August Blog Entries Lillian Reda, Dir. of Memory Support Clinical Practice and Education
Alzheimer’s and Dementia Awareness:
Spending time outside on sunny days may benefit older adults with dementia. A little vitamin D while gardening! Planting a small garden lets those with dementia enjoy the summer sun while strengthening muscles as they pour soil, dig holes, and plant seeds. These repetitive activities are great. Turning over soil, pulling weeds, planting seeds and watering. And of course, there is the added benefit of seeing all that hard work pay off when the seeds planted grow and flowers or vegetables appear! Sounds like too much physical work? Buy a few pots of flowers, small plants or herbs rather than starting a garden with self-growing seedlings.
Create a Bird Feeder
Some of our folks with dementia really enjoy relaxing outdoors without focusing on a physically or mentally demanding task. Bird watching is an excellent option because it isn’t overly stimulating and you can do it from outside or inside.
Depending upon where you are most comfortable bird watching, add a bird feeder within view. You can buy a premade birdhouse, a DIY kit from the store or find directions online to build one at home. Then hang it near where you or your loved one likes to sit and enjoy.
Support for Families and Caregivers
Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease can have high physical, emotional, and financial costs. The demands of day-to-day care, changes in family roles, and decisions about placement in a care facility can be difficult. There are several evidence-based approaches and programs that can help, and researchers are continuing to look for new and better ways to support caregivers.
Becoming well-informed about the disease is one important long-term strategy. Programs that teach families about the various stages of Alzheimer’s and about ways to deal with difficult behaviors and other caregiving challenges can help.
Good coping skills, a strong support network, and respite care are other ways that help caregivers handle the stress of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. For example, staying physically active provides physical and emotional benefits.
Some caregivers have found that joining a support group is a critical lifeline. These support groups allow caregivers to find respite, express concerns, share experiences, get tips, and receive emotional comfort. Many organizations sponsor in-person and online support groups, including groups for people with early-stage Alzheimer’s and their families.
Some lessons learned from Alzheimer’s caregivers:
My mother used to tell me that her mother came to visit and that they went to the apple orchard and picked apples, and then went to get a malt. I would just say, “That sounds wonderful. I hope you had a nice day with your mother.” She would reply, “Oh, yes, we had a lovely day.” Who cares that it didn’t really happen? If it made her happy, great! — Dani P.
That the heart remembers long after the mind forgets. — Judy F.
That you can still interact meaningfully with the part of them that is still there. — Deb R.
Not to disagree with them. If your 88-year-old mother says her mom is alive and she just talked with her on the phone, agree and let it go. Try to have more patience. Yes, they are going to ask the same questions over and over. Expect that and roll with the punches. — Mary L.