Tablets as a Window to Memory

When caring for a person with dementia a tablet pc may well be one of your most valuable tool.  Ranging in price from $50-$200, tablets can be an excellent care resource.1 Research shows that the portable touchscreen devices, commonly called tablets, are useful not only to the individual with dementia but also to the caregiver.2 In a study of individuals with early -stage dementia, 50% of those in the study were able to use the tablet independently. Caregivers expressed relief in proportion to the amount of time their loved one used the tablet independently. In a study of individuals with…

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Hope You Dance

When you think of dance, what comes to mind?  Is it the foxtrot, waltz, tango or salsa?  Maybe you think of Zumba or Jazzercise. Or maybe you think of the weekly program, Dancing with the Stars. But did you know that dance is a great brain health strategy? In fact, a study looking at better memory over the course of fourteen years found that dance was a lifestyle factor associated with better memory. The results of this study show the importance of dance in vascular health as well as cognitive function. When eleven different types of physical activities were assessed,…

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Traditions Re-Visited

From ghoulies and ghosties And long-leggedy beasties And things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us!1 This traditional Scottish prayer can well be applied to October celebrations when living with dementia. With Halloween decorating a phenomenon that increases every year, it is important to consider the impact of Jack O’Lanterns, skeletons, mummies, witches and vampires. First remember that these expressions of the holiday are more numerous and vivid than they were in your loved one’s early life. Halloween spending has grown over the years.2 With less Halloween energy in your loved one’s past, the reminiscence value from…

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Corn & Cross Pollination

I recently heard a speaker compare Redwood roots to caregiving.  Having been to San Francisco and seen California Redwoods, the comparison impacted me.  I have shared that speaker’s piece on social media.  But in reflection I wanted to share insight based on my first foray into truck gardening.  We were young parents, financially strapped, wanting to get our hands in the dirt.  So we got the landlord’s permission and began a small garden.  In that well-marked patch we planted all sorts of vegetables and one row of corn.  It was as others’ were harvesting their corn, that we realized something…

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Horton Hears a Who

A person’s a person, no matter how small!  This is Horton’s lament when he tries to get the jungle animals to realize that there is an entire civilization living on a clover.  This classic childhood philosophy book tugs the heartstrings of all professional caregivers and healthcare advocates.  We too are often trying to protect what is often misunderstood.  For Alzheimer’s advocates, Horton’s lament resonates with our own refrain, A person’s a person, no matter what stage!  We see the windows inside that most people fail to see or try to discover. Horton came to mind this week as I heard…

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Throwing the Baby Out with The Bath Water

A recent Swedish study looked at healthcare professionals end-of-life notes on the final days of individuals with dementia living in long-term care. The study found that the documentation of final days was heavy on the physical care and results and sparse on the psychosocial care. Any academics reading will immediately discount the rest of this blog because the study was a) in Sweden; b) published in a journal with a lower impact factor and c) nursing home data only.  But those of us on the front lines for many years in both skilled nursing facilities and assisted livings see this…

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Physical Fitness and the Caregiving Journey

Traditionally Spring is a time of fresh starts, cleaning, and new activities.  Fitness and nutrition become a focus with increased outdoor opportunities. But families caring for a loved one with dementia are often overwhelmed with day to day care.  Research shows that both Alzheimer’s caregivers and their loved one with dementia greatly benefit from twenty to thirty minutes of moderate intensity walking five times a week. Benefits of this simple plan include: decreased caregiver stress, burden, depression a slowing of Alzheimer’s disease in the early stages improved overall quality of life A similar study looked at behaviors of the individual…

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Five Features of an Expert

What is the definition of expertise? When choosing assistance of any kind for your loved one you want to separate the experts from the novices. There are five key qualities of an expert: • History of success • Affiliation • Longevity in practice coupled with contemporary research and innovation • Appraisal and authenticity As a dementia coach and memory care expert, Dr. Cate, Dementia Coach meets all five qualities of expertise. When assessing the expertise of a consultant you want to ask if she/he has the stability of longevity in memory care as well as the flexibility of multiple roles….

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The “We’s” Have It

Whether you are introvert, extrovert, caregiver or care recipient one variable that proves powerful in health research is social support. As the national and international discussion swirls around the dangers of the “lone wolf” the value of spending time with select others is reiterated. In Alzheimer’s research this has been particularly emphasized. Alzheimer’s caregivers who have social support report higher confidence in their caregiving and higher life satisfaction. Yet having been a family caregiver, I have experienced the drop-off of friends and family when I needed them the most. How do I gain or maintain social support in the face…

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Caregiving and Exercise

Traditionally January is a month of reflections on the old year and resolutions for the new. Fitness and nutrition are key elements of many resolutions. But families caring for a loved one with dementia are often overwhelmed, particularly after the holidays. Research shows that both Alzheimer’s caregivers and their loved one with dementia greatly benefit from twenty to thirty minutes of moderate intensity walking five times a week. Benefits of this simple plan include: • decreased caregiver stress, burden, depression • a slowing of Alzheimer’s disease in the early stages • improved overall quality of life A similar study looked…

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