Dementia: Helping Your GEMS® Shine

GEMS® is a staging system for dementia. Teepa Snow, OTR and founder of the Positive Approach to Care® philosophy, recreated the Allen Cognitive system of staging dementia with a positive twist. We can now view our Person Living With Dementia as one of Teepa’s GEMS® rather than on a scale of 1 to 7 or on a scale of mild cognitive impairment to profoundly demented.

What Does Aging Mean?

After gaining years of experience working and caring for the elderly, I can imagine many ways to describe what “aging” means. There are multiple factors that determine if one is considered old. In other words, a high number of years someone has been on this Earth does not define them as being old. In today’s world of medical technology, health products and smarter lifestyles, it may be hard to identify our kūpuna.

Redirection Using Humor

Do you know a Person Living With Dementia (PLWD) who repeatedly asks the same question? Does your loved one obsess about leaving the house so that they can go home? Maybe you know of a grandmother who blames everyone in sight for stealing her items. Challenging behaviors are common among PLWD and care partners are burning out trying to address these problems.

Having Help Close at Hand if You Fall

Every 13 seconds, an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury. Lower-body weakness, difficulties with walking and balance, and vision problems can make a person more likely to fall. Other causes include home hazards and clutter. Having a medical alert system can reduce a person’s risk of not being able to receive timely treatment, by obtaining immediate medical assistance in the event of a fall or emergency.

MemorC: A Free Memory Aid

One of the challenges for caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia is finding ways to engage their loved one or patient in tasks that strengthen the ability to recall who people are and what their relationship with them is. Dr. Warren Wong, a local geriatrician with decades of experience working with such patients, took on that challenge and has developed a free iPad app to fill that need: MemorC.

Dementia and Vision Changes

Human beings use five ways to take in data: sight, touch, smell, taste and sound. From the time we are born, we prefer to take in data first by what we see, then hear and finally through touch. Vision, our primary source for processing new information, is controlled by an area in the back of our brain called the occipital lobe. Dementia attacks and damages the occipital lobe resulting in skewed vision, poor depth perception and diminished peripheral vision.

Keeping Seniors Happy, Healthy & Strong

When a senior member of your family is in need of 24/7 care, it is fortunate that Hawai‘i has many professional, caring and dedicated homes and facilities to welcome them. What every family wants to know is: “Will my mom or dad be happy living in someone else’s home, eat right, and stay mentally and physically strong?”

From a Patient’s Point of View

People living with dementia (PLWD) have challenges with verbal communication: language comprehension, speech production, and vocabulary. But they are not unconscious to what is going on around them. Even as the brain declines, emotional intelligence is preserved. PLWD take in data visually rather than auditorily and react to what they think is happening. As caregivers we must remember that PLWD are really doing the best they can with the abilities they have left.

Being a Better Caregiver

Home healthcare providers are often asked what makes a better caregiver. The answer is that, while many factors come to mind, an interest in learning is high on the list, and essential to a caregiver’s progress. For example, an important role caregivers have is recognizing when an individual’s health condition is changing. Those who can reflect and learn from these changes often develop into better caregivers.

Caregiving in the Cycle of Life

Former first lady Rosalynn was a caregiver herself and she believed that family caregiving is a cycle of life that touches everyone. Here, four people, each at a different point on the cycle, share their care stories from the heart, offering words of wisdom and points of caution. As you read, consider your journey on the Cycle of Caregiving. Where are you? Are you prepared?

Is Assisted Living a Negative?

Despite the great advancements in retirement community resident care in recent years — some through government involvement, but most through business owners seeking to create a better quality of life for seniors — one of the challenges faced when discussing senior living options is the negative stigma that immediately comes to mind about “assisted living.”

Caregiving Overseas

Many family caregivers come home to Hawai‘i to assist aging parents. But how about caregiving overseas? When my mother died, Dad was 93 and slipping into dementia. His younger brother had retired to the Philippines, with his wife and insisted on providing care for his older brother, who had done so much for his family.

The Many Facets of Dementia

Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia — isn’t that the same thing? The simple answer is no. Dementia is an umbrella term for the different types of diseases that affect the brain. Alzheimer’s Disease is only one form of dementia. Also on the list we have Lewy body...

Unexpected Turn of Events

In March, during a mainland trip to visit our college daughter, I started receiving phone calls from old family friends whom I haven’t heard from in years. What I thought were surprise hellos were concerned calls. My mother, Kimiko Suzuki, 88, had reached out to them...

National Patient Safety Goals

Most seniors I meet say they prefer to age in place and live at home for as long as they can. Who wouldn’t want that, right? But living out your life safely at home may require a bit of help and experience. Home healthcare is particularly suited here; clients can manage their care with medical professionals to help make safer and more informed decisions.

A Lesson in Patience and Gratitude

My mother had always been a healthy, determined and spirited woman who was guided by her faith. With a high degree of humor and a strong work ethic, my mother, Tokiko Suda, along with my father, Sakae, raised four children and operated several restaurants in Honolulu....

A Stairlift Can Help

Do you know someone who has fallen and experienced detrimental effects on their physical health, confidence and emotional state? A “stairlift” is a viable solution for those who want to stay in their homes and it provides peace of mind for the family. Wearing the...

A Labor of Love

Every year, 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Of those, many will rely on their families for support. We often define illness as a term relevant only to the one suffering from a particular disease, yet PD reaches far beyond the individual....