Posts Tagged ‘Alzheimer’s’
I am thinking a lot in this season about loved ones who have passed, and in particular about my daughter, Diane, who died almost 17 years ago in a car accident.
Through much of the year I am able to stay busy with meaningful work and beloved family, but there is a bittersweet aura around the winter holidays that forces me to look at my loss and care for my broken heart.
I know others are grieving too. Perhaps you’ve lost a parent, sibling, or child, or know someone who has. Most of us have lost friends. Perhaps you are caring for a loved one whose illness triggers feelings akin to grief.
While we encourage people to celebrate the joys around them, hold fast to memories, and embrace what is present in our ill loved ones’ lives, this is a time to also honor those who have gone before and those who love them.
Every year I remind folks about the Worldwide Candle Lighting hosted by The Compassionate Friends, an organization that offers peer support groups for bereaved parents, siblings, and grandparents.
The Compassionate Friends group in Binghamton, NY probably saved my life after Diane’s accident.
I encourage you to visit their website at www.compassionatefriends.org, and to participate with me in lighting a candle for our children who have died.
This annual ceremony starts at 7 p.m. on the second Sunday evening in December, and by lighting a candle in your time zone, wherever you are, we create a wave of light that ripples around the world for 24 hours.
This year’s Candle Lighting is on Sunday, December 8th.
Thank you to all who have supported me with their encouragement, prayers, and good wishes.
Thank you to all who are doing the hard work of caring for ill loved ones.
It helps to know we do not walk alone.
Thanksgiving is a very special American holiday that carries many memories and not a little nostalgia for the past.
I remember riding in our family car with my sisters to visit Grandparents for Thanksgiving, and singing “Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go!” It’s a warm memory, infused with laughter and excitement.
Memories are at the heart of this holiday, which is focused on gratitude.
This year for Thanksgiving, you may want to consider a shift in your traditional way of looking at your Loved One who is living with dementia, and the ways they contribute to your family.
Consider your Elder’s strengths, and the gifts they offer, and actively express your Gratitude for them.
Instead of just remembering with sadness the grand meals your Elder used to make, be sure to experience gratitude for the memories, the recipes, and the ways your Loved One contributes to this years’ experience. It will give her great pleasure to “teach” her favorite dishes to the younger set, and to help at whatever level she can and in a way that ensures success.
Instead of focusing on illness, have the family create a list of gifts your Elder has given over the years and continues to give. For example, a grandchild might write “I am grateful for the way Grandma has helped me with college, and for her encouragement in my studies.”
Share this list with the Elder in a packet of notes, so she can refer back to them. This will make the moment last!
Focus on Laughter; it’s the greatest gift we can share among family and friends.
Consider a smaller group to cut down on noise and confusion for your Loved One. Your Elder’s strength might now be to enjoy more intimate gatherings.
Provide a place for the Elder to step back and rest whenever she feels the need. This might be a comfortable room where she can nap, or a second living space, such as a family room or den, located away from the bustle of dinner preparations or rowdy football games.
Remember the other care partners in your Elder’s life, and show your gratitude for them. A card of thanks is a valuable gift to home health aides or the neighbor who keeps the walks cleared in the winter.
Stimulate memories and conversations by starting a story with, “I remember when we (did such and such…) It was always fun to be with the cousins,” instead of asking the Elder “do you remember…?” The former is more likely to generate shared stories, while the latter can lead to frustration and increased confusion.
Seat your Elder next to someone who knows them well and is patient and kind. They can watch for needs the Elder may have difficulty expressing, such as “pass the rolls, please!” or “may I be excused from the table.” They can slow the conversation down so the Elder can participate. Sometimes a little more time is all that’s needed.
Perhaps different family members can take turns attending closely to Grandmother or Grandfather, 30 minutes or an hour at a time. This ensures that no one feels left out of that rowdy football game!
Some family holidays are day-long affairs. Is this what works best for your older Loved One now, or should she come for the part of the day that is most meaningful and manageable for her?
Speaking of “meaning,” a guideline to help you decide what and how much to do for the holiday should be to ask what is meaningful for you, your Elder, and your family. Stretching yourself to do extra cleaning or make everything from scratch might leave you feeling too tired to enjoy the gathering.
Where can you cut back on work, or delegate tasks, while keeping the most meaningful parts of your time together intact? Is there a ritual your family does for Thanksgiving that you want to honor? Figure out how your Elder can participate easily.
For example, a family who has always had each member read a verse or passage at the table might shift the custom to showcase the teens or the younger kids. If your Elder’s reading is good, but recall is poor, she may be OK with reading something rather than reciting from memory.
What ideas do YOU have for enjoying Thanksgiving with your family, and for adapting to the needs of a Loved One who is living with dementia?
Please share your comments below, and have a Blessed Holiday.
Monday, November 18, 2013
Hosted by Lifelong, Ithaca, NY
Facilitated by Lisa Kendall
When we or our loved ones need some assistance due to illness or injury, we find that traditional models of care can create as much distress as the illness itself, leaving us feeling powerless and frustrated.
“Caregivers” report acute stress and exhaustion, and “care receivers” feel they have little to offer because of their physical or cognitive challenges.
When we advocate for the well-being of the whole care partnership rather than seeing the needs of caregivers and care receivers as separate, we create empowered care partner teams that ensure the independence, dignity, and continued growth and development of everyone involved.
Learn about person-directed care and how to make care partnerships work for you, and tap into an international movement to change the culture of care for Elders and their care partners in this two-hour session.
Call Lifelong at 273-1511 to register for this informative presentation.
Receive your complimentary report on How to Assemble Your Care Partner Team at www.carepartnerconnection.com
Lisa Kendall is a clinical social work psychotherapist and clinical gerontologist who has worked with Elders and their care partners for over 30 years. In addition to her private practice and public speaking, Lisa is an Educator for The Eden Alternative and teaches for the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute. Contact her at email@example.com for more information or to schedule a training.
Dementia of any kind, including Alzheimer’s disease, can be very frustrating for families or professionals who are trying to provide care.
Early in the disease, people living with dementia might have difficulty finding the word they mean to use, or forget names of close friends and dates of important events.
As the disease progresses, it may become even more difficult to express feelings or make needs known to others. People who have trouble expressing themselves become frustrated and even angry.
It’s easy to make two mistakes when this happens:
First, we might assume that the use of the wrong name or incorrect date means that the person has forgotten their loved one or the event. In reality, they may know who and what they’re trying to discuss, but the correct word doesn’t come to them.
We’ve all had this happen, haven’t we?
Second, we may see angry behavior as coming from the disease, as opposed to a very natural frustration at not being understood.
Dr. Al Power’s book, “Dementia Beyond Drugs: Changing the Culture of Care,” talks about several different kinds of communication problems that can accompany dementia, and challenges us to change how we look at and deal with them.
You’ll want to take a look at his book, which focuses on care in residential settings such as nursing homes, as the principles apply to Elders who live anywhere.
Naomi Feil, a social worker who created “Validation Therapy,” teaches us to acknowledge the feeling that’s being expressed, rather than to take on the logic (or apparent illogic), of what the person who lives with dementia is saying to us.
This approach works well for routine communication as well as for those situations where someone appears to be delusional.
For example, when Mary says she wants to see her Mother, who has been dead for a long time, it does no good, and may do harm, to remind Mary that her mother has been dead for many years.
A more helpful approach is to acknowledge the feeling that is being expressed.
If the person seems sad, you can say, “it sounds like you’re missing your Mom. Could you tell me a little more about her?”
This approach honors the person and helps them feel heard and understood. The invitation to talk more about the mother can lead to wonderful stories, and help the Elder feel less alone.
You can learn about Naomi Feil’s approach at her website; just click HERE.
An easy book to get you started with this technique is “Talking to Alzheimer’s: A Simple Way to Connect When You Visit with a Family Member or Friend,” by Claudia Strauss. It’s a small book written for everyone, with easy to understand examples of what to say, and what not to say.
Truly hearing an Elder who lives with dementia is a powerful way to honor them and help them connect with you and ensure that all their needs, physical and emotional, can be met.
Please be aware that if you purchase books from the above links, a small percentage of the cost will go to support this website.
Be sure to leave your name and e-mail in the box at the top left of this page, so we can make sure you receive new blogs and updates about resources! You will also receive my free report on “The Art & Science of Elder Care: 12 Tips to Help you Transform Your Caregiving.”
Lisa Kendall is a clinical social worker and clinical gerontologist in private practice. She teaches for the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute and is an Educator for The Eden Alternative. Lisa speaks on Aging and Elder Care issues around the country.
It’s been a while since I last wrote, but a lot has been going on with me and Crossroads Counseling and Consulting.
I’ve added a new service you will want to know about; Care Partner Coaching is now available worldwide for a limited number of professional or family caregivers.
I have been busy with trainings for The Eden Alternative in upstate New York and Wisconsin, facilitating a “Certified Eden at Home Associate” training and “Dementia Beyond Drugs.” I also appeared as a panelist on a webinar for The Eden Alternative on “Facilitating Empowerment,”
I will be appearing on Chris MacLellan’s “Be a Healthy Caregiver” Blog Radio program on Tuesday, July 9th at 1 p.m. Eastern time. Don’t worry if you miss it, this generous and committed care partner archives all of his programs! Chris has also written a blog about the show, which you can read HERE.
Private counseling services are still available at my Ithaca, NY, ADA-compliant office. Availability is tight, so contact me soon if you are interested. You can feel better!!
I trust things are going well with you, and hope to hear from you about how you’re doing on your care partner journey!
As always, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (607) 351-1313.
I stumbled onto a music video this morning that really spoke to everything I’ve loved about working with Elders and their care partners for the last 28 years. It was so sweet and so beautifully done, I had to sit down and find a way to share it with you.
This story shows with great poignancy the deep connections that often form between Elders and those who care for them, and how both benefit from the relationship.
Genuine, loving care is both given and received in this tender relationship!
Loneliness, helplessness, and boredom, the three plagues of Elderhood described by Dr. Bill Thomas, co-founder of the Eden Alternative, are vanquished for both the Elder and the young man in this lovely story.
I wasn’t able to embed the video here, but I believe it is worth your visit away from my site to see Brett Eldredge’s music video, “Raymond” at youtube.
Just grab a few tissues, click HERE, and come back to comment on your reactions to the video. You can also visit Brett Eldredge’s website - this talented young man is raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease.
Thanks for spending some time with me today; please visit again!
Lisa Kendall is a clinical social worker and clinical social work gerontologist in private practice in Ithaca, NY. She is an Eden at Home Educator committed to changing the culture of care for Elders and their care partners. Learn more about Eden at Home and the Eden Alternative at www.edenalt.org