September 9, 2022 by Dean Bellefeuille

Remember memorizing the order of the colors of the rainbow in elementary school? Many of us were introduced to Roy G. Biv to learn this feat – among the many mnemonics we learn that, interestingly, often stay with us for life.

As we grow older, some amount of memory loss in old age is to be anticipated; and naturally it’s much more pronounced when Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia is a factor. Scientists are continuously striving to identify effective ways to improve memory and cognitive functioning and have discovered some intriguing findings on “old school” techniques such as mnemonics. Here is what they have recently uncovered:


Mnemonics produces an association to a memory through a phrase, abbreviation, song, etc. This particular training revealed remarkable results in increasing activity in areas of the brain which are affected by dementia, resulting in increased retention of information.

You can discover limitless mnemonic strategies which are very effective in enhancing memory. For example, try mnemonic keywords. They are a fun and creative option to memorize words in a different language. It involves selecting a word that is much like the new word you wish to learn, and visualizing an image that brings the two words together. As an example, if you’re wanting to remember that chapeau is French for the word “hat,” you could picture Charlie Chaplin and his infamous black hat. The “Chap” element of his name can trigger the first letters in chapeau, and the memory will stick.

Spaced Retrieval Training

This tactic involves gradually increasing the length of time between memory tests, and was found to be extremely successful for people with Alzheimer’s. When compared with mnemonics, however, there was actually a decrease in brain activity, leading scientists to ascertain that the information was being processed more efficiently.

Spaced retrieval training is highly helpful for enhancing independence and reducing anxiety for those with cognitive challenges. Choose a desired event or activity for the person to keep in mind, such as a lunch date with a friend on Friday. First ask the person a question to ascertain if the memory is already in place. If not, remind them they are having lunch with Sally on Friday. Wait 15 seconds, and ask the person the question again. In the event that the memory is in place now, double the time to 30 seconds, and ask again, continuing to increase the time and ask again. If the person doesn’t remember after 15 seconds, keep repeating the method every 15 seconds several more times before determining that it is not an effective technique, at least not for this particular event or activity.

Both methods are simple, drug-free techniques to incorporate into the treatment for a person in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, or even for anybody who is seeking ways to improve memory.

Let At Home Independent Living provide additional support and resources for someone you love with dementia. Our creative approaches to care help make the most of a senior’s cognitive functioning, independence, and wellbeing. Reach out to us at (315) 579-HOME (4663) for additional information, and discover how we provide the kind of senior care Memphis, NY, and nearby areas prefer most. To learn more about all of the areas we serve in New York, please visit our Service Area page.

 September 2, 2022 by Dean Bellefeuille

If you’re in a successful, lasting relationship, you know that it requires compromise, commitment, and sacrifice. The happiest relationships are the ones where both parties selflessly take care of one another. This balance shifts, however, if the person you love encounters a significant health concern, and you need to take on a spousal caregiving role. And this shift can have an adverse effect on the dynamics of your relationship if you are not vigilant, as you find yourself in this new role.

Obviously, you want to do whatever you can for your partner. However, it’s important to ensure you’re not losing your romantic connection in the process. Attempting to parent your companion may cause bitterness – for the two of you. To promote healthy boundaries, keep the following in mind:

  • Convey your love for your partner in ways that have nothing in connection with the care you’re providing. Write love letters, provide simple, thoughtful gifts, and tell the person just how much you appreciate specific attributes you notice in them.
  • Be deliberate in creating opportunities to focus on your relationship aside from the injury or illness. Continue to participate in the activities and conversations you enjoyed together before the health issue arose, altering as needed.
  • Have an open, honest discussion about how the health changes are affecting you. Brainstorm ways to find a new normal that will be fulfilling for both of you, setting new, attainable goals and dreams together.
  • Encourage your spouse to remain as independent as possible. Even though you undoubtedly have the best of intentions in wanting to help, it’s easy to cross the line into causing harm to the person’s self-esteem. Plan extra time, provide adaptive tools, and step back when you can to permit the person to do whatever they can for themselves.

If all of this seems easier in theory, there are a few specific steps you can take to make sure you’re maintaining appropriate boundaries in your role as caregiver for a partner:

  • Place some favorite memorabilia or photos from previous vacations you’ve taken in places where you’ll see them frequently, to remind yourself of the happy times you’ve had together.
  • Offer hugs, hold hands, give a back rub or shoulder massage, etc. to stay in close physical contact outside of touch that is a required component of care.
  • Keep an active social network, both as a couple and individually. The activities you engage in with family and friends might need to be modified, but should never be eliminated altogether.
  • Work on resolving any conflicts in a healthy way, bringing in a professional counselor for help if required.

An at-home caregiver is a great option to make sure your partner has all the assistance needed, letting you prioritize spending quality time together as a couple. Reach out to a Syracuse in home care company like At Home Independent Living for help. Call our care team at (315) 579-HOME (4663) to find out how our services can help you and your family. To learn more about all of the areas we serve in New York, please visit our Service Area page.

 October 21, 2021 by Dean Bellefeuille

What inspires you to get out of bed every day? The answer is different for every single one of us, of course, but there is one commonality: it may allow you to live longer. Scientific studies are showing us that having a sense of purpose is an integral aspect in longevity, something shown in Japan – the country with the highest life expectancy on earth. The connection between purpose and living longer is important, and it’s one that often goes unaddressed. (more…)

 October 13, 2021 by Dean Bellefeuille

If you knew that a significantly better quality of life could be achieved for a loved one, you wouldn’t think twice about exploring that option. Yet one of the most beneficial types of care – hospice care – is one that family members shy away from, due to a range of common hospice care myths. (more…)

 August 13, 2021 by Dean Bellefeuille

Watch what occurs at your next family get together when a brand new mother places her baby in someone’s arms. The person will likely transition instantly into baby mode: a sing-song, high-pitched voice, overly-simplified speech, and exaggerated facial expressions. Of course, this is perfectly normal and actually good for a baby’s developing brain. (more…)

 July 26, 2021 by Dean Bellefeuille

While we are gradually easing our way out of this pandemic, we are figuring out more information on how it has impacted older adults – both physically and emotionally. We realize older adults have been at a greater risk of serious issues and death from the COVID-19 virus; however, the impact of 15 months of physical distancing and social isolation is now revealing shocking results on senior strength post-pandemic.


 June 14, 2021 by Dean Bellefeuille

Think of the many tools you use each day – your phone, hairbrush, toothbrush – simple things, but ones you can’t imagine living without. For millions of older adults, there are basic assistive devices available that could mean the difference between living at home and facing a move to assisted living. Yet nearly half of seniors living at home aren’t utilizing these helpful tools – even though costs are minimal.

A recent National Health and Aging Trends Study assessed the ability of older adults to perform tasks such as rising unassisted from a seated position and walking, and found that thousands of the participants could benefit from assistive devices.

Not only that, but the risk of senior falls from the lack of simple assistive devices is increased, leading to hospitalizations, serious injury, and disability that could easily have been prevented. In fact, once these devices were made available to seniors, according to research, disability rates for seniors dropped by 50%, along with a decrease in pain levels and an increase in the ability to perform activities of daily living independently.

Dr. Kenneth Lam, author of the study, explained, “It’s a technical problem which, unlike so much of aging, is actually solvable. In the hospital, I can order an M.R.I. and charge the system thousands of dollars. But down the road, that won’t help patients not fall. What happens when they get home?”

A program at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore is looking to change this by introducing inexpensive assistive tools to seniors. Through several in-home visits by an occupational therapist, nurse, and repair specialist, needs are identified and resolved. That could mean installing grab bars in the bathroom, removing fall hazards, or adding a shower chair or raised toilet seat. Small changes such as these can make an enormous difference in a senior’s ability to safely and independently manage activities of daily living.

With At Home Independent Living, the leading provider of Syracuse elderly care and care in surrounding areas, we’re pleased to offer in-home evaluations to recommend changes to the home environment that enhance safety and help seniors remain independent and in control. We can also help enhance senior’s safety, comfort, and independence through services such as:

  • Offering accompanied transportation for errands, medical appointments, and fun outings
  • Preparing nutritious meals and ensuring sufficient hydration for seniors
  • Providing assistance as needed with personal care needs for safe bathing/showering, getting dressed, etc.
  • Maintaining a clean and organized home
  • And more

Contact us at (315) 579-HOME (4663) to schedule your assessment today or to learn more about our senior care in Syracuse, NY and the surrounding areas.

 June 4, 2021 by Dean Bellefeuille

When it comes to working together to ensure the needs of your aging parents are met, even the closest of siblings can find themselves in conflict. Emotions and stress levels are, naturally, running high. Add to that your past family dynamics and history, which tend to resurface during challenging times, and it’s easy to see how difficult this stage in life can be for each of you. (more…)

 April 14, 2021 by Dean Bellefeuille

Even when memory loss and confusion escalate through the advancement of Alzheimer’s, there is a remarkable reprieve that often occurs. Previously termed “terminal lucidity,” it’s more frequently now known as “paradoxical lucidity.” It signifies a sudden, short-term regaining of clarity to a nearly pre-dementia cognitive state. During this time, the effects can vary from nonverbal but emotional connections to noteworthy cognitive recovery.


 February 23, 2021 by Dean Bellefeuille

With a great deal of negative news in the forefront of 2020, it is worth reflecting on a few of the remarkable achievements the year brought – including the advancements in dementia research. Katie McDonough, director of programs and services at the Alzheimer’s Association, shares, “There are many things that we’re learning and it’s an exciting time for Alzheimer’s research.”