Category Archives: Alzheimer’s

Preparing for a Safe Return

Alzheimer's Association

No one can keep an eye on another person 24/7. Even in the most vigilant household, a loved one with dementia—Alzheimer‘s or other memory disorder—may just find a way to slip out the door. After you have set up strategies to reduce the chance of wandering, it is also wise to pave the way for a speedier recovery if the worst occurs.

Strategies that support a quick return

  • Get an ID bracelet or necklace. Be sure to note “Memory Loss” and “ICE: [your phone number].” First responders know that “ICE” stands for “in case of emergency.”
  • Introduce your loved one to neighbors. Give the neighbors your phone number and ask them to call you if they see your relative out and about. You can even ask local merchants who know him or her to do the same.
  • Keep a recent photo on hand. Only a recent photo—not a favorite photo from 10 years ago!—will truly help first responders if they must look for your family member.
  • Make a list of possible destinations. Include your relative’s favorite places. But also list familiar places from the past: work, church, a previous residence.
  • Add GPS sensors on shoes or in a bracelet. These sensors can trigger an alarm on a door and/or help locate someone who has wandered. Some require a monthly fee.
  • Register with the local police and consider a Safe Return type of program. The Alzheimer’s Association sponsors a nationwide “Safe Return” program that is networked with local law enforcement. If your family member wanders, one call triggers an alert for help. A special bracelet also provides anyone finding your relative a number to call.

If your loved one does get out, spend 15 minutes looking close by. Then call 911 and any other services you have in place.

Does the chance of wandering scare you?

If you are concerned, give us a call at 949-716-1266. At Senior Life Management we understand the anxiety that wandering presents. How it can impair your sleep and make for very stressful days. As the Orange County experts in family caregiving, we can help you make arrangements at home that discourage wandering. We can also help you make preparations for a speedy recovery. You don’t have to do this alone.


When you Need an Energy boost

elderly home care

When caregiver fatigue strikes, many of us reach for caffeine. Whether it’s coffee, cola, chocolate, or an “energy shot” drink, the effects are immediate. Like a reliable friend, caffeine seems to help us keep going.

Pros and cons

Studies have shown many benefits from caffeine. It can enhance performance. It increases productivity and elevates mood. It may even reduce or delay Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

On the other hand, caffeine can be hard on the heart. It’s like giving your heart a stress test on a regular basis. It’s known to cause a rapid or irregular heartbeat and can contribute to high blood pressure. Insomnia and anxiety are also common side effects.

Too much of a good thing?

High-caffeine energy shot drinks are increasing in popularity, especially among older adults. Take caution. In a four-year time span, the number of adults going to the ER because of energy drink intake doubled. Among adults age 40 and older, the rate quadrupled! Although the numbers are small, clearly there is a trend. Symptoms ranged from palpitations and anxiety to actual heart attacks.

The Food and Drug Administration says that 400 mg of caffeine per day is likely safe. A 5 oz. cup of caffeinated coffee has about 100 mg. A can of cola about 50 mg. Energy drinks, by contrast, vary dramatically, having from 200 to 500 mg of caffeine.

If you want to quit

Caffeine can be addictive. Tapering off, or down, is easier than going cold turkey. One approach is to make your coffee or tea half decaf. Or switch to smaller servings or fewer drinks per day.

Another option is to respect your fatigue. Try to get enough sleep at night. And if life allows, consider a short nap midday. Listening to your body may be a wiser approach than reaching for a cup of joe or a high-impact energy shot.


Church Offers Help to Family Caregivers

I founded Senior Life Management with the belief that everything we do should assist seniors, the disabled, and their families. Since many of you are struggling with the care of older adult family members, this is what a local church coordinated:

From the Congregational Care Annual Report of Presbyterian Church of the Master in Mission Viejo, CA where I offered my Beacon of Hope series…

“Gerontologist and Registered Nurse, Kari Buist-Baker launched Beacon of Hope, a series of quarterly seminars focused on ‘The Challenges of Caregiving’ to provide support, education, resources and encouragement to caregivers and family members in our congregation and in the community. Her presentations in June, September and December addressed the aging process related to cognitive decline and Dementia, ethical standards of care, helpful community resources, the consequences of balancing caregiving with other family and job responsibilities, and the medication conundrum. The seminars ministered caring support and brought valuable information to over 80 people.”

In tandem with Beacon of Hope, a monthly Caregivers Support Group was launched by the church to care for caregivers struggling with the overwhelming demands of simultaneously caring for a loved one, holding down a job, and nurturing and maintaining good relationships with other family members. In this intimate setting, caregivers had the opportunity to safely share their experiences and challenges, discuss resources, and encourage and pray for one another.”

It is especially rewarding to see that my seminar had such long-lasting benefits to church members…