The 12 rules of Christmas dementia care

The 12 rules of Christmas dementia care

 This post comes to us from Check them out for plenty of tips, ideas, and interesting articles related to memory and dementia:

For those living with dementia it is easy to be forgotten.

For the family and professional carers it can seem overwhelming and hopeless.

Unforgettable can help on every step of the journey with practical advice, specialised products and a supportive community.

If a loved one has dementia you might be worried about how they’ll cope during the festive season. Read our simple guide to help you make Christmas as enjoyable as possible – for everyone.

1. Have a plan

Taking a, ‘let’s see what happens’ approach to the festive season isn’t going to work when you’re caring for someone with dementia. Spontaneous visits can be stressful so make sure to contact anyone who usually drops by (and who your loved one will definitely want to see) and organise dates and times in advance.

2. Trust your instinct

It’s not too late to change a plan you may have agreed to initially but which you’re now worried about. For example, if you’re dreading an overnight stay with Aunty Alice because you know your loved one won’t sleep and could become very unsettled, trust your instinct, confront it now and either cancel the trip or agree to a shorter visit which can be done in a day.

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Dementia is not only about memory

From the always helpful ThirdAge Services! I studied Gerontology with Carole at the University of North Texas. I was a fan of her back then and an even bigger fan now. If you are looking for advice or coordination in dementia care, she is an excellent Certified Dementia Consultant.

Most People think Alzheimer’s is only about Memory Loss; it Isn’t!

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Which memory would you be saddest to lose?

I hope I never lose the memory of going to a luau with my grandparents. My brother was in the Navy and stationed at Pearl Harbor when my grandparents and I went to visit him. I remember Grandma was so excited that they could get me an “assistant” discount because I was traveling with senior citizens (they were both in their 80s) 😉 The whole trip with them was fun, from renting a convertible, seeing pineapple plantations, and trying Mahi Mahi for the first time (Grandpa made me and I have loved eating fish ever since).

Smartphone app to help remember family members

Samsung app helps people with Alzheimer’s remember their families

Q&A: Do I have dementia, too?

This question was posed on a support forum for people working with memory problems (family, professionals, anyone interested in memory issues and memory care). It’s not an uncommon question. In fact, many people who are close to someone with dementia worry that they are also showing signs of the degenerative syndrome. And it’s also known that people who care for someone with dementia tend to have more health risks and higher rates of depression – also risk factors for developing dementia. While depression, chronic lack of sleep, and stress can cause symptoms that can be mistaken for dementia, there are distinct differences. The takeaway:  dementia is not only about memory loss!

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Brainpower Peaks in Different Ways as People Age, Study Finds

The study, which looked at almost 50,000 people, raises the prospect that people in their 40s and 50s do a better job of translating emotional signals from other people, while seniors have more overall knowledge. Young adults, meanwhile, think faster and have more short-term memory.

Brainpower Peaks in Different Ways as People Age, Study Finds.

Stop Stigma: Think before you speak!

I had posted a great article on my Google+ account about a woman who shares her story of actively LIVING with dementia. She wrote books, she gave talks, she even remarried! You can read the article here, and her webpage here. And I highly recommend it.

One of the points she makes in the article is about making it better for people who are diagnosed. She doesn’t necessarily mean making their prognosis better, but how they are accepted into society and respected a humans.

‘I’m really passionate about trying to make it better for other people being diagnosed today,’ she said.

‘I want people to feel brave and I want society to accept us as disabled people amongst us who deserve dignity and respect, not to be shunned and laughed at.

‘There are so many jokes out there about old timers disease and “I’m losing my marbles”. It’s so hurtful. people don’t realise that it’s like saying “I’ve got a touch of cancer today”. It’s a terminal illness that people joke about.’

This really resonated with me. I get frustrated when I hear people comment that “they are old, so they forget a lot,” or that they have “part-timers,” “old-timers,” or another handy phrase to make a joke about their momentary lapse in memory. I am uncomfortable calling them out to their face and saying, “hey, that’s incorrect and offensive.” Sometimes I will say that I work with dementia, but about half the time this is welcomed with, “so you know what I mean, then!” However, I find that if I talk about young-onset dementia, I see a change in people’s faces, when they realize it really isn’t just for “old people” and that it is, in fact, a very serious syndrome.

For people with dementia, it’s every day. They have dementia every single day, and in every single place they go. It’s not a matter of incorrectly counting change once in a while, or forgetting your silverware with lunch one day. Dementia is different from normal age-related memory changes (which do exist, as the brain has more information to search through to recall previously stored information), because the brain is working and aging in a different way than a healthy brain. When people are making fun of dementia, it’s really not funny.

I remember when I was an intern at the World Health Organization in Copenhagen, one of the ladies ahead of me in the lunch line asked me to pass her some silverware that she forgot to pick up, saying “I’m old, you don’t understand yet, but you forget things when you’re old.” She was in her 50s (which is over a decade away from the definition of old). And probably didn’t know that I have a degree in Aging Studies (Gerontology). Or that I was an intern in the Age-Friendly Cities program and was currently writing my PhD on dementia care. But, the point is, she shouldn’t have to know that stuff to realize what she was saying was incorrect, perpetuating stigma about aging, and making folly of dementia.

If we take a little time to think about what we are saying when we talk about memory or dementia or people who we think are “old,” we gain some insight into how we really feel about those topics. We also get a moment to consider if it is respectful and accurate, or if it’s something best left in our thoughts.