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Reader Question: My mom is ninety-two years old. She weighs 62 lbs and has been diagnosed with dementia. She doesn’t want to eat. What can I do? How do I deal with this trauma of dementia and weight loss!
First, let me begin by offering a virtual hug. I can feel your sadness through the keyboard, and you are certainly not alone. Let me say, you are brave, you are allowed to feel sad, and you are doing an amazing job by taking the time to educate yourself.
I have seen many adult children heartbroken over the changes their loved one’s experience during a dementia journey. There is no easy way to navigate the mental and physical changes your mom is experiencing. But, I will do my best to offer some advice that might help a bit.
Before the changes in speech and the obvious lapses in memory, one of the first sneaky signs of dementia is changing weight. Weight loss can be the result of many things including positive lifestyle changes and illness.
But, when weight loss is dramatic or continues over a long period of time unintentionally, it may deserve a closer look. As dementia progresses body composition may continue to change.
When a person is diagnosed with dementia it is very important to monitor both fluid and food intake.
Dementia is an umbrella term for loss of memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life.
The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s. But, other conditions may contribute to dementia including Parkinson’s and Stroke.
The point is, dementia may be a cognitive condition, but it affects the whole body. There may be several reasons a loved one experiences unintended weight loss.
As a care provider I have spent considerable time with senior adults talking about food and meal planning. For those struggling with dementia and weight loss, there is often a disconnect between the feeling of hunger and the actions required to meet that need. As people age, they may experience a loss of taste making food less appealing.
I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen a person with dementia say no to food only to clean the plate once placed in front of her.
Helpful tip: offer prepared food that is appetizing and in line with your loved one’s tastes. Make sure to show the food and make it easy to eat and enjoy.
Sometimes weight loss occurs because the body become less efficient in processing food. It is important to have your loved one seen by a medical professional if you notice rapid or persistent unintended weight loss. There may be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.
Helpful tip: track your loved one’s weight. And keep good notes on food intake. Regularly share this information with your chosen medical professional.
As dementia progresses, one simple task become complex series of activities. Even using a fork or managing coordination from plate to mouth becomes impossible. Make sure your loved one isn’t giving up on food out of frustration or fear.
Inability to recognize food happens to some people with dementia. I remember my grandfather helping himself to a huge serving of potpourri before a family member recognized this nonfood item on his plate. The same confusion can happen with once loved food items.
Helpful tip: Don’t crowd a plate and keep items separated. Use solid patterned plates that help the food items to stand out. Think how confusing a flower printed plate could be to someone with dementia and reduced vision.
Focus on foods your loved one will eat now! Maybe mom hated mashed potatoes a decade ago, but if she likes them now -roll with it!
It is terrifying to feel lost while performing a task you know you should be able to do! Offer encouragement and create an environment that is comfortable.
Sometimes, a person is cognitively aware that he cannot self feed and may feel embarrassed. Be sensitive to a loved one’s pride and look for ways to support independence while meeting physical needs.
Helpful tip: watch to see if your loved one struggles with the activity of eating. Simple changes like offering a fork with a larger easy grip handle can make big changes in your loved one’s ability to eat.
Prepare foods that are easier to move from plate to mouth. Be creative and supportive. Make happy mealtimes the goal and let go of expectations for mealtime norms.
Changes in physical ability make it harder to access food. A person who was once a whiz in the kitchen may feel to tired or overwhelmed to prepare meals. Make sure your loved one still has access to the food he or she needs.
You would be surprised at how many seniors stopped eating regularly because it is too hard to cook, reach shelves, and go to the store.
Helpful tip: reorganize food and food related chores to meet your loved one’s needs. Sometimes, adults facing dementia and weight loss do not realize they have stopped cooking or eating regularly. It is important to create routines. And, offer ways to compensate when physical limitations in the kitchen get in the way of meal times.
Dementia can make people feel restless and agitated. They often loose a sense of routine and structure. There are many changes going on and food can seem like a lost priority.
Helpful tip: maintain routines and help keep things interesting. Try planning engaging outings and make sure to include regular feedings.
I once had a client who would make herself toast and butter with a cup of coffee each morning when the coffee timer beeped. A well-meaning family member switched out the old coffee pot with and easier to use new model.
Unfortunately, when the coffee pot beeper left so did the coffee and toast routine. People with dementia create alternate pathways to routine and memory. Try to protect those rituals and create new ones with very simple regular cues.
dementia and weight loss may often coexist but you can make small adjustment to a persons daily routines to support better nutrition. If you need more support and you live in Southern California you can contact us. Otherwise, we recommend you work with a private Care Manager.
These professionals are usually nurses or social workers and they can help you develop routines, tools, and plans to make meal times more pleasant for everyone.
Considering buying a hospital bed? If so, you’ve come to the right place.
Using a regular bed when recovering from an injury or operation or struggling with a mobility condition can be challenging. Patients are faced with uncomfortable sleep, difficult transfers, and occasional injuries.
With the right hospital bed, you evade the hurdles of typical beds, thereby enjoying a more streamlined recovery journey.
This article is your complete buying guide hospital beds in san Diego.
The beautiful thing about a patient bed is that you can use it beyond the hospital setting, be it in a rehab center, private residential, or nursing home.
Home patient beds come in varying sizes, designs, and styles, so picking the right one is an overwhelming task for most buyers. It’s for this reason that this guide has gathered everything you need to know about hospital beds.
The guide outlines the advantages of a home patient bed, types of hospital beds, how to pick the right equipment, and other crucial information to keep in mind when buying your home medical equipment.
Patient beds are tailored to the needs of patients who need assistance repositioning in bed as they offer more comfort, ease care giving, and allow the patient to use the extended time.
Getting a comfortable sleep when struggling with a health or mobility issue is a genuine struggle. A patient bed helps to eliminate these hassles by offering various position adjustments. You can recline the bed if sleeping flat on a mattress is difficult, or you can elevate it for health reasons.
Hospital beds ease care giving.
A caregiver can raise or lower the equipment, depending on whether the user can move out of the bed with or without help.
Lowering the bed to a considerable level enables you to step out to the floor or a mobility device such as a wheelchair. By raising the height, the caregiver doesn’t have to hunch over when providing help. Besides, these beds allow for options such as over-bed tables, eliminating the constant back pains caregivers experience when managing patients.
The fact that you can accessorize a hospital bed takes homecare a notch higher. Bed rails, whether half-length or full-length, are an excellent safety feature as they prevent the patient from rolling off the bed.
Blanket supports raise sheets and blankets off the lower legs to prevent entanglement during movement while keeping away the extra weight off sensitive skin. You can equip the bed with a specialized air mattress if your loved one is vulnerable to pressure sores.
With the right hospital bed, you don’t have to stay away from your home and loved ones. A hospital bed is usually mobile, enabling caregivers to move the patients around the house and other living environs.
Whereas an older individual with mobility difficulties may require the help of a caregiver to perform day-to-day tasks, living in a nursing facility may be an uncomfortable experience for them. By allowing for home care, hospital beds support the concept of aging in familiar environments while surrounded by loved ones.
Types of Hospital Beds in San Diego
Hospital beds in San Diego are classified into three broad categories depending on the operation mode as follows:
These beds lack electric capabilities. They have a crank that allows you to adjust the height, head section, and foot section position.
Manual hospital beds are more affordable than their electric competitors but demand more physical labor. They are a decent investment for short-term use, patients with a fixed position, and those that don’t require regular repositioning.
Remember that some manual beds don’t offer a range of position adjustments as electric beds. You also want to ensure that there is a caregiver with the energy and will to do the manual work before buying this bed.
The semi-electric options incorporate both electric and manual adjustments. Typically, electric interventions allow for the adjustment of the foot and head section. A hand crank helps adjust the height.
Semi-electric patient beds are ideal for patients in need of constant head and foot section adjustments and fewer height adjustments. They are costlier than manual beds but offer you the benefit of zero manual work when adjusting the two ends.
In full electric beds, all alterations are electrical, incredibly easing the lives of the patient and their caregivers.
The bed comes with a remote for seamless head, foot, and height modifications, making it an ideal solution for patients who require frequent positioning and caregivers with less physical strength. Loaded with these capabilities, an electric bed is costlier than a manual or semi-electric alternative but offers a great deal of convenience.
Besides the above types, there are also unique hospital beds tailored to special requirements. They include:
A low bed resembles the regular hospital bed except that its deck is much closer to the floor to minimize the risk of injury from falls. It’s also ideal for patients that experience difficulties when transferring out and into the bed.
An upgrade to the low bed is the hi-low bed that offers a broader range of height alterations. You can lower it close to the floor when sleeping, or a caregiver can raise it to a suitable height when providing assistance.
If you are looking for a patient bed with a larger weight capacity, a bariatric bed could be the right choice for you. The bed is designed with a broader and heavy-duty deck to offer maximum support and comfort to heavier users. It can be fully electric or low design.
Also known as a pediatric medical crib, a hospital crib is specially made for children receiving medical care at home. This could be due to premature birth issues, neurological issues (seizure and epilepsy), developmental disabilities, among other conditions that call for special features not provided by a regular crib.
Hospital cribs have raised rails to prevent falls, with the spaces between the rails being much narrower to prevent head entrapment. You can electronically or manually adjust the head section, depending on the bed manufacturer.
Undeniably, buying a hospital bed is an incredible investment, so getting informed about the vital things to consider is imperative before making your purchase. Keep in mind the following factors:
Before looking into the features, consider how long your loved one will use the bed. For short-term uses, it’s advisable to get a manual or semi-electric patient bed, depending on the necessary convenience and comfort.
A full-electric bed is suitable for a patient who remains on the bed for a significant portion of the day (at least 15 hours) or intends to use it for a long time.
Your choice of a hospital bed will also rely on the mobility level of the user.
First, consider whether the patient can get in and out of bed and the amount of help they require.
Next, determine whether the bed has the necessary features to support the user’s mobility. For instance, a user who can transfer themselves or sit up will require a more standard hospital bed. In contrast, an immobile patient will require a more loaded alternative.
The size and weight of the patient determine the bed’s size and capacity.
If the user is heavier, a heavy-duty bariatric bed is an ideal choice to support the extra weight and size. In contrast, shorter or taller patients require shortened or extended bed decks.
Pediatric patients, however, need small-sized beds designed to offer optimum comfort and safety to children.
It’s also important to consider the physical strength of the caregiver, chiefly when a family or friend is assigned the caregiving duties. If manual operation is too much work for the carer, a full-electric bed becomes the go-to solution.
Different models offer varying features that allow for customizations geared to minimize the risk of complications, improve patient comfort, and ease the work of the caregiver. Here are features to remember when buying a hospital bed in San Diego.
Typical patient beds offer primary positioning options, such as raising the foot and head sections. However, some alternatives take this notion further by providing special positions to meet unique requirements. They include:
By relieving pressure to the head, the Anti-Trendelenburg also helps to improve respiratory functions in obese users.Avoid keeping the patient in the Trendelenburg positions for an extended period to prevent blood flow complications. If the patient has reduced mental ability or dementia, the control of these positions should be left to the caregiver.
You cannot afford to overlook the importance of side rails when buying a hospital bed in San Diego. Whether full-length or half-length, side rails offer fall prevention to individuals at risk of falling off the bed, especially the sen`iors, children, and the disabled. Bed rails also act as support tools when individuals with limited physical strength are transferring into and out of bed. Users with limited mobility can hold onto the rails when turning over, lying down, or sitting up.
If you have a load of frequently used supplies, it’s wise to get a bed that suits your storage needs. Whereas the standard patient bed comprises the frame and essential components, a selection of newer models come with storage compartments for storing items such as gloves, IV stands, oxygen stands, and bedpans nearby.
A patient bed with an in-built scale or allows the attachment of the device comes in handy if regular weight measurements are required for medical reasons. They enable weight recording with minimal to zero disruptions.
A patient bed can be too bulky or complicated for you to install it by yourself. This is where professional installation comes into play. Before hiring an installer, seek to know if the bed seller provides installation services. Having the retailer, rather than a third party, install your bed can help reduce the overall costs significantly.
The following are the situations where renting a bed in San Diego makes more sense than buying the equipment.
When you Need the Bed for Short-term Use
It’s more economical to rent than buy a patient bed for short-term use.
Hospital bed rental in San Diego offers an affordable solution to people in need of a bed for a relatively
shorter time, whether they are recuperating from an injury or medical operation. Upon recovery, the user can
return the bed and switch to their regular beds.
When flexibility becomes critical for your recovery journey, renting a patient bed is virtually inevitable.
Your health needs may continually change as you recover, bringing in the flexibility factor.
Although different hospital beds are designed to meet varying needs, it makes no sense to buy separate beds
to meet your changing preferences. Here, renting different beds is the best alternative.
If you have a knack for testing equipment before buying a hospital bed, bed rental is for you. With the availability of patient bed rental in San Diego, you can try out beds before buying a hospital bed.
Bringing a hospital bed home presents several safety challenges that you might not have considered in the past. Having selected the right equipment for you or loved one, equipping it properly and using it safely is of utmost importance. By using a patient bed safely, you keep away additional medical issues and better the environment for the surrounding people, whether relatives, friends, or hired caregivers. Thus said, take into account the following safety tips when using a hospital bed at home:
If you are thinking about hospital bed rental in San Diego, look no further than Harmony Home Medical Supplies, your trusted medical equipment dealer in San Diego.
We offer affordable rentals for high-quality hospital beds by renowned medical equipment brands, including Invacare, Graham Field, and Joerns, among others.
Whether you are looking for a semi-electric, manual, or full-electric patient bed, Harmony Home Medical rentals are transparent and void of endless paperwork, vague contracts, and hidden fees.
Besides, we deliver our rental beds and have our specialists install them at our customers’ homes, providing them with superior convenience coupled with affordability.
Considering buying a hospital bed in San Diego? Harmony Home Medical Supplies is your go-to home medical equipment distributor in San Diego.
Being in business for several years, we boast the experience and knowledge to excellently address the unique needs of our customers. We, therefore, supply hospital beds with excellent workmanship and features geared to offer our clients quality, long-lasting services.
Not sure which hospital bed suits your needs and budget? Bet on our professional, friendly, and experienced specialists to take you through the selection process so that you leave our store with a product optimally tailored to your needs. You can also order our beds online.
Turn to us for affordable, durable, reliable hospital beds, accompanied by a friendly environment and unsurpassed customer services.
I have a question regarding how to handle a combative dementia patient. My husband and I care for my 51 year old daughter. She is in her 5th year of dementia and hates bath time and getting re-diapered. She is also getting more and more agitated in general.
We have zero outside help as she has no insurance and so far has been denied any government assistance.
My concerns are for her safety as well as mine… she hits and trys to bite … she poops when she gets excited and angry which is a problem when I have to put the clean diaper on her.
It takes 2 people to get her bathed and dressed and her diaper is soiled by the time I get her “anti-strip pj’s “on her!
She does have a doctor the free clinic at the county hospital system… but I have to figure out a lot of this on my own… should I ask for a mild sedative to use for her bath time… we try to bathe her 2X a day.
Thank you! Sincerely,
When it comes to how to handle a combative dementia patient, I am not a medical professional, so my advice is purely from my experience. I’ll do my best!
Agitation is a very common symptom with dementia. My advice is to look for both clinical and non-clinical solutions.
Dementia is scary for the person experiencing decline. As a person who has had a minor stroke, I experienced the tiniest touch of cognitive impairment.
I can remember looking around at my family. My head knew they were important, but I couldn’t remember why. I could see by the looks on their faces that something was wrong with me, but I couldn’t grasp what that might be. The experience was disorienting and terrifying to say the least.
I imagine this is how it is for someone experiencing dementia. So, the goal is to reduce stress and agitation while preserving safety, health and freedom.
Take note of activities that cause agitation. Does your loved one seem more agitated at night (very common) or morning. Is agitation mainly due to a certain task like meals, bathing, or bed?
Once you notice of what triggers agitation, avoid it.
I know I know, no kidding right, but stay with me.
If bath-time stresses your loved one, then consider doing it less frequently (as long as there is not a soiling issue).
Your loved one may have bathed daily for 60 years, but dementia brings many new normals. It could be time for a routine change.
I met a creative woman who COULD NOT get her husband into the shower, but he would sit with her in the hot tube where she could wash him. Small wins.
Maybe showering is out right now, but your loved one would stand for a sponge bath or wipe down with a disposable cloth. This article is about giving bed baths, but many of the same principles apply to dementia bathing.
Dementia care is less about getting the task done and more about making sure your loved one is safe, healthy, and comfortable. If it isn’t really necessary, ask yourself if it must be done. Creative care is dementia care.
Now, lets address non-negotiable care. You cannot leave a loved one in a soiled adult diaper, but often this is a highly stressful activity for both you and your charge. Try your best to keep the environment calm. You might find that taking breaks between tasks gives you both a minute to compose.
For instance, waiting to re-diaper might give skin a chance to breath and your loved one to relax.
Try putting on a favorite song or show while completing a task that is unpleasant. Trying singing something you both loved to trigger a calmer atmosphere. Make a cold bathroom warm before shower time.
Remember, with dementia care, we go where the patient is. They rarely come to us.
Sometimes, no matter how comfortable the environment, your loved one will still experience anxiety, and care will still need to take place.
This is where a close relationship with your physician is a must.
You are not a doctor BUT you are an advocate. This is one of your most important roles. The doctor may spend 10 minutes with a patient, but you see that person all the time.
If something isn’t working in the best interest of your loved one, speak up. If your doctor doesn’t like it, get a second opinion.
I would set an appointment and share your situation with your doctor. A sedative may not be what he or she prescribes. But, there are medication options that might make everyone more comfortable.
I have seen clients who hit and bite transform with the proper medications. This a journey. Meds may need to be adjusted or changed as dementia progresses. Do not hesitate to communicate with your doctor if meds don’t work or results change over time.
If you don’t feel you are getting the proper support from your doctor, request a specialist. Neurologists specialize in conditions that affect the brain. You for sure could use one of these experts in your court.
Dementia care may feel lonely, but you are not alone. Often, it seems the only options are private paid care – like what Green Tree Home Care offers – and government assistance.
Unfortunately, many people fall into a care gap where private pay is out of reach and they don’t qualify for government help.
There is a large number of non-profit organizations that exist to fill in this gap!
For those caring for loved ones with dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association is an amazing resource. There should be one in your area.
In San Diego, where I am based, we have Jewish Family Service. This organization has programs to help older adults with hands on care and care management (you do not have to be Jewish to receive help).
The Parkinson’s Association also has a large presence.
These organizations can help you better understand what resources are available in your area.
There are professionals called Care Managers who help people manage the medical and non-medical ageing landscape.
They generally charge for their services unless they are connected with an organization. But, it may be worth a call to see if one in your local area has any resource ideas.
These professionals are often nurses or social workers and have a strong understanding of the local care landscape.
While there is no simple solution to how to handle a combative dementia patient. Small adjustments can have a big impact!
If you are in the San Diego, Orange County, or Riverside areas of California, please feel free to reach out to use for more help.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be serious in the elderly and there is some evidence that it might even affect the mood of your loved one.
With proper care, you can prevent UTIs from getting out of hand and wreaking havoc.
In this post, we will talk about how to keep UTIs are bay.
Remnants of fecal matter tend to contain millions of bacteria that can contribute to urinary tract infections.
When you are wiping (or you are a caregiver who is helping your loved one get clean), wipe from the front of the genitals and back towards the anus.
Don’t bring the toilet paper back towards your genitals.
This simple action keeps the bacteria away from where they could cause an infection.
If you need to go to the bathroom, please do! Urine that is held in your bladder creates a perfect atmosphere for bacterial growth.
The inconvenience of stopping whatever you are doing to go and pee is worth preventing that UTI that will nag you for months.
Other fluids like cranberry juice, orange juice, hibiscus tea, white/black tea are helpful as well.
Drinking water and increasing your fluid intake in general, allows your body to make more urine.
The urine your body produces will wash out the bacteria that would otherwise hang around and cause an infection.
There is some evidence that drinking cranberry juice or consuming cranberries could help with preventing the recurrence of UTIs.
A study looked at 150 women who had urinary tract infections and the effects of cranberry juice on preventing urinary tract infections. The women were divided into three groups. One group drank cranberry-lingonberry concentrate juice for 6 months. Compared to the control groups, the researchers found there was a 20% risk reduction in the recurrence of UTIs when the women drank the cranberry-lingonberry concentrate.
Another study found that cranberry juice could disrupt UTI-associated bacterial biofilms.
Take these simple steps to keep UTIs at bay.
5 activities you can continue to do even if you’re social distancing
Another wave of COVID-19 rages on.
And perhaps you have not had the chance to see your loved ones in months.
Or if you have, it has been at a distance and with masks on and/or limited contact.
Now that the new vaccines for COVID-19 are slowly being rolled out, there might be relief on the horizon for us.
But until then, we still have to practice social distancing to slow how fast the virus spreads as well as to protect vulnerable, high-risk populations.
In this post, we’ll talk about activities you can still be involved in that will help alleviate the isolation and boredom you may be feeling from having to observe social distancing rules.
There is nothing like getting fresh air by walking through your local park, nature reserve, or a nature trail.
If you live in Southern California, then there is no end of places for you to go and enjoy such.
If you live in the more temperate regions of the country and already have snow, don’t let this stop you! Even a walk through your neighborhood can do so much good.
Family cannot come over for a real, in-person dinner party?
You can use video call services to host your very own tech-savvy dinner party with friends and family.
Make sure to set the table and prepare your meal just as you would if people were coming over.
Not only will it provide you with a sense of accomplishment; you will also prepare your body and mind for the social event just like you would if it were in-person.
Just like the idea above, you can host a virtual game night with friends and family over video conferencing software like Zoom.
You can even have all the in-game excitement and arguments! And you will create memories with the people you love.
Tired of staying at home?
There are cities around the US that are now throwing it back to the days of drive-in movies.
You don’t have to leave your car.
You can eat all the popcorn you want, and not buy the overpriced one at the cinema!
This is an activity you can share with your loved ones – all of you can drive separately to the movie and share in the outdoor experience.
And in the end, you will derive satisfaction from enjoyed the experience with people you love.
Whether it is a home improvement project (elders should approach these with care), a knitting project, a painting, or simply a crafting project you’ve been putting off, now is the perfect time to get started on it.
So get to it!
I know having to be apart from the people you love is hard.
This virus came and changed our lives for sure.
With the new vaccines, it looks like there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Until we are in the clear, however, social distancing and wearing masks will be necessary.
If you’re having a hard time coping, these activities will help take away the boredom of life with social distancing.
What is temporary aphasia? Learn more about it in this post.
Aphasia is a language disorder in which a person may not be able to speak or understand speech.
Sometimes, a person with aphasia will speak but may use the words incorrectly or will have garbled speech that makes no sense.
In this post, I’ll cover what temporary aphasia is in this post, what you should know as a caregiver, and how you can help.
Temporary aphasia is also called transient aphasia.
For most people, temporary aphasia will happen after they experience a stroke or when they experience a migraine.
Other health problems that may trigger the condition include:
Each of these causes can impact the areas of the brain that control how we speak and understand words.
The good news, however, is that this is a problem that can be easily overcome with speech therapy and the right support.
The following signs may indicate that your loved one is experiencing transient aphasia.
While these are strong indicators that your loved one is experiencing aphasia, doctors may have to conduct an MRI exam to make a definitive diagnosis.
The first time you observe a loved one experience temporary aphasia, it will be bothersome.
Remember that for your loved one, it is bothersome as well.
Temporary aphasia usually does not require treatment. And in most cases, it may happen once and never again.
However, if the condition recurs, your loved one may need extra medical attention to diagnose and treat the underlying cause.
If your loved one has experienced transient aphasia more than once, you and your loved one can create a card that has their name and describes what temporary aphasia is. This card should also have the number and number of an emergency contact who can be reached in case you are not around.
Is your elderly loved one moving in with you? The key is to make your home safe. Here are three ways to get your home ready for them.
Is your elderly loved one not eating? In this post, we talk about the steps you can take to help your loved one who is struggling to eat.