senior woman smiling with her caregiver

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.

Senior woman laughing with caregiver

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.

Senior woman raising her hand

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.