5 Valuable Tips for Communicating With a Parent/ Person with Dementia

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Due to various factors, including the ageing population, dementia is on the rise. In the future, it could touch the lives of half the population, becoming one of the most common degenerative diseases. 

When a parent gets dementia, it can sometimes be disorientating and upsetting. All of a sudden, their behaviour changes and it’s not clear what’s going on. They just don’t seem like themselves and they can’t take on board what you say. 

Adjusting to this new reality can be challenging, but this article is here to help. In it, we run through some tips for communicating with a person who has dementia so that you can keep your relationship with them strong. 

Give Them Your Full Attention

Communicating with a person who has dementia becomes challenging when you don’t give them your full attention. Misunderstandings are common, so trying to watch TV or do the dishes at the same time as talking to them is a bad idea. 

Instead, address your parents directly in quiet surroundings. Make sure that there is nothing else going on at the same time, including screaming kids and so on. When approaching your parents, use non-verbal cues, such as touching them on the shoulder to indicate that you want to talk to them. 

State Your Words Clearly

Language can be fuzzy sometimes. But when our brains are healthy, most of us can get by. 

However, that’s not the case when your parents are receiving dementia care. It is considerably more challenging for them to understand what is going on and their surroundings. 

Therefore, always state your words clearly. Avoid raising your voice, as your parents may mistake this for aggression unless they are also hard of hearing. 

When you speak, use the same wording. Prepare yourself to repeat what you need to say several times.

Ask Simple Questions

If you do ask questions, keep them simple. Ideally, you want questions that your parents can answer “yes” or “no” to. Refrain from asking open-ended questions, such as “what type of food do you prefer?”

Break Down Activities Into Smaller Chunks

Telling a patient with dementia that they need to go shopping or get ready for the day is generally a bad idea. That’s because these tasks involve multiple smaller steps that they need to go through. To a healthy person, this all seems simple. But for a patient with dementia, it is considerably more challenging. 

For this reason, try breaking down tasks into a series of smaller steps. Instead of telling your parents to get ready, ask them to put on each item of clothing one at a time. 

Distract And Redirect

Sometimes people living with dementia can become frustrated and angry. Many do not understand what is going on. 

Because of this, it’s a good idea to distract and redirect. These psychological techniques make it easier for you to manage difficult interactions. Focus on the feelings they have and offer support, but then if that doesn’t work, offer immediate redirection, such as suggesting getting something to eat or going for a walk. 

It can be really challenging when a parent or family member has dementia- it can affect both mental and physical health. You may find yourself feeling exhausted, stressed and frustrated too- as well as sad that the person you love is being affected so much. Your loved one may also feel like this at the beginning and struggle with any loss of memory or function. Make sure they get the correct support and you look after yourself too- by practising self care and speaking to a therapist if need be.

This article was written by a freelance writer and contains do follow links.

5 Ways to Support Mental Health As You Get Older.

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When you think of older people, what comes to mind? Most likely, you think of a frail older man or woman sitting in a rocking chair on the porch with his or her grandchild. This image is often comforting, but it’s not always accurate. As life expectancy increases, so will the number of seniors needing support as they navigate this time in their lives.

Let’s take a look at the five ways you can support mental wellness for the elderly through compassion and care.

Mental Health: Dementia and Depression

Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every person realises their unique potential and can cope with the everyday stresses of life. It encompasses our emotions, beliefs, thoughts, and behaviours related to our physical and spiritual health.

Studies have found that over 50 per cent of older adults with dementia experience depression. This figure becomes even more striking when considering that depression rates are higher in women than men. Depression can lead to loneliness and feeling disconnected from society, which might be exacerbated for those who aren’t familiar with mental health issues.

Depression can also lead to poor self-care behaviours like eating poorly or not taking care of personal hygiene because they cannot enjoy their day-to-day activities such as cooking or cleaning. People may find it challenging to socialise during this time because they’re trying so hard not to feel negative emotions like sadness or anger that might come up unexpectedly during a conversation.

It can be worth discussing how they can get support from a care facility such as Oakland Care where they will have round the clock care and support for their mental and physical wellbeing.

5 Ways to Support Mental Health

  • 1. Be a friend

One of the most important things you can do to support mental health in the elderly is being a friend. It’s easy to think of someone who is elderly as being alone, but they don’t want to be. They rely on friends and family members more than ever before. This can help provide them with some comfort and companionship during difficult times.

  • 2. Have compassion for them

It’s good to show seniors compassion when they need it the most. Not only will this improve their mental health, but it will also give you the chance to see a side of your loved one that you might not know about otherwise.

  • 3. Offer loving care

It’s essential for all people in your life, including elderly family members, friends or caregivers, to remember that every person is different and deserves love on their terms. The elderly need specific forms of care and various types of love depending on their circumstances.

  • 4. Send cards or gifts

Gifts sent with care can help people feel less alone and know they have support. Choosing something special to them.

  • 5 Get help

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to contact a medical professional such as a GP or hospital doctor who can get them the proper care. 

Above all, make sure they are well supported and cared for.

This article was written by a freelance writer and contains affiliate links.

Assisted Living: How to help your Elderly Parents find their perfect Care Home.

When you were a child, your parents always took care of you. But now that you’ve grown up and may have kids of your own, it’s time to take care of them. And when their health starts to deteriorate, and they become too ill for in-home care, the question becomes: how do we find a great assisted living facility?

While the idea of having to send loved ones to an assisted living facility isn’t always a nice one, it’s often the best choice. Not just for their health, but for our own too

In this article, we’ll walk you through each factor so that finding an assisted living facility feels like less of a daunting task.

Image by Matthias Zomer via Pexels

 

What Types Of Care Homes Are On Offer?

The world of assisted living facilities is an industry that has snowballed. It’s now booming, and there are many things to consider before you make your final decision. The first step is understanding the different types of senior homes available.

A Care Home

This type of facility covers the personal and day-to-day care of your loved ones. They’ll handle things like washing, dressing, and taking medications on time. Many of them also provide activities and days out. But the quality and amount of these extras are provided depends on the home. 

A Nursing Home

Nursing homes cover all the same things as care home, but it’s provided by qualified nurses. So they’re a great choice if your parents have health conditions that need a little extra attention. 

A Care Home With Dementia Care

This type of home is targeted towards elderly loved ones with dementia. It’s designed to make them feel comfortable and to keep them safe.

A Dual-Registered Care Home

This facility accepts residents who have personal and nursing care needs. These homes mean that residents who arrive just needing personal care but eventually need nursing care don’t have to change facilities. Instead, they can stay in comfort in the place that has come to be their home.  

Choosing a Care Home

One of the most important factors when looking for a senior living facility is the level of care. If your loved one needs special attention due to dementia or any other physical disability, you should find a facility with specialized services to have their needs met.

There’s plenty to consider when it comes to looking at care homes for your loved ones. Before you get into the nitty-gritty, it’s worth taking the time to make a list of what’s important to you in your chosen assisted living facility. That way, you can quickly sift through the homes on offer. Because there will be plenty to get through.  

The Staff

The staff at an assisted living facility goes a long way in determining the quality of life for its residents. They must be attentive, caring, and responsive to the needs of each individual. When you visit your prospective home, it’s essential to ask questions about their staff.

The Food

The food served at a senior home is also vital. If meals are not nutritious or flavourful, it can cause malnutrition, weight loss, and other health issues for seniors. Ask if they provide three meals a day or if that depends on what residents choose to eat. It’s important to note that while dietary restrictions can be accommodated at some homes, you may want to find one with more robust catering options and for diets such as kosher or halal.

The Amenities 

Another thing to consider when looking for a care home is what kind of environment and amenities it provides. Does it feel open and welcoming? Is there an opportunity for outdoor activities? Are there pets on-site? How big of a community is there? These questions will help you determine which type of environment would best suit your loved one’s needs.

Amenities on-site provide your parents with something to pass the time, stay engaged, and most of all, feel a strong sense of community. 

Image by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

Always Involve Your Parent

When our elderly loved ones come to need further care that we can’t provide, it’s a challenging time. And while it’s difficult for us to come to terms with, it is just as difficult for them. For many elderly people entering care homes, it’s a massive change to their daily life. Some may not be aware of what it entails, so informing them if possible is important. 

Make sure that they’re a big part of choosing a facility. After all, they’re the ones that will be living there. While some health conditions may hamper their understanding of the situation, it’s essential to keep them as involved as possible. Making a list of what they want and then what they need can be helpful to find the best care home options available. 

So while finding a care home can be difficult, it ensures that the quality of your loved one of life remains high. When caring for them becomes too much for you to handle, assisted living facilities are there as a helping hand.

This article was written by a freelance writer and contains affiliate links.

Alzheimers: How to help a loved one after their diagnosis: Guest blog by Hannah Boothe

Alone elderly man sitting on the wheelchair and holding a walking stick

(image: H Boothe)

The onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms in a loved one can bring one of the most challenging times of your life to you, as well as the one you love. How you handle this period will set the precedence for how your relationship with each other will continue as the symptoms get worse over time. Don’t let their diagnosis mean the end of your relationship. Find ways of helping along the way so you can draw closer to each other instead.

 

Help with Early Detection

Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can make all the difference when it comes to how severe it gets over time. If your loved one has not yet been diagnosed, you can urge them to have detection tests performed to catch the development of Alzheimer’s early. Some tests monitor the development of certain proteins, called prions, that are directly involved with the onset of Alzheimer’s.

These are proteins found in the brain that force other proteins to fold or bend abnormally. When this happens, this equates to varying degrees of brain damage, since the brain can no longer function as it once did. The higher the number of prions in the brain, the worse the damage to the brain is.

To measure the presence of prions in the brain, one of two kinds of tests can be conducted. The first is the B-Panel test. This is for patients who don’t show any signs of developing Alzheimer’s but are at risk of developing it. Those at risk include people with a family history of Alzheimer’s and those who have had multiple head injuries, among other risk factors.

C-Panel tests are for those individuals who already exhibit the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. This is the test that provides the most accurate readings of the levels of prions present in the brain, and it’s the most trusted diagnostic tool for Alzheimer’s.

 

Educate Yourself About Alzheimer’s Symptoms

One of the best things you can do for your loved one is to learn about the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s that are not so commonly known. For instance, hiding other’s things or being suspicious of others hiding their things is a symptom most people are not aware of until it happens and causes a great deal of strain to the relationship. They may also imagine things that are not there and insist they are, no matter how much you might try to convince them otherwise.

They may become violent when frustrated as well. This frustration is caused by their realisation that they are not in control of their minds and bodies the way they once were. They need your support and companionship now more than ever.

 

Avoiding Upsetting and Unsettling Situations

People with Alzheimer’s tend to be upset very easily, and this can range from mild to extreme depending on the individual and situation. For example, loud noises from the television or radio might upset them. You want to create an atmosphere of support and comfort around them to keep them from experiencing sadness, depression, and anxiety that overwhelms them. Having a daily routine can be crucial for those with Alzheimer’s. If you live with them, you should encourage this and support it. When there is a set routine, they are less likely to feel confused and helpless.

Do and say things to let them know that you are close by and are there to support them during this time. Never argue with them or try to convince them of anything they don’t want to believe. Remember that you are no longer dealing with a rational person at all times.

Remember this in your daily interactions with them. Only ask them one question at a time, and wait until they answer successfully before saying anything else. Don’t be afraid to use humor if you think they will respond positively. You can also use music, singing and dancing to improve their mood or distract them from themselves.

Above all, try not to let your anger or frustration show. The closer you were to them before the onset of Alzheimer’s, the more upsetting this will be to them. Instead of getting frustrated, walk away from them for a while and take some deep breaths before engaging again. Never forget that you might need this kind of help and companionship yourself one day.

 

This post is by freelance writer Hannah Boothe.

 

Dementia and Brain Health Decline: Can the MIND Diet help?: Guest blog by Eve Crabtree

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With more and more people each day taking steps to combat, prevent and manage their mental health, being as healthy as possible, both mentally and physically, is something that’s important to us.

That’s one of the reasons that many people are turning to the MIND diet to maintain brain function and prevent brain health decline and neurodegenerative diseases.

MIND Diet: What is it?

The MIND diet, Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, was created by researchers from a variety of universities in 2015. It aims to reduce the chance of developing dementia and a decline in brain health that is often associated with older age.

Elements of the Mediterranean diet and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) were combined to create the MIND diet. The reason these two diets were chosen above others is because both have been scientifically proven to have significant health benefits.

What was the aim of the study?

The MIND diet, Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, was created by researchers from a variety of universities in 2015. It aims to reduce the chance of developing dementia and a decline in brain health that is often associated with older age.

The study involved over 600 participants and took 3 years to complete. The participants, all of different ages, builds, heights and weights, were asked to follow the diet for the full 3 years whilst data was collected by the team of researchers.

Upon completion, it was immediately found that following the diet had a positive impact on the mental health and physical health of the participants.

One study found that of 923 older people that partook, those that followed the MIND diet closely had a 53% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those that only followed it loosely.

Additionally, even those that only moderately followed the plan cut their risk of developing Alzheimer’s by an average of 35%.

What foods are encouraged on the MIND diet?

The MIND diet encourages followers to consume 10 main foods that make up the majority of their food intake each week. These foods are:

  • Fish
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Other vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Poultry
  • Olive oil
  • Berries
  • Wine
  • Beans
  • Whole grains

These foods have been recommended because they are low in saturated fat but high in good fats, protein, fibre and vitamins. Eating a varied selection of them each day provides your body and brain with everything it needs to be healthy.

What foods should be limited on the MIND diet?

Along with all other diets, the MIND diet recommends that followers consume a restricted amount of processed foods. This includes:

  • Red meat
  • Cheese
  • Butter and margarine
  • Sweet treats
  • Fried food

Researchers encourage limiting intake of these foods because they are high in trans and saturated fat – both of which have been linked to numerous diseases including Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

What are the benefits of following the MIND diet?

Along with slowing brain health decline and minimising the risk of getting dementia, the MIND diet has also shown to benefit physical health and wellbeing, reduce harmful meta-amyloid proteins, and decrease oxidative stress and inflammation.

 

  • Oxidative Stress and Inflammation

Oxidative stress is caused by unstable molecules, known as free radicals, accumulate in large amounts in the body and cause damage to cells.

Inflammation is the body’s natural reaction to infection or injury. Although beneficial in small doses, if inflammation isn’t regulated correctly, it can become harmful.

The vitamin E in many of the foods in the MIND diet benefits brain function by protecting it from oxidative stress. Furthermore, omega 3 fatty acids in fish are known to lower brain inflammation and reduce loss of brain function.

 

  • Harmful Beta-Amyloid Proteins

Scientists have previously suggested that plaques, build ups of beta-amyloid proteins, are one of the primary causes of Alzheimer’s disease. These plaques collect in the brain and disrupt signals between brain cells, eventually leading to brain death.

Trans and saturated fats can increase beta-amyloid proteins in the brain which is why the MIND diet recommends limiting these foods.  

The bottom line

Several previous studies have been carried out that have shown the impact of eating healthily on mental health and wellbeing as a whole. Not only has a healthy diet and regular exercise proved to improve brain function, reduce stress, and improve memory, it also has a positive effect on the body eg weight.

Due to the fact the MIND diet involves eating a variety of good fats and nutrient rich foods, we can hope that it will improve general mental health and brain function as well as reducing brain health decline and combating dementia.

However, this is purely based on opinion and the results of this particular study: further research is yet to be carried out to analyse the extent of the impact the MIND diet really has on the brain.

The brain is complex and we await the results of more research over the coming years.

Eve Crabtree is a writer and health expert.