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Visual Stimulation and Memory Support

Posted on July 6, 2016 at 7:14 PM Comments comments (3)
Try these ideas at home when caring for someone who requires memory support.
Visual Stimulation – Aside from the brain, the eye is the most complex and incredible organ in the animal world. Vision is our most important sense, the one through which we gain most of our information, and the one that offers the broadest range of possibilities for stimulation.
As long as there is light, everything is visible, and potentially stimulating. Simply, vision is what happens when light enters the eye and is turned into electrical impulses by the eye’s retina. These impulses travel along the optic nerve to the occipital cortex of the brain. The brain then “sees” the image that the eye sends. Visual stimulation is brain stimulation, and brain stimulation is what we are after.
Visual stimulation for people who have Alzheimer’s can involve light, color, shape, or motion, or a combination of those elements. Gently animated lights, kaleidoscopes, colorful paintings, nature movies, fiber optic Christmas trees, a glorious sunset: all examples of visual stimulation. Some can have the added benefit of stimulating memory: a sunset might dredge up a memory of a similar sunset in the person’s past. He may remember a classic painting from a visit to a museum or from an Art Appreciation class in college. Light for visual stimulation.A most basic form of visual stimulation for Alzheimer’s and dementia is bright light therapy. This is totally passive, but can be effective for sleep and mood enhancement, especially in winter. Not everyone has access to a light source as bright as is needed for this, so provide much opportunity as possible to be in direct sunlight. Other sources of light, especially if they move or change color, provide a different type of visual stimulation. Avoid overly bright lights, except for lights that have been designed specifically for bright-light therapy, Also avoid lights that appear to move quickly or flash as these can cause confusion and over-stimulation. If you can find one, or still have one, the Lava Lamp® is a good source of soothing light stimulation. Don’t forget natural light. Bright objects that hang in the window, or even outside, and reflect the rays of the sun; stained glass trinkets that color the sunlight and allow it to shine through; mirrors that reflect incoming light and brighten the room; these all add stimulating possibilities to the environment.                                                                                                                                            Visual Stimulation for Alzheimer’s and Dementia,
By John Schmid on October 22, 2009 Alternative Therapy, Sensory Stimulation

Add these foods to your summe meal plans

Posted on May 31, 2016 at 12:01 PM Comments comments (5)

Food For Thought

Ah summer—an amazing time of year when fresh produce abounds. Many of summer’s fruits and vegetables are brimming with secret health benefits. Here are four particularly good food and beverage choices in the summer—as reported on in EatingWell Magazine.   Nothing says summer like fresh sweet corn. Did you know that two antioxidants—lutein and zeaxanthin—in corn may act like natural sunglasses, helping to form macular pigment that filters out some of the sun’s damaging rays? It’s true. The same antioxidants may also help lower your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration—the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60.  

Eating tomatoes could give you a little extra protection from the sun: consuming more lycopene—the carotenoid that makes tomatoes red -may protect your skin from sunburn. In one study, participants who were exposed to UV light had almost 50 percent less skin reddening after they ate 2 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste.  

Watermelon helps us to stay hydrated, keeps our memory sharp and
our mood stable. It also helps keep your body cool (by sweating) during hot summer months. The good news is that you don’t just have to drink water. You can eat it, too: in addition to delivering skin-protecting lycopene, watermelon is 92 percent water.  

Sure, a tall glass of iced tea on a hot day is refreshing, but did you know it might also do your body good? Studies show if you drink tea regularly, you may lower your risk of Alzheimer’s and diabetes, plus have healthier teeth, gums and stronger bones. Tea is rich in a class of antioxidants called flavonoids. Regardless of the variety—black, green, oolong, white or herbal—maximize the power of tea’s flavonoids by drinking it freshly brewed.

April is National Parkinson's Month

Posted on April 25, 2015 at 10:01 AM Comments comments (3)
As we round the corner on the last week of April, I would like to encourage readers to continue to learn more about Parkinson's disease.  Since April is National Parkinson's Month several of you have come forward with interesting questions.

Let the dialogue continue long after April is over, as well as your support of those organizations who provide much needed information, services and research to better understand this disease and eradicate it. 

Parkinson's disease or Parkinson's-like symptoms have affected my family, many of our clients at Senior Concierge Services and their families. So, it is something that is very close to my heart. It is life changing.

I encourage you to visit several websites for more information:
  • National Parkinson Foundation at
  • The Michael J. Fox Foundation at

Here's to a better understanding,

The Purpose of Ms. Kitty

Posted on September 29, 2013 at 10:12 PM Comments comments (102)
At SCS, we just picked up a client who was recently discharged from the hospital. Although she is delighted to be home, she has come to the realization that she still has a long road to full recovery. As a result, at 80+ she feels she has no purpose which makes her feel as though she no longer has value. Because of her depressed state she rarely smiles or initiates conversation.
This afternoon, her cat who has always been hiding during our visits, decided to venture out and investigate these new people who invaded her home. Once she determined that she would tolerate us, she ambled over to her owner, purring lovingly and jumping into her lap. Almost instantly the Mrs. came alive, talking softly to her furry friend and petting Ms. Kitty while smiling from ear to ear. This was the most animated our client had been in the almost two weeks we have assisted her. She told us about the many animals she and her husband helped. Because they lived on a farm, they took in many strays. "We always had the space, well someone had to care for them."  Then a light bulb moment... she realized she was still very needed by Ms. Kitty and others. Her spirits were lifted for the rest of the day.
This story illustrates what we already know...We All Need A Purpose! In this case, Ms. Kitty's is to show love to her owner, to brighten her day and keep her company. Our client's purpose is to care for Ms. Kitty, and to care for her son, daughter-in-law and grandson, for members of her extended family, for her church, for the hospital in which she volunteered for approximately 30 years, for her many friends and neighbors.
Animals can be therapuetic and bring so much joy into our lives. Sometimes a pet can be the catalyst for recovery, for rehabilitation and more. If you are considering bringing a pet home or giving one to a friend or loved one, please check out your local animal shelters. Perhaps rescuing animals can be part of your purpose!

Creating special moments

Posted on April 11, 2013 at 11:08 AM Comments comments (0)
Every day we see couples longing to rekindle some of their past, such as times when they:
•Went out to dinner
•Enjoyed going to the movies
•Danced to Glen Miller
•Saw Danny O'Donnell in concert
•Played pinochle with friends
•Went shopping together

Instead, during the winter of their lives, they have become Alzheimer’s experts, aides, housekeepers, cooks and so much more.

Today, non-medical home care providers offer life enriching breaks in the day for their clients and families. At Senior Concierge Services, we strive to meet these needs by:

•Having movie nights at home, with popcorn and movie sized candies
•Staging an Italian dinner for two, complete with candlelight and music
•Renting a Danny O'Donnell concert on Netflix
•Planning an 85th birthday party for a family who has a member with Stage II Alzheimer’s.
These very simple, special moments can mean so much to everyone involved.  I am always amazed at the joy we are able to create.  Families & caregivers may create these lovely moments too. Or they can partener with a non medical home care provider to "make it happen." 
With spring in the air, make it happen for someone you love by creating a simple indoor picnic, planting a small indoor garden with herbs or other veggies that are sure to flourish inside or installling bird houses to attract cardinals, robins and other signs of spring life.
Here's to creating special moments,

When is it time to bring in some help?

Posted on July 14, 2012 at 1:34 PM Comments comments (98)
I’ve been speaking with a family for about four months now about the possibility of adding non-medical services which would allow Mom and Dad to stay in their much beloved home. Everyone agrees that this is a necessary step however, no one is willing to make that final decision.

In the meantime, tensions are rising. Mom and Dad are blue, stating “we’re waiting for this final passage in our lives.” This could and should be a time to enjoy a round of golf, or two and more with some planning.

It saddens me to see seniors facing each new day with such a bleak point of view. Yes, it’s true, time is short, so, let’s make the most of it. How about focusing on maximizing each day with vim & vigor? Let’s laugh until our sides hurt! Let’s plan that game of golf, the lunch with friends, or a day of antiquing.

The bottom line...don’t hesitate to ask for help when each day is a burden, when chores seem overwhelming, when the spark in life has gone out.  Better yet, be proactive. Seek out a non-medical professional whom you trust and whose company you enjoy. Then jump in with both feet and hire that person to come over for an hour or two and you help garden, or with other chores. Ideally, start building that relationship early on. Think of this as an investment in a positive, bright future for yourself and for your entire family.

Here’s to a making the most of each day,

Home for the Holidays

Posted on December 15, 2011 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (0)
Your bags are packed and the entire family is eager to visit Grandma. She is really a remarkable lady. At 85 she still is living in her own home alone. She likes it this way and has made it very clear that she never wants to move.
The visit reveals that Grandma sounds much better on the phone. The reality is quite different. You see, it's easy for her to put on a good front during your ten minute telephone conversation. But, it can all unravel during a three day visit. 
Now what do you do?
This is not an uncommon scenario. It's often at holiday time that families find themselves making decisions about a loved one's care and future. Frequently, because of time constraints, it feels rushed and no one is comfortable with the outcome.
Most seniors and families that I have worked with often say, "I wish we would have planned for this." Or, "we should have discussed this before, taken some tours, and interviewed caregivers so that these important decisions would have already been made."
That sage advice is right on target. Don't wait until a holiday visit or for something tragic to happen to face the facts about caregiving. Do your homework now and most importantly, involve the senior in the fact finding and decision making process.
Consider involving a senior care professional in your discussions. He/she can offer objective guidance, facilitate conversations, set up tours and much more.
Here's to planning in 2012,
Jane Amata

Making car transfers easier with the right tools

Posted on October 15, 2011 at 3:16 PM Comments comments (0)
Yesterday I was out with friends at Joe's Deli in Rocky River. Their food is terrific and they are very senior-friendly. (That always gets an extra star in my book.)
As we were leaving the restaurant, we noticed an older couple. The 80+ year old husband was struggling to get his frail wife transferred from her portable wheelchair back into his car. God has a way putting us right where we need to be, as my friend, who is also certified in home health care and I went over to offer him assistance.
He was very grateful stating,  "Thank you so very much. I have a hard time getting Theresa back in the car. We've been married 65 years and we have always liked to go out."
After we got Theresa settled, I suggested that the husband keep a kit in his car that might make their outings more enjoyable. 
The kit should include;
  • An intact top sheet or extra large bath towel/sheet from your linen closet
  • A large, heavy duty garbage bag
  • These two simple household items are some of a caregiver's best tools.
The instructions are as follows:
  • Fold the sheet once or twice and drape it over the car seat so that there is extra fabric falling down on both sides of the seat.
  • Then, smooth out the garbage bag or other heavy duty plastic, placing it over the top of the sheet.
  • Now, when you transfer your loved one into the seat, the slickness of the garbage bag allows for easy turning to the left, while swinging her legs into the car if she is unable to do so for herself. 
  • Should you still need to shift her position, close the passenger door, and move to the driver's seat. While leaning or kneeling on the driver's seat, grab the side of the sheet that is facing you and gently tug until she is positioned comfortably in the car.
  • Don't forget to fasten her seat belt and yours too!
You are on your way.
Remember, when caregiving...
No matter what the task, always ask your loved one for his/her help. Let him/her do for him/herself first!

And, with winter just around the corner, add to the kit above:
  • A blanket
  • Bottled water
  • Non-perishable snacks such as cheese and crackers
Then, you'll be prepared if you get stuck in the snow.
Make it a great day!