Frequently Asked Questions for Assisted Living, Home Care, Care Management, Hospice, Alzheimer's and Other Dementias
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe the loss of cognitive or intellectual function. Many conditions can cause dementia. Dementia related to depression, drug interactions, and thyroid and other problems may be reversible if detected early. That's one of the reasons it's important to obtain a professional assessment, so that the actual cause can be identified and proper care provided. Several other diseases also cause dementia, such as Parkinson's, Creutzfeldt-Jakob, Huntington's, and multi-infarct or vascular disease, caused by multiple strokes in the brain.
Alzheimer's disease (pronounced Alz-hi-merz) is a progressive, degenerative disease that attacks the brain and results in impaired memory, thinking and behavior. It affects an estimated 4 million American adults. When it was first diagnosed by German physician Alois Alzheimer in 1907, Alzheimer's disease was considered a rare disorder. Today, it is recognized as the most common cause of dementia. Alzheimer's disease is distinguished from other forms of dementia by characteristic changes in the brain that are visible only upon microscopic examination. Another characteristic of Alzheimer's disease is the reduced production of certain brain chemicals, especially acetylcholine, but also including norepinephrine, serotonin and soma-tostatin. These chemicals are necessary for normal communication between nerve cells.
The Alzheimer's Association has developed a list of warning signs that include common symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (some also apply to other dementias). Individuals who exhibit several of these symptoms should see a physician for a complete examination.
1. Memory loss that affects job skills. It's normal to occasionally forget an assignment, deadline, or colleague's name, but frequent forgetfulness or unexplainable confusion at home or in the workplace may signal that something's wrong.
2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks. Busy people get distracted from time to time. For example, you might leave something on the stove too long or not remember to serve part of a meal. People with Alzheimer's might prepare a meal and not only forget to serve it but also forget they made it.
3. Problems with language. Everyone has trouble finding the right word sometimes, but a person with Alzheimer's disease may forget simple words or substitute inappropriate words, making his or her sentences difficult to understand.
4. Disorientation to time and place. It's normal to momentarily forget the day of the week or what you need from the store. But people with Alzheimer's disease can become lost on their own street, not knowing where they are, how they got there, or how to get back home.
5. Poor or decreased judgment. Choosing not to bring a sweater or coat along on a chilly night is a common mistake. A person with Alzheimer's, however, may dress inappropriately in more noticeable ways, wearing a bathrobe to the store or several blouses on a hot day.
6. Problems with abstract thinking. Balancing a checkbook can be challenging for many people, but for someone with Alzheimer's, recognizing numbers or performing basic calculations may be impossible.
7. Misplacing things. Everyone temporarily misplaces a wallet or keys from time to time. A person with Alzheimer's disease may put these and other items in inappropriate places - such as an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl - and then not recall how they got there.
8. Changes in mood or behavior. Everyone experiences a broad range of emotions - it's part of being human. People with Alzheimer's tend to exhibit more rapid mood swings for no apparent reason.
9. Changes in personality. People's personalities may change somewhat as they age. But a person with Alzheimer's can change dramatically, either suddenly or over a period of time. Someone who is generally easygoing may become angry, suspicious, or fearful.
10. Loss of initiative. It's normal to tire of housework, business activities, or social obligations, but most people retain or eventually regain their interest. A person with Alzheimer's disease may remain uninterested and uninvolved in many or all of his usual pursuits.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a degenerative neurological disorder of the brain related to a depletion of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. PD strikes people of all ages and ethnic groups. The average age of diagnosis is 60. However, 10 - 20% of persons with PD develop it before the age of 50. About half of these are diagnosed before the age of 40. The cause of PD is still under investigation, however there may be multiple factors including genetic predisposition and exposure to environmental toxins. Symptoms can include: Rigidity or stiffness of arms, legs or neck Tremors, mostly in the hands (at rest) Instability in posture or balance Slowness in movement Secondary symptoms may include facial "masking", depression, confusion, difficulties in speech or swallowing. PD affects individuals differently, but if managed carefully, each person can live well.
For seniors able to determine their own activities of daily living (ADL) ... this is similar to apartment dwelling for retirees.
For seniors no longer able to care for themselves in daily needs such as grooming, medication management, continence, feeding or physical movement, assisted living helps with these tasks. Silverado Senior Living communities go far beyond mere ADL care needs by engaging our residents with activities of their choice, surrounding them with sensory experiences, and enlivening them with pets, children, laughter and love.
For those rehabilitating from some kind of medical condition (stroke, operation, etc.), skilled nursing facilities are typically hospital-like settings. Silverado now offers Skilled Nursing units in a few of our communities, allowing those needing rehabilitation services to reside in an uplifting and engaging environment.
Home care is a way for families to enable their loved ones to safely remain in their home environment, through the assistance of hourly or live-in caregivers. Silverado At Home brings their Care Plan Program to this option, which includes creating an individualized care plan that collaborates the client, family, geriatric care manager, caregiver, and other invested parties (doctors, lawyers, other family members, etc.)
Hospice is palliative end-of-life care. Palliative means comfort care, and the purpose of Hospice is to ease pain, and bring relief to the patient and their family. The process of life includes this journey. Hospice utilizes interdisciplinary teams including medical, spiritual, and psychosocial aspects, each bringing their own level of care and expertise to your loved one. Silverado Hospice additionally offers dementia care expertise to their list of specialties.
A study of elderly spouse caregivers, aged 66 to 96: found that caregivers who experience mental or emotional strain have a 63% higher risk of dying than non-caregivers. Caregivers are often so concerned with care for their relative's needs, that they lose sight of their own well being. Please use the caregiver self-assessment questionnaire to help assess your need for help.