5 Essential Skills for the Caregiver


Being a caregiver for a loved one isn’t always easy, but at the same time, it can be a wonderfully rewarding experience. Millions of Americans provide unpaid care to someone in their lives — a family member, friend, or neighbor — which means actively putting someone else’s needs first to help ensure their safety, health, and well-being. At Syncare Memory Suites, a specialized private memory care home in Minnesota, we intimately understand the importance of the caregiver role. It’s a role that often takes practice, and if it’s a job you’ve taken on, here are our tips for mastering the five essential caregiver skills.

Effective Communication

The biggest key to a successful caregiving role is communication. Being able to communicate well with whomever you are providing help will ensure that you can provide the level of care they need. That includes being a good listener, avoiding raising your voice simply because someone is older, avoiding speaking too quickly, and ensuring that you’re using clear, simple language. Good communication skills don’t always come naturally, but you can work on improving yours by asking questions, paying careful attention when your loved one speaks, being clear and concise, and practicing or developing the remaining five essential skills outlined below.


It’s normal to feel frustrated at times in a caregiver’s role. But practicing patience is important for everyone involved. No one deserves to be treated in a condescending manner, and reminding yourself to slow down and breathe can be helpful. Remind yourself that your loved one isn’t being deliberately difficult, and that they deserve your patience and respect in every interaction. It’s not alway easy, but it’s the right approach.


It’s easy to develop empathy for someone else when you take the time to consider life from their perspective. What sorts of limitations and challenges do they face on a daily basis? What must that be like for them? Shifting your perspective in this way often helps improve the quality of care and the amount of time you can make for your loved one.


A positive outlook can improve almost any situation, and it’s often contagious. Staying optimistic and focusing on the good things leads to much better care for you and your loved one. It’s not always easy, but committing to optimism is a habit that gets easier the more you do it.

Observation Skills & Body Language

High-quality caregiving requires keen observation skills. It’s important to read the situation so you can understand how your loved one is feeling, and that often includes taking cues from body language. Sometimes, body language will be the only clue you have into how your loved one is feeling. Pay attention to nonverbal cues to being building your powers of observation.

Next Steps

The caregiver role is incredibly fulfilling when you understand its importance — making life better, easier, and happier for someone else. Developing the skills we’ve outlined here will make your role as a caregiver easier and more rewarding. If you have questions, we’re here to help. Contact Syncare Memory Suites today, and let’s discuss the difference an experienced caregiver can make in the life of your loved one.

What Does “Memory Care” Mean?

Family members who are exploring different kinds of care options for their loved ones inevitably start seeing references to memory care. Here at Syncare Memory Suites in Minnesota, we know it’s important to understand all of the facts so that you can make the best decisions for your loved one. When it comes to a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, memory care is often the best decision. Here’s what to know about memory care so you can decide if it’s right for your loved one.

Comfort, Support, and Safety

Memory care is a unique kind of care for people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. A structured environment includes schedules and routines in place to help facilitate a lifestyle that is engaging, safe, and free of stress, while also cultivating remaining cognitive skills.

One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s and dementia is a decline in cognition. For a family caregiver, that often means ensuring a safe, secure environment and full-time, hands-on care. It’s not always possible to devote this level of time and attention to a loved one, no matter how badly you may wish you could. Memory care homes are designed to accommodate these special needs. 

Additionally, memory care works to simultaneously improve a resident’s quality of life while also helping slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia. With highly trained staff, cutting edge resources, and an individual focus on the resident, the lifestyle at a private memory care home is carefully cultivated to help your loved one feel a sense of purpose and enjoyment.

The Syncare Difference

Here at Syncare, we offer individualized engagement with our residents through activities including yoga, dance, social events, fitness classes, memory games, brain fitness exercises, and much more. It’s underscored by a wholesome, locally-sourced food program with meals that are carefully planned for optimal nutrition. And it’s our fully trained staff that really is the heart of our home.

Familiarity is an important aspect of a memory care home where residents can thrive, and our home really does feel like home. It’s also been carefully designed for the safety needs of seniors with memory loss, all while feeling beautiful and welcoming. For more information about how Syncare Memory Suites in Minnesota can help your loved one, contact us today. We’re happy to answer all of your questions.

Challenging the Stigma of Alzheimer’s


According to the Alzheimer’s Association, someone in the US develops Alzheimer’s disease every 65 seconds. It’s a startling statistic. And yet, despite the fact that one in 10 Americans age 65 and older has been diagnosed with this progressive brain disorder, Alzheimer’s is still a difficult, sensitive topic for many. Unfortunately, this hushed approach to a medical condition does more harm than good and perpetuates the stereotype that Alzheimer’s is somehow shameful. At Syncare Memory Suites, a specialized private memory care home in Minnesota, we understand better than anyone that challenging the stigma of Alzheimer’s is critical to changing how those who have been diagnosed are treated. Here’s why.

Understanding the Past

Around the turn of the last century, dementia itself was considered a condition of aging, and the notion of a confused, forgetful, doddering senior become a cruel stereotype. It wasn’t until 1910 that Alzheimer’s disease was named, and it would take another 60 years before we understood that it was the disease that caused the dementia. The risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia does increase as we age, but to assume that this progressive brain disorder is a normal part of the aging process is ignorant at best.

Changing the Perspective

Properly recognizing and understanding the facts about Alzheimer’s is an important first step. And with diagnoses of Alzheimer’s expected to reach 14 million by 2050, it’s critical that we develop systems to support these people — our loved ones, neighbors, and friends. That begins with speaking openly and frankly about the conditions of Alzheimer’s, and remembering and respecting the person — not the disease. Here are a few simple reminders:

– Avoid speaking about your loved one as though they weren’t there

– Don’t describe people with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis as a patient or victim

– Give your loved one time and space to find the right word or share their thoughts — they may be slower than they once were, but rushing to aid them can rob them of their sense of self

– Remember, always, that your loved one still has thoughts, feelings, interests, and considerations — it’s easy to begin viewing them solely as care burdens, but that’s unfair to you both

– Remember that words have power, and approaching every day with positivity and gratitude goes so far

Embrace the Syncare Difference

We invite you to learn more about care options for your loved one with Alzheimer’s, and what can be done to fully support and empower them. Contact us today to learn more about our specialized memory care home in Minnesota.

5 Common, Challenging Behaviors of Those Living with Alzheimer’s


As a progressive brain disorder, Alzheimer’s disease means a decrease in cognitive function and memory that creates substantial behavioral changes. For the family and friends of someone living with Alzheimer’s, these dramatic changes in behavior can be one of the most distressing parts of this journey. Syncare Memory Suites is a specialized memory care home in Minnesota, and we understand the challenges families face when a loved one is struggling with Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, there are coping strategies that can be helpful. Here are five common, challenging behaviors of those living with Alzheimer’s, plus our tips for managing them.

Outbursts and Aggression

It can be bewildering and frightening to families when a loved one displays verbal or even physical aggression. Do your best to remember that it’s the disease that triggers this kind of behavior — your loved one isn’t doing it intentionally.

Pro tip — Consider whether there might be an immediate cause for the behavior, including physical discomfort or overstimulation. Remedying these situations may help your loved one calm down.

Pacing, Rocking, and Other Forms of Restlessness

Processing new information and stimuli become challenging when you have Alzheimer’s, which can create anxiety. Often, this is expressed in behaviors that signal restlessness, such as pacing back and forth, rocking in a chair, or the wringing of hands.

Pro tip — Anxiety in those with Alzheimer’s is often triggered by something specific in your loved one’s environment. Try a soothing diversion, such as soft music or a change of scenery.

Repetition and Disorientation

Memory problems often mean a lot of repetition in a loved one’s words or activities. They can also display signs of disorientation in places that were once very familiar. Practice staying calm, and don’t try to correct or argue. It’s not worth the potential argument, so do your best to be patient.


Sundowning describes the uptick in symptoms like memory loss, confusion, and agitation that present around sunset for many Alzheimer’s patients, and it can be particularly troubling experience for everyone. It may be the result of a series of triggers, such as end-of-day fatigue, too much stimulation, internal imbalances, and the decrease in natural light.

Pro tip — A structured daytime schedule paired with a healthy diet can be helpful, as can keeping a home well-lit and closing shades and blinds just before it gets dark.

Accusations and Hallucinations

It’s difficult to know what to say or do when a loved one accuses you of something untrue or otherwise exhibits behaviors that aren’t based in reality. They may perceive something that isn’t actually there or display symptoms of paranoia. If these kinds of delusions or hallucinations persist or are otherwise alarming to you, it’s worth discussing with your loved one’s doctor.

Learning how to manage the symptoms and behaviors of your loved one isn’t easy, and if the time has come to find a more structured setting, Syncare is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our home and what we can do for your loved one.

5 Communication Tips When a Loved One Has Alzheimer’s


Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that progressively worsens. In a post about important things to remember if you have a loved one with this disease, alzheimers.net succinctly addresses one of its worst side effects: “As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, it becomes easier to forget that your loved one is still present. Many caregivers are frustrated by their loved one’s inability to communicate their thoughts or remember faces and names. The disease eventually takes away independence so that caregivers become the feet, hands, and minds of people struggling with dementia.” Remembering this reality can go a long way in helping you find patience. Here at Syncare Memory Suites, a private memory care home in Minnesota, we understand the many challenges that come for the families of those living with Alzheimer’s. Communication is one of them. It can be difficult, but it’s helpful to remember that effective communication with someone who has dementia is a learned skill. Here are five communication tips when loved one has Alzheimer’s.

Stay Calm

Symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s can create frustrating or alarming experiences. Do your best to remember that your loved one isn’t trying to be difficult on purpose — this is the disease itself. Stay calm, and avoid getting upset or overly emotional with your loved one. Elevated feelings will only complicate the situation and make it more difficult for everyone. Practice taking deep, even breaths, counting slowly to ten, or stepping outside for a moment to collect yourself. These techniques will help you regain control so that you can manage the situation as calmly as possible.

Maintain Steady Eye Contact

Staying engaged with your loved one is important, and steady eye contact is a critical element of active listening. Good listening skills require a certain degree of self awareness, so practice making a conscious effort to hear not just the words being spoken, but the message behind it. It’s a learned skill and it can be difficult with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s, but it will help you interpret what’s being said based on context. You should expect your loved one to struggle to find the right words, substitute words, repeat themselves, or lose their train of thought, and anticipating these patterns can help you manage them more effectively.

Make Notes & Keep Lists

You can’t expect your loved one to remember things like doctor’s appointments or check-ups, so don’t set them up for failure. Writing down notes and keeping lists of things like medications and important names and phone numbers will help your loved one better manage their disease. Keep these notes and lists easily accessible so they can see them throughout the day.

Avoid Arguments

Don’t waste your energy arguing over trivial issues. Remind yourself again that the disease is the culprit, and your loved one isn’t being deliberately obtuse or combative. Speaking calmly and rationally is a much better tactic, so focus on this approach when your loved one is arguing about something minor.

Encourage Independence as Appropriate

Your loved one’s level of independence may be greatly limited, but encourage them to do some things on their own. It may be something as simple as making their own coffee or tying their own shoes, but it’s important to let them do what they can for themselves.

Moving Forward

Outside help can sometimes be the best tool for you and your loved one. A private memory care home like Syncare puts you back in the role of loved one so that you have more patience and time. Learn more about our approach to specialized memory care — contact us today.

5 Tips for Discussing Dementia Symptoms with a Loved One


It’s difficult watching parents or loved ones age. But if you’re wondering whether some behaviors aren’t related to aging but to specific conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia, it can be even harder. Unfortunately, ignoring the situation won’t help. As uncomfortable as it may seem, a frank conversation is best for everyone. The sooner you understand the reality of your loved one’s condition, the sooner you and your loved one can make plans for the future. At Syncare Memory suites in Minnesota, we understand the challenge of this scenario. Here are our five tips for discussing dementia symptoms with a loved one.

Don’t Wait

It’s important to have this conversation soon after your suspicions arise. It may feel rushed, but reacting quickly gives your loved one the greatest chance of having a voice in what’s to come.

Plan Ahead

Take some time to plan how you’ll begin the conversation, and consider practicing what you’d like to say. It can be helpful to ask whether they’ve noticed specific changes in their own behavior, whether they’ve given any thought to long-term care planning, or whether they’d be open to hearing your thoughts about changes you’ve noticed.

Consider Who Should Be Involved

This conversation may be more effective if someone else is involved. If your loved one has a particularly close family member or friend, consider the value of their presence. Your loved one may feel more open to the conversation if they understand your concerns are shared with someone they trust.

Be Realistic about the Challenges of the Conversation

Discussing the possibility of Alzheimer’s or dementia isn’t an easy conversation, and you should recognize that your loved one may be defensive or even angry. If your loved one isn’t amenable to the discussion, follow their lead and plan to resume the conversation at another time. If your loved one refuses to discuss your concerns, consider asking a medical professional to step in.

Be Supportive

This can be a highly charged conversation, and it’s normal for your loved one to feel frightened or overwhelmed. Let them know you’re here to offer support now and into the future. This kind of reassurance can go a long way.

The Takeaway

A formal diagnosis gives you a direction, and involving your loved one at the earliest possible stage means giving them the opportunity to be involved in important decisions. It’s not easy, but it really is the best approach for everyone. For more information about seeking a diagnosis or specialized memory care for your loved one, contact Syncare Memory Suites today.

3 Benefits of Snoezelen Therapy for Alzheimer’s Patients

If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you may be familiar with the term Snoezelen. It’s a form of therapy that was developed in the Netherlands almost 50 years ago as a method of increasing sensory experiences for people living with intellectual disabilities. However, Snoezelen therapy has proven just as effective for people with different kinds of dementia, which is why it’s being incorporated into memory care facilities. Here are three benefits of Snoezelen therapy for Alzheimer’s patients.

What is Snoezelen Therapy?

 The word itself is a combination of two Dutch words. “Snuffelen” means to seek and explore, and “doezelen” means to relax. Snoezelen refers to highly structured, therapeutic spaces that incorporate light, scent, sound, and music to promote soothing calmness for people living with different disorders and conditions, including Alzheimer’s. These environments include a mix of stimuli intended to reduce common symptoms like agitation and restlessness, which can help improve quality of life for people with dementia.

Specific Benefits of Snoezelen for Alzheimer’s

 Dementia disorders are characterized by a number of symptoms, and sensory deprivation is one of them. A Snoezelen room is an effective way to engage seniors living with these disorders. The rooms can be tailored to individuals, incorporating personalized stimuli that target all seven senses.

 One of the biggest impacts of Snoezelen therapy is its ability to calm a senior’s fears while promoting trust in their caregivers. Time spent in the Snoezelen room facilitates verbal and non-verbal communication, and that’s something that often continues after the therapy. 

Sharing an experience in a Snoezelen environment can help deepen connections between seniors and caregivers, which is particularly important in a private memory care community like Syncare Memory Suites here in Minnesota. It’s our goal to create lasting, trusting relationships with our residents, and sensory therapy can help.

 This level of sensory therapy is also designed to promote calmer behavior without resorting to medications. These non-threatening, gently stimulating environments reduce tension, making them particularly useful during periods of sundowning.

Therapy with Specific Goals

While Snoezelen isn’t intended to reverse the progression of Alzheimer’s, it does offer a specific goal-oriented focus for everyone who uses it. Helping residents feel less fearful, less agitated, and more relaxed all contribute to improved quality of life. For people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, that’s important.

Questions about Snoezelen therapy, and how Syncare Memory Suites incorporates sensory therapy into our residents’ daily lives? Contact us today.

The Benefits of Music Therapy in Dementia Care


For seniors living with progressive brain disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, music therapy can prove to be a wonderful cognitive intervention. At Syncare Memory Suites, a specialized private memory care home in Minnesota, we incorporate a variety of proven therapies into the daily lives of our residents. Music is one of them. It’s been proven to boost brain activity in several ways, and it’s an excellent way to improve quality of life.

What is Music Therapy?

This evidence-based therapy falls into the same category as physical and occupational therapy, as well as speech-language pathology. Music is used as a therapeutic tool to address a variety of patient needs, including physical, social, psychological, emotional, behavioral, and even spiritual. For people living with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s in particular, music has been shown to activate different parts of the brain.

According to a study shared by Alzheimers.net, musical aptitude and appreciation are among the last remaining abilities of those living with Alzheimer’s. That’s why music can function as a tool for reaching beyond the disease to the person. Here are three benefits of music therapy for dementia care.

An Emotional Connection

Even people living with the most advanced instances of Alzheimer’s can demonstrate emotion with music. Music is an emotional experience that often triggers memories. By pairing music with day-to-day activities, residents can settle into a familiar rhythm that can help them maintain cognitive ability.

Enhanced Engagement

Listening to music and singing along both spark activity in various parts of the brain. It’s a stimulating experience that’s equally enjoyable, which makes it ideal for exercising the mind. As a shared activity, music can also promote emotional and even physical closeness.

Emotional Management

Music therapy has been shown to help manage stress-induced agitation and mood. Listening or singing along to music don’t require strenuous mental effort — it’s effortless, engaging, and stimulating, which is what makes it so appropriate for those with progressive brain disorders.

Learn More

For more information on the music therapy offered here at Syncare, or details about our specialized approach to care, contact us today. We’re understand the gravity of choosing a home for your loved one, and we’re here to help.

Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s


Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease that slowly affects someone’s ability to reason, think, and remember. In time, the impact to memory, thinking, and social abilities is enough to interfere with daily living. Alzheimer’s can be difficult to diagnose, because certain symptoms may be characteristic of age-related changes. Still, it’s important to be aware of early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s so that you can follow up with a doctor if you notice them in yourself or a loved one.

Memory Loss Disruptive to Daily Life 

It’s not unusual for senior citizens to occasionally forget a name or an appointment, only to remember it at a later time. But persistent forgetfulness may be a sign of something more serious. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, chronic forgetfulness, particularly of recently learned information, is one of the most common signs of the early stages of Alzheimer’s. If you notice a loved one repeats the same questions, forgets important events and dates, and is relying on memory aids or family for regular reminders of things they used to manage on their own, it’s worth investigating.

Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks 

Forgetting the rules of a favorite game, having trouble driving to the gas station or salon they’ve visited for years, or being overwhelmed with the task of compiling a grocery list are all characteristic of another Alzheimer’s symptom – difficulty completing regular, familiar tasks. While a generational, age-related change may be needing help figuring out new technology, a symptom of Alzheimer’s is confusion and difficulty with something that used to be managed easily.

Difficulty Planning or Solving Problems

Some people living with Alzheimer’s may find it difficult to create and follow plans, or manage numbers properly. You may see it in your loved one’s inability to follow a recipe they used to know well, or managing their monthly bills.It may be hard for them to concentrate, and completing familiar tasks takes much longer than it once did. While an occasional error is one thing, chronic difficulty in this area may be indicating a form of dementia.

Confusing Time and Place

 As we age, it’s normal to become confused about the day of the week, or where we are in the month. Usually, we’ll catch our own error. People with Alzheimer’s routinely lose track of dates, seasons, and time in general.They may also not remember how they got somewhere, or even where they are.

 Misplacing Things & Getting Lost

 Misplacing things happens to us all, but we can usually find what we set down by retracing our steps. For people living with Alzheimer’s, it’s easy to lose things but difficult or impossible to retrace their steps to find what they’ve lost.As the disease progresses, it’s not unusual for a loved with Alzheimer’s to become hostile about this and accuse people of stealing. Mood and personality changes – confusion, suspicion, depression, anxiety, fearfulness – are another symptom of Alzheimer’s.

 Changes in Judgment and Decision Making

 A decline in grooming habits, poor financial decisions, or other questionable judgments can be another sign of Alzheimer’s. An isolated incidence may simply be age-related, but a pattern of spotty thinking could be something more serious.

 Difficulty with Speaking and Writing

 An aging loved one may struggle to remember a particular word now and then. Someone with Alzheimer’s, however, might have trouble maintaining conversation. You may notice them repeating themselves or stopping abruptly in conversation and not being sure how to continue. They may have problems with vocabulary or use the wrong words for familiar objects.

 Next Steps

They may seem minor, but signs like these could be symptomatic of significant health issues. If you notice any of these tendencies in yourself or a loved one, don’t wait. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia can be scary, but it’s important to understand the facts. At Syncare Memory Suites in Minnesota, we offer specialized private memory care for people living with Alzheimer’s, and we’re here to help. Contact us today – we’re happy to answer your questions.

A Loved One with Alzheimer’s — Three Tips for Celebrating New Year’s Eve


For a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, familiar traditions of the holiday season can be overwhelming. In a recent post, we shared tips for creating holiday joy in the midst of challenging changes and now we’re sharing three tips for celebration New Year’s Eve.

Make Resolutions Together

A brand new year feels like a fresh start. It’s the perfect time to assess your life and make commitments to changing for the better. Involve your loved one in the process of making resolutions. Consider committing to spending quality time together on a schedule, such as a Sunday evening dinner or a mid-week brunch. Putting these shared events on your loved one’s calendar will help them feel connected to you, and it’s an opportunity for you to spend quality time together.

Reminisce about Past Celebrations

Looking to the past is a traditional part of the holiday season. It’s a nostalgic time, which makes it ideal for looking through photo albums together, listening to seasonal music, and sharing stories of old. Memories can be triggered by familiarity, so try to incorporate any family traditions you may have for New Year’s. If your family celebrates in a special way, modify it as necessary and enjoy.

Make the Countdown Work for You

The traditional countdown on New Year’s Eve is to midnight, but that may not be feasible for your loved one. There are lots of ways to count down. If you’re on the West Coast, follow the East Coast countdown for an earlier night. On the East Coast? Consider celebrating with a New Year’s Day breakfast. Either way, break out the festive hats and party horns and enjoy.

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s for your loved one mean inevitable changes, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy holidays together. Be open to modifying traditions to ensure your loved one’s safety and comfort, and remember to stay positive. Above all, you’re together, and that’s what matters.

Learn more about Syncare Memory Suites, a personalized and private memory care home in Minnesota. We understand the challenges you face when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and we’re here to answer your questions. Contact us today.