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Last Thursday, we hosted a Caregiving During the Holidays themed #MemoryChat on Sunrise Senior Living’s Twitter handle, @SunriseSrLiving. Rita Altman, Senior Vice President of Memory Care Services and the rest of the Sunrise Care Team joined the chat to share tips for caregivers and families caring for a loved one with memory loss this busy holiday season.
If you happened to miss the #MemoryChat, check out the full transcript below, or tweet us with your own responses online by searching the hashtag #MemoryChat on Twitter and adding on to the discussion with your own responses. It’s never too late to join the conversation!
Be sure to follow Rita on Twitter at @AltmanRita, as well as Sunrise Senior Living at @SunriseSrLiving and we hope to see you online for our next #MemoryChat.
@SunriseSrLiving: Let’s begin! Today we are co-hosting our #MemoryChat with VP of Memory Care and Programming Rita Altman.
@SunriseSrLiving: Welcome, Rita! @AltmanRita #MemoryChat
@SunriseSrLiving: Rita’s nursing background includes certification in the Validation Method. Read more about Rita here http://bit.ly/1Ae183w #MemoryChat
@SunriseSrLiving: We’d also like to run through and introduce our Care team members participating today #MemoryChat
@SunriseSrLiving: Welcome, @SSLawrence07! Samantha Lawrence is our Director of Program Services. We’re glad to have you join us! #MemoryChat
@SunriseSrLiving: Welcome, @ePortnoff! Eric Portnoff serves as a Regional Director of Memory Care. Eric, please share a bit of your career background with us!
@SunriseSrLiving: We’re also joined by @ColmanLynne. Welcome to #MemoryChat! Lynne Colman is also a Regional Dir. of Memory Care & has a passion for seniors !
@SunriseSrLiving: We also welcome @SStrathmeyer! Sandy Strathmeyer serves as a Regional Dir. of Memory Care Services. Tell us about yourself! #MemoryChat
@SunriseSrLiving: Last but not least, we welcome @CFHaden! Christine Haden serves as a Regional Dir. of Memory Care Services. Please tell us more! #MemoryChat
@AltmanRita: So excited to have our whole team with us today for this #MemoryChat
@SunriseSrLiving: We have more questions for the whole Sunrise Care Team…keep tweeting your questions at us using the hashtag #MemoryChat Let’s begin!
@SunriseSrLiving: Q1: What are the best holiday activities with a loved one who has memory loss? #MemoryChat
@eportnoff: A1: It’s all about love. Try to slow down and have a few quiet meaningful moments. Keep it simple. Take a moment from the busy.
@SSLawrence107: A1: If they enjoyed some eggnog while telling others where to put the decorations, they may enjoy the same experience now!
@CFHADEN: A1: Together try watching a favorite holiday movie, wrapping presents or enjoy favorite food, simple pleasures.
@Colmanlynne: A1: Playing favorite Christmas Carols that your loved one liked in the past will typically make them want to sing or hum
@SunriseSrLiving: Q2: What are the top signs of #Alzheimer’s to look out for with an aging loved one? #MemoryChat
@AltmanRita: A2: Holidays are often a time when we see a strong decline in mental cognition. Know the signs: http://bit.ly/1wErRc1
@AltmanRita: A2: Take note of your loved one’s trouble speaking or misplacing things in odd places suc as keys in the refrigerator
@eportnoff: A2: Confusion re: time and place, difficulty completing familiar tasks, problems with words are a few.
@CFHADEN: A2: You might also look for signs that your loved one is having difficulty following the steps to complete familiar tasks
@CFHADEN: A2: Look for difficulty your loved one may have completing steps to familiar tasks
@Colmanlynne: A2: Look for signs of withdrawal from activities they once enjoyed and were pleased to participate in
@SStrathmeyer: A2: Pay attention to a decline in hygiene, checkbooks not matching funds, bills not being paid timely, difficulty with names
@SunriseSrLiving: Q3: How can music help you connect with a loved one with memory loss during the holidays? Is there a specific type? #MemoryChat
@AltmanRita: A3: Even persons who can no longer speak are often able to sing or hum along to a song, it’s amazing! #MemoryChat
@SLLawrence107: A3: Holiday music is often tied to special childhood memories & can evoke a pleasant mood for your loved 1! #MemoryChat
@CFHADEN: A3: Music is magic and lifts our spirits. Watch for your loved one’s response to music, they will let you know what moves them.
@AltmanRita: A3: Your loved one may even enjoy dancing, too! He or she will often surprise you most when music is involved. #MemoryChat
@AltmanRita: A3: Play their favorite music to connect with their spirit. If they sang in the church choir, try gospel music! #MemoryChat
@Colmanlynne: A3: Include your loved one in a small sing-along with their favorite holiday music
@SunriseSrLiving: Q4: How can you prepare children for a holiday visit when grandma suffers from memory loss? #MemoryChat
@AltmanRita: A4: Teach kids to focus on unconditional love vs. a person’s memory loss. Try looking at holiday books & pictures together!
@eportnoff: A4: Be honest and explain what is really going on in terms they can understand. Make it not scary!
@AltmanRita: A4: Here are my 5 go-to tips for helping kids connect with an aging grandparent: http://huff.to/1twTlhn #MemoryChat
@eportnoff: A4: The New York Times reviews a number of books on Alzheimer’s for children: http://nyti.ms/1Jb4IBu
@Colmanlynne: A4: Children evoke fond memories, allow them to be themselves and encourage them to smile and talk to grandma or grandpa
@CFHADEN: Gently reintroduce children to Grandma. Say something special about the child, ex: how tall they have grown!
@SunriseSrLiving: Q5: What’s the best gift you can give a #caregiver this holiday season? #MemoryChat
@AltmanRita: A5: The best gifts you can provide a caregiver are your time and support #MemoryChat
@AltmanRita: A5: Give them your time, either to take over their duties so they can take a break, or just be a listening ear. #MemoryChat
@Colmanlynne: A5: Give them an opportunity to have some down time and relax. They need to be supported, validate their value.
@CFHADEN: A5: Help them to be kind to themselves and to set realistic expectations; validate them as caregivers.
@SSLawrence107: A5: Devise a schedule to share the caregiving responsibilities. This is a busy time of year! Everyone can chip in! #MemoryChat
@SSLawrence107: Thx 4 your partnership, Go4Life! We are thrilled to offer your programs in our communities!
@SSLawrence107: Thank you for all your support as we nurture and engage mind/body/and spirit at Sunrise, Go4Life!
@SStrathmeyer: A5: Quality time, listening, entering their world and reminiscing. Just spending time with them is a precious gift.
@AltmanRita: A5: Give them support. Join a caregiver support group or help them to stay up to date on the latest research #MemoryChat
@SunriseSrLiving: Q6: What’s the best gift to give someone with #memoryloss #dementia or #Alzheimers? #MemoryChat
@SStrathmeyer: A6: The best gift is to spend time with them, go for a drive to see Christmas lights, bake cookies with them, validate them.
@AltmanRita: A6: The best gifts you can give a senior with #dementia are patience and unconditional love. #MemoryChat
@Colmanlynne: A6: Give them you…smiles and hugs and be with them in the moment.
@eportnoff: A6: 100% acceptance of them as they are now. 0 pressure to perform, remember or respond in any particular way. A deep breath.
@AltmanRita: A6: It’s important to know that the feelings of wellbeing last even after the party ends for loved ones! #MemoryChat
@AltmanRita: A6: Try not to focus on their shortcomings and instead focus on the time you have together. #MemoryChat
@SunriseSrLiving: Q7: My grandfather suffers from #Alzheimers and now hardly talks. How can we involve him at our family gatherings? #MemoryChat
@Colmanlynne: A7: Have some of his favorite items around him, bake some of his favorite sweet treats and have his favorite music playing
@AltmanRita: A7: Touch and music are two of the most powerful ways to connect. Hold hands, or hum a favorite song. #MemoryChat
@eportnoff: A7: Make sure he has a quiet area so as not to be overwhelmed. Use music and touch. Talk to him.
@CFHADEN: A7: That genuine smile, warm touch and favorite memories are a great ways to connect. They are still there!
@SStrathmeyer: A7: Involve him just the same, the person is still inside and will enjoy the sensory stimulation of being around loved ones.
@SunriseSrLiving: Q8: What is the best way to support a spouse with #memoryloss or #Alzheimers? Should we avoid parties? #MemoryChat
@AltmanRita: A8: As always, this varies by person and whether he or she has always liked parties or not. #MemoryChat
@SSLawrence107: A8: Have a place available for your loved one to rest in the event that the party becomes overwhelming #MemoryChat
@AltmanRita: A8: Be careful of bringing them to large events with lots of stimulation – can be really overwhelming. #MemoryChat
@Colmanlynne: A8: If possible keep gatherings smaller and more intimate.
@CFHADEN: A8: If large groups or holiday parties are stressful create opportunities for individual visits with family members
@AltmanRita: A8: Try preparing guests so they don’t put a loved one on the spot with questions like “don’t you remember me?” #MemoryChat
@SunriseSrLiving: Q9: Are there ways I can make my home more senior-friendly for a loved one? #MemoryChat
@SSLawrence107: There’s still time to join our team on today’s #MemoryChat! Ask about creating a meaningful holiday experience for your loved ones!
@AltmanRita: A9: Despite memory loss, a person’s senses are not lost. Smell, touch and taste are essential!
@AltmanRita: A9: Make their favorite holiday dish & play their favorite song in the background to conjure up great memories! #MemoryChat
@CFHADEN: A9: Create a quiet space for your guest with memory loss. Bring family members and friends to them and introduce them.
@SSLawrence107: A9: Try not to disrupt their regular routine with holiday decorations #MemoryChat
@ahcancal (AHCA/NCAL): @SSLawrence107 @SunriseSrLiving learning a lot today on the #memorychat thanks for organizing!
@Colmanlynne: A9: Keep areas free of clutter, have the correct lighting and an area that is comfortable with access to a room to rest in.
@SStrathmeyer: A9: Yes, avoid over-stimulation with clutter. Clear, well-lit areas, smaller group gatherings or one on one is best.
@eportnoff: A9: Make sure you don’t place unfamiliar objects in paths they typically walk.
@CFHADEN: A9: Set up a quiet space for them at a holiday get-together, a comfortable chair, bring guests to them
@SSLawrence107: @ahcancal @SunriseSrLiving Thank you so much for your valued partnership and support! Sunrise is thrilled to work with you!
@SunriseSrLiving: Q10: My family is traveling for the holidays. Should my loved one with #Alzheimer’s make the trip? #MemoryChat
@AltmanRita: A10: Only if it is NOT too stressful for your loved one. Long flights, delays at airports & long drives make extra stress.
@SStrathmeyer: A10: Holiday travel can be very stressful – planes, trains, car traffic an unpleasant response from all of us
@AltmanRita: A10: Short Term or Respite stays work well if you must be apart from your loved one http://bit.ly/1yUHMmU
@SSLawrence107: @SStrathmeyer @SunriseSrLiving A10: Think of your last airport delay & how those feelings are enhanced in those with memory loss. #MemoryChat
@SSLawrence107: @SStrathmeyer @SunriseSrLiving A10: Keep it close to home if possible where your loved one feels most comfortable and in control.
@SunriseSrLiving: Q11: Are there special foods I should prepare for someone with #memoryloss? #MemoryChat
@eportnoff: A11: Prepare whatever they have always loved the most. They will really appreciate it!
@AltmanRita: A11: If they are having difficulty with utensils, offer finger foods or engage them by helping to set the table. #MemoryChat
@SStrathmeyer: A11: It is important to know dietary restrictions for all our guests, always check to see if they have limitations.
@SunriseSrLiving: Q12: My loved one was recently diagnosed with #memoryloss. Where do I start? #MemoryChat
@AltmanRita: A12: Speak with a professional. Sunrise Senior Resource Counselors are ready to talk. Call 88-434-4648.
@AltmanRita: A12: We have an infographic that can help guide your next steps. http://bit.ly/1GhYltO #MemoryChat
@SStrathmeyer: A12: A good geriatric consult is a must – there are reversible dementias.
@SunriseSrLiving: Q13: I’ve noticed significant signs of #memoryloss with my loved one this holiday season. What should I do next? #MemoryChat
@AltmanRita: A13: Typically, families take note of a loved one’s memory loss after the holidays. View 5 signs: http://huff.to/1w8WrYz
@AltmanRita: A13: It may be time to seek the opinion of your loved one’s doctor – consider going to their next appt. #MemoryChat
@eportnoff: A13: Have him or her evaluated by their physician or a memory care specialist #MemoryChat
@SunriseSrLiving: Q14: What can a #caregiver do to ease the extra stress that the holidays bring? #MemoryChat
@SLLaawrence107: A14: Devise a schedule to share the caregiving responsibilities. This is a busy time of year! Everyone can chip in! #MemoryChat
@SStrathmeyer: A14: First and foremost caregivers need to take time for themselves, meditation, support group attendance, exercise
@SStrathmeyer: Try gifting a caregiver in your life with a spa day, or a day just to catch up on other responsibilities! #MemoryChat
@AltmanRita: A14: I suggest trying the power of walking to relax the mind, body and spirit!
@AltmanRita: A14: Holidays can be extra stressful for everyone, but especially caregivers. Ask them what you can do to help! #MemoryChat
@eportnoff: A14: Learn to meditate and take just a little time of each day to be silent, awake and aware. Relaxation is key. #MemoryChat
@SunriseSrLiving: Q15: What is the best #NewYearsResolution a caregiver can make in 2015? #MemoryChat
@AltmanRita: A15: Make a resolution to take care of yourself so you can care for others. Get the support you need. #MemoryChat
@AltmanRita: A15: Commit to regularly attending a caregiver support group! #MemoryChat
@AltmanRita: A15: Brain fitness is key! Read my 5 tips on how to make this a priority: http://huff.to/18JmM4B #MemoryChat
@SStrathmeyer: A15: Promise to take one day at a time, enjoy their loved one in the moment, take breaks, ask for help, be kind to yourself.
@SLLawrence107: A15: Look at support groups as a source of empowerment! #MemoryChat
@SunriseSrLiving: Last call! Any final questions as we conclude our #MemoryChat today?
@SunriseSrLiving: For anyone looking for more info on our care, the direct # for speaking with our Senior Resource Counselors is 1.800.272.3900
@AltmanRita: Thank you all for joining today’s #MemoryChat! What a meaningful discussion for caregivers and families this holiday season.
@AltmanRita: What #MemoryChat topics would you like to learn about next time?
@SunriseSrLiving: Thank you all for joining us today for our second #MemoryChat! Feel free to suggest topics for our next one! Tweet at us!