A house built for dementia

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Courtesy: BRE Group

I found this dementia housing project designed by Loughborough University and BRE to be fascinating and helpful to caregivers trying to retrofit a home for a loved one with dementia.

The BBC recently took a video tour of the completed project.

The attention to detail of where items were placed, the color scheme and the importance of natural light to combat sundowning are all excellent ways to address common issues associated with dementia. Feeling safe and comfortable can also help reduce the risk of anxiety in those with dementia. Best of all, the model still felt like a home, with the safety featured nicely integrated.

Hopefully prototypes like these can be incorporated in the real world to help families care for a loved one with dementia at home instead of having to place them in a high-priced facility.

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Falls are Game Changers for Older Adults

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This is such important information for family caregivers. To put it bluntly, a fall for a frail loved one can signal the beginning of the end. Both my mother and father experienced falls as their health situations declined. Learn more and tips on preventing falls from Kay Bransford.

via Falls are Game Changers for Older Adults

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August 9, 2019 · 8:50 pm

Moving video on ‘Leaving Alzheimer’s Behind’

 

Those who have faced Alzheimer’s or other dementias in their families know that it can be a dreadful roller coaster ride, and while in the early stages there may be quite a few “good” days, they often seem overshadowed by the “bad” days.

One man in the UK who has early-onset Alzheimer’s is hoping to send a different, more hopeful message. He is using his beloved hobby of cycling to spread the message across the country.

Peter Berry was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at 50, after 3 long years of trying to obtain a diagnosis for his increasingly troubling symptoms. He sank into a deep depression for about a year, but when he emerged, he was determined to help others who find themselves in a similar situation. Through a video series and on social media, Berry shares his experience and what has worked for him, including a healthy diet, regular sleep and long bike rides.

While he’s under no illusion as to what Alzheimer’s ultimately holds in store, he stresses the importance of having a positive outlook: “People who suffer from the disease know the journey and path we’re taking. We all know the end product of this disease. But it’s all about what you do in between. It is not about what I can’t do, but what I can do.”

Watch his inspiring story, produced by Being Patient, and share with others.

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Protect elder loved ones from becoming phone scam victims

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The phone was my mother’s lifeline, but it also served as a source of strife in my role as a caregiver.

While most people have disdain for telemarketers, my mother welcomed the calls. This was especially true once my father was placed in a memory care center, and in the period after his death. My mother was lonely and a human voice on the other end of the line, even one trying to sell her something, was a source of comfort.

My mother never bought anything from the telemarketers, but there was one time in which I became livid because I felt she revealed too much personal information. She told the telemarketer about her lottery winnings. I wanted to reach through the phone and shake her (but gently as she had a broken shoulder from a fall.)

She could not understand why I was so upset, even after I tried to explain in multiple ways how revealing that you have a lump sum of money to a stranger who has your contact information is a bad idea. It was one of the few times I literally hung on up her out of frustration.

I wish my mother had the teleCalm service back then. It offers a host of senior-friendly options and features that are useful for caregivers. The Essentials service replaces the current home phone service of your elder loved one, replacing it with a monitored service that can filter out scam and telemarketer calls. An additional service provides caregivers with a smartphone app that includes monitoring features that can be accessed remotely.

For those with dementia and their caregivers, teleCalm could help ward off predators and scam artists who try to take advantage of those with impaired cognition. If you have used the service, I would love to hear your feedback.

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The best kind of birthday gift

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Birthdays are bittersweet for me now, as I have fond memories of my parents singing “Happy Birthday” to me across the miles each year. They would rehearse and make a big production out of it. Even as my father descended into the depths of dementia, he rallied for the birthday performance.

I’ve been fostering dogs for the last several months, something I’ve wanted to do for awhile. It has been a rewarding and enriching experience. While I enjoy fostering, my eye (and heart) was always on the lookout for “the one.”

And now, as a birthday gift to myself, I am adopting my latest foster dog, Magee. He is a sweet rat terrier/fox terrier mix that has proven to be a good fit in my life. (The cats disagree, but I overruled them, haha.)

Like me, Magee is middle aged or so and has a few personality quirks, but is overall a dedicated and loyal companion. Unlike me, Magee overflows with happiness and dare I say … joy.  Anyone who spends time with dogs know there is much we can learn and gain from them.

As we grow older, we learn that the simplest pleasures are often the most rewarding. I now have Magee to guide me on that exploration of everyday joy.

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Do your part in the fight against Alzheimer’s by joining new registry

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As family caregivers to those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, we can feel helpless in the fact of such a brutal disease. What could we possibly do to help find a cure or effective treatment? While we know researchers are hard at work, they can seem far removed from the daily grind that a family finds themselves in when dealing with dementia.

Joining a registry is a simple way to contribute to the cause. I belong to the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry. According to the registry, 80 percent of studies are delayed because too few people sign up to participate.  So you can really make a difference.

A new registry, the Synexus HealthyMinds Registry is seeking those 50 and older in the U.S. who do not have an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The registry is free to join and all participation is done online for your convenience. Once a year, you will be asked to fill out a health and lifestyle questionnaire and take a series of online tests to gauge cognitive function. The registry I participate in is similar and I actually enjoy the tests because they are like brain games.

Check it out and if you are interested, please join and share with others. We are all in this important effort together.

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My mom’s service to her country

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I’ve been thinking about Mom quite a bit this week, as Saturday would have been her 82nd birthday. Since her birthday falls so shortly after the Fourth of July, I always think about her brief, but beloved Navy career during this time of year.

Mom was raised on a farm, and knew the hard work and dedication it took to not only feed a family, but raise livestock and crops to help feed a community. Upon finishing high school, she declined to go to college and instead entered the workforce, working jobs that were typical for women in the day, such as nursing aide and receptionist.

In her late twenties, she decided she wanted something more, so she joined the Navy. Her service was during a brief period of relative peace in the world, and she was assigned to naval stations in the U.S. versus being sent abroad. She always spoke fondly of her time in the Navy, even with its challenges.

She could’ve had made a career out of military service, but opted out after honorably serving for three years. She returned to civilian life, working office jobs and eventually settled in as a proofreader, her excellent attention to detail no doubt enforced by her military service.

A few years later, she met my dad, got married, gave birth to me and the rest is history.

 

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