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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Timing Can Be Key to Working With Alzheimer's Clients

Get to know your client's ebbs and flows

I have found in dealing with my Alzheimer clients that the key to getting them to work with you is timing. Take a case in point - showers.

Showers can be very trying on both you and your client. In advanced stages of the disease showering can become a real issue. They do not see things the way they normally would. So to them a shower may be a real perceived threat to them and it makes it very difficult to get them to cooperate when you are trying to help them.

I can truly say that there is no magic fix for this, I have looked for one, talked to other Caregivers about one, researched for one. But I do know this; that if you get them at a time when they are in a better mood and not tired they may respond better. Now I did say better, not easy. You will still have to be calm and patient with them, don't try to rush them just because you are uncomfortable and want to get it over with. This will not work. You may have a set day and time for bathing, you may have to adjust. Get to know your client's ebbs and flows so to speak and go with the flow.

I know many of you caregivers out there are struggling with this issue and I would love to hear your thoughts. What has worked for you. If we all share we can learn from each other and become better caregivers. Please comment or send an email.

As always take care my friends
Ruth Anne

Friday, December 27, 2013

Working with Seniors ? Touch Them Today - Tomorrow may be To Late.

Early one morning I arrived to find , as I many times do, that the EMS unit was again parked at the front of the building...

~ without even the chance to say good by they are gone ~

Who was it today? What had happened? I walked down to the cafe to get the morning's juice and fruit for my clients and was struck by the residents sitting in and around the lobby - all but motionless, the look all to familiar. What had happened screamed loudly from their faces even though they uttered no sound.

As the medics rounded the corner guiding a gurney with a blanketed resident on it, everyone began to mutter to each other, "can you see who it is? I think its Mary, no it's Martha, oh what is wrong?"
"She seemed fine at dinner last night" one of them says. "I heard she fell" said another.

All the talk that day is about Martha, all hoping she will be OK and return soon, and she did. However often those we watch being taken out do not return. And without even the chance to say good by they are gone never to return to dinner or bingo or the Monday night card party.

Everyday I take the time to talk to as many residents as I can. Give a hug, a kiss or just a simple touch on the shoulder. I tell them how happy I am to know them. We have a laugh or sometimes cry, but we connect. I never know if tomorrow may be to late.

Take Care My Friends
Ruth Anne

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Caregivers Giving Can Mean A Lot

As Caregivers - We Give

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ― Winston S. Churchill
  We as caregivers give our time and energy to our clients in an effort to make their lives better. This brings rich rewards to them as well as to ourselves. In addition to our time, small tangible gifts that cost us little can make another person smile and feel loved in a way we might never expect.

  A couple of weeks ago I stopped at a garage sale on my way to work and picked up a bunch of beaded bracelets and rings, they were really nice. The lady selling them was closing a shop she had and just wanted to move the items out, so I got a whole bag of jewlery items for $25.00. My first thought was to resell them on my online store and make a profit, but when I got to work another thought hit me - 'How much better to bring some smiles to the seniors living at the complex where I worked.'

  After lunch I grabbed my bag and headed to the lobby where many relax and began giving the ladies their choice. They were amazed and kept asking 'how much do I owe you?' I told them that they owed me nothing, they were a gift. The ladies were thrilled, each taking turns picking out of the bag something they liked. As I watched them showing off their gems, tears came to my eyes and I thought to myself  'that was the best 25$ I ever spent.'

  We have all heard of the people who pay it forward - why not join the crowd. Walk into a senior home and spread some joy. You will never feel better about yourself. I guarantee it.

Talk care my friends

Ruth Anne

Friday, November 29, 2013

Caregivers Use Music Therapy For Clients – Web Links

About a week ago Ruth Anne posted about 'Music and Poetry Therapy to help memory function in dementia and Alzheimer’s patients'. She mentioned I would post a link to a site dealing with poetry helping Alz patients.

Here are a couple:
Gary Glazner is founder of the APP. He has taught over 3,000 family caregivers, healthcare workers and artists to use poetry to connect with people living Alzheimer's disease and related dementia. His Alzheimer’s Poetry Project web site states –
The mission of the Alzheimer's Poetry Project is to facilitate the creativity of people living with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia.
Strive to advocate for cultural change in the healthcare industry and for the daily inclusion of arts in assisted living and adult day care.
 Visit the site here The Alzheimer's Poetry Project

The site also has a blog that has "focus on poetry that is created as part of the Alzheimer's Poetry Project." Also on the blog you will find a link to the APP YouTube Channel, and Information about the PBS NewsHour’s filmed piece of the August 31, 2013 Memory Arts Cafe.

Visit the APP Blog here Alzheimer's Poetry Project Blog 

Thanks ~ Will

Information on these linked sites is © Copyright 2004-2013 by the Alzheimer's Poetry Project

 Click to email Questions to Will

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What Causes Alzheimer's Part I - Copper

What causes Alzheimer’s? How about Copper?  

  First This: The consensus among researchers is that if you have one or more parent or close family member with Alzheimer’s disease, you are generally considered to be at greater risk for developing the disease. One gene in particular called ApoE4 is related to an increase in your likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Like all risk factors, a family history may or may not lead to the development of the disease.

 About Copper: Research suggests copper that enters the body at levels encountered in todays average diet may lead to Alzheimer's disease - by reducing the body's ability to clear toxic proteins in the brain, and by encouraging the clumping of those proteins in the brain.
One study led by Rashid Deane, a research professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) indicated that copper can build up in the brain and disrupt the body's ability to clear away amyloid beta proteins before they form the plaques that are the hallmark of the disease (more on that in a later post). In the study, trace amounts of copper were given to mice for three months. They found the metal collected in the cells walls of the fine vessels that feed blood to the brain.

The cells that the copper collected in are an important part of the brain's defense mechanism, the so-called blood/brain barrier, which controls the substances that can pass in and out of brain tissue.

With time the copper built up in the cell walls and started to affect the ability of LRP1 (a protein which helps neurons function) to escort amyloid beta proteins out of the brain, something Bad when it comes to a risk of Alzheimer’s disease. They saw this happen in both mouse and human brain cells.

Further studies found that copper led to inflammation of  brain tissue, which may also speed up the breakdown of the blood/brain barrier and the subsequent build up of Alzheimer's toxins.
The levels of copper the researchers used in their experiments were trace amounts, about one-tenth of that set by standards for water quality from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

 Is any copper in the body a bad thing?
These studies are not suggesting people change their diets or intakes of copper on the basis of these findings, which they say should be interpreted with caution. The body needs copper, it is an essential metal. The effects shown in this study are due to exposure over a long period, and the key is getting the balance between too much and too little. Here is a link to an interesting report on National Public Radio’s Science Friday regarding this subject:

NPR - Study Correlates Copper Intake and Alzheimer's in Mice : Science Friday - August 23, 2013  

Next time - What causes Alzheimer’s  Part II Aluminum

Thanks for reading~ Will

Friday, November 22, 2013

Caregivers Use Music Therapy For Clients

"Data indicates that a significant number of people in mid to late stage dementia remember words and lines from poems they learned in childhood. Moreover, the participants show a high level of positive facial expressions, laughter, verbalizing memories, and robust social interactions." - Alzheimer's Poetry Project

A lot of research is being done regarding the use of music and poetry to help memory function in dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Poetry and Music are closely related and the ability of music to stir our soul has long been known. Just turn on the radio, your iPod or other device to your favorite music and feel the changes it makes in you. Now that same beat that makes you tap your toes and swing your hips, may in fact help patients challenged with memory issues to function better and enjoy their lives.
Will is going to post a blog link related to this subject, but here is my take based on observation. 

A music therapist comes to the senior community where I work and last week we went down and joined the group. She was amazing, and even more amazing was the effect she had on those in the audience. While most in the group are older folks with no memory issues, there are several who are in some stage of memory decline. The therapist gave everyone shakers and tambourines while she played the guitar and sang.
In seconds - yes seconds not minutes they were all singing and shaking to the beat, fully caught up in the music's spell. It was amazing to watch as even those with advanced Alzheimer's sang every word. Long term memory still in tact allows them to remember things like the words to song they learned decades ago. 
“ When used appropriately, music can shift mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function, and coordinate motor movements." -Alzheimer's Foundation of America

Does this help with everyday function? I believe it does. As the therapist said, using the shakers is exercise for the body, while singing is exercise for the mind. We all have heard ‘the mind is like a muscle and the more we exercise it the better off we are’. While the damage done by Alzheimer’s cannot at this time be reversed, exercising the brain is good for everyone. The stronger we are the better we function. Everyone came away from the session humming and smiling, fully refreshed. It was a delight to see. My sweet little lady had a very good afternoon that day.

Anything we as caregivers can do to make our clients life better is well worth the effort and in all reality our true mission as PALS. Put music in your bag of PAL tools and use it as often as you can. Let me know what you think and what results you get. Watch for Will's link to fascinating reports on the subject.

Be well my friends.
Ruth Anne

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Do You Know What Causes Alzheimer's ?

If you are an Independent Professional Caregiver, you probably know or will know what it is like to deal with a client who has Alzheimer's disease. However have you ever considered what scientist are saying these days about the cause or causes of the disease?

Scientists do not yet understand what exactly is or are the causes Alzheimer’s disease. Most will agree however that there is no one single cause. Many factors affect each person in a different way. Ageing is probably the most significant factor, but that is sort of a vague statement.
“The number of people with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65.”
-National Institutes of Health-
As well as ageing, Family History is a risk factor. Research suggests that genetics play a role in developing Alzheimer’s disease.

One thing is certain; scientists still need to learn a lot more about what causes Alzheimer’s, and who may be at risk of developing the disease. This is very important because certain drugs may help prevent some symptoms from becoming worse for a limited time. Treating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can help comfort patients and ease their care. Important to  you as a Professional Caregiver.

Check back for further postings about the Causes of Alzheimer’s – Why this should concern you - and what progress is being made in its treatment. Among the subjects will be...

Possible causes of the disease:

  1.  Copper.
  2.  Aluminum.
  3. Trans Fats.
Detecting the Disease
  1. Plaques and Tangles.
  2. Peanut Butter ??
Treating Alzheimer's
  • Five prescription drugs currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat people with Alzheimer's disease.
  • How these drugs may help .
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Will Branning