Kelley Smith from CarePartners Senior Living joins Suzanne to share Teepa Snow‘s six tips for making holidays successful for those who have Alzheimer’s and dementia. As many of you are driving to family locations, maybe listening in the car, you may be wanting to know how to deal with a loved one who has dementia. You don’t necessarily know what to expect, and there’s a lot of questions about how do we deal with dad, mom, aunt, uncle, and include them in the family gathering.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than six million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease, and that is expected to grow to 14 million people by the year 2060. About 11% of those over 65 have some sort of dementia or Alzheimer’s. The majority are at least 75 years old. It progresses and gets more evident as you get older. Oftentimes we may not necessarily know how to communicate, how to best serve them, how to feel comfortable in a dialogue.
Kelley Smith explains, “A lot of it stems around education. We sometimes have higher expectations than we should. I think people also get frustrated, because when mom does have those moments of clarity, we think she’s okay again. It doesn’t always quite work like that. People get frustrated with the same story 600 times, but that’s also part of the disease. They can’t remember if they told you this or not, or who they told. As the communication declines for their loved one, a lot of times, it’s how do you keep up? What do you do? And that that’s where people feel lost, not so much the frustration, but, what do we do now?”
Kelley offers a few tips of her own to prepare for the holidays. “There’s a ton of different things we could talk about, but I think that the easiest thing is, first of all, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If mom and dad are in a community, feel free to talk to those folks, and find out what are some activities maybe they’re doing in the community that might be better for mom. Ask for advice, call the Alzheimer’s Association. They have resources, ask questions.
“What is your plan, and then how do we execute that? What are the key things logistically of bringing mom or dad or an aunt or uncle into your home: Can they get up the stairs? Are they in a wheelchair? Can they get to the bathroom? Not only that, but has their dementia gotten to a point where maybe they’re gonna need some some help eating? Everybody’s circumstances are different, everybody’s journey with dementia is different. There are many things to take into consideration. You bring them into your home, and it’s all decorated for Christmas, and you’ve got bright lights and pokey, shiny, crazy, lots of stuff going on, loud Christmas music playing. That might not necessarily be the best environment for them.”
In the next segment, Kelley and Suzanne provide insight and advice with the six tips for making holidays successful for those who have Alzheimer’s and dementia. Learn more about CarePartners Senior Living at their website.
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Originally published December 29, 2022