Monthly Archives: February 2017

Six Things Seniors Can Do To Improve Memory

William R. Klemm Ph.D.

“What was it I was looking for in the fridge?” “What was it I was supposed to get at the store?” “What’s your name again?” Most of us have had to ask questions like this, and it seems to happen more often as we get older. We can’t turn back our biological clock, but there are things Seniors can do to reduce their amount of forgetting.

I have been studying memory research literature for quite a few years now, and I know some of this research is relevant to everyday memory problems. I have summarized these findings in my book, Thank You Brain for All You Remember, and keep readers up to date with my blog (see thankyoubrain.com).

Here are some things I’ve found to be helpful for us Seniors.

1. Get better organized. Many things we try to remember do not have to be remembered if we always get better organized. Car keys, for example, should ONLY be in the car, your pocket/purse, or the same place in your house. Ditto for many other objects, such as purse, hat, glasses, etc. Life is a lot simpler when you have a place for everything, with everything in its place.

2. Make a special effort to pay attention, concentrate. Research shows that aging reduces a person’s ability to focus and pay attention. This also means we have to work harder at filtering distractions, such as when we open the refrigerator door and forget what we are looking for because we thought of something else before we opened the door. New learning has to be consolidated to form lasting memory, and this takes a little uninterrupted time and conscious rehearsal right after you learn it. Seniors are especially susceptible to having temporary memories wiped out by distractions.

3. Eat well. Make certain you have a balanced diet. Supplements usually won’t help memory unless you have a nutritional deficiency. Vitamin deficiencies that would be most affected by taking supplements are B vitamins, C, and D3. Several research studies indicate eating blueberries is helpful (especially on an empty stomach). Perhaps an ingredient in red wine, resveratrol, can help, but there is no way you could drink enough wine; however, resveratrol supplements are now coming on the market, but there are no formal studies I know of that test whether they improve memory. There is also suggestive evidence for memory improvement from omega-3 fatty acids and folic acid. Pharmaceuticals to improve memory are in the works, but you may have to wait quite a while before research shows which ones really work.

4. Exercise the body. Vigorous aerobic exercise, if you doctor will allow it, can improve your circulation and perhaps blood flow in the brain. But there also seem to be memory benefits from exercise independent of blood circulation. We don’t know why. Maybe relief of stress and improved mood are factors. We know positivfe emotions do help memory, but again for unknown reasons.

5. Exercise the memory. The more you make an effort to memorize, the easier it seems to get. Learn a new language, work cross-word puzzles or Sudoko, play chess, take music lessons. If none of this appeals, just rely more than usual on memory. For example, memorize grocery or “to do” lists. Practice using visual-image associations. There are specific image-based systems (“peg systems”) I describe in my book for performing astonishing memory feats, such as card counting, remembering long strings of numbers, and remembering the gist of what is on every page of a magazine or book.

6. Get plenty of sleep. Many studies show the brain is processing the day’s events while you sleep and consolidating them in memory. This kind of “off-line” rehearsal occurs just for the learning experiences on the day of sleep. Naps help too! How’s that for good news?

The bottom line is that, unless you have Alzheimer’s disease, you can improve your memory. Getting older has enough frustrations. Don’t compound them by tolerating an inefficient memory. Enjoy your improved brain.

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Caregiver’s Guide to Understanding Dementia Behaviors

 

Introduction

Caring for a loved one with dementia poses many challenges for families and caregivers. People with dementia from conditions such as Alzheimer’s and related diseases have a progressive biological brain disorder that makes it more and more difficult for them to remember things, think clearly, communicate with others, or take care of themselves. In addition, dementia can cause mood swings and even change a person’s personality and behavior. This Fact Sheet provides some practical strategies for dealing with the troubling behavior problems and communication difficulties often encountered when caring for a person with dementia.

 

Ten Tips for Communicating with a Person with Dementia

We aren’t born knowing how to communicate with a person with dementia—but we can learn. Improving your communication skills will help make caregiving less stressful and will likely improve the quality of your relationship with your loved one. Good communication skills will also enhance your ability to handle the difficult behavior you may encounter as you care for a person with a dementing illness.

  1. Set a positive mood for interaction. Your attitude and body language communicate your feelings and thoughts stronger than your words. Set a positive mood by speaking to your loved one in a pleasant and respectful manner. Use facial expressions, tone of voice and physical touch to help convey your message and show your feelings of affection.
  2. Get the person’s attention. Limit distractions and noise—turn off the radio or TV, close the curtains or shut the door, or move to quieter surroundings. Before speaking, make sure you have her attention; address her by name, identify yourself by name and relation, and use nonverbal cues and touch to help keep her focused. If she is seated, get down to her level and maintain eye contact.
  3. State your message clearly. Use simple words and sentences. Speak slowly, distinctly and in a reassuring tone. Refrain from raising your voice higher or louder; instead, pitch your voice lower. If she doesn’t understand the first time, use the same wording to repeat your message or question. If she still doesn’t understand, wait a few minutes and rephrase the question. Use the names of people and places instead of pronouns (he, she, they) or abbreviations.
  4. Ask simple, answerable questions. Ask one question at a time; those with yes or no answers work best. Refrain from asking open-ended questions or giving too many choices. For example, ask, “Would you like to wear your white shirt or your blue shirt?” Better still, show her the choices—visual prompts and cues also help clarify your question and can guide her response.
  5. Listen with your ears, eyes and heart. Be patient in waiting for your loved one’s reply. If she is struggling for an answer, it’s okay to suggest words. Watch for nonverbal cues and body language, and respond appropriately. Always strive to listen for the meaning and feelings that underlie the words.
  6. Break down activities into a series of steps. This makes many tasks much more manageable. You can encourage your loved one to do what he can, gently remind him of steps he tends to forget, and assist with steps he’s no longer able to accomplish on his own. Using visual cues, such as showing him with your hand where to place the dinner plate, can be very helpful.
  7. When the going gets tough, distract and redirect. If your loved one becomes upset or agitated, try changing the subject or the environment. For example, ask him for help or suggest going for a walk. It is important to connect with the person on a feeling level, before you redirect. You might say, “I see you’re feeling sad—I’m sorry you’re upset. Let’s go get something to eat.”
  8. Respond with affection and reassurance. People with dementia often feel confused, anxious and unsure of themselves. Further, they often get reality confused and may recall things that never really occurred. Avoid trying to convince them they are wrong. Stay focused on the feelings they are demonstrating (which are real) and respond with verbal and physical expressions of comfort, support and reassurance. Sometimes holding hands, touching, hugging and praise will get the person to respond when all else fails.
  9. Remember the good old days. Remembering the past is often a soothing and affirming activity. Many people with dementia may not remember what happened 45 minutes ago, but they can clearly recall their lives 45 years earlier. Therefore, avoid asking questions that rely on short-term memory, such as asking the person what they had for lunch. Instead, try asking general questions about the person’s distant past—this information is more likely to be retained.
  10. Maintain your sense of humor. Use humor whenever possible, though not at the person’s expense. People with dementia tend to retain their social skills and are usually delighted to laugh along with you.

 

Handling Troubling Behavior

Some of the greatest challenges of caring for a loved one with dementia are the personality and behavior changes that often occur. You can best meet these challenges by using creativity, flexibility, patience and compassion. It also helps to not take things personally and maintain your sense of humor.

To start, consider these ground rules:

We cannot change the person. The person you are caring for has a brain disorder that shapes who he has become. When you try to control or change his behavior, you’ll most likely be unsuccessful or be met with resistance. It’s important to:

  • Try to accommodate the behavior, not control the behavior. For example, if the person insists on sleeping on the floor, place a mattress on the floor to make him more comfortable.
  • Remember that we can change our behavior or the physical environment. Changing our own behavior will often result in a change in our loved one’s behavior.

Check with the doctor first. Behavioral problems may have an underlying medical reason: perhaps the person is in pain or experiencing an adverse side effect from medications. In some cases, like incontinence or hallucinations, there may be some medication or treatment that can assist in managing the problem.

Behavior has a purpose. People with dementia typically cannot tell us what they want or need. They might do something, like take all the clothes out of the closet on a daily basis, and we wonder why. It is very likely that the person is fulfilling a need to be busy and productive. Always consider what need the person might be trying to meet with their behavior—and, when possible, try to accommodate them.

Behavior is triggered. It is important to understand that all behavior is triggered—it occurs for a reason. It might be something a person did or said that triggered a behavior or it could be a change in the physical environment. The root to changing behavior is disrupting the patterns that we create. Try a different approach, or try a different consequence.

What works today, may not tomorrow. The multiple factors that influence troubling behaviors and the natural progression of the disease process means that solutions that are effective today may need to be modified tomorrow—or may no longer work at all. The key to managing difficult behaviors is being creative and flexible in your strategies to address a given issue.

Get support from others. You are not alone—there are many others caring for someone with dementia. Locate your nearest Area Agency on Aging, the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, a California Caregiver Resource Center or visit the Family Care Navigator (www.caregiver.org/family-care-navigator) to find support groups, organizations, and services that can help you. Expect that, like the loved one you are caring for, you will have good days and bad days. Develop strategies for coping with the bad days (see the FCA Fact Sheet, Dementia, Caregiving and Controlling Frustration).

The following is an overview of the most common dementia-associated behaviors with suggestions that may be useful in handling them. You’ll find additional resources listed at the end of this fact sheet.

 

Wandering

People with dementia walk seemingly aimlessly, for a variety of reasons, such as boredom, medication side effects or to look for “something” or someone. They also may be trying to fulfill a physical need—thirst, hunger, a need to use the toilet or exercise. Discovering the triggers for wandering are not always easy, but they can provide insights to dealing with the behavior.

  • Make time for regular exercise to minimize restlessness.
  • Consider installing new locks that require a key. Position locks high or low on the door; many people with dementia will not think to look beyond eye level. Keep in mind fire and safety concerns for all family members; the lock(s) must be accessible to others and not take more than a few seconds to open.
  • Try a barrier like a curtain or colored streamer to mask the door. A “stop” sign or “do not enter” sign also may help.
  • Place a black mat or paint a black space on your front porch; this may appear to be an impassable hole to the person with dementia.
  • Add “child-safe” plastic covers to doorknobs.
  • Consider installing a home security system or monitoring system designed to keep watch over someone with dementia. Also available are new digital devices that can be worn like a watch or clipped on a belt that use global positioning systems (GPS) or other technology to track a person’s whereabouts or locate him if he wanders off..
  • Put away essential items such as the confused person’s coat, purse or glasses. Some individuals will not go out without certain articles.
  • Have your relative wear an ID bracelet and sew ID labels in their clothes. Always have a current photo available should you need to report your loved one missing. Consider leaving a copy on file at the police department or registering the person with the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return program or other emergency tracking service.
  • Tell neighbors about your relative’s wandering behavior and make sure they have your phone number.

 

Incontinence

The loss of bladder or bowel control often occurs as dementia progresses. Sometimes accidents result from environmental factors; for example, someone can’t remember where the bathroom is located or can’t get to it in time. If an accident occurs, your understanding and reassurance will help the person maintain dignity and minimize embarrassment.

  • Establish a routine for using the toilet. Try reminding the person or assisting her to the bathroom every two hours.
  • Schedule fluid intake to ensure the confused person does not become dehydrated. Know that some drinks (coffee, tea, cola, or beer) have more of a diuretic effect than others. Limit fluid intake in the evening before bedtime.
  • Use signs (with illustrations) to indicate which door leads to the bathroom.
  • A commode, obtained at any medical supply store, can be left in the bedroom at night for easy access.
  • Incontinence pads and products can be purchased at the pharmacy or supermarket. A urologist may be able to prescribe a special product or treatment.
  • Use easy-to-remove clothing with elastic waistbands or velcro closures, and provide clothes that are easily washable.

 

Agitation

Agitation refers to a range of behaviors associated with dementia, including irritability, sleeplessness, and verbal or physical aggression. Often these types of behavior problems progress with the stages of dementia, from mild to more severe. Agitation may be triggered by a variety of things, including environmental factors, fear and fatigue. Most often, agitation is triggered when the person experiences “control” being taken from him or her.

  • Reduce noise, clutter or the number of persons in the room.
  • Maintain structure by keeping the same routines. Keep household objects and furniture in the same places. Familiar objects and photographs offer a sense of security and can suggest pleasant memories.
  • Reduce caffeine intake, sugar, and other foods that cause spikes in energy.
  • Try gentle touch, soothing music, reading or walks to quell agitation. Speak in a reassuring voice. Do not try to restrain the person during a period of agitation.
  • Keep dangerous objects out of reach.
  • Allow the person to do as much for himself as possible—support his independence and ability to care for himself.
  • Acknowledge the confused person’s anger over the loss of control in his life. Tell him you understand his frustration.
  • Distract the person with a snack or an activity. Allow him to forget the troubling incident. Confronting a confused person may increase anxiety.

 

Repetitive Speech or Actions (Perseveration)

People with dementia will often repeat a word, statement, question or activity over and over. While this type of behavior is usually harmless for the person with dementia, it can be annoying and stressful to caregivers. Sometimes the behavior is triggered by anxiety, boredom, fear or environmental factors.

  • Provide plenty of reassurance and comfort, both in words and in touch.
  • Try distracting with a snack or activity.
  • Avoid reminding them that they just asked the same question. Try ignoring the behavior or question, and instead try refocusing the person into an activity such as singing or “helping” you with a chore.
  • Don’t discuss plans with a confused person until immediately prior to an event.
  • You may want to try placing a sign on the kitchen table, such as, “Dinner is at 6:30” or “Lois comes home at 5:00” to remove anxiety and uncertainty about anticipated events.
  • Learn to recognize certain behaviors. An agitated state or pulling at clothing, for example, could indicate a need to use the bathroom.

 

Paranoia

Seeing a loved one suddenly become suspicious, jealous or accusatory is unsettling. Remember, what the person is experiencing is very real to them. It is best not to argue or disagree. This, too, is part of the dementia—try not to take it personally.

  • If the confused person suspects money is “missing,” allow her to keep small amounts of money in a pocket or handbag for easy inspection.
  • Help them look for the “missing” object and then distract them into another activity. Try to learn where the confused person’s favorite hiding places are for storing objects, which are frequently assumed to be “lost.” Avoid arguing.
  • Take time to explain to other family members and home-helpers that suspicious accusations are a part of the dementing illness.
  • Try nonverbal reassurances like a gentle touch or hug. Respond to the feeling behind the accusation and then reassure the person. You might try saying, “I see this frightens you; stay with me, I won’t let anything happen to you.”

 

Sleeplessness/Sundowning

Restlessness, agitation, disorientation and other troubling behavior in people with dementia often get worse at the end of the day and sometimes continue throughout the night. Experts believe this behavior, commonly called sundowning, is caused by a combination of factors, such as exhaustion from the day’s events and changes in the person’s biological clock that confuse day and night.

  • Increase daytime activities, particularly physical exercise. Discourage inactivity and napping during the day.
  • Watch out for dietary culprits, such as sugar, caffeine and some types of junk food. Eliminate or restrict these types of foods and beverages to early in the day. Plan smaller meals throughout the day, including a light meal, such as half a sandwich, before bedtime.
  • Plan for the afternoon and evening hours to be quiet and calm; however, structured, quiet activity is important. Perhaps take a stroll outdoors, play a simple card game or listen to soothing music together.
  • Turning on lights well before sunset and closing the curtains at dusk will minimize shadows and may help diminish confusion. At minimum, keep a nightlight in the person’s room, hallway and bathroom.
  • Make sure the house is safe: block off stairs with gates, lock the kitchen door and/or put away dangerous items.
  • As a last resort, consider talking to the doctor about medication to help the agitated person relax and sleep. Be aware that sleeping pills and tranquilizers may solve one problem and create another, such as sleeping at night but being more confused the next day.
  • It’s essential that you, the caregiver, get enough sleep. If your loved one’s nighttime activity keeps you awake, consider asking a friend or relative, or hiring someone, to take a turn so that you can get a good night’s sleep. Catnaps during the day also might help.

 

Eating/Nutrition

Ensuring that your loved one is eating enough nutritious foods and drinking enough fluids is a challenge. People with dementia literally begin to forget that they need to eat and drink. Complicating the issue may be dental problems or medications that decrease appetite or make food taste “funny.” The consequences of poor nutrition are many, including weight loss, irritability, sleeplessness, bladder or bowel problems and disorientation.

  • Make meal and snack times part of the daily routine and schedule them around the same time every day. Instead of three big meals, try five or six smaller ones.
  • Make mealtimes a special time. Try flowers or soft music. Turn off loud radio programs and the TV.
  • Eating independently should take precedence over eating neatly or with “proper” table manners. Finger foods support independence. Pre-cut and season the food. Try using a straw or a child’s “sippy cup” if holding a glass has become difficult. Provide assistance only when necessary and allow plenty of time for meals.
  • Sit down and eat with your loved one. Often they will mimic your actions and it makes the meal more pleasant to share it with someone.
  • Prepare foods with your loved one in mind. If they have dentures or trouble chewing or swallowing, use soft foods or cut food into bite-size pieces.
  • If chewing and swallowing are issues, try gently moving the person’s chin in a chewing motion or lightly stroking their throat to encourage them to swallow.
  • If loss of weight is a problem, offer nutritious high-calorie snacks between meals. Breakfast foods high in carbohydrates are often preferred. On the other hand, if the problem is weight gain, keep high-calorie foods out of sight. Instead, keep handy fresh fruits, veggie trays and other healthy low-calorie snacks.

 

Bathing

People with dementia often have difficulty remembering “good” hygiene, such as brushing teeth, toileting, bathing and regularly changing their clothes. From childhood we are taught these are highly private and personal activities; to be undressed and cleaned by another can feel frightening, humiliating and embarrassing. As a result, bathing often causes distress for both caregivers and their loved ones.

  • Think historically of your loved one’s hygiene routine – did she prefer baths or showers? Mornings or nights? Did she have her hair washed at the salon or do it herself? Was there a favorite scent, lotion or powder she always used? Adopting—as much as possible—her past bathing routine may provide some comfort. Remember that it may not be necessary to bathe every day—sometimes twice a week is sufficient.
  • If your loved one has always been modest, enhance that feeling by making sure doors and curtains are closed. Whether in the shower or the bath, keep a towel over her front, lifting to wash as needed. Have towels and a robe or her clothes ready when she gets out.
  • Be mindful of the environment, such as the temperature of the room and water (older adults are more sensitive to heat and cold) and the adequacy of lighting. It’s a good idea to use safety features such as non-slip floor bath mats, grab-bars, and bath or shower seats. A hand-held shower might also be a good feature to install. Remember—people are often afraid of falling. Help them feel secure in the shower or tub.
  • Never leave a person with dementia unattended in the bath or shower. Have all the bath things you need laid out beforehand. If giving a bath, draw the bath water first. Reassure the person that the water is warm—perhaps pour a cup of water over her hands before she steps in.
  • If hair washing is a struggle, make it a separate activity. Or, use a dry shampoo.
  • If bathing in the tub or shower is consistently traumatic, a towel bath provides a soothing alternative. A bed bath has traditionally been done with only the most frail and bed-ridden patients, soaping up a bit at a time in their beds, rinsing off with a basin of water and drying with towels. A growing number of nurses in and out of facilities, however, are beginning to recognize its value and a variation—the “towel bath”—for others as well, including people with dementia who find bathing in the tub or shower uncomfortable or unpleasant. The towel bath uses a large bath towel and washcloths dampened in a plastic bag of warm water and no-rinse soap. Large bath-blankets are used to keep the patient covered, dry and warm while the dampened towel and washcloths are massaged over the body. For more information, see the book Bathing Without a Battle (details in the Recommended Reading section below).

 

Additional Problem Areas

  • Dressing is difficult for most dementia patients. Choose loose-fitting, comfortable clothes with easy zippers or snaps and minimal buttons. Reduce the person’s choices by removing seldom-worn clothes from the closet. It’s common for people with dementia to continue layering on clothes even though they are fully dressed. To facilitate dressing and support independence, lay out one article of clothing at a time, in the order it is to be worn. Remove soiled clothes from the room. Don’t argue if the person insists on wearing the same thing again.
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that others don’t) and delusions (false beliefs, such as someone is trying to hurt or kill another) may occur as the dementia progresses. State simply and calmly your perception of the situation, but avoid arguing or trying to convince the person their perceptions are wrong. Keep rooms well-lit to decrease shadows, and offer reassurance and a simple explanation if the curtains move from circulating air or a loud noise such as a plane or siren is heard. Distractions may help. Depending on the severity of symptoms, you might consider medication.
  • Sexually inappropriate behavior, such as masturbating or undressing in public, lewd remarks, unreasonable sexual demands, even sexually aggressive behavior, may occur during the course of the illness. Remember, this behavior is caused by the disease. Develop an action plan to follow before the behavior occurs, i.e., what you will say and do if the behavior happens at home, around other relatives, friends, or paid caregivers. If you can, identify what triggers the behavior.
  • Verbal outbursts such as cursing, arguing and threatening often are expressions of anger or stress. React by staying calm and reassuring. Validate your loved one’s feelings and then try to distract or redirect his attention to something else.
  • “Shadowing” is when a person with dementia imitates and follows the caregiver, or constantly talks, asks questions and interrupts. Like sundowning, this behavior often occurs late in the day and can be irritating for caregivers. Comfort the person with verbal and physical reassurance. Distraction or redirection might also help. Giving your loved one a job such as folding laundry might help to make her feel needed and useful.
  • People with dementia may become uncooperative and resistant to daily activities such as bathing, dressing and eating. Often this is a response to feeling out of control, rushed, afraid or confused by what you are asking of them. Break each task into steps and, in a reassuring voice, explain each step before you do it. Allow plenty of time. Find ways to have them assist to their ability in the process, or follow with an activity that they can perform.
  • Even with these many potential challenges, it’s important to remember that these behaviors are often coping tactics for a person with deteriorating brain function. There’s no question dealing with these behaviors can make caregiving especially challenging.

 

Credits and Recommended Reading

Bathing Without a Battle (link is external) Ann Louise Barrick, Joanne Rader, Beverly Hoeffer y Philip Sloane, Springer Publishing, 2002

36 Hour Day: Family Guide to Caring for People who have Alzheimer’s Disease, Related Dementias and Memory Loss (link is external) Johns Hopkins Press Health Book, 2011

Steps to enhancing communications: Interacting with persons with Alzheimer’s disease Alzheimer’s Association, 2012

The Validation Breakthrough: Simple Techniques for Communicating with People with Alzheimer’s-Type Dementia (link is external) Naomi Feil, Health Professions Press, Baltimore, MD, 2.ª edición, 2002

Understanding Difficult Behaviors: Some practical suggestions for coping with Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses (link is external) A. Robinson, B. Spencer y L. White, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI, 2001

 

Resources

Family Caregiver Alliance National Center on Caregiving 785 Market Street, Suite 750 San Francisco, CA 94103 (415) 434-3388 (800) 445-8106 Website: www.caregiver.org E-mail: info@caregiver.org (link sends e-mail) Family Care Navigator: www.caregiver.org/family-care-navigator

The Simple Dollar -2016 Disability Guide

From the folks at “The Simple Dollar”

We recently looked into the Social Security Disabilities Benefits and found that most people who have become or already living with disabilities are not fully aware of the benefits and resources that are available to them. So, our team spent weeks reviewing the US Social Security Administration’s documentation to develop our 2016 Disability Benefit Guide. This guide breaks down qualifications and the application process, as well as a calculator that can help estimate monthly and annual benefits.

You can see the entire guide along with some of its features here:

Many reputable publications, such as Forbes, Business Insider and The Wall Street Journal have featured our work as a trusted resource

Latest Research Findings: Nearly 6 in 10 U.S. Adults Don’t Have a Will

Latest Research Findings:Nearly 6 in 10 U.S. Adults Don’t Have a Will

Only 42% of U.S. adults currently have estate planning documents such as a will or living trust, according to a new Caring report. Yet, 100% of U.S. adults are going to die and nearly all need these documents — to avoid having the government dictate estate decisions and to lessen the stress and follow-up burden on surviving loved ones.

Help educate family caregivers and older adults with these tools:

Information & Resource Summary

      Outlining this end-of-life concern and supporting immediate action

Infographic — A compelling image

      to publish on your blog or website, with attribution and link to source page (

“Originally published on Caring.com”

 

2 “Estate Planning 101” Videos —

      Experts insights from elderlaw attorney

Mark Gilfix,

    posted on YouTube and easy to share in social media

 

Journaling Your Stress Away: Three Caregiver Ideas

By , Caring.com Author | Last updated: Oct 13, 2016

The simple act of putting thoughts to paper has psychological power. If you’re the kind of person who likes to write (and wouldn’t see doing so as another stressful chore for your to-do list), consider the following types of written journals as a way to offload stress and feel better.

1. A gratitude journal

At the risk of sounding Oprah-esque, keeping a notebook in which you jot down one (or more) things you’re grateful for each day is a great way to find silver linings in hard times. The process recalibrates your mindset, psychologists say, and helps you think beyond your losses and your challenges.

2. A venting diary

Some caregivers start writing about gratitude but wind up using the notebook to vent instead. Guess what? That’s a proven stress-buster, too. Whether you’re writing positive or negative thoughts, getting them out of your body and onto paper has a stress-releasing, beneficial effect. You may even want to pour out your thoughts on paper and then burn them afterward; it’s not important to have a written record (indeed, this can be stressful if you’re worried about someone else reading it). It’s most important to simply release the feelings.

3. A reminiscence log

A healing technique for grappling with the grieving that comes with dementia caregiving is to write down happy thoughts about your loved one. Frame it as a life story or as your personal story together. Record random memories or do it chronologically. Putting down an anecdote a day can help you cherish the good times and fortify you through the hard ones.

Try these other caregiver pick-me-ups.

Three Reasons Why In-Home Care Services Are the Winning Choice

Caring for an elderly friend or family member is an incredibly difficult task. With the advancements in medical technology, it is also a duty that affects more and more families every year. In fact, as of 2013, nearly 15% of the population in the United States was over 65. That number will only continue to grow. So what options are available to care for the elderly and disabled? The most common choices are assisted living homes and nursing homes. However, the third option of in-home care services is often the best choice for families. Here are three reasons why.

Cost

The average assisted living facility costs around $40,000 per year. A nursing home, which provides more intensive around the clock care, costs roughly $60,000 per year. Most patients will split around five years between the two types of facilities. This equates to a cost of $200,000 to $300,000. On the other hand, a personal attendant makes about $30,000 per year. And when you have in-home care services, you are simply paying for the employee, and not for the facility.

Easier Transition

For many elderly patients, the move from their house of many years to an assisted living facility can be shocking. In some cases, it can even cause a rift amongst family members who disagree with the decision. On the other hand, the idea of having a personal attendant to help with day-to-day tasks is much easier for many people to accept. It is also a transition that can be gradual. If the patient simply needs help with running errands and performing chores a few times a week, in-home care services can help during those times. As the patient begins to need assistance more often, the amount of care can be increased as well.

Recognizable Environment.

Another advantage of in-home care services is that the patient will not be forced to learn a new schedule or living area. By keeping people in their own houses, little mental strain is required to perform day-to-day activities. For people who have been living in the same residence for decades, it is second nature where their stationary is, how to work the shower, and how to operate the television. Placing them in a new environment, with new people, can lead to confusion and trepidation. Furthermore, familiarity with a house means there is less of a chance of a physical accident such as tripping over a chair in the dark.

In conclusion, there are no easy choices when it comes to ensuring the well-being of a disabled or elderly family member. However, of the choices available, in-home care services are the least disruptive to the life of the patient, as well as being the most cost-effective.

When considering in-home care services, those in need visit Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan. Learn more at http://www.aaawm.org/in_home_care_options.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Alfred_Ardis/663300