5 Simple reasons Alzheimer’s are happy

We’ve all heard the saying the simple things make us happy.

This seems to even be more true with the elderly.connecting

They don’t care about how much clout a person has, the money in the back, the reputation, etc.

What they know is:

  • They are loved
  • They are wanted
  • They are protected
  • They are care for
  • They are safe

What little things make your loved one happy?

7 Ways to Help Alzheimer’s when have Trouble expressing self

Many people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia have a difficult time expressing themselves.

Often they cannot find the work or get the word to roll off of their tongue, although they long to.

Sign Language is one way to help people express themselves
Sign Language is one way to help people express themselves

Some ways in which to combat this are:

  1. Teach sign language for simple words {drink, eat, bathroom, etc.}
  2. Have picture cards for the person to point to {food, bed, family, shower, etc.}
  3. Watch non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, posture, gestures, clenched hands, etc.
  4. Understand a native language {ex. I had a man that was a missionary to Africa. He would divert to that language at times.  Understanding words for that language helped to understand his needs.}
  5. Use music to soothe. Often music helps a person with the disease to find words they are having trouble finding. Also, playing an instrument can provide a way for self-expression.
  6. Ask to draw or paint a picture {if capable—mid to late stages may not have the capability}
  7. Point to what they would like.
  8. Bonus: We’ve discovered that sometimes playing charades also helps in expressing oneself.


How do you help your loved one express themselves when they struggle?

Interruptions in daily routine

Interruptions frustrates routines
Interruptions frustrates routines

Many people enjoy their routine, whether they are children, adults or the elderly.

Sometimes interrupting a daily routine can be confusing for the elderly.  This is especially true with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.

This can lead to increased agitation and confusion.

Make a note of when there is increased agitation and confusion.  Are there interruptions that brought this about?

How do you deal with interruptions to your routine?

The importance of Fellowship and Outings in the Elderly

Just because we are getting older, does not mean we don't need fellowship with our peers
Just because we are getting older, does not mean we don’t need fellowship with our peers

We all need fellowship with our friends and peers.

I’ve met some families that long to constantly take family members out.  I’ve met other family members that refuse to take their family members out, although it is enjoyable for that person.

There are instances when it is not possible to have outings, such as if the person is bed bound.

However, short outings are encouraged for the elderly.

Doing so gets them out and about and allows them to interrupt with others.

Socialization is important for the elderly.  This is one of the benefits of adult day care, retirement centers or skilled nursing care.

However, even if a person is home bound short outings are still good for them.

These can include:

We all need fellowship
We all need fellowship
  • Going out to eat
  • Riding into town and back
  • A walk through nature {or a ride}
  • Having a friend visit
  • Family gatherings
  • Doctor visits
  • Personal Care Outings {Hair, Nails, etc.}

How do you help your loved one have fellowship and outings?

The Elderly Need a Lot of Sleep

Working with the elderly, I’ve discovered one thing.  They all need a lot of sleep.

The amount of sleep is different for each person.

There is no set age when this sets in.

The elderly need a lot of sleep
The elderly need a lot of sleep

There are numerous factors that play into these factors, such as

  • effects of medicine
  • diseases they have been diagnosed with {Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, etc}
  • activity level
  • age
  • the more activity wears them out the more rest they usually need {for example if just getting in and out of car or going out to eat is too much, then they may sleep for a while upon return}

Just as young children need a lot of sleep, so do the elderly.

They need the time to rest and rejuvenate their system.

There are times when their agitation or moods may be enhanced due to the lack of rest and sleep needed.

How much does your loved one sleep?

Ways to Volunteer at a nursing home




Are you looking for a way to volunteer?

Sadly, senior adults are often over looked when it comes to the volunteer pool.

Working in a skilled nursing facility I can assure you we are in great needs for volunteers.

Some ways you can help are:

Senior adults love to have someone to talk with or assist them in various tasks
Senior adults love to have someone to talk with or assist them in various tasks
  • Performance {music, dance, etc}
  • Present a class on a hobby or interest
  • Help with special events
  • Offer to help with regular activities {Bingo, various games, etc}
  • Read to residents
  • Help residents write a letter
  • Bring a Pet {you will need to provide verification of shots}
  • Beauty Regiment {Polish Nails, Hand Massage, Make up}
  • Provide books and magazines
  • Provide supplies for arts and crafts
  • Plant and maintain a garden
  • Donate supplies to be used as a giveaway {Mystery Auction, Bingo Store, Let’s Make a Deal, etc.}

Contact the activities office and inquire about ways you can help out.

An hour a week or a month is a huge help.

How do you volunteer with seniors?

Caregiving Monday: 10 Activities for sensory stimulation with dementia

Are you looking for ideas for sensory stimulation with your loved one that has dementia?

Hand massages provides that personal touch and says I care
Hand massages provides that personal touch and says I care

If you’re not sure what I mean, sensory stimulation uses the five senses of sight, touch, hearing, taste and feel to hopefully evoke positive emotions.

I’ve discussed numerous activities with music, but what are some others that can be completed?

  1. Hand massage or shoulder massage—these are always a big hit when we do them in the nursing facility where I work. {touch}
  2. Relaxation satchel—these don’t have to be fancy and if your loved one is higher functioning s/he can assist you in making them. We used clean new or clean socks and filled them about half full with rice.  We then took drops of one essential oil {such as lavender}, added to the rice and mixed to spread the scent.  We then tied the sock off.  The sock could be used to provoke various memories or to calm an agitated loved one {especially if you use lavender}.    {smell}
  3. You can use a keyboard {or look them up online} to play various sounds and help your loved one recognize what they are. Some examples are a doorbell, train whistle, piano, car horn, etc.   {listening}
  4. Ice cream—this is a treat most people love and can evoke positive memories. Use the treat to reminisce.  {taste}
  5. Pictures—looking through pictures, reminiscing and discussing who each person in the picture is helps with memory recall {seeing}

    ice cream prompts positive memories
    ice cream prompts positive memories
  6. Bubbles—many of my residents love the bubbles. They enjoy both watching them and trying to grab them and make them pop.  This can be a lot of fun.  {seeing, touch}
  7. Flower arranging—the resident can look at the various flowers, sort them by color or type and smell the flowers. {seeing, touch, smell}
  8. Herbal tea party—fix a cup of hot tea and honey, milk, or sugar as desired.  Discuss the flavors found in the tea.    {taste}
  9. Shell discovery—hide shells in a small box or pail and have your loved one pick out different ones and discuss their differences. Even if it’s just how small or large they are this can be a fun activity.   {touch}
  10. Check out a DVD from the library of a place your loved one may have visited or lived in. Videos of scenery or animals are a great idea to discuss what s/he is seeing.  You could also look at pictures of these places s/he has and listen to a CD of music or sounds from that place.  {seeing, listening}

What are some sensory stimulation activities you have used?

Caregiving Monday: 9 Things to Remember When a loved one is dying

end of lifeEventually our time as a caregiver will come to an end and our loved one will pass on.  This can be a very tiring and trying time.  This is also a bittersweet time.   The end of a painful journey is coming to an end but you are also saying a final goodbye to that loved one.

This can be a long goodbye at times lasting from a few hours to a few weeks.

So what should you do when your loved one is actively dying?

  1. Make the loved one your priority—take the time to spend with your loved one, hold his/her hand and talk to him/her.

    Make the transition as peaceful and soothing as possible. Don’t leave anything unsaid.
  2. Remember hearing is the last sense to go—even if your loved one is in a common or sleeping s/he can still hear you. Take the time to say what needs to be done and make peace.  Don’t regret what is left unsaid.
  3. Cherish the time—cherish these last moments with your loved one. Take the time to reminisce, share memories and tell him/her how much you love him.
  4. Respect his/her wishes—a lot of decisions have to be made in a hurry during this time. Knowing your loved ones wishes help to eliminate chaos and confusion.
  5. Accept your loved one is dying—this is difficult and you will find yourself on an emotional rollercoaster, but allow yourself to feel and be honest about your feelings
  6. Maintain a peaceful environment—keep your loved one as peaceful and calm as possible. Any dissention should be taken out of the room.
  7. Follow your loved ones lead—is s/he discussing seeing a loved one or angels?, does s/he want to discuss about passing over? Go with what is comfortable for your loved one.   Don’t insist, “no you’re not dying” because s/he will know better.
  8. Remember to take time to also take care of yourself during this time.
  9. Stay in the moment—don’t try to get too far ahead of yourself. Take time to cherish the moment and don’t try to overanalyze everything.


How have you dealt with a loved one who is dying?

Caregiving Monday: Cherishing the Moments

Caregiving can be very taxing and trying at times.   There are times when you just need to get away and have “me” time.

There are numerous times when sacrifices have to be made and we as caregivers have to give up things we really want to do.

Take time to Cherish the moments
Take time to Cherish the moments

When these moments come, I remind myself to cherish the moments I have with my loved one.  I remind myself that she is getting older and we will not have her forever.

This was driven home this past week with the passing of a very dear individual in my life.  I thought about the times we spent together and how I wish I had more of those moments to just sit with him or to sing another song together.

I strive to remind myself to cherish these moments when I am with my grandmother and other loved ones.   I find that I have more appreciation and gratitude when I use this reminder.   This is the time to enjoy the small moments together, as well as to ask questions and listen to stories from their younger days.

When our loved ones are gone all of these opportunities will also be gone.  Usually, we don’t know how much longer we have together.  We can either take advantage of them now or regret the missed chances later on.

How do you cherish the moments together?

Caregiving Monday: Dealing with Violent Outbursts

At times it is difficult for someone with Alzheimers to know how to express themselves
At times it is difficult for someone with Alzheimers to know how to express themselves





I had one resident that was normally very sweet, but at times she had nightmares that caused violent outbursts.

Calming her down during one of these episodes was never easy and took a lot of time.  Often it took time that others did not want to dedicate to her.  There have been numerous times when I spent a good hour or more working to calm her down.

So how do you calm down an Alzheimer’s patient that has a violent outbursts?

  1. Remember that often it is the disease and not the individual

    Finding the window to help Alzheimer's deal with their reality
    Finding the window to help Alzheimer’s deal with their reality
  2. Understand the history and background of the person. In this case, we knew the traumatic event from her youth that triggered these outbursts.
  3. Redirect the individual as much as possible
  4. Don’t argue with the person
  5. Allow the individual to talk about the incident if possible and necessary. You don’t want to agitate him/her more.
  6. Beware of triggers. Keep a record of events before these outbursts.  Is there a certain person, incident, time of day, etc. that triggers these outbursts? By tracking any triggers you can work to eliminate them.
  7. Remain calm and don’t take it personally
  8. If nothing else works and the person is in a safe place and not a danger to his/her self, sometimes the best thing is to leave him/her alone {even if you watch over him/her from another room} to come down
  9. Music is often a great way to calm an individual
  10. Pray and quote scripture together or over the person.

I used all of these techniques and in time I was able to calm this sweet lady back and see her return to her normal self.  What works with one person may not always work with another, but in my personal experience I found that singing and then praying together were the most calming tools I could use.

Of course, I had to talk with her until she was calm enough to sing and pray with.

How do you calm an individual that has violent outbursts?

Caregiving Monday: Celebrating 100 Years

Living 100 years is a major accomplishment.   The history, heartache and joys that have been experienced during this time are numerous.   I love to talk with those that have made reached this milestone {and those nearing it by 10-20 years}.  There is so much history and life lessons that can be learned.  If you know anyone close to such a monumental celebration, I encourage you to take the time to record a living history {record their memories and history}.

We’ve all seen on the Today Show where those celebrating 100+ years are recognized and honored.  But, how do they go about contacting the Today show and other agencies for this honor?

Below are some contacts to help:

The Today Show:  Please contact 6-8 weeks in advance

Williard Scott of The Today Show
Williard Scott of The Today Show

Send a written request with a photo, birth date, something unique/personal about the person (ie. hobbies, accomplishments) and a contact telephone number to (centenarians are picked randomly to be recognized on the show):

Willard Scott Birthdays TODAY show, NBC News 4001 Nebraska Avenue NW Washington, D.C. 20016 or email the information to: willardscottbirthdays@nbcuni.com.

According to their website: “If your grandmother is chosen, you will receive a phone call before the show airs. Otherwise, she will get a birthday letter from Willard Scott.”


National Centenarian Awareness Project

Form at http://www.adlercentenarians.org/ncap_centenarian_recognition.htm


President of United States

Online form:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/presidential-greetings-request

Mailed:  White House Greetings Office, Room 39, Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Washington, DC 20502. birthday card

Fax:  202.395.1232.

Include the full name(s), address and title (Miss, Mrs., Ms., Mr.) of the recipient, plus the date and event being celebrated. Also, include your full name and phone number in case there are any questions.

Please contact a minimum of 6-8 weeks in advance to receive on time.


Greetings From Past Presidents

  • Bill Clinton, Correspondence Director, Office of William Jefferson Clinton, 55 West 125th Street, New York, New York 10027, (f)212-348-9245
  • Office of George Bush, P.O. Box 79798, Houston TX 77279-9798
  • Jimmy Carter, Carter Center, 1 Copenhill, 453 Freedom Pkwy., Atlanta, GA 30307.
  • George W Bush, Office of George W Bush, PO Box 259000, Dallas, TX  75225


For residents of UK/Canada the Queen of England will send an acknowledgementcard from Queen

Send copy of birth certificate/proof of age to:

Assistant Private Secretary
Buckingham Palace, London

Write “Anniversary” in top left hand corner of envelope


Don’t forget to check with your state.   This information varies by state, but check the Governor’s office, Lt. Governor’s office or if there is an Office of Aging for the State.

In South Carolina, we have the SC Centenarian Society   form at http://ltgov.sc.gov/Programs/Documents/CentenarianForm.pdf


Other sources to consider or check with: {this can also be used for 50+ Anniversaries}100

  • Local newspaper
  • State newspaper
  • Society/organization individual was involved with
  • Church {they may want to honor the individual or write up an article for their newsletter}
  • Nursing facility {if they are in a nursing facility–they may throw a party or allow you to throw one.  Also, if they have a newsletter or announcement screen they may be willing to post the information.}

Please remember to give plenty of notice to any sources.   Also, the more accommodating and willing you are to provide requested items {information, memories, pictures, etc.} will be greatly appreciated.

What other sources do you recommend?

Caregiving Monday: The Power of Jesus Loves Me

Jesus Loves

Last week, I shared the power of music over Alzheimer’s.

When I began performing years ago, I made the decision to end every performance or musical session with Jesus Loves Me.

I have discovered this is a song everyone knows.  I have even had Alzheimer patients that did not claim to be a Christian, but was still able to sing every word to Jesus Loves Me.Jesus Loves Me

Everyone knows the words to Jesus Loves Me.  This is one of the first songs children learn.  Even in their twilight years, they still remember this song.

I have seen patients whom were bed bound and unable to speak, but as I began to sing Jesus Loves Me, the patient began to sing along.

This often surprises family, but I’ve seen this transformation on numerous occasions, and recognize not only the power of music but the power of God and His love.

If anyone needs to be reminded of this simple promise, it is these patients that are lost behind the prison of Alzheimer’s, and their families.

In what ways have you seen Jesus Love Me break through the barriers of Alzheimer’s?


Caregiving Monday: The Power of Music on Alzheimers

I’ve always believe music is the universal language.  Music can reach through time and cultural barriers to unite the listener.Music

Time and again I have worked with Alzheimer patients that are completely lost to the disease.  Often the patient is unable to speak or move and has to have everything done for him/her.

However, I begin to play or sing a hymn or old song and I began to see a spark that wasn’t there before.

On many occasions these women and men, many who rarely speak, began to sing the words to the song or hymn being performed.

That song is reaching through the barrier of time to a memory deeply buried otherwise.

Music has the power to break through the barriers of Alzheimer’s and minister in ways we may not be able to.

In what ways have you seen music break through the barriers of Alzheimer’s?

Caregiving Monday: 2 Reasons to Be Gentle with Senior Adults

Recently, another family member visited GG and while there assisted her with various tasks, including rolling her hair.

After the visit, GG confided that she appreciated all that was done but this family member was very rough.  This person didn’t mean to be rough, but she didn’t realize how rough she was in her actions.

Senior Adults bruise easily
Senior Adults bruise easily

Senior adults are very sensitive and needs extra TLC.

There are two reasons I can think of for this:

  1. Their skin is thin—this is often due to medicine and/or age.  There may also be other reasons, but these are the two most common.   This means that the senior adult bruises and bleeds much easier.   GG medicine has thinned her skin and she easily bruises.  Recently, she scraped her hand on the top of her hand leading to an open wound that had to be bandaged and cared for while healing.
  2. Senior adults do not like to be rushed.  They are not able to do things as fast as they once were. They have to do things in their own time and at their own speed.  Being manhandled is not pleasant for anyone, but is even more traumatic for senior adults who have a low toleration for noise and being rushed.

Do you need to use additional TLC with your senior adult?

Caregiving Monday: 10 Christmas Ideas for Senior Adults

Don't dread the holidays
Don’t dread the holidays




Often it is difficult to know what to buy for senior adults.  They seem to have everything they need or want.  With Christmas approaching, we find ourselves asking, what can I purchase for Grandma, Grandpa, etc.

Several suggestions are:

  1. Mints—GG* loves peppermints and goes through a handful a day.  Each Christmas my brother gives her a huge box that last for the next year.
  2. Kleenex—senior adults go through a number of Kleenex.  Every time I prepare to do laundry for GG I have to go through all of her sleeves and pockets.
  3. Bath Items—body wash and other items for bath are often big hits.  I had one lady today request body wash.
  4. Everyday items—whether it is denture tablets, eye glass cleaner, muscle rub, toilet paper, dish soap, or other standard items, these need to be replaced on a regular basis.  Prepare a basket of all of your senior adults favorite items.  One year my sister wrapped up a case of toilet paper and gave that to GG.  If you’d seen GG’s face when she opened her present, you would think she’d just won the lottery.

    Brighten it up and make it special for Grandma
    Brighten it up and make it special for Grandma
  5. Robes and Slippers—senior adults often stay cold and enjoy warmer items of clothing.  Robes and slippers are great.
  6. Blankets—blankets are great in the winter {and often even the summer} for staying warm.
  7. Clothing—clothing needs to be replaced, as favorite items are worn out.  Whether your senior adult dresses up every day, is in casual wear or in a nightgown, new pieces of clothing are needed throughout the year.
  8. Calendars—this is a great way to keep track of the day and season.  Add pictures of the grandchildren or great-grandchildren and you have a hit in your hands.
  9. Collectibles—often senior adults have lifelong collections they have built up.   GG collects lighthouses and we enjoy spoiling her and adding to her collection.  However, make sure your senior adult is not currently downsizing.
  10. Family Related—items that are family related are often a great hit, especially if they include the grandchildren or great-grandchildren.  The options are endless but could include blankets, pillows, calendars, ornaments, family histories, framed pictures, etc.

What gifts do your  senior adult enjoy receiving  for Christmas?  Why?

*Name altered

Caregiving Monday: 10 Alternatives to Transportation for Senior Adults

Do you struggle with providing transportation for your parents or spouse to doctor appointments while you are at work?

This is a great frustration for many and often means even more time off work.

Some suggestions are:

  1. Family—do you have a family member that is not working or retired?  Do you have a teen that is out of school for the
    Ask A Friend or Find a Volunteer
    Ask A Friend or Find a Volunteer

    summer or gets out early in the school year?  If there is a family member that is available to take your loved one to their appointments this is the best option.

  2. Ask a friend—is there a neighbor or friend that lives nearby and could help?  Ask them if they would mind and offer to pay enough to cover their gas and maybe even a coffee or small snack for your loved one and the friend while they are out and about.
  3. Hire a Teenager or Stay At Home Mom—when I was in high school, there was a lady that paid me to drive her to appointments.  This was a great way for me to make money and stay out of trouble and it helped her meet a need.
  4. Facility Buses—if your loved one is in a retirement center or nursing home, they often will provide transportation.  You may have to pay, but just it could be a huge help instead of taking off of work.  Check with the facility where your loved one stays.
  5. Local Churches—most churches have buses that provide transportation to and from the church for services.  Some churches also have a senior outreach program.  Check with area churches to inquire if they have this
    Find A Transportation Service for Senior Adults or Dial a Taxi for Senior Adults
    Find A Transportation Service for Senior Adults or Dial a Taxi for Senior Adults

    program or anyone that could provide transportation for you {even if you have to pay}.  I recommend starting with the church where your loved one and/or you attend on a regular basis.

  6. Volunteer Drive Programs—there are local organizations that often have volunteers that provide needed services, such as transportation.  Check with your local senior center to inquire about what services are available. Often these reservations need to be made in advance.
  7. Door to Door Services—I often see escort drivers and services that provide transportation for the elderly on their outings.  Again, check your local listings or with the senior center. Often these reservations need to be made in advance.
  8. Taxicab—you could always hire a taxicab, although this may become costly.
  9. Some cities have a Dial-A-Ride Program—check to see if your area has this and what the requirements are.
  10. Public Transit—this is always an option, but depending on your loved ones issues and limitations, please take all issues into consideration before deciding on this option.
  11. Resource Line—some cities have an Aging, Disability, and Caregiver Resource Line that can provide help and guidance.  Once again, check in your local area to inquire about what is available.

Join the Conversation: What options do you use for transportation?