SUWANEE, Ga. — It is a normal sign of aging to experience some type of memory loss, decreased vision or hearing, trouble figuring out new technology, or forgetting where you put something, but when these signs turn into not being able to remember a favorite recipe you have made for the past 30 years, forgetting the rules of a favorite card game, the inability to differentiate colors and textures of objects, or not remembering the way home, these are more serious issues that could be signs of Alzheimer’s disease. In honor of World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in September, Sharon Shields-Rios, R.N., Assessment and Training Nurse for Constant Care Family Management, the property management company for Autumn Leaves memory care communities, wants people to know what to look for when a loved one is experiencing signs of Alzheimer’s, and how Autumn Leaves of Sugarloaf cares for those exclusively living with Alzheimer’s, dementia or memory loss.
“Sometimes it is difficult for a family member to differentiate signs of normal aging and signs of a more serious illness in their loved one,” said Shields-Rios. “With one in three families in the United States affected by Alzheimer’s, it is important to understand these differences and be able to know how to help someone with Alzheimer’s or a dementia-related illness.”
Shields-Rios shares key signs of Alzheimer’s:
• Short-term memory loss with the inability to retrace steps or problem solve
• The inability to remember things they have done all their life (i.e. paying bills, family recipes, favorite card game, how to work your old washing machine)
• Vision changes: trouble with color, contrast and distance
• Vocabulary changes: loss of words, replacing words with the wrong word, vague answers
• The tendency to misplace objects and put them in the wrong place (i.e. milk in the pantry, iron in the freezer, etc.)
• Impaired judgment and decision making skills
• Poor grooming and hygiene skills
• Withdrawal from social groups and lack of interest in socializing with others
• Mood and personality changes
The highly qualified staff of Autumn Leaves of Sugarloaf provides 24-hour nursing care for those specifically living with Alzheimer’s or a dementia-related illness. Once someone becomes a resident, the community arranges Care Conferences often, where the nurses, family members, executive director, lifestyles coordinator and culinary director gather to discuss the resident’s progress, any changes in behavior, concerns, etc. The community wants to make sure that everyone is on the same page at all time.
“The key to successfully caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is making sure everything in their environment and routine is stable,” said Shields-Rios. “We make sure that they are living in a comfortable, home-like environment, and we respect the things that make them unique. If a resident used to wear lipstick every day before she was diagnosed, and it was something that was important to her, we make sure she is able to put lipstick on each day. If someone used to be an accountant, we ask them to assist with office work, or if they used to do volunteer work, we ask them to assist us with delivering the mail. It is important to draw from their past experiences and the person they used to be before the disease.”
“We have developed a researched-based engagement program called Inspired Connections that is exclusive to Autumn Leaves,” said Allison Hopkins, Ph.D., Director of Life Engagement for Constant Care Family Management. “The program consists of six levels of engagement that include artistic expression, physical activity, spiritual support, community connection, continuing education and lifestyle and leisure. Often times when residents come to us they are malnourished and socially isolated. After one month in this program, something magical happens. The scheduled activities reinforce cognition, motor functions and brain stimulation. We are providing quality of care, quality of life and a sense of purpose.”
To set up an interview with Sharon Shields Rios, R.N. or Allison Hopkins, Ph.D. to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and how to care for someone living with the disease, call Amy Jones at 214-890-7912 ext. 30 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Autumn Leaves of Sugarloaf, please visit the website at AutumnLeaves.com or call 678-990-4580.