Early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a disorder that deals with the loss of brain cells that causes problems with memory and makes it difficult to function. Although the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are age 65 and older, the disease is not a normal part of aging. A common misconception is that Alzheimer's discriminates based on age; however, it can and does occur in younger people, and the disease worsens over time. With this in mind, here are three early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease, which can be very helpful in seeking early treatment.

Memory Loss

Memory Loss is a common sign of Alzheimer’s. Our brain changes as we age and we tend to notice that it is harder to remember certain things. However, confusion combined with memory loss is a sign that our brain cells may not be functioning properly. Alzheimer’s often makes it difficult to remember things you’ve learned recently, because it starts to interfere with how we learn things.

It is difficult for someone with Alzheimer’s who has memory problems to realize something is wrong. In fact, it may be easier for a friend or family member to detect this warning sign. Anyone showing examples of these symptoms should consider getting medical attention.

Shifts in Mood or Personality

Mood and personality changes which result in confusion, anxiety and depression may be a sign that you are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Being diagnosed with depression does not necessarily mean that you have Alzheimer’s, but it does increase the possibility of it. It’s better to seek treatment sooner rather than later, because personality changes may lead to violent outbursts at home, work, or outside.

Decreased or Poor Judgement

Alzheimer's disease may affect your ability to make decisions. Poor judgement can lead to a lack of attention towards everyday norms like proper hygiene, it can even lead to accidental theft or accidentally breaking the law.

Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but if it is spotted early, the disease can be treated to help slow down the effects. There is a worldwide search under way to find better ways to treat the disease, and even cure the disease someday.

Visit Alzheimer Society Ontario to learn more.

— Andy Osei

Senior Fall Prevention Tips: Safety at Home

Falls can happen to us at any time in our lives, regardless of our age; however, our risk of falling increases as we grow older. Despite this fact, there are a few steps we can take to decrease the likelihood of seniors falling.

One of the key elements of senior fall prevention is understanding why falls occur, then taking steps to counteract these causes. Some contributing factors to senior's falling include poor balance, decreased muscle and bone strength, reduced vision or hearing, and unsafe conditions in their surroundings (home, shopping centres, public transit, etc.). 

Here are some tips for making your home a safer haven for the senior in your life:


Senior Fall Prevention in the Bathroom

  • Equip the tub or shower with a non-slip bath mat to prevent slips and falls while bathing
  • Install grab bars in the bathroom, near the toilet and bath to assist with sitting and standing.
  • Install a raised toilet seat, if required
  • Use floor mats and wipe up moisture or spills immediately
  • Take the floor mat off the floor when not in use or consider taping it down between washes


Senior Fall Prevention in the Living Room and Bedroom

  • Reduce clutter by removing excess items which can either trip a senior or fall on them
  • Secure/tape down loose wires and cords, and anchor bookcases to the wall
  • Invest in a cordless phone to limit rushing to answer the phone
  • Improve visibility in the home by providing night lights and installing bright light bulbs, if needed
  • Ensure that all pathways are clear, especially the one between the bathroom and bedroom
  • Consider removing decorative mats or rugs, or tape them to the floor 
  • Use slow movements when getting up from a bed or chair. Sudden movements may cause dizziness


Senior Fall Prevention in the Kitchen

  • Store kitchen supplies in an easy-to-reach location
  • Place heavier items in lower cupboards or at waist height
  • Invest in a stable safety step stool with a safety rail
  • Use a step stool when accessing an item that is outside of our regular reach
  • Use non-skid floor wax
  • Always ask for help, if you cannot safety do something yourself


Senior Fall Prevention on the Stairs

  • Ensure your staircase is well lit
  • Install solid handrails on both sides of the stairway, and use them as you go up and down the stairs
  • Remove your reading glasses when you go up or down the stairs
  • Go slowly and ensure one foot is securely planted on a solid step before moving the other
  • Perform maintenance on any loose steps


Senior Fall Prevention in the Yard

  • Use bright lights near your front entrance
  • Keep walkways free of snow, ice, leaves, water, etc.
  • Perform regular maintenance on exterior stairs, repairing any loose steps as soon as possible
  • Store gardening items away when not in use 

— RV

Tips for hiring a personal support worker

Deciding to hire a support worker to assist you or your loved one with day-to-day activities is a significant life step. Before hiring a personal support worker to fulfill your needs, consider the following:


1. What does my average day look like?

Determining what daily needs you require assistance with is the first step to figuring out how best a personal support worker can help you to live your best life. Start by making a schedule of your daily activities. Feel free to add things you do now as well as things you wish to do in the future.


Morning: Make breakfast, shower, get dressed, watch TV

Afternoon: Make lunch, do errands, go home

Evening: Make dinner, walk the dog, watch TV


2. Which activities do I need help with?

Once your schedule is complete, review your activities and decide which ones you can do on your own (e.g. watch TV), and which ones you need help with (e.g. showering). After you've figured out which activities you need assistance with, note the time you usually do them and how long the activity takes. These details will help you and your personal support worker understand the type of support you need, and determine the amount of time you need support with weekly.


John needs help:

  • going to the bank and grocery store every Friday for 2 hours,
  • showering and getting dressed daily (30 mins), and
  • walking the dog each evening (30 mins)
  • preparing meals daily (30 mins x 3 = 90 mins)

Seeing your activities written out in this way is helpful in balancing personal support with personal independence. 


3. What can I afford?

Before hiring a personal support worker, you need to consider your budget, i.e. what can you afford? Consider your monthly income (from employment, investments, the government, etc.) and your monthly expenses (rent/mortgage, food, telephone bill, utilities, transportation, medical, etc.). Once you have an idea of how much money you can afford to spend on a support worker, use this as your guide to determine how many hours you can afford each month. 


4. Who do I hire?

Hiring a personal support worker can be overwhelming at first, but there are a few ways you can protect yourself. If you decide to hire a private support worker, ensure you perform a Criminal Record Check and Vulnerable Sector Search before you hire the worker. Don't be afraid to ask potential candidates for a list of references. If you choose to work with an agency, ensure you hire a reputable healthcare agency like CanDo Support Services that performs a Criminal Record Check and Vulnerable Sector Search check on its caregivers. 


5. How do I build a great relationship with my PSW?

Like any new relationship, the one between you and your support worker may take some time to foster. Do your best to speak and listen to your support worker, provide regular feedback to a private worker or directly to the PSW's agency, and give them a chance to improve. Don't be afraid to tell your support worker when they've impressed you, and thank them when they excel at their job.

For More Information, visit the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

— RV