Posts Tagged ‘children’

10 Things People With Alzheimer’s Taught Me

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

I was a caregiver for Ed, my beloved Romanian life partner, for seven years when he had Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, I currently volunteer to make weekly visits to four women who live at Clare Bridge, a Brookdale Senior Living memory care facility in Overland Park, Kansas. (I refer to them as “my ladies.”) Here are the ten most important lessons these people have taught me.

  1. Simple pleasures can bring great joy to a person with Alzheimer’s
  1. People with Alzheimer’s usually enjoy getting gifts – no matter how small
  1. Pets, children, music and art may reach them on levels we cannot
  1. Just because they don’t talk doesn’t mean they aren’t perfectly aware of what’s going on around them and what people are saying to and about them
  1. There’s usually no reason to tell them someone is dead (Tell them a white lie instead – that the person will be back soon)
  1. Correcting them about something will probably either embarrass them or else start a big argument
  1. People with Alzheimer’s usually adjust to change more quickly than we do and they soon forget unpleasant things that happen to them. We may be the ones who continue suffering
  1. They can still enjoy life, even if only for brief periods of time
  1. People with Alzheimer’s may remember past love and also experience love in the present
  1. People with Alzheimer’s can be humorous at times – Then we can laugh with them.

 

5 Things I Learned From People With Alzheimer’s

Friday, February 21st, 2014

1.    Pets, children, music and art may reach them on levels we cannot: I have experienced numerous examples of the positive effects these things can have on people with Alzheimer’s. Sometimes pets, children, music or art can bring about connections even with people who no longer talk or recognize their loved ones.

2.    Just because they don’t talk doesn’t mean they aren’t perfectly aware of what’s going on around them: One of my ladies didn’t talk anymore so when I visited I just held her hand and talked to her softly. When I told her she must be very proud of her daughter she adamantly shook her head from side to side, indicating ‘no.’ That told me she understood perfectly well what I was saying.

 3.    Correcting them about something will probably either embarrass them or else start a big argument: To avoid embarrassing the person or, even worse, to avoid a major argument, try agreeing with whatever they say, even if it’s wrong. It takes some time to master this approach, but it is usually successful.

4.    They can still enjoy life: Many people assume that people with Alzheimer’s can’t enjoy life. However, several experts I interviewed unanimously agreed that although Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease, people who have it can and do still have the capacity to enjoy life.

5.    People with Alzheimer’s may remember past love and also experience love in the present: Once I showed Ed an old picture of us together. He said, “Ah . . . She loved me.” He didn’t realize I was the woman in the picture but he remembered that she had loved him.

 

Why Did Grandma Put Her Underwear in the Refrigerator? (Book Review)

Monday, August 12th, 2013

In just 37 pages the authors  – Max Wallack and Carolyn Givens – provide a wealth of information about Alzheimer’s in language children can understand.

But it isn’t just a book that explains Alzheimer’s. It goes far beyond that. It also shows how children can interact with, help and love grandparents who have the disease.

Although at first glance it might appear that the book is simply telling the story of a child and her grandmother, it is written creatively and strategically to introduce and deal with many of the fears and misperceptions children in this situation can experience.

Issues touched on include a child thinking it may be his or her fault, being afraid of “catching” the disease, and understanding the difference between healthy and “Alzheimer’s” brain cells.

We see how a youngster deals with a grandparent’s symptoms such as not remembering names, repeating questions over and over, being incontinent, being easily frightened, and wandering. We are also shown that it is okay to feel angry or embarrassed.

Finally we see a glimmer of hope as Julie decides to become a scientist in order to try to find a cure for Alzheimer’s.

I highly recommend this book to anyone whose child’s grandparent has Alzheimer’s.

 

Connecting With Late-Stage Alzheimer’s Patients

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

The following four activities are virtually guaranteed to reach persons at all stages of Alzheimer’s: 1) Being visited by a child, 2) Being visited by a pet, 3) Listening to or performing music and 4) Observing or creating artwork.  

1. Being Visited by a Child

It’s a well-known fact that children can reach demented people at a deep emotional level that adults often cannot.

Children can play with people with Alzheimer’s. If you need some specific ideas check out the Alzheimer’s Association website, which has a list of 101 things a child can do with someone who has Alzheimer’s. (www.Alz.org)

2. Being Visited by a Pet 

Much like children, animals can often touch demented people more deeply than people can.

For example. at a nursing home there was a late-stage Alzheimer’s patient whose face someone’s dog licked when he held him up for her to see. The visitor told her the dog didn’t usually “kiss” people he didn’t know, and she immediately answered, “Dogs are very selective.” That was the first lucid remark she’d made for months.

3.  Listening to or Performing Music 

After listening to music some are clearly more calm, in a better mood and more outgoing than before, which improves the quality of life for both the patient and the caregiver. Music has even been found to help those with dementia retrieve some memories their caregivers had assumed were lost forever.

Often times late stage Alzheimer’s patients can sing songs, including the lyrics, long after they’ve lost the ability to recognize loved ones, dress themselves, or remember what happened five minutes earlier.

4.  Observing or Creating Artwork                     

 If your loved one is able to go out, a trip to an art museum could also be very beneficial. Just looking at art, much like listening to music, has been shown to calm dementia patients.

In the late stage of the disease, Alzheimer’s patients can often still create striking art work that allows them to express themselves and connect with their loved ones – even when they can no longer speak.

You can arrange various types of art projects for your loved one. Common activities include painting with water colors, coloring with crayons, making scrapbooks or molding objects out of clay.

Resources: 

There is an online store, Best Alzheimer’s Products, that features games for those with Alzheimer’s. http://www.best-alzheimers-products.com/games-for-people-with-alzheimer’s.html.

For more specific ideas about how to use music to engage people who have dementia go to: http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2011/11/music-and-alzheimers-disease-using.html.

Do any of you have any other ideas about connecting with late-stage patients? If so, please share them.

 

 

When Grandma Has Alzheimer’s: Helping Your Child Cope

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

Children with grandparents who have Alzheimer’s may become afraid, confused, sad, angry, frustrated, guilty, worried, and/or embarrassed.

Children typically fear:

1. The grandparent doesn’t love them anymore
2. It’s somehow their fault
3. They may catch the disease
4. Their parent(s) may get it

A child who is having a hard time might do one of the following:
1. Withdraw from or lose patience with the person
2. Do poorly in school
3. Express physical pain, like a stomachache or headache
4. Spend more time away from home
5. Stop inviting friends to the home

How You Can Help Your Child Cope:

1. Explain the disease in simple terms your child can understand.

2. Encourage your child to ask questions. Answer them honestly and simply.

3. Set aside time to be together when your child can feel safe to talk about the situation.

4. Have your child make a box filled with items that will remind them of special times spent with the grandparent in the past.

5. Read with your child books written especially for children on Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association’s Web site has an annotated list of such books.

6. Encourage your child to spend time with the grandparent. The Alzheimer’s Association Web site has a list of 101 ways to spend time with a person with Alzheimer’s disease.

7. In the later stages of the disease if your child strongly resists spending time with the grandparent it’s probably wise not to force the issue.

Connecting with Alzheimer’s Patients in the Latest Stage of the Disease

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

The following four activities are virtually guaranteed to reach persons at all stages of Alzheimer’s: 1) Being visited by a child, 2) Being visited by a pet, 3) Listening to or performing music and 4) Observing or creating artwork.  

1. Being Visited by a Child 

It’s a well-known fact that children can reach demented people at a deep emotional level that adults often cannot. 

Children can play with people with Alzheimer’s. If you need some specific ideas check out the Alzheimer’s Association website, which has a list of 101 things a child can do with someone who has Alzheimer’s. (www.Alz.org 

2. Being Visited by a Pet 

Much like children, animals can often touch demented people more deeply than people can.  

For example. at a nursing home there was a late-stage Alzheimer’s patient whose face someone’s dog licked when he held him up for her to see. The visitor told her the dog didn’t usually “kiss” people he didn’t know, and she immediately answered, “Dogs are very selective.” That was the first lucid remark she’d made for months. 

3.  Listening to or Performing Music 

After listening to music some are clearly more calm, in a better mood and more outgoing than before, which improves the quality of life for both the patient and the caregiver. Music has even been found to help those with dementia retrieve some memories their caregivers had assumed were lost forever. 

Often times late stage Alzheimer’s patients can sing songs, including the lyrics, long after they’ve lost the ability to recognize loved ones, dress themselves, or remember what happened five minutes earlier.  

4.  Observing or Creating Artwork                     

 If your loved one is able to go out, a trip to an art museum could also be very beneficial. Just looking at art, much like listening to music, has been shown to calm dementia patients. 

In the late stage of the disease, Alzheimer’s patients can often still create striking art work that allows them to express themselves and connect with their loved ones – even when they can no longer speak.  

You can arrange various types of art projects for your loved one. Common activities include painting with water colors, coloring with crayons, making scrapbooks or molding objects out of clay. 

Resources: 

There is an online store, Best Alzheimer’s Products, that features games for those with Alzheimer’s. http://www.best-alzheimers-products.com/games-for-people-with-alzheimer’s.html.

For more specific ideas about how to use music to engage people who have dementia go to: http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2011/11/music-and-alzheimers-disease-using.html.