COVID-19 Restrictions and Your Loved Ones in a Care Facility

Keeping in touch with a loved one in a care home is especially difficult during this epidemic. The restrictions and pleas to stay at home leave many wondering just what is allowable and what isn’t. Compounding this stress is the fact that regulations are constantly changing, and dementia patients may not understand what is going on and why you don’t visit them. A few scenarios and guidelines may help you stay connected, both for your sake and the patient’s.

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SMMC Taking Measures to Keep Our Residents Safe

coronavirus 4904507 340 1Dear Families/Friends:

It is always South Mountain’s top priority to maintain the health and well-being of your loved one. Since early fall, SMMC has been following the CDC’s recommended procedures for cold and flu season, which poses a great risk to our population. Long before the Coronavirus was a concern, our efforts were focused on keeping our facility disinfected, encouraging hand washing, excluding anyone with cold symptoms from group activities and meals and monitoring our staff and residents for any significant changes in their health status.

With the recent surge in activity regarding the Coronavirus (Covid-19) , SMMC is proceeding with an abundance of caution in order to protect our community. At this time, we are asking anyone that is feeling under the weather not to visit the building until they are without symptoms, such as a cough or fever. We are also requesting that anyone who has traveled internationally to an area of confirmed outbreak recently not visit the community for at least 14 days after traveling (the quarantine period recommended by the CDC.)

Currently, all scheduled activity outings have been removed from the calendar until the situation has stabilized. It is vital that all visitors, regardless if you visit frequently or not, sign in using the guest sign-in book located at the front desk.

If need be, we will make changes to the visiting hours or close the building to non-emergent visitors all together and those changes will be communicated to you. We have many parameters in place that can and will be implemented should the need arise. Please know the safety of our residents and staff is our greatest concern.

If you have specific questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Hand sanitizer is available in the vestibule entering and exiting the community for your use. Due to the national shortage of masks, we cannot provide masks to those who come ill to the community, which is why we are asking that you stay home. We greatly appreciate your support in our efforts to keep everyone safe during this time.

For more detailed information on preventing the spread of Corona Virus, visit the Center for Disease Control at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

Respectfully,  
Megan DePalma, PCHA

Executive Director

Frontotemporal Disorders: Another Form of Dementia

The terms Alzeimer's and dementia are household words today. But some other, less well known types of dementia -- that often strike before age 60 and cause difficultiies in thinking and behavior -- are called frontemporal disorders (FTD). frontotemporal disorder dementia

What Are Frontotemporal Disorders?

Damage to the brain’s frontal and temporal lobes causes forms of dementia called frontotemporal disorders.

Frontotemporal disorders are the result of damage to neurons (nerve cells) in parts of the brain called the frontal and temporal lobes. As neurons die in the frontal and temporal regions, these lobes atrophy, or shrink. Gradually, this damage causes difficulties in thinking and behaviors normally controlled by these parts of the brain. Many possible symptoms can result, including unusual behaviors, emotional problems, trouble communicating, difficulty with work, or difficulty with walking.

Frontotemporal disorders are forms of dementia caused by a family of brain diseases known as frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). Dementia is a severe loss of thinking abilities that interferes with a person’s ability to perform daily activities such as working, driving, and preparing meals. Other brain diseases that can cause dementia include Alzheimer’s disease and multiple strokes. Scientists think that FTLD is the most common cause of dementia in people younger than age 60. Roughly 60 percent of people with FTLD are 45 to 64 years old.

People can live with frontotemporal disorders for up to 10 years, sometimes longer, but it is difficult to predict the time course for an individual patient. The disorders are progressive,

Read more: Frontotemporal Disorders: Another Form of Dementia

Lower Handgrip Strength Associated with Cognitive Impairment

hand strengthOlder adults with a weaker handgrip were more likely to be cognitively impaired than those with a stronger grip, according to an NIA-funded study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The findings suggest that handgrip strength may be a potential low-cost, easy way to help detect cognitive impairment and, in combination with other measures, to identify people who may benefit from early interventions.

A team led by researchers from North Dakota State University looked at data over an eight-year period from almost 14,000 people, age 50 or older, in the NIA-supported Health and Retirement Study. A handheld instrument called a dynamometer was used to assess handgrip strength, and a modified screening tool from the Mini-Mental State Examination was used to measure cognitive function every two years. Of the 13,828 participants who were assessed, 1,309 had some degree of cognitive impairment.

Results showed that each 5-kilogram decrease in handgrip strength — roughly 11 pounds — was linked to 10% greater odds of having any cognitive impairment. For the 264 participants with severe cognitive impairment, the odds of a lower grip strength were 18% greater than for all other participants.

As people age, they lose muscle mass, resulting in a weaker grip. Grip strength also can weaken due to age-related changes in parts of the brain that coordinate movement. These same areas of the brain also correspond to cognition, the researchers note. The neural and motor functions needed for the grip strength test may become compromised when cognitive impairment starts, they explain.

Previous studies investigating the relationship between cognitive function and grip strength have shown mixed results, likely due to smaller numbers of participants and varied assessments across studies making it difficult to

Read more: Lower Handgrip Strength Associated with Cognitive Impairment

How to Share Caregiving Responsibilities with Family Members Near and Far

Caring for an older family member often requires teamwork. While one sibling might be local and take on most of the everyday caregiving responsibilities, a long-distance caregiver can also care for parentshave an important role.

As a long-distance caregiver, you can provide important respite to the primary caregiver and support to the aging family member.

Talk About Caregiving Responsibilities

First, try to define the caregiving responsibilities. You could start by setting up a family meeting and, if it makes sense, include the care recipient in the discussion. This is best done when there is not an emergency. A calm conversation about what kind of care is wanted and needed now, and what might be needed in the future, can help avoid a lot of confusion.

Decide who will be responsible for which tasks. Many families find the best first step is to name a primary caregiver, even if one is not needed immediately. That way the primary caregiver can step in if there is a crisis.

Agree in advance how each of your efforts can complement one another so that you can be an effective team. Ideally, each of you will be able to take on tasks best suited to your skills or interests.

Consider Your Strengths When Sharing Caregiving Responsibilities

When thinking about who should be responsible for what, start with your strengths. Consider what you are particularly good at and how those skills might help in the current situation:

  • Are you good at finding information, keeping people up-to-date on changing conditions, and offering cheer, whether on the phone or with a computer?
  • Are you good at supervising and leading others?
  • Are you comfortable speaking with medical staff and interpreting what they say to others?
  • Is your strongest suit doing the numbers—paying bills, keeping track of bank statements, and reviewing insurance policies and reimbursement reports?
  • Are you the one in the family who can fix anything, while no one else knows the difference between pliers and a wrench?

Read more: How to Share Caregiving Responsibilities with Family Members Near and Far