat. If your loved-one does not understand what you are saying, consider pointing to an object or even using gestures to get your point across.
Effective communication in any relationship is all about give-and-take, so listening is a key component. Even though the person who is going through dementia might not clearly make sense, it’s crucial to let them express their feelings and be there for them.
- ♥ Listen and offer encouragement when needed.
- ♥ Try not to dismiss the individual’s worry or concerns.
- ♥ Allow the person ample time to respond as it might take longer for them to process what you are saying.
- ♥ Resist the temptation to speak on their behalf, put words in their mouth, or interrupt.
- ♥ If the person is having difficulty finding the right words, ask them to explain their point in a different way. Sometimes it’s only one word they are trying to get past.
- ♥ Similar to using images in books to tell the story, try to let the person’s body language assist you in what they are trying to say.
As an individual continues to decline and communication falters with dementia, body language will only become a more effective tool to rely on. Learning the cues when it comes to not only their body language but how they read yours will be key.
- ★ Make sure your body language and expressions convey what you want to say.
- ★ A gentle reassurance in the form of hand-holding, or a pat on the back when appropriate can be of great comfort to someone who is confused.
- ★ Try not to stand over a person (if they are in bed) to communicate with them. Instead, get down to their level and make eye contact.
- ★ Sudden tense movements, negative facial expressions or negative body language may cause the person to become upset or distressed and can make communication even more difficult.
At Maple Manor Christian Home we know dealing with dementia can be a difficult road. Our mission is to provide outstanding care for residents. We describe our brand of care like this: Compassionate, Affectionate, Respectful and Enthusiastic. We strive to provide a homelike environment and to develop relationships with our residents and family members. Family and friends are always welcome and encouraged to visit frequently. Visit us online, email or call us today (812) 246-4866.