Hearing that your parent or loved one was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease can be devastating. Maybe you've already lived through a loved one's battle with the disease, or maybe you've just read about its affects. You may have hundreds of questions and concerns about the illness and how it will affect your loved one's life. But if you have children, you need to think about them too.
Children and teens are observant, and they will notice that Grandma just isn't herself anymore. She'll suddenly and without warning get confused, maybe irrational, and sometimes even angry. This unpredictable and out-of-character behavior can be confusing and frightening for kids who don't know what's going on.
Talking to your children about their grandparent's disease may be tough, but it's a conversation you should have, especially if the sick person lives with you or you see them often. Here are some tips to help you talk to your kids about their grandparent's new reality.
To small children, "being sick" means having a cold or a fever. They can't understand how someone can look completely healthy and still be stick. For very young children, approximately ages 3 – 5, a simple explanation will work just fine. You can say something like "Grandpa is having trouble with his memory" and repeat as needed.
You may want to read some picture books about Alzheimer's disease, to jumpstart a conversation with your pre-schooler. Some excellent books are Striped Shirts and Flowered Pants: A Story About Alzheimer's Disease for Young Children by Barbara Schnurbush and What's Happening To Grandpa? By Maria Shriver
Older children can understand the concept of a brain disorder. Name the disease, and explain what it is in words they can understand. Children in elementary school already know the importance of the brain and memory. They can understand the following explanation: "Grandpa has Alzheimer's disease, which means his brain is sick. The disease is causing his brain to change and forget things. Sometimes these changes make him feel confused or angry. Sometimes he'll do things he doesn't say or mean. It's because of the disease. It's not your fault."
Teenagers might understand the phsyiological causes of Alzheimer's disease, but they may have a harder time accepting the changes in their loved ones. If their grandparent with Alzheimer's live with them, they may be embarrassed to have friends over. They may not want to be around their loved one with Alzhiemer's because it makes them feel uncomfortable. Don't force them to spend time with their ill grandparent. Encourage them to write down memories or collect trinkets from when their grandparent was healthy, to have and cherish forever.
Be open and honest. If it fits your family's communication style, you may want to call a family meeting and explain the changes your parent or loved one is going through. Do your research beforehand to answer any questions your children may have.
You don't need to mention the terminal nature of Alzheimer's unless your child asks. Once they ask, it's harmful to tell them everything will be okay, or that Grandma will recover. Admit to your child that nobody has ever survived Alzheimer's disease, and that Grandpa's condition will get a lot worse. Acknowledge their scared or sad feelings, and share some of your own feelings as well.
It's important to show your kids that they can still enjoy visits with their loved one. You can encourage them to do simple arts and crafts projects with their loved ones, look through photo albums, play music and sign, or read stories together.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease can bring many challenges and changes to families, but leaving your kids' fears and questions unacknowledged doesn't have to be one of them. Talking about Alzheimer's disease to your children on their level and with honesty can help the entire family cope better with the disease.
November is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, as designated by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. President Reagan is actually the president most associated with the debilitating disease for another reason: he was diagnosed with it in 1994.
That November, at the age of 83, President Reagan announced he was one of the millions of Americans afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. His announcement brought Alzheimer's disease, the irrversible and progressive neurological disease, into the public spotlight.
Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia—the progressive detioration of the brain. The general symptoms include loss of memory and other cognitive abilities. The effects of Alzheimer's are particularly severe, and always fatal. There is no cure for the disease.
The Alzheimer's Association, the leading organization pushing for a cure, says their vision is nothing less than a world without Alzheimer's. They support research and medical advancements against the disease. Thankds in part to their efforts, we know a lot about the mechanisms that contribute to the disease's development. It begins when two types of proteins—tangles and plaques—build up in the brain. Eventually, the disease kills off brain cells, robbing the person of first their memory, then their personality, and finally, their very selves.
We still don't know the direct causes of Alzheimer's, but we do know some of the possible risk factors. Your genes and lifestyle seem to be the biggest factors in whether or not you will develop Alzheimer's disease. While you can't do anything about your genes, you can make healthy lifestyle choices to reduce your risk as much as possible.
Implementing healthy habits as early as possible can help keep Alzheimer's at bay. Consider making the following changes in your lifestyle:
As one of the top providers of long-term senior care in New Jersey, we are experts in Alzheimer's disease and dementia care. We are committed to providing the best care possible for all our patients, even—or especially—for those who no longer recognize their loved ones or remember their own name.
We see the devastating effects of Alzheimer's disease every day, not only on the patient, but also on his or her family. In fact, the disease affects approximately 1 in every 2 families in the United States. That's a lot of people, and at Regency we're committed to raising awareness for Alzheimers. We do this by making sure our patients and their families always stay informed every step of the journey. And this month, we will also dedicate every article on this blog to a different facet of Alzheimer's disease.
We encourage you to share our posts to raise awareness during National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month
The 2019 flu season is beginning, and here at Regency Nursing we’d like to remind you all to get your flu shots.
Last year’s flu season was one of the worst on record, with over 80,000 Americans dying from the flu or related complications.
While there’s no way to predict how virulent this year’s strains will be, experts agree that the best way to protect yourself is with a flu shot. If you have an elderly, very young, or immunocompromised loved one, the best thing you can do for them is get your flu shot on time.
And if you’re elderly yourself, you should get vaccinated as soon as possible to minimize your risk of catching the flu.
Here are some other ways you can protect yourself and your loved ones from catching the flu:
The most important part of handwashing is vigorously scrubbing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds; the water temperature or type of soap doesn’t really matter.
Mayo Clinic gives specific handwashing instructions to banish germs:
Wash your hands after you cough, sneeze, or blow your nose. It’s especially important to wash your hands before and after visiting a hospital or nursing home. At Regency Nursing, we have clear handwashing protocols in place for all our staff.
It's not as effective as washing properly with soap and running water, but hand sanitizer is better than nothing if you can’t make it to a sink. Use a product that contains at least 60% alcohol, as anything less than that will not effectively eliminate flu germs.
A strong immune system is the best defense to any invasive germ. Maintain a good sleep cycle, eat your veggies, and exercise to the best of your ability.
Other important factors in strong immunity is practicing effective stress relief techniques, quitting smoking, and getting enough vitamin D. Most people are deficient in vitamin D during the winter months, when the sun isn’t as strong. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of taking a supplemental vitamin D pill.
You can also talk to your doctor about other ways to avoid catching the flu.
Regency Nursing wishes all our readers a healthy winter!
Today is the first day of Medicare open enrollment, as you probably already know if you’re over age 65. By this time, you’ve probably seen dozens of advertisements from the various Medicare plans vying for your business, and if you’re a Medicare Advantage member, you should have already received your Annual Notice of Change.
If you’re on Traditional Medicare—Part A and Part B—and you’re satisfied with your coverage, you don’t need to do anything during open enrollment. Your Medicare coverage will automatically renew on January 1, 2019. You will probably see a negligible increase in your yearly premium and deductible, but otherwise your coverage will stay the same.
If you have a Medicare Advantage or Part D plan, though, you need to pay attention this time of year. Even if you’ve been generally satisfied with your coverage until now, your plan may change for the coming year. Plus, CMS (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) has announced some changes to Medicare Advantage and Part D for 2019.
Your Medicare Advantage or Part D Prescription Drug plan sent you an important notice, called an Annual Notice of Change, in September. If you have not received it yet, call your plan’s customer care line to request a copy.
The notice outlines what changes to expect in your plan next year. This can be premium increases, deductible and co-payment changes, and changes to your physician network, drug formulas, and other important coverage categories.
Medicare guidelines allow Medicare Advantage plans the option to change their costs and benefits every year. They even have the option of discontinuing their contract with CMS.
Carefully review your Annual Notice of Change to ensure your doctors, services, and medications will still be covered in 2019. If you are unhappy with the changes to your coverage, that’s where open enrollment comes in.
During open enrollment, you have the option to switch to a different Medicare Advantage or drug plan, or drop your Advantage plan altogether and revert to Traditional Medicare. Even if your plan isn’t making any major changes this year, you may still want to look at other local options and compare them with your current plan. You might find another plan offers better premiums or coverage than what you currently have, so why not take a look?
You can use Medicare’s convenient online Plan Finder tool to search for New Jersey plans (click HERE), or call 1-800-Medicare for more assistance.
Open enrollment ends December 7.
Aging in place is a long-term care trend increasing in popularity. And for good reason, too. It’s an enticing prospect to grow old in the comforts of your own home, surrounded by your loved ones and prized possession.
It’s just this picture that the various aging-in-place organizations paint for seniors. They say seniors can have it all: superior healthcare, familiar environment, and the freedom to make their own choices. And many seniors do start off their retirement that way.
At a certain point, though, it becomes clear that moving to a long-term care community is the best choice seniors can make for themselves. Nursing homes today are increasingly home-like and comfortable—but they offer several distinct advantages over aging-in-place arrangements.
Here are four things we at Regency Nursing Centers can guarantee:
Seniors living at home are vulnerable to many dangers. Falls, fires, accidental overdose, malnutrition, burglaries, and scams are just some of the hazards seniors face, especially when they live alone. There are many technological innovations to help you monitor your loved one’s home and health from far, and if your parent isn’t ready to leave their home just yet, you should certainly make use of them.
However, many family members of elderly individuals confess that they never really relax when they know their loved one is home alone. When your loved one moves to Regency Nursing, you know they’re in the safest environment they could possibly be in. When we renovate a unit or build a new one, our entire architectural focus is safety. All our public areas are clutter-free and wheelchair accessible and our walkways are equipped with handrails for extra support.
Nobody can ever eliminate all accidents, but when your loved one comes to Regency Nursing, you can finally rest easy at night.
Activities of daily living (ADLs) are the basics of daily function. They include personal hygiene, grooming, dressing, and eating. Our ability to perform these activities decreases with age, and many illnesses or disabilities can make it even harder to accomplish these basics.
Home health aides are trained assistants who come to your home to help you bathe, dress, eat, and do some light housekeeping. You can even have a visiting nurse or therapist come to provide daily skilled care. But when you need reliable, round-the-clock assistance, a nursing home provides the best options.
We’re proud of Regency Nursing’s compassionate and committed Certified Nursing Assistants who are always there to provide care with a smile.
Our staff doctors are all leaders in geriatric medical care, and they make regular rounds to examine our residents and follow up on previous visits. Each unit has nurses on staff to dispense medications safely and provide any necessary treatments and care.
We’re also proud innovators in the nursing home field, as our facilities partner with MD Live Care to provide virtual medical appointments in the evening, on weekends, and over the holidays. Having their team of leading doctors on-hand for our nurses to consult with when a resident takes ill over the weekend saves unnecessary hospital and admissions, and thousands of dollars for our residents.
When seniors live alone, especially when they have limited mobility, they are at risk for social isolation. Loneliness and lack of socializing are known risk factors for depression, dementia, and even physical illness. Lack of activity can also cause cognitive and mental decline.
To combat this, we provide a range of interesting and engaging activities to keep our residents’ minds and hearts sharp and young. Between entertainment and music events, celebrations, religious services, and outings, our residents always have something to do and people to do it with.
And if someone wants some quiet time, or privacy with their visitors, they can always retreat to one of the many quiet and peaceful corners scattered throughout our buildings and gardens.
Choosing to move to a nursing home or other senior living arrangement is a big decision. It should be made with the input of family members, friends, and doctors. But when you’re ready to explore your option in New Jersey, we’re here to answer your questions and hold your hand through the process.