November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, started by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. At the time, fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s. Today the number of people with the disease has soared to over 5 million and it is estimated that more than 10 million individuals are caring for a loved one with the disease. Alzheimer’s is a complex neurological disease that is the most common form of dementia. Despite all the research done to date, it is still very much a grey area of medicine.
While the entire month of November is dedicated to raising awareness about the disease, it also shines a spotlight on the unspoken heroes…the caregivers. Caregivers provide 24-hour care in most circumstances. As time passes, many of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s as well as their caregivers experience feelings of isolation and at times, overwhelming stress. We want you to know that there is a vast amount of resources ranging from support groups to memory care facilities to educational seminars that try to provide caregivers with some relief.
Although your loved one may not recognize you all the time or appear disoriented, spending time with them is crucial to slowing down the disease. We understand that you may not feel as close to them as before the diagnosis, and now you are dealing with the task of getting to know them from a different perspective. With some preparation and patience you will find that there are several ways to still have fun with your loved ones. We offer 5 easy tips on creating great experiences for your loved ones with dementia:
Look for a quiet place, play their favorite songs, and listen to them together. You can also clap your hands, snap or sing along. Even though the person may have limited mobility or find themselves in a wheelchair, it does not mean that they cannot enjoy to the rhythm of music.
- Go Outside
Take this opportunity to go outside and get some fresh air. The reality is that as the disease progresses, the individual tends to spend most of their time indoors or in the confines of a nursing facility. It will be lovely to sit outside together and rejoice in a peaceful and quiet place. You can take some snacks and drinks with you; even more, a good book to read aloud to your loved one. Make them feel safe and happy and be sure to take a hat and sunblock to protect them from the Florida sun.
- Let Them Take a Nap
There are several reasons why a person with dementia may be prone to falling asleep. Do not take it personally as your presence will make them feel secure and less alone, stay with them and hold their hand as they nap.
- Take Some Notes
Every time you visit your loved ones, it may be helpful to take notes and write the date, time, activity and especially your loved one’s mood. After a while you will recognize patterns as to when they prefer to go outdoors, what type of activity they enjoy most, and at what time of the day they are most prone to feeling tired.
- Animal Therapy
Back to the basics. This is a technique that builds on the pre-existing human-animal bond. Interacting with a friendly pet can help many physical and mental issues. Studies show that 15 minutes of therapy with animals can: 1.) help improve their health and quality of life and 2.) increase brain activity and serotonin levels to produce more positive emotions.
Our job as elder law attorneys is to help guide our clients through their golden years and minimize the recurring stressors we often hear about in our conference room. Elder law includes topics such as Medicaid Planning and Medicaid Eligibility Strategies, long term care planning, nursing home issues, Guardianship, Personal Services Contracts, and other retirement issues. Whether you are personally experiencing one of these issues or assisting an elderly family member in navigating their affairs, the earlier you get educated, the better. Proactive planning should include caregivers, aging loved ones with dementia, and their children. Our experienced estate planning and elder law attorneys will help provide peace of mind. Contact OC Estate & Elder Law at (954) 251-0332 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation to help you deal with the balancing act of the “new normal”. Our attorneys are fluent in English, Spanish and Russian.