Dementia patients often make accusations.One of the most difficult dementia behaviors for caregivers to cope with is false accusations. We’ve all had the experience of losing track of something, thinking someone must have taken it, and then later finding the object and discovering we were mistaken. Dementia patients, with their short-term memory problems and tendency towards paranoia, are all the more prone to these kind of misunderstandings. Because so much of their world no longer makes sense, they have a need to explain things and are unable to accept that the strange occurrence may be due to their own actions or perceptions. Is mom’s favorite sweater missing? Horrifying as it may sound, to her the most likely explanation may be that you stole it! They are also grappling with the insecurity that comes with old age, so the “lie” may be an unconscious attempt to preserve their dignity. Dad can avoid the embarrassment of misplacing his watch if he believes the aide stole it. Mistreatment and abuse of elders certainly does happen. But perhaps more often, the wrong exists only in the senior’s mind. What’s tragic is that these accusations are often leveled at loved ones and caregivers who are trying hard to make sure the senior is safe and comfortable. How can you cope with this difficult situation? Here are some suggestions. Bring in someone to help you. Find a third person to help you explain yourself. It may be a friend of your loved one’s, a staff member at the assisted living facility, or another family member. Seeing that someone else will back you up may help your loved one realize that they’re placing blame where it doesn’t belong. Seek advice from a senior care counselor. An expert in senior care can teach you good ways to respond to your loved one. You may want to start with the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 Helpline at (800) 272-3900. Keep good financial records. Accusations often have to do with money. Being able to show documentation that proves what’s going on with a senior’s finances can help straighten things out. Bring a family mediator on board. Sometimes within families there can be confusion about what to believe. A mediator can help everyone sort through the issue as calmly as possible. Consult an elder care lawyer. This is only for extreme situations, but especially with accusations of abuse or major financial wrongdoing you may need to take serious measures to protect yourself. Before you take any major action to address the problem, remember that your loved one may forget about it the next day and display no ill will towards you. In the strange world of dementia, sometimes what seems like a serious problem will simply evaporate. And always remember that such behaviors are caused by the disease, and often mean nothing about how caring or devoted you’ve been.
Free memory care ebookAre you searching for a memory care facility for your loved one, but aren’t sure where to start? Our new complimentary ebook, How to Choose a Memory Care Facility for Your Loved One, is a thorough resource that tells you everything you need to consider when making this important decision. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are challenging conditions, both for patients and for their families. There comes a point when the care mom or dad needs goes beyond what adult children can provide on their own. It’s at this stage that families begin to seek out a place where their loved one can not only have their care needs met, but hopefully thrive as well. This guide covers the following:
  • What to look for regarding a facility’s environment, safety, staffing, quality of care, and policies.
  • A checklist of important details that can help you distinguish high-quality care homes from the rest.
  • How to identify signs that a facility has serious underlying problems.
  • Types of facilities that have dedicated staff and highly personalized care.
  • Important considerations when evaluating the cost of memory care.
This ebook is a free resource provided courtesy of Raya’s Paradise. We encourage you to share it with anyone you know who is looking for a memory care facility for a loved one. Click here to access the book in PDF format. For the best quality, we recommend that you download the file to your computer, rather than reading it in your browser.  
Simple movements are all it takes for late dementia paitents to get exercise.Those in the later stages of dementia may have lost much of their former mobility, but that doesn’t mean that they can no longer exercise, or that it isn’t beneficial to do so. As discussed in an earlier post, dementia patients can slow the progress of the disease by working some activity into their daily routine. We’re not talking jogging and playing volleyball, but rather simply moving and experiencing some physical challenge. Here are a few exercises that those in the later stages of dementia should be able to complete:
  • Encourage your loved one to stand up and move around as much as possible. This will maintain strength in the legs and help with balance.
  • Have your loved one lie flat on the bed for up to a half hour. This will give the neck a break and help him or her stretch out.
  • Help your loved one sit without support. They should not try this out when they’re alone, as there’s a chance they may fall. This will aid the muscles in the stomach and the back that support posture.
  • Your loved one can also stand and balance. If they need to hold onto something for support, they’ll still get some benefit. They can even try this any time they have to stand for a few minutes, such as in the shower.
  • Have your loved one sit on one end of the bed, and then scoot to the other end while sitting. This exercise is good practice for getting up from a chair.
In general, encourage as much movement as possible. The key is to push oneself just a bit to help slow decline. Of course, pushing too far will result in your loved one getting hurt, but not moving at all and always staying comfortable isn’t great either. Be sure to observe your loved one carefully for signs that they’re over-exerting themsevles. When starting an exercise routine like this with your loved one, go slow. Try to just add one thing each day, rather than dramatically changing their routine. Just like younger exercisers, trying too much at once will just lead to an injury or dropping the whole thing. The most sustainable change is gradual, and this is all the more true for dementia patients, who get anxious with change. Also remember that completing exercises perfectly is not the goal: simply moving is. Be encouraging even if your loved one is having trouble. It may be that what they can’t do today, they’ll be able to do tomorrow. As always, speak to your loved one’s doctor about how much movement they can handle.
Physical exercise is beneficial for seniorsWe know that exercise is important, but sometimes we forget that that applies to seniors too. Getting some form of exercise can increase the quality of life for dementia patients and keep them healthier. One study even found that seniors who exercise pay less in medical bills! Of course, high-impact aerobics or a Muscle Beach strength routine wouldn’t be appropriate for most seniors. But there are plenty of exercises that they can do. Below are some suggestions for those in the earlier stages of dementia. Our next post will offer exercise suggestions for those in later stages. Walking Walking is perhaps the most basic exercise of all. To get started, all you need is your own two feet. It’s easy to design a walking routine to fit what that particular person is capable of: they may take a walk around the neighborhood or simply down the hall and back. Two friends can even go for a walk together to combine physical exercise with socialization benefits. Tai Chi Tai Chi is a slow and graceful form of Chinese martial arts that’s been shown to reduce stress and improve balance and stability. It can be thought of as a form of moving meditation, more gentle and relaxed than yoga. Its movements are perfect for seniors due to the activity’s easy, gentle pace. Swimming Many seniors enjoy swimming, finding it to be a relaxing activity in which movement is less jarring to the joints. If your loved one enjoys the water, this could be the perfect activity for them. Keep in mind that seniors with dementia should be supervised while swimming. Dancing You don’t need to be fast and build up a sweat to be dancing. You can even dance while sitting down! For seniors, swaying back and forth can be beneficial. The music and the fact that dancing is usually done with others adds social and emotional advantages to this activity. Gardening Even if your loved one wasn’t a gardener earlier in life, they can still take up this pastime now. Simple activities like weeding or watering don’t require a green thumb or prize-winning expertise. This activity provides the sensory benefits of the colors, smells, and textures, and also allows seniors to take meaning from the effort involved in making something grow. There’s a certain satisfaction in achieving results, no matter how simple. Seniors should get the same amount of exercise as the rest of us: 30 minutes for five days per week. This may sound like a lot, but keep in mind all 30 minutes don’t need to be done at once. Be sure to consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise routine.
Photos can help Alzheimer's patients remember loved ones.On your last visit, Mom seemed kind of down so you’re determined to cheer her up today. You open the door to her room. She looks up with a smile that reminds you of the days you’d run home from school with a 100 on your spelling test. She rises and gives you a big hug. “Ella, I am so glad to see you. I was beginning to think you’d forgotten all about me.” She’s showing more enthusiasm than she has in weeks. So why is your stomach in free fall, and your heart pounding to beat the band? It’s because your name is Barbara. Ella is Mom’s older sister who died four years ago. What do you do? You want to keep her spirits up, but you don’t feel it’s right to play along. Mistaking children for siblings or other loved ones is not uncommon in Alzheimer’s patients. Alzheimer’s patients lose short term memory but not their recall of the past. You look after her interests. You make sure everything’s going well. You’re her protector, just like big sister Ella used to be. Seeing you may have caused a cross wire. When Mom recalls her long ago, it’s like she’s living in a dream. Now you’re here but the dream remains. She’s made you a part of it. You want to wake her up, but gently. There are several things you can do. But first and foremost, do not take offense. Think of her misrecognition as a compliment. She’s connecting you with someone she loves. Secondly, do not argue with her. Don’t make her see. Help her see. Listen to her, let her say what she has to say, then try to re-direct her focus. Switch the topic. A change of scenery may help. Suggest going for a walk. Address her by name – Mom. Hearing that one word may be all it takes, but it may not always work. It’s in both of your interests to try to prevent this from happening again. Here’s a suggestion you may want to try. This may even be fun – for both of you. First, gather up all the old photos you have at home. Scour the basement or the attic. What you want is a time line of Mom’s life: as a young mom, with you and all your siblings, and on through all the stages of the family’s life If you’re lucky you can extend it even further back, with photos of Mom when she was a child – with Aunt Ella. This may keep her in the present and if nothing else, will be an emotional bonding experience for you both. Next, gather some present time photos. You, Mom, your siblings, the grandkids, if they visit. That’s all you need. You don’t want to confuse her or you’ll be back where you began. Bring some cute labels. Make it a project. Label each photo, and create a timeline from past to present. This may help to trigger mom’s memory about who you are, by connecting an image of you from the past with what you look like now. Hang the timeline in a prominent place in her room. Finally, you don’t want to go down this path again, so next time you visit, identify yourself – face to face. “Hi Mom! It’s your daughter Barbara.” If mom has a favorite nickname for you, refer to yourself that way. If you can keep her in the present, there’s no need to bring her back.  
Even if your parent has hurt you badly, you can forgive.Every parent-child relationship has at least a little hurt that’s developed over the years, and many of us hold resentment and anger towards our parents for past wrongs. Some have unfortunately had to deal with a parent’s addiction, neglect, or abuse. When the time comes when your parent needs more day to day help and assistance with managing their affairs, these emotions can prevent you from stepping in to help. How can you manage this situation when your emotions make it difficult to meet your parent’s needs? If you are willing to forgive but are unsure how, take hope: healing the rift is possible. First, stay focused on the present. The past is over and nothing can be done to change it now; you have nothing but pain to gain if you hang onto it. Remember that by clinging to your resentment, you are only making yourself feel bad. There are even studies that show that people who are able to forgive lead longer and healthier lives. Recognize that the wrong you were done has helped make you who you are today, and may have caused you to develop some of your strengths. For example, struggling with an abusive parent may have resulted in you becoming stronger and better able to stand up for yourself and protect your boundaries. It may also mean that you are kinder and more able to keep yourself from lashing out in ways that are harmful to others. Consider looking at your history with your parent from a different angle. Were they doing the best they could do at the time? Were they struggling with circumstances beyond their control? Put yourself in your parent’s shoes, and while you shouldn’t excuse bad behavior, you may find yourself more able to understand how it could happen. Finally, seek out stories about those who have forgiven people who hurt them. Hearing the experiences of others can help inspire you or give you a guide for how you yourself might forgive. There are many story collections out there on this topic – your local library is sure to have at least a few. You can also look for movies that address the theme of forgiveness. Remember, forgiving someone doesn’t mean that the wrong they did is now OK. But try to separate the person from their behavior. We all make mistakes and behave badly at times, but that doesn’t mean that at our core we don’t deserve love and a second chance.
Our LA home for the aging staff take every precaution.As parents age, adult children gradually find familiar roles shifting. More and more, their elders turn to them for help, rather than the other way around. The individual circumstances will vary. A fall and broken hip can incapacitate a parent, requiring temporary assistance at the least. Degenerative diseases can reduce mobility or vision, making it harder for a senior to drive or even venture far from home on foot. For even basic needs such as groceries or meeting with friends, they’re dependent on others. Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia can also create a need for consistent monitoring and care. When these changes take place, there’s a greater chance of family conflict. Older parents resist  the idea of slowly losing their independence and having to rely on others for help. They often will still try to assert a sense of parental authority when in fact it doesn’t exist at all anymore. Their children themselves are already middle-aged or older, well-experienced in life. Acting out of concern, they may try to take control of the situation, sometimes creating hurt feelings as they make difficult decisions for the best care of an older parent. Much of the problem in conflict usually occurs with faulty communication or a lack of it altogether. Parents can feel downright offended being relegated to a dependent status where they are guided or restricted in decision-making. That emotion can make it hard for an older parent to see reason. At the same time, the older child is balancing a new demand for parent care with everything else in life including raising his or her own kids, holding down a full-time job, paying the bills, and perhaps mid-life relationship issues. Their spouse’s parents may need help too, bringing another set of problems to the mix. Under these circumstances, an adult child’s need or choice to bring up the subject of assisted living can come across to the parent as a rash decision. There is no question that most older parents would love to retain and keep their independence for as long as possible. However, as mobility and mental faculties begin to falter, the need for monitored care begins to increase. Assisted living can serve a real benefit for everyone involved, especially when adult children live a significant distance from their parents. Regular and constant communication between an older parent and caring adult child towards each other is the key. Granted, someone usually has to make a final decision, but as long as they’re able to participate the parent should play a prominent role in the planning for their care. If adult children maintain communication and actively seek the parent’s input, they will generally feel more at ease with the transition to assisted living. But acceptance takes time. Adult children have to be patient and work with their parents as they grapple with the changes that take place during the aging process.
Our Los Angeles assisted living staff are friendly towards all moods.

Photo used under Creative Commons from becstarr.

Has dealing with your elderly parent become an encounter with Oscar the Grouch? If so, you certainly are not alone. However, as their child, it can help to view these encounters from an entirely different perspective. For a person who has always been independent, athletic, and able to recall many details, losing these faculties brings many underlying fears to the surface. Feelings of both helplessness and hopelessness can overtake their thought processes. It is important to remember that anger is often an outward expression of inner fears, and that while the complaints may seem to be hurled in your direction, it often has little if anything to do with you. Be patient, be kind, and reassure your loved one that he or she can talk to you. Understand though that no matter your age, parents generally do not want to place excess burden on their children. If your mother or father is uncomfortable expressing their innermost feelings with you, perhaps arranging sessions with a professional counselor will help your parent to truly process those raging emotions. It’s important for adult children to really assess the situation thoroughly–and honestly. For instance, some individuals always see the glass half empty, regardless of the circumstance. If your aging parent was always negative, illness will not bring out the best in them. Complaining personalities generally remain negative, complaining personalities… and sometimes you, as the caregiver, must be honest with yourself about this. Also, most people are more irritable when they do not feel well. But, there are some elderly individuals who feel that by virtue of their years on this earth, they have somehow earned the right to “not hold back”… and some will use it with a vengeance! In this case, there may be a glimmer of hope for change in circumstance. When your loved one begins taking a new medication, it often can wreak havoc on the body. This is further exaggerated by negative interactions between multiple drugs used to treat symptoms. If you notice a recent change in behavior or attitude that seems to coincide with a new prescription, a pharmacist or your loved one’s doctor can often help you get to the root of the issue. Personality changes can come on quickly and strongly in these scenarios. Bladder infections can also cause severe shifts in mood and personality. Cognitive decline (such as that found in Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and Pick’s Disease) can trigger severe levels of frustration. That is due, in part, to the inability to perform certain tasks that have been routine for years. These disorders cause a person to lose the ability to recognize objects or to remember things and people that are very familiar. It’s a tough time for both the individual as well as their family members; the frustration can spark the types of personality changes that surprise even those closest to the individual. Addressing personality changes brought on by medical challenges is easiest to deal with; simply get your loved one to a physician for treatment. These types of personality changes can disappear very quickly with medical attention or a change in prescription. However, if your parent was always the “Debbie Downer” type, or if he or she had tendencies toward verbal abuse (or worse) in the past, you have to establish reasonable boundaries so that you, as the adult child and caregiver, do not walk away hurt, frustrated, and disrespected constantly. If that still doesn’t work, you may also have to distance yourself from your parent, assisting on a limited basis. If you cannot find a workable solution on your own, you may need to speak with your local Social Services office to find a reasonable solution for everyone involved.  
Our Los Angeles Dementia care staff helps ease your stress.Caring for an ailing loved one is demanding, time-consuming, and quite stressful. Often, caregivers spend a great deal of time making sure their loved one’s needs are met and their affairs are on track. What often goes quickly out the window? The caregiver’s own needs. The following are ways to detect if you, as a caregiver, have neglected yourself to the point of burnout. Isolation. As human beings, we thrive upon healthy relationships. When you find yourself regularly failing to engage in healthy social interaction–even with your own friends and family–this may be a huge signal that caregiving has begun draining you. Avoiding calls from people you enjoy, making excuses for not going out, etc… can indicate you may be well on your way to isolating yourself from others, which is never good. Feeling Overwhelmed. Caregiving can be an emotional rollercoaster for sure. There is the physical toll of spending so much time attending to the needs of your loved one. Further, there’s an emotional toll that comes with facing the shift in relational roles, seeing both physical and emotional decline in your loved one, and having to face day-to-day tasks which reinforce that life as you have known it has changed. It is natural to grieve, especially at the beginning of your caregiving experience. Frustration can arise. Anxiety and exhaustion can arise. But over time and left untreated, those feelings can lead straight into depression. If you become angry to the point of wanting to hurt your loved one or even yourself, get help fast. Your doctor should be able to diagnose whether there is a medical condition driving these symptoms. If medical challenges have been eliminated as a probability, you may have reached the point of extreme burnout and may possibly be experiencing depression. It is important to remember that while you serve as a support system for your loved one, you will also need to create a team of others who can step in to help. Being kind to your loved one is important, but it is also important for you to be kind to–and eliminate excess pressure on–yourself. Loss of Interest. One of the biggest warning signs of depression is loss of interest, especially in things that were once a huge source of happiness and enjoyment. When your hobbies, big and small, no longer inspire you… you may need help. Significant Changes in Your Sleeping or Eating Patterns. Can’t sleep at night? Can’t get enough sleep, no matter how long you’ve been in bed? Binge eating or hardly eating at all? Major shifts in your habits generally indicate huge shifts in your stress levels and turmoil in your emotions. Ceasing Your Exercise Routine Despite Enjoying It Before. Exercise is one of the best stress-busters available. It leaves a person invigorated and energized. So, when you used to enjoy exercise and suddenly stop, start again! The endorphins released while you’re exercising will relieve tension and help elevate your mood, plus you will get a better night’s sleep. Failing To Keep Up Your Appearance. Unfortunately, many caregivers fall into the mode of caring for a loved one so much that simple grooming (haircuts, manicures, etc…) become neglected. Some who once were fashion-conscious and took particular efforts to care for their appearance can suddenly become apathetic in this area. Generally, your outward appearance reflects what’s happening inside. This challenge may require some input from others you trust–close confidants, social workers, or healthcare therapists can help you sort things out to decide if you’re experiencing burnout and if additional help is necessary. Frequently Susceptible To Illness. If you catch every cold or flu that comes your way, and especially if you cannot shake the cold once you get it, your immune system is likely compromised. Our bodies are not created to handle excessive stress for long periods of time. If this is you, caregiving could be getting to you. Take these symptoms seriously. You can only be a good caregiver for your loved one if you yourself are healthy and happy.
Board care for elderly can be expensive, help them manage their finances.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Images_of_Money.

As parents become older, there comes a point where you realize that you need to step in and help them with their finances. The red flag may be a bounced check or noticing that some bills are past due, or you could discover much more serious problems like the fact that mom or dad has been taken in by a telemarketing scammer. The steps below are your roadmap to getting your loved one back on track. 1. Know Your Parent’s Finances The first thing every adult child needs to know is the condition of your parent’s finances. This means that you need to know what debts they have (credit cards, loans, mortgages, etc…), as well as what their living expenses are. Familiarize yourself with utilities, credit cards, and any bills they have and make sure you start paying them right away. You also need to know if there are any safe deposit boxes, and if you parents already have a financial advisor. It may be beneficial to take a look at your parent’s tax returns to get an idea of their financial situation. 2. Learn About Your Parent’s Income and Insurance Situation Find out what sources of income your parent has. Find out of if your parent is receiving income from social security, what Medicare options they’ve chosen, and whether they receive Medicaid. Also find out if they have purchased long-term care insurance or other forms of insurance to make sure any premiums are kept up to date and policies are still in order. 3. Establish Who Has Legal Authority Over Your Parent’s Finances When a parent becomes unable to care for their finances, it is especially important for adult children to know who has legal authority to manage the estate. Find out if your parents have already established legal guardianship with a relative, financial advisor, or with an executor. Pre-planning in this area can be especially important as it‘s more difficult to establish power of attorney if your parent develops dementia or Alzheimer’s. If you parents haven’t established a legal guardian before they become incapacitated, you’ll need to seek guardianship through the court system. A judge must agree that your parent is not legally competent to handle their own finances and that you are, which may take time. 4. Contact a Financial Advisor A financial advisor or accountant can help you not only sort out your parent’s current finances, but also help you plan for the future. Depending on how you parent’s have invested, there may be other ways to maximize their assets to help finance their transition to assisted living. A financial advisor can help you navigate the options and ensure the best possible course for your parent’s financial future. 5. Get Everything in Writing In order to safeguard both your parent’s and your own financial future, it’s best to make sure you have written documentation of everything related to their finances. Make sure you have legal authorization to act on their behalf. Any access to funds should be documented and any decisions with a financial advisor should be copied into a written document so there is a paper trail to help protect you and your parent legally. Having written records will also help if conflict or concern arises among siblings or other relatives. Watching a parent age can be a difficult process emotionally for adult children, but it doesn’t have to be difficult financially. By following these steps, adult children can help ease the transition for their parents, ensuring a brighter and more secure financial future.