Give-A-Dog-A-Bone Bagging Party

Some of our awesome seniors putting together 102 bags for Urban Underdogs. They put in 10 different treats, which makes it more fun for them and extra yummy for the pups.

Special Books Made for Dementia Patients

Article by Elizabeth Nelson

Thank you, Rachel for creating these books and Elizabeth for sharing.

Rachel Thompson first got the idea to design books for people with dementia when her grandmother, Marilyn developed the disease about 12 years ago and slowly lost the ability to read. Reading had always been an important pastime in Thompson’s family and a hobby she and her grandma bonded over, so the whole family felt it was a shame when Marilyn could no longer enjoy the books that used to fill her time and bring her so much joy.

Then one day, something unexpected happened. Grandma Marilyn began reading the headline of a newspaper out loud without trouble. It was then that Rachel and her family realized that she hadn’t lost the ability to read at all; she simply couldn’t see well anymore and had trouble remembering things like how to turn the pages of a book.

Photo: Facebook/Marlena Books
Photo: Facebook/Marlena Books

So Rachel decided to design a book that could help her grandmother and others like her continue to read even when their mental faculties are failing them due to Alzheimer’s and other diseases. She paired the idea with a senior research project she was already working on at the University of Waterloo and eventually developed into Marlena Books, a start-up company named for Rachel’s two grandmothers, Marilyn and Helena, who have both suffered from dementia.

Rachel thoroughly studied the procedural memory, particularly the way the procedural memory changes in people with dementia, before she began prototyping books for people in memory care facilities to try out.

Marlena books are printed in large font with good contrast, come with pictures, and tell stories that remind seniors of the good old days. Every page spread features a large arrow to remind readers to turn the page when they get to the end of it.

A year later, Rachel and her team began working on a plan to incorporate technology so that books would be able to change with the ever-changing needs of dementia patients. She created an easy-to-use app that allows seniors to access a variety of e-books and change the settings depending on their individual needs.

Marlena e-books have the same high-contrast and big-print design, complete with page-turning support, but they also offer a wide range of books and reading levels on one device. The app is easy to use and optimized for seniors with dementia to be able to understand and navigate, and accessibility features can be turned on and off depending on need and preference.

Photo: YouTube/Developer Marlena Books and Facebook/Marlena Books
Photo: YouTube/Developer Marlena Books and Facebook/Marlena Books

The e-books also function as audiobooks and can be personalized to allow the patient to hear his or her name in the story to help hold that person’s attention. Music is an option in the e-books too, a feature many seniors suffering from dementia find attractive.

For some people, the ability to read books may not seem like such a terrible skill to lose. But for book lovers, the inability to read robs them of a favorite hobby, as well as the mental workout that reading can provide. Reading fills the vast amount of free time seniors with dementia are left with now that they do many of the other things they used to do and contributes to each patient’s sense of purpose and well-being.

Check out some of the features of Marlena Books in the video below.

The Marlena team intends to continue to improve their products by tracking when individuals read, how long they read for, and which genres they most often choose. This data can also help families of people with dementia better understand their loved ones’ needs.

Together we are more than dementia! Share to spread the word about these amazing products that have the power to increase the well-being of dementia patients across the world!

Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?

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How to Help Seniors Face Alzheimer’s and a Downsizing Move

Downsizing during the golden years can be a major change for seniors. Furthermore, when those golden years have been affected by a recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis, seniors and their family members face even more challenges. Preparing for downsizing during this difficult time takes special care and consideration, but families can help make getting started less stressful for their senior loved ones by taking these important steps:

Research Options for Alzheimer’s and Memory Care

Being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, even in the earliest stages, can take an emotional toll. As you process your loved one’s diagnosis, it’s also important to begin planning for the chapters ahead for you and your senior family member. For instance, you may want to think about researching memory care facilities near you, so you can get an idea of the available features (such as housekeeping and medication management) and typical costs for memory care. On average, seniors can expect to pay $1,500 to $8,395 per month for memory care in Las Vegas, and different communities may offer different experiences for seniors who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Putting together a plan for Alzheimer’s care will not only make paying for that care easier for seniors and family caregivers, but it can also give you a better idea of how to plan the downsizing move. Because even though your loved one may currently be experiencing mild Alzheimer’s symptoms, and can safely age in place alone, at some point he/she will need more dedicated care to maintain a safe and healthy quality of life. Knowing that memory care or assisted living will be needed in the future could impact the search for a smaller home in the present.

Recruit Professional Help With Decluttering and Downsizing

The stress of dealing with a new Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be immense for affected seniors. Dealing with Alzheimer’s stress can be especially difficult for family caregivers, since the progression of this condition can present unique physical, emotional, and financial challenges, all of which can have serious health effects over time. To negate the toll of stress for caregivers and seniors, it may be best to get help with the downsizing move. For example, these days families can hire senior move managers to assist them with every step of a move into assisted living or a smaller home. These specially trained and certified professionals have the experience to make even the most stressful step in your loved one’s downsizing move feel effortless. Senior move managers can help with decluttering belongings, prepping a home for sale, and managing even the smallest details of this major transition, giving you peace of mind. A move manager can also help you look for professional movers who can help pack, secure,  and transport your senior loved one’s household goods to his/her new home.

Stay Patient When Helping Seniors Manage a Downsizing Move

If you would rather help your loved one declutter and prepare for a move, know that doing so can come with some challenges. For one, you may need to spend a few days in a row sorting through things, or you may need to break the decluttering process into smaller sessions. It can be difficult for others to understand, but seniors can form strong emotional attachments to even the most trivial items in their homes. Allowing your loved one time to process those emotions is crucial, but it’s also important for you to remain compassionate and patient along the way. So even if your loved one is not planning on downsizing for another few months or years, consider starting on the decluttering process sooner, rather than later. If your loved one plans to age in place for the time being, less clutter can also help them avoid falls at home, which can be an especially pressing concern for seniors who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

When you’re helping a senior downsize and deal with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, you are essentially planning for two major life transitions. So use the suggestions above to soften the process for you and your loved one. Also, remember to practice compassion along the way for both your senior loved one and for yourself.

By: Mike Longsdon

Photo Credit: Pexels

It’s In The Bag for Noah’s Animal House

Noah’s Animal House is an amazing organization that was built on the grounds of The Shade Tree shelter in 2007 to provide safety, shelter & support for the pets of the clients of The Shade Tree.

Seniors To The Rescue has donated Boo-Boo-Bags and Snuggle Beddies but so glad we could help with our It’s In The Bag program. We hope the items included will help the ladies at Shade Tree when they start a new life with their pet.

CLICK HERE to read more about Noah’s Animal House.

Kit-N-Play Toys