This past July I had the opportunity to join colleagues from across the globe as we convened in Copenhagen Denmark for the annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. Nearly 4,500 professionals representing organizations both large and small, from every corner of the globe, were in attendance. It’s always a great feeling to come together as one in the fight to end Alzheimer’s.
At Hebrew SeniorLife, all of our direct care staff are trained in the “habilitation therapeutic method” when caring for clients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Habilitation was developed in 1996 by Paul Raia and Joanne Koenig-Coste of the Massachusetts Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and has been successfully implemented in a variety of care settings nation-wide.
There are many myths surrounding dementia that can obscure our understanding of the issues facing our loved ones who suffer from dementia diseases, such as Alzheimer’s Disease. Here are a few to ponder…
My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease about five years ago and while there have been many “unfunny” moments (like the day he decided to go for a walk to Foxboro Center at 4 o’clock in the morning in the middle of November). I have found that the use of laughter and humor not only helps me to keep my sanity, but it also seems to help him.
Behavioral changes can be one of the most difficult aspects of caring for someone with dementia. Up to 90% of people with dementia exhibit some form of upsetting behavior over the course of their illness. Examples of these dementia behaviors, known collectively as Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD), include:
Dementia is one of the most feared health conditions, especially in older adults. Adults with early signs of dementia and their families are often reluctant to seek advice. In fact, more than half of adults with dementia go undiagnosed.
The Easter and Passover holidays provide not only an opportunity to reconnect with our faith, but also a time to enjoy delicious meals and spend time with family and friends. For adults experiencing cognitive changes due to dementia, however, holidays can be stressful. Changes in routine are difficult for persons with dementia. Care partners can become distracted by worrying about protecting their loved one’s everyday routines at events that are anything but routine.
Although there are different causes for dementia, all types of dementia get worse over time. Advanced dementia refers to the final stage of the disease. The final stage comes at different times for everyone. On average, patients reach the advanced stage of dementia anywhere from 3-6 years after they are first diagnosed. The length of time people live with the advanced stage is also different for everyone and can range from months to years.
What are typical features of a patient with advanced dementia?
Oh the holidays – how we look forward to them with anticipated joy! And then reality hits when even the best laid plans don’t quite go as expected. Guests are late to dinner or don’t show up at all. The turkey is over cooked – under cooked. Your teen-aged children are finding “themselves.” And, the grandparents – well, they are changing as well.