Dementia Tag

Memory loss can be a distressing part of aging, but engaging in certain activities can help slow its progression. In-home care provides a unique opportunity to integrate these activities into daily routines, supporting cognitive function and...

When a loved one faces dementia, the care they require becomes multifaceted. Specialized care is not just beneficial; it is often crucial. It ensures that the complex needs of dementia patients are met with understanding, expertise, and...

Alzheimer's disease, a form of dementia, gradually impairs a person's ability to remember, think, and make decisions. Knowing when to transition to in-home care is crucial. It ensures safety and improves quality of life for those affected. This article explores...

-Painting by Joan Dolan The Artist Within exhibit, featuring 51 artworks created by 43 different artists ages 60-101 opened at the Harborview Medical Center Cafeteria March 10, 2016 after garnering rave reviews at the Anne Focke Gallery during January and February. The thought provoking and profoundly...

Are you a family caregiver? I am. In fact, With A Little Help's average staff age is 51 so several of our professional caregivers and office staff members also have family caregiving experience. Understanding both situations strengthens empathy for the natural differences in perspective of client and client's family. I originally conceived of this blog, featuring the challenges and coping mechanisms of four family caregivers, because I was curious about the issues other people encounter in family caregiving and I hoped to gain understanding that would help all readers caring for a loved one. What I found was that these narratives helped me as much in my professional caregiving career as they have in the care of my own mother. I hope you enjoy these four honest and inspiring stories. andrewAndrew Cohen, of Coho Accounting, provides care for his mother. His biggest challenge was preparing emotionally for her journey into dementia. A bright, resourceful and independent spirit, his mother learned she had Parkinson's 12 1/2 years ago but kept it in abeyance for 9 years during which Andrew was able to prepare himself for Parkinson's inevitable physical progressions.  Not all Parkinson's patients develop dementia but when Andrew's mother started experiencing symptoms it put added stress on their ability to negotiate her care and, at times, strained their communication. Where does he turn for support? "I try to remember the good times," Andrew told me. He also receives important guidance from a dear friend who is a hospice nurse and talks to friends about their own family caregiving situations...his "ad hoc support group."  Most remarkably, he founded his business, Coho Accounting, as a result of his experience with his mother's need for fiduciary support. He works now with client families going through situations similar to his own. What has he learned? Three main things: Really listen. Don't disagree with your mother (or with anyone experiencing dementia). Be willing to have difficult and honest conversations.

I first encountered "Dotty's Ten Tips for Communicating with a Person Living With Dementia" when it was published within a blog at The Art of Alzheimer's in July of this year. Authored by Dorothy DeMarco and originally appearing at the Alzheimer's Reading room Dotty's Ten...

marathon-runners-1024x681Do you run? Walk? Bicycle? If you do, you're part of the reason that Seattle consistently ranks in the top ten fittest cities. If you need some motivation to join the crowd the National Institute on Aging has launched an annual program called Go 4 Life. Go 4 Life promotes physical activity to improve quality of life for older adults. This isn't just about urging couch potatoes to move this is a drive to bring exercise to everyone whether you have arthritis, live with dementia, suffer depression, experience low vision, or just feel too busy. Tap into the movement and improve your health--- it's Go 4 Life month!
B. Bartja Wachtel spoke to a packed crowd of caregivers at DSHS's Giving Care, Taking Care conference. They were there to hear about what some call techniques, skills, or methods  for easing on-the-job stress, but Bartja calls them, "ways of being in the moments of suffering." Wachtel, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Mental Health Professional, and Child Mental Health Specialist, and Mindful Self-Compassion Trained Teacher led the group through sometimes moving and deeply effective meditations that can be practiced in moments of difficult feelings or in-the-moment caregiving stress. Mindfulness Self-Compassion (MSC) practices can be brief or more involved.  Do it in 3 minutes or devote your lunch break. To begin, simply settle into a comfortable position. You may have time to do a 2 minute body scan (a check in on you and where you are in the moment) or perhaps you can manage only a few deep slow breaths into the present moment. Put your hand over your heart to bring affection into your awareness if you like then continue. On a difficult day, maybe you can find 7 minutes for a  Self-Compassionate Break?  If not, Dr. Kristin Neff, researcher, co-developer of  MSC curriculum and narrator of the Self-Compassionate Break audio,  says, this can be used in the heat of the moment. It's a portable, powerful and flexible tool for managing the stress of difficult emotions.
all present adMost artists know that a performance is authentic when they can stay in the moment.  Athletes too understand that power when they talk about "staying within oneself."  It's that quality of presence in the moment that gives Elena Louise Richmond's song circle for Early Stage Memory Loss, All Present, its name and moving impact. "All Present is just that. It’s just for now," writes Richmond in her blog, All Present Almost Past. "It’s not for a performance later; it’s not to record and listen to. It’s just for that hour and a half when we sing and we can’t stop smiling at each other." [caption id="attachment_2283" align="alignright" width="250"]all present, circle Members of the Song Circle[/caption] All Present  meets 8 weeks a quarter at Greenwood Senior Center under the auspices of OK Chorale director Elena Louise Richmond and her assistant/copy editor, Susan, Susan's husband, Mike, and "the other Susan!"
[caption id="attachment_2276" align="alignleft" width="132"]carin Carin Mack[/caption] You probably think of Seattle as a national leader in tech, bio tech, aviation, and, of course the standardized cup of coffee...but did you know Seattle leads the nation in comprehensive, innovative dementia programming? Pockets of programming have been available in the city since the late 90's but recent expansions in services complement one another and form an outstanding network of support for all stages of memory loss. Seattle social worker Carin Mack stewards and develops Early Stage Memory Loss (ESML) programs for people in the early to mid stages of dementia.  I spoke with Mack about her ESML programs and Seattle's progressive dementia services. "It takes money, time and structure to build programming," Carin Mack explained. Leveraging her experience and vision gleaned from nearly 40 years of social work  Mack gradually built the structure for her nationally unparalled hub of ESML services at Greenwood Senior Center with steadfast support from Phinney Neighborhood Association. At the core are: the Gathering Place, a wholistically designed weekly program of cognitive and cultural enrichment components with exercise, Piano and Music Making sessions, support groups for ESML care partners and spouses, the professionally facilitated song circle "All Present," and a book group at the local library. While medicine searches for solutions to memory loss, programs such as these are crucial in keeping minds engaged, improving self esteem, and lifting awareness in the community. "Alzheimer's is nothing to fear. I am a loving person; I am a happy person. I have fun, friends, and family, and that gives me joy," group pic gatheringCeCe, a Gathering Place attendee writes in an awareness handout created by members of the program.