Free pocket cards now available to help in social situations
The Alzheimer’s Association recently launched “I Have Alzheimer’s Disease,” a new 23-page section of alz.org. This robust site offers information and tools to empower a growing group of individuals living in the early stage of Alzheimer’s or another dementia to live their best life for as long as possible.
“The Association obtained input from people living in the early stage of the disease, including members of our Early Stage Advisory Group. We found that individuals in this stage need to do more than learn about the disease. They want to know how others have handled receiving a diagnosis and what they are doing to lead a fulfilling life,” said Monica Moreno, director, early stage initiatives, Alzheimer’s Association. “These Web pages are designed to do exactly that and more.”
The sentiment underlying I Have Alzheimer’s is simple: “You are not alone.” The Web section provides information and insights from real people living with the disease to help their peers move past the feeling of isolation and on to planning, preparing and receiving support.
“There’s a lot of information to digest after diagnosis. Some aspects can be difficult and we encourage users to take their time and learn at their own pace,” Moreno said. “As changes occur, new questions will come up. And we’re here to answer them.”
To learn more, visit I Have Alzheimer’s at www.alz.org/IHaveAlz.
The Importance of a Daily Plan
Daily routines can be helpful for both you — the caregiver — and the person with Alzheimer's. A planned day allows you to spend less time trying to figure out what to do, and more time on activities that provide meaning and enjoyment.
Organizing the day
A person with Alzheimer's or other progressive dementia will eventually need a caregiver's assistance to organize the day. Structured and pleasant activities can often reduce agitation and improve mood. Planning activities for a person with dementia works best when you continually explore, experiment and adjust.
Before making a plan, consider:
- The person's likes, dislikes, strengths, abilities and interests
- How the person used to structure his or her day
- What times of day the person functions best
- Ample time for meals, bathing and dressing
- Regular times for waking up and going to bed (especially helpful if the person with dementia experiences sleep issues or sundowning)
Make sure to allow for flexibility within your daily routine for spontaneous activities.
As Alzheimer's disease progresses, the abilities of a person with dementia will change. With creativity, flexibility and problem solving, you'll be able to adapt your daily routine to support these changes.
Writing a plan
When thinking about how to organize the day, consider:
- What activities work best? Which don't? Why? (Keep in mind that the success of an activity can vary from day-to-day.)
- Are there times when there is too much going on or too little to do?
- Are spontaneous activities enjoyable and easily completed?
Don't be concerned about filling every minute with an activity. The person with Alzheimer's needs a balance of activity and rest, and may need more frequent breaks and varied tasks.
Click here for an example of a daily plan:
Checklist of Daily Activities to Consider
- Household chores
- Personal care
- Creative activities (music, art, crafts)
- Intellectual (reading, puzzles)
Read more: http://www.alz.org/care/dementia-creating-a-plan.asp#ixzz3bwC8hsLf
Travel Safety: A little planning goes a long way
If a person has Alzheimer's or other dementia, it doesn't mean he or she can no longer participate in meaningful activities such as travel; but it does require planning to ensure safety and enjoyment for everyone.
Deciding to travel
Whether taking a short trip to see friends and family or traveling a far distance for vacation, it's important to consider the difficulties and benefits of travel for a person with dementia. In the early stages of dementia, a person may still enjoy traveling. As the disease progresses, travel may become too overwhelming.
When you take into account the needs, abilities, safety and preferences of the person with dementia, what's the best mode of travel? Consider the following:
- Go with the option that provides the most comfort and the least anxiety.
- Stick with the familiar. Travel to known destinations that involve as few changes in daily routine as possible. Try to visit places that were familiar before the onset of dementia.
- Keep in mind that there may come a time when traveling is too disorienting or stressful for the person with dementia.
Tips for a safe trip
- Changes in environment can trigger wandering. Even for a person in the early stages, new environments may be more difficult to navigate. Keep the person safe by taking precautions, such as enrolling in MedicAlert® + Alzheimer's Association Safe Return®, Comfort Zone® or Comfort Zone Check-In®.
- Have a bag of essentials with you at all times that includes medications, your travel itinerary, a comfortable change of clothes, water, snacks and activities.
- Pack necessary medications, up-to-date medical information, a list of emergency contacts and photocopies of important legal documents.
- Create an itinerary that includes details about each destination. Give copies to emergency contacts at home. Keep a copy of your itinerary with you at all times.
- If you will be staying in a hotel, inform the staff ahead of time of your specific needs so they can be prepared to assist you.
- Travel during the time of day that is best for the person with dementia.
- If you will be at a location for an extended period of time, consider contacting the local Alzheimer's Association for resources and support. Find a chapter anywhere in the United States.
Documents to Take with You when Traveling
- Doctors' names and contact information
- A list of current medications and dosages
- Phone numbers and addresses of the local police and fire departments, hospitals and poison control
- A list of food or drug allergies
- Copies of legal papers (living will, advanced directives, power of attorney, etc.)
- Names and contact information of friends and family members to call in case of an emergency
- Insurance information (policy number, member name)
Traveling in airports requires plenty of focus and attention. At times, the level of activity can be distracting, overwhelming or difficult to understand for someone with dementia. If you are traveling by plane, keep the following in mind:
- Avoid scheduling flights that require tight connections. Ask about airport escort services that can help you get from place to place.
- Inform the airline and airport medical service department ahead of time of your needs to make sure they can help you. Most airlines will work with you to accommodate special needs.
- If appropriate, tell airport employees, screeners and in-flight crew members that you are traveling with someone who has dementia.
- Even if walking is not difficult, consider requesting a wheelchair so that an airport employee is assigned to help you get from place to place.
- Allow for extra time.