Tag: health

Daily Care: Late Stage Alzheimer’s Disease

How can we, family and carepartners, support the people we know living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia?

Keeping loved ones stimulated and providing ability-based care and support cannot be overstated. At NursePartners, we recognize the GEMS™ model as an effective method for providing a treatment plan for individuals affected by dementia.  Click here for an introductory overview of the classification system describing the stages of the journey.

By appreciating what is changing and what is still possible, we can provide care that is more effective and less challenging.

 

Stage 3 – Severe/Late (lasts about one 1-3 years) – Rubies and Pearls

As dementia moves into the final stage, it can be difficult to know how to meet needs. Many lose their ability to control movement and respond to the environment. As memory and cognitive skills worsen, your loved one may need extensive help with daily activities.

The goal of care at this stage is to focus on preserving dignity and quality of life. Although your loved one may lose the ability talk and express needs, you can still connect with them, enjoying interactions and experiences of their past life.

 

About Rubies and Pearls

Rubies

Rubies experience late stage changes as fine motor skills are very limited. Losses in depth perception, as well as limited visual awareness and major sensory changes result in needed assistance with utensils, brushing, buttoning and moving. Hand-under-hand assistance helps rubies feel safe and secure. Suggested activities together include: reading, playing music, and looking through old photos.

Pearls

Pearls are still and quiet, unable to actively move or respond, with limited awareness of the world. Pearls enjoy pleasant sounds and familiar voices, grasping onto moments of connection.  Whether it’s the smell of their favorite perfume, or a beloved radio program, these small experiences can help capture a moment in time and evoke pleasant memories. Being present, patient, and understanding with your loved one will help them escape feelings of isolation associated with late stage Alzheimer’s.

Planning the Day

  • Tailor the environment with the interests of your loved one. This can allow them to emotionally connect to things they previously enjoyed.
  • Plan the days to have a balance of restful and active periods to help your loved ones transition slowly and gradually from one to the other.
  • Observe the person for signs of stress. Keep lights low and noise to a minimum. Consider visiting in smaller numbers.
  • Use your voice to engage and encourage, talking quietly to tell stories and reminiscing about past events.
  • Discover which eye they use for vision.  Do not obstruct their line of site and get on or below eye level when speaking with them.

At this point in the disease, the world is primarily experienced through the senses. You can express your caring through touch, sound, sight, taste and smell.

Activities for Rubies and Pearls

  • Playing their favorite music
  • Reminiscing about past events
  • Reading portions of books that have meaning for the person
  • Looking at old photos together
  • Preparing a favorite food
  • Rubbing lotion with a favorite scent into the skin
  • Brushing their hair
  • Sitting outside together on a nice day

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NursePartners is committed to providing uncompromised care to those living with a diagnosis of dementia. Our carepartners are trained in the Positive Approach to Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care (GEMS™) and work with families to enable safety, comfort and happiness through home-care services.

If your loved one need home care assistance or relief, our team would love to help.

Contact us today.

 

 

Daily Care: Moderate Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

We can support the people we know living with dementia by keeping them mentally stimulated and providing ability-based care and support. At NursePartners, we recognize the GEMS™ model as an effective method for providing a plan of care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.  Click here for an introductory overview of the classification system and to understand the stages of the journey.

By appreciating what is changing and what is still possible, we can provide care that is more effective and less challenging.

 

Stage 2 – Moderate/Middle (lasts 2-10 yrs) – Emeralds and Ambers

At NursePartners, we use the “Emerald” or “Amber” classification for clients with moderately developed dementias.  We prefer this terminology because we know that all clients are operate at their best with the right approach to care.

A client normally persists in the Emerald and Amber stages the longest out of the other GEM levels. During this time, damage to the brain can make it difficult to express thoughts and perform routine tasks. It is important to allow your loved one to be involved in their day-to-day routine. Provide meaning through relevant activities that were part of their past because this will provide them with a sense of self-worth and add to their quality of life.

There will be acute changes to their self-awareness and senses.  We need to be able to distinguish daily changes and overall trends.  By having an established relationship with the client, we are also able to tell the difference between a client’s personality quirks and further developments of the disease.

 

About Emeralds and Ambers

 

Emeralds

Emeralds may get lost in time, thinking that are in another place or assuming a former role. They have problems with communication and comprehension, often asking questions that begin with “who”, “what”, “where”, and “when”.  At this GEM level, clients are making small mistakes with their personal care, but may not recognize it.  Some examples of this might be fastening buttons in the wrong holes, putting shoes on the wrong feet, or not changing clothing or brushing hair before leaving the home.  It is not important that we “correct every mistake”, but make changes subtly by using the right approach.  Sometimes this requires relating to the “mistake”, by discussing how we do this ourselves.  We could also pull out another piece of clothing and convince the client how good they look in that particular piece.

Emeralds are most comfortable when doing familiar tasks. They like to engage and help others, as well as feeling like they have a purpose. At a family functions, engage them by asking to help set the table and then clean it up. Choose favorite activities or hobbies of the past, but do not impose time limits for completing each task

Activities at home

Activities around the house can help Emeralds feel involved and provide a sense of normality. Activities such as setting the table, watering plants, and cooking can reflect past hobbies and interests, and can be a good way of retaining skills. Helping in the kitchen can also bring people together, as many experiences revolve around meals: holidays, birthdays, church potlucks, summer barbecues, weddings. Some activities for Emeralds include:

  • Cooking: salads, ice cream, Jell-O, pudding, no-bake cookies and pies, etc.
  • Copying recipes from magazines onto cards
  • Making a grocery list of items needed for recipes
  • Setting the table: Folding or rolling silverware into napkins

 

Ambers

Ambers like to live in moments of time, and are focused on sensation – manipulating, gathering and touching.  They are focused on wants and needs, and sometimes are exploratory without safety awareness. Their communication is limited with difficulty understanding and expressing needs, so activities selected need be familiar and sensory stimulating. Ambers may enjoy sing-alongs or being in visually stimulating outdoor locations.

Family members find it hard to find new ways “to say hello”.  We need to remember that there are other ways to communicate beyond verbally.  This is the time to start using those our methods.

Some activities for Ambers include:

  • Sorting nails, screws, and other hardware.
  • Organizing nail polish and lipsticks by color and shape.
  • Grouping coins, according to date, value or place of origin.
  • Rearranging the order of the silverware drawer by forks, spoons and knives.
  • Categorizing playing cards into decks or suits that match.

Planning the Day

  • Make a schedule and follow it: be structured but allow flexibility.
  • Offer a variety of activities everyday: leisure, work, rest, and self-care.
  • Create a flow for the day: build up and then slow down.
  • Build a foundation of familiar and favorite activities.

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NursePartners is committed to providing uncompromised care to those living with a diagnosis of dementia. Our carepartners are trained in the Positive Approach to Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care (GEMS™) and work with families to enable safety, comfort, and happiness through home-care services.

If your loved one need home care assistance or relief, our team would love to help.  Contact us today.

 

Daily Care: Early Stage Alzheimer’s Disease

 

The early stages of dementia sometimes go unnoticed, especially if the older adult lives alone.  In the cases that we do learn of an early diagnosis, the challenge becomes how to best support the person living with dementia.  Typically the diagnosis may be Alzheimer’s disease, but the reality is that there are over 80 types of dementia and other conditions that produce symptoms similar to dementia.

Keeping loved ones stimulated, and providing ability-based support and care cannot be overstated. At NursePartners, we recognize the GEMS™ model as an effective method for providing a treatment plan for individuals living with dementia. Click here for an introductory overview of the classification system and to understand the stages of the journey.

 

Stage 1 – Mild/Early (lasts 2-4 yrs) –  NursePartners refers to these individuals as “Sapphires” and “Diamonds”

In the early stages of dementia, your loved one may withdraw from activities they previously enjoyed. It is important to help them remain engaged and stimulated. Even the most simple, everyday tasks such as setting the table or folding clothes can help a person with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia feel connected to “normal” life. Activities linked to hobbies and interests can maximize choice and help build the relationship between that person and the carepartner.

 

About Sapphires and Diamonds

Sapphires

Sapphires may feel “blue” due to changes with the aging process, although there may be no significant changes in cognition.  Sapphires are committed to lifelong patterns, enjoying the things the way they always have. Sapphires prefer being asked what to do when making decisions. Pamper them – spending a spa day or a trip to the barber/beauty salon can help them feel less blue.  Sapphires are not living with dementia.

Diamonds

Diamonds are “clear and sharp,” successful with established habits and routines. Diamonds like to feel competent and valued, and it is important for them to feel comfortable and in control. A diamond can still do things as they always have, but they become more territorial and less aware of boundaries. Diamonds enjoy familiar places, whether that be a family member’s home or a favorite restaurant. Suggested activities include attending concerts or plays and getting fresh air – picnicking or walking outdoors.

 

 

dementia care philadelphia, dementia care montgomery county
A stroll in the neighborhood helps animate most older adults.

Activities for Sapphires and Diamonds

  • Thinking: crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, cards, board games, and reading.
  • Physical: walking animals, gardening, walking, swimming, and dancing.
  • Social: visiting with family or friends, or going to a favorite restaurant.
  • Home Activities: folding laundry, feeding pets, cooking and helping in the kitchen.
  • Creative: arts and crafts projects, knitting, painting and drawing, playing music or singing.
  • Daily living: taking a shower, brushing teeth, eating, and getting dressed.

Reminiscence activities:

  • Looking through photo albums.
  • Creating a scrapbook, pasting photos onto the pages and writing notes about the memory beside the photo.
  • Reading saved letters and greeting cards.
  • Life Story Game: Ask your loved one to list the steps and necessities associated with an activity. For example: “We are going on a picnic, what would we bring in the picnic basket? Where would we go for the picnic?”

Some suggestions could be:

  1.   A day at the beach.
  2.   A ride in the country.
  3.   First day at school.
  4.   Getting married.
  5.   Social functions.

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NursePartners is committed to providing uncompromised care to those living with a diagnosis of dementia. Our carepartners are trained in the Positive Approach to Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care (GEMS™) and work with families to enable safety, comfort, and meaningful activity through home-care services.

If your loved one need home care assistance or relief, our team would love to help.

Contact us today.

Dispelling a few myths about home care

Over the next few weeks we will spending time with those we might not get to see often.  It is important to recognize that they will be putting their best face forward during these reunions.  We should have an acute awareness of changes that have occurred since we last saw them.

The AARP, published a report “Chronic Conditions Among Older Americans” where they state: “More than 70 million Americans ages 50 and older suffer from at least one chronic condition.”  This translates to 4 out of every 5 older adults.

Home care can be the perfect solution, but families worry about entrusting someone with the care of their loved one. When it comes to the health of your loved one, there is no room for uncertainty.  In the interest of setting the record straight, we’ve identified four major myths surrounding home health care:

Myth No. 1: Caregivers aren’t trustworthy

Many families believe that an in-home care provider cannot provide the quality of care their loved one needs and deserves. But trained care providers are knowledgeable, experienced, and dedicated to providing peace of mind for you and your family. All NursePartners’ care providers are bonded, screened, insured, and have clean backgrounds.  You can rest assured that your loved one will be safe in our care. Each carepartner participates in a behavioral interview, competency testing, skill matching, and orientation to meet the needs of your loved one.

As a licensed home care agency, we specialize in providing highly individualized, quality care in one’s home or residence. We are a network of caring professionals who work with each family to enable safety, comfort, and happiness through home care services.

Myth 2: I will have no say in choosing a care provider.

Reputable agencies will work diligently to match care providers that fit the needs of your loved one. When you choose NursePartners as your home care provider, we begin by reviewing your loved one’s current level of health and wellness. After a care consultation and assessment, we’ll work to match an experienced carepartner to fit your preferences, including personality, communication, behavior styles, and skill set.

Myth 3: Home care will take away independence from my loved one.

Care at home can actually provide a new level of independence for your loved one. A professional care provider can help maintain a person’s safety and independence at home, from planning and preparing meals, to providing transport, and support around the house.

NursePartners strives for exceptional care, forming interactive, trusting relationships with our clients. By appreciating and understanding what is changing and what is still possible, we generate a plan of care that is positive and productive.

Myth 4: Home care is unaffordable.

Many people assume in-home care is more expensive than assisted living.  However, assisted living communities in our area cost at least $5,500 a month.  Once these communities determine that your loved one needs additional care, the daily rate will increase or they will be moved to another facility such as skilled nursing.

Home care is flexible because you choose the hours of care.  Although we may suggest a certain level of services based on our experiences, it is ultimately up to you to decide what coverage is needed.

Many individuals, if given the choice, would choose to remain in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible. In-home care is an option for providing support, without moving them from their current residence. While there is a lot to navigate, it’s important for you and your family to know that many options exist.  Our team is available to guide you through this process.

If you or a loved one is thinking about home care assistance, our team would love to help.Contact us today.


Sources

“Genworth 2015 Cost of Care Survey.” Genworth (n.d.): n. pag. https://www.genworth.com. Genworth, 20 Mar. 2015. Web.

The prices of assisted living communities was compiled through a screening of over 20 assisted living communities in Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia counties in Pennsylvania and Camden and Burlington counties in New Jersey.

Alzheimer’s and the Ability to Walk

Dementia can affect areas of the brain that are responsible for movement and balance. Because of this, many individuals affected by Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia can gradually lose the ability to walk and perform everyday tasks. Knowing what to expect can make an easier transition for you and your loved one in the late stages of dementia.

Understanding Balance and Gait

A crucial and sometimes neglected part of dementia care is the observation of gait. Gait refers to the motion and stride of walking. One of the first signs of loss of mobility, is walking unsteadily and shuffling. Your loved one may seem slow or clumsy, causing more accidents and bumping into things. This “slowing” is typically associated with a syndrome called “parkinsonism.” Other signs of Parkinsonism include the shortening of steps, “stooped” posture, and the narrowing of the space between feet. When a person with Parkinsonism turns, they no longer pivot on their heels, but instead turn in a series of short steps. During the turns, their balance can become unstable; and are likely to fall backwards.

Apraxia is another condition associated with dementia and the ability to walk. An ataxic gait is characterized by imbalance, and abnormal, uncoordinated movements. Typically the individual can stand, but is very unsteady, taking small irregular steps. Very early in the course of apraxic walking in dementia, a cane or a walker can help. It is not uncommon to see a person go from a slow, cautious gait, to a normal walking pattern simply by taking up a cane.

How you can help:

  • It is important to note that people with dementia can have problems with walking that are not associated with Dementia. Exhaustion and pain can limit how far a person can walk. Sometimes that pain can reflect an unattended problem in foot care or muscle fatigue.
  • The person you care for may also require a mobility aid, such as a walking cane or a wheelchair in order to feel secure. Sometimes just being physically present can provide your loved one with the confidence and security to walk.
  • Consider a physiotherapist: They can help with anything from exercises to strengthen muscles to walking aids.

Care for a person with dementia who is immobile enough can become difficult. Many other problems can develop, such as constipation, blood clots and pressure sores. If you or a loved one needs home care assistance or relief, our team can help: Contact us today.

Sources:

Understanding Dementia: Balance and Gait Examination – DementiaGuide.com. DementiaGuide, 2001. Web. 23 June 2016.

Developing Trust with Your Doctor

As family members and caretakers, we play a large role in overseeing the medical needs of our loved ones. Your relationship with medical professionals is based on trust, communication and understanding.  The stronger the patient-physician relationship, the more value it provides. It’s been shown that individuals who establish relationships with their doctors tend to have better health outcomes. Building a plan of care that includes their doctor enables you to help meet the medical needs of your loved one throughout their later years.

Chupein with Shy

Here’s how you can establish a relationship and keep it on track:

 

  • Prepare for your appointment.

Bring all current medications, along with notes and facts about the state of health of your loved one. Write down any recent health problems or concerns that you have beforehand, so you make sure to bring them up.

 

  • Choose a relationship style.

Whether it’s a new doctor that you’re meeting for the first time or one that you’ve had a relationship with for a while, state clearly at the beginning of your visit that you want to be involved as a partner in the decision-making process.

 

  • Provide some background.

Share your point of view. How is a new technique working?  You should let your doctor know either way. If your loved one has a complicated medical history, or if you are meeting with a new doctor, bring a summary of recent tests, treatments and health problems so the doctor understands quickly.

 

  • Make sure you leave with the information you need.

You need to leave the doctor’s appointment with the information to provide care.  Record your visit, or bring someone to take notes. There’s often a lot of information to absorb during a doctor’s appointment, particularly if you’re facing a major, frightening health challenge. You may be distracted by trying to take in a diagnosis, so it can be helpful to take notes of everything discussed.

 

  • Ask how to reach your doctor after hours.

It’s important to ask your doctor how to keep in touch in the event of a medical emergency that happens outside of regular hours. Every doctor will have a different preference, so find out which method works best.  If you know the system for getting in touch before a crisis.

 

Our carepartners are dedicated to improving quality of life. NursePartners works diligently to ensure carepartners fill their time together with positive interactions. By keeping a record of everything from mood behaviors to daily activities, we can begin to understand which factors contribute to positive moods and overall happiness.  Our carepartners are trained in the Positive Approach to Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care (GEMS™) and work with families to enable safety, comfortability, and happiness through home-care services.

If your loved one need home care assistance or relief, our team would love to help.