The late Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This is especially true for those with dementia. Therefore, it is important to practice good communication skills when interacting with seniors experiencing Alzheimer’s disease and other types of memory loss.
In recent years, there have been numerous discoveries and interventions to help seniors and their families deal with the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. From GPS tracking devices and smart sensors to computer-based brain fitness programs, there are endless options to choose from. However, it’s important to remember that while these new technologies and innovations are great aids in our fight against Alzheimer’s, we must not forget the critical role of a caregiver and the impact of personalized approach to care.
For frontline caregivers of persons with memory loss, each day is a new journey. They may travel back in time while they listen to a story and a fond memory, help an individual to engage in creative activities that stimulate their mind and body, or use communications to work through a frustrating moment, as they struggle to remain in the here and now. Caregivers give the best of their hearts, spirits and skills to serve individuals with memory loss, and help to ensure they have the best possible quality of life every day. Often times, what seem like subtle actions, like validating a person’s feelings, are actually powerful techniques that support a person-centered approach and help to preserve dignity for the individual.
Nearly 35.6 million people are living with dementia today, and that number is expected to more than triple by 2050 to 115.4 million. The costs of treating and caring for people with dementia are a huge hit to our pockets, and currently top $604 billion per year. With such an enormous challenge, world leaders gathered together last December at the Global Dementia Summit in London and committed to finding a treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s disease by 2025, renewing hope for those living with the disease. And, the month of January has been declared Alzheimer’s Month in Canada where the focus is on early awareness of the disease.
The holidays are a great opportunity for families to connect and spend quality time together. They can also bring to light any cognitive or physical health changes in senior loved ones. If it’s time for a senior to move to a senior living community, taking the time to involve your loved one in the process and understanding their feelings can make all the difference in a smooth transition.
Many “sandwich generation” caregivers today are stretched thin between their responsibilities of caring for both children and aging parents. Caregivers juggle their numerous responsibilities with family, often times, in addition to a full-time job. In many cases, the caregiver typically becomes the one who suffers from the fallout of an overflowing schedule – stress, tension, anxiety, depression and guilt can build up and quickly get out of hand.
Music is an important part of life, and for some cultures, music is their way of life. It brings together children and seniors, and everyone in between, and provides entertainment, education and insight in ancient and modern times. Music is especially powerful for, and plays an important role in, memory care.
Summer is upon us, children are out of school and there’s an increasing amount of daylight available as we approach the summer solstice. Now is the perfect time to consider volunteering and making it an activity for your family to do together. Many of us lead busy lives, and thinking about volunteering as yet another thing to do can seem overwhelming. However, consider the benefits not only for those you help, but for you as well. Volunteering can provide you with the opportunity to get involved in a cause that you’re passionate about, it can provide your senior loved one with an outlet to stay active and sharp and it can provide a child or a young person with a positive example to follow so that they might appreciate what others are experiencing. You can make a difference in the lives of many by a small act of kindness.