Friday, May 27, 2011


Independence – Caregivers must walk a fine line on the issue of independence. On the one hand, we want to help our person with dementia (PWD) and keep them safe. On the other hand, we don’t want to limit our PWD from doing things they can do for themselves. The matter of independence often boils down to two underlying issues caregivers need to monitor, safety and frustration.

Situation #1 – the PWD who has been getting lost frequently decides to walk to a store a few blocks away.

“You can’t walk to the store anymore. I’m tired of having to look for you when you get lost.” Nothing gets a person’s back up more than being told they can’t do what they think they can do, and what they want to do.

“I need to go to the store too. Let’s go this afternoon.” The caregiver may not be able to drop everything and go when the PWD wants to. Often, the suggestion that they’ll go together later will be enough to redirect the PWD for the moment. The caregiver may have to give that same answer many times until the trip is completed.

Situation #2 – the PWD is trying to use an electric can opener without success and is getting frustrated.

“Why can’t you do that? Just put the can like this. How hard was that?” The caregiver opens the can. The PWD is left feeling inadequate and frustrated.

“That can might be dented, let me hold it while you push the handle down. I’ve had this happen before.” The caregiver gave a logical explanation for the problem and assisted the PWD to finish the job.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dental Hygiene and Dementia

In the past 30 years the number of nursing-home residents who still have their own teeth has risen significantly. Many of these people need assistance with their dental hygiene, as well as with other hygiene.

Jablonski and her team conducted a pilot study with seven people who had either moderate or severe cases of dementia. The researchers used the MOUTh technique on the subjects for two weeks, recording the state of the patients' mouths and how the patients reacted throughout the study.

At the beginning of the study all seven subjects had poor oral health, as determined by the Oral Health Assessment Tool. Eight categories concerning oral health are scored between zero and two. The lower the score the healthier the mouth. The average score for the subjects at the start of the study was 7.29. By the end of the study the average score was 1.00.

"To my knowledge, we are the only nurses in the country who are looking at ways to improve the mouth care of persons with dementia, especially those who fight and bite during mouth care," said Jablonski. "Our approach is unique because we frame resistive behavior as a reaction to a perceived threat."

Read more about this new approach to oral hygiene at the Alzheimer's Reading Room.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Texting for Seniors

Everyone is texting these days and the lauguage is shifting because of it. We all know what LOL and BFF mean, don't we? Well for seniors - things take on a whole new meaning!

ATD - At the Doctor's
BFF - Best Friend's Funeral
BTW - Bring the Wheelchair
BYOT - Bring Your Own Teeth
CBM - Covered by Medicare
CUATSC - See You at the Senior Center
DWI - Driving While Incontinent
FWIW - Forgot Where I Was
FYI - Found Your Insulin
GGPBL - Gotta Go, Pacemaker Battery Low

GHA - Got Heartburn Again
HGBM - Had Good Bowel Movement
IMHO - Is My Hearing-Aid On?
LMDO - Laughing My Dentures Out
LOL - Living on Lipitor
LWO - Lawrence Welk's On
OMMR - On My Massage Recliner
OMSG - Oh My! Sorry, Gas
ROFL...CGU - Rolling on the Floor Laughing...Can't get Up!
TTYL - Talk to You Louder
WAITT - Who Am I Talking To?
WTP - Where's the Prunes
WWNO - Walker Wheels Need Oil

Hope these help!

GGLKI - Gotta Go, Laxative Kicking in!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Dignity – is important for self-esteem. A person with dementia (PWD) deserves to be treated in such a way that they can retain their dignity as much as possible.

Situation #1 – the PWD needs their dentures scrubbed.

“Give me your dentures and I’ll scrub them.” Nobody wants to pop out their teeth and hand them to someone else.

“Here’s a dish to put your dentures in. I’ll be back in a moment and clean them for you. I’ll bring you a cup of tea to sip while I do that.” Giving the PWD a moment’s privacy to accomplish this helps them retain their dignity. They may forget and have to be reminded why the dish is there, but using the same dish each and every time will help.

Situation #2 – the PWD needs regular trips to the bathroom to prevent accidents. Few things will squash our dignity faster than having an accident.

“You need to go to the bathroom.” This approach rarely works, as the PWD may lack the ability to recognize the sensation of a full bladder anymore. They don’t think they need to go. They resent being told that they do.

“After you use the bathroom and wash your hands, we’ll have a snack.” You’ve given a logical reason why the trip to the bathroom is needed. Substitute the snack with a walk or playing a game or whatever works for the PWD.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pause for a CAUSE

You are invited to join the Alpena Association of Lifelong Learners at: Alpena Community College room CTR 104 Tuesday, May 24 9:00am - 10:00am Enjoy a doughnut and a free cup of coffee. Drop off a cash contribution, visit with friends, and meet the Alzheimer's Association staff in Alpena. What a great way to start the day and help our community!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

2011 Walk to End Alzheimer's Quilt

Once again the lovely ladies of The White Pine Quilt Guild in Harrisville, have donated a quilt that will be raffled at the Alpena Walk to End Alzheimer's on September 17.

Tickets are available now at the Alpena Office or from Alpena Walk to End Alzheimer's teams. Cost is $1/ticket or 6 tickets/$5. All proceeds benefit the families here in Northern Michigan dealing with Alzheimer's Disease.

This beautiful quilt is queen bed sized and machine quilted by Ruth's Quilted Dreams of Harrisville. The guild ladies who stitched the quilt meet at Hollyhock Quilt Shoppe in Harrisville, MI. If you're in the area, stop in and thank the ladies there for their generous support!

Monday, May 9, 2011


Lori La Bey is a speaker, trainer, consultant, spokes person, and author who advocates for people with Alzheimer’s Disease. She authors a blog called Alzheimer’s Speaks.

Lori defines her PRIDE Principal™ this way: Preserve, Respect, Independence, Dignity for Everyone. As caregivers we are charged with the responsibility to “preserve” these things for our person with dementia (PWD). Today we’ll look at respect.

Respect – is a need we all have, no matter where we are in life. As a caregiver, preserving the self respect of your PWD is a great way to help that person feel good. Avoiding snappish replies and talking down to someone will help preserve their self-esteem.

Situation #1 – the PWD is repeatedly asking about dinner.

“I told you already, we’re going out to dinner. Stop badgering me about it!” The caregiver has arms crossed, frown in place, tapping a toe on the floor, assaulting the PWD with both verbal and physical disrespect.

“We’re going out for dinner tonight, it will be fun.” The caregiver is smiling, even though it’s the fifteenth time these words have been repeated in the last half hour. The caregiver is answering the question and giving positive non-verbal communication as well.

Situation #2 – the PWD is having difficulty tying a shoe.

“Let me do that, we’re going to be late. You can’t even tie your own shoe.” The caregiver takes the laces out of the PWD’s fingers and ties the shoe.

“Those shoes need cleaning up, wear this pair today.” Or, “Those shoes don’t go with your outfit, wear these instead.” The caregiver holds out a pair of slip-on style shoes. The caregiver offered the PWD a way out of a frustrating and embarrassing situation with a logical reason for changing what wasn’t working.

Preserving a PWD’s self respect will help keep peace and harmony in the home. A PWD who retains their self-esteem is less likely to become angry, sullen, uncooperative, or depressed.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Caregiving Tip - Mastering Reactions

One of the best skills a caregiver can learn is to control their own reactions.

"But it's my loved one's behavior that is the problem!"

Understanding dementia is difficult and living with it is too. For example, a person with dementia cannot remember repeating themselves over and over. However, this does prevent them from understanding anger, impatience, disapproval, or any other negative reaction caused by their forgetful behavior. Hurt feelings, return anger, and confusion are often the result.

Left unchecked, this becomes a vicious cycle. The caregiver feels stressed by the dementia related behavior. The person with dementia feels stressed by the caregiver's reactions. It falls on the caregiver to break that cycle because the person with dementia is not able to.

Learning to not react negatively to dementia caused behaviors will result in a more content and less stressful environment for everyone.

Monday, May 2, 2011

New Department of Defense program to fund Alzheimer's research

As the leading voluntary health organization advocating for Alzheimer's care, support and research, the Alzheimer's Association is pleased that Congress has authorized a $15 million investment to be provided to the Department of Defense's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) to create an Alzheimer's Research Grant Program. The program will provide grants for research that will explore the causes, complications and potential treatments associated with Alzheimer's disease, particularly among those in the military.

The funding will be used to create a peer-reviewed research grant program portfolio which will include traumatic brain injury (TBI), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other research areas. The Alzheimer's Association joined US Against Alzheimer's in support of the creation of this very important program which will make a significant contribution to greater understanding about Alzheimer's.