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November 2017 Newsletter

Holidays Are The Time To Check Up On Aging Parent

Hands

When families live at a distance, the holidays can be the only time to assess how an aging parent or relative is doing. It is useful to use the time together to evaluate possible changes in health and safety. When visiting here are 6 areas of change to pay attention to:

  1. Change in weight
  2. Change in emotional state
  3. Change in cognitive functioning    
  4. Change in energy level
  5. Change in mobility and gait
  6. Change in hygiene
  7. Change in home environment

Indicators that there is a change in cognitive functioning can be found in the person or the environment.

Signs of changes in the person include:

  • Decline in retaining new information
  • Repeated questions
  • Searching for familiar items such as wallet, keys, hearing aids
  • Challenges with planning
  • Withdrawal during social activities

http://www.alz.org/10-signs-sy...

Signs of changes in the environment include:

  • Is a parent or relative who has been very neat, organized and independent no longer so?
  • Is there clutter in their living space?
  • Are items laying around or misplaced?
  • Is there spoiled food in the refrigerator?
  • Dirty dishes?
  • Burnt pots & pans?
  • Foul odors?
  • Significant items out of order or in need of repair?
  • Check prescription bottles- count the # of pills and the correspondence to the refill date?
  • Are there unpaid bills?

If your parent or relative is driving, check the vehicle both inside and out. Is there a change in the condition? Go for a ride as a passenger to assess their driving skills as a safe and competent driver.

Once information has been gathered, the next step is communicating your concerns to your parent or relative. It is important to be available for their input and together discuss ideas to improve the situation. The appropriate time and place for the conversation and conveying your concerns in a non- threatening manner are critical to a successful outcome.

I am here to help. If you need suggestions on techniques and ways to work on a plan together, to handle possible resistance or to connect you with resources, contact me at: http://www.viviangreenkorner.c...


Dementia Care Specialist to the Rescue

Hands

As older adults are living longer, there is a greater likelihood that they will develop a form of Alzheimer’s dementia. The biggest risk factor for developing a form of dementia is aging.  In fact, 20% of 60 year olds have dementia and that rises to 45% by age 85. https://www.alz.org/facts/

This disease requires the need to have others involved to monitor and to assure the individual’s health, safety and involvement in activities.  Family and friends who live close by or long distance may offer assistance, but with the best intentions there is a tipping point when this is no longer effective.

You know when you have reached a tipping point if the following has occurred:

  • There is a lack of the necessary understanding or skills to meet the dementia care needs
  • Care needs have increased in frequency and demand
  • There is a lack of time available to meet caregiving responsibilities
  • There is a lack of information and support from family members to make needed decisions
  • An increase in exhaustion and stress that prevents meeting the challenges of an individual with Alzheimer’s dementia

Should I Hire A Dementia Specialist?

Once any of the above mentioned occurs, it is time to hire a dementia specialist as a professional advisor who is trained to:

  • Assess the needs of the individual with Alzheimer’s dementia
  • Develop an individualized care plan based upon specific strategies enabling caregivers to render effective compassionate care
  • Educate the caregiver on effective practices of dementia care at all stages of dementia
  • Help with decisions making
  • Assist with short and long range planning
  • Monitor and supervise care
  • Connect caregivers with programs, services and network of professionals

It is common for families not to know what to do, what the available options are, and what resources are available.  As a dementia care specialist, I offer tips and strategies to engage individuals with Alzheimer’s Dementia. I help caregivers identify triggers that can cause agitation and offer solutions to combat resistance to care. My first hand knowledge of  resources in the area such as day care, home care services; respite care and memory care facilities saves families time and effort. I am committed to helping families find solutions.

When you need my services contact me at: http://www.viviangreenkorner.c...


Primary Progressive Aphasia

Brain

Guest Contributor: Wendy Greenspan, MA, CCC-SLP 
Speech Language Pathologist
Adler Aphasia Center

It happens to all of us, we want to tell a friend the name of a new dish at our favorite restaurant, or we want to ask for a particular tool needed for a repair project, but the word won’t come.  We know what we want to say, but the word is on the tip of our tongue.  This is normal and it happens to everyone from time to time.  But what if it starts happening more and more frequently?  What if it starts happening for common, everyday words?  What if it gets in the way of having a simple conversation with a friend?  This is a condition known as Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA).  A person who has PPA struggles to express themselves because they can’t recall specific words.  They may also have difficulty understanding what other people say to them.  Reading and writing may be impaired too.  While the person with PPA will have more and more trouble using language, other cognitive skills such as memory, problem solving reasoning can remain intact for several years.  However, eventually the advancing dementia will affect those areas as well. The most common causes of PPA are frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

How can Primary Progressive Aphasia be treated?  It’s important to see a neurologist for a definitive diagnosis of PPA.  A course of Speech Language therapy can help the person with PPA learn strategies to maintain their language skills for as long as possible. 

Friends and family can also play an important role in preserving functional communication.  Some simple changes in how they communicate with a loved one with Primary Progressive Aphasia can make a big difference.  Here are some of the most effective adaptations to make communication easier: 

  • Hold conversations in quiet, non-distracting settings.
  • Don’t immediately fill in words when the person with PPA hesitates.  Instead, give them extra time.      
  • Ask yes/no questions or choice questions (“Do you want chicken or fish for dinner?”) rather than open ended questions (“Whatdo you want to do this weekend?”)
  • Establish what you have understood so far (“I know you’re talking about the hockey game and it has something to do with the tickets.  Can you tell me again what else you were saying?”)
  • Ask them to show you what they are talking about. 
  • Provide a pen and paper.  The person with PPA may be able to write a key word, or part of a word.
  • Never pretend to understand when you don’t. 
  • If the person with PPA has trouble understanding language, speak to them with short, simple sentences.  Allow frequent pauses so they can process what has been said.  But always remember to speak in an adult manner.


For more information about Primary Progressive Aphasia, you can visit the websites of

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