What are the Common Medications Used to Help People With Alzheimer's?

 

While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, several prescription drugs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help people living with memory impairment experience a higher quality of life.

By slowing down the disease’s progression and helping to ease many of the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s, there are medications that help people maintain their independence for a longer period of time and maintain their dignity as the disease advances.

 

Cholinesterase Inhibitors for Alzheimer’s Disease

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, many of the cognitive symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease, including memory loss and confusion, occur when cells and communication networks in the brain are damaged or destroyed. While there is currently no drug available that can stop this process, some medications may help slow it down by creating a more stable environment in the brain.

Cholinesterase inhibitors like Razadyne (galantamine), Exelon (rivastigmine) and Aricept (donepezil) are often prescribed to ease the symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

Memory care researchers do not understand exactly how Alzheimer’s medications work, according to the National Institute on Aging. It’s believed they may help prevent the breakdown of a brain chemical called acetylcholine, which is involved in processes like thinking and recall.

Over time, Alzheimer’s may slow down the brain’s production of acetylcholine. This can make cholinesterase inhibitors less effective over time.

Namenda (Memantine) for Alzheimer’s Disease

To help with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s symptoms, doctors may prescribe Namenda (memantine), an N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist. Memory care doctors believe this medication helps regulate glutamate, a chemical involved in the process of storing, processing and retrieving information, according to the National Institute on Aging.

NMDA antagonists affect the brain differently than cholinesterase inhibitors. The two types of medications may be prescribed in tandem. Medications like Namzaric (memantine and donepezil) are a combination NMDA antagonist and cholinesterase inhibitor.

Antidepressants and Other Medications for Alzheimer’s Disease

In addition to cognitive issues, Alzheimer’s may also cause symptoms like agitation, depression and sleeplessness, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. To help increase the comfort and quality of life for the person with the disease, and make it easier for loved ones to provide the best care, doctors may recommend antidepressants like Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine) or Zoloft (sertraline).

Anxiolytics like Ativan (lorazepam) and Serax (oxazepam) may also be prescribed to help ease symptoms of anxiety and restlessness, while sleep aids like Ambien (zolpidem) and Lunesta (eszopiclone) may be recommended as a short-term solution to help reduce restless nights.

Other medications that may help reduce aggression, paranoia and hallucinations include Depakote (sodium valproate), Risperdal (risperidone) and Seroquel (quetiapine).

Medications for Alzheimer’s Symptoms

It is predicted that the number of Alzheimer’s cases will increase by 33% in Florida by 2025. While many medications can help ease the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, they are not without their risks. Some drugs, like anticonvulsants, can help reduce aggression but also cause side effects like mood swings and confusion, according to the National Institute on Aging. Taking common anti-anxiety medications can also lead to feelings of dizziness and confusion and increase one’s risk of falls.

That’s why doctors usually recommend starting at low treatment doses and carefully monitoring for side effects like the ones mentioned above, as well as nausea, diarrhea and decreased appetite. Adding music therapy interventions to one’s dementia treatment plan can also reduce the need for antipsychotic and anticonvulsant prescription medications.

To help ensure your loved one is getting the best possible care, it’s important to work closely with their doctor and medical team. If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, certified dementia care experts can provide strategies for managing dementia symptoms and behaviors at home.

Those with advanced stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s are often best served by a specialized memory care community staffed by certified dementia caregivers. Florida has extensive training requirements for dementia caregivers.

These nurses and caregivers undergo rigorous training that gives them a deeper understanding of how dementia affects the brain, empowering them to ensure every resident receives the highest, most compassionate level of care.

To learn more about how Sonata Senior Living’s memory care communities help people living with Alzheimer’s in Florida experience the highest quality of life, call a community near you today to schedule a visit →

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The Importance of Holiday Respite Care


For many families, the holiday season is an excuse to get together with friends and relatives to eat, drink and make merry. But for those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it can feel overwhelming to try to keep up with holiday traditions while still looking after their loved one.

Some caregivers may feel too guilty to leave (or even consider leaving) a loved one for a few hours to attend a party or get-together with friends. Others may forgo traveling to family events or making time for activities like shopping and decorating.

But for many caregivers, taking a break from the day-to-day routine of looking after someone else can be the best thing they do for themselves — and their loved one.

Taking Care of Caregivers

According to the AARP, more than 34 million Americans care for someone age 50 or older. They spend an average of 24 hours per week helping with everything from housekeeping to cooking to personal care.

It can be deeply gratifying work, but it can also be mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting. Caregivers report much higher levels of stress than people who don’t care for a loved one, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health.

Symptoms of “caregiver stress” include feelings of isolation, sleeping problems and weight gain. Over time, these symptoms can lead to depression, anxiety and a weakened immune system, as well as an increased risk of developing conditions like heart disease and cancer.

According to the Office on Women’s Health, people who care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia are more likely to experience depression and stress-related health issues than those who look after someone who does not require constant care.

“Unlike the Energizer bunny — it goes and goes and goes — caregivers’ batteries do run down,” said Elisha Beard, the supportive services coordinator for the Adult Day Program at the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, in a recent Forbes article. “And when they do, caregivers need respite.”

What Is Respite Care?

Many Florida assisted living and Alzheimer’s care communities offer what is called respite care. For a few hours, or even a few weeks, they provide the same level of care for your loved one as they do their full-time residents.

Depending on the Florida dementia care community, respite services could include bathing and personal care, meal preparation, and medication assistance. Some also offer specialized programming for visitors. At Sonata Senior Living’s Florida memory care communities, our respite care visitors can join in our Duets music therapy program, which harnesses the power of music to help ease symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

 

This holiday season, don’t miss out on the chance to spend time with friends and family or take part in your favorite meals and traditions. Letting a trusted respite care provider look after your loved one while you enjoy a week, a day — or even just a few hours — to yourself can lead to a more enjoyable holiday season for you and your loved one.

If you are more comfortable at home, find out how to help a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia get the most out of the holidays.

To learn more about Sonata Senior Living’s respite care program, call a community near you today to schedule a visit →

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The Gift of Music For Memory Loss


The way we listen to music has changed. Big time.

It seems like just a few years ago we were buying expensive stereo systems and speakers. Listening to new music required a drive to Tower Records. And no one dared leave the house without a few extra Walkman batteries in tow.

Today, we can access millions of songs and albums with just a few clicks and swipes on our smartphone. No stereo, car or Walkman required.

For those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, this makes it easier than ever to tap the healing power of music to help your loved one enjoy a higher quality of life.

The Powerful Connection Between Music and Alzheimer’s

Again and again, research has shown the power music has to help people with Alzheimer’s. The right song played at the right time can help reduce anxiety and improve cognitive function.

Music can also be used to make activities like eating and bathing less stressful for all involved.

That’s why many forward-thinking Florida memory care and Alzheimer’s care communities integrate music into their daily programming.  Music integration therapies are proven to alleviate many negative symptoms and behaviors of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Three Steps to Help Your Loved One With Alzheimer’s Enjoy Music at Home

If you want to help your loved one enjoy some of the same benefits at home, consider giving them the gift of music this holiday season. You don’t have to buy an expensive stereo system or a boatload of CDs. All you have to do is follow the three simple steps below.

  • Step 1. Pick a Device
    In the past, we had a dedicated console where we inserted our CD, tape or record. This console is also where we adjusted the volume. If we wanted to change the radio station or switch albums, we had to walk over to our stereo and do it manually.Nowadays, everything can be done from a device like a smartphone or tablet. You can also access and control music from a computer or video game console.Which device is right for your loved one? It depends on their needs and mobility. Smartphones are the most portable — many are small enough to fit in your pocket. But they’re also expensive (a new iPhone will set you back at least $699).Tablets are a little bigger, which might be an asset for those with limited vision. They’re also cheaper, with most coming in between $100 and $200. Computers and laptops vary in price, size and portability. Video game consoles are the least portable, but they also offer some of the best screen resolution.
  • Step 2. Pick a Music Streaming Service
    There are a wealth of online music streaming services available. Many offer a trial that allows you to listen to a few songs or albums for free for a limited time. But for the best listening experience, it may be worth setting your loved one up with a premium or paid subscription. Most cost about $10 per month.With a paid subscription, your loved one can listen to any song, album or artist in the service’s extensive library. Spotify, a popular music streaming service, offers more than 30 million songs. Google Play Music features more than 40 million.To access the music, you or your loved one can download an app on the smartphone, tablet or whatever device you picked in Step 1. The music can also be reached by logging into the streaming service’s website. From here, you and your loved one can make custom playlists and stations or access podcasts and live programming, depending on the provider.
  • Step 3. Pick a Speaker
    Most of the devices listed in Step 1 come with a built-in speaker or headphone jack. But to get the best sound quality, and to set up a more immersive home listening experience, consider purchasing a smart speaker. These vary in price from $49 for a single portable Google Nest Mini to several thousand dollars for a fixed multi-room system complete with amps and soundbars. In addition to streaming music, smart speakers offer a wealth of benefits for caregivers who want to bring music to those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Many are voice-controlled, allowing you to change songs and lower the volume from the other side of the room. Others can be integrated with a smart home system. In addition to switching albums, they can also be programmed to turn on lights or lock the back door.

Did you know the process the brain uses to encode songs is independent from other part of the memory? The neuroscience behind music and memory loss is fascinating.

If you want to learn more about the connection between music and Alzheimer’s and how it powers Sonata Senior Living’s innovative Duets musical memory care program, call a community near you today to schedule a visit →

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Three Proven Ways Music Helps People With Dementia

For people living with dementia, music therapy can be a powerful tool for alleviating many of the negative symptoms associated with the disease.

That’s why memory care communities in Florida are using everything from group singalongs to drum lessons to help residents feel more empowered, less stressed and better connected to their friends and family.

Every day, scientists are discovering new ways music therapy can help people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s enjoy the highest quality of life. Here are three of the most fascinating insights we know — so far.

 

  1. Music Improves Cognitive Function
    In an August 2015 article in Brain: A Journal of Neurology, researchers were able to prove that the areas of the brain associated with musical memory — including the motor cortices and orbitofrontal cortex — are the last areas to be affected by Alzheimer’s disease.This may explain why singing favorite songs can help improve one’s scores on cognition tests, according to a recent article in The Guardian. Other articles in publications like The Gerontologist and Perceptual and Motor Skills have shown that singing and playing instruments is linked to significant improvements in fact recall and autobiographical memory in people living with dementia.Even just listening to music can have a dramatic impact on the brain’s ability to process information. A study published by the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation showed that listening to music for just 12 minutes a day for three months can improve one’s executive cognitive functions.
  2. Music Makes Us Happy
    Dementia doesn’t just affect one’s memory and cognition test scores, it can also cause a host of emotional symptoms, including agitation, anxiety and depression.These emotional symptoms are the root cause of many negative behaviors associated with dementia. According to a study in Frontiers in Psychology, anxiety and agitation can make one more prone to wandering, aggression and self-destruction. These behaviors can limit the possibilities for positive social interactions and are a leading reason that people with dementia are hospitalized.

    Numerous studies have shown that music can dramatically lift our mood and improve our well-being.

    In 2018, Dutch researchers went as far as saying music therapy is the most effective tool for easing depression in people living with dementia.

    It can also reduce the level of stress hormones found in the blood, according to a study in the PLOS One peer-reviewed scientific journal. Another study published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing showed that music therapy made grooming activities less stressful for all involved and reduced instances of aggression.

  3. Music Reduces the Need for Medications
    With all that music therapy can do to improve the mental and emotional states of people living with dementia, it’s perhaps no surprise that it offers an additional side effect: reduced reliance on medications.A 2017 report published by Brown University showed that after six months of individualized music therapy, people with dementia needed less antipsychotic and antianxiety drugs compared to those who didn’t participate in the treatment.

At Sonata Senior Living, our Florida memory care teams are always tracking the latest developments in Alzheimer’s and music research. To learn more about our innovative music therapy programs, schedule a visit →

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How to Help Loved Ones With Alzheimer’s Get the Most Out of the Holidays

The holidays can be a stressful time for people living with dementia and their families.

For caretakers, it can feel overwhelming to keep up seasonal traditions while giving your loved one the care and attention they deserve.

For people living with dementia, the hustle and bustle can also bring on feelings of loss, social anxiety and emptiness, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. While some people might love all the festivities, others might find them confusing or overwhelming.

If you’re caring for someone with memory loss, here are some tips to help you and your loved one celebrate the season with minimal stress and maximum enjoyment.

 

Set Realistic Expectations (Especially for Yourself!)

Things are different this year. Even if your family member has had dementia for a while, chances are their condition has likely changed since last holiday season.

This year, give yourself permission to adjust your holiday traditions and events to your unique needs and situation. For example, if you’ve always hosted a lavish dinner party, consider inviting a small group of friends and family over for a potluck instead. If there’s room in the budget, hire a team to help you prepare for — and clean up after — guests.

Let friends and family know in advance that the celebrations will be different this year.

The Alzheimer’s Association has a sample letter for explaining your loved one’s situation simply and respectfully while giving guests guidelines on what to expect and how to respond with grace.

Preparing for the Event

Involve your loved one in the preparations, especially any activities that they enjoy. You might ask them to help with simple cooking tasks or gift wrapping. If they’re unable to participate, invite them to watch you get the house ready. The National Institute on Aging says this may help people living with dementia feel better prepared for the upcoming festivities.

When it comes to decorating, a word of warning: Be cautious with items like plastic fruit and vegetables or other items that might be confused with real food. Blinking lights may also be overstimulating, says the Alzheimer’s Association. Candles, as well as large decorations that could become tripping hazards, should also be avoided.

If your loved one has a favorite food, add it to the day’s menu, even if it’s not normally considered a holiday dish. But go easy on overly rich foods. The Alzheimer’s Society of Canada says they might make people living with dementia feel extra agitated.

Finally, plan events that your loved one can participate in during the day, like looking at photographs and singing their favorite holiday songs. Music can be a powerful tool for helping people with dementia enjoy a greater sense of well-being.

The Big Day

Give your loved one a place to recharge if they feel overwhelmed by all the noise and crowds. Create a schedule in advance to determine which guest will keep them company during their breaks. This ensures you get a chance to catch up with friends and family and enjoy the day’s festivities.

While you’re mingling and merry-making, talk to your family about your caregiving situation. If you feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities or think your loved one may need extra assistance, the holidays could be a good opportunity to discuss engaging the help of an assisted living or memory care community.

Dementia care experts at Sonata Senior Living recommend respite care during the holidays as a short-term strategy for those who may need part-time assistance caring for a loved one.

“The holidays can be especially stressful for families,” said Julie Fernandez, certified dementia care practitioner at Serenades Memory Care by Sonata. “A short break from caregiving provides the extra time people need to cook, clean, hang holiday decorations, prepare the house for guests or simply rest.”

At Sonata Senior Living, our memory care communities are dedicated to helping people living with Alzheimer’s in Florida enjoy the highest levels of independence, dignity and comfort, while giving their friends and family greater peace of mind. To learn more, contact us today →

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Why the Holidays are the Best Time to Move to a Senior Living Community

The holidays are one of the best times of year to move into a senior living community. There’s usually a full lineup of activities and social gatherings on the calendar, giving you plenty of chances to jump into the fun, meet your neighbors and make new friends.

If you’re considering moving into an independent or senior living community, here are three reasons the holidays are a great time to make the switch.

Instant Community

For many, the holidays can be a lonely time of year. Especially if you live alone and don’t have any friends or family nearby.

Loneliness doesn’t just affect how you feel emotionally. It also affects your physical health. According to the National Council on Aging, feeling isolated from others can be as bad for your health as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

Scientists have found that the socialization opportunities provided by senior living communities can add years to one’s life by instilling a sense of purpose and belonging.

During the holidays, most senior and independent living communities offer a bustling schedule of themed parties, programming and events. It’s hard to feel lonely or bored when there’s so much to do — and so many new people to meet.

Activities for Everyone

Many independent living communities in Florida go out of their way to make sure their holiday events are inclusive and open to all. You may find activities like Christmas tree and menorah lightings, non-denominational group dinners, and fellowship gatherings. Some events are only for residents, others are open to residents and their families, and some welcome the entire neighborhood.

Events aren’t just limited to the community’s dining halls and meeting spaces. There are usually holiday-themed shopping and sightseeing excursions, as well as trips to plays, concerts and other local cultural events.

Winter in Florida

Florida has some of the best winter weather in the continental United States. While the rest of the country is strapping on their snowshoes, Floridians are usually enjoying sunny and warm weather. Average low temperatures in Miami rarely dip below the mid-60s in the winter, according to usclimatedata.com.

Winter is also one of the driest times of year. In January, the average rainfall is less than 2 inches. That’s barely a fifth of what you see during the peak of the rainy season.

Independent living in Florida offers a full schedule of outdoor recreational activities and planned events during the mild winter months. The full holiday schedule will give you and your family plenty of opportunities to meet and talk to residents. You’re also less likely to feel pressured or singled out by the community’s sales team — everyone’s too busy celebrating the season.

To schedule a tour of one of Sonata Senior Living’s independent living, assisted living or memory care communities this holiday season, contact us today →

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Three Ways Technology Is Changing Diabetes Care in Florida

Diabetes is a “major health problem” for America, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s one of the top 10 causes of death in the country and a leading contributor to new cases of health issues like blindness, cardiovascular disease and kidney failure.

More than 2.4 million people in Florida alone are living with diabetes, according to the Florida Diabetes Advisory Council. Almost 6 million more in the state also have prediabetes, which can increase one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Those numbers are only expected to grow. Already, the percentage of people living with diabetes in Florida has more than doubled in the past two decades, increasing from 5.2% in 1995 to 11.2% in 2014, according to the Florida Diabetes Advisory Council.

By 2050, the CDC estimates that diabetes will affect one in three adults. As age is a key risk factor for developing diabetes, according to the CDC, this will be a major issue for Florida’s economy and healthcare system. Florida is home to more adults age 65 and older than any other state, says the Florida Diabetes Advisory Council.

Living With Diabetes

Diabetes doesn’t just affect one’s health. There are also psychological and lifestyle consequences of having to stay diligent about tracking one’s glucose levels, administering insulin and constantly monitoring food intake, exercise and other day-to-day activities.

Compared to chronic diseases like dementia, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), people living with diabetes have had more options for managing their care at home. But new technology is making it even easier, faster and less invasive to check blood glucose levels, self-administer insulin and prevent complications caused by the disease.

Here are three emerging technologies that will help more seniors living with this chronic disease in Florida enjoy a higher quality of life now and in the years to come.

  1. Smarter, Better Insulin Formulas and Delivery DevicesBrands like Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly and the French biotechnology company Adocia are working on faster-acting insulins that use ingredients like vitamin B3 to increase the body’s speed of absorption, according to the peer-reviewed journal Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics.Other companies, like JDRF and Sanofi, are developing “smart” insulin that can automatically track and respond to glucose levels in the body. Smart pens that include bolus calculators, real-time health information and historical data are also changing how people track and self-administer care.These advancements don’t just help the patient, they also help doctors and caregivers. New apps that automatically send messages about insulin doses, glucose readings and other health alerts help family members and physicians ensure they’re administering the best, most personalized care.
  2. New Insulin Delivery MethodsDespite the time and discomfort, most people living with diabetes get their insulin treatments via a subcutaneous injection. Some companies want to change that. Brands like Novo Nordisk and Oramed are working on oral insulin formulas strong enough to survive the digestion process and still deliver results. Others are working on insulin formulas that can be inhaled rather than injected.
  3. Additional AdvancementsArtificial intelligence and cloud technology are also changing how people with diabetes monitor and control their symptoms.Medtronic’s Sugar.IQ is a smart diabetes assistant that tracks data like food intake and glucose levels to analyze trends and make treatment suggestions. Other brands are using “the cloud” to consolidate healthcare records and integrate information.Blockchain, the technology that powers the bitcoin currency, also has the potential to change how people living with chronic diseases in Florida and the entire country manage their care. In one Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics scenario, each block in the blockchain could be used to store and share an individual’s health information, ensuring the patient and his or her providers are all working with the most up-to-date data.

As exciting as these advancements are, sometimes the daily efforts of tracking and managing diabetes symptoms at home can become overwhelming. At this point, it may be time to consider moving into an assisted living community that specializes in caring for people with chronic diseases. Caregivers at Sonata Senior Living help residents get the care they need while maintaining their independence and enjoying the highest quality of life.

If you’d like to learn more about assisted living and chronic disease care in Florida contact us today →

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Florida Senior Living: Dating Goes Silver

Florida Senior Living: Dating Goes Silver

One thing about being a single senior. It reopens the whole possibility of, dare we say it, feeling the fluttery excitement of getting out on a date once again.

Do you find that idea a little, well … intimidating? You needn’t.

Think back. When you were a teen, dating opened up a whole world of potential difficulties. Blind dates. You-two-are-going-to-hit-it-off mismatches. False starts. Not to mention the next-day joys of wondering whether or not the phone will ring.

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Florida Senior Living on the Web: Where to Go to Know

Florida Senior Living on the Web: Where to Go to Know

In recent years, a host of companies promising to help families find Florida senior living options on the web have set up shop, eager to serve the state’s growing population of older adults.

The promises of these services are appealing: Their local advisers work hard to understand your unique situation and then provide a handpicked list of senior living options in Florida that meet your needs. All at no cost to you.

But in reality, these promises are only half the story.

Many of these companies are actually referral services. They sell your contact information to providers who then compete for your business. Once you find a Florida senior living option that fits your needs, the provider may have to pay a hefty fee for the referral.

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