East Bay CNA from Hillendale Home Care is licensed by the State of California to provide Certified Nursing training courses for Contra Costa and Alameda Counties.

When Dementia Confusion Leads to an Alternate Reality

caring grandson and his grandfather outside

Dementia confusion can cause seniors to believe they’re living in an alternate reality.

Dementia confusion, a prevalent occurrence in Alzheimer’s, can lead to recent memories being forgotten or altered, while those from the more remote past often continue to be unimpaired. This may cause a past period of time to make more sense to an older person with dementia than the present. A person’s alternative reality may be his/her way of making sense of the present through past experiences.

Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease frequently have problems expressing themselves, and sometimes their alternate reality has more to do with a need or a particular feeling they are attempting to express than it has to do with the words they are saying.

For example:

  • “When is my wife going to be coming home?” This question might be more about the need for affection or acceptance or a home-cooked meal than about wanting to see his wife, who passed away many years ago. An effective reaction to discover more might be, “Why do you want to see her?”
  • “I need to bring all these casseroles to the neighbors before the end of the day.” Despite the fact that these casseroles do not exist, the words may represent a need for meaning and purpose in the senior’s life, or the desire to be engaged in an activity. An appropriate response to learn more could be, “Why did you make casseroles for the neighbors?”

Maintaining a log of these types of events may help you identify a pattern in the person’s dementia confusion. The more you listen in and pay close attention, the easier it will be to recognize the thinking behind the alternate reality and the ideal way to act in response.

Is It Appropriate to Play Along?

Providing the situation isn’t going to be dangerous or unacceptable in some way, it is perfectly fine to play along with the senior’s alternate reality. Doing so is not going to make the dementia worse. Keep in mind, the senior’s reality is genuine to him/her, and playing along can make the older adult feel more comfortable.

If the scenario is inappropriate or may possibly cause harm to the senior, try to react to the perceived need while redirecting him/her to something safer or more appropriate.

Keep in mind the following 3 steps:

  1. Reassure the senior.
  2. React to his/her need.
  3. Redirect if required.

Hillendale Home Care, leaders in home care services in Walnut Creek and surrounding areas, helps seniors and their family members navigate through life with dementia. Contact us to learn more about our professional in-home care services, or to join our care team through our CNA and HHA school.

Alzheimer’s Care: Strategies to Ease Anxiety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

enior wears a mask to protect against viruses and bacteria

Alzheimer’s care during a pandemic is easier with these tips.

Confusion. Isolation. Loneliness. These feelings are becoming common for a number of us during the COVID-19 pandemic, but once you factor in dementia, the challenges and frustrations are elevated to an entirely new level.

Consider, as an example, the short-term loss of memory inherent in Alzheimer’s disease. A caregiver searching for the best way to explain why the senior cannot head out for coffee, get a haircut, or visit with the neighbors might need to offer up that explanation numerous times – often in the same day.

Sue Spalding, Chief Executive Officer of the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota, North Dakota Chapter, stresses the need for helping those with dementia to minimize unnecessary stress, which could increase the progression of the disease. So how do you best help the seniors in your care with Alzheimer’s to calmly navigate life during a pandemic? Here are a few helpful tips:

  • Stay calm. Although you may feel anxious and overwhelmed because of the state of the world, it is better to try to avoid talking about alarming issues and even watching the news with a senior with dementia. Be sure to find an appropriate outlet for your feelings, however – your partner or other loved ones, a therapist, or trusted friend.
  • Stick with routines. Keep in mind, certain previously enjoyed routines that entail outings or visits with family members may need to be placed on hold, but keep a predictable schedule in the senior’s home that’s reassuring to the him or her, such as maintaining a certain time for meals, exercise, hobbies, and bedtime.
  • Ensure there’s a backup plan. Family caregivers need to understand that if they were to become ill, a plan needs to be in place for backup caregiving. Strategizing now, prior to when the need arises, is important, and they can partner with an experienced home care agency, like Hillendale Home Care.

And remember, it is very important for you to take care of yourself, too! Be sure to designate time every day for relaxing, enjoyable activities to help you to unwind and destress after work, to stay connected with friends, to follow a healthy diet and exercise routine, and also to get a healthy amount of sleep.

As we all continue to wait for a vaccine or effective treatment option for COVID-19, Hillendale Home Care caregivers are fully equipped and prepared to safely care for seniors, including those with dementia, following all recommended protective guidelines. For further tips to help someone with Alzheimer’s during these tumultuous times, contact the top-rated providers of home care in Walnut Creek and the surrounding area at Hillendale Home Care, and learn more about how to join our professional care team through our CNA and HHA school.

Help Senior Clients Maintain Joy Despite a Chronic Disorder

Man and his best friend

A chronic disorder doesn’t have to dampen a senior client’s spirits.

Have you ever started your day and figured, “It’s going to be one of those days!” Perhaps your alarm didn’t go off, the hot water heater decided to stop working, and the dog chewed up one of your favorite shoes overnight. Then envision if each day were “one of those days!” Hillendale’s Walnut Creek home care professionals know that for somebody coping with a chronic disorder (and that’s much of the older adult population), day-to-day struggles and challenges can be a given. [Read more…]

Dementia Wandering Prevention Tips

Man behind locked door

Try these tips to aid in dementia wandering prevention.

Out of all the outcomes of Alzheimer’s disease, probably one of the most concerning is the individual’s tendency for wandering, together with the potential dangers which could arise in the event that the senior becomes disoriented or lost. Wandering may occur when the older adult is: [Read more…]

Is a Senior Refuting a Dementia Diagnosis? It Might Be Anosognosia.

Senior man sitting on sofa

A senior may be unaware of his or her dementia diagnosis.

“How could you possibly say that I have a dementia diagnosis? There’s nothing at all wrong with me!”

If a senior in your care with a dementia diagnosis is unaccepting of the reality of the disease, you may be prone to think that he or she is simply in denial. However, there is sometimes a legitimate reason for this denial: anosognosia, or a person’s unawareness that he or she is impaired by dementia. [Read more…]

Dementia Care Walnut Creek Experts Offer Tips to Improve Communication With Alzheimer’s Patients

charming young woman and senior woman in a wheelchair sit together in a park and have fun

Caregivers can improve communication and dementia care techniques with these tips.

Alzheimer’s disease is well known for having a profound influence on language capabilities. In addition to the disease impacting speech, it also impacts an individual’s ability to correctly use words, as well as the comprehension of words. As the disease continues into later stages, using language as a way of socializing will become less effective, and caregivers may elect to utilize differing strategies for communicating to connect with their clients. [Read more…]

Is It Dementia or Depression? Here’s How to Find Out.

dementiaA dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, can manifest with symptoms that are very close to some of those experienced in depression, such as cognitive decline – making it difficult to know how to best provide care. At Hillendale Home Care, we understand the challenges caregivers face when trying to determine the right course of action. The first step to take when cognitive issues are noticed is to discern, with the help of the senior’s family and physician, whether depression or dementia is at play, and then to begin the appropriate treatment.

Regardless of whether the cognitive decline is a result of dementia or depression, proper diagnosis and treatment are crucial. If the cause for the decline is depression, treating the depression effectively will result in restored memory, concentration and energy levels. Proper treatment for dementia can also improve quality of life, and in some forms of dementia, symptoms can even be reversed or at least slowed.

A good tool to is a memory screening. Memory screenings make sense for those who:

  • Are noticing the warning signs of dementia;
  • Have had family and friends notice changes in his or her behavior;
  • Believes he or she may be at risk due to a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or other type of dementia; or
  • May not have an immediate concern presently, but wants to establish a baseline score for future comparison.

Additionally, anyone answering “yes” to any of the questions below may benefit from a memory screening as well:

  • Do I seem to be more forgetful lately?
  • Am I having trouble concentrating?
  • Am I experiencing difficulty with performing familiar tasks?
  • Do I sometimes struggle to recall words or names in conversation?
  • Have I ever forgotten where I am?
  • Have friends or family members told me that I am repeating myself?
  • Am I losing or misplacing items more frequently?
  • Have I gotten lost while walking or driving in a familiar area?
  • Are my family or friends noticing changes in my mood, personality, behavior or interest in engaging in activities?

Note that a memory screening cannot diagnose a certain illness and is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified physician or other healthcare professional. For more resources on caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s, or to receive more information about our employment opportunities for caregivers, visit www.hillendale.net or give us a call at 925-933-8181.

Caring for Seniors Throughout All Stages of Alzheimer’s

Stages of Alzheimer'sProviding care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can feel like trying to solve a constantly changing puzzle. Once you find the solution to one piece, you discover that the image has suddenly changed, and you have to rethink things all over again.

Trying to figure out the puzzle of Alzheimer’s care requires continuous education in the many facets of Alzheimer’s disease support. The following tips, courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association, can help caregivers establish care strategies throughout the stages of Alzheimer’s:

  • Early Stages: Caregivers can best help clients with Alzheimer’s through assisting with family planning, offering a patient, calm, listening ear and memory prompts when needed. Strategies may include:
    • Being a care advocate for the senior and his or her family, offering emotional assistance and encouragement.
    • Helping the family plan for the long-term.
    • Offering memory prompts, establishing a daily schedule, and helping the person stay healthy and participate in enjoyed activities.
  • Middle Stages: During this phase, care techniques will be focused on the person’s adaptabilities, patience and day-to-day structure. Strategies may include:
    • Maintaining daily routines and structure.
    • Improving quality of life with shared activities.
    • Promoting as much self-reliance as possible, but being prepared to help as needed.
  • Later Stages: During the later stages of Alzheimer’s, care should be focused on preserving dignity and quality of life while maintaining a safe and healthy environment. Strategies may include:
    • Remaining connected and expressing care through touch, sound, sight, taste and smell.
    • Providing increased support with activities of daily living, and with alleviating body pressure if the individual is bedridden.
    • Being aware of unspoken cues such as paleness, swelling, agitation or facial expressions that can identify discomfort.

Caring for a senior with Alzheimer’s disease requires compassion, patience, and knowledge of ever-evolving care tactics. If you are interested in assistance with providing care to seniors throughout all stages of Alzheimer’s disease, contact Hillendale Home Care of Walnut Creek, California. We fully support our caregiving team through ongoing training and CEU offerings to help you keep your CNA or HHA license current.

 

Alzheimer’s Caregivers: Appropriate Responses to Inappropriate Behavior

Alzheimer's CaregiverAlzheimer’s is a complex disease that often presents complex issues for Alzheimer’s caregivers. As the disease progresses, people with Alzheimer’s increasingly tend to communicate through behavior instead of speech, and oftentimes these behaviors can be of an inappropriate nature. For example, people with more advanced Alzheimer’s disease may exhibit the following:

  • Aggression and agitation
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior such as:
    • Undressing or touching themselves in public
    • Using vulgar or obscene language
    • Jealous accusations that a spouse is having an affair
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression

These behaviors can be embarrassing or troubling for Alzheimer’s caregivers, but they can also be very confusing and frustrating for the person with Alzheimer’s, as he or she most likely doesn’t understand why the behavior is considered inappropriate or why it is upsetting to others.

As an Alzheimer’s caregiver, it’s important to remember that any troubling behaviors the senior shows are the result of the disease — or possibly other health issues or medications — not a reflection of the person’s character. Also, often what seems like sexually inappropriate behavior is really an expression of a non-sexual need, such as a need to use the restroom or a need for closeness.

If you cannot figure out a reason for the senior’s behavior, try these responses:

  • Redirect the person to a favorite hobby or activity such as listening to music or looking through a family photo album.
  • Calmly, but promptly, find a private area like a restroom or changing area if the senior feels the need to undress in public.
  • Respond to feelings of loneliness or a need for closeness with a caring pat or a hug and soothing conversation.
  • Try increasing the amount of exercise or activity the person gets.
  • Consider practical solutions; for inappropriate disrobing, buy special clothes designed with fasteners in the back for this specific reason, or try putting trousers or dresses on backwards.

When responding to challenging behavior:

  • Respond calmly and matter-of-factly. Arguing with or embarrassing the person can exacerbate the situation; try to be gentle and patient.
  • Don’t overreact in either direction. Providing too much affection may encourage unwanted sexual behavior, while yelling or shaming may frighten or confuse the person further.
  • Find a solution, whether it is a new setting that does not allow for the behavior to be a cause of concern, or a new activity that distracts from the behavior altogether.

Becoming an Alzheimer’s caregiver is a challenging, yet extremely rewarding career. If you are interested in helping seniors with Alzheimer’s disease live their best lives at home, contact Hillendale Home Care of Walnut Creek, California. We fully support our caregiving team through ongoing training and CEU offerings to help you keep your CNA or HHA license current. Contact us any time to learn more by calling 925-933-8181.