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Memory Care FOUR PART EDUCATIONAL SERIES Journey through “My Mom would never do that!” When most people hear dementia or Alzheimer’s they automatically think memory loss. Although memory loss is the most widely recognized symptom and often the first noticeable one, it is only one part of the disease. Other common symptoms that develop and increase in severity over time are: frustration, confusion or pain can be expressed as irritability, anxiety, emotional outbursts, wandering or even physically lashing out. This part of the disease can be especially scary and very difficult for families to reconcile; their sweet, patient mother would never yell profanities or slap someone’s hand off her arm. What families must remember is this is the disease. A gradual loss in the ability to appropriately communicate means someone with dementia must resort to the abilities they still retain, such as a single word like “no”, • or eventually simple nonverbal responses. As their • loved one, some of the most constructive things you can do are let go of conventional expectations and adjust • your communication and reactions to appropriately match what stage your loved one is currently in. Learn to not overreact or show embarrassment or shame, These four bullet points are in essence what makes each these responses will only make the situation more individual unique. Who they are to you, what makes uncomfortable for everyone. them “mom” or “grandpa”, their personality, how they communicate and act, their judgment, the way they When someone passes away, it’s typically the clear starting react to the world around them, the things they enjoy point for grief. However, with dementia, the grief families and what truly defines them. As the core of a loved experience can be on-going over many years, as that one’s identity is slowly erased, family and friends face person gradually fades away, their personality changes, grief over the loss of who their loved one used to be, the they’re unable to engage in meaningful conversations, previous person they were before the disease took hold. and in most cases, eventually become incapable of recognizing loved ones. Though this certainly sounds Dementia not only affects how we see a loved one, it bleak, when loved ones learn to let go of the “previous also greatly affects our loved one’s perception of him or person” and instead choose to love and cherish the herself. As the disease progresses, the age that individual new person, in their new reality, and focus on simple is in his or her mind regresses. They may not recognize pleasures during their time together, the outcomes can you as their spouse or child anymore because you have be exponentially better for everyone. gray hair and are “old” or you’re all grown up and their child is supposed to be 9 years old. For example, if your husband now sees himself as a 22-year-old man, the way he acts and responds to his surroundings are how he would have responded when he was 22. His words and actions are not meant to hurt, he truly doesn’t remember he’s 86. • Problems with communication, both verbal and written Change in mood, personality and behavior Loss of interest in enjoyed hobbies or increased difficulty with familiar tasks & activities Increased difficulty with executive functioning (planning, judgment, organizing, etc.) This shift in perception, combined with an everdwindling capacity to effectively communicate with the world around them often develops into what professionals commonly refer to as “behaviors”. Fear, One of the best lessons to learn is the way you choose to handle each interaction, which can drastically change day-to-day or even moment-to-moment, will have the greatest impact on your relationship with your loved one. They may not remember who you are and they won’t remember you just visited once you walk out of the room, but you can use your time together to create warm, positive moments, no matter how brief. You cannot bring back their memory, but you can share simple pleasures, like taking a hand-in-hand stroll, listening to their favorite music or enjoying a piece of delicious cake. Learn to revisit the fond memories they do retain to create moments of joy, even if it means repeating the same story every time you visit. And when in doubt, laugh; sometimes it’s all you can do. Series Three: “Engaging Through the Stages” Join the Edgewood team Tuesday, May 21 at 7 pm for part three of our four-part series*: Each stage of dementia is different & presents new challenges. Learn some of the common concerns and techniques for dealing with each. * Join the series at any time, you do not have to attend all four parts. Bismarck Dominion Independent Living, Assisted Living & Memory Care 701.258.7489 | 3406 Dominion Street, Bismarck edgewoodhealthcare.com

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