Category: Person-Centered Care

Grief and Dementia

Grief is not the most festive topic for this time of year, but ignoring it actually multiplies its impact. We in memory care world have learned more than one blog can capture. As the pandemic winds down, we are confronted by a disproportionate amount of loss and grief. Grief and dementia have long been a subject of research. Early comparison of grief from cancer caregivers and dementia caregivers found that post-death dementia caregivers experienced more relief than grief. Some have called the dementia journey a long good-bye. The counterparts are those who reference the long hello. This difference in approach…

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The Artful Dodger & Dementia

The Artful Dodger and Dementia The Artful Dodger was the name given a street-wise boy who was a particularly good pick-pocket in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. Much like an individual with dementia, the Artful Dodger had to find ways to thrive with his limiting circumstances. Looking at arts-based interventions for individuals with dementia resonates with the artful dodger. Two literature reviews of art interventions and dementia validated that art interventions are useful in thriving with dementia. A review of music-based interventions done in 2020 found that music-based interventions improved depression and overall negative behaviors.1 Likewise a literature review of art…

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Are You Catching It?

No I do not mean COVID, I mean the changing season. Are you feeling a difference in the air temperature? A renewed desire to bake or take a run or hike? Fall is in the air, no matter where you live. It is simply more nuanced in the warmer climates.Here at the McHop MD home we have a third batch of sourdough starter; an on-going eye on putting the garden “to bed”; new tires on order and, believe it or not, some window washing.As we move into autumn, I am reminded of how the seasons’ characteristics are like the stages…

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Kaleidoscope of Time

Years ago, one of my school-aged children explained the shifting cognition of Granddad as a kaleidoscope. My nine-year-old said, You know mom being with Granddad is a lot like looking through the kaleidoscope. Most of the time you look in and can’t figure it out, but every once a while the light shoots straight through and then it is beautiful. So, I keep looking because you never know. I thought it was an excellent analogy of the shift in cognition we encountered with Granddad. Sometimes he was just as we remembered, aware and on target with his speech but then…

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Seeking Support while Safe at Home

As dementia caregivers, many of us had some external support systems in place before the Safer at Home mandate. With support groups, memory cafes, senior centers and adult day centers closed, we are struggling to find replacements. Adapting to a new in-home routine has its challenges. Limited outdoor spaces for exercise, and increased isolation has added a new dimension to our dementia caregiving. Many are adapting to technology in order to seek support and guidance. But how effective is internet-based interventions? Research looking at psychological interventions for dementia caregivers identified four types of caregiver intervention: Psychoeducational Counseling and psychotherapy Multicomponent…

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Springtime Light

As Spring gets closer, we see changes in light. Whether it is Daylight Savings Time and springing forward or a subtle change in trees budding—our world is moving toward more light. As our care partner’s brain changes, we must change to give care. That change can bring up feelings of resentment, anger, guilt, shame, loneliness and depression. Even as the natural world gets brighter, our path may feel full of shadows. Spring light holds a lesson for caregivers.  A gardening resource explains that light comes in colors.1 In Spring, red light provides the energizing chlorophyll to make a plant green….

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Not There Yet

This is a common refrain. A caregiver asks Dr. Cate for dementia guidance. I answer a specific question and then outline strategic plans they may want to consider. The response is always “We are not there yet.” The question to ask yourself is “where is there?” When your relationship is enough overwhelmed with brain change to ask for help—where are you? As a caregiver myself, I hear myself saying “not there yet”. This is an answer that comes from my desire to be anywhere but here—and my fear of there. It is my fear of financial struggle, and my fear…

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As a business owner, a woman, an individual, a mother, a caregiver—sometimes I forget who I am. I have found the anecdote is daily time in nature, practicing mindfulness. The beauty of this is I am gentle enough with myself to allow this to not include a certain place, pose or structure. This morning’s church was at Lee’s Travel Park pool. By myself, with the company of a mockingbird. Back floating, water-bugging, floating and watching this fella belt out one tune after another. A repertoire fit for a king or queen. Perhaps he was waiting for a drink, or maybe…

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Validate Instead of Negate

At this time of year hauntings are not just in old homes.  If you are living with an individual with dementia, you may well be faced with ghosts and imaginings that are convincingly real in presentation. Some forms of dementia are more likely to have delusions and hallucinations as symptoms. Your challenge as a caregiver is to validate rather than negate the presence of the man in the bathroom or the re-written biography that includes new players, new scenarios. It is helpful to define both a delusion and a hallucination. Delusions in dementia world are false beliefs.1 When your 94…

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Tablets as a Window to Memory

When caring for a person with dementia a tablet pc may well be one of your most valuable tool.  Ranging in price from $50-$200, tablets can be an excellent care resource.1 Research shows that the portable touchscreen devices, commonly called tablets, are useful not only to the individual with dementia but also to the caregiver.2 In a study of individuals with early -stage dementia, 50% of those in the study were able to use the tablet independently. Caregivers expressed relief in proportion to the amount of time their loved one used the tablet independently. In a study of individuals with…

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