Category: Uncategorized

Springtime Light

As Spring gets closer, we see changes in light. Whether it is Daylight Savings Time and springing forward or a subtle change in trees budding—our world is moving toward more light. As our care partner’s brain changes, we must change to give care. That change can bring up feelings of resentment, anger, guilt, shame, loneliness and depression. Even as the natural world gets brighter, our path may feel full of shadows. Spring light holds a lesson for caregivers.  A gardening resource explains that light comes in colors.1 In Spring, red light provides the energizing chlorophyll to make a plant green….

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Sweetheart Messages

In the season of conversation hearts, a candy that has long represented Valentine’s day, how can we express our love to individuals who are changing as quickly as their brain changes with dementia? Dr. Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages describes how individuals have a primary and secondary love language.1 The five love languages are: Words of Affirmation Quality Time Receiving Gifts Acts of Service Physical Touch As a caregiver you may be able to define your loved one’s primary love language by reflecting on the way they have expressed love in the past. Did your mom give gifts more often…

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Romancing Dementia

Living with dementia results in a lot of changes, particularly in terms of touch. Whether you are a wife, husband, daughter or friend—it becomes difficult to know how best to respond. The use of touch can be very effective. The Functional Assessment Staging Tool is a tool widely used to assess where individuals are in the seven stages of dementia progression.2 This well validated tool shows that as a person’s brain degenerates, they move back in time to younger ages of emotional and cognitive processing. Concepts, skills and emotional connections that were normal as an adult start regressing into adolescent…

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Hindsight & 2020

As we enter 2020, a year that came faster than most of us imagined possible, we can use it as a year to focus on perspective. As caregivers of loved ones with dementia, focus and perspective are often warring elements.  We focus on the changes we are witnessing and often lose sight of the bigger picture. Or get so focused on the long-range that we miss what is right in front of us. When we revert to hind sight we may be able to reflect on early signs that our loved one’s brain was changing.  Perhaps it was an increased…

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Not a Creature was Stirring

Not a Creature Was Stirring “Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse . . . 1 As we settle into winter, exercise has become more of a challenge not only because of holiday activities and savory treats but also the shortened days and colder weather. Meanwhile our bodies struggle to adapt to all the extra food, the reduction in sunlight and endorphins.  But research is offering a solution: treadmill exercise. A Japanese study looking at the effect of treadmill exercise on cognitive decline and white matter found that mice who used the treadmill for six weeks had decreased…

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Light in the Darkness

Light in the Darkness Regardless of faith, tradition, or background—winter’s darkness calls for increased light. If you have lived with dementia for any amount of time, you feel the darkness at a different level—wishing for light. A common behavioral manifestation for an individual with dementia is night-time wakefulness.  Usually accompanied by agitation, this behavior leaves dementia caregivers overtired and overwhelmed. Research shows that season and weather significantly affect nocturnal rest for the individual with dementia.1 In this study, the researchers defined nocturnal rest as the five consecutive hours with the least motor activity during a 24-hour day.  Using this criterion,…

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Dementia Abundance

Those two words seem discordant at first glance. Once we have a diagnosis or at least medical recognition of memory changes, we have reality confirmed.  The signs we have been seeing are no longer in our imagination.  Reality stills any allusions you might have that your life will return to normal. Abundance you once had has turned to scarcity.  As Thanksgiving approaches, the theme of gratitude is prevalent.  We think back to holidays past, and savor the memories but find it hard to feel grateful for the present.  Our loved ones may not be able to tolerate the traditions once…

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Exercise as a Gift to Yourself

Exercise as a Gift to Yourself As the days get shorter, you may find your desire to do physical exercise is decreasing as well. Folks have coined Oct 31-Jan 2 as the eating season. So we have less sunlight to encourage exercise, more intake of calories and an uptick on homemade coziness–a trifecta that is known to affect both mental and physical health.  Why not look at exercise as a gift to yourself?  A gift that is given long before the gift-giving season, but that will make that season more enjoyable and you healthier.  Change is in the air, so…

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Mushroom or Grape?

Many of you know me as the sunny good time, put-a-spin-on-it dementia gal. But trust me, I can be as overwhelmed with the diagnosis, or vaguaries there of, as the next person. I benefit from showing up like the sun, even when I do not feel sunny. This journey is not for the weak. I will be addressing the “Dark Side of Dementia” this Weds, Oct 23 at Arden Courts of Seminole. This seminar will give you with real strategies that can help shine light on the fading of our husbands, our parents or our friends.As a Gerontologist, I am…

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Pets and Quality of Life

With so many forms of dementia—it is increasingly difficult for caregivers to provide quality of life as their loved ones enter the final stages of brain change. Strategies that once worked, no longer do. Research shows a consensus on what caregivers’ value for their loved one at end-of-life: family involvement living in the present  pragmatic expectations autonomy and individuality1 Yet family involvement often diminishes as the loved one declines; expectations are often not realistic, and autonomy limited due to physical and cognitive changes.  Several studies found that individuals in later stage dementia were positively affected by animal-assisted interventions.2 In a…

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