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An older adult looking at old photographs in a memory book

Communication Aids to Support People with Dementia and IDD

One of the biggest challenges facing caregivers and loved ones of someone with moderate to severe dementia and/or intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) is communication. Both conditions can affect a person’s ability to understand what is being said and to respond in a clear, appropriate and easy-to-understand way. Because communication can become so challenging, many caregivers and loved ones make the mistake of getting visibly frustrated, avoiding communication as much as possible and even speaking as if the person with dementia and IDD isn’t in the room and by nature can’t understand anything being said.

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By Julie Hayes | 02/15/2023

An older adult in her home, ironing her clothes

How Caregivers Can Help Older Adults Retain Independence

Lack or loss of control can be a very frustrating feeling, and it’s one most people have to contend with as they age. A natural reaction to loss of control is resistance. However, for those of us who are caregivers, that resistance can make providing the support a loved one needs challenging. It can feel like having to do daily battle against a loved one’s stubbornness, and as frustration mounts, it can become easy to forget just how much personal freedoms mean to a loved one and how hard it would be for anyone—including us—to give them up.

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By Julie Hayes | 02/15/2023

A caregiver taking a mini-break to journal.

Caring for Yourself as a Caregiver with Mini-Breaks

Being a caregiver of an older adult with a chronic illness can be especially challenging. Trying to meet both their healthcare and safety needs can often take up most of a caregivers’ time.  Letting your loved ones’ care needs overshadow your own, however, can lead to resentment and impatience and can impact your own health. How can caregivers step away from their caregiving role and still ensure supervision and safety? Enter the mini-break, a small bitesize rest period that provides time to step out of the caregiving role without leaving the one you care for to do so.

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By Cathy Franz | 02/15/2023

An older couple reviewing their legal documents

How to Handle Advance Directives When a Loved One Has Dementia

Advance directives—legal documents that allow one to express their end-of-life wishes regarding finances and medical care—are important for all of us to consider as we age as a way of retaining decision-making authority no matter what happens to us. However, end-of-life can be a very difficult thing to confront. Even though advance directives are designed to help us protect our wishes and the futures of our loved ones, it's easy to delay making them until a health crisis happens. But what if that health crisis is dementia?

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By Julie Hayes | 01/17/2023

An older couple sharing stories with their grandson

4 Benefits of Reminiscence and Storytelling in Improving Caregiving

As we age, it can sometimes feel as if our lives are defined more by our health and the conditions we may be living with than by our past experiences, values and memories. For those coping with memory loss, it may be even harder to feel a connection to the past and the things that matter most. As caregivers, managing a loved one’s current wellbeing may seem a higher priority than reflecting on the past, but giving a loved one an outlet to reminisce may be more important than we think. Research shows that storytelling has numerous benefits not only for older adults, but also for their caregivers through improved, personalized care and better communication.

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By Julie Hayes | 01/17/2023