Hillendale Home Care is licensed by the State of California to provide Certified Nursing training courses for Contra Costa and Alameda Counties.

Is It Dementia or Depression? Here’s How to Find Out.

dementiaA dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, can manifest with symptoms that are very close to some of those experienced in depression, such as cognitive decline – making it difficult to know how to best provide care. At Hillendale Home Care, we understand the challenges caregivers face when trying to determine the right course of action. The first step to take when cognitive issues are noticed is to discern, with the help of the senior’s family and physician, whether depression or dementia is at play, and then to begin the appropriate treatment.

Regardless of whether the cognitive decline is a result of dementia or depression, proper diagnosis and treatment are crucial. If the cause for the decline is depression, treating the depression effectively will result in restored memory, concentration and energy levels. Proper treatment for dementia can also improve quality of life, and in some forms of dementia, symptoms can even be reversed or at least slowed.

A good tool to is a memory screening. Memory screenings make sense for those who:

  • Are noticing the warning signs of dementia;
  • Have had family and friends notice changes in his or her behavior;
  • Believes he or she may be at risk due to a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or other type of dementia; or
  • May not have an immediate concern presently, but wants to establish a baseline score for future comparison.

Additionally, anyone answering “yes” to any of the questions below may benefit from a memory screening as well:

  • Do I seem to be more forgetful lately?
  • Am I having trouble concentrating?
  • Am I experiencing difficulty with performing familiar tasks?
  • Do I sometimes struggle to recall words or names in conversation?
  • Have I ever forgotten where I am?
  • Have friends or family members told me that I am repeating myself?
  • Am I losing or misplacing items more frequently?
  • Have I gotten lost while walking or driving in a familiar area?
  • Are my family or friends noticing changes in my mood, personality, behavior or interest in engaging in activities?

Note that a memory screening cannot diagnose a certain illness and is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified physician or other healthcare professional. For more resources on caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s, or to receive more information about our employment opportunities for caregivers, visit www.hillendale.net or give us a call at 925-933-8181.

Caring for Seniors Throughout All Stages of Alzheimer’s

Stages of Alzheimer'sProviding care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can feel like trying to solve a constantly changing puzzle. Once you find the solution to one piece, you discover that the image has suddenly changed, and you have to rethink things all over again.

Trying to figure out the puzzle of Alzheimer’s care requires continuous education in the many facets of Alzheimer’s disease support. The following tips, courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association, can help caregivers establish care strategies throughout the stages of Alzheimer’s:

  • Early Stages: Caregivers can best help clients with Alzheimer’s through assisting with family planning, offering a patient, calm, listening ear and memory prompts when needed. Strategies may include:
    • Being a care advocate for the senior and his or her family, offering emotional assistance and encouragement.
    • Helping the family plan for the long-term.
    • Offering memory prompts, establishing a daily schedule, and helping the person stay healthy and participate in enjoyed activities.
  • Middle Stages: During this phase, care techniques will be focused on the person’s adaptabilities, patience and day-to-day structure. Strategies may include:
    • Maintaining daily routines and structure.
    • Improving quality of life with shared activities.
    • Promoting as much self-reliance as possible, but being prepared to help as needed.
  • Later Stages: During the later stages of Alzheimer’s, care should be focused on preserving dignity and quality of life while maintaining a safe and healthy environment. Strategies may include:
    • Remaining connected and expressing care through touch, sound, sight, taste and smell.
    • Providing increased support with activities of daily living, and with alleviating body pressure if the individual is bedridden.
    • Being aware of unspoken cues such as paleness, swelling, agitation or facial expressions that can identify discomfort.

Caring for a senior with Alzheimer’s disease requires compassion, patience, and knowledge of ever-evolving care tactics. If you are interested in assistance with providing care to seniors throughout all stages of Alzheimer’s disease, contact Hillendale Home Care of Walnut Creek, California. We fully support our caregiving team through ongoing training and CEU offerings to help you keep your CNA or HHA license current.

 

Alzheimer’s Caregivers: Appropriate Responses to Inappropriate Behavior

Alzheimer's CaregiverAlzheimer’s is a complex disease that often presents complex issues for Alzheimer’s caregivers. As the disease progresses, people with Alzheimer’s increasingly tend to communicate through behavior instead of speech, and oftentimes these behaviors can be of an inappropriate nature. For example, people with more advanced Alzheimer’s disease may exhibit the following:

  • Aggression and agitation
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior such as:
    • Undressing or touching themselves in public
    • Using vulgar or obscene language
    • Jealous accusations that a spouse is having an affair
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression

These behaviors can be embarrassing or troubling for Alzheimer’s caregivers, but they can also be very confusing and frustrating for the person with Alzheimer’s, as he or she most likely doesn’t understand why the behavior is considered inappropriate or why it is upsetting to others.

As an Alzheimer’s caregiver, it’s important to remember that any troubling behaviors the senior shows are the result of the disease — or possibly other health issues or medications — not a reflection of the person’s character. Also, often what seems like sexually inappropriate behavior is really an expression of a non-sexual need, such as a need to use the restroom or a need for closeness.

If you cannot figure out a reason for the senior’s behavior, try these responses:

  • Redirect the person to a favorite hobby or activity such as listening to music or looking through a family photo album.
  • Calmly, but promptly, find a private area like a restroom or changing area if the senior feels the need to undress in public.
  • Respond to feelings of loneliness or a need for closeness with a caring pat or a hug and soothing conversation.
  • Try increasing the amount of exercise or activity the person gets.
  • Consider practical solutions; for inappropriate disrobing, buy special clothes designed with fasteners in the back for this specific reason, or try putting trousers or dresses on backwards.

When responding to challenging behavior:

  • Respond calmly and matter-of-factly. Arguing with or embarrassing the person can exacerbate the situation; try to be gentle and patient.
  • Don’t overreact in either direction. Providing too much affection may encourage unwanted sexual behavior, while yelling or shaming may frighten or confuse the person further.
  • Find a solution, whether it is a new setting that does not allow for the behavior to be a cause of concern, or a new activity that distracts from the behavior altogether.

Becoming an Alzheimer’s caregiver is a challenging, yet extremely rewarding career. If you are interested in helping seniors with Alzheimer’s disease live their best lives at home, contact Hillendale Home Care of Walnut Creek, California. We fully support our caregiving team through ongoing training and CEU offerings to help you keep your CNA or HHA license current. Contact us any time to learn more by calling 925-933-8181.