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Amazing Animals: How Pet Therapy Can Help People With Dementia

After two decades of research, we know the facts: Pet therapy benefits those living with dementia in more ways than one. Many smaller studies and one large-scale study in 2019 have proven that pet therapy has significant benefits for patients with dementia. How can pet therapy help? Increased Interaction. Animal companionship gives us joy and comfort, but it also encourages withdrawn dementia patients to interact with their environment. Perhaps it’s because animals communicate non-verbally and offer affection without demands. Who can resist a furry friend who wants to play or needs a pat? Therapy dogs know that putting their heads on someone's knee will lead to lots of attention and petting. Calmer Days. If you have a pet, you know that (usually) they’re a source of calm. A 2019 study showed that pet therapy triggers a patient’s automatic relaxation response, which reduces rates of anxiety and agitation. Patients in the study had lower stress hormones and lower blood pressure during their pet therapy sessions. Increased overall memory recall. Some patients in the 2019 study had improved short-term memory. Some recalled having pets in the past, a form of nostalgia therapy. Fewer Behavior Issues. In 2002, researchers found a significant decrease in behavioral issues like agitation and aggression after adding a full-time resident dog to a memory care center. A 2019 study found the same result and a reduction of sundowner's behavior (agitation and distress that occurs near nightfall) when people were offered pet therapy. Better Nutrition and Weight. Even fish aquariums benefit people in memory care communities. In 2002 Purdue University researchers found an increase in nutritional intake and an average 1.65-pound weight gain among the patients who enjoyed fish aquariums in the dining area. [...]

By |2022-05-03T11:42:35-05:00May 3rd, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

What Should Memory Care Look Like?

Having a loved one in the mid-to-late stages of dementia is overwhelming. And when families look for memory care they can trust, they often don't know where to start. What should quality memory care look like? How do you know if a community will suit your loved one? Let us help you sort through the confusion around memory care. As time passes, Alzheimer's disease erodes a person's memories and robs them of their self-identity. But regardless of their health condition, your family member deserves as much respect and compassion as anyone else. The following core elements of high-quality Alzheimer’s support can serve as an assessment tool for families looking for an assisted living home for their loved ones. Strengthening your family relationship is a high-priority and a community should work with you and your loved one to make that happen. A well-designed community must support the health and well-being of your loved one, and the programs offered must be customized to your loved one’s individual needs. What else should you look for when you find a community that meets those essential needs? You should see these crucial features in a high-quality community: A Soothing Environment Large, institutional buildings are not appropriate settings for individuals with Alzheimer's. The harsh glare of overly bright lights, a maze of hallways, and décor befitting a hospital confuse and overwhelm them. A specialized memory care location that mimics a traditional home is better for your loved one. A soothing, secure environment designed by memory care design experts allows residents to live out their days with the dignity they deserve, in a cozy and comforting space. At Avalon Memory we pride ourselves in our home-like environment. And don’t let our homey and warm community fool [...]

By |2022-04-19T10:26:13-05:00April 19th, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Carrollton Buildings

Welcome to Avalon Memory Care in Carrollton, located near the Prestonwood Baptist Church in Willow Bend's West Plano/Carrollton neighborhood. Carrollton ranks as one of the best places to live in Texas, and the Willow Bend area is a close-knit community where residents enjoy a high quality of life, abundant parks, good schools, and safe neighborhoods. It’s a place with a small-town, neighborly feel. As part of this vibrant community, Avalon brings the Carrollton Buildings, two award-winning communities that provide the highest quality care for families in need of memory care. The two buildings, Carrollton One and Carrollton Two are our "classic" Avalon design, which features an open concept multipurpose living and kitchen area to offer residents a more stimulating environment. The beauty of these two buildings is that their inviting and homey environments promote independence for each resident. The Carrollton buildings are anything but institutional. They're tastefully decorated but still warm and welcoming with several notable features: • Beautiful hardwood floors • Gathering areas with oversized, comfortable, individual chairs and several televisions for residents to enjoy together • Updated oversized, fully accessible showers with room for assistance • Accessible design in every area for varying levels of mobility • Comfortable dining rooms with smaller tables and a soothing atmosphere • Manicured lawns and bright, landscaped grounds with blooming flora • Beautiful artwork • Cozy kitchens for gathering and community events • Spacious private or semi-private bedrooms • Secured grounds and walking paths, covered decks, and garden areas • Warm, sunshine-filled sitting areas Carrollton Two focuses on the more independent, active, or social residents of the two buildings, while Carrollton One caters to residents with more care needs. Care Ratios can change according to individual needs, [...]

By |2022-04-07T12:27:34-05:00April 6th, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Is a clinical trial right for you or your loved one?

Clinical trials and clinical studies use human volunteers to learn more about the cause, treatment, and prevention of diseases. There can be no cure for Alzheimer's and dementia without clinical trials. But is participating in a clinical right for you or your loved one? The answer depends on the kind of trial and what you hope to gain by participating. What are the types of clinical trials? There are two types of Alzheimer's treatment trials: Treatment aimed at reducing Alzheimer's and dementia symptoms and treatment aimed at stopping disease. The first kind one involves new drugs and variations of current medications symptoms. For example, a trial might test a new dosage of a current drug, a new timing of administration, or its effectiveness when combined with other medications. The other type of treatment trial is similar, but it's aimed at slowing or stopping the disease altogether with new drugs. But volunteers don’t need to enroll in drug trials to participate in the search for a cure for Alzheimer's. Clinical studies are the same as clinical trials, but they cover more than drug treatment. Studies can test preventative measures, cognitive stimulation, exercise, diet, and supplementation. Besides clinical research, there are also diagnostic studies, prevention trials, quality of life studies, and other online studies. Why would my loved one or I want to participate in a clinical trial? One of the main reasons people volunteer for clinical trials is to access treatments unavailable to the public or an experimental approach using existing treatments. Such trials don’t guarantee a different outcome, but for many patients, playing an active role in their treatment gives them a sense of greater control. Most studies offer excellent healthcare at well-known centers, so [...]

By |2022-03-22T09:37:23-05:00March 22nd, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Over-the-counter Allergy Treatments can Harm Seniors.

Spring is a glorious season filled with lovely weather and blooming foliage. But with all that greenery comes pollen and the inevitable allergies. An estimated 40% of the population suffers from seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) every year. Allergies can occur at any stage of life, but for the elderly, seasonal allergies can pose unique challenges. As the immune system ages, seniors are more prone to inflammation and infections of all kinds, including allergies. In addition, seniors are more likely to be taking multiple medications, which can interact with over-the-counter medications. Need to help a senior navigate the allergy season safely? Follow these tips: Note and track all allergy symptoms. Common symptoms include sneezing, coughing, congestion, runny nose, wheezing, itchy and watery eyes, and itchy skin. Are these symptoms consistent with high pollen counts? Do they occur when you've spent an extended amount of time outside or when the windows are open? Note any changes to report when you and your loved one see the doctor. Bring it up at the next appointment. Often seniors have multiple health conditions, so a physician may spend appointment time addressing more significant issues. But managing allergies is essential, especially for seniors with cardiovascular problems or lung disease. Seniors with dementia may not communicate their discomfort to the physician, so be on the lookout for signs of allergy discomfort and alert the doctor if necessary. Avoid first-generation antihistamines. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), seniors should avoid taking first-generation antihistamines. Popular first-generation antihistamines are diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton). They're not only in allergy medications but also popular sleep medications like Tylenol PM and Nyquil. The side effects—possible anxiety, confusion, drowsiness, urine retention, dry [...]

By |2022-03-08T10:49:11-06:00March 8th, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

How is dementia diagnosed?

Dementia is not just a single disease. It's an umbrella term for various medical conditions that include Alzheimer's Disease, Lewy Body Dementia, Vascular Dementia, Frontotemporal Dementia, and other diseases like Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases. These conditions cause a decline in cognitive skills and increasingly affect a person’s abilities and behavior over time. Dementia is not the only cause of memory problems. Depression, sleep apnea, delirium, medication side effects, thyroid problems, vitamin deficiency, or other conditions could be causing cognitive problems, and these conditions are usually treatable. When a person is undergoing medical testing, the medical team is not just looking for dementia; they’re looking for numerous other problems that cause memory loss. Medical History The first tool used to find the cause of dementia symptoms is a thorough medical history. The doctor takes detailed notes about past and current medical conditions, medications, and family history before moving on to a physical exam. Physical Exam This exam is a routine physical that includes a urinalysis and blood work. A physician will ask detailed questions about a patient’s symptoms:  What changes in sleep, behavior, and memory are happening? When did they begin? How often do they happen? Have they intensified over time? Because the physician will need a complete picture of a person's symptoms, they may also ask a family member for input or observations. Neurological Exam If necessary, a primary care doctor will refer a patient to a neurologist, who will look for other conditions that impair memory, like a stroke, Parkinson’s disease, or brain tumors. Neurological tests check a person’s reflexes, muscle strength, speech, coordination, and nerve sensation. Mental Cognitive Tests At some point, a practitioner will administer one or two mental cognitive tests to [...]

By |2022-02-22T16:16:58-06:00February 22nd, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Can a Healthy Lifestyle Help Reduce Dementia Later in Life?

Did you know that a large percentage of Americans believe that dementia is a normal part of aging? That’s false, say a growing number of new studies. Mounting research proves that anyone can take action today to help protect their brain from cognitive decline or at least delay the onset for years. Amazingly, recent studies have found that 1 in 3 cases of Alzheimer's disease is preventable with lifestyle changes. A healthy heart, an active mind, solid relationships, and plenty of sleep will go a long way toward keeping your mind sharp. Get Moving. The scientific world agrees that aerobic exercise helps ensure brain health. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of highintensity aerobic activity a week for everyone over 65. Even a 25-minute daily walk can lower your risk of dementia by as much as 35 percent. Exercise helps clear the brain of amyloid protein fragments, which accumulate in the brains of those with dementia. Richard Isaacson, MD, director of the Alzheimer's Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine, agrees. "There's no drug available that lowers amyloid," he says. The only thing we know that can do it is exercise.” Embrace Learning, Change, and Challenges Take a class, start a hobby, listen to an online lecture -- any continued education keeps the brain healthy. Intellectual challenge and memorizing create new neural pathways, making our brains sharper and more resilient. Consider learning a second language? This recent study of bilingual individuals should make a strong case for signing up. In 2020, a study co-authored by John Grundy, assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State University, showed that those who can speak two languages use more brain regions, resulting in [...]

By |2022-02-08T15:19:52-06:00February 8th, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Accepting the Need for Memory Care

It’s typical for families to discuss finding care for a loved one in the mid-to-late stages of dementia, but it isn’t easy. Moving a family member to a memory care community can cause a wave of grief, guilt, and sadness. The notion of pulling someone you love out of their daily routine often feels wrong at that moment. It feels like abandonment. It feels like a weak decision. It seems so final. But caring for someone we love means making sure they’re safe, protected, and healthy, and sometimes we can’t do that alone. Accepting that your loved one needs memory care is a difficult process, but one that will enable you to focus on enjoying your relationship and your time together. How Do You Know It’s Time for Memory Care? According to U.S. News, 5.8 million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. They list six distinct behaviors that indicate a genuinely needed move to a memory care community like Avalon. Changes in behavior. Someone who was always calm and collected may suddenly show signs of aggravation or irritation. Changes in appearance. Someone who has always dressed meticulously may be disheveled or unwashed. People with Alzheimer’s disease can forget how to bathe or style their hair. Confusion and disorientation. Confusion can become dangerous if your loved one drives or wanders from the house. It’s critical to address safety issues for your loved one's sake and the safety of others. A decline in physical health. A decline could mean that your loved one forgot to go grocery shopping or forgot how to cook. It could also mean they haven’t taken their meds or have taken too much. A caregiver’s deterioration. When a [...]

By |2022-01-27T15:44:23-06:00January 25th, 2022|Categories: Alzheimer's, Avalon Memory Care, Memory Care, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Visiting your aging parent with memory loss

As a loving son or daughter, you naturally want regular visits with your parent. And even though life has changed as your parent's dementia has progressed, it's our goal at Avalon Memory Care to help both of you feel comfortable and connected during your visits. Here are some tips to make your visits memorable: Visiting Your Parent Our visitation areas for families are specially designed to minimize distractions and promote comfort. We have a beautiful sitting area with plenty of natural light for enjoying board games, puzzles, or crafts together. If the weather permits, you and your parent might like to relax on the covered decks or take a stroll around our gorgeous garden areas to admire the flowers or do some birdwatching. Many families prefer to visit during the morning or early afternoon hours, as some of our residents with Alzheimer's experience sundowning symptoms later in the evening. Sharing a Meal Family members are always welcome to share a meal with their loved ones in our comfortable dining room. Our chef-prepared meals are as delicious as they are nutritious, and our menu focuses on whole foods: fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, fish, poultry, and meats. Bringing Additional Visitors Families often wish to visit in groups during the holiday season since everyone is together for the holidays. Still, our experience has been that smaller groups are better for individuals receiving Alzheimer's support services. If your parent becomes agitated by the overstimulation of larger groups, try scheduling two or three visitors a few times throughout the holidays. Staggering visits will also enable everyone to have more moments of connection with your parent. I will simplify dynamics and allow your parent to focus on each visitor. [...]

By |2021-12-21T14:49:31-06:00December 21st, 2021|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Holidays and Dementia

The holidays are meant to be a happy time. Still, for families with a loved one suffering from dementia, the season can be a painful reminder of the things your loved one can no longer enjoy.  Maybe Mom always made her famous Christmas cookies, and nobody can replicate her recipe. Or Dad always took the family to pick out the tree. These responsibilities may have passed to you since then, and it can feel overwhelming to make the holidays memorable for others while accommodating your loved one with dementia. "One of the things that struck me early on was the times I wanted to ask my mom how to make her signature dishes, and I couldn't.  That really comes through during the holidays," said Jane, whose mother suffers from Alzheimer's Disease. "Mom (an artist) would also make beautiful table arrangements and had closets full of vases and decorations for the table.  When she couldn't do that anymore, it was a big loss." The holidays are also stressful because they come with additional tasks like shopping, cooking, and planning on top of our caregiving.  Maybe family members disagree on how everyone should celebrate. In addition, the stress of the season can intensify your loved one's care needs. Even though your celebration this year may not look like the holidays you used to have, the season can still have special meaning for your family. Here are some tips to make your season brighter: Plan ahead  Discuss the arrangement with the whole family and agree on what's going to happen ahead of time. Family members accept the loss of their loved one's capacity at different rates, so it's best to get on the same page before the holidays. [...]

By |2021-12-08T10:29:41-06:00December 8th, 2021|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments