Caregivers of Older Adults

Dementia Assessment Tool: The SLUMS Examination

Posted on Thu, Jul 02, 2015 @ 09:30 AM


There is no single, definitive test to determine whether an individual is suffering from dementia. Rather, the healthcare team considers all potential causes while conducting a comprehensive assessment of the patient. Doctors often use the SLUMS Examination in order to determine whether further testing might be necessary. Let's take a closer look at this widely used, clinician administered diagnostic tool.

All About the SLUMS Exam

Created by the Division of Geriatric Medicine at Saint Louis University, the Saint Louis University Mental Status Examination (SLUMS) is frequently used by professionals who suspect that a patient may have Alzheimer's disease, an alternate form of dementia, or mild neurocognitive impairment. In addition to helping physicians determine whether dementia onset may be imminent, the SLUMS Exam also helps providers rule out the diagnosis of dementia.

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Topics: Senior Health, Caregiver Info, Elder Care Issues, Dementia

Help for Caregivers: Understanding Sundowner's Syndrome

Posted on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 @ 02:17 PM

If your caregiving duties become extra challenging in the late afternoon, you're not alone. In fact, many people with dementia and Alzheimer's experience dramatic changes in behavior during this time of day resulting in increased demands upon caregivers. The phenomenon -- thought to be brought on by fading light -- is so common that it's earned its own name: sundowning. Let's take a closer look at sundowner's syndrome, as well as tips and tricks for managing the condition.

About Sundowning

Scientists aren't sure why sundowning happens, but believe that the internal body clocks of people with dementia may be unable to accept waking and sleeping signals. Other triggers may include fatigue, hunger or thirst, depression, pain or boredom.

People who are sundowning may exhibit a number of difficult behaviors, including anxiety, confusion, ignoring directions, pacing, wandering, and aggression. They may also struggle with separating dreams from reality.

While there is limited data about sundown syndrome, research suggests that as many as 25 percent of patients with Alzheimer's disease may have sundown syndrome, which is considered to be the second most prevalent type of disruptive behavior among institutionalized dementia patients. Meanwhile, research published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society indicates that as many as 66 percent of people living at home may exhibit sundowning.

Tips for Managing Sundowning

Maintaining a routine can be an effective part of managing sundowning. From bedtime and waking to meals and activities, establishing and sticking to a schedule is a helpful technique. Arranging activities, limiting sugar and caffeine intake in the afternoon, and cutting out daytime naps can further minimize symptoms.

If impending darkness seems to exacerbate your aging loved one's symptoms, try using a nightlight. Additionally, limiting background noise and avoiding stimulating activities -- including technology, such as television and computer use -- can also help reduce agitation. Meanwhile, gentle music or relaxing nature sounds can help promote a sense of comfort.

Being in an unfamiliar location can lead to worsening symptoms, so bring along familiar comfort items if you are traveling -- such as a cherished photograph or favorite blanket.

Additionally, daytime activities can help promote more restful evenings. 

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Topics: Senior Health, Caregiver Info, Elder Care Issues, Dementia

Meditation Offers Critical Caregiver Support

Posted on Mon, Jun 22, 2015 @ 12:00 PM

Caregiver stress can become a chronic, long-term health challenge without proper intervention. While eating right, exercising, carving out "me time," and relying on a support network all offer valuable ways to counter caregiver burnout, a growing body of research points to another way to keep stress at bay: meditation. Let's take a closer look at meditation, along with its many benefits for caregivers.

About Meditation

Practiced by humans for thousands of years, meditation is a simple way to "restore your calm and inner peace," according to the Mayo Clinic. While the practice originated for spiritual purpose, it has since evolved into a common relaxation technique.

There are many different types of meditation, although all have the same goal: to promote inner peace. Popular meditation techniques include visualization (AKA guided meditation), mantra meditation, qi gong, tai chi, yoga, transcendental meditation, and mindfulness meditation. The latter, in particular, has been linked with beneficial outcomes for caregivers.

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Topics: Caregiver Info

Hearing Loss, Isolation, and Beyond: What Caregivers Need to Know

Posted on Sat, Jun 20, 2015 @ 09:30 AM

Nearly half of adults aged 75 and older have a hearing impairment, according to the NIH. Unfortunately, when symptoms are ignored or left untreated, they can get worse. Not only that but adult hearing loss can also lead to other complications, including feelings of frustration, withdrawal from social activities, and even depression. Let's take a closer look at the issue of hearing loss, along with what caregivers can do to help their aging loved ones manage hearing loss.

About Hearing Loss and Seniors

More than 37 million American adults -- 15 percent -- report having at least some trouble with hearing, and the condition becomes even more common with age.

There are many different forms of hearing loss, ranging from the inability to hear certain sounds to complete loss of hearing. Its causes are many, and can include everything from heredity to long-term exposure to loud sounds.

Generally, hearing loss can be divided into two groups: sensorineural hearing loss, in which the inner ear or auditory nerve incurs permanent damage; and the largely treatable conductive hearing loss, in which sound waves can no longer access the inner ear.
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Topics: Senior Health, Hearing, Caregiver Info, Hearing and Vision

Help Grandma Won't Eat! -- 6 Tips to Boost Waning Senior Appetites

Posted on Thu, Jun 18, 2015 @ 10:07 AM

"Lack of desire to eat," tops the list of caregiver concerns about the nutrition of their aging loved ones. Claiming a whopping 27% of respondent votes, this subject bested all others, including medication side effects (26%), impact of food on mood (18%), malnutrition (11 %), lack of variety in diet (nine %), weight loss (seven%) and food allergies (two%.)  

While changes in appetite are a natural part of aging, lack of adequate nutrition is linked to a number of undesirable outcomes, including higher mortality rates. Therefore ensuring that seniors continue to receive adequate nutrition remains a critical part of a caregiver's set of responsibilities. Here are some tips and tricks to help boost your aging loved one's appetite.

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Topics: Caregiver Info, Elder Care Issues, Health

Age-Related Macular Degeneration: What Caregivers of Seniors Need to Know

Posted on Wed, Jun 10, 2015 @ 04:00 PM

Up to 11 million people in this country have some form of age-related macular degeneration, and that number is expected to double by the year 2050, according to the BrightFocus Foundation. Because age is a major risk factor for this chronic disease, it's particularly important for elder caregivers to understand this leading cause of irreversible vision loss for people over the age of 60. Here's what you need to know.

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration is the breakdown of the central area of the retina, also known as the "macula." While this condition is not painful, it can lead to to irreversible vision loss, including the inability to see fine details, compromising "straight ahead" functions, including everything from driving to recognizing faces.  Read More

Topics: Caregiver Info, Elder Care Issues, Health, Hearing and Vision

Dementia 101 For Caregivers: Understanding 4 Common Types

Posted on Mon, Jun 08, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

Dementia is the general term for a severe decline in mental abilities due to the brain's physical deterioration. However, not all dementias are the same. While mere decades ago people were still writing off dementia-related behaviors to senility, now researchers have an ever-increasing understanding of the brain, which has allowed them to identify new types of brain disorders. Let's take a closer look at the four most common forms of dementia.

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Topics: Senior Health, Caregiver Info, Dementia

8 Summer Safety Tips for Seniors and their Caregivers

Posted on Fri, Jun 05, 2015 @ 03:30 PM

While most people anxiously await the arrival of warm summer days, the arrival of hot weather, burning sun, and other seasonal factors present numerous health challenges to seniors. Keep these eight important things in mind when helping your aging loved one beat the heat this summer.

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Topics: Senior Health, Caregiver Info, Elder Care Issues

Discussing Your Aging Loved One's Healthcare Wishes

Posted on Thu, Jun 04, 2015 @ 11:57 AM

Many caregivers don't know how their aging loved ones would want their healthcare matters handled in the event that they were unable to directly communicate their wishes for themselves. While the subject is difficult, it's a worthwhile topic to consider: waiting for a crisis to occur can lead to regrettable as opposed to informed decisions. Let's take a closer look at how caregivers can initiate the conversation with aging loved ones, as well as other critical end-of-life information.

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Topics: Caregiver Info, Elder Care Issues

Hearing & the Elderly: Everything You Need to Know About Hearing Aids

Posted on Wed, Jun 03, 2015 @ 04:24 PM

If you've recently learned that your aging loved one needs a hearing aid, you may be concerned about choosing the right one. Because hearing aids vary in size, price, ear placement, and other special features, it's important to make an educated decision. This piece breaks down the different hearing aid options, along with what to look for when buying one.

While learning to use a hearing aid takes time, 
the payoffs are significant for many seniors.

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Topics: Caregiver Info

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