Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

Drawing face of clock part of test for signs of alzheimers disease

How do I know if my Mom or Dad has signs of Alzheimer’s disease? Making the Decision to Seek Help

Did you know that 1 in 10 adults over the age of 65 will have Alzheimer’s disease? At the beginning the signs may be hard to discern. The early stages could be confused with simple signs of aging.

Quick reference for links mentioned in this article:

Mini Mental State Exam – 

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/info/20071/diagnosis/97/the_mmse_test

Science Alert Video on Phases of Alzheimer’s Disease and Effect on Brain – 

https://www.sciencealert.com/watch-this-animation-breaks-down-exactly-what-alzheimer-s-does-to-the-brain

Learn More About Alzheimer’s Disease –

www.AboutALZ.org

Helping Hands ADS Program –

http://www.helpinghandsrespite.care/services/adult-day-services/

 

Understanding the Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

Understanding how Alzheimer’s disease effects the brain is helpful for those that are daily trying to help a loved one make sense of the sometimes incomprehensible. Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease but science is learning more and more about the causes and effects. However, armed with information, you do have the ability to maintain a higher quality of life for as long as possible during the progression of the disease.

At Helping Hands Respite Care our Adult Day Services (ADS) program can offer a level of consistency of care that can have a positive impact on not only the participant, but the loved ones bearing the brunt of the responsibilities of care. A regular schedule of stimulating activities and socialization, balanced nutrition, adequate hydration – all under a nurse’s supervision and well-trained care staff, can deliver positive results. Families report that their loved one comes home from the ADS program having experienced a stimulating day that results in a better appetite and better sleep —both beneficial for maintaining a quality of life.

Knowing when to seek care outside the home, or inside is so important. We recognize that all too often the direct family caregiver is reluctant to broach this subject with their loved one and will wait too long to get all of the benefits possible from a program like ADS. If you haven’t already, it may be time to ask your Doctor about an assessment or the Mini-mental exam. Being armed with information about the progression of Alzheimer’s disease will help. Here is a very short video that helps you understand the phases of the disease and how it acts on the brain. If you don’t watch the video right away, you can see our recap of the phases below the image. (Click on the image to watch 3 minute video)

Link to short video that demonstrates the signs of alzheimer's disease and the effect on the brain. picture of a brain.

 

Phases of Alzheimer’s Decline and how it affects the brain over average 8 to 10 years of the disease progression.
Here is a summary of the phases described in the video:

  • Ability to form new memories- short term,
  • Language processing- such as losing words,
  • Logical thought or ability to grasp concepts. Eg; clocks and calendars,
  • Emotions are heightened and sometimes difficult to control,
  • Senses are affected making it hard for brain to process. Eg; causing confusion or hallucinations,
  • Oldest and most precious memories are being lost,
  • Balance and coordination are affected,
  • Last stage the brain stops life functions like swallowing and breathing

 

Not every client who attends the ADS program has a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Some have other forms of dementia or are fighting other diseases such as Parkinson’s. Helping Hands Respite Care has been operating an Adult Day program for well over 30 years. We are proud of our history and continue to look to the future for ways to continue to improve.
If you are interested in learning more about the ADS program for a loved one, PLEASE feel free to reach out to Alison Sarkozy alison@helpinghandsrespite.care our program supervisor to set up a no obligation exploratory visit.

Repetitive Phone Calling as Dementia Behavior

Senior with dementia displaying repetitive phone calling as dementia behavior

Adult Day Services (ADS) Program Supervisor, Alison Sarkozy shares another great article on the challenges of repetitive phone calling as dementia behavior. This may be effecting some of our senior clients and family who are learning to cope with the ever-changing and disconcerting behaviors related to dementia.

Dementia Behaviors: Repetitive Phone Calling

By Ava M. Stinnett

Whether your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, it’s important to know that confusion, memory loss, and difficulty performing everyday activities are common overlapping symptoms. A healthcare provider may use a simple three-phase model (mild/early, moderate/middle, and severe/late) to describe the progression of the disease. Although symptoms will vary for each person, learning more about how dementia unfolds over several years can guide you as you plan for a loved one’s care.

In the mild to moderate stage, symptoms may include loss of awareness of recent events, personality changes, confusion about surroundings, and repetition of particular actions or behaviors. For example, some people with dementia make phone calls to their loved ones over and over again—particularly in the middle of the night or early morning. This might occur because they forget that they have already called; it’s also possible that they’re feeling insecure, anxious, or even bored and need to be occupied. Still others with dementia call just to make sure someone answers the phone. Medical professionals sometimes call this act of going through the motions of familiar activities “perserveration” (Rosenzweig, 2017).

 On the Receiving End of Repetitive Phone Calling as Dementia Behavior

As a loved one on the receiving end of the phone calls, it can be frustrating or distressing—even more so when your elder calls your neighbors, other relatives, or even physicians when they don’t reach you after several unanswered calls. Additionally, the expense of long distance calls or overage of mobile phone minutes can become problematic. What steps can you take to alleviate this behavior?

First, talk with your loved one’s healthcare provider to determine whether medication needs to be adjusted or if another type of treatment for dementia is warranted. It might help to get a phone with a number recognition display so that you, other family members, and friends can decide whether or not to answer. Switching ringers off at night is another option. While you may feel guilty about not answering every call, it’s important to try to stop the repetitive calling—for you and for your loved one. Another option, depending on how far the disease has progressed, is to purchase a telephone that has no dial or buttons to place calls; the phone is for incoming calls only. In that case, however, you must first assess the situation to ensure that safety options are available in case of emergency.

If you can, create a pleasant diversion such as taking a walk, looking through a photo album, sorting and folding clothes, or listening to soothing music. Try to redirect by changing the focus from anxious behavior to a favorite pastime such as sanding wood, gardening, or providing a safe environment for cooking or baking. Once you can identify the emotion associated with the behavior (e.g., fear, anxiety, boredom, anger, loneliness), you can react to it instead of to the question or behavior. Taking time to express words of reassurance, understanding, and caring can do wonders to ease the challenges of being a caregiver.

Sources

Rosenzweig, A. (2017, May 26). Perseveration in Alzheimer’s and Other Dementia: Getting Stuck. Retrieved from https://www.verywell.com/perseveration-98602

The Alzheimer’s Association. (2017). Repetition and Alzheimer’s. Retrieved from http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-repetition.asp
The Care Support Services. (2012, January 8). Repetitive behaviors and the frustration they present to the dementia caregiver. Retrieved from http://thecaresupport.com/repetitive-behaviors-and-the-frustration-they-present-to-the-dementia-caregiver

Volunteer of the Year – Loretta Keaner

At a recent meeting of the Helping Hands Respite Care, our Volunteer of the Year, Loretta Keaner was acknowledged. Loretta started working as a volunteer in January of 2016. Her service to Helping Hands Respite Care has included a weekly commitment to the Adult Day Services program, a monthly commitment to Kate’s Memory Café, and some assistance with our annual family picnic and hosting of The Ability Experience riders from Pi Kappa Phi.

Volunteer of the Year, Loretta, serves the Adult Day Services Program

Alison Sarkozy describes Loretta as a true asset to the Adult Day program. “She is a real go-getter, she always tell it like it is and is not afraid to put our caregiver staff in their place, “shared Alison. “ And, I love it! Anything you ask her to do she will jump right in without hesitation. Loretta is always there for our member/participants providing encouragement and support, and also being a non-judgmental sounding board if the member is working through a tough moment.”

Volunteer of the Year Supports Kate’s Memory Cafe

Volunteer of the Year, Loretta Keaner helping out at Kate's Memory Cafe with some balloon volleyball.Katie Donovan spoke of Loretta as her right-hand at making the Memory Café a success. “If there is some lively musical entertainment Loretta will jump up and encourage our visitors to clap along or even dance,” said Katie. “At our last Memory Café we had a mother/daughter duo as entertainment. They spontaneously decided to sing the famous song “My Prayer” ….everyone was transfixed and moved by the beautiful rendition of the song. I am so glad I caught Loretta in the background of the video of the ladies singing ….at one point Loretta slipped into the kitchen to grab a Kleenex to wipe her tears away. That moment of vulnerability just warmed my heart.” Loretta has also provides a very personal gift of service to my Mom at the Memory Café. While Mom attends as my partner in care, she doesn’t see herself as needing any help or support. Loretta treats Mom as a co-volunteer and always make her feel needed and useful. As Mom continues to decline in her own journey with dementia, these moments of competence supplied by Loretta mean so much to me – she can offer Mom something that I simply can’t give as her caregiver and daughter – a simple acknowledgment as a friend.”

Volunteer of the Year Pitches in at Annual Family Picnic

The Annual Family Picnic and Welcoming Event for the 37 plus fraternity brothers from across the nation is an opportunity for more service from Loretta. Putting on the picnic event is a big effort and every volunteer makes it that much easier to give up a Sunday afternoon in July for this event.

We are so thankful that Loretta so generously shares her time and talent.
It was an easy choice to single out Loretta Keaner as our 2017 Volunteer of the Year!

Why We Made the Switch to Clear Care

Caregiver has more time to care when she uses the Clear Care system for reporting

If you are a client/family, caregiver, or contracting agency, most of you may already be feeling the effects of our switch over from the VINCENT scheduling system to Clear Care Online. For us the decision to switch over was easy, based on the research done before hand. We were propelled by the fact that as an early adopter of the VINCENT system we experienced some disappointment in getting changes made to the system to accommodate our needs or simply to fix glitches. After a month and a half of preparation, and with the help of the Clear Care transition team and a dedicated transition counselor we went LIVE on May 1st and began the change-over transition.

Even with all our hopes for the better solution for the families we serve and the care givers who help us keep our promises – there is never a great time to make a transition. We are so proud of our Office Administrator Janette Lauzon, and our Scheduler Rhonda Mliakoff. Together these two have done a fabulous job of coordinating this transition. Not going to lie, there were frustrations along the way, but we have never had the kind of daily and intensive support from a vendor like we have had from Clear Care.Clear Care logo

What the Clear Care Benefits are to the Families We Serve

The Family Room Forum – Each family has their own “room” to communicate with us and the caregivers scheduled to provide care. The Family Room provides a place for communicating back and forth. Family members can request some additional tasks, offer reminders on one-time events which the caregiver may need to be aware of; and likewise, the caregivers can share comments on things that happened during their shift that may help the family. Once you get into the swing of using the Family Room Forum we predict an even better experience for both the families and the caregivers.

Schedule View – The families can see the schedule online, either from your desktop computer or your smart phone. The schedule is a living document and shows the shifts with times and who is covering that shift. The whole month view of the calendar gives you a comprehensive look at a color-coded plan which lets you know which shifts are scheduled, shifts that are still open, those in process and those completed. Notes can be appended to the schedule such as when a caregiver did not show or the family had to call off a shift – this is making the billing process so much easier!

Care Notes – The Clear Care system will hold the details of the Person-Centered-Plans (PCP) including a list of all the required Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and show those needed for a particular shift. When a caregiver checks in via their phone, they will see what is on the schedule for that shift, and when they clock out they will only be able to do so after answering the questions related to the ADL tasks. A simple “YES” if a task was completed, a “NO” with an explanation why. The system will also capture mileage related to any activity where the caregiver took the client out into the community as well as any comments or concerns for the family. This instant capture of care notes creates a foundation for a paperless system and makes for a much better snapshot of what happened on each shift, and that information is always available to the families. The supervisors will also have access. As our caregivers get used to checking in and clocking out, and reporting, we are convinced that the level of care will get even better.

What Clear Care Means to the Administration of Services

As you can imagine the job of administering, scheduling and managing up to 75 caregivers to deliver over 5000 hours of care each month (and growing) to 100 or more families through the six programs offered by Helping Hands Respite Care…it can get complicated. Clear Care is beginning to uncomplicate these processes for us in some meaningful ways.

The paperless care notes system provides far more accurate documentation of what happens on every shift and provides alerts for action items. Already we are finding the system to be intuitive, user-friendly, and much faster.

The information that comes out of the system and immediately interfaces with our billing system provides for a more accurate monthly invoice which reflects the many variables involved such as acuity level, role of caregiver, and variable pay structure of the caregiver in a group setting such as the Respite House, and the specific requirements of the various contract sources. This also translates to a more streamlined payroll process. For example, within our Adult Day Services program those members who attend and receive support from the Veteran’s Administration (VA) must receive a particular rate prescribed by the VA. In the past, reviewing the daily care notes for a particular pay period to determine which caregiver served which member to satisfy the contract would take up to an hour. Now it takes 10 minutes!

We are only just now beginning to realize the benefits of simplifying the scheduling process with Clear Care. It is not uncommon to have to accommodate a last minute change in a schedule due to illness. On Thursday at 5pm a caregiver called in to let us know that she would be unable to fill an overnight/awake shift at the Respite House beginning at 6pm on Friday. By going into the Clear Care system after clicking on the shift that needed to be covered, in just a few minutes we clicked a few buttons to reflect the criteria we needed in a caregiver for this shift, including finding all those that could possibly work that time frame without going into overtime. We found eight potential workers which met our criteria. Their names were clicked and a text message was sent to all asking if they wanted the shift. Within 5 minutes, the shift was filled!

As you can tell, excitement is rising for us as we continue the transition begun on May 1st. On June 1 we will be doing our first billing process and with any luck it will yield the same kind of benefits we have realized on the scheduling and payroll side of the equation.

Bottom line, it looks like we have a winner. We know it may take time for everyone to get up to speed on using this new system …which means the information and accuracy is only going to improve. If you are having challenges with the system, please do not hesitate to reach out to us so we can help you with your learning curve. This is a system that supports us all in ways that help us continue to keep the families that we serve in a position to receive the full benefits of respite, while their loved one gets the best care possible.

Adult Day Program Cost vs. Value

Senior enjoying activity at ADS program, demonstrating the Value vs Cost Comparison

Considering an Adult Day Program, wondering about cost? First, if you are asking these kinds of questions, chances are you realize that the need for care of a loved one is inevitable. Congratulations for beginning the discovery process – the sooner you know your options the better choices you can make.

How much does it cost is a fair question to ask, however, for decision-making purposes there are some value-related statistics that make sense to consider as well as other variables.  So rather than start with an hourly or daily rate, let’s start with some quality comparisons among your possible options for a senior loved one.

Average Annual Cost Per Person for Long Term Care Options

In America we are just waking up to the fact that we need to be making better provisions for long-term care.  Many people are living longer and longer in relative good health, yet may still need some care. Across the board adult day programs are the most cost effective option available for long-term care.  The following chart shows average annual cost of care for: Adult Day Services Centers, Home Care Services, Home Health Agencies, Assisted Living, Nursing Homes Semi-Private room, and Nursing Homes Private room.

Adult Day Program comparison of annual cost to other care options.

 

 

Evaluating Fall Risks, Emergency Room Visits, and Overnight Hospital Stays

You’ve heard the stories of family members who were one day doing just fine in their own home and then all of sudden experience an illness, an accidental fall, or escalating incidences of confusion or disorientation related to dementia. All are triggers for you that your loved one may not be safe at home, or may need some help to staying at home safely. The following chart outlines recent data on some key risk factors in four different care settings:  Adult Day Service Centers, Home Health Agencies, Nursing Homes, and Residential Care Communities.Adult Day Program comparison on Adverse Risk Events

 

You will notice that two of the organization types do not have data in all instances, but most important is the dramatically lower incidences of Fall Risks, Emergency Room Visits, and Hospital Stays at adult day programs. At Helping Hands Respite Care, in our humble opinion, this positive performance is related to three major factors: the positive power of engagement and socialization, great training, and extremely favorable caregiver to member ratios. At the Adult Day Services program we average 2 or 3 members to 1 caregiver. This is an important statistic to ask about at any adult day program.

 

Daily and Monthly Expense Comparison of Long-Term Daily and Monthly Cost Comparison of Adult Day Programs and other long term care options. Care Options

Adult day services programs out-perform on the array of available services and benefits.  There may come a time when a nursing facility or assisted living arrangement may make sense, however many families will opt for choices which provide the opportunity for a loved one to stay in their own home or with loved ones.  Adult day programs are the front runner in most affordable daily cost, and in most cases attendance at programs varies from 3 to 5 days per week. (Making the monthly expense range from $828 to $1380). Take a look at the list of benefits and attributes and see how your adult day services program stacks up.

 

 

 

 

Payment Help Could Be Available

At Helping Hands Respite Care we are always looking for ways to provide additional financial support for families who may need help.  In the past we have received grants from the Tri-County Office on Aging which is tied to a formula for need based on household income and expenses; and there is also a contract which manages respite care funding available for Veterans.

Other ways that families pay for the Adult Day Services program include: private pay using funds from the member’s monthly income; some have used funds from a reverse mortgage on the family home; family members have also joined together to share the cost of care for a parent or grandparent; and some people have long-term disability insurance which may cover some care costs.

 

Getting Started at the Adult Day Services (ADS) Program at Helping Hands

The best way to start is to set up an appointment to come visit. We encourage interested family members and the prospective member to come for a visit that may last two or more hours.  We suggest arriving at 10:00 or 11:00 am on any weekday. This will provide time to experience a few activities, sit together over lunch, and have time for a pre-screening to determine if your loved one would be a good fit.  You will go home with some paperwork to fill out including an acuity assessment to help determine the level of care required.  This acuity assessment will be the basis of discussion about the hourly rate. Our process is to agree on a starting rate which would provide the appropriate level of care and then revisit the acuity assessment after the first month to determine if there needs to be an adjustment in the hourly rate up or down.  As time goes on the acuity assessments will continue in order to track progress or decline.

If there is a mutual decision to go forward the next visit would be an intake meeting where more information is gathered to determine the best plan for engagement and activities as well as care level.  There is a modest $50 intake fee payable on that day.  Last, a start day and schedule will be determined.

To learn more about how your loved one might fit in at the Adult Day Services program at Helping Hands and schedule your visit call ADS supervisor Alison Sarkozy at 517-243-0043.

Oh, did we tell you that snacks, lunch, and door to door transportation are included in our daily fee structure?

 

 

The Five Love Languages and Dementia

Stan and Bonnie at Kate's Memory Cafe, exploring 5 Love Languages and Dementia

Exploring The Five Love Languages

At our February gathering of Kate’s Memory Café we explored themes from the book The Five Love Languages- How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman. In Chapman’s book he describes the 5 Love Languages as:
1. Words of Affirmation
2. Quality Time
3. Receiving Gifts
4. Acts of Service
5. Physical Touch
Highlighting from the book for a discussion point, we reviewed the following:
1. Words of Affirmation
“The object of love is not getting something you want but doing something for the well-being of the one you love. It is a fact, however, that when we receive affirming words we are far more likely to be motivated to reciprocate.”
2. Quality Time
“A central aspect of quality time is togetherness. I do not mean proximity. Togetherness has to do with focused attention.”
3. Receiving Gifts
“Physical presence in the time of crisis is the most powerful gift you can give if your spouse’s primary love language is receiving gifts.”
4. Acts of Service
“Requests give direction to love, but demands stop the flow of love. What we do for each other before marriage is no indication of what we will do after marriage.”
5. Physical Touch
“Physical touch can make or break a relationship. It can communicate hate or love. “
After some discussion of these topics the participants of the Memory Café were given the following questions for personal reflection, considering that the Love Languages in your relationship now that Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is present:

Things to remember, you each have a primary love language – this is how you respond best in the receiving. Remember, yours may not be the same as your mate. What is/was your mate’s love language?

 

Over time you and your mate have created a rhythm to your language…..a give and take. What did that look like?

 

Now that this disease has entered (or encroached on) the relationship, how has the dynamic of your love language changed? What accommodations have you made?

 

 

As the primary caregiver, how will you take care of your needs for love in the places where your mate may no longer be able to participate?

 

If you would like to explore this topic further here is a link to purchase this book on Amazon. You will also see other variations of this book.

5 Common Triggers of Wandering

It is great to have resources, to get another point of view, or to hear from people facing the same issues you are as a caregiver. A big concern is wandering, that is why I am sharing this article on the Five Common Triggers of Wandering.  If you are caring for a loved one with memory problems the website www.helpforalzheimersfamilies.com always has some great stories. This time of year our concerns for the one in our care escalates as the weather gets worse and the consequences of someone wandering off from home are greater.

Five Common Triggers of Wandering

Dan’s wife of 65 years is home…the only problem is, she doesn’t know it. “A daily request is for me to take her ‘home,’” Dan said, “in spite of the fact she is home and surrounded by her familiar home décor. She cannot say where home really is and my attempts for her to describe what home means have had no effect. It appears as if ‘home” is where she was a mother to our five children.”
That desire to go home is one of the common triggers for wandering for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. They often don’t realize they are home, so they are on a quest to try to get there.
Following, from the Alzheimer’s Association, are five common triggers that might prompt an individual with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia to wander, and what family caregivers can do to help:
1. Delusions or hallucinations. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease can misinterpret sights and sounds. Caregiver Evelynn says her mother wakes up in the middle of the night, insisting that someone is in the house and intent on doing her wrong. “I had to put an extra lock on the front door because she wakes up at night or from a nap in her chair and believes someone is at the door or on the porch, and she needs to let them in,” Evelynn noted. As Evelynn found, sometimes safety features are needed in a home to ensure a loved one stays safe.
2. Overstimulation. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease can become easily upset when in a noisy and crowded environment. If that happens, they may try to escape from the chaos and wander. Avoid large, noisy places. Look for restaurants with quiet areas. Discourage big parties and family gatherings, or find a quiet room for your loved one to sit, then invite guests in to visit one at a time.
3. Fatigue, particularly during late afternoons and evenings. The later in the day, the more tired an individual with Alzheimer’s disease can become. This may lead to restless pacing back and forth, noted Monica Moreno, director of Early-Stage Initiatives for the Alzheimer’s Association. Activities and exercises during those times of the day can calm an individual and help to minimize the triggers for wandering.
4. Disorientation to place and time. Like Dan’s wife in the real-life example above, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease may not recognize they are already home. Avoid busy places that can cause confusion. Refrain from correcting the individual, and reassure the person he or she is safe. If the individual is feeling anxious, agitated or restless, take that person for a walk.
5. Change in routine and unmet needs. Lydia had just moved to a long-term care community. Confused about leaving her familiar home, Lydia was found wandering in her new environment in an effort to make her way back to the place from which she was most familiar. Reassure the individual with Alzheimer’s disease that she is not lost or abandoned. And put safety features in place to keep that person safe. Establish a regular routine. Those who have Alzheimer’s disease do better in a structured environment. Because unmet needs also can trigger wandering, make it a practice to suggest a loved one go to the bathroom after a meal.

Kate’s Memory Cafe

Memory Cafe Dancing

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. Irish Headstone Message 

Kate’s Memory Café Place for Friendship, Support, and Encouragement

When I started facilitating Kate’s Memory Café, the one thing that I had not counted on was the inevitable endings that we would face together. Whether from the decision to place a loved one in a care facility, or the ultimate good-bye that death would bring. At this month’s Memory Café we learned that since we had last gathered in November, several of our beloved participants had passed away. Some we knew about, but others were news to us.

On that day, we were blessed with the opportunity to confront our greatest fears and grief as several of our members arrived solo, ready to be embraced by their friends from the Café, friends everyone, who are walking parallel paths, always in search of answers, solutions, or tricks to make a difficult care-taking task easier. Irish quote on grief for Kate's Memory Cafe

Largely, over the past 20+ months our journey has been filled with joy, music, laughter and love. It has been such a privilege to see the friendships develop at the Memory Café as each and every one found solace in the other. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “Friendship is born at the moment when one says to another: What you too? I thought I was the only one?”

The Holy Spirit guided me to change a few things for this gathering. I had re-arranged the room to accommodate the fact that I wanted to have a cozy fireside chat about surviving the long cold winter. At the last minute, I asked one of our volunteers to take the extra chairs and place them in a circle at the front of the room. I had grabbed a handful of strips of paper thinking that we would write those things that we wanted to let go of on the paper and then toss them in the fire. As we gathered I asked those sitting in the circle to answer the question “What do you need?” There was no answer more poignant than Dan’s as he struggled to find the right words as he waved his arm to include everyone in the circle. “This,” he said. “We need more of this.”

Hosting Kate’s Memory Café is such an honor. It simply would not happen without the support of wonderful volunteers, including the musicians who robustly share their talent, resource library from the Alzheimer’s Association, and of course our sponsor, AF Group, whose financial support makes it possible for us to put out a nice meal and cover the costs of materials for fun activities.

Indeed we do need more of “this.” If you know of someone who is caring for a loved one with early or mid-stage dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it would be an honor to include them and their care partners in our circle of friends. Kate’s Memory Café meets monthly on the second Sunday (unless it is a holiday). We gather from 2pm to 4pm at Helping Hands Respite Care’s facility in East Lansing, 201 Hillside Court. The event is FREE of CHARGE. To reserve a table at the Memory Café call Katie Donovan at 517-242-7355, katie@helpinghandsrespite.care

Katie is a paid consultant to Helping Hands Respite Care, assisting with marketing, content and fund development. She facilitates the Memory Café, pro-bono, as an homage to her mother and father. Larry Donovan had Alzheimer’s disease and passed away in 2004, Mary Donovan was a faithful and tireless caregiver to her beloved.
Helping Hands Respite Care operates six programs providing professional respite care for families in a variety of circumstances. To learn more, please share this link: www.helpinghandsrespite.care

Level of Care Acuity Assessment Process

Seniors participating in skill game. Level of Care Acuity Level Assessment will occur on a number of abilities.

Supervisor Alison Sarkozy on Level of Care Acuity Assessment

After some careful planning, a few months ago the Helping Hands Respite Care ADS program implemented a Level of Care Acuity Assessment system for our senior members of the adult day program. By sharing an assessment tool during intake of a new member, families were asked to fill out the assessment tool based on what skills and behaviors they could observe at home. That family-based assessment provided the baseline for determining staffing care ratio needs and a corresponding fee schedule based on staffing. After 30 days the same assessment tool is filled out for that individual through a collaborative effort and input from those care providers who see that individual in action throughout the day at the adult day program.

The Acuity Assessment covers everything from mental sharpness, ability to engage and participate, making needs known, ability to feed self, attend to personal toileting, and mobility. Being able to have these mental, physical, and social markers is the kind of data which, if consistently available for periodic review, provides a real benefit to the member, their family and our staff. Having the family participate from the outset also provides a common language for marking progress or critical changes.

Level of Care Acuity Assessment Well Received

By and large, this new system of assessment has been very well received, and from our perspective helps us do an even better job at monitoring and responding to care needs. This effort is also part of a statewide data collection initiative. Since our Executive Director, John Stauffer, recently concluded two years as President of the Michigan Adult Day Services Association, members of the association are attempting to apply common language and measurement across the state from organizations with similar missions and populations. “As an industry we have seen the writing on the wall, there are mounting challenges that our major health systems are being faced with regarding serving this senior population. If the adult day services industry is going to compete or collaborate with big health systems we need to be able to point to reliable data that demonstrates our industry’s service value and effectiveness,” shares Stauffer. “We, at Helping Hands and at the state level, are proud to be involved in a project which may very well have a positive impact nationwide.”

Tips to Reduce Risk of Falls

Alzheimer’s and Falling: Tips to Reduce Risks

By Ava M. Stinnett

As our loved ones age, the risk of falling increases. This may be due to changes in vision or perception, difficulty with balance, or cognitive impairment. Side effects from certain medications and medical conditions can cause dizziness or lightheadedness when standing. People with Alzheimer’s are generally at greater risk of falling. In fact, some studies show that problems with balance, walking, and falling may be an early sign of dementia. Falls are dangerous in that there is not only the risk of serious injury but there can also be the fear of falling again and a loss of confidence, leading to decreased activity.

A study from the medical journal Age and Ageing found that people with Alzheimer’s are three times more likely to suffer from hip fractures than those without the disease. If surgery and hospitalization are required, the resulting depression, disorientation, and disability may increase the chances that the person with Alzheimer’s can no longer be cared for at home.

Here are some suggestions to help prevent falls and allow your loved one to remain mobile and independent for as long as possible.

  • Daily exercise, such as walking in the neighborhood, at a local store, or on a treadmill to improve strength and balance
  • Regular eye exams to determine if cataracts, double vision, poorly fitting eyeglasses (or an old prescription), or changes to the visual field have occurred
  • Increasing light to achieve uniformity across spaces to minimize sudden changes in light levels, shadows or dark areas, and glare; using daylight where possible to help with depression or sleep disorders and improve general health
  • Maintaining good foot hygiene—examining the feet for cuts or bruises or long toenails—and wearing shoes that provide good support and have non-slip soles
  • Removing clutter, such as books, clothes, slippers, or other objects that someone could trip over, and making sure that rugs, loose carpets, or furniture aren’t posing a potential hazard
  • Installing grab bars or handrails where needed

Keep in mind that as Alzheimer’s progresses, it may be accompanied by poor judgment or decision-making skills. Your loved one may attempt to walk alone down the steps, walk outside when the sidewalks are slick from rain or snow, or try to get up from a chair or out of bed without help. Despite gentle and, perhaps, daily reminders, memory loss causes some people with dementia to continue trying to do things independently when it’s no longer safe to do so. Patience, understanding, and the implementation of safety measures are the best solutions for dealing with a challenging disease like Alzheimer’s.