Feelings of confusion or isolation are common for caregivers of loved ones diagnosed with any stage of memory loss. Taking on the role of caregiver can be overwhelming, particularly when it comes to knowing where or to whom to turn with questions or concerns.
At Sunrise, we strive to help caregivers get the support and answers they need throughout their loved ones’ journey. Rita Altman, RN, MSN, CVM, our SVP of memory care, is an expert on memory loss and one of only 10 Validation Masters worldwide. She answered the six most commonly asked questions from caregivers about Alzheimer’s, dementia and other forms of memory loss.
What are the most common signs of Alzheimer’s?
RITA: One common early warning sign of memory loss is confusion - not being sure of where things are placed or how to find them. Or, when someone begins a conversation and gets lost in the middle of it. Another sign is when a person who is normally very social and outgoing suddenly becomes more withdrawn or unsure about themselves. Those are pretty good indicators that one should reach out to their primary care physician for an evaluation.
What’s the best way to communicate with someone who has Alzheimer’s when they no longer know who you are?
RITA: Reminding or pointing your loved one back to reality may sometimes cause them to become more confused or upset. Instead, think about things they love to do and start to talk about that. You’ll find that even though your loved one may not know your name, they will know that you care about them and that you are there for them.
How can I keep my loved one safe at home?
RITA: As we know, with memory loss, judgment begins to become impaired, which can compromise the ability to navigate an environment or to safely use an appliance. When this happens, it may mean your loved one needs some supervision throughout the day. Caregiver arrangements should be made to ensure that we are providing them with the safety and security that they need.
How do I know if my loved one is ready to transition to a senior living community or move outside of the home?
RITA: The time to begin thinking about transitioning to a senior living or assisted living community is when your loved one’s condition begins to affect your life and your well-being; your ability to sleep, to work, to function or to care for other members of your family.
When you’re looking for a senior living community, make sure you search for a place that provides person-centered care. That means that they are tailoring that individual’s day according to what their unique needs and preferences are.
How has the idea of a nursing home changed over the years?
RITA: They are very different today due to the important introduction of the person-centered approach to care. Many of today’s senior living communities actually take the time to listen to the type of programs that residents enjoy and activities that they love to do.
It’s very important that seniors visit an assisted living environment and spend some time there when considering the transition. Have a meal there; talk to some of the residents who live there. It’s vital that we’re very honest with our loved ones and engage them as much as possible when it comes time for that transition. It will give them that sense of control because they will help make the ultimate decision.
If my family has a history of Alzheimer’s, what can I do to reduce my risk?
RITA: We should do all we can to live a brain-healthy lifestyle. Do things that stimulate the brain, learn something new and do things to help reduce your stress. Anything that will benefit your well-being is going to be good for your brain.
For more Alzheimer’s or memory care tips, visit the Sunrise Senior Living website. And check out more articles from Rita Altman about memory care, caregiving and finding the right support here.
Source: Sunrise Senior Living