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Alzheimer’s and memories: Use mementos as cues

Life is like a tapestry, woven from memories of people and events. Your unique tapestry reminds you of who you are, where you’ve been and what you’ve done.

Early in the disease, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease have difficulty making new memories, but memories from early in life are often relatively preserved. Sadly, Alzheimer’s disease gradually takes these memories. If you’re caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s, you can help him or her manage the onset of memory loss by creating a tangible bank of memories. A memory box or bank might also help reduce feelings of depression, which can occur with dementia.

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Long-term care: Early planning pays off

It’s best to talk about long-term care early — before medical or personal care is needed. Here’s help understanding, choosing and financing long-term care.By Mayo Clinic Staff

Long-term care is a term used to describe home and community-based services for adults who need help caring for themselves.

If you’re considering long-term care options for yourself, a parent, or other friend or relative, start the research and discussions early. If you wait, an injury or illness might force your hand — leading to a decision that might not be best in the long run.

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Alzheimer’s and dementia: Tips for better communication

Rethinking your listening and speaking strategies can help you communicate with a person who has dementia.By Mayo Clinic Staff

Communicating with someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia can be challenging.

A family member or friend with dementia may have difficulty understanding you, and you may have a hard time understanding what he or she is trying to communicate. There’s potential for misunderstanding, confusion or frustration in both directions — making communication even more difficult.

You’ll need patience, good listening skills and new strategies. Here’s help easing your frustration and improving your communication.

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Mixed Messages Complicate Caregiving

Every Sunday night, my former client Anna became exasperated when her 85-year-old mother, Lillian, had her once-a-week phone call with Anna’s brother, Don. With Anna, Lillian was perennially sour, complaining of pain. But on her calls with Don, she sounded chipper and contented. Anna stewed that her mother felt entitled to dump her negative feelings on her all week but then shared only positive feelings with her son.

Part of the reason, as Anna well knew, was that her mother had always favored her brother and wanted to please, not worry, him. The fact that it was the dutiful daughter, not the distant son, who nowadays took care of her didn’t change that.

But Lillian’s seemingly split personality and contradictory communication also reveals something about human behavior: All of us pick and choose what we say to whom and when because we have different relationships with different people and want to make different impressions on them. You may give one person the encyclopedia version of what you did that day and another the CliffsNotes. You may be emotionally expressive with a family member in one moment and sullen with another the next. You reserve the right to change your story or shade it various ways for different audiences.

These inconsistent messages can be confusing under ordinary circumstances but make family caregiving much more complicated. When an aging parent gives diverging accounts of herself to her adult children, it can inflame the natural tendency of rivalrous siblings to disagree about what that parent’s condition and needs are. Caregiving works best as a team sport. For family members to work together in concerted fashion, they need to start with the same basic information and a common vision. Receiving different reports from a parent undermines that.

Without becoming mind readers, how can family caregivers sort through a care receiver’s messages to figure out what she truly needs? Read more here.

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Home care services: Questions to ask

Home care services range from medical care to help with daily household chores. If you’re considering home care services, ask these questions to choose the best provider for your needs.

If you are recovering from surgery or need long-term care for a chronic illness — or you have a loved one facing a similar situation — you might be interested in home care services. Home care services range from skilled care provided by nurses or physical or occupational therapists to household support, such as cleaning, cooking and running errands.

Whether you’re planning to enlist the help of a home care services agency or hire a personal home health aide, knowing what questions to ask can help ensure that you receive quality assistance.

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Aging in Place: What You Need to Know About Healthy Aging

Aging in place means living in the home of your choice—safely and independently—as you get older. It’s about living out your golden years in comfort. But it requires planning for how you will deal with any challenges that may arise. In essence, healthy aging involves creating the right environment and putting supports in place that allow you to meet your ongoing physical and emotional needs.

Did you know that American seniors are healthier today than they have been in years past? One study found that older adults were 14 percent more likely to say they were in excellent or very good health in 2014 than in 2000.

Successful aging is influenced by a range of factors, including diet, lifestyle, and genetics. The reality is that you can be healthy at 50 or any other age by adopting a lifestyle that features regular exercise and a well-balanced diet. Of course, staying healthy and safe may require adapting your home to accommodate your changing needs, which you can read more about below.

This article outlines how the definition of successful aging has evolved over the past few decades. It also describes some common diseases that often come with age and explains what you can do to reduce your chances of being affected by them. And it provides practical tips on how to successfully age in place.

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