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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? Research suggests that when our dogs look into our eyes, it’s their way of hugging us. Science has proven that when this happens, both human and canine companion receive a surge of the hormone oxytocin, which is known for nurturing, developing lasting bonds, and expressing love. Therapaws Director, Luke Berman, says, “An animal…it just kind of gets something out of people that a human can’t always do…It’s something about the fact that an animal, a dog, is non-judgmental, happy to see everyone, makes people happy, and that gets someone into a looser state, a happier state where they’re more likely to trigger an older memory and then be happy to talk to a person.”   Increased Interaction Animal companionship gives us joy and comfort, but it also encourages withdrawn dementia patients to interact with their environment.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. Pets also help alleviate [...]

By |2023-04-20T11:55:15-05:00April 20th, 2023|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Not Everyone is a Caregiver and That’s Okay

Even with its challenges, many family caregivers report feeling gratified by choosing to care for someone they love. It can work out in your favor if you have the means and energy to be a constant support. However, the daily responsibility of providing for and protecting a senior parent or relative isn’t a job for everyone. Some people just aren’t wired that way. And that’s okay. Caregiving requires certain personality types, physical strength, mental stamina, and being on-call essentially all the time. Depending on your career, family situation, or health conditions, managing an elder’s routine can be impractical at best and impossible at worst. This isn’t to say that families shouldn’t try it, but to give permission to try something else if caregiving doesn’t end up being the right choice for you. How do I know if I can thrive as a caregiver? If it’s time to decide on how to care for your senior, here are some things to consider: Your own health challenges: Are you struggling with a painful condition or debilitating anxiety? Be candid with yourself if you can handle a full-time elder care situation. Your work and family schedule: Would you be okay with prepping meals, going to appointments, and eventually offering toileting and hygiene assistance for your loved one, in addition to maintaining a career and other life responsibilities? Other family members: Will you have help from siblings or grown children who can relieve you as needed? Your disposition: Are you easily flustered or frustrated? How much patience do you have when life can be very aggravating? Think about what you can truly handle without having your own health setbacks. Your financial situation: Can your budget accommodate another person or [...]

By |2023-01-11T12:15:35-06:00January 11th, 2023|Categories: 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 gathering spaces encourage community and conversation, much like a traditional home setting that residents might recognize from their earlier years. From tables that seat many to cozy islands where everyone can casually come together, we want every visitor to feel at home with their loved one. 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. We additionally customize means for specific dietary needs, allergies, and food sensitivities. 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 [...]

By |2022-12-20T13:39:29-06:00December 20th, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

How to create meaningful holiday moments

Holiday time is here once again, but things may be different this year. It’s tough to see your loved one forget family traditions or not enjoy the holidays like they used to, but there are ways to still bring merriment and meaning to the occasion. It’ll take some adjustment and extra planning. It’ll take lots of patience. However, the one thing that remains the same is the love at the center of it all.   Ways to Celebrate the Holidays with Your Loved One Many of us reminisce about our childhoods at the holidays and, for those living with dementia, revisiting those old memories can be a good way to bring joy to the season. If you’re unsure how the holidays will go when spending time with your senior, there are many activities that are meant to keep your loved one’s stress levels low. We’ve compiled some easy things to do that won’t leave your loved one out and that the entire family can enjoy. Bake a familiar family recipe. Decorate the tree with sensory stimulating ornaments. Try a themed tree with soft, fluffy critters or bright, cozy baubles or nostalgic holiday moments with light and sound. Play the piano and sing favorite Christmas carols together. Look through old photo albums. Watch videos of past family holidays. Visit with a beloved pet—if your pet wears Christmas sweaters, dress them up for an extra sensory experience for your loved one. Share a meal at a restaurant that serves food your senior enjoyed as a child. Snuggle under plush blankets and watch a classic holiday movie. Ask them about their earlier holiday memories and record their stories for the family history. Make Christmas presents for your friends [...]

By |2022-12-16T10:30:11-06:00December 16th, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Memory Care vs. Skilled Nursing

There are many types of senior living resources and it can be confusing as to which one is right for your loved one. Today, we’re exploring the differences between memory care and skilled nursing. Both options are available for families that aren’t equipped to monitor, meal prep, and assist a family member 24 hours a day. And most families are either without the people-power to devote to constant care or try to attempt it and get burned out. That’s why memory care and skilled nursing are such lifesaving options for both your loved one and you.   To understand which treatment plan you should seek, you might consider these questions. We’ve added our initial assessment to each one. Has your loved one been diagnosed with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other cognition difficulties? Memory care might be your first go-to for support. Does your loved one need physical help after a surgery or suffering a stroke? Skilled nursing could be an option. Is your loved one still quite active, yet needs caregiving due to memory loss? Memory care serves seniors in all stages of cognitive decline. Is your loved one living with a chronic illness, such as Parkinson’s, ALS, or a mobility condition? Skilled nursing is designed to care for individuals who need 24/7 assistance with medication, procedures, meals, hygiene, and household duties. Has your loved one suffered falls, accidents, or been susceptible to mistreatment or manipulation by others? Memory care is structured to keep your loved one safe from physical, emotional, and financial harm. Does your loved one need temporary care under a nurse and doctor’s orders? Skilled nursing provides rehabilitative treatment, like physical therapy, occupational therapy, custodial care, and general wound care. For example, some [...]

By |2022-11-22T09:46:50-06:00November 22nd, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Daily Life with Dementia

While life with dementia is hard for patients, its toll on caregivers can be just as significant, especially for those faced with never-ending care while trying to earn a living, maintain their own health needs and have a life outside of caregiving. In this video, we hear from Gloria and her aging mother, Geraldine, who has vascular dementia. Gloria is her mother’s primary caregiver. At the time the video was recorded Geraldine was relatively high functioning, but Gloria knows that her mother’s health will continue to decline and her needs will grow as her dementia progresses. At some point, families like Geraldine’s will have difficult decisions to make, including whether to provide continuing care at home or move a loved one to a dementia care location. How Do You Start the Search for a Memory Care Community? When it feels inevitable that your current care situation won’t be sustainable for the long-term, hold a family meeting to discuss what might be possible moving forward. It’s important to include all relevant family members who’ll be affected by this decision. For instance, all of Mom’s kids should be invited, whether or not they’re able to attend. If discussing this sensitive topic will cause more pain and controversy within your family, hiring an unbiased participant, like a pastor, counselor, or social worker can help make the meeting go more smoothly and give everyone a voice. Another tip: type up a meeting agenda. It doesn’t need to be fancy or complicated, but by adding a few talking points, you can stay on track more easily. Some ideas to discuss pertaining to your loved one: Health issues per their doctor’s analysis Physical restrictions they’re experiencing, including daily activities they can no [...]

By |2022-10-31T11:09:02-05:00October 31st, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Planning Your Future After a Dementia Diagnosis

A dementia diagnosis is distressing for any family. Even when so much feels unknown, there can still be some comfort in knowing what steps to take to prepare for the days ahead. Updating vital information, proofing the home for any safety issues, and supporting your loved one’s emotional wellness are ways to get ready. Our team at Avalon Memory Care know this prep time is a critical stage in the dementia journey. We’re here to help. Here are some tips to get you started:   Gather Important Paperwork Circumstances can change rapidly for any major life event, especially when there’s a dementia diagnosis. That’s why keeping necessary documents in an accessible place is essential.   Follow this guide to start building your loved one’s personal file. Consider including: Your loved one’s current medications, health conditions, and doctors’ names and numbers Emergency numbers Copy of health insurance card Hard copy of an estate will Location of family heirlooms A living will with your loved one’s wishes for their medical care Financial records, like current bank statements, pension info, life insurance, credit cards, loans, and 401k accounts House deed Property deeds Vehicle titles Passwords to online accounts + your loved one’s computer where they store important files Pet records, including the pet’s medications, vet’s name and number, groomer’s info, and meal routine Social media accounts Employment info, if they’re still working   Once you’ve gathered what you need: Organize everything into a properly marked folder and store in a secure location, like a fire-proof safe or safety deposit box. Make a few copies and entrust them to responsible family members. Create a digital version.   Prepare For a Medical Emergency First responders have to work fast, and [...]

By |2022-10-06T10:43:23-05:00October 6th, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Planning for a Natural Disaster When Your Loved One Has Alzheimer’s

Natural disasters, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, heat waves, fires and blizzards can be scary, but they can seem even scarier to someone with Alzheimer’s. It’s very important to have a disaster preparedness plan for these kinds of emergencies so that your loved one feels secure, and if your loved one is in a memory care community, then you need to know the specific facility’s plan.  Disaster Preparedness Plan If your loved one is in memory care, then knowing their disaster plan is a must. Contact the community to find out who coordinates disaster evacuations, and make sure they have copies of the patient’s medical history and any medications they might need, should something happen. If the Alzheimer’s resident has other special devices such as a walker, wheelchair, or an oxygen tank, then make sure the person in charge knows that. Also, find out where your loved one will be moved should a disaster occur, and how the community would communicate with you and others in your family. If your loved one is not at a memory care community, then you will be in charge of their evacuation plan. Know that during a natural disaster your loved one might have an increased risk for wandering or becoming agitated. If you are evacuating to a specific location, then make sure that people around you know about their diagnosis so they can better assist you. Also, do whatever you can to stay together. This will help make sure your loved one won’t get lost and become even more confused. Most importantly- stay calm. If you are calm, it will help your loved one remain calm, too. Emergency Supplies Your Loved One Might Need This extensive list includes most [...]

By |2022-09-27T16:53:59-05:00September 27th, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

World Alzheimer’s Month

September is World Alzheimer’s Month and a good time to learn more about what this disease is and how to raise awareness. While having a loved one with dementia gives family a behind-the-scenes look at the effects of Alzheimer’s, others are still not as knowledgeable about the difficulties of living with and caring for someone with severe memory loss. World Alzheimer’s Month is an important occasion to share educational information and show our love to all of those affected.   What is Alzheimer’s? You may find yourself being asked this question or something similar. Alzheimer’s isn’t just normal memory loss that comes with age. It’s the most common type of dementia, a degenerative brain disease that affects thinking functions such as reasoning, understanding, memories, and basic life skills. Currently, there isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia, and treatment usually assists the individual through daily activities versus working to improve the outcome. We hope that, one day, that through discovered prevention methods and a viable cure, dementia will be extinct. We hope the future is free of this debilitating and distressing disease.   What are Some Symptoms of Alzheimer’s? If Alzheimer’s is a concern for your or your family right now, we recommend you do research, but also talk to a doctor or healthcare professional. Our Avalon staff is additionally on-hand to answer questions or guide you to the proper resources. While Alzheimer’s can start subtly, then quickly progress, here are some symptoms to consider. Many symptoms are identical to other illnesses, like depression, anxiety, or autoimmune conditions. However, this is a place to start on your family’s health journey: Loss of interest in social connection or activities Mood swings that [...]

By |2022-09-21T08:37:14-05:00September 21st, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Avalon Culture & Atmosphere

People with Alzheimer’s disease regularly experience disorientation, confusion and anxiety. Creating a positive space at home or at a community can reduce the severity of anxiety and help them feel more confident about their surroundings, experience less confusion, and increase their sense of well-being and quality of life. Reducing distractions and playing soothing music may help, plus, there are many other ways to create an environment to reduce anxiety for your loved one.   What causes anxiety in seniors with dementia? The disease itself – As a direct result of degenerative dementias like Alzheimer’s, people with dementia gradually experience a loss of their ability to effectively process new information and stimuli. To a person with Alzheimer’s, a moving light or shadow may appear to be a stranger lurking in a corner of the next room. Nearby voices from a television may be interpreted as people conspiring to do them harm. Medications – Some medications intended to treat Alzheimer’s or other common diseases may exacerbate the existing tendency of Alzheimer’s patients to become anxious or combative. Environment – To people with Alzheimer’s, even familiar environments can turn from familiar and home-like to foreign and threatening. Add in noises like construction noise, loud music, or nearby voices,  or distractions like the light and shadows of nearby car headlights and a person with Alzheimer’s can quickly become overwhelmed with anxiety and become agitated or display disruptive behaviors.   Creating an anxiety-reducing environment At home . . . Organize your home and maintain a simple, familiar routine so your loved one with Alzheimer’s feels “at home.” De-clutter – especially in walkways to make your home easy to navigate. Remove all rugs. Eliminate or reduce shadows with drawn curtains or [...]

By |2022-08-23T13:13:04-05:00August 23rd, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments