One of the most difficult things to handle when caring for a loved one living with dementia is agitation. It is pretty common for someone living with dementia to escalate in their feelings of frustration and become agitated. A proactive approach is the best way to start, but sometimes this doesn’t work and the caregiver needs to redirect or intervene during a period of agitation.
We have found that giving someone a feeling of control is the first step to avoiding frustration. Control for them may be different than it is for you or me. Feeling out of control often comes from having an unmet need, or not understanding the situation. Below are some tips for giving someone that feeling of control:
Calming During an Episode of Agitation
For more information access our book, “Now is Found” or visit the Connectivities website at https://connectivities.us/
Being a caregiver is one of the hardest jobs out there. It's a full-time job that often doesn't leave room for much else. If you're feeling stressed, burned out, or like you're just not sure where to turn, never fear! There are plenty of resources out there to help you in your journey.
Here are eight of the best:
There are some great books out there specifically for caregivers. We recommend "The Caregiver's Survival Guide" by Elizabeth Lombardo and "The Caregiver's Path to Compassionate Caregiving" by Erika Funke. These books offer practical advice and tips for caregivers, as well as emotional support. As a caregiver, it is also critical to take care of yourself. Check out “Just for You: A Daily Self Care Journal” by Elizabeth Miller.
If you're looking for more specific advice or information on a certain topic, there are loads of great articles online. Try searching for articles on "dementia caregiving tips" or "how to deal with caregiver stress." Two of our favorite places to find information is Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach to Care, and Happy Healthy Caregiver. You can also find helpful articles on the National Institute on Aging website or the Alzheimer's Association website.
3. Podcasts/TV/Radio Shows
Podcasts are a great way to get information and support while you're on the go. We recommend "The DementiaSherpa Show" and "Caregivers Circle." Both of these podcasts offer practical advice and emotional support for caregivers of loved ones with dementia. “Alzheimer’s Speaks Radio” is another great resource. Long time dementia care advocate Lori Le Bay talks to caregivers, people living with dementia and other advocates. A brand new TV show, called Dementia Diva’s will be airing soon on the free streaming service Saltbox TV.
Poetry can be a great source of comfort when you're feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Check out poems by Tish Davidson, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Billy Collins. Or search for poems on specific topics like "caregiving," "dementia," or "aging." Writing poetry with your loved one can be healing for both of you. Visit The Alzheimer’s Poetry Project online for books and information on how to create poetry together.
5. YouTube Accounts
There are some great YouTube channels out there specifically for caregivers. We recommend Dementia Careblazers, Dementia Success Path and Caregiver Stress. These channels offer practical advice, emotional support, and information on dealing with dementia specifically.
6. Social Accounts
Following certain social media accounts can also be a great way to get support as a caregiver. We recommend following @yourdementiatherapist on Instagram @dementiacaregiverssupportgroup on Facebook. These accounts offer practical tips, emotional support, community and information specifically for caregivers of loved ones with dementia.
Apps can also be a helpful resource for caregivers. There are apps that can help with things like managing medications, tracking doctor's appointments, and communicating with other members of the care team. We recommend the apps Medisafe, CareZone, and Life360 . These apps offer helpful features like medication reminders, appointment tracking, and care team communication.
In addition to all the great resources already mentioned, there are also some great websites specifically for caregivers. We recommend Dementia Map, The Caregiver Space, AgingCare, and Eldercare Locator. These websites offer practical tips, information on local resources, and forums where caregivers can connect with one another.
Being a caregiver is hard work. But it doesn't have to be done alone. There are tons of great resources out there to help you in your journey. So, if you're feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and know that help is available. Whether you need practical tips, emotional support, or just someone to talk to, there are people and resources out there who can help.
Since the COVID pandemic began, lockdowns, social distancing and intermittent quarantining has made it hard for families and communities to connect. And those isolating issues are compounded for people with dementia and their caregivers.
Due to heightened medical concerns, social interactions and outings may be curtailed or canceled, leaving the caregiver and cognitively impaired individual more time “alone” together.
Filling the endless hours with meaningful, enriching activities can be a challenge both for family and professional caregivers. That’s why it’s not surprising one of the frequent questions caregivers ask geriatric specialists and neurologists is: What can we do all day?
Now, one organization hopes to provide an answer—one that arrives at your door in a brightly colored box.
In July 2022, Prairie Elder Care, a Kansas-based assisted living and dementia-care organization, launched Connectivities, a monthly subscription service for caregivers of people with dementia.
“Many times, for caretakers, the burden of planning overshadows their ability to truly engage,” said Connectivities co-founder Michala Gibson, RN. “Connectivities delivers a solution that’s simple, purposeful and personal right to caretakers’ front doorsteps.”
Each box includes eight or more seasonal activities, puzzles, games, etc., that have been tested by individuals with dementia in assisted living. While they may look simple, the materials in the box are finely curated to engage individuals with differing cognitive and physical abilities.
"While they may look simple, the materials in the box are finely curated to engage individuals with differing cognitive and physical abilities."
“We spend a lot of time testing different shapes and sizes of the same product to figure out what’s actually going to work best for that particular activity,” said Mandy Shoemaker, a former elementary school principal and the other Connectivities co-founder.
To encourage multi-generational participation, Connectivities include a step-by-step written guide with photo illustrations, so many activities can be led or completed with the assistance of elementary-aged children and teenagers.
In addition, the instructions include therapy goals and modifications to adapt the activity to the appropriate level of difficulty.
“In dementia care,” Shoemaker said, “we talk a lot about how the memory of an activity or interaction may quickly fade, but the feelings they create last.”
Each box also comes with a link to a website that features instructional videos as well as additional music therapy and exercise activities and support links to a caregiver community.
As the owners of the Prairie Elder Care and Prairie Farmstead group homes in Kansas, Gibson and Shoemaker’s experiences led them to develop a philosophy of care that permeates the contents of every box.
“Connectivities really came from our engagement model, which is based on community, connection and control,” Gibson said. “People who are living with dementia need to have a feeling of control to be able to connect with people and form a community. “
During her 20 years in dementia care, Gibson has found maintaining that sense of control depends on caregivers being able to understand, anticipate and satisfy needs before the onset of frustration, confusion and anger.
“When you have a group of people who all feel in control, they can connect with the people around them and the environment, like animals and gardens,” Gibson explains. “And the more connections we have, the more a sense of community that we have or sense of belonging.”
More than just an arts-and-crafts kit or busy work, Connectivities boxes seek to strengthen the bonds between the caregivers, family members, friends and the person with dementia.
"More than just an arts-and-crafts kit or busy work, Connectivities boxes seek to strengthen the bonds between the caregivers, family members, friends and the person with dementia."
The 30-minute activities are designed to prompt a sharing of memories and experiences as well as foster connections to family, nature, senses, history, our past, science, music, our bodies, food, creativity, etc.
The activities also help retain important life skills and intellectual abilities. For example, pouring beads and confetti into a tube to make Independence Day baton demands concentration and problem-solving skills. During testing, Gibson noticed one couple in particular, who became very focused and worked together to complete the tasks.
“The activities give them that sense of purpose and utilizes the skills that they have—rather than highlight or test the things that they no longer have,” she said.
"The activities give them that sense of purpose and utilizes the skills that they have—rather than highlight or test the things that they no longer have."
One subscriber recently described how the activities enhanced the family’s visit with her 99-year-old great grandmother.
“Nothing seemed to motivate or ground her to the present moment,” the subscriber wrote. “We showed her the Connectivities box and started the beach activity with sand and seashells. It all changed as we visited [through the sharing of memories] the beaches of California (her home for 67 years before moving to Kansas) together.”
The activities can also help some family members make a meaningful transition.
“Before dementia, maybe the person wouldn’t have enjoyed these activities,” Shoemaker said. “But things are a little different now, and sometimes family members have to let go of who and what used to be and accept the individuals for who they are now.”
Although they own and are expanding their group homes, the two women see a lot of potential for the program.
“Our hope for Connectivities,” Gibson explained, “is it helps people stay at home longer, have better quality of life and answers that question: What do I do to engage people with dementia?”
A single Connectivities box including shipping costs $69. The subscription price is $62.99 including shipping, and group boxes are available from $199.99 for six people to $499.99 for 24 people.
We all need a break from our daily routines every now and then, and that’s especially true for people living with dementia. If you’re caring for a loved one living with dementia, it’s also important to take some time for yourself on a regular basis. Research shows that just thirty minutes outside in nature can be a game changer for any of us. But finding activities that are both enjoyable and safe for both of you can be a challenge. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best dementia-friendly outings to help you and your loved one get out of the house. Some of these outings are best suited for people living with beginning stages or milder Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Whether you’re looking for a way to spend some quality time together or you simply need a break from the regular routine, these outings are sure to please. And because they’re designed with safety in mind, you can relax and enjoy your time together without worry. So go ahead and explore our list of the best dementia-friendly outings.
Caring for someone living with dementia can be both challenging and rewarding. It’s important to find ways relieve stress and stay positive — you and your loved one will benefit from it. We hope our list of the best dementia-friendly outings has given some ideas help you get started! Remember, it‘s important take breaks and focus on self-care —you deserve it!