Archive for November 2013

Celebrating Thanksgiving with Loved Ones who Live with Dementia

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.

Autumn Tree SunsetInstead 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.

Presentation on Care Partnership Truly is FREE!

Hi, All –

I’m sorry there has been so much confusion about the talk on Care Partnership I’ll be doing at Lifelong in Ithaca next Monday, November 18th.

Lifelong has let me know that the course is FREE of charge, but registration is requested.

Please call Lifelong at (607) 273-1511 for more information or to register.

Thank you for your patience!

Correction on the Care Partnership Talk…

Hi, Everyone – I must apologize for incorrectly posting the presentation I’m doing for Lifelong in Ithaca as free of cost.  There is a $10.00 fee for the program, per Lifelong’s new pricing structure.  Please let your networks know, and again, I am very sorry for the error.

Thanks and take care,

Lisa K.

P.S. If the fee is a barrier to anyone attending, please let me know.  It’s important feedback!

Care Partnership: Creating Meaning in the Giving and Receiving of Care

Monday, November 18, 2013 

10AM-12PM

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 theiLisa's Kitchenr 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 lisa@lisakendallcounseling.com for more information or to schedule a training.

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