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Regina McNamara RN, MSN President & Kelly McNamara, Chief Operating Officer
Here at Always There Home Care, we are grateful you are slowing down to read our newsletter full of items that relate to home care, home health care, aging and eldercare, as well as some useful tips for daily living. Please enjoy in the spirit of community and cooperation in which this newsletter was sent.
What are the symptoms and early signs of Alzheimer's disease?
By Bob Demarco | Alzheimer's Reading Room
Most of the Alzheimer's caregivers I know can look back and identify symptoms and behaviors that they now know were early signs of Alzheimer's or a related dementia.
The sooner that Alzheimer's is diagnosed the better the potential outcome. A failure to spot Alzheimer's early can be disastrous.
10 Symptoms of Dementia and Early Stage Alzheimer's
- Diminished short-term memory
- Misplacing belongings in odd places; losing valuable belongings, like wallet or purse
- Difficulty finding the right word: "Tip of the tongue" syndrome
- Person seems "not himself" and shows uncharacteristic behaviors
- Lapses in judgment
- Difficulty with mental arithmetic and handling money
- Disorientation in unfamiliar places or situations
- May become apathetic or withdrawn, avoiding social situations
- More difficulty with routine tasks at work or at home, or may take longer to complete tasks
- Irritation or anger in response to increasing memory lapses
Specific Examples of the Symptoms and Signs of Alzheimer's
- Asks the same question repeatedly within the same conversation
- Puts car keys away in refrigerator
- Unable to recall word for "car" and then says in frustration, "The thing you drive to work in."
- A normally shy person becomes uncharacteristically outgoing or talkative at a family gathering
- Agrees to buy services or products he/she doesn't need from telephone sales person
- Finds it difficult to balance checkbook or figure out correct amount of money to pay for an item while shopping
- Forgets to eat, skips meals, or eats the same food every meal
Source: John Hopkins, Memory, Health Alert
We have many people on this list that were fortunate and were put on the combination of Aricept and Namenda at the time of their diagnosis. All of these persons seem to be functioning quite well.
It is my belief that all Alzheimer's caregivers should discuss the combination therapy with their doctor.
Primary care doctors are not good at diagnosing Alzheimer's and neither are spouses or children. This happens because Alzheimer's is usually hard to diagnose until a "big problem" or "big event" occurs that calls for an investigation into that problem or event.
Neither the doctors, spouses or children are to be blamed for the inability to spot Alzheimer's early. Alzheimer's disease, in most cases, sneaks in and is sinister in its ability to hide.
Alzheimer's can confuse anyone and everyone. It can even confuse a veteran Alzheimer's caregiver - Thanks to Bob Demarco, founder Alzheimer's Reading Room, cared for his mother for 8 years.■
By Kelly McNamara
Ritta Muteteri: This is a first for our Kudos column.
As we were going to press with this issue, Rita's beloved client, Leon Epstein, a lovely man in his 90s, having taken a sudden turn for the worst, is in the process of dying.
Leon was a patient at a rehab facility for several weeks. His progress in rehab was fairly good, but he very much wanted to return home.
Enter the Amazing Ritta. As his live-in caregiver, she made certain his meals are flavorful, varied and consistent with his low salt requirements. Also attending to Leon was his certified home health company Encompass. Their therapists and nurses were great and Leon made excellent progress. This was also due to the vigilance of his caregiver Ritta who gently reminded him to do his exercises daily.
Since the meals at the rehab facility were less than appetizing, Leon actually lost weight during his stay. With Ritta's cooking and encouragement, he gained weight and strength and his ambulation improved as well.
We very rarely have direct feedback from family members or professional home health colleagues involved in a client's care. But the client's daughter Rena was kind enough to request feedback. Carrie Bowman, the nurse from Encompass, the home health company, noted that under Ritta's care, Leon was up and around more, was more talkative and conversational. She was also kind enough to notice that Ritta's very thorough notes made it easier for her to keep updated on his condition.
Leon's wife, Lisa, remarked that Ritta was "Cheerful, helpful and lovely to have around. She also takes a lot of initiative". Leon chimed In with the following quote: "incredible initiative. she knows what to do before you even ask for it "and Lisa's final comment.." She is terrific, a joy to have around".
Leon was quite fond of Ritta. While ill and awaiting a bed at the hospital, he even took the time to recall what he liked best about her. We included his comments above.
Finally, Dawn Reed, our Senior Caregiver Mentor, had visited Leon and Ritta just a short time ago in a supervision visit. She added her kind words about Ritta:
Ritta has a beautiful personality. Leon and Ritta complimented each other as they both enjoyed one another's company, jokes and talks.
Many thanks to Rena, his amazing daughter and Lisa, Leon's wife. And to the wonderful Ritta, who helped him live a full life. Thank you, Leon for the privilege of knowing you.
All caregivers mentioned in this column will receive a bonus and our sincere gratitude ■
The Benefits of Therapy
Animals for Seniors
Anyone who has ever stroked a dog's soft ears knows the calming feeling a therapy dog can offer. A therapy dog presents many health benefits to their owners, like lower cholesterol levels and can even prevent heart attack and stroke. They can also help fight depression.
For these reasons, more and more often dogs are being utilized for therapeutic purposes at senior facilities. Therapy dogs are used to promote health and healing for seniors of any age range or health condition, whether they are depressed, chronically ill or have ongoing disabilities.
Pet therapy for seniors, also known as Animal Assisted Therapy, is a technique that uses animals to interact with seniors for numerous reasons to help improve their quality of life. Studies show that just fifteen minutes spent bonding with an animal promotes hormonal changes within the brain. Stress levels drop as the brain produces serotonin (the "feel-good" hormone), along with prolactin and oxytocin. This is why therapy animals are good companions for seniors, because they offer so many amazing health benefits.
New dementia app
makes for a better visit
Dementia Australia has released a free iPad app to assist families and friends to better communicate with a loved one living with dementia.
A Better Visit is interactive, stimulating and fun.
Gamer and television presenter, Dementia Australia Ambassador Stephanie 'Hex' Bendixsen, said the games in A Better Visit would help family and friends be more engaged when visiting someone with dementia.
"I cared for my mother Wendy, who died earlier this year from dementia, and I wish an app like this had been available because it can be challenging to come up with different things to do and talk about, especially as symptoms progress," Ms Bendixsen said.
Complaining about something that can't be fixed doesn't work nearly as well as coming up with an acceptable alternative. If the restaurant doesn't have your reservation, and they're full, you can't ask that someone be thrown out. You can suggest that a free drink would put you in a good mood at the bar until they can accommodate you, or that they call a nearby restaurant and get you in there as a courtesy.
My otherwise completely reliable limo service failed to notify a driver to pick me up, so I asked my house sitter to drive me to the train station. If she weren't available, I would have taken our truck and left it in a lot.
These days, it's easy to bring an iPad with you in case the wait in the doctor's office, or for the plane departure, or the business appointment is delayed. Doctors don't hurry patients for other patients, the airlines are their own private bureaucracy, and people are often legitimately off schedule. Sit down and read, or play Angry Birds, or write something.
Providers We Love
We are privileged to have received referrals from and be able to coordinate care with many Assisted Living facilities, rehab facilities, and Medicare Home Care and Hospice agencies. Our growth is in large part due to the trust the staff in these organizations have put in our caregivers. We are likewise impressed with them and we are committed to referring to them on a regular basis
The Hearth Assisted Living Southbury, Branford, Guilford, Madison All it takes is one simple stroll through The Hearth to feel the special difference their residents experience daily. Staff are friendly, helpful, genuine. You instantly feel the teamwork among their staff. Feeling lost? The first person you encounter shows you the way. Residents are treated like family. They are happy, and enjoy telling visitors all about their home. Their secret? The Live More philosophy that is at the core of everything they do and is the essence of what makes Hearth Management different.
They are committed to meeting each resident's emotional, physical nutritional, social, intellectual and spiritual needs...
Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care, Middlebury CT
Founded in 1997, Seasons is the fifth largest Hospice provider in the nation. Providing high quality clinical and compassionate care to patients and families in 15 states through 20 Medicare-certified home care clinical operations and 10 Hospice Inpatient Centers. In 2012, Seasons caregivers served more than 16,000 patients of all ages totaling more than 1 million patient days...
About Always There Home Care
Always There Home Care provides compassionate, dependable and professional one-on-one care for seniors who need assistance in the comfort of their homes or residential care communities. Services from highly qualified and trained caregivers range from companionship, meal preparation and incidental transportation to personal care, medication management and RN-directed case management. Available 7 days a week, services range from a few hours a day to 24-hour care.
Always There Home Care understands that every situation is unique and creates individualized care plans to help improve a client's quality of life.
Our caregivers are totally committed, highly qualified and carefully selected individuals who are personally and thoroughly screened, bonded and insured. Most are Certified Nurse Assistants or Home Health Aides. Most importantly our caregivers are dependable and extraordinarily caring of others. In addition to their previous experience, our caregivers receive continuous training that includes dementia, hospice care, home safety, nutrition and other topics related to seniors. These highly qualified and trained caregivers are ready to help you and your loved ones with a variety of daily activities such as:
Meal planning and preparation
Transportation to doctor appointments and other errands
/ Light housekeeping
Medication reminders /
Information and referral services
Our personalized, nurse- supervised services are available 7 days a week and
can range from a few hours a day to 24 hours and live in care.
For more information or service needs, call 24 hours a day at:
or visit www.AlwaysThereHomeCare-CT.com.
We are Always There!