March 29, 2019 Dementia Care0

Care-giving is difficult.

It becomes even more difficult when you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease.

No matter who you are, Alzheimer’s Disease always throws people for a loop.

How do I communicate with him/her if they can’t remember me?

How do I keep them involved in activities?

How do we interact?

These are all valid questions that have no easy answers.

However, it is possible to keep to your loved one engaged even though they might have Alzheimer’s.

So how do we go about that?

In a survey that was put out by Self Magazine just last year, caregivers were asked to share their best tips on keeping their loved ones with Alzheimer’s engaged.

They shared the following tips.

How to keep a loved one engaged when they have Alzheimer’s Disease

Help them do the things they have loved to do for a long time

Thanks to a part of our brains known as the hippocampus, there are activities that we do automatically throughout life. This is true even for people with Alzheimer’s Disease. Chances are that your loved one still remembers how to dance, sing or play their favorite board game. They may not be able to explain why they are able to it; but it still stands that they can.

If you notice that they are still able to perform some of their favorite activities, create opportunities that allow them to be involved in those activities.

Modify activities they enjoy so they do so in a safe manner

For certain activities, it is possible that your loved one will not be able to carry them out in the same manner as they used to. In fact, in some instances, it may be unsafe for them to carry out those activities.

If this is the case, you will need to find ways to adapt the activity so that they can still participate in a safe manner.

Find out what goals they have and help them accomplish them

Has your loved one allowed a dream or goal they have always had to slip out?

Perhaps they have always wanted to visit a particular place or see someone in concert?

Help them fulfill that goal.

Help your loved one connect with other people with Alzheimer’s Disease

It is likely that your city has a meetup or community event for people with Alzheimer’s.

You may even find that the group like this is helpful to you as a caregiver.

Don’t force any activity on your loved one

If they don’t want to engage in a particular activity, don’t force your loved one.

It is always best to find activities they are interested in and help them be involved that way.

Help them exercise whatever cognitive ability they have left

If there are skills that have not been impacted by the disease, help your loved one exercise those.

It will give them a sense of purpose.

Allow them to help with household chores they are comfortable with

If they can help you put the dishes away, let them!

Those moments are always a great time to get them to participate in a family activity while helping them maintain a sense of purpose.

Read aloud together

Read aloud with your loved one. You might even find that reading material from their earlier days will spark excitement and conversation.

Keep trying

You haven’t yet found what will help your loved one engage?

Don’t worry. Keep trying new things each day. Listen to them when they speak. See what they already gravitate towards.

And then use that information to help them engage in life.


Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease is not an easy road for anyone to travel. These tips were shared by caregivers who have already walked the road. Tailor them to your experience and watch your loved one begin to engage.

If you found this post helpful, consider sharing it with someone else looking for tips on how to help their loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease engage.


Everyday lapses in memory are normal.

We forget what day it is but remember later. Or we might forget where we placed the keys when we came home last night. But then we find it later.

These are normal.

However, when forgetfulness begins to interfere with your daily life, there is a cause for concern.

It is however also important to remember that forgetfulness does not necessarily mean a person has Alzheimer’s Disease.

In fact, mild memory loss and forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging.

As we get older, our bodies go through many changes and this includes changes in the brain.

Thus, you might realize that it is harder to learn new things or that you don’t recall facts as easily.

How can you even tell that the forgetfulness you’re experiencing is related to Alzheimer’s or not?

In today’s post, we will go over the key differences between Alzheimer’s and mild memory loss related to aging.

And, we will also talk about how to cope with memory loss as you grow older.

Let’s dive right into it.

Coping with Memory Loss-Important Things To Know

So what are the differences between mild memory loss that is related to aging and memory loss related to Alzheimer’s?

  1. With mild memory loss, you might make one bad judgement that is unusual for you once in a while. When memory loss is related to Alzheimer’s you make a series of bad judgments or decisions.
  2. With mild memory loss, you might forget a day and remember it later. For memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s, a person loses track of time completely.
  3. Once in a while we all forget a word to use for something we are describing. If the memory loss is related to Alzheimer’s however, you might have trouble having a conversation.
  4. Losing things from time to time to normal. When you find that you are losing things all the time and/or being unable to find them, Alzheimer’s might be in the picture.

What causes memory loss and forgetfulness?

The fact that the mild memory loss you’re experiencing is not related to Alzheimer’s doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to your doctor about it.

Apart from aging, memory loss is associated with:

  • tumors or infections in the brain
  • medication side effects
  • a head injury that might have happened if you have fallen recently
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • stress or emotional issues
  • elder abuse

To make sure none of these medical conditions in responsible for your memory loss, talk with your doctor.

Early interventions for memory loss and forgetfulness are always helpful.

Coping with Memory Loss- 8 strategies to help you cope

So how do you as a person experiencing memory loss cope?

  • Talk to your doctor the moment you start noticing that forgetfulness is interfering with your day-to-day functioning. They might be able to recommend a medication course that helps reduce the progression of memory loss.
  • Eat more food that improves your brain health.
  • Take care of your emotional health as well.
  • Arrange your home in such a way that it is safe and you reduce the risk of falls. For useful tips on how to reduce the risk of falls in your home, check out this post.
  • Write important information down and place it in a visible area. Birthdays, your doctor’s number and such key information can be written on a large piece of paper and be placed on your refrigerator for instance.
  • Set reminders or use alarms to remind you of important events throughout the day.
  • Let a trust family member or friend know where vital documents such as your will, advanced directives, social security and financial information is located. This way, they can provide that information when you forget.
  • You might also want to consider a fiduciary to help you manage your finances and financial obligations.

Memory loss and forgetfulness are certainly difficult topics to navigate.

But there is help and it is possible to thrive in spite of it.

The tips shared in here will be helpful to you if you’re in that place or are a caregiver with a loved one in that place.

If you found this post helpful, consider sharing it with someone else that might be dealing with memory loss and forgetfulness.


November 27, 2018 Dementia Care0

Perhaps you clicked through to read this post because you’re curious as to how music therapy could help your loved one.

For families who have a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s, interacting with that loved one becomes difficult as the days go by.

No matter who you are, this can be frustrating.

How do you get a reclusive dementia patient talking? How do you get them excited about life?

Music could be the key to all of that.

In a viral YouTube video, an organization called Music & Memory showed how a male Alzheimer’s patient who had been non-verbal came to life after they played music from his younger days.

So how does music therapy work?

And how may it work for your loved one who has dementia or Alzheimer’s?

That’s the focus of this post.

Music Therapy and Dementia – How It Works

Although several portions of a person’s brain are damaged when they develop dementia or Alzheimer’s, music is still powerful

Music is unique because it sparks responses from different regions of the brain.

You know how a particular song can come on your radio while you’re driving and all of a sudden you are exported to a specific time, place and even smell?

The same thing happens for your loved one when you play music they enjoyed back in the day. And in this case the music can cause them to break out of their shell and interact like you’ve never seen them.

In 2012, researchers from the University College London showed that over the course of 263 research studies show that there is a link between music therapy and an improvement in mood and behavior of dementia patients. This was reported in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychology.

A study among moderate to severe Alzheimer’s patients in Iceland showed that music successfully reduced aggressiveness and anxiety. The effects of the music however went away after the music therapy was stopped for four weeks. This indicates that if you choose to use music therapy for your loved one, it has to be continuous to see positive effects.

How can you help?

So how can you help to make music therapy a part of your loved one’s life?

Well for one, you might not always the need of a trained music therapist (yes, there are specific professionals who do this!) but if your loved one’s insurance allows for it, go for it!

What can a music therapist do for you?

A music therapist will assess your loved one and then design music sessions for your loved one based on their needs. Doing this helps them measure how effective the sessions are.

Don’t have access to a music therapist? It doesn’t mean they cannot benefit from music therapy.

You could start out by playing familiar tunes for your loved one through the television, computer or portable music device.

The studies I cited above suggested, the benefits of playing music for patients with dementia/Alzheimer’s disease include:

  • A decrease in aggressive and/or disruptive behavior
  • An improvement in mood
  • Encourages interaction even for patients who might be recluses
  • May help with depression which is common in people who have dementia
  • A decrease in anxiety
  • Because music interacts with multiple areas of the brain, it could trigger pleasant memories and stimulate great conversation

Closing Thoughts

Although dementia and Alzheimer’s are still incurable, there are many interventions that can improve the life of a patient.

Music therapy is one of those interventions. It is backed by individual reports as well as research to be effective.

Have you tired music therapy for your loved one with dementia?

Was it effective?

If you found this post useful, consider sharing it with someone else that could use it.


Each year hurricanes, fires, tornadoes and destructive snow storms disrupt the lives of thousands of people.

If you are a caregiver for an elderly loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease, that disruption can be a truly difficult one- regardless of who you are.

People with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia are vulnerable when a disaster happens.

Thus having a disaster preparedness plan in place before such an event occurs is important.

In this post, I will share steps you can take to prepare for disasters when you have a loved one who has Alzheimer’s.

Let’s delve right into it.

Disaster preparedness when you are caring for adults with Alzheimer’s Disease

General disaster preparedness

There are disaster preparedness actions we should all be taking whether we have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or not.


  • Leave your home if you are told to. If your loved one lives apart from you, make preparations to pick them up and leave to a safe area.
  • If you or your loved one are trapped in your home, please call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • Tune in to your local TV or radio station for the latest safety information and updates.
  • Use N95 masks so you don’t breathe in ash and other debris from the environment. You can add a number of these when you are preparing your disaster preparedness kit.


  • Find a designated safety shelter for you and your loved one to wait out the hurricane especially if your home is not safe to be at.
  • Pay attention to announcements given by the local TV and radio stations.
  • Plan on how to communicate with family members if you lose power. Sending a text or posting an update on social media is usually more effective at this time than making a call as the phone lines will likely be busy.
  • Keep your car in good working condition.
  • Fill up your gas tank.
  • Use generators- but outside! Which means if you don’t have a generator, prepare now by getting one.
  • Evacuate if you’re told to.

Blizzards/Snow Storms

  • Make sure you have enough food to last you and your loved ones for at least 3 days. Dry and foods that are less likely to perish quickly such as bread, crackers, peanut butter, jelly and drinks like water should be at the top of your list- barring any allergies of course.
  • Fill up your gas tank.
  • If you need to move your loved one in with you for the period of the snowstorm or go be with them, please do it.

Special Considerations when you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s/dementia

Because Alzheimer’s/dementia patients are likely to wander, the priority is to make sure they are safe when there is a natural disaster.

This includes:

  • Ensuring they don’t wander into the cold weather.
  • Keeping them warm.
  • Avoiding falls that could be fatal.
  • During a snowstorm, streets can look confusing. A patient with Alzheimer’s or dementia could lose their way trying to find their way back home.
  • Ensuring plans for their evacuation during a fire or hurricane.
  • Making plans for hired caregivers to be around your loved one in case you live far away or are traveling at the time of the disaster.
  • Placing identifying labels in your loved one’s clothing in case they do wander.

If there is a need for evacuation, make sure you gather:

  • Incontinence undergarments, wipes, and lotions
  • Favorite snacks and high-nutrient drinks
  • The name, address and phone number of your loved one’s doctor
  • Copies of legal, medical, insurance, and Social Security information
  • Water-resistant bags to hold medications and documents
  • Recent photos of the person
  • Warm clothing and sturdy shoes
  • Spare eyeglasses and hearing-aid batteries
  • Medications
  • Flashlights and extra batteries

What should be in your emergency preparedness kit? – Check out and print out these recommendations from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Closing Thoughts

There is certainly more to disaster preparedness than I can fit in one post.

In this post, we went over general precautions you should take to prepare for a natural disaster as well as special considerations when you have a loved one who has Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia.

Did you find this post useful?

Print it out to use it to prepare or share it with someone else who needs it.


June 25, 2018 Dementia Care0

It is important that we take care of our brains.

And especially as we grow older.

In my opinion, the sooner you begin putting things in place to improve your brain health the better.

Is it possible to improve brain health and a better memory in adults?

Of course it is!

Indeed Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia can make it seem impossible. However, there are important lifestyle changes we can all make to improve our brain health.

There is now growing evidence that making certain key lifestyle changes can slow the decline of brain health which is common among elderly adults.

In this post, I will share 5 of those key lifestyle changes with you.

5 Ways To Improve Brain Health for Seniors

Thinking/memory games

Games that allow you or your elderly loved one to think or memorize facts are great for improving brain health.

A study published by the American Society for Geriatrics in 2014 showed that training the mind through thinking and memory games improved the cognitive ability of elderly adults and kept them sharper for 10 more years. The group that trained their brains also reported being able to perform more activities of daily living such as bathing and dressing up.

Sudoku, Scrabble and crossword puzzles are just a few examples of games that challenge the mind and keep it healthy.

These types of games are easy to buy at your local store.

The AARP also has a giant library of games on their website to help your mind stay sharp.

Maintain physical fitness

Staying physically active is another way to improve your brain health.

Physical activity opens up (dilates) blood vessels.

This in turn encourages more blood flow. When you have more blood flow, more oxygen to delivered to various organs of the body, including the brain.

More oxygen to the brain increases alertness and brain function.

In a study that was published by the International Journal of Psychophysiology,  two sets of patients were given either 21% oxygen (this is the normal rate of oxygen we encounter on a daily basis) or 30% oxygen while their brain activity was analyzed using an MRI- a type of brain scan.

The patients who received 30% oxygen showed more brain activity in the different parts of the brain than the people who were receiving the normal, everyday level of oxygen.

If there was ever motivation for you to go out there and get some exercise to improve your brain health, there you have it!

Additionally, when you exercise, chemical collectively called endorphins are released in your brain.

Endorphins interact with your brain cells to give you an overall sense of well-being which help with reducing mental health issues.

Maintain a healthy diet

Your diet is very important to your brain health.

What you eat can dull or thinking or make it sharper.

For instance, people who are on a primarily high protein, high fat and low carb diet report feeling more alert and sharp than when they consumed a lot of high carb foods.

Including a lot of proteins- meats, fish, egg, beans, peas- in your diet helps to keep your mind sharp.

Vitamins and minerals like Vitamin D, Omega-3 and Magnesium are all reported to support brain health.

Even if you don’t already get these from your diet, you can take supplements that contain them.

Social Interaction

The risk for dementia and depression is reduced when we seek out social interaction.

Holding conversations allows us to use complex parts of our brains that are not stimulated when we’re in isolation.

Social interaction will also encourage better nutrition in elderly adults.

Learn a new hobby

Learning a new hobby is another way to improve brain health in your senior loved one.

When we start learning something, we stimulate several parts of our brain. These parts of our brains become super-active because of the newness of whatever it is we’re learning.

Later on, when we have mastered that activity, we don’t use as much of our brain’s learning and analytical center as we would if we were learning.

Thus, learning a new hobby which stimulates key areas of the brain will improve brain health while learning a pastime that is fun.

Closing Thoughts

You can avert brain health decline by making key lifestyle changes- for yourself or your elderly loved one.

In this post, I shared 5 ways to keep your brain healthy whether you’re a caregiver or you’re looking for something to help your elderly loved one.

Did you enjoy reading this post?

Share it with someone else who needs it.


June 4, 2018 Dementia Care0

Dementia care is about meeting a person’s emotional needs where they are.

Check out these dementia care activities to engage your loved one and create fun!

Why Activities Help

Dementia can cause people to withdraw from activities and shrink back from daily life and interaction.

As a caregiver, we understand that it can be challenging to get older adults with dementia to mingle or get involved.

While getting your elderly loved one involved in activities does not necessarily slow down the rate of dementia, activities will improve their quality of life.

Games, housework and some of the other activities we will discuss in this post will help with:

  • Lessening agitation
  • Reducing the chances of depression
  • Get them moving so they don’t get pressure ulcers or circulatory problems from sitting in one spot all day

So even if your elderly loved one seems to be declining because of dementia, getting them involved in activities will enhance their lives.

Factors To Consider In Designing Dementia Care Activities

As you design fun dementia care activities for your loved one who has dementia, you will realize that some activities stick better than others.

You should expect this and plan more activities that revolve around those that bring your elderly loved one joy.

Here are 5 factors to consider as you begin planning out activities.

  1. Consider their old habits. Research shows that we form habits in a primitive part of our brains called the brain stem. In fact, in a series of studies by researchers at the University of California- San Diego, they found out that a patient with severe dementia was still able to carry out activities he had practiced for years even though he was not sure how he was doing them. Those old habits were still stored in the patient’s brain. It is a very likely situation for your loved one as well.
  2. Make activities failure free. If your elderly loved one is always “losing” at a game and you point it out, it could make for awkwardness and unwillingness to participate in anything.
  3. Keep the activities simple. Too many people or too much noise could be frustrating for a dementia patient.
  4. Select the best time of day for activities with your loved one. Are they more energetic in the mornings? A physical activity may be more appropriate then. Reading a book or watching a movie together may be more appropriate as an evening activity.
  5. Choose the activities they enjoy. As I mentioned before, find the dementia care activities that stick and create a routine around them. This makes for more predictability.

5 Fun Dementia Care Activities

1- Exercise

Exercise has benefits no matter who you are.

As a caregiver, you can help your elderly loved one take a walk or lift weights (with caution and perhaps with lighter weights).

Whatever activity you settle on must be safe and not place them in physical danger.

Because dementia patients can be unaware of self, it is important to keep physical activities safe.

2- Crafts

Browsing Pinterest will give you an endless stream of ideas for crafts.

If there was already a craft they were into because of habits they have built over the years, reintroduce those crafts to see if your loved one remembers.

Even if they have forgotten, it is likely they can be taught that activity again with ease as compared to a brand new activity they never did before.

Craft ideas include:

  • Painting with watercolors
  • Doodling
  • Coloring pages
  • Knitting simple patterns
  • Paper crafts

3- Gardening

Repetitive activity is great for dementia patients.

Turning over the soil, pulling weeds, planting seeds and watering and all repetitive activities when you’re gardening.

And of course, there is the added benefit of seeing all that hard work pay off when the seeds planted grow and flowers or vegetables or harvested.

4- Talk about the things they remember

For most people with dementia, while they may not remember most things, you will realize that they are able to describe events from their past with impressive detail.

If these memories are the kind where they talk about those events with joy, you can engage your elderly loved one in a discussion that gets them to talk more about those events.

5- Perform daily tasks together

Daily activities like cooking, baking, cleaning up after dinner and putting the dishes away can be a another fun activity for patients with dementia.


There is now research that shows the effectiveness of music therapy.

According to this article published by the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, several studies have successfully shown that music therapy does in fact improve the mood and behavior of people with dementia.

To make it even more fun, play music from the era your elderly loved one grew up in.

Closing Thoughts

It is no doubt difficult to have a loved one go through dementia.

While they may not remember certain people or events, they can participate in fun dementia care activities.

These activities will improve their mood and enhance their quality of life.

Did you find this post helpful?

Please bookmark it or share it with someone else who will find it helpful.


You might expect a loved one with dementia to repeat herself or experience forgetfulness. But, sometimes people with dementia experience hallucinations. Hallucinations in elderly people may occur or become worse for a variety of different reasons. Hallucinations can feel jaring or scary to both you and your loved one. Learn why your loved one may experience hallucinations and how you can help manage those episodes.

Causes of Hallucinations in Elderly People

Hallucinations may occur for many reasons. People with dementia do sometimes experience hallucinations. Hallucinations may be intermittent and varied or might include a recurring theme. Charles Bonnet Syndrome causes visual hallucinations in elderly patients who have experienced vision loss or impairment. Medications sometimes have side effects that include hallucinations. If your loved one’s hallucinations started at the same time as a new medication, you may want to reach out to her primary care for a consultation.

My grandfather experienced delirium related hallucinations after a major surgery and anesthesia. It took him a few weeks to completely return to his normal cognitive baseline. People with urinary tract infections can also show increased confusion and may experience hallucinations.

Certain illnesses that affect the brain like cancer or illnesses that affect the kidney or liver have been shown to cause hallucinations.

Acknowledge that Hallucinations May Cause Uncomfortable Feelings

The first time my grandfather tried to pick my mother’s red fingernails thinking they were cherries, I felt my stomach fall. I had never seen this kind of dementia and couldn’t even process his behavior. I felt helpless! He continued to see and speak with people long gone, and pointed out shadows and shapes that he identified as people and objects that weren’t really there.

The hallucinations felt extremely real to him. No amount of reason could convince him my mother was not a cherry tree, or shadows were not puppies. The more we tried to convince him the angrier he got. I realized he was as scared as we were.

It is important to give yourself and your loved one space to feel unsettled and scared. These are normal responses. You will develop ways to cope with your loved one’s hallucinations. But, acknowledging and respecting emotional reactions helps you mourn and cope as you journey with your loved one.

How to Help a Loved One Cope with Hallucinations

Seek medical attention if your loved one experiences hallucinations for the first time. Once the cause of the hallucinations has been identified your doctor may be able to reduce or alleviate hallucinations altogether. If hallucinations persist you can help provide support by practicing the following:

Create and Stick to a Routine

Hallucinations are often a response to stress or confusion. It is important to create a reliable routine your loved one can count on. Routines help teather people with dementia and reduce anxiety. You may notice your loved one’s hallucinations increasing when normal routines get missed. This is a good indication you may need to pay special attention to managing and respecting routines.

Do Not Fight Against Hallucinations

Your instinct might lead you to reassure your loved one that her hallucinations aren’t real. But, the hallucinations feel real to her! You want to show empathy and support when a loved one has a hallucination. If the hallucination is not causing emotional stress, you may want to engage and ask questions. Traveling down memory lane, even if it involves conversations with a long gone parent, might bring comfort to your loved one.

Sometimes hallucinations cause stress and anxiety. In those cases, you may want to offer a solution for your loved one. I have seen caregivers successfully defuse a client’s fear by killing imaginary spiders with a shoe or putting an invisible dog outside. Practice empathy and creative problem solving!

Avoid Triggers

For some, hallucinations may arise when certain triggers are present. Triggers might include the mention of a dear loved one, certain locations, or tasks. What ever your loved one’s trigger. Once identified, try to avoid these situations if they bring on anxiety and confusion.

Practice Redirection

I once cared for a woman who insisted people in the room were staring at her in a mean way. We could be the only two present. But, she would insist that she couldn’t stand the mean stares. I could do nothing to take her mind off the angry crowd. One day during a particularly difficult hallucination I suddenly broke out into joyous chorus of “Oklahoma – where the wind comes sweeping down the plains”. In an instant she started tapping her knee and singing along – Eureeka! From that moment on, my repertoire of classic showtunes expanded and I could help her escape the angry stares of the crowd. I redirected her attention and focused her mind on a positive experience. Redirection looks different from person to person. Try different techniques to engage your loved one.

Wrap Up

Hallucinations in elderly people vary from person to person. If you provide care and support for a loved one experiencing hallucinations, you will need to exercise empathy and creativity. Try creating routines, going along with hallucinations, avoiding triggers, and redirecting emotionally negative hallucinations.


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