Getting Help with Alzheimer’s Caregiving

(National Institute on Aging) Some caregivers need help when the person is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Other caregivers look for help when the person is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s. It’s okay to seek help whenever you need it.

As the person moves through the stages of Alzheimer’s, he or she will need more care. One reason is that medicines used to treat Alzheimer’s disease can only control symptoms; they cannot cure the disease. Symptoms, such as memory loss and confusion, will get worse over time.

Because of this, you will need more help. You may feel that asking for help shows weakness or a lack of caring, but the opposite is true. Asking for help shows your strength. It means you know your limits and when to seek support.

Build a Support System

According to many caregivers, building a local support system is a key way to get help. Your support system might include a caregiver support group, the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, family, friends, and faith groups.

Resources for Alzheimer’s Care

Here are some places that can give you support and advice:

NIA Alzheimer’s and related Dementias Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center
Email: adear@nia.nih.gov
Phone: 1-800-438-4380
www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers

The ADEAR Center offers information on diagnosis, treatment, patient care, caregiver needs, long-term care, and research and clinical trials related to Alzheimer’s disease. Staff can refer you to local and national resources, or you can search for information on the website. The Center is a service of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the Federal Government’s National Institutes of Health. They have information to help you understand Alzheimer’s disease. You can also get hints on other subjects, including:

Alzheimer’s Association
Phone: 1-800-272-3900
www.alz.org

The Alzheimer’s Association offers information, a help line, and support services to people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Local chapters across the country offer support groups, including many that help with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Call or go online to find out where to get help in your area. The Association also funds Alzheimer’s research.

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
Phone: 1-866-232-8484
www.alzfdn.org

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America provides information about how to care for people with Alzheimer’s, as well as a list of services for people with the disease. It also offers information for caregivers and their families through member organizations. Services include a toll-free hotline, publications, and other educational materials.

Eldercare Locator
Phone: 1-800-677-1116
www.eldercare.gov

Caregivers often need information about community resources, such as home care, adult day care, and nursing homes. Contact the Eldercare Locator to find these resources in your area. The Eldercare Locator is a service of the Administration on Aging. The Federal Government funds this service.

National Institute on Aging Information Center
Email: niaic@nia.nih.gov
Phone: 1-800-222-2225
TTY: 1-800-222-4225
www.nia.nih.gov/health

The NIA Information Center offers free publications about aging. Many of these publications are in both English and Spanish. They can be viewed, printed, and ordered online.

Direct Services: Groups that Help with Everyday Care in the Home

Here is a list of services that can help you care for the person with Alzheimer’s at home. Find out if these services are offered in your area. Also, contact Medicare to see if they cover the cost of any of these services. See below for Medicare contact information.

Home Health Care Services

Home health care services send a home health aide to your home to help you care for a person with Alzheimer’s. These aides provide care and/or company for the person. They may come for a few hours or stay for 24 hours. Some home health aides are better trained and supervised than others.

What to know about costs:

  • Home health services charge by the hour.
  • Medicare covers some home health service costs.
  • Most insurance plans do not cover these costs.
  • You must pay all costs not covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or insurance.

How to find them:

  • Ask your doctor or other healthcare professional about good home health care services in your area.
  • Search the Internet for “home health care” in your area.

Here are some questions you might ask before signing a home health care agreement:

  • Is your service licensed and accredited?
  • What is the cost of your services?
  • What is included and not included in your services?
  • How many days a week and hours a day will an aide come to my home?
  • Is there a minimum number of hours required?
  • How do you check the background and experience of your home health aides?
  • How do you train your home health aides?
  • Can I get special help in an emergency?
  • What types of emergency care can you provide?
  • Whom do I contact if there is a problem?

For more information about home-based long-term care, visit What Is Long-Term Care?

Meal Services

Meal services bring hot meals to the person’s home or your home. The delivery staff do not feed the person.

What to know about costs:

  • The person with Alzheimer’s must qualify for the service based on local guidelines.
  • Some groups do not charge for their services. Others may charge a small fee.

How to find them:

Adult Day Care Services

Adult day care services provide a safe environment, activities, and staff who pay attention to the needs of the person with Alzheimer’s in an adult day care facility. They also provide transportation. The facility may pick up the person with Alzheimer’s, take him or her to day care, and then return the person home. Adult day care services provide a much-needed break for you.

What to know about costs:

  • Adult day care services charge by the hour.
  • Most insurance plans don’t cover these costs. You must pay all costs not covered by insurance.

How to find them:

Respite Services

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Respite services provide short-term care for the person with Alzheimer’s at home, in a healthcare facility, or at an adult day center. The care may last for as short as a few hours or as long as several weeks. These services allow you to get a break to rest or go on a vacation.

What to know about costs:

  • Respite services charge by the hour or by the number of days or weeks that services are provided.
  • Most insurance plans do not cover these costs. You must pay all costs not covered by insurance or other funding sources.
  • Medicare will cover most of the cost of up to 5 days in a row of respite care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility for a person receiving hospice care.
  • Medicaid also may offer assistance. For more information on Medicare and Medicaid, see Paying for Care.
  • There may be other sources of funding in your state. Visit the ARCH National Respite Locator for more information.

How to find them:

Geriatric Care Managers

Geriatric care managers make a home visit and suggest needed services. They also can help you get needed services.

What to know about costs:

  • Geriatric care managers charge by the hour.
  • Most insurance plans don’t cover these costs.
  • Medicare does not pay for this service.
  • You will probably have to pay for this service.

How to find them:

Counseling from a Mental Health or Social Work Professional

Mental health or social work professionals help you understand your feelings, such as anger, sadness, or feeling out of control and overwhelmed, and help you deal with any stress you may be feeling. They also help develop plans for unexpected or sudden events.

What to know about costs:

  • Professional mental health counselors charge by the hour. There may be big differences in the rates you would be charged from one counselor to another.
  • Some insurance companies will cover some of these costs.
  • Medicare or Medicaid may cover some of these costs.
  • You must pay all costs not covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or insurance.

How to find them:

  • It’s a good idea to ask your health insurance staff which counselors and services, if any, your insurance plan covers. Then check with your doctor, local family service agencies, and community mental health agencies for referrals to counselors.

Hospice Services

Hospice services provide care for a person who is near the end of life. They keep the person who is dying as comfortable and pain-free as possible, and provide care in the home or in a hospice facility. They also support the family in providing in-home or end-of-life care.

What to know about costs:

  • Hospice services charge by the number of days or weeks that services are provided.
  • Medicare or Medicaid may cover hospice costs.
  • Most insurance plans do not cover these costs.
  • You must pay all costs not covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or insurance.

How to find them:

Read about this topic in Spanish. Lea sobre este tema en español.

 

Citation

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/getting-help-alzheimers-caregiving

 

 

Mediterranean Diet: A Heart-healthy Eating Plan

(Mayo Clinic) The heart-healthy Mediterranean is a healthy eating plan based on typical foods and recipes of Mediterranean-style cooking. Here’s how to adopt the Mediterranean diet.

If you’re looking for a heart-healthy eating plan, the Mediterranean diet might be right for you. The Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating — plus a splash of flavorful olive oil and perhaps even a glass of red wine — among other components characterizing the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

Most healthy diets include fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, and limit unhealthy fats. While these parts of a healthy diet remain tried-and-true, subtle variations or differences in proportions of certain foods may make a difference in your risk of heart disease.

Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. In fact, an analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer, as well as a reduced incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends the Mediterranean diet as an eating plan that can help promote health and prevent disease. And the Mediterranean diet is one your whole family can follow for good health. mcdc6_pyramid_mediterranean

Key Components of the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes:

  • Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Replacing butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil
  • Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
  • Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
  • Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
  • Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)

The diet also recognizes the importance of being physically active, and enjoying meals with family and friends.

Focus on Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts and Grains

The Mediterranean diet traditionally includes fruits, vegetables and grains. For example, residents of Greece average six or more servings a day of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.

Grains in the Mediterranean region are typically whole grain and usually contain very few unhealthy trans fats, and bread is an important part of the diet. However, throughout the Mediterranean region, bread is eaten plain or dipped in olive oil — not eaten with butter or margarine, which contains saturated or trans fats.

Nuts are another part of a healthy Mediterranean diet. Nuts are high in fat, but most of the fat is healthy. Because nuts are high in calories, they should not be eaten in large amounts — generally no more than a handful a day. For the best nutrition, avoid candied or honey-roasted and heavily salted nuts.

Choose Healthier Fats

The focus of the Mediterranean diet isn’t on limiting total fat consumption, but rather on choosing healthier types of fat. The Mediterranean diet discourages saturated fats and hydrogenated oils (trans fats), both of which contribute to heart disease.

The Mediterranean diet features olive oil as the primary source of fat. Olive oil is mainly monounsaturated fat — a type of fat that can help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels when used in place of saturated or trans fats. “Extra-virgin” and “virgin” olive oils (the least processed forms) also contain the highest levels of protective plant compounds that provide antioxidant effects.

Canola oil and some nuts contain the beneficial linolenic acid (a type of omega-3 fatty acid) in addition to healthy unsaturated fat. Omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides, decrease blood clotting, and are associated with decreased incidence of sudden heart attacks, improve the health of your blood vessels, and help moderate blood pressure. Fatty fish — such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon — are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish is eaten on a regular basis in the Mediterranean diet.

What about Wine?

The health effects of alcohol have been debated for many years, and some doctors are reluctant to encourage alcohol consumption because of the health consequences of excessive drinking. However, alcohol — in moderation — has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease in some research studies.

The Mediterranean diet typically includes a moderate amount of wine, usually red wine. This means no more than 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of wine daily for women of all ages and men older than age 65 and no more than 10 ounces (296 milliliters) of wine daily for younger men. More than this may increase the risk of health problems, including increased risk of certain types of cancer.

If you’re unable to limit your alcohol intake to the amounts defined above, if you have a personal or family history of alcohol abuse, or if you have heart or liver disease, refrain from drinking wine or any other alcohol.

Putting it All Together

The Mediterranean diet is a delicious and healthy way to eat. Many people who switch to this style of eating say they’ll never eat any other way. Here are some specific steps to get you started:

  • Eat your veggies and fruits — and switch to whole grains.Avariety of plant foods should make up the majority of your meals. They should be minimally processed — fresh and whole are best. Include veggies and fruits in every meal and eat them for snacks as well. Switch to whole-grain bread and cereal, and begin to eat more whole-grain rice and pasta products. Keep baby carrots, apples and bananas on hand for quick, satisfying snacks. Fruit salads are a wonderful way to eat a variety of healthy fruit.
  • Go nuts. Nuts and seeds are good sources of fiber, protein and healthy fats. Keep almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts on hand for a quick snack. Choose natural peanut butter, rather than the kind with hydrogenated fat added. Try blended sesame seeds (tahini) as a dip or spread for bread.
  • Pass on the butter. Try olive or canola oil as a healthy replacement for butter or margarine. Lightly drizzle it over vegetables. After cooking pasta, add a touch of olive oil, some garlic and green onions for flavoring. Dip bread in flavored olive oil or lightly spread it on whole-grain bread for a tasty alternative to butter. Try tahini as a dip or spread for bread too.
  • Spice it up. Herbs and spices make food tasty and can stand in for salt and fat in recipes.
  • Go fish. Eat fish at least twice a week. Fresh or water-packed tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel and herring are healthy choices. Grill, bake or broil fish for great taste and easy cleanup. Avoid breaded and fried fish.
  • Rein in the red meat. Limit red meat to no more than a few times a month. Substitute fish and poultry for red meat. When choosing red meat, make sure it’s lean and keep portions small (about the size of a deck of cards). Also avoid sausage, bacon and other high-fat, processed meats.
  • Choose low-fat dairy. Limit higher fat dairy products, such as whole or 2 percent milk, cheese and ice cream. Switch to skim milk, fat-free yogurt and low-fat cheese.
Citation

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801

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