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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.

How to Respond When Your Aging Parent with Dementia Says, “I Want to Go Home”

One of the most heartbreaking things you can hear from your aging parent with dementia is: “I want to go home.” While it’s not unusual to hear this from people who are living in a memory care community, it is distressing for those who love them. If you’re a caregiver whose loved one lives with them, you may hear this phrase as well.

“When your loved one has dementia, explaining that they’re already home or they can’t go ‘back home’ doesn’t work,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “Logic doesn’t work, so we as caregivers or adult children need to look at the situation from a different perspective in order to help comfort and calm our parent.”

Oftentimes, when a parent is saying “I want to go home,” they aren’t actually meaning that they want to go home. “It’s more of a request for comfort,” says Andrea. “Their current environment isn’t familiar to them for some reason, or they’re hurting in some way or they’re simply afraid. In this case, ‘home’ is shorthand for a place that is familiar and comfortable, so we as caregivers should focus on reassuring our loved ones and figuring out what is really bothering them.”

Why An Adult Wants to “Go Home”

Dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease cause the individual to lose their ability to communicate or find the right words to get their point across. They may be wanting to “go home” because they’re feeling like they’re missing something or are lonely or a variety of other problems. Here are some things your aging parent may be trying to say:

  • They’re in pain. If your loved one is hurting, it’s natural for them to want to go “home” where they feel safe and comfortable.
  • They’re lonely or sad. Dementia is a disease that slowly causes the individual to become disconnected and isolated from others. Their world slowly becomes smaller, and they forget faces and names.
  • They’re confused. It is possible that your loved one simply doesn’t know where ‘home’ is because they don’t remember. They may think they’re decades younger than they are (or have even reverted to childhood) and that ‘home’ is the place where they lived many years ago.
  • They have a particular need that isn’t being met. If your aging parent is tired, thirsty, hungry or needs to use the bathroom, they may want to ‘go home.’ Home is a comfortable environment where they know where everything is and what is expected.
  • They’re bored. Even as your loved one’s abilities go away, they still have the need for meaningful, stimulating and interesting days. If they don’t have enough to do, they may want to go “home” where they know they “belong.”

Helping Your Adult Parent Feel Safe and Comfortable

Don’t argue about them already being at “home.”
As we mentioned previously, your parent isn’t really asking to “go home” – they’re seeking something that may or may not actually exist, like a homelike feel. Instead of arguing that they are home (which will only serve to agitate and confuse them further), try instead to understand and acknowledge their feelings behind wanting to go home. Ask your parent where home is – they may describe the place they lived previously or their childhood home, or even an idyllic place like a vacation destination. Encourage them to talk about why they were happy and comfortable there, which may help you find ideas on how to help your parent feel better.

Reassure and comfort your parent.
Let your parent know that he or she is safe and, in a place, where people care. Reassure them verbally and also with comforting touches, if appropriate. By helping your mom or dad feel safe and loved, they will know they’re cared for, which can help ease their anxiety.

Redirect the conversation and/or their attention.
Redirection is an incredibly useful tool for whenever your parent is exhibiting concerning behaviors. Here are some examples of how to gently redirect your parent’s attention and help them stay calm and content.

  • Ask for their help with a task they can do and enjoy, like dusting, folding towels or organizing silverware. Giving Mom or Dad a job can help get their thoughts on something else.
  • Turn on some of their favorite music and start a dance party with them or ask them to sing along to the music.
  • Agree with your parent and tell them that you will go “home” later, but first you have to do x/y/z and can they help you? By agreeing with them, you acknowledge and soothe their feelings, and this allows you to stall for time and find ways to redirect their attention. It’s possible that your mom or dad will fairly quickly forget they were asking about going home.
  • Have a photograph album on hand that Mom or Dad can look through. Ask questions about the pictures and allow them to reminisce about the past. You can start by making comments about memories or moments you remember.

Find out whether Mom or Dad is lonely or unhappy.
Loneliness or happiness can manifest as a desire to ‘go home.’ Ask your parent if they’re unhappy, and if they are, see if you can find out why. They may not be able to tell you, so it may be a bit of a trial and error to find ways to help them feel more comfortable and happier. You may want to see if there are opportunities for him or her to enjoy the company of other people, or have more engaging activities to do.

Pay attention to when they’re asking to go home.
It’s possible that certain times of day may be spurring your parent’s anxiety. Is there a common denominator about when and where this happens? Is it possibly due to sundowning? Is it around mealtime? Does it happen when they’re in a crowd? There are many different triggers for your loved one’s behavior and finding out if something is causing it can be a big step towards soothing them.

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.

Dementia Grief & Loss: Adjusting After Bereavement (Part 4 of 4)

In this four-part series, we explore the stages of dementia grief and loss for those affected. Understanding the process, accepting your feelings and learning healthy ways to cope with the emotions will help you and your family during these difficult times. Walking this path is never easy, but with compassion, understanding and acceptance, you and your loved ones can have a meaningful, fulfilling and loving journey.

The period between a dementia diagnosis and the eventual death of the person has been labeled “the long goodbye” by experts, and for good reason. When individuals are diagnosed with a terminal disease such as cancer, heart disease or anything else, they are able to retain their “self” until the very end. But for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, the disease robs them of their personalities, abilities and self. By the time someone with cognitive impairment passes away, the person they were – the person whom loved ones remember – has been “gone” for some time.

“It seems a little taboo to say, but when a loved one with dementia dies, it can feel like they’ve already passed away years ago,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “The family and friends of someone with dementia become strangers over the course of the disease, and vice versa. This can make the grieving and adjustment period unique once the individual has passed away.”

There’s no right or wrong way to process the feelings that come following a loss, says Andrea, nor is there any one road to follow. “You may find yourself wavering from one extreme to the next. One day, you may feel relieved that the ordeal is over; the next, you may be wracked with grief and remorse. It’s important to remember that all these feelings and stages are normal and are to be expected following a complicated loss that a disease like Alzheimer’s can cause.”

Dealing with Loss and Bereavement

Throughout the dementia journey, those who love the individual experience grief in many ways. This can begin as soon as a diagnosis has been made, throughout the caregiving process and all the way to after the person has died.

Everyone’s relationship with grief and bereavement is personal, and everyone will face it in their own unique way. How you and your family members will feel after your loved one has passed away is affected by many different things, including your relationship, your history, your role during the dementia journey, the grief you’ve already experienced throughout the process and so on.

Sometimes, after an individual with dementia dies, their caregiver may discover that the grieving process doesn’t start fully until days, weeks or even months after their loved one’s passing. This is known as delayed grief. It’s not uncommon for caregivers to feel a sense of emptiness or loss of purpose. It can be hard to adjust to life without your loved one after they’ve been a part of your daily life for such a long time.

To cope with these feelings and the grief you may be feeling, it helps to talk to someone you trust. This can be a close friend, family member, spiritual leader or a professional psychologist. Dementia caregiver support groups can be especially helpful during this time. The most important thing is to recognize your emotions, accept them and work through them in healthy ways.

Tips for During and After Bereavement

  • Try not to make any big, life-changing decisions immediately following the person’s death. While moving to a new place, getting rid of all your loved one’s personal items or getting a new job may seem like a good idea at the time, it’s best to wait and process your feelings so you don’t do anything you might regret later.
  • While it’s important to reflect and grieve in your own way, try not to become isolated from friends and family. Being around others you trust, and love can help you work through your loneliness and sadness and help you build a path to what life will look like now.
  • It’s okay to hold on to mementos of your loved one, such as a piece of jewelry they always wore or a favorite comfort item. Keeping these items can help you feel connected to your loved one and give you an anchor during the grieving process.
  • Take care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. If you’re a religious person, consider reconnecting with your spiritual family and practicing your beliefs – this can be helpful and healing following a bereavement. Be sure to stay in touch with your personal physician, too. You are more susceptible to illness following a loss (everything from catching colds and the flu to depression). Get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise.
  • Try to reconnect to people, hobbies and interests that you enjoy. You may pick up an activity that you’ve put aside, or you may want to try something new. This will give you something to look forward to and be interested in and can also give you a social outlet.
  • When you’re ready, talk about your loved one and reminisce over the life you shared. You can commemorate their life by creating a photo album, sharing personal belongings with those they loved, collecting donations for a fund, planting a tree or holding a memorial service.

Know that readjusting to life following bereavement can be a long process, but that there will come a time when you’ll be able to move forward. If you feel like you’re struggling and unable to reach the point of acceptance, please consider finding professional support to help you find what you need.

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.

Dementia Grief & Loss: Supporting the Dementia Caregiver During the Grieving Process (Part 3 of 4)

In this four-part series, we explore the stages of dementia grief and loss for those affected. Understanding the process, accepting your feelings and learning healthy ways to cope with the emotions will help you and your family during these difficult times. Walking this path is never easy, but with compassion, understanding and acceptance, you and your loved ones can have a meaningful, fulfilling and loving journey.

Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias don’t affect just the person who’s been diagnosed. Experts often say that family members are the “invisible second patients” of dementia. This is especially true for family caregivers, many of whom are spouses or adult children of the individual.

“The grief that dementia caregivers experience is very unique,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “For many, they deal with shifting grief every day as they watch the person they love change and lose their abilities. Because many caregivers are caring for their loved one 24/7, they don’t get a chance to separate and find the time to deal with and manage their grief properly. They have to fit it in along with the day-to-day tasks required to keep their loved one safe and well.”

If you know a family member or loved one who has become a dementia caregiver, it’s natural to want to help. However, it’s also natural to not know what to do in the situation – which can lead to people not doing anything because they don’t want to accidentally do something to make the situation worse.

“Friends and family can be a great help when it comes to assisting caregivers during the grieving process and beyond,” says Andrea. “Grief is something we shouldn’t have to deal with on our own and knowing that there are others who care about us and want to help can do wonders for our emotional and mental state. Even though it may seem difficult or awkward at first, it’s important to reach out to dementia caregivers and offer your support in any way you can.”

Dementia Grief and Issues Unique to Caregivers

As we’ve mentioned in the first two parts of this series, the grief that comes with a diagnosis of dementia can be multifaceted and complicated. Caregivers and family members have to deal with grief all throughout the dementia journey, since it’s a progressive disease and loss can be something that happens every day. This causes many complex emotions, even when the person with dementia is still very much present and capable.

Dementia caregivers especially have to face some unique issues. Because of memory loss and the changes that happen in a person with dementia, caregivers may feel like the loved one they’re caring for has already passed away – even though they’re right there. Their loved one is psychologically no longer the same person, which is a loss that can strike caregivers over and over.

According to psychologists, grief is strongest for caregivers right when the individual is diagnosed and as the death of their loved one draws nearer. There are also other points when grief can become significantly higher, such as having to move a loved one into a Memory Care community. Surprisingly, it’s been shown that grief and other damaging feelings (like depression) can actually lessen when a loved one with dementia has transitioned to full-time professional care.

Still, every person processes grief in different ways, and we shouldn’t assume that caregivers are “doing fine” just because it’s been some time since a diagnosis. Even if a caregiver doesn’t necessarily “need” help, it can be very healing to know you’re thinking about them, you care and you’re willing to assist whenever necessary.

How You Can Help Support Dementia Caregivers

Check in regularly.
If you know anyone who’s loved one has passed away, you know that there’s a flood of support and assistance following the death, but that it trickles away after the funeral. A dementia diagnosis can be a similar type of situation. Unfortunately, grief doesn’t work in the same way, and it’s after those “trickle down” times when caregivers may need the emotional and physical support the most.

Checking in regularly with a caregiver can do wonders to boost their mood and let them know you’re thinking about them. Shooting off a quick email or text message throughout the day can make them smile (even if they don’t have time to respond). You can also send a card or call them regularly, just to say hi. Don’t forget about the power of personal touch – schedule a visit, drop by with coffee, or offer to come over and handle some chores. Being in contact with someone who cares will help lift a caregiver’s spirits like nothing else.

Be specific when offering to help.
Acts of service are a very real expression of love and support and are a boon for grieving caregivers. Instead of asking “what can I do to help?”, think of specific offers you can make that a person can say “yes” or “no” to. For example:

  • “I’ve got a couple of hours free tomorrow afternoon. May I sit in for you while you run errands or take time for yourself?”
  • “I’m going to the grocery store. What can I pick up for you?”
  • “Do you need some laundry done? I can pick it up today and bring it back clean tomorrow.”
  • “Do you need someone to do yardwork? I have some time this weekend and would be happy to do it.”
  • “I made a bunch of freezer meals to share with you. There are enough for a few weeks of meals.”

Recognize signs of depression and caregiver stress.
It’s easy for caregivers to have a hard time accepting help, even when it’s detrimental to their own health. If they don’t take the time to care for themselves, this can lead to depression, caregiver stress and ultimately caregiver burnout. This is harmful for both the caregiver and their loved one. If you notice any of these signs, talk to other loved ones and see how you can get the caregiver the assistance he or she needs.

  • Being constantly overwhelmed or worried
  • Being tired all the time
  • Gaining or losing lots of weight
  • Losing interest in activities or hobbies
  • Getting sick often
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Being irritated or angry, often at minor things
  • Constant feelings of sadness or hopelessness

While a caregiver may not always be open to your help, keep being persistent. Remind the caregiver that they are not alone and that you and others care for them – that can be the biggest comfort of all.

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.

Dementia Grief & Loss: Managing Your Feelings (Part 2 of 4)

In this four-part series, we explore the stages of dementia grief and loss for those affected. Understanding the process, accepting your feelings and learning healthy ways to cope with the emotions will help you and your family during these difficult times. Walking this path is never easy, but with compassion, understanding and acceptance, you and your loved ones can have a meaningful, fulfilling and loving journey.

As a caregiver to a loved one with dementia – or as a person dealing with a diagnosis of dementia – managing your feelings of grief and loss is one of the most challenging, significant issues you will face. Dementia is a progressive and ultimately fatal disease that destroys brain cells, resulting in memory loss, ability loss and ultimately the loss of one’s self. Whether you’re the individual with dementia, you’re caring for a spouse or you’re a loved one watching the disease progress in someone you care about, loss and grief are feelings you will walk hand in hand with throughout all stages of the dementia journey.

“Grief and loss are not feelings we feel and then get over,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “Instead, they are ongoing emotions that will ebb and flow throughout the journey, shifting to focus on different aspects at different times. One day, you may mourn the loss of your plans and dreams for the future. The next, you may grieve the loss of the person you loved – even if he or she is still there. These feelings of grief and loss can make the experience even more difficult as you move through the process of the disease.”

It’s important to remember, says Andrea, that those living with dementia are feeling those emotions of loss and grief as well. “Dementia can be doubly difficult for those living with it because they are mourning the loss of the abilities and future they hoped for as well as the reality of what they’re losing day by day,” she says. “For those of us who are caregiving or love someone with the disease, it’s important to find ways to manage our own grief while also supporting and helping our loved ones through their personal journey of loss and grief, too.”

Ambiguous Grief and the Dementia Journey

As mentioned in the first part of this series, ambiguous grief is a form of grief that differs from the more “traditional” grief that comes from a loss like death. This is because ambiguous grief does not have closure or resolution, because you’re dealing with the loss of someone who is still alive and, often, someone who is still quite present physically and mentally. However, the ambiguity for the future and the feelings it causes can be difficult to cope with. Fortunately, understanding this very unique form of grief can help to forge a path forward.

“Ambiguous grief is what you feel when a loved one is still physically there but is not as present in the same way as they were before,” says Andrea. “This form of grief is complicated because we aren’t taught how to process this form of loss, and friends and family may not know how to provide adequate support.” Ambiguous grief can also confuse existing relationships and prevents the parties from moving on. For example, if you’re married to someone with dementia, you may not feel like you’re still in a romantic partnership because your spouse no longer recognizes you.

These feelings of grief and loss are ongoing and not a one-time trauma that can be worked through and dealt with. Throughout the dementia journey, you and your loved one will experience many losses, and it’s important to acknowledge each of them. It’s surprising, but healing happens when you’re able to allow yourself to feel the loss, grieve through the pain and move past it instead of avoiding it. By recognizing, adapting to and moving from these losses, you and your loved ones can make the positive changes needed to enhance the quality of life for everyone in your circle.

Tips for Managing Your Feelings

Find others who share your experience.
Look for others who are dealing with dementia, whether it’s an in-person support group, online forum or others in your circle who have lived through a similar experience. Finding those who understand where you’re coming from is the best, most healing thing you can do to cope and manage your feelings throughout the dementia journey. Being with people who understand where you’re coming from and who won’t judge you will provide immeasurable support.

Understand that grief is not a linear experience.
Unfortunately, grief is not something you will experience and move past. Loss will come throughout the journey, and each time you will need to accept, absorb and move through it as it comes. Knowing that some days will be easier than others, and that loss can come in waves, will allow you to be gentle with yourself and give yourself permission to grieve as the losses come – while also celebrating and enjoying the moments that are good (of which there can be many). 

Find ways to mourn in your own way.
Each of us walk the grief and loss journey in our own way. There is no one right way to navigate your feelings, so take the time to find ways to grieve and mourn in your own way. This may be by communing with nature, going to church, finding a support group or any other approach that works for you. Don’t get caught up in the “right” way to grieve and instead focus on what works for you. If you need to cry, that’s fine – but if you want to laugh or make jokes, that’s okay, too. Consider speaking to a therapist experienced in dealing with dementia loss to manage your feelings and find creative, productive ways to mourn.

Practice mindfulness and acceptance.
Learning techniques like meditation or mindfulness can be instrumental in managing and accepting your grief during the dementia journey. It may seem strange that your most powerful tool is learning to accept your grief and be present in the moment. However, accepting that dementia and the grief that comes with it is merely a part of your life that you are learning to live with can help refocus and reframe your state of mind.

Cherish the time you have left.
As much as you can, cherish the moments you have with your loved ones for the time you have left. Spend time together, make memories together and create fulfilling moments that will fill you up and nurture you for years to come. Remember that, although we don’t know what the future will hold, we can hold fast to what we have at this moment – and that we can live, love and experience life in those heartbeats and those breaths. Take each moment and each day as it comes and embrace the love and life that can stem from living an existence of love and appreciation.

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.

Dementia Grief & Loss: After a Dementia Diagnosis (Part 1 of 4)

A dementia diagnosis is a life-changing event. For individuals and their loved ones, it breaks life into two parts: before the diagnosis, and after the diagnosis. Every person will go through stages of grief and loss throughout the dementia journey, and each of us will face it in our own unique way.

“Feelings of grief and loss go hand-in-hand after a dementia diagnosis,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “Unlike many other health situations you or your loved one face, grief and loss are interwoven into the disease, and the feelings can and will continue throughout the dementia journey. These are completely normal emotions, but they can be overwhelming and hard to deal with, whether you’re a family member, a caregiver or the person diagnosed with dementia.”

In this four-part series, we explore the stages of dementia grief and loss for those affected. Understanding the process, accepting your feelings and learning healthy ways to cope with the emotions will help you and your family during these difficult times. Walking this path is never easy, but with compassion, understanding and acceptance, you and your loved ones can have a meaningful, fulfilling and loving journey.

The Lightning Bolt: Receiving a Dementia Diagnosis

You know that something is “off.” Whether you’ve noticed that you’re becoming more confused or are having more and more difficulty with daily life, or if you’ve seen your parent start acting erratically, your gut is telling you that this is isn’t just a symptom of normal aging. And while you know it’s a distinct possibility, receiving the official notice from a physician can be devastating, no matter how much you may have prepared yourself for it.

People can react in a variety of different ways following a dementia diagnosis. It’s common to feel numb or overwhelmed. You may feel an instant sense of loss and hopelessness. Or you may be completely disbelieving. It’s important to recognize that all these emotions are normal stages of the grieving process and accepting and working through them will help you work through the diagnosis. Here are some emotions you or a loved one may be feeling:

  • Anger. Your life has suddenly shifted courses and the plans you’ve made for the future are no longer possible. You’re suddenly not in control of your life or your health. It’s incredibly unfair, and you’re angry – at the doctors, God, the universe and everyone else.
  • Relief. You finally know what’s “wrong” with you. The changes you were seeing or experiencing finally have a name, and you can make a course of action to deal with them. You no longer have to wonder what is happening.
  • Denial. It’s impossible to believe that you or a loved one has dementia. You were perfectly fine the last time you went to the doctor. It simply can’t be the truth – the doctor must be mistaken.
  • Depression. Life is changing, and there’s nothing that can be done about it. Everything you’ve hoped for is now gone and the future ahead looks bleak. There’s no point in trying to do anything about it.
  • Fear. What will happen to you? How will your family be affected? What does the future hold? When will memories and abilities be lost?

Understand that feeling all these emotions – and others – are a natural part of the grieving process. We will all react to the diagnosis in our own way and at our own pace but accepting those feelings and knowing where they’re coming from will help you and your loved ones move forward from the diagnosis.

Dealing with Grief & Loss After Diagnosis

There are two types of grief that can occur following a dementia diagnosis. The first is anticipatory grief, which is mourning for the losses that we know or expect will happen in the future. The second is ambiguous grief, which is mourning the loss of a person while they’re still “there.” Both types of grief can be difficult to recognize but are important to address. If you or a loved one are struggling following a dementia diagnosis, here are some coping tips to help manage your feelings and move forward.

Accept what you’re feeling.
Don’t bottle your emotions up. It’s okay to be sad, angry or frustrated. These can be cathartic and even healthy emotions to experience, so it’s good to name them and work through them. It’s also okay to feel conflicting emotions at the same time, such as love and anger, relief and denial, fear and acceptance. However, if you or a loved one find that these feelings linger on and on or become worse over time, it’s possible that depression or anxiety is at play. You should consult with a professional to see if these symptoms can be treated through medication or therapy.

Recognize that loss and grief come in waves.
You may be fine and accepting of the diagnosis one minute, and then suddenly angry or fearful the next. As the disease progresses, it’s also common to experience grief and loss again and again as you or your loved one lose different aspects of themselves. “Acceptance” doesn’t mean that you’re okay with what’s happening; it merely means that you recognize the reality of the situation and are dealing with it in a positive and helpful way.

Stay connected with people you care about.
It’s easy to feel isolated and lonely after a diagnosis and withdraw from friendships and activities you once enjoyed. Instead, this is the time to reach out and spend time with those who care about you. Meet up with friends for coffee or keep attending your weekly knitting groups. While it can feel like your “normal” world has ended, remember that there are still many things you or your loved one can do and enjoy, even with dementia.

Seek information and look for support.
Learning as much as you can about dementia will help you and your loved ones be more equipped with the tools you need to walk this journey. It’s also a good idea to look for support groups, both for those with the disease and for families dealing with the diagnosis. A good place to start is a senior living community that provides Memory Care services like The Reutlinger Community. Through senior centers, communities and local resources, you can find support groups, respite services, home care and social clubs that can help you build a support group for now and the days ahead.

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.

The Benefits of Joining a Dementia Caregiver Support Group

REUT-FlagFamily caregivers – adults who are providing unpaid care to a senior individual – are not an unusual phenomenon. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 45 million Americans are a caregiver to one or more older individuals. 16 million of these individuals are caring for an older adult with dementia like Alzheimer’s disease. Obviously, these people are not alone in their experiences…but for many, it can feel like no one can understand what they’re going through.

“Anytime we go through a stressful or overwhelming situation in our life, it’s easy to become disconnected and even isolated,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. And very few things in life, she says, are as stressful as caregiving someone with dementia. It’s a 24/7 job with no holiday time or sick leave, which makes for one tired individual who’s neglecting to care for someone very important…themselves.

That’s why, says Andrea, joining a caregiver support group is practically essential for caregivers. “Although it may at first seem like just one more thing to do, the benefits of joining a group far outweigh the extra time it takes to attend a meeting. Think of it like exercising, eating a healthy diet or getting a good night’s sleep – support groups are just one more facet of a balanced, wellness-focused lifestyle.”

What Is a Support Group?

A support group is a meeting of individuals who are all experiencing the same life event or situation, such as the death of a spouse, surviving cancer or, in your case, caregiving for someone with dementia. They can take many forms, from a traditional “sit in a circle and someone leads a discussion” type of group to an online-only forum where people post and respond to messages on the board or do a live chat. They can be large (although it’s usually kept to a manageable size so everyone’s voice is heard), or they can be as small as two or three people. The nice part with all this flexibility and variety means it’s easier than ever for caregivers to find a group that has the right vibe and approach for them.

Seven Benefits of Joining a Support Group

It provides a network of social support.
One of the biggest reasons why support groups can be so beneficial to caregivers is that you’re instantly among individuals who are there to provide a social network. It’s not unusual for people to form fast and strong friendships with others in the group due to shared experiences. This can be a comfort for caregivers who haven’t been able to reach out to friends and family for support for one reason or another, or who have simply had to become more isolated due to the task of caring for their loved one.

Support groups provide validation, understanding and a listening ear – and, often, advice. You’ll find that support groups are made up of people who are at various different stages of their caregiving journey, which can be a huge boon when it comes to getting information, learning about resources or simply asking, “is it normal for me to be doing/feeling/acting this way?”

It reduces stress and depression.
Heightened stress for long periods of time is not good for the human body. When we’re not able to relax and give ourselves breathing room, we experience all sorts of unwanted and potentially dangerous side effects, like high blood pressure, mood swings, depression and other mental issues. It’s very hard to relax if you feel like you’re not being understood, are alone in your struggle or are feeling judged by others. Joining a support group will instantly place you in a group of others just like you who are there for the purpose of helping each other. Plus, going to a support group allows you to get away from your responsibilities for an hour or so, which allows you to focus on your needs, resulting in less stress and a happier caregiver.

You gain a sense of control of your situation.
Dementia is a progressive disease, but it’s not a predictable one. What worked yesterday to keep your loved one safe and happy may not work at all today. Your loved one may suddenly start acting in a way that seems completely out of the blue. By talking with other caregivers and learning what to expect or anticipate with the disease, you’ll be able to better weather the storms and react to difficult issues. It also helps you understand that there’s no one way you should be doing/thinking/feeling, which can be very freeing to those who worry about doing things “right.”

You gain invaluable information and advice.
Oftentimes, support groups will also experts to speak at the meetings so the event is educational as well as supportive or social. These experts are a great way to get treatment options, advice on caregiving and advances that are being made in medical research. Informally, you can get caregiving tips from others in the group who are dealing with or who have dealt with the same issue you’re experiencing.

You learn self-care skills.
Being able to cope with everything life is throwing at you and finding ways to do nice things for yourself – however small – will greatly improve your quality of life. This includes taking time for yourself, like reading a book or calling a friend, but it also includes coping skills like practicing mindfulness, allowing yourself grace and giving permission to say “I don’t know.” Think of these things like little gifts you can give yourself to help reduce your stress and worry.

It helps you understand what to expect down the road.
Since dementia is a progressive disease, you know that your loved one will continue to decline. Talking with others and finding out how they handled or approached that will give you a vision for what lies ahead and how to prepare. Surprisingly, this can help people feel less stressed about the future, because they won’t be taken by surprise by different behaviors or actions from their loved one.

It improves your caregiving skills.
It sounds trite, but it’s true: support groups give you the support you need in order to be a better caregiver for your loved one. You simply can’t be the best caregiver possible if you aren’t caring for yourself. By finding the support, information and assurance you need to feel more confident and healthy, you’ll be more refreshed and able to give your loved one with dementia the care he or she needs and deserves.

For more information about support groups for dementia caregivers, 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.

The 10 Guidelines of Successful Dementia Caregiving

REUT-FlagWouldn’t it be wonderful if the tough things in life came with an instruction manual? That way, you would know exactly what to do when a problem arose, understand how things will progress and basically have all the answers on hand at all times. Unfortunately, life can be messy and complicated – which you, as a caregiver to someone with dementia, probably know all too well.

“Dementia is a disease that progresses differently for everyone and can seemingly change day to day,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “We’ve made a lot of progress over the past decades to understanding how the disease affects individuals and what can be done to make an individual’s life as meaningful as possible, but even professional caregivers don’t have all the answers. If you’re a family caregiver, you’re facing a dual struggle: managing the disease while also maintaining a healthy relationship with your loved one.”

“Being a dementia caregiver is a day-in, day-out, 24/7 responsibility that can easily dominate your life,” says Andrea. “In order to maintain a sense of balance for yourself, avoid caregiver burnout and reduce everyone’s stress and anxiety, you’ll need to find ways to successfully manage your loved one while keeping them safe and cared for. That’s why we at The Reutlinger Community have 10 Guidelines that we follow to provide the best care to our residents with dementia.”

These guidelines, she says, are not specifically “rules” that must be followed, but guidance to shape your interactions, thoughts and feelings in order to move forward in a positive way. “Keeping these 10 Guidelines in mind will help you care for yourself as well as care for your loved one and help you nurture and deepen your relationship during the time you have left,” she says.

The 10 Guidelines of Dementia Caregiving

  1. Don’t argue or use logic to try and make a point.
    It’s natural to want to correct your loved one if he or she is acting in a way that doesn’t make sense or is wrong about something. However, trying to use logic to explain to your loved one why something needs to happen (for example, not allowing them to drive because they are no longer safe behind the wheel) is a futile gesture. More often than not, your loved one will become more confused, angry or agitated because they simply don’t have the capacity to view things logically. Instead, find ways to address the situation that avoid an upsetting confrontation (for example, move your loved one’s car to a storage space so it can’t be seen).
  1. Redirect as necessary.
    Redirection is one of the best tools a caregiver has in his or her toolbox. Instead of arguing with your loved one about why it’s important to take a bath, or if you notice that your loved one is becoming agitated and asking the same thing over and over, redirect the conversation or situation to get his or her mind off whatever track they’re on. This can help to immediately diffuse a situation and make things better. After your loved one is calm, you may be able to resume the task at hand.
  1. Provide simple choices.
    People with dementia can sometimes lack the ability to make a decision from a long list of options or an open-ended question (such as “what do you want to eat tonight?”). However, giving them choices can narrow down the options and help them feel empowered. Ask your mom if she’d like fish or chicken for dinner instead of opening the fridge and asking her to choose.
  1. Never shame.
    No one likes to be shamed, no matter how old or young we are. Scolding or making your loved one feel bad about something, whether it’s not remembering a conversation or because they had an accident, is one of the quickest ways to shut them down and hurt your connection. Although you may be exasperated about having to clean up another spill, take a deep breath and find ways to help avoid the issue in the future.
  1. Provide comfort and reassurance as much as possible.
    Many disruptive or unwanted behaviors, such as agitation or repetition, stem from your loved one feeling insecure or afraid. Remind your loved one that they are safe, that you care about them and that you won’t let anything bad happen to them. Sometimes that is all that’s needed.
  1. Reminisce instead of asking “remember when?”
    Sharing memories is a great way to bond with your loved one, but avoid asking “remember when,” especially when it comes to more recent events. Instead, take the lead and talk about memories and past events as statements to share your feelings and emotions. It’s possible, especially if you’re talking about long ago events, that your loved one will chime in with his or her memories.
  1. Treat your loved one with dignity and respect.
    Even as your loved one’s abilities fade, he or she remains an adult who deserves respect and to be treated with dignity. Never condescend or talk down to them. Instead, ask for their involvement and permission, and include them in conversations. Mom or Dad may not be able to participate in the conversation but being included can do wonders for making him or her feel secure and fulfilled.
  1. Celebrate their remaining abilities instead of focusing on what’s lost.
    Adapt favorite hobbies and activities so that your loved one can continue to enjoy them, even if their abilities make it impossible for them to do what they’ve always done. Maybe Mom can’t do delicate needlepoint anymore, but she can do a sewing exercise with yarn. Dad may not be able to whittle, but he can help you put together a birdhouse. Find things you can do together to make the exercise even more meaningful.
  1. Meet them where they are.
    People with dementia can slip into their own world and forget about the here and now. Mom may think she’s a schoolchild again, or Dad may believe he’s off to work at the factory just like he’s always done. Instead of trying to bring him or her back to the present (and perhaps cause emotional hurt), ask yourself if the delusion is harmful – and if it’s not, play along with them or offer explanations that fit into their current version of reality.
  1. Remember that you can’t do it all.
    You’re just one person, and it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. Being a caregiver is tough work, and you deserve and need some down time. Ask friends and family to help you out or connect with community services to see what’s available to you. Having a support system is essential for helping you care for your wellbeing, which in turn will make you a better caregiver for your loved one.

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

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 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.