Posts

Dementia Caregiving in the Times of Social Distancing

Being a dementia caregiver can be chaotic at the best of times. Add a worldwide pandemic to the mix, and it’s no wonder that many caregivers are feeling rather overwhelmed right now.

“First things first: having dementia does not necessarily increase your loved one’s risk for contracting COVID-19,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “However, many individuals with dementia do have health issues, are of an advanced age and experience other behaviors that greatly increase their risk of developing the disease.”

As you may already be aware, seniors – specifically, those aged 65 or older – are the demographic most vulnerable to contracting coronavirus. Other factors that increase risk are living in a nursing home or facility, having diabetes, serious heart conditions or being immunocompromised. Chances are your loved one has at least two of those factors.

“Preventative measures against COVID-19 are our front line of defense right now, and unfortunately, people with dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease may not remember to or simply can’t take recommended precautions,” says Andrea. For example, they may forget to wash their hands, or refuse to wear masks or not practice social distancing.

If you’re a caregiver to someone with dementia, Andrea says, it’s important to know what challenges your loved one faces, and how you can help mitigate the danger to them and to yourself.

“Keeping you and your loved ones healthy and safe throughout this pandemic is of utmost importance,” Andrea says. “Second to that, but just as important, is ensuring that your loved one remains calm, confident and as secure as possible in order to avoid unwanted behaviors and to lessen the burden on yourself. Whatever you can do to make your job easier – while still maintaining healthy practices for you and your family – will serve you well at this time.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), increased confusion in an individual with dementia is often the first symptom of any illness. That holds true for COVID-19. If your loved one is experiencing rapidly increased confusion, contact their physician or health care provider for more information. Unless your loved one has a dangerously high fever or has difficulty breathing, do not go to the emergency room. Instead, make sure that your loved one is comfortable, hydrated and calm and contact a health care provider for advice.

If your loved one lives with you and you serve as primary caregiver, you may have a slightly easier time with ensuring a safe environment for the individual with dementia. By keeping your loved one isolated in your home – and being cautious about who comes in and out of your house – you can greatly reduce the risk of “contamination” by outside factors. Living at home means you can more easily remind your loved one to wash their hands, use hand sanitizer and refrain from touching their face. You can also be sure that he or she wears a mask when going outside or interacting with people.

One of the best things you can do as a caregiver is to make sure physical contact from the outside world is limited. You may wish to speak to your pharmacist or doctor about receiving 90-day refills on prescriptions instead of 30-day, for example, in order to reduce the number of trips you have to make. You may also want to look into services such as grocery delivery that will reduce your workload while allowing you to stay put.

If your loved one is receiving home-based care (whether living in their own home or in yours), making sure they’re safe can be slightly more difficult. Andrea suggests that you contact the home health provider and speak with them about how they’re shifting their protocols to reduce the spread of COVID-19. You may wish to institute your own precautions before the care provider enters the home, such as taking their temperature and having them wash their hands upon arrival.

Remember, even though you want your loved one to stay safe and secure, it’s also important for people with dementia to have regular social and mental stimulation. Fortunately, there are many technologies these days that can allow your loved one to interact with the world, stay engaged, use their skills and keep them entertained. Computer games and apps, favorite videos and even virtual assistants like Alexa can be a way for your loved one to engage and connect with others.

What if your loved one lives in a memory care community or is in long-term care? This can be difficult for family members and caregivers, because many of these settings have instituted a ban on nonessential visitors. While this helps reduce the risk to residents’ health and safety, it can also be frustrating for both family members and the individual with dementia – who may not understand what’s going on.

If your loved one is in a community, here are some things you can do to stay in touch while still social distancing:

  • Speak to the memory care community to learn about their safety procedures and if/when they are allowing visitors.
  • Look into alternate ways for connecting with your loved one: Zoom call, Skype, FaceTime or even a drive-by or driveway hangout.
  • If you’re exhibiting any signs of illness – even non-COVID related illnesses – stay at home.
  • Stay in touch with staff members to stay up-to-date on their ever-shifting policies.

Andrea reminds caregivers that, although this may be a scary time, your job as a caregiver is to make life as normal as possible for your loved one to ensure their quality of life. “Your loved one will look to you and pick up on your emotions, so the calmer you are and more normal you make the situation seem, the easier it will be for them to follow precautions,” she says. “There’s no one right way to do this – whatever works for you and your loved one is the best way to do it. As long as you stay vigilant and do your best to keep you and your loved one healthy, the easier it will be to weather this storm and emerge on the other side.”

For more information about caregiving for someone with dementia during this time of COVID-19, or to learn more about our community, mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

 

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

The Reutlinger Community is affiliated with Eskaton Senior Living. Our mission is to provide high quality health care and social support services in a life-enhancing and stimulating environment with a commitment to Jewish values. 

Offering Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live in a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s renovated 110,000-square-foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any senior’s needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.

At The Reutlinger, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.

For more information, contact us today.

10 Dementia-Friendly Springtime Activities

Spring is normally the time of year when we get excited to be outside enjoying the weather and airing out the home following a cold and dusty winter. If you’re a caregiver to someone with dementia, you may be wondering what you can do to keep him or her active during the transition in weather.

“Activities are incredibly important for individuals with dementia because it helps keep them engaged, fulfilled and interested,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “However, when planning outings this spring for your loved one with dementia, it is even more important to be alert, be aware and choose safe options that will keep them healthy.”

Here are some of our springtime ideas for fun and festivities.

  1. Do some gardening. Gardening is a wonderful activity for dementia patients because it combines light exercise with dexterity activities and total sensory stimulation. You and your loved one can work at weeding out flower beds, planting seedlings and other light chores. Be sure that the activity isn’t too strenuous. You can purchase some dementia-friendly gardening tools that will allow your senior loved one to participate safely.
  2. Take a walk. A short walk around the block is a great form of exercise. Be sure your loved one has appropriate footwear to avoid falls. You can take a walk around the neighborhood or head to a nearby park for a change of scenery – whatever’s easiest.
  3. Become a birdwatcher. Put a birdfeeder outside your loved one’s window or on the patio. Grab your tablet (or go old-school with a birdwatching book) and look up the feathered friends who come to visit.
  4. Sit in the sun. Even just sitting outside for 15 minutes can help with circadian rhythms, improve mood, boost spirits, reduce stress and more. Spend some time outside reading a book or simply enjoying the feel of the sun on your face. Being outside stimulates all the senses with sounds, smells and feels, which can help with cognitive issues.
  5. Pack a picnic. Get some carry-out (or pick up some sandwiches from the grocery store) and have a picnic in the park – or your backyard!
  6. Arrange a beautiful bouquet. How does your garden grow? If you have plants sprouting in your yard and garden, clip some of the most beautiful blooms and arrange them in vases around the house. If you’d like to do a more in-depth activity, purchase flowers from the grocery store or market and spend an afternoon creating floral masterpieces with your loved one. When you’re done, you can deliver the bouquets to friends and family memes who might enjoy a little cheer.
  7. Paint flower pots. Gardening doesn’t have to only be done indoors. Container gardening is very popular, and provides an opportunity to create fun, unique flower pots. Purchase some terracotta pots and acrylic paint and design pretty pots that you can plant herbs, vegetables or flowers in.
  8. Spring clean your home. While spring cleaning may not immediately signal “fun activity” for you, it’s an excellent opportunity to engage your loved one and give them the chance to feel useful. Choose tasks that are simple enough and within their abilities (dusting, sorting, etc).
  9. Cook a new dish. All sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables are in season during spring. Get inspired in the kitchen to create new, seasonally inspired dishes. Cooking is a great activity for individuals with dementia, and you may end up learning some new tips and techniques, too.
  10. Plant an indoor herb garden. Herbs are easy to grow indoors and add a zing to any springtime dish. Choose hardy plants like basil, thyme, oregano, chives and rosemary, and your kitchen will smell like a fine restaurant all season long.

For more information about dementia-friendly springtime activities, or to learn more about our community, mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

The Reutlinger Community’s mission is to provide high quality health care and social support services in a life-enhancing and stimulating environment with a commitment to Jewish values.

Offering Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s renovated, 110,000-square-foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any seniors needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.

At The Reutlinger Community, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, contact us today.

How to Successfully Share Coronavirus Information with an Individual with Dementia Symptoms

Laura Wayman, The Dementia Whisperer

Whether you are a family caregiver or a professional care provider, it is important to remain adaptable with your care approach to successfully manage dementia symptoms and behaviors.  A caregiver who is “dementia-aware” is one who remains open to continuing education.

Now, in the midst of this coronavirus crisis and all of the challenges it brings to you the caregiver, more than ever this is a time to help the one(s) being cared for by using dementia-aware communication strategies, remaining sensitive to the fact that all of the emotions and feelings remain.  Dementia-aware communication has less to do with your words than it has to do with the feelings you project.

Let’s first transform our perception of dementia and why it is necessary to change our communication and approach to better connect with the individual with dementia symptoms.  Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. What is behind these dementia symptoms? Our brains are always trying to make sense of things, to impose order on all the information we are continuously taking in.  But when an individual has dementia symptoms, whole experiences are constantly being lost, making it difficult for the brain to get its bearings. Through sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste we take note of things outside of ourselves. Then our brains make sense out of what we take in. People with dementia begin to struggle sensing and interpreting things, and this is especially challenging if they become overwhelmed with too much information.

In plain language, the essential parts of the brain we access to understand the world around us, every piece of data we receive, process and use to do anything, is now broken and with most causes may continue to be even more broken.  The way I like to describe it is – the person presenting dementia symptoms has a  “broken thinker.”  And to become “dementia-aware” is to learn to “think” for them.

Below are some dementia-aware communication tips to help the family and professional caregiver share necessary information about the coronavirus threat in a more positive dementia-aware way without causing undue anxiety:

Provide just enough information

Try to strike a balance between answering questions without fueling the flame of anxiety and avoid providing too much information that may create extra alarm. Among the greatest challenges is how to minimize overstimulation, keeping in mind it is all about how information makes them feel. Leave out specific details and join them in whatever they might be feeling-give them only the information they can process and handle in the moment

This is a big change in how we have always communicated with adults, so it takes practice! I even have to remind myself to ask less and do more, as this is a core component of dementia-aware communication.A dementia-aware caregiver uses fewer questions, gives fewer options, uses positive action, keeping all statements simple.

Model calmness

Even though you may be concerned yourself, it is important to model calmness. A flight attendant that appears terrified may make you think there is something wrong and you should worry. If that same flight attendant calmly offers you a beverage with a smile, you might think there’s just windy weather that will pass soon.

Limit news and media exposure

Although the news can be helpful by keeping everyone informed, news stories often use wording that is strong and scary – – and the reporters don’t practice dementia-aware positive engagement. Limit news-viewing to the hours after the person you are caring for has gone to sleep, read the news independently, focusing less on the threat. Take time to reframe information into news that will not push them into anxiety or fright.  Join their feelings and help them to feel loved, safe, secure, comfortable and valued by practicing positive action statements such as:   “This is a scary time for everyone, I am sure glad we can get through this together,” “I listened to the news this morning and it sounds like there are very smart doctors and leaders that are making good decisions to keep us all safe.”

Watch for reassurance seeking

It’s natural for the person you are caring for with dementia to ask questions repeatedly, particularly about something difficult for them to understand and process. Often, however, those with dementia symptoms, it is the underlying feeling of anxiety causing the individual to continually ask the questions rather than actually seeking an answer, prompting a behavior called reassurance seeking. It may look like the person with dementia is repeatedly asking the same or similar questions, yet the person’s distress increases no matter how many times you give them the answer. If you notice repeated reassurance seeking, change from answering the question to talking to the feelings. If the person you are caring for asks you repetitively why they can’t go to their favorite restaurant for lunch and seems anxious when you explain that the restaurant is closed due to the coronavirus quarantine, try the strategy of talking to the feelings instead of answering with details. For example, say and “do” the following (join the feelings and take  positive action): “I miss going to our favorite lunch spot as well, I love having lunch with you, let’s make our favorite grilled cheese sandwich and have lunch together at home.”  Then just move forward and get it done!

The more you “think” for people with dementia, using these strategies, the kinder and more supportive you are in their eyes. Short and sweet, less is best, fewer words and more action. This change in your care approach as you become more dementia-aware brings relief, as well as helping both of you experience more moments of calmness and peace.

Dementia-awareness offers caregivers helpful communication techniques such as positive action statements and care approach strategies for managing and easing dementia care challenges. For more information, tools and trainings for becoming dementia-aware visit my website www.laurawayman.com.

How to Choose an Assisted Living Community for Your Senior Loved One

Have you noticed that your senior loved one has been needing a little more help than usual these days? Maybe he or she is having trouble navigating the stairs, or has had some falls recently. Perhaps you’ve noticed that their home is not quite as clean as it used to be, or you’ve noticed expired food in the refrigerator or the house just seems a little run-down. Or maybe your loved one has been complaining about all the work that owning a house entails, and that they’d really like to step back from that and spend their time as they wish.

This may mean that assisted living would be a good choice for your senior loved one, says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “The family home that your loved one lives in isn’t always the best choice as they get older,” she says. “In order to live safely, he or she may need to make costly renovations. But that’s not all. Home upkeep, grocery shopping and staying social are all things that are necessary for a comfortable life … and that can simply be hard to do when you live on your own.”

As an adult child or relative of a senior, you may be concerned – and rightly so – about your loved one’s safety, both now and in the future. Your loved one may have health issues that are becoming more severe, and you aren’t sure how he or she will manage if things get any worse. Fortunately, there is a solution: assisted living.

“Moving into assisted living is something to be celebrated these days,” says Andrea. “Today’s senior living communities are worlds removed from the ‘homes’ of old – in fact, many adult children of our residents joke that they wish they could move into our community. Today’s communities are built around the idea of providing support and giving residents as much independence as possible. Moving to an Assisted Living community like The Reutlinger Community allows older adults to enjoy their golden years in peace, knowing that they will always receive as much or as little care as they want and need.”

Tips for Choosing the Right Assisted Living Community

No two assisted living communities are created equal, which is why it’s important for you and your loved one to do your research and carefully weigh the options in order to find the best fit. Andrea suggests starting the process as soon as you possibly can – it’s a lot easier to make an informed choice and move before it becomes necessary. “Oftentimes, people will wait until there’s been an incident, like a fall or a health scare, to move into an assisted living community. That’s not really the best way to do things, because it causes a lot of stress, quick decisions and a ‘good enough’ solution. By giving yourself time to research options and be thoughtful, you and your loved one can choose the best solution possible and provide a good foundation for this next chapter of life.”

Make a list of needs and wants.

The first step before you begin looking for a community is to sit down and write a list of all the needs your loved one has, as well as what they want in a community. “Needs” should include all the health-related and care-related issues that should be addressed. “Wants” are things like dining options, apartment sizes and styles, community location and the like. Having these lists will help you narrow down options and make informed decisions.

Ask for advice.

Do you have friends or family members who’ve placed loved ones in assisted living? Does your loved one’s physician have any recommendations? Ask around both in-person and online to get firsthand information of what the process is like and what places others would recommend. You can also connect with your local Area Agency on Aging to gather information and look for options.

Look at cost.

The price tag is often the most important issue facing those who go into assisted living communities. The cost depends on many factors. Some places charge a community fee and a monthly rental fee, while others work on a month-by-month basis. Some communities will have an all-inclusive rate, while others do more of an add-on type of approach. You will need to take a look at your loved one’s finances and determine what is a reasonable cost for his or her lifestyle and needs.

Research care levels.

What will happen if your loved one requires more care than he or she currently needs? Are there options for higher levels of care on-campus, or would it be necessary for your loved one to move if they require memory care or skilled nursing? Progressive care is offered at some communities and not at others; there are benefits to both styles. You and your loved one should discuss what options will work best.

Take a look at the lifestyle offered.

Obviously, assistance is the biggest benefit to moving into assisted living. But another significant benefit is the social life and activities available. There are many seniors who move to assisted living not because they need the help, but because they want to be part of a community and do things. Talk with your loved one to see what opportunities they’d like to see, and choose communities that offer the lifestyle they’re looking for.

Tour each community on your list.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list to the top two or three communities, schedule on-site tours to get a feel for what life there is like and learn more information. You may wish to tour a community more than once – in fact, we recommend touring several times, at different times of the day. This will help you get a full picture of what life is like at that particular community.

Moving into an assisted living community is a big decision, but it doesn’t have to be something that’s stressful or sad. In fact, your loved one may say something we hear so often at The Reutlinger Community: “I wish I’d moved here sooner!”

For more information about how to choose an assisted living community for your loved one, or to learn more about our community, mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

The Reutlinger Community’s mission is to provide high quality health care and social support services in a life-enhancing and stimulating environment with a commitment to Jewish values.

Offering Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s renovated, 110,000-square-foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any seniors needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.

At The Reutlinger Community, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, contact us today.

What Caregivers Should Know Before Choosing Memory Care

At some point during your loved one’s journey with dementia, he or she will require around-the-clock care in order to live safely. Generally, this occurs in a Memory Care community – a facility that’s been designed specifically to meet the needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of cognitive issues. Even if your loved one is only in the very early stages of dementia, it’s never too early to begin thinking about these types of services.

“Many people with dementia will be cared for, at least at the beginning, by an informal caregiver,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “This could be a spouse, an adult child, a dear friend or even a hired home aide. However, as the disease becomes more advanced, a caregiver can quickly become overwhelmed and stressed, which results in a poorer quality of life for both the caregiver and potentially the individual they’re caring for. ”

One of the hardest parts about caregiving, says Andrea, is that the role becomes all-encompassing to the point of pushing aside the roles of ‘spouse’ or ‘child.’ “We talk a lot about the benefits of Memory Care in terms of how it improves safety and reduces stress, but one of the biggest benefits of Memory Care is that it gives people the ability to rekindle their relationship with their loved one,” Andrea says. “At The Reutlinger Community, we’ve seen how caregiving spouses are able to go back to being simply a husband or wife – which helps both parties tremendously in so many ways.”

Being proactive about choosing memory care for your loved one will help caregivers avoid burnout and provide the best possible assistance for the individual with dementia. “Before you choose a Memory Care option, you’ll want to put together a list of questions and get some information about the services being offered,” says Andrea. “Being informed will give you the tools you need to find the right home for both you and your loved one with dementia.”

Where should care take place?

 Memory Care services and communities come in all shapes and sizes, and also provide a range of different services. While some Memory Care communities are standalone communities that only provide care for those with dementia and memory issues, others are separate wings attached to a larger Assisted Living community.

Depending on your loved one’s current situation, says Andrea, one of these choices may be better for him or her than another. “For example, if you’re a caregiving spouse, you may want to move you and your partner into a more comprehensive community that offers Independent Living or Assisted Living in conjunction with Memory Care,” she says. This is particularly helpful if you have your own health problems and need assistance yourself, or if your loved one is in the earlier stages of dementia.

“However, if your loved one is in the later stages of dementia, and you are capable of living on your own, you may wish to move your loved one into a standalone memory care community,” she says. “It all depends on your individual needs, financial situation and also what options are available in your area.”

Will my loved one receive proper care?

 Oftentimes, caregivers feel guilty moving a loved one into memory care because they worry about him or her not getting the care they need. Andrea wishes to put caregivers’ minds at ease on this particular point.

“Memory Care communities are staffed with professional, empathetic individuals who have received knowledge and training specific to caring for individuals with cognitive issues,” she says. “Residents will be cared for by a dedicated team of staff members, who help form relationships and become familiar faces.”

Best of all, she says, there is assistance available 24/7, no matter what. “Having multiple caregivers means that help is never far away,” she says. “Plus, since the community is designed to meet the needs of those with dementia, it is incredibly safe, easy to navigate and free of hazards that might be in a family home.”

What questions should I ask?

Andrea says it’s important to search for Memory Care communities and create a list of a few top choices. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, she suggests touring each one and taking a comprehensive list of questions with you. “By visiting the communities, you can get a feel that’s impossible to get over the phone or through pictures, and having a standard list of questions will allow you to compare one community to the other more easily,” she says.

Here are some suggested questions for your list. You will want to add or subtract questions, depending on your individual situation and what is important to you:

  • What level and types of care does the community provide?
  • What sort of training has the staff received? Is ongoing training part of their objectives?
  • What is the monthly rate for the community? What services are included in that rate? What services and options would be an additional cost?
  • What sort of floor plans are available, and how are they priced?
  • How are care plans developed, and how often are they reviewed to ensure my loved one is receiving optimal care?
  • What are your policies regarding visitors?
  • How are medical emergencies handled?
  • What sort of meals are provided, and are special dietary requirements or preferences able to be accommodated?
  • Is laundry service and housekeeping provided? How often?
  • What sort of programs are available to residents? Is there a full range of physical, mental and social activities to help them live a full, engaged life?
  • How does the community handle undesirable behaviors like aggressiveness, wandering or other dementia-related symptoms?
  • How does the community communicate with family members?
  • What is the ratio of staff to residents during the day? During the night?

The most important thing for caregivers to know, says Andrea, that moving a loved one to Memory Care is one of the most selfless and kind things you can do as a caregiver.

“I’ve spoken to many caregivers who feel like they’re ‘giving up’ or are guilty about moving a senior adult into Memory Care,” she says. “I try to make sure they know that they are actually doing the best thing possible for their loved one. Moving to a Memory Care community like The Reutlinger Community provides the best possible care in the safest environment with highly trained, caring staff members. It allows your loved one to get the care he or she needs…and gives you peace of mind and the ability to nurture your relationship with them throughout this journey.”

For more information about choosing Memory Care for your loved one, or to learn more about our community, mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

The Reutlinger Community’s mission is to provide high quality health care and social support services in a life-enhancing and stimulating environment with a commitment to Jewish values.

Offering Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s renovated 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any seniors needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.

At The Reutlinger Community, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, contact us today.

5 Tips for Finding the Best Memory Care for a Senior Loved One

If you have a loved one with dementia, there will come a time when they need more assistance than you yourself can provide. Although this can be a hard realization to come to, it truly is the kindest thing you can do for yourself and for your loved one, says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA.

“Dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease are progressive, which means that eventually your loved one will require around-the-clock care – something that’s difficult for a family caregiver to provide,” she says. “That’s why it’s important to become educated on the types of care available and understand how to assess your loved one’s needs so you can meet their care needs and safety requirements long-term.”

Memory Care is not a one-size-fits-all solution, which is why we’ve put together this guide on the various types and levels of dementia care available. That way, you and your family will understand and know how to choose the right Memory Care option for your loved one when the time arrives.

Types of Dementia and Memory Care Available

Adult Day Care
This type of specialized Memory Care provides your loved one with dementia a structured and safe environment during the day, which allows you (as the primary caregiver) to go about your daily life such as going to work, taking a break to run errands or simply give yourself some self-care. Adult day cares are often in or near Memory Care communities (specialized senior living communities that provide assistance for individuals with memory loss), and individuals are cared for by professionally trained caregivers who understand the unique needs of those with memory issues.

Adult day care centers offer supervision, socialization opportunities, activities and more. They also offer healthy lunch and snacks (at some centers). This type of Memory Care service is perfect for caregivers who have full-time or part-time jobs and need a little extra assistance during the working day. Most centers are open during regular working hours, and some offer pick-up and drop-off services. Some centers also offer care on weekends or in the evenings.

In-home Care
In-home care providers do exactly what their name says: they provide structured care for individuals with dementia in their own homes (instead of in a specialized facility). Services can include everything from companionship and personal care to caregiving around-the-clock, housekeeping, nursing care and respite care.

In-home care often allows caregivers and those with dementia to maintain their comfort and dignity in the privacy of their own home.

  • Common kinds of care services may include: Companion services, which include socialization and supervision
  • Homemaker services, which induces meal preparation, housekeeping or shopping
  • Personal care, which includes help with the tasks of daily living (ADLs)
  • Nursing care, which includes nursing and medical care such as medication administrations, therapies and other skilled medical care

Residential Care
This type of Memory Care takes place in a communal environment so that residents may receive emergency care, medical supervision and personal care whenever it’s needed. This type of care is usually reserved for individuals who require a higher level of care than those who currently live in an in-home environment. The different types of residential care can include:

  • Assisted Living, which are communities for seniors who need a higher level of care but only on a part-time basis.
  • Continuum of Care, which is a type of senior living that’s designed to meet a senior’s needs as their health changes over the years. A resident may begin in Independent Living, and then progress through the continuum of care all the way to Skilled Nursing or Memory Care.
  • Independent Living, which are communities for individuals with a high level of functioning. People with dementia usually do not qualify for this type of residential care.
  • Nursing Home Care, which is 24-hour Skilled Medical Care provided in a specialized environment. It’s more intense than Assisted Living but not as specialized as Memory Care.
  • Memory Care, which is usually held in a standalone community or a special wing of a senior living community that has been designed to meet the specific needs of an individual with dementia.

Finding the Right Memory Care for Your Loved One

The dementia journey is personal and unique to all of us, which means that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for your loved one with Memory Care. Here are some tips for finding the right place for him or her.

  1. Ask for references. Other family members and friends may have gone through the process of helping a loved one with dementia get the assistance they need. These individuals can provide priceless information about the various Memory Care options in your area.
  2. Research. Start with a Google search, but don’t hesitate to ask your local Area Agency on Aging to find out what resources might be available to you.
  3. List your loved one’s needs. Depending on the level of your loved one’s dementia and health needs, one type of community may be better than another.
  4. Tour your options. Once you’ve narrowed down your search to different Memory Care communities and facilities, schedule tours so that you can see firsthand what life is like at different communities.
  5. Ask questions. Prepare a list of questions to ask during every Memory Care community call or visit. It’s best to come up with a standard list of questions, which will allow you to compare apples-to-apples when it’s time to make a decision.

Perhaps the best tip, says Andrea, is to ask your loved one’s physician and nearby Memory Care communities what type of services might be best for your loved one.

“Choosing the right type and level of Memory Care for your loved one is a big decision, but there are people out there who can help,” she says. “Not only are you helping to provide for your loved one’s needs, but you’re also caring for yourself and other family members. By helping your loved one receive the Memory Care they need, they’ll have the highest quality of life possible and give you back the time and space you need to nurture your relationship.”

For more information about finding the right type of Memory Care for your loved one, or to learn more about our community, mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

The Reutlinger Community’s mission is to provide high-quality health care and social support services in a life-enhancing and stimulating environment with a commitment to Jewish values.

Offering Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s renovated 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any seniors needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.

At The Reutlinger Community, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, contact us today.

6 Warning Signs Your Loved One’s Memory Loss Isn’t Just Forgetfulness

Is your senior loved one starting to be … well … forgetful? Have they started misplacing items and been unable to find them? Are they starting to call you by someone else’s name, or struggling to recall the name of a new friend? Do they walk into a room and forget why they did so? We can shrug these off as senior moments or the sign of a busy brain, but sometimes memory loss can be the sign of a bigger problem.

“An occasional lapse in memory is normal and to be expected as we get older,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “Think about your own life: there are more than likely times when there are words on the tip of your tongue, or when you call your child by the dog’s name. That’s why it can be hard to know the difference between normal forgetfulness and memory loss that should be concerning.”

Andrea says that if memory problems are interfering with your loved one’s daily routines or day-to-day-tasks, or if you’re noticing them getting worse over time, it’s important to schedule a visit with their doctor to see what’s going on. “Frequent forgetfulness isn’t a normal part of aging, and indicates something’s wrong with your loved one,” she says.

Here are some warning signs that your loved one may be experiencing less-than-normal memory loss for their age:

Clue 1: Their memory loss disrupts their daily life.

Memory loss is the most common and most talked-about symptom of dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease. This can include forgetting important dates and events (like their wedding anniversary), repeating the same question over and over again or forgetting something they just did (like making dinner). A more subtle sign is relying more and more on memory aids and family members in order to accomplish normal tasks.

Clue 2: They’re having difficulty performing familiar tasks like balancing a checkbook.

Some individuals will suddenly begin to have problems in remembering how to solve problems or accomplish normal tasks, like making a favorite recipe or forgetting how to access their bank account. If your loved one is suddenly forgetting how to do something they’ve always known how to do, that’s a red flag.

Clue 3: They forget what day or time it is.

It’s possible you’ve experienced forgetting “when” it is (this is especially true if you’re wrapped up in something interesting, or if you’re on vacation). What’s uncommon, though, is forgetting what season it is or what month it is. People with serious memory loss can forget where they are in time, literally, and may be unable to know what day it is without looking at a physical calendar (and even then may have difficulty).

Clue 4: Losing or misplacing items and being unable to retrace their steps to find them again.

It’s easy to forget where you put your glasses or your car keys. What’s not normal is not knowing where to look for them, being completely unable to narrow down options of where they could be or starting to accuse other people of stealing or hiding items.

Clue 5: They can’t remember what to call familiar objects or forget common words.

Dementias like Alzheimer’s disease affect the brain in many ways, including the areas that deal with language. If your loved one is suddenly struggling with vocabulary, calling items by the wrong names (but something that could sound “close,” like “hand clock” for a watch) or literally forgetting they’re having a conversation while they’re having it, something is going on.

Clue 6: You’re worried about their memory loss – but they aren’t.

One of the biggest signs that something is wrong is if your loved one simply doesn’t see that they have a memory problem, or otherwise can’t tell that something is wrong. If you’re noticing that things are concerning, but your loved one believes everything’s fine, that’s a flashing red light that something needs to happen, quickly.

What Should You Do?

The very first step you and your loved one should take is to visit their primary physician to narrow down causes and determine what may be happening. While it’s very possible that the memory loss is due to a cognitive disease like dementia, there are many other reasons why your loved one might be experiencing memory loss.

“The thought of dementia is terrifying to so many people that they will hide signs of memory loss in the hope that it will get better or to keep others from noticing,” says Andrea. “This can end up backfiring, because there are causes of memory loss that can be reversed and cured – but your loved one won’t know unless you visit a doctor.”

Your loved one’s doctor will run some tests in the office and then, if necessary, refer your loved one to different specialists like a neurologist. They will also perform a physical and perform tests to rule out any alternate causes of the memory loss, such as:

  • Medication interaction
  • Infections (forgetfulness is a common side effect of UTIs in the elderly, especially for senior women)
  • A nutritional deficit
  • Untreated anxiety, grief or depression
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • A variety of physical disorders

Tips for Helping Your Loved One Maintain Brain Health

Even if your loved one is experiencing memory loss, there are things you can do to help them prevent further memory loss or  improve their brain health.

  • Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, lean meats, whole grains and low-fat dairy.
  • Get plenty of exercise and make sure there’s a mix of aerobic exercise as well as some strength and resistance training.
  • Engage their mind with meaningful activities, puzzles and games or help them learn a new skill.
  • Get a full night’s sleep for seniors, that’s seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Remain socially active, because memory loss can be a sign of depression, which is exacerbated by becoming socially withdrawn.

No one likes to think that their loved one’s memory loss could be the sign of something more serious. However, by staying alert, looking for warning signs and staying on top of their health, you and your loved one will be better able to navigate cognitive changes in a positive and beneficial way.

For more information about determining when memory loss may be problematic, or to learn more about our community, mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

The Reutlinger Community’s mission is to provide high quality health care and social support services in a life-enhancing and stimulating environment with a commitment to Jewish values.

Offering Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s renovated 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any senior’s needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.

At The Reutlinger Community, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, contact us today.

5 Reasons Why Caregivers Prefer Memory Care to Aging in Place

Ask any aging adult how they’d like to spend their senior years, and you won’t be surprised to learn that 9 out of 10 of them say “at home.” Overwhelmingly, seniors wish to remain in their current homes for as long as possible – for the rest of their lives, if they’re able to do so. While older adults who are dealing with “normal” issues of aging may be able to live at home with minimal difficulty, this desire becomes compounded when the senior has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.

“When dementia presents itself and is first diagnosed, many individuals and caregivers choose to remain ‘at home’ for care, which means that the caregiver spends time at the individual’s home or the individual moves in with their familial caregiver,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “The idea of moving to a Memory Care community is scary and can make the disease too ‘real.’ It’s easier, many think, to stay at home where it’s familiar and safe.”

It is possible for someone with a dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease to age in place in their home versus moving to a memory care community. However, there are many decisions that have to be weighed, particularly by caregivers. While a spouse or other family member may try to care for their loved one at home for as long as possible, there may come a time when it’s simply not a safe, affordable or reasonable option, says Andrea.

“It doesn’t matter how dedicated of a caregiver you are – if you’re a family caregiver, there may come a time when it’s preferable to move your loved one to a Memory Care community. And that’s totally fine,” she says. “In fact, many caregivers prefer to move their loved one into a Memory Care community because there are so many distinct benefits to the individual. While at first the caregiver may feel like they’re giving up or taking the easy way out, the truth is that many individuals blossom and thrive when they’re in a safe, comfortable community that’s designed for their needs.”

5 Reasons Why a Memory Care Community Can Be the Right Choice

  1. Consistent, around-the-clock care.
    Dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease are progressive, and over time the senior will lose the ability to reason, speak, perform simple tasks and even control their body. In the mid- to late- stages of the disease, someone with dementia will require assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, just to remain safe and secure in their living environment.

    Family caregivers who may have started the dementia journey helping out every once in a while will suddenly find themselves in a situation where caring for their loved one becomes their entire existence. This is exhausting for the caregiver, who’s balancing many other responsibilities – work, their own family and their health – and it’s also dangerous for the individual with dementia, who won’t have the attention they need because their caregiver is burning the candle at both ends.

    By contrast, a memory care community is staffed 24/7 with a professional team of caregivers who have been trained in best practices for dementia care. Residents always have someone available at any time of the day, and because this is the staff’s job, they are dedicated and focused on one thing: assisting those in their care. This provides consistent, high-quality care for individuals with dementia.

  2. Safety and security.
    As dementia progresses, a comfortable home can become hazardous to a senior. A gas stove can transform from a way to cook a meal to a dangerous tool that could potentially set the home on fire if unattended. Stairs can become treacherous and a cause for trips to the emergency room. Transforming a family home into an environment that’s safe for someone with dementia can be time-consuming and costly. Many caregivers and families may not have the resources to deal with the necessary changes.

    Memory Care communities, by contrast, have been designed specifically to meet the needs and unique challenges facing those living with dementia. Private living spaces are equipped with emergency call systems, as well as safety features like pull bars and easy-to-navigate rooms. Hallways feature soothing colors and directional cues, and – perhaps best of all – the communities are completely secured so that the individual can’t wander off. Everything has been designed to keep seniors with dementia as safe as possible and as independent as possible.

  3. Social interaction.
    Studies have shown that staying socially active and engaged in meaningful activities can help slow the progression of dementia while also providing the highest quality of life for seniors, no matter what their abilities. If the senior is living at home, it can be hard for family caregivers to provide stimulating, meaningful activities and interaction while juggling everything else that has to be done in order to care for their loved one.

    Residents at a Memory Care community benefit from a thriving, full social calendar and an entire community of people filled with like-minded individuals and caring staff. There’s something to do just about every minute of the day, and it’s all just steps away from their living areas – no driving or travel necessary. The activities and interactions are all designed to be accessible to those with dementia and are tailored to each individual’s preferences and likes.

  4. Nurturing relationships.
    One of the things family caregivers love about placing a loved one in Memory Care is the sense of relief and the ability to step away from the caregiving role…and become the spouse/child/friend that they were prior to the diagnosis of dementia. Without the strains of taking care of the day-to-day (or moment-to-moment) needs of the individual, they’re able to spend time together doing the things they want to do…not the things they have to do. This allows both the caregiver and the person with dementia to create meaningful moments and form memories to last a lifetime.
  1. Peace of mind.
    Finally, a Memory Care community provides peace of mind that can’t be replicated at home. Knowing that a loved one is surrounded around the clock with trained professionals who will treat them as individuals and care for them with respect, where your loved one will receive the assistance they need to live the independent life they deserve, and having the time back to spend your moments together as family member is a priceless gift.

For more information about dementia caregiving, or to learn more about our community, mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

The Reutlinger Community’s mission is to provide high quality health care and social support services in a life-enhancing and stimulating environment with a commitment to Jewish values.

Offering Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s newly renovated, 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any senior’s needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.

At The Reutlinger Community, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, contact us today.

Seven A’s of DementiaCaregiving

Dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease are neurological disorders, which means they affect the individual’s mind and shape their perception throughout the memory loss journey. Those of us with normally functioning brains can find it confusing and frustrating when dealing with someone in cognitive decline because, simply put, their brains aren’t working the same way as ours.

“Dementia isn’t limited to just one area of the brain, so the changes end up affecting all aspects of a person’s mind and body,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “This can be confusing and alarming to family caregivers, who may see their loved one experience changes suddenly overnight. Unfortunately, there’s no one way the disease progresses, so the changes can seem rapid and disjointed.”

To help understand how your loved one is experiencing the world as the disease progresses, the Memory Care community uses the seven A’s of dementia.

“The seven A’s are used as shorthand to help caregivers in particular remember what areas of the brain are being affected by dementia,” says Andrea. “Each A represents an effect that happens due to damage in a particular part of the brain.”

Anosognosia.

Anosognosia is a medical term that describes someone with dementia being unaware of their condition. This symptom is caused by changes or damage to the frontal lobe of the brain, which is responsible for self-image, insight and reflection.

To those of us with normally functioning brains, it appears that the person is in complete denial about the situation. However, to the individual, they really cannot understand that they are ill due to the changes their brain is experiencing. Someone with anosognosia will stubbornly insist that everything is fine and they have no issues. They may exhibit poor judgement, be unaware of how their actions make other people feel, or be physically aggressive as they try to resist any form of care.

Amnesia.

Memory loss is the hallmark of dementia, and manifests first with the loss of short-term memories. This occurs when the temporal lobe is damaged. Without short-term memory, a person with dementia is effectively unable to learn anything new. Someone with amnesia due to dementia will be unable to remember what happened that morning, but can easily reflect on something that happened in their childhood. They also can become more anxious and overwhelmed, since they’re unable to process the new information, and may continually repeat questions or comments. They can also start to not recognize friends and family members, or confuse them with people from their past.

Aphasia.

When dementia attacks the parts of the brain that control language, the individual experiences aphasia, or the loss of their language skills. While the person with dementia can generally still comprehend nonverbal communication, he or she can lose the ability to express themselves verbally, may find it hard to understand what’s said to them or have difficulty reading or writing. In early stages of aphasia, the individual may substitute words (being unable to find the right one), or revert to a native language they spoke as a child.

Agnosia.

Agnosia is defined as the loss of recognition – specifically, the person with dementia loses the ability to recognize people, objects and other things through their senses. Smell, touch, taste, sound and sight no longer trigger the appropriate responses in their brain. This manifests in confusion, such as thinking that a close friend or family member is an impostor, or not being able to recognize themselves in a mirror and thinking their reflection is a stranger. Unwanted behaviors, such as inappropriate sexual behavior, can arise from agnosia. Individuals can also forget how to use everyday objects, such as a hairbrush, fork or toilet.

Apraxia.

Dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease eventually affects the motor functions of an individual, making it difficult for them to move purposefully, or understand how to execute a series of tasks. Someone with apraxia can have trouble dressing themselves, become distracted easily while doing tasks and leave them undone, have a hard time with push-button items like phones or television remotes or become frustrated when faced with a task that requires multiple steps without clear, step-by-step directions.

Altered perceptions.

This “a” specifically relates to altered physical perceptions, such as depth perception. This affects how a person reacts to stimuli around them and affects the way they move, walk and sit. This can also result in visual distortion, which causes the individual to misinterpret the environment around them and cause fear. Someone with altered perceptions may be afraid of bathing, because they may think the water is very deep and there is a risk of drowning. Shadows may appear as holes in the floor, and chairs or other objects may appear as people.

Apathy.

Over time, someone with dementia will lose the ability to initiate activity or conversation. This can appear to a caregiver as depression and an act of withdrawing. It’s important to note that even if the individual can’t initiate conversations, they are able to participate if someone engages with him or her (that’s not the case with someone with dementia who also has depression). Someone with apathy will spend much of the day in silence, but will react if someone speaks to them or calls their name. While he or she may lose interest in beginning or staying involved in activities, it doesn’t mean that he or she doesn’t want to be a part of the activity – it’s just beyond their ability.

Not every person with dementia will experience all of the seven A’s, but it is important for caregivers to be aware of them so they can take steps to manage and work around the behaviors. By paying attention to your loved one’s moods and actions and reacting appropriately, you can help navigate the A’s and provide a happy, safe, high quality of life for your loved one with dementia.

For more information about dementia caregiving, or to learn more about our community, mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

The Reutlinger Community’s mission is to provide high quality health care and social support services in a life-enhancing and stimulating environment with a commitment to Jewish values.

Offering Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s newly renovated, 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any senior’s needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.

At The Reutlinger Community, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, contact us today.

Caregiver Conversations: 5 Real-Life Strategies for Dealing with Dementia

As caregivers, we do a lot of research when it comes to learning how to deal with dementia (such as articles like these). Most of us haven’t been a caregiver for someone with dementia before, so there’s a lot of learning that goes on. A lot of times, though, we have to use our intuition to decide how to help our loved ones – which isn’t always the best course of action for someone living with cognitive issues.

“While trusting our gut is usually helpful in many situations, it’s actually counterintuitive when dealing with dementias like Alzheimer’s disease,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “What seems like the right and logical thing to do may actually be the worst thing you could do to get a positive reaction from your loved one.”

Instead, Andrea says, it’s best to learn from the experience of others. Specifically, other dementia caregivers and memory care professionals.

“Every person’s dementia journey is unique, and one of the first things you learn as a dementia caregiver is that there is no one right or wrong way to deal with it,” says Andrea. “What works for one person won’t work for another, and the only way to really deal with it is to try, try again … and keep a good sense of humor, compassion and patience.”

We’ve pulled together some real-life stories and strategies to help you navigate the pitfalls and puzzlements of caregiving a loved one with dementia. While each story is unique to the situation, there are overarching strategies and tips everyone can relate to – and help you realize that you are not alone.

  1. The Pitfalls of Reason, Rationality and Logic
    “One of the first things that became blatantly clear to me when I started caring for George was that trying to explain things in a logical way didn’t make sense. Which, of course, didn’t make sense to me. George had always been a rational man, and he’d always been able to see both sides of the situation before. Suddenly, though, he couldn’t understand why he shouldn’t be wearing sandals in winter, or couldn’t grasp that he wasn’t going to work because he’d been retired for decades.He’d do things that were unsafe or just flat-out wrong, like putting the dishes in the oven or leaving the front door wide open. Of course, I first tried to remind him why he shouldn’t be doing these things, and he’d promise to remember next time, but he never did. It took me some time, a lot of frustration and many conversations with other caregivers and professionals to understand that his brain simply didn’t work in the same way anymore, which is why the normal approaches of logic and reason didn’t work, either.Eventually, we found strategies that worked best for us. Instead of explaining a situation or arguing about what’s real or not, I use straightforward, simple sentences to explain what’s happening or give an easy answer. If George gets agitated or asks where someone is or why he’s not going to work, it’s easier for me to redirect his attention and ask him questions about what he does to take his mind off the issue at hand. At first, it feels a little like exercising a muscle you haven’t used before, so it was a little bumpy to start. Now, however, it’s become secondhand, and I’ve found that we’ve been able to have a much calmer and happier home environment for both of us.” – Julie A., Spousal Caregiver
  1. Being a Perfect Caregiver Is Impossible
    “When I was raising my kids, I had to come to the realization that being a perfect parent was impossible. The same is true for being a caregiver to someone with dementia. It’s so easy to beat yourself up over not doing things perfectly, or getting frustrated with yourself or your loved one, feeling resentment over the situation and being overwhelmed on a daily basis. This doesn’t make you a bad person … it makes you human. Most of us don’t quite know what we’re getting into when we sign up to be a caregiver, and it can quickly become overwhelming. That’s okay. You don’t have to be perfect – you just have to be there and do the best you can. Learning how to accept yourself and your limitations is absolutely necessary when you’re a caregiver. I like to recite the Serenity Prayer every morning to help center myself and remind myself that there are things I can and can’t control.Once you realize you’re ‘just human’ after all, it becomes a lot easier to accept and ask for the help you need. When I became Mom’s caregiver, I ended up saying ‘no’ to a lot of offered help because I felt like it was my responsibility and that no one else could do it as well as I could. That quickly lead to me feeling burned out, overwhelmed and depressed. I eventually learned that it’s okay to ask people to help out, and to eagerly embrace any helping hand that is offered. Here’s my tip: have a list of specific things that people can do to help you out, whether that’s going grocery shopping, cleaning the house or sitting with your loved one for a few hours. It’s a lot easier for people to say ‘yes’ to a specific thing.” – Anna M., Adult Child and Caregiver
  1. Sometimes It’s Okay to Lie
    “I was not a fan of therapeutic lying when the doctor first recommended it to me. It’s natural to tell the truth to our parents, especially at the beginning of the disease, when you’re still thinking you can use reason and logic to help them understand the world around them. So every time Mom asked me where her mother was, or when Dad would be home, I would tell her that he or she died a long time ago, which caused her to get upset and grieve the loss all over again. Eventually, I learned that it was okay to tell little white lies in order to help keep her calm and happy. I’d say that her mom would be back from the store later, or that Dad was still at work, and then I’d find an activity for us to do together.My doctor told me that the best way to determine between a harmless white lie and a serious lie is to determine whether or not the lie helps Mom overall. So, I don’t lie when it comes to things that affect her or her care, because she’s still an adult and deserves to be part of the conversation. But I don’t get worked up anymore if I don’t give her warning that we’re going to the doctor’s office.” Jenny W., Adult Child and Caregiver

  2. It’s Natural to Overestimate and Underestimate Your Loved One’s Abilities
    “We had a few bumps in the road right after Mary was diagnosed with dementia. I jumped into the caregiver role full-force and accidentally ended up steamrolling over her, which caused a lot of arguments and angst between us. You see, I thought I needed to take over right away, but forgot that there’s still plenty of things that she is capable of. Even though this was hard at first, we ended up having a lot of good conversations, and I learned to be patient and take a step back so that she can perform the tasks that she’s still able to do.It goes the other way, though, too. Sometimes I forget that she can’t remember a conversation we just had, or suddenly she has problems remembering how to make a recipe. It’s a constant balance that shifts every day, and it can be hard to find the balance sometimes. I just tell myself that every day is a new day, and that I’m happy to have this time with her.” – Richard L., Spousal Caregiver
  1. Cherish the Good Days
    “Sometimes – and it can come out of the blue – Dave has these moments of perfect clarity and it’s like he’s back to the husband I once knew. We can laugh and talk about something that may have happened years ago. I really cherish those moments, because I feel like I’m being given a gift. Even when those moments of clarity don’t come, I still find that there are things to celebrate every day. Dave is still my husband, and I love him, and finding ways to connect to and celebrate the person he was and is keeps me fulfilled on this journey.” – Emily M., Spousal Caregiver

For more information about dementia caregiving, or to learn more about our community, mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

The Reutlinger Community’s mission is to provide high quality health care and social support services in a life-enhancing and stimulating environment with a commitment to Jewish values.

Offering Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s newly renovated, 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any senior’s needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.

At The Reutlinger Community, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, contact us today.