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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.

The Benefits of Using Video Chat to Connect with Senior Loved Ones

Seeing our friends, family and other loved ones can brighten our days, make life more fun and even make difficult times easier, but what happens when it’s simply not possible? During times that it’s not feasible or even safe to visit a loved one, it can be detrimental to our mental health, and our loved ones as well, causing depression and feelings of isolation. This is why it’s important to find different ways to connect with those you love.

In light of these challenging times, we’re finding more ways than ever to continue seeing our loved ones while staying safely apart. These innovative ways are helping to keep everyone happier, healthier and more hopeful. According to Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA, one of the best ways to stay connected is through the use of video chat software.

“While video chat is certainly not new for a number of us, we’re finding it to be even more beneficial now, as we face restrictions on visitors, the rise of social distancing and the inability to get together in person,” she states. “Our residents have been able to video chat with their families, visit with their grandchildren and feel as though life is as continuing as close to normal as possible – all while feeling safe and cared for. This has truly been invaluable for us through these unprecedented times and has come with so many benefits – in fact, the benefits have been so widespread we are likely to continue finding new ways to implement this technology both now and in the future!”

Video chatting comes with a number of benefits and advantages, and even better, it can be used creatively to ensure an enriching experience. Consider some of the following benefits of using video chat software as well as how to use it to better connect, engage and enjoy time with your loved ones.

The Benefits of Video Chats to Connect with Senior Loved Ones

  • Helping to maintain connection. Video chatting can help them to feel less lonely, more engaged and can help to improve their mood. It can also ward away symptoms of depression and anxiety.

 

  • It can help them to feel more secure. During this time, they may feel uncertain. By being able to see family and friends, even over video chat, they can rest assured knowing their loved ones are safe, happy and well, helping them feel more secure.

 

  • It can ensure they remain safe. When we don’t travel or see people in person, it’s harder for them to get sick on the off chance you, or someone you’ve been near, are sick. This ensures both you, your loved one and those around you remain healthy and well.

 

  • It’s more flexible. Scheduling a time to video chat is often much easier than setting up a time to meet, traveling and finding a time that works for everyone. Simply call and ask if they are available – it’s as simple as that!

 

  • More people can come together at once. Video chats allow people from different homes to all join in the call. Whether your best friend lives abroad or just a few minutes away, your family lives in California or your grandchildren live on the East Coast, people can all be brought together in one place at one time – right at the touch of your fingertips.

 

  • You can get creative with how you use the software. Whether you simply talk over video chat or opt to have a watch party, family brunch or play games over video, there are plenty of ways to interact and enjoy each other’s company.

For more information about connecting with loved ones over video chat, 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, 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 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, contact us today.

Fun in the Sun: Summer Safety Checklist for Seniors

Memorial Day has come and gone, which means that the summer season is officially in full swing. This year, the season has a lot more meaning. After a spring filled with coronavirus, social distancing and sheltering in place, “summer” means the opportunity to get out of the house, enjoy the sunlight and even spend time with the people we care about.

“This summer, spending time with our loved ones may be even more meaningful than in previous years, but it also means that seniors will need to take extra precaution,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “Even during normal situations, the summertime heat and sun can be dangerous to seniors if they don’t take proper precautions. Add the lingering worry of COVID-19, and this summer means a little extra diligence for seniors and their loved ones.”

Fortunately, staying safe in the summertime is easy, as long as you plan ahead and exercise common sense. Here are some of our top tips to help seniors and their caregivers have a safe and fun summer.

  1. Stay hydrated. Seniors become dehydrated more easily than younger people because their bodies don’t conserve water as well. At the same time, their sense of thirst can become deadened, so they aren’t always aware of when they are thirsty. Seniors also are more susceptible to temperature changes, so it’s very easy to become overheated. Be sure to carry water with you when you’re out and about, and be sure to drink water regularly. Caregivers may want to add fruit or cucumbers to a pitcher of water in the fridge to make the water more enticing to drink.
  1. Talk to the doctor. Certain medications become less effective if they are stored in higher temperatures, while other medications can cause seniors to become overheated more easily. Check with your doctor to make sure that you’re taking care of your body in the best possible way. The last thing you want is for your medical condition to flare up simply because the thermometer is rising.
  1. Stay cool. Obviously, staying inside in the air conditioning is one of the best ways to avoid getting overheated. If your home is air conditioned, you’re all set. If not, seniors and their caregivers should consider places that are air conditioned, like libraries and senior centers. Seniors should avoid going outside during the hottest part of the day if possible (usually between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.), and if it can’t be avoided, they should stick to the shade and sip cool beverages in order to keep from getting overheated.

  2. Be prepared. Seniors are some of the most vulnerable individuals when it comes to contracting COVID-19. When you’re out and about, practice safe habits like remaining six feet away from other people, washing your hands regularly (or carry around a container of hand sanitizer) and wearing a disposable mask. You may wish to limit your activities and errands to the early morning hours or later in the evening, when fewer people will be out (and it will be cooler, too).
  1. Dress for the weather. Wearing the right type of clothes can play a big role in helping keep your summertime cool. Natural fabrics (like cotton or linen) are good choices during summertime, because they are cooler than synthetic fibers and can wick away sweat. Be sure to choose items that are light-colored and loose to maximize air flow. Paradoxically, seniors may find they’re cooler when they cover themselves up – think long, flowing sleeves instead of sleeveless shirts that leave your arms open to the burning sun. The important thing is to choose items that leave you feeling cool and comfortable.
  1. Shield yourself. Seniors will need to take extra steps to protect their skin (and eyes) from the sun. Be sure to apply sunscreen regularly while you’re outdoors, and dress smartly in order to shield yourself from the sun’s rays. Hats, sunglasses, long sleeves and long pants are all good options that will help keep UV rays off your body while keeping you as cool and comfortable as possible.
  1. Know the signs of hyperthermia. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion – scientifically known as hyperthermia – comes when body temperatures rise to an abnormal height. This can become life threatening, so it’s important to know the warning signs and understand what to do – and when it’s time to seek medical attention. If your loved one is sweating profusely, experiencing nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, weakness or headaches, get them into a cool place and get them to drink something cool. Once they’re more stable, call their doctor or go to the hospital. Call 911 immediately if your loved one suddenly stops sweating, has dry and flushed skin, heavy breathing and a rapid pulse or sudden personality changes.
  1. Steer clear of bugs. Summertime means outdoors, which means bugs. Seniors are particularly prone to diseases like West Nile Virus, so be sure to use a good mosquito repellent to reduce the risk of getting bit. Not only will it keep you safe, but it will also help you avoid sleepless, itchy nights.
  1. Get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors (smartly). Get out there and enjoy the nice weather – it’s the best time of year to get your blood pumping and your limbs moving. Whether you enjoy walking, gardening or any other activity, just be smart and pay attention to what your body is telling you. Be sure to drink plenty of water (more than usual) and pay attention to the time. Be sure to give yourself plenty of breaks and don’t push yourself if you feel like you’re fading.
  1. Have fun. Enough said. Get out there, be safe and enjoy the summer. You’ve definitely earned it.

 

For more information about summer safety tips 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, 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.

Making a Safe Transition from Home to Memory Care

Transitioning a loved one from home to a memory care community can be a difficult task. Although you may know that they’ll enjoy their new community, opportunities for friendships and engaging lifestyle, they may not realize it at the time or may be too anxious to consider the positives of a move. This can cause a number of negative behaviors, including anger, agitation, aggression and more. We know just how hard this transition can be, so we want to help.

“Moving a loved one with memory loss from the home they know and love to a memory care community that they are unfamiliar with can be hard for everyone involved,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “However, it’s important to do so, so that they can experience the lifestyle they deserve. To make this transition easier and safer, you should plan as much as you can ahead of time. Planning is crucial to the success of a move, and whether you believe your loved one will transition well or not, knowing what you can expect and the obstacles you could face during a move will be a big help.”

Here are some of the actions you can take to help make a safe transition to memory care.

If possible, visit with your loved one ahead of time as much as possible. Visiting can help to familiarize your loved one with the community while also allowing them to meet their care team, make some friends and get more comfortable with the idea of a move.

Refrain from announcing the move too far in advance. This can not only make your loved one more anxious, but it may also make them agitated or aggressive. Instead, tell them just before the move, or even the day of.

Move at the time they are at their best. On the day of the move, try to keep everything as normal as possible. It will also be important to keep a close eye on them, as wandering can occur if they are too disrupted from their routine. This might be a good time to consider some respite care or having a loved one distract them with an activity they love in a quiet and secluded location.

Talk to a doctor about adjusting medication. In some cases, anti-anxiety medicine can make the move easier on everyone. Then, you can wean the medication into their system and then wean them back out once the move is complete.

Bring items that are familiar to your loved one. From their favorite comforter, photographs of friends and family and their favorite chair to items that help spark their memory, their favorite snacks and more, familiar items can help to make your loved one more comfortable during a move. It can also be helpful to unpack as much as possible before they arrive, as too much hustle and bustle can cause them to become distressed.

It’s going to be important to not visit for the first few weeks. Your loved one may think you’re going to be bringing them home or that you are picking them up. It’s going to be difficult, but if you want to check in on how your loved one is doing, contact the community and their care team. They are there to provide you with peace of mind as well as support during this journey.

For more information about making the move to a memory care community safer, 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 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 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 contact us today.

5 Tips for Downsizing Before You Move into Assisted Living

When it comes time for you or your loved one to move into an assisted living community, it’s important to know the best ways to make it easier on yourselves. After all, you’ve done the hard part – you’ve toured communities, you’ve evaluated what you liked and didn’t like and you’ve narrowed down your choices to the perfect community, so it’s only right that the next step of your journey be a little smoother!

 

“When we say smoother, we don’t mean that this won’t be an emotional journey,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “It can be difficult and stressful to downsize; moving day can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. There’s a whole host of emotions that can come with such a big change, but we’re here to help you every step of the way. Whether that’s helping you to make downsizing easier, calm your nerves or make your move-in day successful. We’re so excited to help guide you on this journey and can’t wait to help you now and in the future.”

 

Tips for Downsizing Prior to Moving to Assisted Living

We know that downsizing can be riddled with stress and uncertainty. You may not know what to keep or throw away, what you will need or what you won’t, what you should pass down and what you should sell or – better yet – where to even start. We’re here to help. Follow some of our expert tips below!

 

Make a list of rooms to go through.

Establish a list of what rooms you need to go through, beginning with the easiest spaces first – often a linen closet or study. Leave the bedroom, kitchen and bathroom for last, as you often need items from there up until your move. When you can no longer put them off, be sure to keep your essentials and then get rid of the rest.

 

Start small.

It can often help to simply clear clutter when you’re just starting out. Get rid of old papers, shred old but important documents, get rid of duplicate items and simply begin clearing out obvious items. As time goes on, it often gets easier to downsize the items and make way for what truly matters.

 

Establish a list of what you need.

Before downsizing, talk to the team at the assisted living community to find out what you’ll likely want and need from home. Do you want to bring your comforter and favorite window treatments? Is your favorite chair going to fit? Do you have room for your large collection of books or paintings? Knowing this information will make it easier to clear the items you won’t have space for or simply won’t need because your lifestyle will be too busy to care about them anymore.

 

Sell or pass down items that are meaningful or valuable.

For many seniors, they are holding on to items they no longer need or use but tend to make them happy. These items are often only brought out during special occasions or even when someone else asks about them. If you have a favorite necklace that your granddaughter would look beautiful in while appreciating it belonged to you, pass it down. If you have antiques that you don’t have use for, consider selling them in a consignment shop or having them assessed by a collector to purchase.

 

Find some help.

There is an array of senior moving services that would be happy to help you downsize and make a move to assisted living much easier. If downsizing is too much, or you’d like some additional help, consider hiring a service instead of doing it all yourself!

 

Downsizing can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be if you have an established plan of action in place. With our tips, we hope that your downsizing journey will be more seamless. If we can help in any way, simply let us know!

For more information about downsizing, 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 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 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 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.

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.