Toolbox Tuesday Tips

Being a caregiver for a loved one with cognitive decline comes with unique challenges. These tips can help answer questions you may not know you have, offer insights of what it may be like from your loved one’s perspective, or, at the very least, let you know you’re not alone in these situations. Be the first to see each new post, every Tuesday, by following our Facebook page. If you would like to find out more about how we can help your family, please contact us:

  

info@gcmsolutions.net – (850) 894-6720

Take Care

Take Care

Take Care: Remember, as a caregiver you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. Making time for yourself every day should be a top priority, even if it’s just an hour to yourself in the morning or before bed. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

When To Step In

When To Step In

When To Step In: It’s important to know when to step in and correct your loved one’s memory loss. For example, they may still know who they are, but not the time or place they live in. Most times, there is no harm in this, and correcting them will only upset them. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Family Dinners

Family Dinners

Family Dinners: Some of the most important aspects of caregiving can be shared with the whole family. For mealtimes, this is especially true. Making and eating dinner with everyone, even if it’s just once a month, connects your loved one and creates something for them to look forward to. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Personal Calendar

Personal Calendar

Personal Calendar: Having events to look forward to and knowing what events to prepare for can avoid meltdowns and unnecessary stress. Create a calendar that’s just for your loved one, featuring both fun events and appointments for health and wellness. Put this in an area they’ll see multiple times a day. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Change the Subject

Change the Subject

Change the Subject: Don’t try to reason with them on issues that don’t impact their lives long term. You will just get angry and they won’t know why. Instead, change the subject of what you’re talking about to something they like. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Keep It Simple

Keep It Simple

Keep It Simple: Use one-step instructions when explaining a task. This will decrease their frustration level and make each activity a success for them. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Safe and Independent Living

Safe and Independent Living

Safe and Independent Living: Home safety is an important part of your loved one living as independently as possible. Remove or track down loose throw rugs to keep them from tripping and falling. Keep furniture in the same spot so they can always be found. Increase the amount of light in each room to avoid shadows that look scary and to help them see better. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Listen with Your Heart

Listen with Your Heart

Listen with Your Heart: Make sure to pay attention to what your loved one is saying with both their words and their body language. If they appear agitated, it may not be a good idea to engage in difficult conversations that require them to recall information. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Avoid Misplacing Important Items

Avoid Misplacing Important Items

Avoid Misplacing Important Items: For important items, make sure there is a designated spot for them to be placed or stored. This reduces the chance of those items becoming lost or missing. For example, put a bowl on the table next to their chair and tag it as “the glasses bowl.” Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Mealtime Check-Ins

Mealtime Check-Ins

Mealtime Check-Ins: Calling at mealtimes can serve two purposes: it helps you remember to check in on your loved one, and it can give the perfect opportunity for you to remind them to eat if they’ve forgotten. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Avoid “Sundowning”

Avoid “Sundowning”

Avoid “Sundowning”: Fidgeting and acting nervous late in the day, or becoming easily upset and hard to calm down is called “sundowning.” Creating an evening routine and sticking to it can help avoid these episodes. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Moving Conversations

Moving Conversations

Moving Conversations: Your loved one may not want you to move in with them or to move in with you because they don’t want to lose their independence. Propose the idea with explanations like, “I want to spend more time with you,” or, “Money is tight and this will really help me out.” Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Time Tracking

Time Tracking

Time Tracking: If you notice your loved one asking the same questions over and over, it may be because they are no longer able to keep track of time. “One minute” and “one hour” may feel the same to them. Keep clocks in common areas where they are easy to see for quick reference. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

You’re Not Alone

You’re Not Alone

You’re Not Alone: If you’re feeling isolated or overwhelmed as a caregiver, a support group can make a huge difference in your life. They can provide perspectives you may not have considered and connect you with a bigger team of resources for you and your loved one. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Limit Distractions

Limit Distractions

Limit Distractions: Before talking to your loved one, make sure distractions are limited. Try turning off the TV or radio before you start talking. Make sure phones are on vibrate or silent so ringers don’t startle them. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

A Place to Call Home

A Place to Call Home

A Place to Call Home: Deciding whether you’ll move in with your loved one, you’ll have them move in with you, or you’ll find a new home that best suits their needs is incredibly difficult. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Reading Assistance

Reading Assistance

Reading Assistance: Your loved one may have trouble reading as they used to in the past, whether it’s because they no longer can recognize the words they see or they are having difficulty comprehending what they’re seeing. Instead of stepping in to read for them, ask them if it’s okay to do so. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Don’t Fill in the Blanks

Don’t Fill in the Blanks

Don’t Fill in the Blanks: If you find your loved one is struggling to find the right words to describe what they mean, it is often better to give them time to come up with the right word on their own instead of trying to help with your own suggestions to avoid them getting upset. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Resources for Working Caregivers

Resources for Working Caregivers

Resources for Working Caregivers: If you’re a caregiver who needs to keep their job during the day, these services can help: adult day care centers, adult day health care centers, respite programs, sitter programs, home health service, or your local Alzheimer’s association. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Reality Shifts

Reality Shifts

Reality Shifts: Telling the difference between what is real or not becomes increasingly difficult as dementia progresses. Limiting TV time and incorporating activities that make them aware of their surroundings can help with this. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Ensuring Mealtimes

Ensuring Mealtimes

Ensuring Mealtimes: To ensure your loved one is getting enough to eat, you may need to start going on shopping trips with them or offering to help cook meals for the week in case they forget. You will also want to find reasons to check for expired food since it may otherwise go unnoticed. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Taking the Keys

Taking the Keys

Taking the Keys: If your loved one is reluctant to give up driving, ask a trusted doctor to talk with them. Have the doctor write out, “Do Not Drive” on a prescription pad so you can pull out the note when a reminder is needed. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Communication Tip: Focus on the Present Moment

Communication Tip: Focus on the Present Moment

Focus on the Present Moment: Don’t ask them to “remember” things that happened in the past. Instead, try talking about what you remember happening and how they were a part of it. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Avoiding Refusals

Avoiding Refusals

Avoiding Refusals: Avoid situations where they can refuse care. Don’t ask, “Do you want to do this care activity?” Instead, clearly state, “We need to do this care activity for these reasons.” Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Easy Activities for Nerves

Easy Activities for Nerves

Easy Activities for Nerves: If your loved one is fidgeting and acting nervous or becoming easily upset, offer an easy activity like sorting spoons or wiping off the table. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Time Management

Time Management

Time Management: Allow twice the amount of time you think it will take for them to get dressed. Don’t act rushed or in a hurry. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Home Reassurance

Home Reassurance

Home Reassurance: Wanting to go “home” when they are already home means they seek to feel safe. Simple acts like reminding them where they are or a comforting hug can make a huge difference. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Preserving Memories

Preserving Memories

Preserving Memories: A great way to preserve memories is through a scrapbook or “treasure box” filled with important trinkets. While going through each item or image, provide your senior with the story for each one. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Communication Tip: Correcting Information

Communication Tip: Correcting Information

Correcting Information: Before you correct them for getting something wrong, ask yourself if it matters for them to know. It may only make them feel bad without offering a productive solution. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Consistency is Key

Consistency is Key

Consistency is Key: Keeping a daily routine provides a structure they can depend on and leaves less room for confusion. Have all the supplies ready for each task or activity and use simple terms for explanations. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Avoiding Toilet Accidents

Avoiding Toilet Accidents

Avoiding Toilet Accidents: Avoid toilet accidents by walking with them to the bathroom every 2 or 3 hours. Don’t wait for them to ask, simply state, “We need to go to the bathroom.” If toilet accidents do occur, write down the time of day they occur to better prevent future accidents. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Communication Tip: Be Patient

Communication Tip: Be Patient

Communication Tip: Be patient, and give them lots of time to answer your question and finish what they want to say in response. If they lose the thought, ask the same question again. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

What It Means To Pace

What It Means To Pace

What It Means To Pace: Pacing can indicate they are scared or unsure of where they are. To help with this, try distracting them with a different task or activity. Make sure walkways are clear to prevent falling. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Manageable Relationships

Manageable Relationships

Manageable Relationships: Losing the ability to grasp what people say when talking to multiple people makes it difficult to maintain relationships. Instead of keeping people away, limit the number of guests in the house at the same time, or have guests talk with them away from the crowd and noise. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

How to Handle Hallucinations

How to Handle Hallucinations

How to Handle Hallucinations: If they aren’t bothered by hallucinations, you can ignore it. However, if they become afraid of what they see and hear, consult a doctor. Have their eyesight and hearing checked. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Communication Tip: Avoid Arguments

Communication Tip: Avoid Arguments

Communication Tip: Don’t try and argue to “make your point.” They may not be able to see your point of view at all, and this will further confuse or frustrate. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Confusion From Windows

Confusion From Windows

Confusion From Windows: Light reflecting off windows can cause confusion. Pull down the blinds or close the curtains before you take them into a room in the evening. Make sure the string-pulls on blinds remain out of reach so legs and arms don’t get tangled in them. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Causes of Confusion

Causes of Confusion

Causes of Confusion: Some common reasons for agitated behavior relate to confusion–when they can’t identify their surroundings, are overwhelmed with a task, or misunderstand who they’re talking to. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Trouble Sleeping

Trouble Sleeping

Trouble Sleeping: If you have tried everything to help them sleep better and nothing has worked, it may be time for a visit with the doctor. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Communication Tip: Focus on the Feelings

Communication Tip: Focus on the Feelings

Communication Tip: Think about the feelings behind the words they are trying to say. Don’t guess how they’re feeling, ask them. Be patient and calm to show them you are listening. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Preventing Wandering

Preventing Wandering

Preventing Wandering: Prevent wandering by having all your house locks keyed to the same key and place latches up high or down low on doors leading outside. Always have them wear the ID bracelet provided by the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return program. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Lost Items and Accusations

Lost Items and Accusations

Lost Items and Accusations: If suspicious or accusing behavior has begun because the same items keep getting lost, try keeping several on hand (for instance, two black wallets with the same information in them, three blue toothbrushes, spare glasses and favorite shirts). Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Bathing Options

Bathing Options

Bathing Options: Provide options during bathing time. Make sure they like the temperature of the room and water. Give them a washcloth to use and provide privacy as their ability allows. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Improving Communication

Improving Communication

Improving Communication: Repetitive behavior is used in most cases to look for comfort and security. Though harmless, they can make communication difficult. Try to find the reason behind the repetition and approach that instead of the repetition itself. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Communication Tip: Questions to Answers

Communication Tip: Questions to Answers

Communication Tip: Turn your questions into answers for them. Instead of, “Do you need to go to the bathroom?” say, “The bathroom is right over there. I can walk with you.” Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Preventing Hallucinations

Preventing Hallucinations

Preventing Hallucinations: Patterns on the walls, shadows on the walls from poor lighting, or reflections from mirrors or windows are common triggers for hallucinations. Instead of trying to get the hallucinations from these to stop, try to avoid them as best you can. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Avoiding the Emergency Room

Avoiding the Emergency Room

Avoiding the ER: Prevent emergency room visits by blocking off stairs so they can’t fall up or down them and use locked cabinets for soaps, cleaners, poisons, and medication. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

A Good Night’s Sleep

A Good Night’s Sleep

A Good Night’s Sleep: If sleeping has become a challenge, try “white noise,” like the hum of a fan or soft music, and keep them from napping during the day if you can. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Communication Tip: Speaking Plainly

Communication Tip: Speaking Plainly

Speaking Plainly: Say exactly what you need them to do. Use ordinary words. Instead of saying, “Hop in the bed,” say, “Please get in the bed.” Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Avoiding Over-Stimulation

Avoiding Over-Stimulation

Avoiding Over-Stimulation: Try to make their world simple: use plain colored placemats, bath towels, and sheets around the house and avoid patterns as much as you can. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Shoe Choices

Shoe Choices

Shoe Choices: All shoes should be easy to slip on and fasten. Consider using velcro closures or slippers with heel support. Avoid heels or any narrow shoe bottoms for stability. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Assisting with Mouth Care

Assisting with Mouth Care

Assisting with Mouth Care: Daily mouth care is essential for good levels of nutrition. To encourage this, give step-by-step instructions and offer to help at each step. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Redirecting Repetitive Questions

Redirecting Repetitive Questions

Redirecting Repetitive Questions: If they ask the same questions over and over again, help them find the answers with notes, clocks, calendars or photographs instead of repeating your direct answers. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Addressing Aggressive Behavior

Addressing Aggressive Behavior

Addressing Aggressive Behavior: If your loved one is showing aggressive behavior, it’s important to stay calm and try to figure out what is causing the episode. If you can’t, stay an arm’s length away and try again later. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Easier Sleeping Conditions

Easier Sleeping Conditions

Easier Sleeping Conditions: There may be a problem with sleeping that your loved one can’t express. Check if the room is too warm or too cool. Offer a snack; they may be hungry and not know it. Confusion may get worse in the dark, so try keeping a small light in the room. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Maintaining Respect and Privacy

Maintaining Respect and Privacy

Maintaining Respect and Privacy: For bathing and showering, imagine if you did not remember the person helping you with a very private act. Operate from a place of honoring privacy as much as possible. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Clothing Cues

Clothing Cues

Clothing Cues: If handling your loved one’s clothing for dressing, name each item as you hand it over to provide a cue. And never rush dressing time. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

The Importance of Warmth

The Importance of Warmth

The Importance of Warmth: Warmth is an important aspect of bathing time. Heat the room, perhaps use a towel warmer, and make sure the water is a safe and comfortable temperature. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Preventative Clothing Choices

Preventative Clothing Choices

Preventative Clothing Choices: If clothing is being removed in public, consider dressing options with zippers, snaps, or buttons in the back to make this difficult. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Post-Shower Preparation

Post-Shower Preparation

Post-Shower Preparation: Make sure everything is set up for after a shower or bath before heading into the bathroom. Gather towels, washcloths, robes, etc. and have them ready. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Dependable Fashion

Dependable Fashion

Dependable Fashion: If there is a favorite outfit, buy multiples of the same outfit for laundering in between. It doesn’t hurt to wear the same thing every day. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Bathroom Safety

Bathroom Safety

Bathroom Safety: Make sure that the shower or bathtub has safety equipment such as handrails, a bench or seat, and anti-slip flooring to prevent falls. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Keeping Clothing Simple

Keeping Clothing Simple

Keeping Clothing Simple: Clothing should be easy to put on and wear. Avoid complicated buttons or straps, and even ties can be difficult to manage. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Assisted Dressing

Assisted Dressing

Assisted Dressing: Make dressing as independent as possible, maybe helping by handing them one piece of clothing at a time. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Assisting with Teeth Brushing

Assisting with Teeth Brushing

Assisting with Teeth Brushing: When helping with teeth brushing, talk them through each of the steps and let them do as much as possible. It is okay to guide their hand if they are open to it. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Maintaining Body Heat

Maintaining Body Heat

Maintaining Body Heat: You can add a handheld shower sprayer to most shower heads. This makes the process easier and keeps the body warm while rinsing off. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Providing Clothing Options

Providing Clothing Options

Providing Clothing Options: When dressing someone with Alzheimer’s, offer them choices such as, “Do you want to wear your black pants or your blue pants today?” Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Repetitive Questions

Repetitive Questions

Repetitive Questions: Listen to their questions; is there a similar thread? Are they trying to communicate something? Remain calm and see if you can discover why they are repeating the same questions. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Realistic Hallucinations

Realistic Hallucinations

Realistic Hallucinations: Hallucinations associated with cognitive loss can seem very realistic. They may be frightening or they may seem like everyday events. Patting the individual on the shoulder may distract them from the hallucination. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Evening Preparations

Evening Preparations

Evening Preparations: Close blinds or curtains as evening approaches. Play soothing music or schedule it as a time for a friend or family member to call. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Limiting Decisions

Limiting Decisions

Limiting Decisions: Instead of offering many options, limit to two choices. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Avoiding Large Crowds

Avoiding Large Crowds

Avoiding Large Crowds: Shop during quiet times. Even large family gatherings can be overwhelming. Turn off the TV during events. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

Maintaining a Routine

Maintaining a Routine

Maintaining a Routine: Having a familiar schedule and daily plan is comforting to individuals with cognitive decline. Contact Senior Transitions if you need help caring for your aging parent or grandparent by calling (850) 894-6720.

 

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