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Caregiverlist provides senior care information by senior care industry professionals. Caregiverlist's blog posts include Monday's Caregiver Stress Relief Photo, Tuesday's Senior Issues blog by Renata Jasinski Laszuk and Paige Krzysko with her popular Tech Friday blog.

Sundowner's Syndrome: Sundowning and Daylight Saving Time

by RenataLaszuk14. March 2015 08:58

Daylight Saving Time — every year I hear more and louder voices insisting we do away with springing ahead, when we are forced to lose that precious hour of sleep. I don’t hear quite so many voices in the fall, when we “gain” an hour, except for many of my friends in the senior caregiving community.

Sundown Syndrome occurs in approximately 25 percent of persons with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. When someone is “sundowning”, they can become hostile and agitated, angry and confused. Experts speculate that Sundowner’s can be triggered by end-of-day exhaustion, when all the stimulus from the day overwhelms the senses. In institutional settings, like nursing homes, Sundown Syndrome can occur during evening shift change, when there is a lot of commotion.  Although the causes of sundowning are largely unknown, it seems to happen to many late in the day, when afternoon turns to dusk. In the evening, shadows can be confusing, and people can become upset when they can’t see in the dark.

Spring Daylight Saving Time means there’s an extra hour of light at the end of our day. I wonder if this is helpful to caregivers working with those who experience Sundowner's. Even though I couldn’t find any data to suggest that Sundowners experience fewer symptoms when we “spring ahead,” I found plenty of anecdotal evidence that those with Sundown Syndrome experience it more acutely during the fall time change, when it gets dark much earlier. 

In any case, Daylight Saving Time messes with the natural rhythm of sleep, which can also trigger or exacerbate Sundowner’s symptoms and the stress they cause in elderly and caregivers alike.

The idea of Daylight Saving Time has roots in ancient civilizations, where the sun’s schedule set daily routines. Benjamin Franklin in 1784, proposed the notion jokingly to the editor of The Journal of Paris in “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light,” pointing out that Parisians could save money on candles by extending the hours of natural daylight. The U.S. implemented DST on and off since 1918, when President Woodrow Wilson signed it into law. But it wasn’t until Congress established the Uniform Time Act of 1966 that America reached a DST standard. Today, over 70 countries have adopted DST, including the United States (except for Hawaii and most of Arizona.)

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are some coping strategies you can employ if you care for someone with Sundowner’s:

  • Keep the home well lit in the evening.
  • Keep the sleep environment comfortable and safe. The temperature should be comfortable and nightlights provided for safety when a person gets up in the middle of the night.
  • Maintain a consistent schedule of waking, bedtime and meals.
  • Avoid big dinners, nicotine, alcohol, and restrict sweets and caffeine so as not to interfere with restful sleep.   
  • Plan more active days and discourage afternoon naps..
  • As a caregiver, if you are feeling stressed late in the day, the person may pick up on it. Make sure you get respite help.
  • Share your experience with others.

For those of you who care for Sundown seniors, do you find that extra hour of sunlight helpful? Have you found  any sundowning therapies particularly useful? Share your caregiving strategies for coping with Sundown Syndrome in Caregiverlist’s Caregiver Stories or in the Comments section below.

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Alzheimer's Disease | Caregiving Issues | Family Caregiving | Memory Loss | Senior Caregiving

Dementia Prevention Through Brain Exercise in Memorando App

by Paige6. March 2015 09:00

Preventing dementia or Alzheimer's disease sometimes seems like an abstract idea. It's difficult to know if your efforts are making a difference or to know if you're doing enough to prevent onset. The Memorado app provides brain exercises to help caregivers and their senior clients identify areas of brain activity that they would like to improve and score their results over time.

The app begins by asking users to rank the importance of several different brain functions, such as remembering new names with ease, staying calm in hectic situations, or making fewer errors under pressure. The ranking system uses stars- one star for not very important to three stars for quite important. Once all of the topics have been ranked, the app provides a personalized workout program giving emphasis to areas users most want to improve upon. 

The first concentration game the app presented me called "Paint the Sky" presented me with a set of shapes in different patterns. The goal is to click on the one shape on the screen with a unique color or pattern. The next concentration game called "Stepping Stones"displayed circles across the screen with sequential numbers inside. The app asks users to memorize the numbers in the scattered circles, and then once the numbers disappear users need to click on the circles in sequential order of the numbers that were inside the circles. "Painted Path" to improve logic asks users to color a box with a certain number of moves.  

Other games focus on memory and reaction. The first round of games took less than ten minutes to complete, but taking a little time out over several weeks to play the games provides a solid foundation for improvement in exercising the brain. Users who wish to unlock further games within the app can earn brain points through completing the basic games or upgrade to the paid version of the app.

The Memorado app is available for Apple platforms.

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

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Tech Friday

Pictures in App Help Seniors With Dementia Communicate

by Paige27. February 2015 09:00

Caregivers working with senior clients who have dementia may find themselves in situations where talking leads to frustration. Something like mentioning a loved one that a client may have trouble remembering or a task like visiting the doctor can spike confusion for the client and become difficult for both of you to understand one another. The app appropriately called Communication Tool offers senior caregivers and their clients the ability to communicate using pictures about family members, foods & drink, personal care, etc. 

Images can be powerful as they serve as a sort of universal language. Seniors with dementia don't need to remember the exact words for what they need using the Communication Tool app. Instead they can simply pull up a photo of what they need. For example, under the personal care section of the app, there are icons of a toilet, a person sleeping in a bed, a pill, etc. If the senior client needs something specific, he/she can easily pull up the image on the app and share it with their caregiver without having to describe their needs verbally. 

 

Another use for the photos could be for enhanced story telling. If a loved one comes to visit, such as a grandchild, and wants to tell their grandparent about the new sport he/she's started playing, the Activities area of the app offers action shot icons of different sports. While a senior client may not immediately understand the description of soccer, a photo of a person kicking a ball might jog their memory or at least help them keep up with the story a little better.

Users also can take their own pictures and store them in the app for a customized experience. For example, under the people category, users can select Family and take photos of you, spouse, son, daughter, grandchild, etc. to have on hand. Additionally, there's an area for professionals such as doctors, dentists, eye doctors, etc. If a senior with dementia doesn't remember who someone is right away then a caregiver can store that person's photo in the app so next time they have a photo and label in advance.

The Communication Tool app is available for Apple platforms.

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

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Tech Friday

Foods that Could Lower (or Raise) Your Risk of Dementia

by RenataLaszuk10. January 2015 10:12

I’m at that age where misplaced keys or a forgotten word gives me pause. I write so much about Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other memory loss diseases, I know the havoc they wreak, not only on the patient, but on their entire family. That’s why I take a proactive approach in decreasing my odds of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Keeping activeboth mentally and physicallycan go a long way in keeping those diseases at bay. Research now shows there are certain foods that can also help or hurt brain health.

The Good
AARP suggests the following foods may lower your risk of dementia. Remember, whole foods are better than supplements for nutritive value, but supplements are better than nothing, so I’ve listed the foods and their corresponding vitamins/minerals. Time to stock up your fridge and pantry with these goodies:

  • Beans and green peas (vitamin B-1 and folic acid)
  • Citrus fruits and berries (vitamin C)
  • Almonds (vitamin E)
  • Fatty cold-water fish like salmon, cod, mackerel, and herring (omega-3 oil)
  • Spinach (flavonoids, vitamins A and K, folic acid and iron)
  • Coffee and chocolate (caffeine)


The Bad
From the Alzheimer’s Association, here are some foods that contain toxins. The resulting inflammation can lead to a build-up of plaques in the brain resulting in impaired cognitive function. They should be avoided as we age.

  • Processed cheeses such as American cheese, mozzarella sticks, Cheez Whiz and spray cheese (causes protein and plaque build-up)
  • Processed meats like bacon, smoked meats, hot dogs (nitrosamines)
  • White foods like white bread, white rice, pasta, white sugar (causes insulin spikes)
  • Microwave popcorn (diacetyl)
  • Beer (nitrates)


If you are a caregiver to someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, have you seen a change in the disease severity when you’ve altered their diet? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments section.

Also, be sure to watch the Golden Globe Awards, for which Julianne Moore is nominated as Best Actress in a Drama for her star turn in “Still Alice”, the story of a woman, a brilliant professor, wife, and mother, who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

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Aging Well | Alzheimer's Disease | Caregiving Issues | Memory Loss | Senior Caregiving

Thanksgiving with Seniors: Checking for Signs of Dementia

by RenataLaszuk22. November 2014 06:12

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and with it, the holiday season officially begins. If you are like the host of other Americans that celebrate by gathering with family and sharing a delicious meal, it’s a great time to assess the health, both physical and mental, of the aging member(s) of your group.

Holidays are a prime time for families to detect dementia in a family member, according to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve seen your older family members. While it’s certainly an exciting time, it’s also an extremely stressful time — regular routines are disrupted, and large groups of people means noise and excitement — it’s sort of a perfect storm of a time to determine if your aging loved one is exhibiting signs of memory loss.

If you spend Thanksgiving at your senior’s home, a quick bit of detective work will give you some insight into their mental health. Remember to do this stealthily! This is not the time for confrontation, but an opportunity to gauge if your loved ones are living their best lives.

Take a good look (and smell)
Has there been obvious weight loss? People with memory loss often forget to eat. If they are depressed, which often happens when someone begins to experience mental acuity changes, they may decide that cooking is too much bother.

How is their personal hygiene? Are clothes clean? Make note of their grooming to determine any odd or peculiar changes in their regular appearance.

In the house
Check the refrigerator for expired food. Or multiples of the same food. Take a look in the living areas; are they clean and free of clutter? Peek at more personal spaces. While common areas might have been picked up in anticipation of guests, out-of-the-way areas like bathtubs and closets might give a truer picture of a senior’s ability to keep up with general tasks. If they have plants or animals, are they thriving?

Is there any unopened mail hanging about? Paying bills, especially, may seem overwhelming. According to Forbes, financial decision-making capacity erodes early on in those suffering with memory loss, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease.

Talk to neighbors
If you aren’t around much, talk to those who are. If you happen to see neighbors, ask if they have noticed any changes in your senior loved one. A certain red flag is isolation. If they don’t see your senior as often as they used to, it can be cause for concern. Now is the perfect time to exchange phone numbers and ask them to contact you if they see anything remiss.

If you do suspect that there are changes in your senior loved one’s mental acuity, don’t hide your head in the sand. Take the opportunity to talk to other family members and make a plan of action. The first step? Consult your elder’s primary care physician and in the meantime, perhaps enlist some help.

From all of us at Caregiverlist, we wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

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Aging Well | Alzheimer's Disease | Caregiving Issues | Family Caregiving | Memory Loss | Senior Caregiving

Dementia Prevention Through Brain Fitness

by Paige17. October 2014 09:00

Keeping the brain fit as seniors age plays a large part in prevention of the onset of dementia. As senior caregivers work with their clients, finding little ways to keep their minds active can help avoid memory loss. The Fit Brains app gives seniors a series of games intended to improve memory, speed and overall functionality of the brain.

New users to the app are first asked to identify functions of the brain they would like to work on improving the most, such as problem solving or thinking speed. Seniors can choose from any of the listed categories as all of the games within the app will accomplish the goal of exercising the brain on a regular basis.

Once the user has completed their profile set up, the app takes them to the first games to work on the targeted areas identified by the initial questions. The games feature simple concepts, such as matching two of the same symbols from a group of different shapes and colors or sorting fruits as quickly as possible into their matching categories (I.e. bananas on the left, cherries on the right).

Once time runs out on a game, the app brings up a score summary. As users play the same game over time, they can see all of their scores and compare to see how their brain activity in a certain area like speed has improved as they've completed the exercise more times. The app also features some information on brain fitness and how specifically the games in the app challenge the brain in the right way to keep all areas of the brain engaged.

The Fit Brains app is available for free for Apple and Android platforms. 

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

 

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Tech Friday

Alzheimer's Caregiver Advice on Alzheimer's & Daily Companion App

by Paige29. August 2014 09:00

For senior caregivers, working with clients who have dementia or Alzheimer's disease can be taxing and stressful. Seniors experiencing memory loss can become agitated, anxious or upset from situations that previously would have been part of their daily routine. When senior caregivers are experiencing issues working with their clients with dementia, they can turn to the Alzheimer's & Other Dementias Daily Companion app for advice and tips on dealing with specific situations. 

The main function of the app focuses on advice divided into 25 different categories, with many more subcategories. Caregivers can easily navigate through the topics ranging from Social Withdrawal to False Accusations and Paranoia to find advice relating to their specific situation. The descriptions under a topic include possible reasons for a senior client feeling that way and advice on how to remedy the situation or address the specific behavior and prevent it in the future. 

Another section of the app allows caregiver to seek emotional support from other caregivers by suggestions of support groups and ways to care for themselves. It suggests resources such as "10 Organizations Every Caregiver Should Know," and "8 Ways to Arrange Breaks form Caregiving." Managing caregiver stress plays an important part in overall caregiver health and well being. 

If caregivers don't see a category for the situation they'd like advice on, the app features an area where caregiver questions can be submitted to the app creator. Caregivers can also call a number for a 24-hour caregiver support line if they'd like to speak to someone immediately. If a caregiver worked through a particular issue himself/herself and would like to share advice, the app also features a spot for caregivers to share a story that will lend emotional support for other caregivers. 

The Alzheimer's & Other Dementias Daily Companion app is available for Apple and Android products.

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

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Tech Friday

Seniors Can Listen to Old Radio Programs on Yesterday USA App: Caregiverlist Senior Care App Review

by Paige8. August 2014 09:00

Before iPhones, hundreds of TV channels and the internet were at our fingertips at any given moment, entertainment came in the form of old radio programs. From drama programs to old news reels, the Yesterday USA radio network app gives senior caregivers and their senior clients the chance to step back in time and listen to programs from when they were younger. 

 

The app accompanies the YesterdayUSA Radio Network website, which was created by the National Museum of Communications, Inc, where users can also listen online. The app features two different streaming stations- the Red Station and the Blue Station. Within the app, users can browse the upcoming schedule of programs ranging from old dramatic theater shows to old music programs and old trivia. The programming runs on a two week loop, so if you can't catch a program the first time around you can view the next time it's scheduled to air. 

For seniors who may be experiencing an onset of dementia, listening to programs from their past could help spark memories. Familiarity of things from our youth can spark nostalgia in all of us, but for seniors with dementia it can help them remember parts of their lives they may have forgotten otherwise. Seniors and their caregivers might enjoy sitting down together a few times a week to listen to these old programs and talk about how life was back when they aired. Caregivers may learn new things about their senior clients and their lives by hearing stories from when they were young. 

The YesterdayUSA App is available for Apple platforms. 

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

 

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Tech Friday

4Pics 1Word App Useful for Dementia Prevention: Caregiverlist Senior Care App Review

by Paige25. July 2014 09:00

Senior caregivers can work with their senior clients to exercise their brains to prevent onset of dementia or Alzheimer's disease. The app 4Pics 1Word shows users four images and asks them to find the word that links all of the pictures together, then enter the word using the letters in a bank provided at the bottom of the screen. 

Using the brain in ways that force cognitive connects plays a large part in preventing dementia as seniors age. Seniors often don't partake in these activities as part of their daily routine unless they make a point to include them. The 4Pics 1Word app forces a connection between the images seen on screen and the language a senior client knows. The app starts out at an easy, low level, and the image-word relations increase in difficulty the longer you play. 

For example, a lower level includes a picture of a mailbox, a pair of boxing gloves, a cardboard box and a checkbox, so the common word the user needs to enter into the space provided is "box." Caregivers can play this game with their senior clients and help them come up with the answers, or switch turns going back and forth. Or, they can make it into a fun little competition and see who can correctly guess the answer first. Play a few times a week to ensure that senior clients are adequately exercising their minds for the most dementia prevention potential. Caregivers might also enjoy the game as a form of stress relief to take their minds off the events of a particularly long day. 

 

 The 4Pics 1Word app is available for Apple and Android platforms.

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

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Tech Friday

2048 Game App Requires Strategy, Exercises the Mind: Caregiverlist Senior Care App Review

by Paige25. April 2014 09:00

These days half of the games popular to play on smartphones are mindless, requiring the same repetitive action without strategy. One of the most popular games for smartphones now though is 2048, a game comprised entirely of strategy to combine numbered tiles until they reach the target number. Senior caregivers and their senior clients can play this game to help keep clients' minds active. 

The 2048 game concept is basic- at the start, two tiles bearing the number 2 appear. When the user slides the tiles together, they combine into a number 4 and another number 2 tile appears. When any two tiles with the same number are combined, they are added together to make one tile with a larger number. The object of the game is to combine tiles together until the user obtains the 2048 tile, and then they win the game. 

The extra challenge of the game presents itself when every move causes a new number 2 tile to be placed on the board. 16 squares make up the playing board, so if a player runs out of opportunities to slide tiles with the same number side by side to combine them, the board will fill up with extra 2 tiles until it's full and the game will end. 

Senior caregivers can sit down with their senior clients and play this game together. The strategy required to group the same numbered tiles together in order to combine them provides important mental exercise for seniors as they age. Mental engagement plays a large part in prevention of dementia in seniors. Caregivers and their clients also may find enjoyment in strategizing how to win the game together. 

 

The 2048 app is available for free on Apple and Android platforms. 

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

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Tech Friday