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We all associate Alzheimer’s disease and dementia with memory loss, but unfortunately it is much more than that. As we continue to recognize Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month, let’s take a deeper dive. There are 4 ‘A’s to help you remember common symptoms, plus we’ll review a few more ‘A’s for good measure. Some may experience all of these symptoms in dementia, others may not, or they may see them at different times throughout the disease. But being aware of symptoms to look for will help you be an ‘A’ student – and caregiver!
When you hear the hustle and bustle of our early stage program, Reconnections, starting up at 10:00 am, it’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since we slowly re-opened our center doors. Right now, we have five Reconnections groups meeting – in-person, virtually, and a hybrid summer session!
Insight is very grateful to work with fantastic student volunteers and interns. We know that they teach us just as much as we’re able to impart during their time with us! Hear a little more from one of our recent virtual interns about his experience!
With dementia, there is still a lot we don’t know. Dementia is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and the only cause in the top 10 without a way to cure or prevent it. But as we recognize Alzheimer’s and Brain Health Awareness Month this June, let’s focus on the positive; there is a lot we DO know! Let’s start with five things we all should know about dementia.
Many people have been to a café, and most are relatively familiar with the term memory – but have you heard of a memory café? Far from a restaurant that makes you memorize a long list of menu items, memory cafés are primarily social gatherings where individuals with memory impairment and their caregivers can come together in a safe, supportive environment, share conversation over a cup of coffee, or participate in fun, simple activities with the group. It’s an opportunity to meet with others for support, companionship, and fun!
We began to see the changes before we had a grandchild. Those were glorious days of appropriate comments, empathy, and mostly the man we recognized. She came and we reveled in our time together. As she grew things changed subtly but change, they did. In the last six months the granddaughter’s growth in empathy, in expression, has progressed while Gramps’s has regressed. What results is a lot of interpersonal drama—much like two children.
End-of-life planning is not just for people who are about to pass away. It is for anyone who wants to ensure they will be cared for when they can no longer care for themselves, and for anyone who wants to care for their loved ones in that process. Here are five critical reasons you should start forming your end-of-life plan today.
Most people don’t want to think about the health-related what-ifs that come with aging, let alone talk about them—especially with family. Nonetheless, having a plan in place that you’ve put together as a family can free everyone up to focus on each other, instead of worrying about where the money will come from
Caregiving is a long, hard, full time job and caregivers are often called the hidden victims of Alzheimer’s disease. Although changes in the brain occur only in the person diagnosed with dementia, changes in behaviors, lifestyle, and demands occur for both the person living with dementia and the caregiver. Get some tips from our guide on managing your job as a caregiver.
At Insight, it’s always been our mantra to focus on what a person CAN do, not on the deficits from memory loss. Who knew that mantra would be a guiding light over the past year! Since the world basically shut down last March, Insight has focused on what we could do: continue our mission of providing specialized care, support and education for families living with dementia, and build on our capacity to serve our community in new ways.
As you may or may not be aware, March is National Social Work month! As a special thank you to our social workers, we wanted to share a little message of thanks for all of their amazing work.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for about 65% of cases. Although deaths from other major diseases have decreased or remained the same, Alzheimer’s deaths have increased substantially. In the US alone, AD afflicts approximately 7 million older people, thus impacting the caregivers as well. Since the hallmarks of the disease - plaques and tangles - were discovered by Dr. Alzheimer in 1906, there have been only 2 classes of FDA approved medications developed to treat the symptoms of AD and some other related dementias.
Every caregiver seems to have an arsenal of comical caregiving tales to share with anyone who can relate. When caring for someone with a disease whose devastating effects and chronic long-term stressors are arguably unmatched, it is no wonder we hold so closely to these little pockets of joy. After all, as Henry Ward Beecher explained, “A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.”
Receiving a diagnosis of dementia, or having a loved one diagnosed, can cause a range of emotions, from shock to relief. But what happens next? We’ve put together a checklist of things for you, your family, and support team to consider over the next few months (or more!) as you navigate your journey.
Each year when February rolls around, we take inventory of the vast amount of LOVE that is shared by all who are a part of our organization. The love on display between Insight staff to one another, the socially distant hugs amongst participants, and the audible laughs and joy that echo Insight walls, all warms us to the core.
Do you ever wonder if a lapse in memory is something more? It’s easy to misplace your keys, forget the name of someone you just met, or make a mistake balancing your checkbook. When is it time to seek a doctor’s advice? Learn more about the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s.
We are excited to announce that our newest program, Insight at Home, is now being offered 5 days a week! Insight at Home is a virtual program that has connected people across states, counties - and living rooms! - to develop meaningful human connection and engagement.
It seems as though everyone makes New Year’s resolutions – eat healthy, clean out the house, exercise more, the list could go on and on. And despite our best intentions, these resolutions are usually out the window before we’ve even turned the calendar over to February. However, resolutions can be a great way to start off the New Year when you can keep them! Here are 5 resolutions for caregivers that you can actually keep!
To deal with my emotions as caregiver for a loved one, I have started writing short poems, inspired by Haiku. Traditional Japanese Haiku follows strict rules—which I surely do not. But writing when emotions bubble up has been, for me, a way to feel better.
Hi my name is Cathy, and I’m going to share with you my story about dementia. My sweet mother started having some very noticeable memory issues maybe about three years ago. I aggressively started looking for a place for her to live up here in Washington DC because she was isolated living alone in Texas. She agreed to the idea; she was very thankful at the idea of living near a child but she thought, you know, we'll see in a couple years see how I’m doing. But there was no time to wait a couple years, she was not safe being alone. So now I have a roommate!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year – so the song goes. With all the parties, food – ok hold up. Scratch that last sentence. Normally this is the time of year we’d be posting advice for how to manage the holidays with everything that’s going on. Well, it’s 2020. So naturally nothing is going as planned. But, even though our holidays look a bit – okay, a lot! – different this year, here are some tips for making this the most wonderful time of the year, even in 2020.
Katelyn Sloan, our Director of Marketing, sat down with Debbie, who's mother has been a part of Insight's early stage Reconnections program for a little over two years to chat about the shift to virtual programs, ways it works for both her and her mom, and how the program has become "our people!"
Communication is 7% verbal (words and their meanings), 55% voice (pitch, tone, tempo, volume), and 38% body language (facial expressions, eyes, posture, movements, gestures). This is important because people with dementia may no longer understand the meaning of the words but they will be able to understand the remaining 93% of your communication. Make sure your body and voice are conveying the same message your words are trying to convey. Here are some tips for communication.
As a 28-year-old, I’d recently graduated from grad school, and snagged my ideal job in downtown DC as the manager of a health nonprofit. While everything looked bright for my career, my love life was turning out to be more difficult. I was almost 30, still single, and still looking for my soulmate. Because my parents were older, I wanted to start a family sooner than later. That’s when my dad was diagnosed with cognitive impairment.
As much as you may try to avoid it, for many of us caring for a loved one with dementia hospitalization happens. Sometimes it is planned, sometimes unplanned, but it’s always stressful. But did you know that nearly 1 in 5 seniors who are hospitalized return to the hospital within 30 days? This just adds more stress! Hospital re-admissions can be avoidable when you are confident in your loved one’s discharge plan the first time around. Make sure that you can confidently make these 5 statements before leaving the hospital to help your loved one avoid another stay.
We can't thank you enough for all of your support of our first-ever virtual Paintings & Pairings event on October 15th! We had over a hundred people logged in to participate in a great evening. We chatted with friends around the room, enjoyed a fantastic program, and celebrated the care, support, and education that Insight provides to thousands in our community.
At the start of the pandemic, we had a participant that tried out virtual activity programs. Following along and tracking everyone on the screen was a little difficult. But rather than miss out, staff set up one-on-one calls to check in and provide engagement from home.
I’ve been having a lot of trouble with keeping up my responsibilities at home. These are all things that my husband and I used to share, but I’m starting to get overwhelmed with everything. It’s all up to me to care for him, clean the house, pay the bills, and then people tell me to take care of myself. But how am I supposed to have time to do that when I have so much to deal with?
Insight was the place where my brother would go for a fun, entertaining, and engaging day. Right now, of course, he’s spending a lot of time at home. I don’t have a background in recreation or activities or anything like that and I don’t really feel comfortable leading any kind of activities at home. Is there anything else in terms of activities you would suggest?
If there ever was a time that challenged us as humans to embrace social connection, it is the year 2020, and the time spent coping with the coronavirus pandemic. Humans, because of necessity, evolved into social beings. Dependence on and cooperation with each other enhanced our ability to survive under harsh environmental circumstances. I think it is safe to say coronavirus has created harsh conditions, to say the least!
I’m having a lot of trouble trying to provide care to my wife. She always gets upset whenever I try to help her in the shower or with toileting. I don’t know what to do anymore because sometimes she gets really upset with me by yelling, and sometimes she’ll tell me that she’s already showered or gone to the bathroom when I know she didn’t. I’m getting very frustrated and overwhelmed with how she is reacting. Please help!
I’ve gotten into some arguments with my mom over the past couple of weeks and I feel like this didn’t used to happen. I feel short with her when I go over to her house to check in with her and it makes me concerned for our relationship. Any advice?
Giving yourself permission to take care of yourself is the first step in allowing yourself time for self-care. Making sure that you take care of yourself is just as important - if not more important - than taking care of your loved one! But now you may be asking, how do I actually do that? Here are a few suggestions that might be helpful as you begin to allow yourself time for self-care.
I’m so overwhelmed caregiving for my wife at home; every day is getting harder and harder for both of us. I know that you have an Adult Day program, but I don’t see how I could get my wife to agree to go to your Center. She doesn’t think that she has a problem. What do you suggest?
In the earlier stages you may have to face the “when-is-it-time-to-stop-driving?” issue. Some people with Alzheimer’s disease have good insight about what is happening to them and give up the keys when they feel unsafe or unsure. Others may not have any insight and insist that they can and should continue driving. You may be faced with the task of deciding when driving skills, judgment, and/or visual spatial perceptions have deteriorated. You will have to decide when driving puts the person with dementia and/or others at risk. Here are some tips to help with giving up the keys.
Carmen Fair is a mother of four who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. When this journey began over 10 years ago, her children – Poli, Boni, Trissi and Allan, became her caregivers. Now, these four siblings continue to work together with the rest of their family to care for their mom and fight against Alzheimer’s.
It’s our last week of sharing ideas, and we hope we’ve given you a few good things to try and maybe more ideas to bookmark for later! These activities are adapted from the Best Friends Approach to Care, and some may be more or less appropriate depending on your loved one’s abilities and interests. Here are a few last ideas to try this week!
Social connection is a cornerstone of the programs we offer at Insight. Whether it is plugging those who have dementia into the right recreation program, or covering the much need education topic for a caregiver, our main job here at Insight is to connect. We work to connect people to the right support systems and programs that allow them to live fulfilling, meaningful lives while simultaneously battling a dementia diagnosis. One of our programs that truly connects people is our Memory Café.
As we hit the middle of August and all the heat, Insight is here to help with more things to do at home! We’ll be sharing some ideas each week, adapted from the Best Friends Approach to Care. Some may be more or less appropriate depending on your loved one’s abilities and interests. Here are a few more ideas to try this week!
As we try to ride out the tropical storm this week, Insight is here to help with more things to do at home! We’ll be sharing some ideas each week, adapted from the Best Friends Approach to Care. Some may be more or less appropriate depending on your loved one’s abilities and interests, but here are a few more ideas to try this week!
If you’ve had a loved one prone to wandering, you know how stressful this topic can be. You may find yourself constantly worrying about the person getting lost, feeling trapped in your home, or overwhelmed at the person always being on the go. You as the caregiver have to decide how much “freedom” a person with Alzheimer’s disease should have. At some point the person’s need to be safe will outweigh their diminished ability to decide where they want to go and when. Here are a few tips to ease wandering concerns.
It’s still hot out there! If you feel like you’re running out of things to do indoors to stay safe, Insight is here to help! We’ll be sharing some ideas each week, adapted from the Best Friends Approach to Care. Some may be more or less appropriate depending on your loved one’s abilities and interests, but here are some more ideas to try this week!
With over 5 million Americans living with dementia, chances are you know someone living with memory impairment – whether you’re aware of it or not! The stigma of dementia is still prevalent in our society, leading many to hide their diagnosis, or avoid asking the doctor in the first place. But that doesn’t mean that your neighbor may not need your help. If you’re concerned about a forgetful neighbor, here are some signs to look for.
As we’re all trying to stay safe and healthy – and cool from the summer heat! – you’ve probably been spending a lot of time indoors. If you feel like you’re running out of things to do, Insight is here to help! We’ll be sharing some ideas each week, adapted from the Best Friends Approach to Care. Some may be more or less appropriate depending on your loved one’s abilities and interests. Here’s a few more ideas to try this week!
As we’re all trying to stay safe and healthy – and cool from the summer heat! – you’ve probably been spending a lot of time indoors. If you feel like you’re running out of things to do, Insight is here to help! We’ll be sharing some ideas each week, adapted from the Best Friends Approach to Care. Some may be more or less appropriate depending on your loved one’s abilities and interests, but if nothing else, here’s to some new things to do this summer!
Insight Memory Care Center offers free, confidential memory screenings and educational materials to people with concerns about their memory or who want to check their memory now for future comparison. The best part – memory screenings are now being held virtually, so you can perform this simple evaluation from the comfort of home! So who would benefit from a memory screening?
Sharing a meal means more to most people than simple nutrition. When life-long eating patterns change due to dementia, caregivers can easily be frustrated. Trying to meet nutritional needs can be challenging enough, while also missing the social needs that sharing meals once filled for both of them. Here are a few tips to try to make mealtime more successful.
Caregivers are often used to doing it all. They’re care providers, event planners, medication aides, financial resources, advocates, emotional supporters, and the list goes on. With the stress and uncertainly of the current pandemic upon us, how can a caregiver possibly take on any more roles? Remember why you decided to become a caregiver in the first place. More often than not, it’s because of a strong connection with your loved one you’re caring for. Rather than stressing over how to fulfill the myriad of roles, the question to focus on now is: how can I stay connected with my loved one?
Wandering is a common behavior among individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementias. Six in 10 people with dementia will wander one time and many will wander repeatedly. Everyone with dementia is at risk of wandering and wandering behavior can be dangerous and stressful for people with dementia and their family caregivers. Faculty and students at George Mason University have been conducting research to gain a better understanding about wandering as it relates to dementia, by tracking the movement patterns of people with dementia who are participants in their study.
Life provides us with many challenging moments. As I write this we are in the middle of a global pandemic. If that wasn’t a challenge enough, simultaneously, some of us are also coping with a newly diagnosed medical condition, others placement into hospice care, a dementia care residence, or moving into a new home. During stressful times, taking a conscious inventory of our day to day self-care choices is so very important for our emotional and physical well-being.
We are continuing to create community, serving families living with dementia as we all adapt to our new normal. As quickly as COVID-19 has impacted us all, Insight has pivoted to offering almost all programs virtually. Ken Connelly, Insight’s Board Chair shares, “What hasn’t changed in the midst of all of this is our commitment to the mission of providing care, support, and education for those living with memory impairments – the most vulnerable in our community – whether it’s in our center or now virtually at home. I continue to be amazed at the high level of dedication and creativity the Insight staff have.”
The choir was well on their way to preparing another amazing concert, when the world turned upside down in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Encore has been committed to continuing to engage all of our singers. We began and continue to produce rehearsal COVIDeos sent out once or twice a week. Some rehearse the repertoire, while other videos work on vocal technique or lead fun sing-a-longs. A few weeks ago, we began virtual rehearsals via the Zoom conference platform!
Funding care needs for a loved one can be a challenging and scary thought. Those who are age 65 and older have more than a 70% chance of requiring long-term care during their lifetime according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 1 out of every 5 individuals will likely need extended care for more than five years. After identifying care needs and finding the right fit, one of the most important questions is – how will we pay for it?
Today is #givingtuesdaynow, a new global day of giving and unity as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. We are coming together for an exciting day, and we encourage you to use this day to share with your friends and family and show your support of Insight.
For those that have experienced the doctor’s visit that changed their lives forever – the news came with a gamut of emotions. Thoughts of uncertainty, denial, shock and/or sorrow may be recalled as well as ambiguous feelings for the future. Once the initial shock subsides and facing the realities of life with dementia become more prominent, there is often so much to learn and so much to prepare. If that weren’t enough, not only are you trying to make sense of your own thoughts and emotions from day to day; but you are also trying to be attuned with what your loved one is also experiencing. Considering all these aspects for the journey ahead, there is hope in the early stages of dementia!
Socialization for people with Parkinson’s disease can provide support, community, laughter, camaraderie, a chance to practice vocal skills, and to feel a part of a unified group. Interaction with others dealing with a common illness can offer comfort and help people relate to one another. Sharing thoughts and feelings is cathartic and expressive. Staying socially active in the community can help the mind and body. Being with friends and family boosts our spirits, fights sadness and gives us a sense of belonging.
Do you know someone with Parkinson’s? I’m always amazed by how many people not only know someone, but know someone in their family. By that I mean a spouse, parent, grand-parent or other close relative. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, “Nearly one million will be living with Parkinson's disease (PD) in the U.S. by 2020."
To write about why I volunteer at Insight I have to go back about nine years. In the fall of 2011 came a realization in our family that Grandma, my husband’s mother, was struggling…something all Insight families have experienced. Ove the next five years I became my mother-in-law’s primary caregiver, forging the most intense and personal relationship I’ve ever had with anyone.
As the weather warms up everyone is encouraged to get some outdoor exercise, but we know that's not always feasible! Whether your loved one has mobility issues, or you're just trying to avoid all the pollen in the air, here are a few chair exercises that can get your heart rate up in the comfort of your living room!
When I met with Gordon and his wife, Karen, I asked Gordon to share his experiences with this diagnosis. The couple lovingly shared an anecdote from Gordon’s counselor: “She compared the program to ice cream. I started Reconnections with one day a week, and she said one day was like one scoop of ice cream, and wouldn’t I rather have two? Yes, and make it Pistachio.”
We all communicate constantly throughout the day. Phone calls, emails, conversations, now FaceTime and Skpye – there are a million ways we communicate without even thinking about it. Much of this communication comes naturally, so why is communication so challenging with those who have dementia?
Now that we're all spending a lot more time at home, here's a helpful task to add to the spring cleaning list: making your space more dementia friendly. Don't worry, "Designing for Dementia" makes it sound a lot more complicated than it really is! Using a few design best practices, you'll find there are a number of small changes you can make at home that will have a big impact on the quality of life for both you and your loved one.
One of the key requirements for obtaining a Bachelor of Social Work degree is to complete a two-semester long field practicum. Having always been interested in working with older adults, Insight Memory Care Center was my top choice for placement – mostly due to their stellar reputation. I interned at Insight and learned so much about dementia care during my time there.
You wear many hats throughout the day, but one you probably didn’t anticipate is that of detective. However, when our loved ones exhibit troubling behaviors, playing detective can be the key to interpreting what these behaviors mean.
We’ve long been implementing sensory-based programming into our later-stage programs as a tried and true method of engaging and connecting with participants in a meaningful way. Now we have a gold standard model to help focus our efforts on methods that a growing body of research is showing to have positive effects on those with late-stage dementia, their family members, and even professional caregivers!
As we continue our theme of “Sharing the Love” this month, we asked a number of our Reconnections and Day Center participants to reflect on what love means to them. Here are a few of their responses!
There are many lifestyle things that change as dementia progresses, from every day routines to special occasions. Many families still choose to travel and do so successfully. Whether it is a day trip in the car or an international vacation, it takes some planning to ensure safety for the person living with the diagnosis, sanity for the care partner, and lower anxiety for everyone involved. Here are my top 10 tips for successful travel.
In our years of serving caregivers and their loved ones facing a dementia diagnosis, we have seen some incredible acts of love. Each and every one deserves a medal of honor, immense praise, and so on and so forth. However, today I would like to highlight one story in particular.
I’m a Nurse Practitioner with 18 years of experience caring for people with dementia. My specialty is research, or more specifically, clinical trial research aimed at the discovery of new treatments and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Here are some of the most common questions I’m asked about dementia.
Change is always hard, and for individuals with memory loss change can be even harder. Relocation especially, and other significant environment changes, are often traumatic. As a caregiver, knowing what to expect, how you can prepare, and how to make these transitions more comfortable is key.
Receiving any diagnosis will more than likely create some level of anxiety. However, if that diagnosis is one relating to dementia, then a unique batch of worries arises. Important questions begin to race through the mind, such as, “What’s going to happen to me?” or “Is my independence going to be taken away from me?” Insight Memory Care Center (IMCC) has a variety of programs aimed specifically at helping those with the diagnosis, and/or their loved ones, gain the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the labyrinth of dementia care.
The first time I noticed a difference in my wife was about three years ago when we were packing to move from NC to Virginia. Both of us were having some medical problems as we aged and we were urged to move closer to family. Of course moving is always a stressful time in our lives and I thought that everything would be alright after we became settled in our new surroundings.
It is this commonplace driving situation that can become the most dangerous as dementia progresses. Delayed reaction times, poor judgment, inability to stay attentive behind the wheel, and frustration can be highly problematic in the stop-and-go traffic of Northern Virginia. So when is it time to stop driving?
Every caregiver seems to have an arsenal of comical caregiving tales to share with anyone who can relate. When caring for someone with a disease whose devastating effects and chronic long-term stressors are arguably unmatched, it is no wonder we hold so closely to these little pockets of joy.
A big part of our job here at Insight is to give someone with a dementia diagnosis a “why,” or as we commonly refer to it, purpose. Merging your loved one’s past interests and current interests and abilities is important to engaging with them. Here are some programs we run at Insight that can be adopted at home.
When you begin to research, the first thing you often learn is how much you don’t know. And with dementia, while there is still a lot we don’t know, there is a lot we do! Here are five things we DO know – and should know - about dementia.
It’s been a long time coming, but New Year, New Blog! We’re very excited to start this blog a resource for those who are caring for a loved one with a memory impairment.
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"I like that IMCC focuses on dementia-related problems and provides a focal point for families to network and socially interact in coping with dementia. It provides a community that helps us in our struggle."