It can be so hard to watch your loved one struggle with the effects of memory disorders like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. They can’t always find the right words they need to communicate, fall behind on chores and simple routines, like cooking and hygiene. They might even wander off, which is not only frightening but potentially dangerous. This can be very stressful and frustrating not only for the person whose memory seems just out of reach, but also for the caregivers trying to keep up with ever-evolving symptoms, all while missing certain aspects of their loved one that seem to have disappeared with time.
If this sounds like you or someone you care about, you might feel like you have tried everything to help ease the strain of dementia. However, there might be one seemingly ordinary thing you can try that has been there the whole time: music.
Numerous studies have shown that music therapy for dementia patients fires neurons in the parts of the brain most affected by the disease. Humans of all ages respond to music differently than other noise, such as the sound of traffic or a lawn mower, this is because music is what scientists call, “organized noise.” In other words, there are patterns, rhythms, and an internal logic to music that humans have evolved a response to. There’s a whole part of the brain dedicated to processing the music we hear! When a song comes on, that part of the brain lights up, and in turn signals other areas of the brain to also respond.
It’s part of why you can’t help dancing when something good comes on the radio, even if you’re sitting at a red light. It’s also why you can hear a song from years ago and feel awash in memories and sensations from that time. Both young and old respond this way. Babies react to music long before they have the language skills needed to understand the lyrics. And anyone who has spent time with kids know how much they love the repetition, rhyme, sing-along-song quality of classic children’s songs and even the hooks of pop music. What seems so natural and impetuous, can help seniors that feel isolated and withdrawn, to communicate despite their Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Playing a favorite song, album, or artist for your loved one can get them moving by lighting up areas of the brain most affected by their illness, such as those related to the nervous system. Music can help those with memory issues recall things that are not only harder to access, but might be the sort of memories and information neurotypical people might forget about until a sensory cue reminds them. You know, the kind of things that make talking about music so much fun—like biographical details about the musician, where you were when you last heard the song, or what you liked about the album art. Carefully listen to what your loved one says about their favorite songs or music from their youth, as it can be a wonderful way to reconnect outside the usual topics of medication reminders and daily doings.
Pull out old records or CDs and tailor the songs played to your loved one’s mood—upbeat songs for when they need a little stimulation or conversation, quieter songs for times of rest or when they need help calming down. Afterwards, chat a little about what you heard, or pull out paper and pens and each draw something inspired by the music, even if it’s abstract. You can compare drawings later, too. You might be surprised by what a big effect the right song can have, or if you’re a music lover yourself you might understand completely. Some things are just an inherent part of being human, and getting excited about a great melody or a percussive beat that hits the right spot is one of them.
If you want more tips for how to navigate the complex world of memory care, you can find plenty of resources at the Alzheimer’s Association website. Some of what they offer includes message boards where you can connect with other caregivers, friends, and family who are also struggling with a love one’s early, middle, and late-stage Alzheimer’s journey. There are also plenty of tools to help you find resources in your community. You can find them online at http://www.alz.org/care/.
If you need advice, support lines like the Veterans’ Affairs Caregiver Support Line can help. If you are looking for support or information on what the VA can provide, call 1-855-260-3274 or the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s line at 866-232-8484 (toll-free 9AM to 9PM Monday through Friday).
Written by: Meghan O'Dea
Regency at Pineville offers full continuum care, along with numerous services and amenities for community residents. If you are considering senior care but don’t know which care option is the best fit, here are the various senior care options available to you.
Independent living: this retirement lifestyle is ideal for those who are still active and independent, but prefer to have someone cook and clean for them.
Independent living may be for you if:
In-home caregiving: this senior care lifestyle is contingent upon the condition of the senior, which involves routine checkups to guarantee the wellbeing and personal satisfaction of the senior.
In-Home Care may be for you if:
Assisted Living: this senior care lifestyle is ideal for mature seniors who find that they require help from others to get around or fulfill daily tasks, not including intensive medical care treatments.
Assisted Living may be for you if:
Memory Care: this specialized senior care offers a vibrant quality of life to residents in need of personalized care considerations and exercises.
Memory Care may be for you if:
As with any medical decision, consult with a doctor or healthcare specialist for their professional recommendation of which senior care level is right for you. Additionally, for questions or concerns regarding senior care placement, contact us today for your no commitment consultation! Our community consultant specialists are available to assess resident needs, answer senior living inquiries, and happily welcome you and your loved ones to join our Regency Pineville family today.
Written by: Katie Hanley
There are many great reasons for retirees to visit or relocate to the area, but one key to the quality of life among the modern skyscrapers and historical landmarks is the rich abundance of things for seniors to see and do in Charlotte, NC – many of the activities at a reduced price for seniors, or free.
Regency Retirement Village at Pineville is located about 14 miles from Downtown Charlotte, which offers a wealth of things to see and do. The major attractions are:
McIntyre Historic Site – History buffs will love exploring what was the setting of a 19th-century gold rush and a Revolutionary War skirmish between British soldiers and American patriots. Enjoy a picnic at “The Battle of the Bees” and take a walk down the 1.3 mile nature trail.
BB&T Ballpark – Take me out to the ballgame! The BB&T ball field is a minor league baseball park and home to the Charlotte Knights. Located across the street from Romare Bearden Park, enjoy a home game with the family, and maybe a bag of peanuts and cracker jacks, too.
The Billy Graham Library – Explore over 40,000 square feet dedicated to America’s favorite pastor, Billy Graham. You will learn about his dynamic journey of faith in the one and a half hour tour filled with stunning multimedia presentations, interactive kiosks, photos, and memorabilia. Admission is free, but if you’d like to make a contribution, donations are accepted in the lobby.
NASCAR Hall of Fame – Calling all NASCAR fans! Walk through the Ceremonial Garden to see the names of legends that decorate the NASCAR Hall of Fame, a museum honoring the history and heritage of racing. Tickets are available online or in-person at the box office. Admission is $17.95 for seniors 60 and up, and you must have a photo ID. Sign up to join the membership program - all members get in free of charge!
Charlotte Comedy City Tour – Learn and laugh on the Funny Bus! Learn more about the rich heritage of Charlotte with a 90 minute tour around the Queen City. Along with your guided tour of the city’s architecture and history, this mature comedy bus tour will throw in a good laugh or two! The price is $25 per ticket. While the bus is not wheelchair accessible, you can call to discuss your specific requirements.
Freedom Park – This beautiful 98-acre park is the ideal spot for people-watching or entertaining grandchildren. Enjoy batting cages, baseball and soccer fields, basketball and volleyball courts, and also a concession stand. This park is family-friendly for kids of all ages to play.
Discovery Place – For those seeking an attraction to entertain grandchildren, you’ll hit pay dirt here. Science comes alive in the multiple exhibits designed for children. At Discovery Place, they’ll explore hands-on activities that encourage science in the world around them.
Carolinas Aviation Museum – Earn your wings! Browse through the 40,000 square foot hangar of Charlotte Douglas Airport, which originally consisted of only one building. The museum includes crafts of commercial, military, civil, and helicopter aviation. General admission is $12 for adults and $8 for children 6-18 years of age. Be sure to ask about senior and military discounts!
Wing Haven Garden and Bird Sanctuary – Located in the heart of Charlotte, North Carolina, this tranquil garden and bird sanctuary offers shelter for songbirds and wildlife alike. Rich in Southern horticulture, the gardens welcome visitors of all ages to discover and learn about wildlife preservation.
Tour De Food Charlotte – Take a guided tour through the city to learn all the local dives and dig in! Along the way, your tour guides will inform you about the historic facts and architecture of the Queen City. Depending on the tour, prices vary from $30-$60 per person. Wheelchair accommodations can be made upon request.
Senior discounts are available at select hotels, retail stores, restaurants, and grocery stores near these attractions. At Regency Retirement Village at Pineville, we arrange for our residents to participate in group outings to local attractions. Being part of a group of peers living together in Charlotte Assisted Living makes for a great way to experience these sights and sounds.
To learn more about things for seniors to do in Charlotte NC, visit http://www.charlottesgotalot.com/
Written by: Katie Hanley
Caring for an aging loved one can prove to offer many challenges, especially when siblings and other family members don’t see eye to eye. But when everyone can put aside their differences and work together, it allows seniors and their families to overcome obstacles and avoid the arguing and strife. In this month’s blog, let’s take a minute to look at some the obstacles families may face as senior parents become incapable of living without day-to-day assistance, as well as the solution for each to achieve family harmony.
1. The Needs Are Viewed Differently
In most cases, it is extremely common for the parent-child-sibling relationship to differ when it comes to perceived needs and assistance. The senior parent or sibling may likely say they are well, either from denial or fear of moving into an assisted living arrangement, but in reality they are needing of daily care and are thus refusing to accept outside help. For instance, do they require extra help getting around the house as their mobility is declining? Or is the onset of memory related disorders, such as dementia or Alzheimer's, beginning to affect their daily activities? It is natural for the senior to perceive they are fine and to become defensive when confronted with a different appraisal of the situation.
Possible Solution: When families disagree about how much care an aging parent needs, if the senior parent needs care at all, the conflict can often be addressed by consulting expert guidance and receiving a professional recommendation. Arrange a visit, either at home or in office, to speak with the senior’s primary physician. The advice from a healthcare professional can help to definitively identify the needs and suggest an appropriate care plan for your senior loved ones. Doing so may eliminate the conflict that prevents necessary care actions. Talking with a Regency community consultant may alleviate some misconceptions that might cause aging parents to dread the inevitable.
2. Parents Resist Senior Care
It’s normal for seniors to feel apprehensive about transitioning into assisted living. This sensitive topic can easily cause anxiety and hurt feelings, if not expressed properly. Often, a lack of effective communication results in talking down to one another instead of listening one another.
Possible Solution: When approaching the conversation of assisted living with parents or loved ones, be concise, clear, and to the point. Let them know that you’re not trying to hurt their feelings in any way or “get rid” of them. Do your very best to express your concerns so they know that you are coming from a place of love. Also, do your best to listen to their concerns. It’s critical to provide and educate your aging parent about the many options. Today’s assisted living communities have all the comforts of home and so much more! In attempting to convince even the most incorrigible parent to consider the idea of senior care, remember to never hide any information from them. Chances are they will find out and feel that the move is a forced migration. Be open, upfront about the process of finding senior care options, and include them in every step, if possible. Lastly, take things slow if your situation gives you this luxury. Chances are a decision regarding future care plans will likely not happen overnight. Senior care specialist Debra Feldman recommends having patience and understanding in situations where resolution takes time to come to an agreement. Arranging to stay overnight in an Assisted Living community can help the senior grow more comfortable with the idea.
3. Primary Control in Decision Making
A scenario similar to the first example, occurs when one member of the family takes the responsibility as primary caregiver, leaving everyone else without say, sometimes, even the senior. This can result in one sibling’s full control of deciding how the parent is cared for, along with their estate and inheritances.
Possible Solution: Broaching the topic of assisted living and estate planning is never easy, especially if the conversation does not happen until after one member of the family has assumed full control. And while avoiding the topic may seem easier to keep the peace, family members should always approach concerns regarding the well-being of an aging parent, even though it hurts to not feel included. If a dispute arises regarding estates and inheritances, consider contacting a family mediator. They will analyze each situation fairly and objectively. While compromise may not be found through a mediator, if a will has been written, legally there is no reason for concern. At the end of the day, the focus should be that the care needs of your loved ones are being fulfilled.
Written by: Katie Hanley