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How Do I Start the Day?

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How Do I Start the Day?

 

Everyone has a morning routine. When you are caring for two, routines need to be altered a bit to make sure your needs as the caregiver are met as well as the needs of your loved one. As a caregiver, you will learn the importance of getting ready first.

Starting the Day

The best way to start the day is to know what you and your loved one are going to wear. Having clothes ready in advance, the pre-planning, will help alleviate the back and forth of trying to pick out something that your loved one wants to wear. If you have been following my stories, I am all about pre-planning! Why wait for the crisis or “battle” to occur when it can be prevented and help to reduce the stress of the morning.

You will learn as the disease progresses that dressing your loved one will change, possibly from day-to-day. Just go with the flow. How they dressed in the past and how they performed their own personal grooming is now a changing process.

Food Preparation

Once everyone is dressed, it’s time for breakfast. This is also a great place to utilize pre-planning. Have the food ready before your loved one sits down. If it is not ready, they might lose interest in sitting down to an empty table and will get up and walk away.

Stay Hydrated

It is so important to start the day with hydration and nourishment. Your loved one has probably not had anything to eat since the dinner meal the night before. Blood sugars are low and blood pressure is probably low as well. The highest risk for falls is in the morning because of this drop in pressure and sugar.

I have listed lots of ideas for food preparation and hydration. Please take the time to read this chapter of Simply Caring. These hints will help you get through the start of your day. Once the breakfast dishes are cleaned up, its time to focus on afternoon activities.

Highlights from the book Simply Caring: Putting the Alzheimer’s Puzzle Together by Almost Home CEO Jamie Glavich. View more at SimplyCaringBook.com.

Just a DASH of salt, please!

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Just a DASH of salt, please!

High blood pressure, called “hypertension” is very common with complications including heart failure, decreased kidney function, vision loss, and stroke. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to cognitive impairment, vascular dementia, transient ischemic attacks by blocking blood flow to the brain. There are dietary steps that you can take to reduce your risk of hypertension. These steps are called, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension also known as the DASH diet. These steps and approaches are a lifestyle more than they are a diet. Take a look at some easy steps below to reduce your risk of hypertension.

Watch your sodium intake

When shopping at the grocery store look for items that say:

  • No salt added
  • Reduced sodium
  • Low sodium

Common items that tend to be higher in sodium include condiments, deli meats and hot dogs, high processed foods like chips, bread, canned soups and vegetables. Look at the back of the package to see how much sodium is in the product per serving. One way to know if a product has high sodium is to compare the amount of sodium to the number of calories. Ideally, we’d like to keep sodium equal to or less than the number of calories for any particular product. It may not be a big deal if the sodium is a little higher than calories, but when products have a lot of sodium, they tend to have 4, 5, or more than 6 times the amount of sodium as calories.

Don’t forget to consider the entire meal or the entire day. If you eat a sandwich with high-sodium bread and deli meat, make sure to eat it along with a salad using homemade no-oil dressing.

Modifiable lifestyle choices

The first thing that you can change is smoking habits. If you smoke, try to reduce the amount you smoke per day. If you don’t smoke, do not start smoking! Another thing that you can do is to make sure you get plenty of exercise. Try aerobic exercises 4 times per week for roughly 30-60 minutes. This could be something like a brisk walk, swim, or bike. You can also try to limit alcohol to one drink per day for women and two drinks for men. An example of one alcoholic beverage would include a 24 oz beer, 10 oz of wine, or 3 oz of liquor.

Vitamins

Listed below are some vitamins and minerals that play an important role in controlling blood pressure as well as some examples as to where you can find these vitamins and minerals and how much you should try to eat daily.

Potassium: 470 mg/day

  • Food: Bananas, spinach, potatoes

Magnesium: 500 mg/day

  • Food: Green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds

Calcium: 1240 mg/day

  • Food: Kale, yogurt, low-fat or fat free milk

Fiber: 25-30 mg/day

  • Food: Oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, dates, and strawberries

Tips for cooking and eating out

  1. Eat home-cooked meals as much as possible. Eighty percent of sodium consumed by Americans comes from foods they don’t prepare themselves. Know what you are eating.
  2. When you are out at a restaurant, ask for the sauce or dressing on the side
  3. Call the restaurant ahead of time to see if they can accommodate your wishes.
  4. Rinse all of your canned vegetables under water to reduce the sodium even more.
  5. When cooking, you can use herbs and no salt added seasoning to flavor your food. Herbs that add a bold flavor include garlic, citrus (lemons and limes), vinegar, and basal, and ginger.
  6. Always taste your food before you salt it! If using herbs with bold flavors, you may not need salt.

 Co-written by Katie Wolf, graduate dietetic intern, and Heather Borders, Registered Dietitian with Kailo Nutrition.

 

Safety First

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Our Progressive Pathway of Care is Based on

SAFETY FIRST

  

SSafety, Structure, Socialization and Support

AAttention to our friend’s needs

FFriends help friends with anything and everything

EEducation about the disease process, medications, and care

TTraining elevates quality of care, enhances quality of life

YYou are valuable

FFamily

I Interaction

RRoutine

SStimulation

TTeamwork

What Specific Caregiving Matters Do I Need to Know?

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What Specific Caregiving Matters Do I Need to Know?

As I was writing this chapter of my book, I realized that I could go on and on. There are so many things that we need to worry about with our loved ones. I am mentioning some of the most important matters to preserve the Quality of Life of your family member.

The Soul 

As we know, all our experiences in life have made us who we are. Imagine, if you no longer had your memories or the ability to care for yourself, what would be important for you to know that would make your soul feel good? Now, write three things down that would be important to your loved one if they could not express themselves. There are no wrong answers. My mom wanted me to make sure she had cute, expressive and comfortable socks on her feet. I have to say I always agreed.

Things to Look For

Some things to look for as a caregiver are losing weight, not feeling well due to a urinary tract infection (UTI), medications, behavior disturbances, driving ability and fall risks.

Safety First

The foundation of my philosophy of care is always Safety First. It is a necessity that you as the caregiver make decisions and care for your loved one who can no longer care for themselves. Once you know that someone has memory deficit, whether a physician has tested and told you, or you know from experience with your loved one, they really should not be left to care for themselves. Simply going out the front door to the edge of the driveway to pick up the newspaper can lead to a crisis. Instead of turning to go back into the house, one turns to the left instead and starts walking down the street. Now they are lost.

We must watch out for, and over, them. Your loved one may be frustrated and sad that you are hovering, so you learn to do it gracefully and quietly. All this is done while protecting their dignity and self-esteem.

This caregiving experience does have a lot of puzzle pieces to put together and keep glued.

Highlights from the book Simply Caring: Putting the Alzheimer’s Puzzle Together by Almost Home CEO Jamie Glavich. View more at SimplyCaringBook.com.

Healthy Habits, Healthy Brain

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Do you love your brain? June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month, so I thought I would share some love with you, especially how to love your brain!

My wish is that talking about 10 Ways to Love Your Brain will ignite an awareness that we need to begin caring for our brains. If we begin this now, we can create a healthy lifestyle that will lead us to a happy life. The Alzheimer’s Association has come up with 10 Ways to Love your Brain. We know with research that a healthy heart helps create a healthy brain.

The first three loving ways to treat your brain are: following your heart, being aware and fueling up right. The ways to follow your heart include keeping your blood pressure in check and your weight below the obesity level; therefore, reducing the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or diabetes which negatively impacts your cognitive health. Secondly, a risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia is brain injury. Protect your brain by wearing a helmet when playing sports, riding a bike or operating a motorcycle and wear your seatbelt. Thirdly, nutrition and eating a balanced diet is so important to staying healthy. Keep hydrated by drinking 8 glasses of water daily and eating a balanced diet of more fruits and vegetables than meat.

The next three healthy habits for loving your brain are: catching some zzz’s, taking care of your mental health and buddying up. It is important to get sleep because lack of sleep can cause memory and thinking problems. Take care of your mental health to protect yourself against depression, anxiety, and stress. Taking care of your mental health is also be done by finding an outlet by supporting your community and sharing activities with friends and family.

The final four ideas for brain love are: stumping yourself, breaking a sweat, hitting the books and butting out. Challenge your brain by playing games that require strategy, difficult enough to stump yourself. Read more books, take a class, or go to a seminar. Formal education reduces cognitive decline, so try to learn or do a new thing daily. Keeping your body healthy is part of loving your brain, so break a sweat and exercise regularly to elevate your heart rate to increase blood flow. And lastly, do not smoke. Smoking increases heart disease, vascular problems, risk for stroke, lung disease and cognitive decline.

It is never too late to change some habits and create healthier ones!

What are my Options in Care?

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I understand that being a caregiver is not an easy task.  There are so many daily tasks to help your loved one with each moment of each day.  It can be so overwhelming. I also understand that it can be hard to know when or how to ask for help. What path should your family take?

Educate yourself and your family members by researching and reviewing all the options.  Call the Alzheimer’s Association and ask for assistance. You and your family can make an educated and informed decision.

CARE OPTIONS

Some care options include family and friends, home companion services, home health agencies, adult day care program, assisted living facilities (ALF), nursing home (SNF) and hospice care. Knowing what is needed is different for every caregiver and family member. That’s where all the research comes in handy. Maybe the caregiver just needs a day to her or himself. In that instance, daycare would be appropriate. All of the options have pros and cons for your family.

PRE-PLANNING IS SO IMPORTANT

Pre-planning and knowing where your family stands financially is also one of the best ways to prepare for care. You need to find what will work best for your loved one, yourself and your family members.  I have described each option in detail in my book, Simply Caring: Putting the Alzheimer’s Puzzle Together. There is no magic to knowing when it is time to get help in a daycare setting, ALF or nursing home. I tell families, the time is when your health as a caregiver is being challenged and when you are unable to be available at all times.

TAKE CARE OF THE CAREGIVER

Those with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis should not be left alone.  In this way, the daily tasks become constant as in every minute of every day.  The caregiver needs to stay healthy for your loved one. There will come a time when you cannot do it all by yourself anymore. Choose your path wisely.

Highlights from the book Simply Caring: Putting the Alzheimer’s Puzzle Together by Almost Home Founder and CEO Jamie Glavich. View more at SimplyCaringBook.com.

Put Some Pep in Your Step!

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Put Some Pep In Your Step!

 

Exercise can improve blood flow, brain memory, improve your sleep, decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and improve mental health. It is recommended that adults get 150 minutes of moderate intensity activities each week.  Moderate intensity exercise would include things like a brisk walk, swimming, dancing or biking. Start with what you can and gradually work your way up to 150 minutes per week.

 

Brain Power

Exercise can improve brain health. By pumping your heart, you also pump more oxygen to your brain increasing the blood flow. Exercise also creates new connections in the brain by stimulating brain cells and blood vessels.

 

One small step and one giant leap?

An easy way to get your heart pumping is to go for a walk. A lot of people these days have fitness trackers or pedometers that can count the steps you take throughout the day.

 

Don’t focus on the numbers. Maybe 10,000 steps is not realistic for you. Don’t focus on this number of steps. It is better to get up and be active regardless of the step count than to be discouraged that you didn’t hit your step count. Your goal is YOUR goal. Not anyone else’s goal. Focus on you and your goal and get up and move!

 

Ways to get those extra steps without doing exercises!

There are many ways to add physical activity into your daily routine without having to actually do exercise at all. Check out some examples below.

 

  • Balance skills to help prevent falls while watching your favorite tv show. Stand on one foot or try to walk backwards.
  • Take your dog for a walk.
  • If you have grandchildren, take them to the park.
  • Window shop at the mall.
  • Take the stairs when able.
  • Park your car a little farther when going to the grocery store.
  • Do chores around the house like vacuuming, mopping, sweeping, and yard work.
  • Turn on some music and dance around.
  • Try yoga.

 

Regardless of the activity, it is important to get up and move around not only for mental health but for your brain health and your heart.

 

Co-written by Katie Wolf, graduate dietetic intern, and Heather Borders, Registered Dietitian with Kailo Nutrition.

What do I do when the Doctor says it’s Alzheimer’s?

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What Do I Do When the Doctor Says it’s Alzheimer’s?

 

I refer to Alzheimer’s as being like a light switch that goes on and off in the brain. From the moment you know the diagnosis – that is the time to start planning.  You never know when the switch will flip.  The time to take control is immediate because you don’t want to make decisions in crisis mode. It is much easier to plan when you have the opportunity to gather information rather than having a few options during a time of crisis.

Planning is  Key

Talk to your loved one and all the family members that want to be involved with planning. It is never too early to start planning. Some areas to think about include financial planning, health care planning, legal planning, directives, and safety in the house. Refer to the Checklist to Organize Family, Legal and Care Matters which I have created to help you start the conversation and gather the documents you will need. It is important to note that there are specialized Elder Law attorneys, insurance and financial planners that can give you expert and current information and will help in your planning to make sure you have things in proper order.

Be a Successful Caregiver

Alzheimer’s is a tricky disease. It can give you the sense that all is okay and then the light switch flips and you are switching to crisis mode. There will be many light switch moments as you work through the Alzheimer’s diagnosis. There are many people available to help you through each of the various situations.  In my book, Simply Caring: Putting the Alzheimer’s Puzzle Together, I have gathered many resources for you to use.  Reach out to the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Reach out to me.  Caregiving is stressful and you don’t have to go it alone.  I want you to have the tools, training, education and information to be a successful caregiver. I am here to help you, your loved one, and your family.

 

Highlights from Author and Almost Home CEO Jamie Glavich, Simply Caring: Putting the Alzheimer’s Puzzle Together. View more at SimplyCaringBook.com.