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Providing a Supportive Environment for People Living with Dementia
By Daniel Casciato



What are the Differences Between Alzheimer's Disease & Dementia?

Alzheimer's disease and dementia are often used interchangeably because some people believe they mean the same. However, each disease is different. "Dementia is an umbrella term for a decline in mental ability," explains McGuire. Memory loss is an example of dementia. Other common forms of dementia include Huntington's Disease and Parkinson's Disease. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. "Alzheimer is a dementia that can take years to show any symptoms," says McGuire. "It's a slower process type of disease and is identified in eight stages with different levels of decline in each stage. Alzheimer's memory loss takes away the intellectual ability of a person and it actually interferes with daily life." If you believe your loved one has Alzheimer's disease, here are 10 warning signs to look for according to the Alzheimer's Association:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Challenges in planning to solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
  • Changes in mood and personality

Only a physician can diagnose Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Each person may experience one or more of these signs in varying degrees. If you notice any of them, call your doctor today.



Moving a loved one who is living with a form of dementia such as Alzheimer's disease into a memory care facility can be a difficult, heart-wrenching decision, but Locust Grove Personal Care & Memory Care in West Mifflin, PA is making it easier for family members and caregivers alike. At Locust Grove, your loved one's safety and well-being is of utmost importance.

One of the main reasons to consider moving your loved one into a memory care unit is if they have started to become a danger to themselves.

"If it's winter and there's snow on the ground, they could wander outside and get seriously injured," says Lissa Sheets, Memory Care Coordinator for Locust Grove. "Or he or she may start walking down the street and forget how to get home."

Christine McGuire, Sales & Marketing Director for Locust Grove, adds that another important consideration is to minimize caregiver burnout. "The caregiver is on 24/7. They may have little or no help from family or friends. You can danger two lives instead of one."

McGuire says Locust Grove's memory care unit has been carefully researched and designed specifically for memory care. Specifically, Locust Grove's Memory Care Program includes:

  • Private Studio Apartments
  • Personalized Care Services
  • Special Memory Care Programming
  • Life Enrichment Activities
  • Weekly Housekeeping and Linen Services
  • Three nutritious meals per day and snacks
  • All utilities (except phone and cable)
  • 24 Hour access to caregivers

The Memory Care Unit focuses on the total well-being of its residents—not just on the disease itself; but rather more on the person who is living with dementia like Alzheimer's Disease. Locust Grove offers a comprehensive program that promotes active resident participation, respects individuality, and supports a resident's well-being at each stage of the disease. Each of their programs provide the residents with active engagement.

Once a resident moves in, each family will complete a memoir form which reveals a light history of a resident's past to get to know the things he or she used to do and things they once enjoyed. The memory care staff at Locust Grove will then build activities based on the memoir forms. This is just one way to make the residents comfortable and feel more at home.

Because of its small 8-to-1 ratio of residents per staff, the Memory Care Unit is able to offer smaller group activities that all residents can enjoy such as music therapy.

"We see more residents, who may not typically participate in many activities, usually find something they do enjoy and get a smile out of them here and there," says Sheets. "Their families really appreciate that."

Families and caregivers can visit their loved ones as often as they would like. One piece of advice from Sheets is to change your expectations of what you once considered to be a normal conversation with your family member.

"Every day is different," she says. "We understand that it's really difficult for the family members because it gets to a point where it's hard to carry on a normal conversation. Your loved one might be telling you a story but they may not be able to verbalize it quite the way that you had been used to. You have to adapt and just change your expectations of what a normal conversation is."

McGuire agrees. "Take each day for what it's worth. The expectations have to be different. Your mom or dad might not have as good a day as she had in the past and may not interact with you as she had been. Remember that it's journey for them—so some days are good and some days might be bad. Broaden your expectations when you are with them."

For more information or to schedule a tour, visit www.locustgrovesrliving.com.

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