Memory Care – Early Detection is Key!

Alzheimer’s is not just a disease that affects older people. Early-onset Alzheimer’s can affect people who are younger than 65 years of age and close to 5% of the more than 5 million Americans who have Alzheimer’s disease have younger-onset. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, many Americans with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease are in their 40s and 50s. These alarming statistics and others related to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are what drive HealthStar Home Health to spread the word about the importance of early detection.

The brain is a powerful and complex organ with just three main parts that make up the brain itself. Alzheimer’s disease is present when the activity of neurotransmitters and electrical charges in our brain’s function is disrupted. A person with Alzheimer’s will experience nerve cell death and tissue loss in the brain and over time the brain will shrink dramatically, which in turn affects nearly all brain function.

In the very early stages of Alzheimer’s, before testing can even detect the symptoms, a person may notice slight issues in the learning and memory as well as the thinking and planning functioning of the brain. Early symptoms may include confusion or difficulty in these areas:

  • Time and place
  • Completing routine tasks at work or home
  • Finding the right words to use or joining a conversation
  • Misplacing items
  • Judgement or decision-making
  • Mood and personality changes
  • Avoiding work or social activities

Many of these symptoms may sound familiar, but that doesn’t mean a person experiencing some of these has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. There is typical age-related changes and functions we all experience as we age. The changes experienced by a person with Alzheimer’s are much more extreme, advanced and happen more often than a typical ‘forgetful moment’.

Early detection is key, so if you or a loved one are noticing changes and symptoms don’t ignore them! There may be treatment available as well as clinical studies, so make an appointment with your primary physician right away to discuss health options.

HealthStar Home Health is proud to serve our Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota metro communities by offering FREE memory screenings. HealthStar is returning to the 2016 Minnesota State Fair beginning in August with a mission to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias by, once again, providing FREE memory screenings to anyone who stops by our booth. HealthStar Home Health understands the importance of proper early detection and treatment of dementia or Alzheimer’s and is offering face-to-face memory screenings which will only take a few minutes to complete and consist of a series of questions and tasks that will access memory. Knowing that as many as 70% of families are opting to care for their aging loved ones at home, HealthStar offers a program called Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care which offers support both in and out of the home to the caregivers and families dealing with the stress and challenging behaviors associated with this disease. HealthStar feels strongly that memory loss screenings are the first step toward the detection and treatment of early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Another way HealthStar provides support and care for those living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is to be an official sponsor of a film about Alzheimer’s titled His Neighbor Phil. This film tells the story of Harvey, a man whose wife Mary has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. This touching film not only shows the effects of this disease on Mary, but also their entire family and the community they live in. Although the film deals with the honest realities, it mainly focuses its attention on the tireless work of the caregivers and how their lives are also affected by the disease. Take a moment to watch a trailer about the moving film His Neighbor Phil.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/110466802

If you or a loved one are concerned about symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, remember you are not alone. Early detection is important so plan to visit HealthStar Home Health at our booth in the HealthFair 11 building at the corner of Dan Patch & Cooper at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair to participate in a FREE, confidential memory screening. HealthStar Home Health will be conducting memory screenings August 25 – September 5 from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm each day. See you at the fair!

How Will Your Role Change When Your Spouse Is Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s Disease?

Even if the news of the Alzheimer’s diagnosis for your spouse did not come as a complete surprise, the day you hear those words still feels like a hard kick in the stomach. As you both take some much needed time to try to get a grasp of this big change in your lives, your spouse may begin to feel a sense of loss or loneliness as a result of the diagnosis.

Immediately, with the words of the Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, your role as spouse has changed significantly. You are now a daily caregiver too, and as your partner’s memory declines you may find yourself taking on some tasks, such as handling the taxes or financial matters or doing some household chores. Although you may not be the one with the disease, you will be living with it each day also. You may even notice a change in the emotional and physical intimacy you once shared as your partner’s cognitive abilities decline.

HealthStar Home Health is honored to be an official sponsor of a new film about Alzheimer’s titled His Neighbor Phil, which was filmed in the small community of Zumbrota, Minnesota. This film tells the story of Harvey, a man whose wife Mary has early onset Alzheimer’s disease. This touching film not only shows the effects of this disease on Mary, but also their entire family and the community they live in. Although the film deals with the honest realities of Alzheimer’s, it mainly focuses its attention on the tireless work of the caregivers and how their lives are also affected by this disease. Take a moment to watch this short video clip via Vimeo about the moving film His Neighbor Phil.

 

According to the Alzheimer’s Association there are some things you can do to help your partner. Ultimately, these ideas will also help you cope and get through these changes to your relationship:

  • Continue to participate in activities with your spouse
  • Find new activities you can do together
  • Attend local caregiver support groups
  • Discuss changes in your relationship with a professional or a clergy member

These ideas and others listed on the Alzheimer’s Association website will help you and other family members adjust to your new normal.

You may find yourself with so many new caregiving responsibilities that you neglect taking good care of yourself. One of the best things you can do for your partner is to stay physically and emotionally strong and avoid caregiver burnout. It can be overwhelming at times to take care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s, so keeping the stress under control is key and will help both of you. Remembering to see your doctor on a regular basis, stick to your exercise routine and eat healthy each day will greatly reduce stress levels and help to avoid caregiver burnout.

The Alzheimer’s Association lists 10 symptoms of caregiver stress including:

  • Denial
  • Sleeplessness
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of concentration
  • Depression
  • Health problems

As many as 70% of families are opting to care for their loved ones at home as long as possible while managing the various stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It will get overwhelming, so if you are experiencing these signs of stress or others on a regular basis, it is time to see your doctor.

Memory loss screenings are the first step of detection and treatment. HealthStar Home Health provided free memory screenings while at the 2015 Minnesota State Fair and we are thrilled to announce we provided over 3,200 free screenings to visitors at our booth in the HealthFair 11 building. That is more than 1,000 more than last year’s state fair screenings! HealthStar knows how important early detection is and we are committed to providing the resources families need. For additional information on dementias and caregiving, visit our website at www.healthstarhomehealth.net.

Listen to Daniel Roebuck, star of His Neighbor Phil, discuss more about Alzheimer’s disease and this important film.

HealthStar Home Health at the MN State Fair

HealthStar Home Health is returning to the Minnesota State Fair in 2015 with a mission to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias by providing FREE memory screenings to anyone who stops by our booth. We will once again have a booth at the MN State Fair in the Health Fair 11 building at the intersection of Dan Patch & Cooper. Our booth will be open from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm with FREE memory screenings taking place until 6:00 pm each day of the fair, which runs August 27th – September 7th, 2015.

Are you concerned about your memory, have a family history of Alzheimer’s, or notice a loved one that is becoming more and more forgetful? HealthStar Home Health understands the importance of proper detection and treatment of dementia or Alzheimer’s and is offering face-to-face memory screenings free of charge. The screening will only take a few minutes and consists of questions and tasks that will assess memory.

HealthStar Home Health and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America encourages memory screenings for adults with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease, are experiencing memory concerns or for those who want to check their memory now to use as a base for future comparison. Common warning signs of dementia include often forgetting names, places & events, confusion over daily routines and asking repetitive questions.

As many as 70% of families are opting to care for their loved ones at home as long as possible, while managing the various stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. HealthStar’s Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care program offers support both in and out of the home to the caregivers and families dealing with the challenging behaviors often associated with this disease. Memory loss screenings are the first step toward detection and treatment. Our nursing experts are able to provide in-home education, training and non-pharmacologic behavior assistance, which is fully covered by most insurance plans and traditional Medicare.

Also, HealthStar is honored to be an official sponsor of a new film about Alzheimer’s titled His Neighbor Phil, which was filmed in the small community of Zumbrota, Minnesota. This film tells the story of Harvey, a man whose wife Mary has early onset Alzheimer’s disease. This touching film not only shows the effects of this disease on Mary, but also their entire family and the community they live in. Although the film deals with the honest realities of Alzheimer’s, it mainly focuses its attention on the tireless work of the caregivers and how their lives are also affected by this disease. Family and caregiver burnout dramatically rises when faced with this disease and the challenges of caring for a loved one. HealthStar is committed to providing the support and care for those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia as well as those caring for them. Take a moment to watch this trailer about the moving film His Neighbor Phil.

Knowing the importance of further research and ongoing education, HealthStar will be involved with several events at the fair to help support the film including radio interviews with Alzheimer’s Speaks on August 27th from 12:00 – 2:00. Lori La Bey, nationally-known radio host and founder of Alzheimer’s Speaks, will conduct spontaneous interviews with various actors, sponsors and fair-goers. Another event we’re really looking forward to is a HealthStar sponsored autograph signing with cast members including lead actor, Daniel Roebuck (The Fugitive, Lost, Glee), Ellen Dolan (As the World Turns) and local actor, Bob Bird, at our booth from 10 AM to 12 PM, Sunday, August 30, 2015. Be sure to check out the schedule of events on the days you plan to be at the state fair.

So, plan to stop for a visit at our booth in the Health Fair 11 building at the intersection of Dan Patch & Cooper at the MN State Fair and take advantage of a free, confidential memory screening. HealthStar Home Health will be promoting the film His Neighbor Phil and conducting memory screenings at our booth, which will be open from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm each day with FREE memory screenings taking place until 6:00 pm. Hope to see you at the fair!

Memory Concerns? Take a Proactive Approach

Our health care model transitioned to an innovative, proactive approach over the past several years. A focus on the areas of diet, exercise, preventative clinical services, and a high emphasis on monitoring areas of concern is shifting the way care is delivered. While strides have been made in these areas, it is rare that changes to one’s memory are met with such a proactive approach. So often today outreach for support is not initiated until a critical event such as financial loss, exploitation, wandering, or failure to thrive has occurred. As a comprehensive provider of home health care, HealthStar Home Health knows firsthand that early detection of memory issues leads to early intervention, and the ability for family to plan together.

The reasons for ignoring memory changes could include embarrassment, denial, and fear, so it is understandable why many may fall into this critical misstep. A typical response from an individual who notices changes to his or her memory is to hide the problem, concerned that a diagnosis of Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in inevitable. Those close to that individual may harbor similar fears as well. This perpetual cycle makes it difficult to enter into tough dialogue, often resulting in the memory issue developing quietly but profoundly.

What is not well known is that there are many causes for memory loss, many being curable and treatable if recognized early. By regularly integrating memory screenings Health Care professionals can become a catalyst for change and construct critical conversations with their patients around memory concerns. While a memory screening will not diagnose a memory issue, it is the first step in identifying a problem and it will subsequently trigger further diagnostic testing. We need to encourage and empower all those who have concerns that they or their loved ones are experiencing memory changes to discuss those concerns with their health care providers and request memory screening.

If further diagnostic testing reveals a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other Dementias, remember, the benefits of earlier diagnosis include improved management of the disease, ability to treat and mange co-existing conditions, and the opportunity to help patients and their families plan ahead. Caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or Dementia has a huge impact on their care partner’s ability to achieve work-life balance. According to the coalition for Preparing Minnesota for Alzheimer’s, working caregivers report their caregiving responsibilities affect their work. 57% report arriving to work late. 17% have taken a leave of absence. 10% switch from full-time to part-time hours. 9% left the work place completely as a result of their caregiving responsibilities. The average cost to U.S employers of full-time employees who are caregivers totals $33.6 BILLION per year in lost productivity. (Preparing Minnesota for Alzheimer’s , 2011). These staggering numbers identify a critical need for supporting caregivers to manage their stress through education, training, and supportive services.

In 2013, HealthStar Home Health, in collaboration with C&V Senior Care Solutions, integrated a comprehensive home care program called Becoming an Alzheimer’s Whisperer. Paid completely through the Medicare home care benefit, Becoming an Alzheimer’s Whisperer supports the person, the caregiver and, the family to manage the diagnosis and the challenges that surround it. Becoming an Alzheimer’s Whisperer teaches families to understand how the disease affects the brain and enable the caregiver to enter the world of the person who has dementia or Alzheimer’s. Caregivers are trained to handle behaviors which include uncooperative behavior, agitation, aggression, wandering, sun-downing, sexually acting-out, dressing and bathing difficulties, eating difficulties, repetitive behaviors, and more. The program incorporates a multi-disciplinary approach and utilizes Skilled Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Social Workers, and Speech Pathologists. It uses standardized evidence-based teaching and assessment tools, and is based on the theory of Retrogenesis, developed by Dr. Barry Reisberg. Retrogenesis means “back to birth”, which concludes that Alzheimer’s unravels the brain almost exactly in reverse order as the brain developed from birth. This foundational understanding provides a method of creating approaches, environments, and techniques based on the developmental stage that correlates with the stage of dementia. The patient and the Caregiver will demonstrate competent self-care skill management of Alzheimer’s disease including a full range of behavioral, physical, social, and spiritual implications of this disease in order to remain safe at home.

By initiating supportive services upon diagnosis or at the initial onset of problematic behaviors, families receive help before it reaches crisis level. This proactive approach can successfully increase the quality of life for patients and their families affected by this dynamic disease.

-Shannon MacKenzie
Area Manager
HealthStar Home Health