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Is it Alzheimer’s? Is it Dementia?

When it comes to catch-all phrases, ‘Alzheimer’s’ and ‘dementia’ may be two of the most common. The terms are used interchangeably to describe anything resembling memory loss or cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are in fact not the same thing. Rather than a specific disease, ‘dementia’ is an umbrella term referring to a decline in cognitive abilities (memory, reasoning, and other thinking skills) severe enough to impair daily life and independent function. Under the dementia umbrella, there are many different diseases, Alzheimer’s being the most prevalent. Whether Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, the diagnosis poses a significant challenge to the individual and their family. Griswold NoVA West is here to help.

Caregiving for the Long Term

Caring for someone with dementia can be emotionally and physically draining. As with most progressive diseases, symptoms of physical and cognitive decline will become more severe over time, requiring increased amounts of caregiving and attention from family members. It is not unusual for a family member or friend to assume a caregiver role out of love and commitment, and then find that they are ill-prepared for what this inevitably entails. The focus on another’s needs is to be commended but can often overshadow the emotional, mental, and physical health of the person providing the care.

Home care plays a significant role in helping those with dementia remain at home for as long as possible. The rate at which dementia symptoms worsen varies from person to person but the right support can allow them to safely remain in their familiar home environment for many years. The dementia care training that our caregivers receive prepares them to handle the unusual behaviors and tricky situations that often arise. They are fully prepared to:

  • Reintroduce themselves every time they arrive
  • Recognize that their client’s reality is just that – their reality – and should never be challenged
  • Stimulate short-term memory through cognitive activities
  • Validate their client’s feelings
  • Encourage and help them to reminisce about happy memories
  • Provide choices
  • Reduce distractions and keep things simple
  • Avoid using words that threaten their sense of authority or independence

Getting the Care Relationship off to a Good Start

Individuals with dementia can often be resistant to accepting care. Those at the early stage of the disease often become experts in compensating for their cognitive decline so that others will continue to think that “everything’s fine”. Those with more advanced dementia may react negatively when new people are introduced or when their routines are changed. Understanding what may be causing the resistance, and how that can best be addressed, is key to a positive care experience.

At Griswold Home Care, the first step that we take is to learn as much as we can about your loved one. During our initial consultation, we’ll ask about their past and current interests, who and what is important to them, what triggers their anxiety, what usually calms them, words or phrases used for certain tasks and activities, and much more. Sharing this information with the caregiver, before their first meeting with your loved one, paves the way for the relationship to get off to a good start. It may take a few days, sometimes longer, for the client to become comfortable and start to accept this new person but that first meeting can make all the difference.

The Benefit of Routine

Most individuals who suffer from dementia do best in their home environment where everything is familiar, and daily routines can more easily be maintained. The services that we provide to all our clients - with and without dementia- are guided by a personalized care plan. Developed in consultation with the family (andto the extent possible, the client), the care plan is the caregiver’s ‘road map’. Daily activities, chores and personal care tasks are done at consistent times.For those with dementia, this repetition of a set routine can be amazingly helpful in reducing confusion and anxiety. Someone who has watched Jeopardy every night for the past 15 years will feel a sense of normalcy when the program comes on, regardless of whether they can keep up with what’s happening or who’s winning!

With a professional caregiver focused on your loved one’s needs, you can enjoy a well-deserved break and have time to manage the other aspects of your life.

To learn more about our dementia and Alzheimer's care services contact Griswold Home Care for Northern Virginia West today or call (703) 348-9299.

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  • “Griswold Home Care NoVA West made my life easier by having a caregiver to help me get out and go where I needed to go. Being in my apartment was like a prison without their services because I wasn’t able to go anywhere alone. The caregiver that Griswold provided had such a good connection with me. It was like we were meant to meet. She was fantasti ...”
    - Ms. F.
  • “I would recommend Griswold Home Care NoVA West to anyone because I have been very satisfied. My caregiver is like a member of the family. She is a good match for me because she is a very kind person and knows what I want before I have to say it.”
    - Ms. B.
  • “Griswold Home Care did a great job with Lisa, and they were professional and provided back-up when needed. They never left me hanging without a caregiver. The office staff called me regularly, worked out payments, and it worked well. Having them here allowed me to go back to work.”
    - Mr. D.
  • “Griswold Home Care NoVA West is dependable, knowledgeable, and very helpful in many different ways. We have been impressed with everybody, especially the owner and the nurse. They try to do what is best for our family.”
    - Ms. L.
  • “Griswold Home Care is very dependable, on top of things, and they’re concerned about my husband as well as myself. They send good caregivers and we feel like we are friends with the caregivers. They’ve very concerned about me as well and encourage me to go about my daily activities.”
    - Ms. E.
  • “I just wanted to thank the both of you for the outstanding support you have provided us in very difficult situations! You provided care and comfort in a very trying time. Heather, you have gone above and beyond and I am so thankful!”
    - Ms. L.

About Jean Griswold

Our founder, Jean Griswold, was a care professional who became a visionary entrepreneur when she started the first non-medical home care franchise in the United States while running her own home care business.

Jean started at her dining room table in 1982 in suburban Philadelphia. Her husband, Minister and Doctor Lincoln Griswold, informed her that an elderly woman in their parish had died through the complications associated with malnutrition and dehydration because she had no support system to care for her. Jean was deeply saddened by what she felt was an easily preventable tragedy. She was driven to act.

Jean Griswold was an extraordinary leader. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1967 at the age of 36 but continued to work actively in her office until she was 79. She published a book, “Fears of the Elderly” in 2013.

Jean was born in New York City. She received a bachelor’s degree in economics and business from Douglass College and a master’s degree in personnel and guidance from Rutgers University. She received an honorary doctorate from Holy Family University in 2006. From 2003 to 2004 she was Entrepreneur in Residence at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She won numerous awards, including the Spirit of Philadelphia Award, the Working Woman’s 2001 Entrepreneur of the Year honor, and the 2002 MS National Achievement Award of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Jean passed away on January 28th, 2017 at the age of 86. She was an inspirational woman and entrepreneur, and despite her passing, her values live on in Griswold Home Care today.

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