With Dementia…Time is My Enemy

It’s been awhile since we’ve shared a guest blog from Rick Phelps. Rick was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease in June of 2010 at the age of 57. Rick is passionate about bringing awareness to this disease and is the Founder of Memory People, an Alzheimer’s and dementia support and awareness group on Facebook. In the latest blog article, Rick tells us how time has become his enemy with his disease.

“Sometimes yesterday, can seem a million years away.” This is the beginning of “While I Still Can…” a song my dear friend Dan Mitchell penned for me.

He took some of my quotes and put them to music. The reason the first line of the song is about yesterday, is because when you have dementia you have no yesterdays.

I no longer have any concept of time. I can tell time, but there is no concept of it. Ten minutes can seem like an hour. If someone says “I will call you in a half hour” that half hour is long forgotten in just minutes.

Many patients suffer with the loss of time. When you are able to tell time you need a reference point. Take for example, if you know you have to be at an appointment on a certain day, at a certain time, the first thing that goes through you mind is a reference of that time.

If it’s Monday at 3:00pm. you might reference that too it’s your first day back at work, and you have to be there when the kids get of school, at 3:00pm.

This doesn’t work when you have dementia. I can’t keep track of the time of day it is, let alone the day of the week. I have no reference to go by.

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Telling your loved one you will be taking them to the doctor tomorrow, Monday at 1:00pm means absolutely nothing. Chances are they don’t know what today is, let alone tomorrow and if you tell them they will simply forget.

Again because they have lost the concept of time. Not many people talk about losing the ability to tell time or know what day it is, but it is a huge problem for the dementia patient.

Everything you do, everything you have planned from the time you wake up till the time you go to bed at night, dictates because of your reference to time.

Right now I know it’s Wednesday, only because I just looked. I had to fill some paper work already this morning, and did it before Phyllis June was up.

That was a mistake. I put the date as September 31rst. There is no September 31rst. I looked at the calendar and everything, but still wrote in September 31.

She checked it luckily and said its Oct.1, not September 31. She didn’t go into there is no September 31, knowing that it wouldn’t register any ways.

Out of habit, you will tell your loved one about a certain date, or time. And that’s fine. It’s what you have been doing forever. Just try to remember, they have no reference of time, and will likely not remember it in just minutes.

So, if it’s important you have to be the one to make sure they are ready to go or do whatever it is at any given time.

The second verse of the song goes, “Time is my enemy, that’s why I’m living for right now.. Tomorrow just to far to think about, my heart only knows one task.”

Time indeed is my enemy. And it most likely is your loved ones as well…

We’d like to thank Rick for sharing his personal stories with us to bring awareness of this disease to others. To learn more about Rick and his story you can visit his website at http://whileistillcan.net

If you or someone you know has been touched by dementia or you’d like more information, please join other patients, caregivers, and advocates all walking this journey together at the Memory People Facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180666768616259

Do You Know the 10 Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease?

You probably have a family member or friend that has been affected by Alzheimer’s. Over 5 million Americans are living with the disease today. It is now the 6th leading cause of death in the US with 1 in 3 seniors dying from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.1

Hopefully these shocking statistics have gotten your attention.

We have all forgotten things here and there and make jokes about our memory failing us as we get old. However, experiencing the memory loss from Alzheimer’s can be completely devastating to family and friends of loved ones that are affected. Awareness of the disease is key to help with early diagnosis and treatments to help ease the progression of the disease.

Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. The Alzheimer’s association has made note of 10 warning signs and symptoms.1

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1.  Memory loss that disrupts daily life

2.  Challenges in solving problems

3.  Difficulty completing familiar tasks

4.  Confusion with time or place

5.  Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

6.  New problems with words in speaking or writing

7.  Misplacing things

8.  Decreased or poor judgment

9.  Withdrawal from work or social activities

10.  Changes in mood and personality

Take a moment to read these early signs in more detail by visiting www.alz.org®

If you notice any of these warning signs it is advised that you or your loved one see a doctor soon to discuss the possibility of having Alzheimer’s.

Enriched Life Home Care Services is committed to promoting awareness of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. We also provide respite care for friends and family that are caregivers for their loved ones.

1 Source: http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_facts_and_figures.asp

Enriched Life Home Care Services, LLC  |  www.ELHCS.com

Helping Aging Parents with Money Matters

It’s all too common these days that people in their 50s and early 60s notice their elderly parents having trouble with memory loss and with handling finances. In fact, one in eight Americans 65 and over and 43 percent of individuals 85 and over have Alzheimer’s disease.

Financial advisors and accountants say elderly parents and adult children alike are too slow to seek or provide help in the early stages of decline. Denial is part of it. Hoping to stay independent, parents may minimize their difficulties. Adult children hesitate to step in and help out and oftentimes ignore warning signs.

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Reporting in Smart Money, Kathleen Michon, an attorney and editor at Nolo, a provider of legal information and products, says the damage can be dire: closed accounts, damaged credit, money lost to scam artists, even foreclosure.

A mailbox stuffed with donation requests, checkbook mistakes, unpaid bills, and desks and drawers that were once neatly organized now scattered with paperwork, are all signs that help is needed.

Don’t try to suddenly step in and take over. To ease into their financial affairs, begin by offering help with such matters as filling out insurance claims, helping to adjust property tax bills or checking credit card statements.

Enriched Life Home Care Services is passionate about educating families and bringing awareness to issues facing aging loved ones. We are here to help answer questions that may arise as you are caring for your loved ones.

www.ELHCS.com  |  Enriched Life Home Care Services

Activities for Loves Ones with Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease

When someone you are caring for is bored or wants to help in some way, here are a few things that could keep those with mild to moderate dementia or Alzheimer’s disease occupied.

Raking and sweeping. If it’s not too cold, outdoor lovers will appreciate being helpful in the yard. Experts at caring.com say it’s also good exercise. An alternate activity, picking up sticks or yard debris, can be satisfying if the patient is physically capable.

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Feeding the birds. It’s an active activity when preparing food, and it’s a passive activity when watching birds out the window. Make strings of birdfeed by threading cereal or pretzels on a length of yarn. Tie the end so the cereal doesn’t fall off.

Make birdseed pinecones. Put peanut butter on a pinecone with a butter knife, then roll the cone in a bowl of birdseed. Tie a string around it for hanging.

Folding laundry. It allows your loved one to feel productive and the repetition can be soothing. Towels are the easiest to fold. Consider buying bundles of washcloths or dish towels.

Keeping tabs on the weather. You’ll need an easy-to-read outdoor thermometer, indoor barometer, weather vane, and a rain gauge. Many people have great interest in the weather. Encourage a loved one to check gauges and reporting what they see to you. You could keep a record book to discuss weather changes later.

Talk about the weather and ask your loved one if they ever experienced a storm, flood, or blizzard.

Coupon cutting. Give them scissors, envelopes and an organizer folder to place the coupons in. It’s a good activity and makes them feel they are contributing. Encourage them to clip coupons for their favorite products.

Inspirational reading. Individuals who have difficulty reading or communicating may enjoy being read to and may be comforted by religious text. Try making a daily reading time so it becomes part of your routine. Talk about what you read and ask questions like whether they would have liked to live in Biblical times.

If you are looking for more activities ideas, Enriched Life Home Care Services can assist. We are very interested in enriching the lives of seniors, especially those that have been affected by Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Enriched Life Home Care Services  |  www.ELHCS.com

Alzheimer’s Apron of Memories

If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia you understand that it is sometimes difficult to find activities for them to do to help occupy their time. This can be especially true if your loved one has difficulty staying in one place for very long.

Creating an Alzheimer’s Apron is a fun activity for both you and your loved one. First, involve them in choosing the color apron they like the best. After you have helped them pick out the color, the fun really begins.

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When you are working on the apron together, there are several things that you can incorporate onto the apron:

  • A clear pocket for a picture of a family, pet, or something that they loved. This is a great way for them to be able to look at a comforting picture while wearing their apron.
  • A large zipper with a large pull-hole. This will be fun for them to be pulling and zipping up and down.
  • Sew some large bright things onto their new apron. This can be fun for them to look at and feel.
  • Attach a large pocket made of a material that they will enjoy feeling and touching. This will also allow them to store objects and things that they like and enjoy.
  • Customize their aprons based on your loved ones’ interests.

The Alzheimer’s apron is a great way to help your loved ones stay stimulated and help families and caregivers with assistance. We hope you decide to create an Alzheimer’s Apron with your loved one…it could really brighten their day!

Enriched Life Home Care Services  |  www.ELHCS.com

 

A Little Karaoke Fun at the Senior Center

You don’t need to be a good singer to enjoy karaoke! Choosing one of your favorite tunes and belting out the words with reckless abandon is what makes it so much fun. At Enriched Life Home Care Services we believe in giving back to our community and helping to brighten the day of those who may not be able to enjoy the things that they used to. We visit nursing homes, senior centers, rehabilitation facilities, and Alzheimer/Dementia homes to help brighten the day for those that live or stay there.

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A few weeks ago, for example we spent an afternoon doing karaoke and visiting with a wonderful group of people…and there was even some rumored dancing as well! They had such a good time that we have been invited back to do it again. This time we will be hosting a karaoke competition with them, but when you are able to give back and bring joy to people’s lives everyone has already won.

Enriched Life Home Care Services believes in helping individuals to be able to enjoy their lives the way they always have as much as possible. When we are called to provide care in their place of residence, we work closely with the individual and their family to create a care plan that helps allow them to do just that.

Enriched Life Home Care Services  |  www.ELHCS.com

 

Sing with Me – Alzheimer’s Music Therapy

Did you know that whether you love to sing in the shower or listen to music while driving, you are helping stimulate your brain and the body-mind connection? This stimulation is powerful and also helps to reactivate speech centers of the brain, trigger memory, and improve your coordination.

More studies show that music can be a great help to those individuals who have neurological conditions – such as Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. The music stimulates their area of the brain helping it to change and respond to the music. So if your loved one has Alzheimer’s Disease the area of their brain that is affected is the area for the direct recall of memories.

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Musical memories are not only associated with the music, but also their experiences associated with the music. When they listen to music it can help to indirectly stimulate partial memories that they otherwise would not be able to recall. This can be very comforting for loved ones with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.

When you are caring for your loved one, be sure to make some time for music! This is a great way to not only brighten their day, but also bring them some fun healthy stimulation. There are many great ways to incorporate music into their day. You can even incorporate the music into their normal daily routines. If your loved one gets frustrated with dressing or bathing, try playing some music to help soothe them. It might help make these activities more fun for them.

Enriched Life Home Care Services | www.ELHCS.com

Creating a Garden of Memories with Mom

If you’re like most of us here in Michigan you’re getting ready to rid that winter coat. Many of us are trading in our winter gloves for a pair of gardening gloves. With Mother’s Day just a week away, there are probably a lot of memorable moments you’ve spent with mom in her garden learning how to plant and care for the flowers and vegetables. But if mom is dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia you may think that all you can do now is enjoy the great memories that you have shared together in the garden. This year for Mother’s Day, you can still spend time with mom back in the garden – by creating a Memory Garden.

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With a Memory Garden you are providing a place for your mom to get exercise and plenty of stimuli. Especially if the Alzheimer’s causes agitation, frustration, and tension this will help by giving her an outlet that can provide a comforting peace. When looking at the types of plants and flowers try to select bright vibrant colors, larger shrubs for boundaries, and herbs for sweet aromas. Also, making sure that the plants you select are nonpoisonous and nontoxic. Just going to your local nursery to look at all of the different colors and plants would be a great adventure!

The vibrant colors of the flowers provide great visual stimuli, and when they are walking through their garden and brush pass herbs like mint or lavender they will smell their sweet aromas. The new garden will also attract visitors, and seeing a family of rabbits or any new wildlife visitors will surely be a happy welcome.

As the new garden is being finished, make sure that there is plenty of room for some shade and lawn chairs. This is a great way to make sure that mom won’t get too much sun, and still be able to enjoy her garden. This area for rest will also allow you to keep close to mom while still allowing her independence in her garden.

Enriched Life Home Care Services | www.ELHCS.com