Every day we help families who are caregiving for a loved one with dementia. We are also partnered with countless professionals whose expertise lie in caring for those with dementia. Our Education Center recently introduced the program Music and the Brain which educates professionals on the power of music with your loved one, patient, client or resident. The Road Behind Playlist will unlock memories in those with dementia and help them to connect with memories from years ago. We do suggest trying to encourage the listener to listen with headphones as studies have shown this method provides many benefits for those with cognitive impairment. Play it during dinner, through quiet time, even in the background! We will be releasing a monthly play list for your loved one, patient, client or residents to spark memories through the power of music. We encourage you to share with anyone who could benefit from using it. We hope you love the playlist, get encouraged to keep a song in your heart and be sure to Plan for Life Ahead, never forgetting The Road Behind. Click here to access this month's The Road Behind Playlist!

COVID-19 has changed the way we do business, has changed the way we live our everyday lives and has changed our plans for the near future. Everything from school, graduations, work, vacations and even grocery shopping has been impacted. I recently heard a comparison that stuck with me. As COVID-19 approached it is as if we were warned of an incoming blizzard, but what we were left with was a very long, cold winter.

Maybe there was an intention of moving your loved one to a care facility before all of this started and it came to a halt when the Coronavirus struck. Now that we are seeing glimpses of re-openings, there is a need again for care for our loved ones. We must return to work and mom or dad needs help. Our loved one is no longer safe at home. Let us take a peek at what that will look like.

Communities all have different policies and procedures that meet guidelines. Some are accepting admissions, some are not. Some are doing virtual tours of communities; some are meeting in person at a social distance with photos and information to answer all your questions. Those accepting admissions will have a quarantine phase in place before a loved one can join the community. There is so much to think about that it can get overwhelming. Trying to figure all of this out on your own is not easy. It is so important that we make sure we carry on one step at a time when planning for our loved one. Is this something that has been discussed with them or perhaps the conversation is the best possible starting point?


If you have had this conversation, the next step in this process is to be sure your loved one has their disability documents in place. A financial power of attorney is the most important document to make any move to senior care possible. Without a financial power of attorney and healthcare documents, most communities would not allow you to move in because they require financial and healthcare powers of attorney to be admitted. It is also important that these documents are updated by an elder law attorney. Not all documents are created the same. We must be sure the language in the documents references not only someone’s cognitive competency, but they also must have the correct language for gifting so that if your loved one ever needs Medicaid, you can provide and have access to all that is needed for those government benefits when the time comes.

Once your documents are in order then it is time to figure out which senior community is best for your loved one. At Van Dyck Law, we provide that service in addition to taking care of all your legal needs. We will help you through process of finding the right senior care option whether your plan is to keep mom home with care or move into a senior care community. We will walk you through this process every step of the way and represent you as our client in all aspects. Call us today at 609-580-1044 to start the process for your consultation to see what services and plans may be best to get your started in helping your aging loved one plan for life ahead.

Boredom and Isolation are never a good mix for the person living with dementia and their caregiver. Throw in a global pandemic, and you may be facing quite a challenge. As abilities decrease and your loved one’s interests fade, it is a challenge to find activities that one can enjoy and feel capable of doing. Especially when there are so many restrictions in place.


The Montessori Dementia Care style approach focuses on re-discovering and supporting the person behind the dementia. Activities with meaning and purpose are put back into people's lives, based on their needs, their interests, their skills, and their abilities. People who have dementia often feel they are always being told what to by others. Here are a few things to focus on to empower your loved one during such challenging times:

1. Cognitive Skills
Cognitive activities can be performed in a variety of different exercises depending on the ability of your loved one. Try incorporating trivia, discussions about current events, newspaper articles, blogs, and other brain challenges for loved ones with higher cognitive abilities. These exercises may not be ideal for those diagnosed with more severe, long-term dementia as short-term memory begins to fade. Instead, try puzzles like matching words with objects or identifying famous landmarks are other tasks that allow the mind to stay active. These puzzles are all modifiable depending on the individual’s skill set. The important thing is to make sure your loved one is engaged and interested.

2. Life Skills
With dementia, an individual's short-term memory may fade, but their long-term memories remain intact. You can absolutely incorporate your loved one's skills, history, and background into life skills activities. If your loved one worked on a farm or had a garden, plan an activity like sorting or planting seeds. Consider a small herb garden which may be easier to manage. This is a chore that could bring back memories from when they were younger. If your loved one was a handyman, simple activities involving hand tools, like using a screwdriver or wrench will allow your loved one to complete an activity using skills that have been developed throughout their life. For those who were homemakers, activities involving baking, folding clothes, or household chores can be simple, and modifiable.

3. Movement
Stick to purposeful movements. Activities involving a full range of motion incorporating slow movements can be calming. Try to incorporate slow, deep breaths in these activities. If your loved one has physical limitations, you can have them seated in a chair. If they are seated, have them motion like they are picking an apple from a tree, painting a fence, stirring a pot, or placing flowers in a vase. These movements are universal and can keep your loved one active and engaged. Consider Chair Tai Chi or Gentle Stretching on YouTube.

4. Sensory
Sensory activities are important and can help keep the whole mind alert. For smell, use cotton balls and essential oils including citrus, lavender, or vanilla. Ask your loved one to identify the scent. For taste, have your loved one put their hands over their eyes. Line up three different bite size types of fruit, have them taste and see if they can identify the fruit.


5. Learning and Learned Skills
Those with dementia still have a great amount of creativity and NEVER stop learning. Have a loved one paint in a simplified setting. You can have them choose a picture they would like to or have them try to copy a photo. You can visit art instruction website, virtual zoo and museum tours and destinations if your loved one liked to travel. Try putting on a cooking show and watching together then make the recipe you watched being made. Remember that using a knife is a skill that some folks with dementia may still know how to do. We tend to take away tasks that our loved ones can accomplish when being a family caregiver. It is important to be mindful that your loved one, can sometimes continue these tasks in a safe manner.


6. Socialization
COVID-19 has put a damper on our Socialization through dining. Dining is a great way to socialize because it is an activity that is done every single day. Dining usually allows your loved one to interact with others and now your loved one may only be interacting with you. Have your loved one set the table, help cook the meal and chat, or clear the table while you are socializing. Incorporate the task with the socialization.

Every interaction should be focused on the physical and emotional wellbeing of your loved one. Create a stimulating environment where they can thrive in mind, body, and spirit.

The Montessori Method can have tremendous benefits for people with dementia, as well as their loved ones. The activities are generally easy to set up, can be modified depending on a person's skillset, and customized from a person’s lifestyle before the diagnosis.

Please give us a call if you need support during this time in caring for your loved one with dementia and think it may be time to plan for when the pandemic restrictions lift. Remember that legal planning for those with dementia is a specialty and it is important to consult with a firm that truly understands this. Paying for care, determining competency, and putting the right care option in place is a process. We have a team of Lawyers and Paralegals who can help walk you through the legal and financial situations you may be facing as your loved one progresses. We also have Certified Dementia Practitioners and Certified Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Care trainers as well as a Certified Montessori Dementia Care Professional on staff who can help you with the process of creating a stimulating environment for your loved one at home while quarantining. Call 609-580-1044 if you would like to discuss your loved one’s expressions or if you would like to start to plan for life ahead.

All powers of attorney are the same, right? This is untrue, and a very important thing to understand, especially in the midst of a global pandemic when disability documents are more important than ever. A power of attorney (POA) is a document that allows another person to act and make decisions on your behalf. This type of authority is especially important if you ever lose mental capacity or are unable to act. In the written power of attorney, the individual executing the document who is known as the principal, appoints another individual known as the agent to make financial or healthcare decisions for the principal.

A power of attorney can only be executed if the principal has capacity to understand the document. This means it is important for your loved one to execute a financial power of attorney while she/he still has the capacity to do so. If you and your loved one have legal documents, such as a power of attorney, that were executed prior to a dementia diagnosis being made, or if they are several years old, it is advised to update your documents.

What happens if a loved one does not have capacity and is unable to sign a power of attorney? A guardianship then would be appropriate which is a costly and timely process that involves doctors, going to court and a judge who will ultimately make a final decision. The person that your loved one would have wanted appointed when they did have capacity may not be the one that the judge deems fit.

Dealing with a dementia diagnosis on its own is challenging enough. Dealing with a dementia diagnosis with out of date or no legal documents adds a lot more challenges to the mix that many families are just not prepared to manage.

It is advised that you speak to an elder law attorney who has experience with helping families with a dementia diagnosis. There is so much more involved than just “getting your documents done”. If you think your loved one may need long term care in the future, there are ways you can prepare to manage these costs as well. Do not wait. Give us a call today to answer any questions you may have at 609-580-1044 before planning is not an option due to incapacity. There is no better time than before a crisis to plan for life ahead.

Boredom and Isolation are never a good mix for the person living with dementia and their caregiver. Throw in a global pandemic, and you may be facing quite a challenge. As abilities decrease and your loved one’s interests fade, it is a challenge to find activities that one can enjoy and feel capable of doing. Especially when there are so many restrictions in place.


The Montessori Dementia Care style approach focuses on re-discovering and supporting the person behind the dementia. Activities with meaning and purpose are put back into people's lives, based on their needs, their interests, their skills, and their abilities. People who have dementia often feel they are always being told what to by others. Here are a few things to focus on to empower your loved one during such challenging times:

1. Cognitive Skills
Cognitive activities can be performed in a variety of different exercises depending on the ability of your loved one. Try incorporating trivia, discussions about current events, newspaper articles, blogs, and other brain challenges for loved ones with higher cognitive abilities. These exercises may not be ideal for those diagnosed with more severe, long-term dementia as short-term memory begins to fade. Instead, try puzzles like matching words with objects or identifying famous landmarks are other tasks that allow the mind to stay active. These puzzles are all modifiable depending on the individual’s skill set. The important thing is to make sure your loved one is engaged and interested.

2. Life Skills
With dementia, an individual's short-term memory may fade, but their long-term memories remain intact. You can absolutely incorporate your loved one's skills, history, and background into life skills activities. If your loved one worked on a farm or had a garden, plan an activity like sorting or planting seeds. Consider a small herb garden which may be easier to manage. This is a chore that could bring back memories from when they were younger. If your loved one was a handyman, simple activities involving hand tools, like using a screwdriver or wrench will allow your loved one to complete an activity using skills that have been developed throughout their life. For those who were homemakers, activities involving baking, folding clothes, or household chores can be simple, and modifiable.

3. Movement
Stick to purposeful movements. Activities involving a full range of motion incorporating slow movements can be calming. Try to incorporate slow, deep breaths in these activities. If your loved one has physical limitations, you can have them seated in a chair. If they are seated, have them motion like they are picking an apple from a tree, painting a fence, stirring a pot, or placing flowers in a vase. These movements are universal and can keep your loved one active and engaged. Consider Chair Tai Chi or Gentle Stretching on YouTube.

4. Sensory
Sensory activities are important and can help keep the whole mind alert. For smell, use cotton balls and essential oils including citrus, lavender, or vanilla. Ask your loved one to identify the scent. For taste, have your loved one put their hands over their eyes. Line up three different bite size types of fruit, have them taste and see if they can identify the fruit.


5. Learning and Learned Skills
Those with dementia still have a great amount of creativity and NEVER stop learning. Have a loved one paint in a simplified setting. You can have them choose a picture they would like to or have them try to copy a photo. You can visit art instruction website, virtual zoo and museum tours and destinations if your loved one liked to travel. Try putting on a cooking show and watching together then make the recipe you watched being made. Remember that using a knife is a skill that some folks with dementia may still know how to do. We tend to take away tasks that our loved ones can accomplish when being a family caregiver. It is important to be mindful that your loved one, can sometimes continue these tasks in a safe manner.


6. Socialization
COVID-19 has put a damper on our Socialization through dining. Dining is a great way to socialize because it is an activity that is done every single day. Dining usually allows your loved one to interact with others and now your loved one may only be interacting with you. Have your loved one set the table, help cook the meal and chat, or clear the table while you are socializing. Incorporate the task with the socialization.

Every interaction should be focused on the physical and emotional wellbeing of your loved one. Create a stimulating environment where they can thrive in mind, body, and spirit.

The Montessori Method can have tremendous benefits for people with dementia, as well as their loved ones. The activities are generally easy to set up, can be modified depending on a person's skillset, and customized from a person’s lifestyle before the diagnosis.

Please give us a call if you need support during this time in caring for your loved one with dementia and think it may be time to plan for when the pandemic restrictions lift. Remember that legal planning for those with dementia is a specialty and it is important to consult with a firm that truly understands this. Paying for care, determining competency, and putting the right care option in place is a process. We have a team of Lawyers and Paralegals who can help walk you through the legal and financial situations you may be facing as your loved one progresses. We also have Certified Dementia Practitioners and Certified Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Care trainers as well as a Certified Montessori Dementia Care Professional on staff who can help you with the process of creating a stimulating environment for your loved one at home while quarantining. Call 609-580-1044 if you would like to discuss your loved one’s expressions or if you would like to start to plan for life ahead.

Contact Us Today!

Van Dyck Law, LLC

707 State Road, Suite 102
Princeton, NJ 08540

609.580.1044