When your loved one complains about taking a shower, there's probably a good reason--
she feels like she's being bombarded with pins and needles!
I used to brace myself when I arrived at my mother's memory care unit just as she was being given a shower. The minute I stepped off the elevator, I could hear her shouting, "No! Stop!" I would rush into the shower room, where she stood, drenched and totally exposed. While I didn't realize that water hitting her body may have caused her pain, the pain of her humiliation was obvious.
Mom had grown up before showers became popular and had always taken baths when she lived at home. Between the novelty of showering and the changes in her neurological system, spikes of water making contact with her thinning skin could have caused real physical pain. To do something to offset the misery of showering, we arranged to have her hair washed by the hairdresser. While she loved this, there were no immediate alternative to showering as the unit had no bathtubs. Until she became bedridden, the awful ritual of showering continued. How I wished I'd known about the simple and dignified method of providing a pain-free shower that we'll describe below.
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With the arrival of fall comes the decrease in the number of hours of daylight and a tendency for our loved ones to withdraw. therefore it's especially important for your loved ones and caregivers alike to become involved in activities that stimulate the brain, increase calm, and a promote a sense of well-being:
1. Exercise: Get fresh air whenever possible. This needn't be anything complicated; it can be as simple as parking your car as far from the entrance to the grocery store as feasible. Or you and your loved one might go for a walk around your neighborhood or enjoy walking on local wooded pathways. Exercising relaxes and calms. It also helps maintain muscle tone, which helps maintain balance and avoid falls.
2. Socialization: Plan for you and your loved one to meet a friend for coffee, or combine exercise and socialization by inviting that friend to join you for a walk. Likewise, consider participating in an activity at your local YMCA. Consider having your loved one participate in functions at your local adult day center, where there are many activities to choose from.
3. Music: Incorporate music from your loved one's era into her daily routines. Music is known to help persons with dementia regain interest in the world. It's also reported to calm anxieties and brightens mood, laughter, and increased interest in socializing. (Next month, we'll report on exciting new research on the positive effects music is having on elders with dementia.)
Had We Only Known: Basic Facts and Helpful Procedures
Part 3 of 3: Hearing and Communication
Music Brings Hope to Persons With Memory Impairments
HELP SPREAD THE WORD:
Dementia affects the individual, family, and community. Join us in reaching out to those who are dealing with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. Encourage your friends, their families, and community members--especially those working in ass't living and nursing facilities--to subscribe to this FREE family-friendly support. Tell them to subscribe at: http://www.catherinegentile.com. Or contact me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Had We Only Known: Basic Facts and Helpful Procedures
Part 2 of a 3-Part Series
Based on a Presentation
by Teepa Snow, OT/R
MARK YOU CALENDARS--UPCOMING EVENT:
TOGETHER WITH ALZHEIMER'S: CARE AND SUPPORT FOR THE CAREGIVER
Join us as we discuss positive ways in which to respond to Alzheimer's.
Catherine Gentile, author, editor, and former caregiver, facilitates.
7:00-8:00, every Wednesday.
Sacred Heart Parish Center,
326 Main St, Yarmouth, Maine
Upcoming Presentation: November 5:
Torrey Harrison, LCSW: "Caring for the Caregiver"
To Register or FMI: email@example.com
Being a caregiver is a tough job, one we can do, especially when we have the right support.
As Christopher Robin tells Pooh:
"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
So are we.
Ask an individual within the early stages of Alzhiemer's or a caregiver or to name one of the most difficult aspects of dementia and they'll say, "Loneliness" or "Being abandoned by family and friends." When we asked former caregivers why this happens, their responses ranged from "thoughtlessness" to the more intense, "cowardliness." In many instances, the memory of having incurred a deep and personal sense of rejection is as fresh as the day it occurred. For some, letting go of the deep-seated memory of persons who were expected to be there and weren't is a challenge they work on long after their loved one has passed.
Their advice? Avoid adding your absence to a caregiver's sense of loss. Embrace those you know who are facing the challenges of dementia even if visiting is a fearsome task, something that's "too hard to do." Don't fall back on the excuse that you can't bear to see the person suffering. Or that you want to remember the person "the way they were."
Think about the situation from the caregivers' perspective: "Visiting provides welcome relief," they say, especially when they are the sole caregiver for their loved one.
If you're timid about visiting,there are ways to overcome your timidity. First of all, focus on the needs of the person with dementia and those of the caregiver. Put yourself in their shoes...that's right, try to visualize what it's like to be with an adult who has the needs of a very young child. If you're a parent, think back to the early years with your children and apply those same needs--bathing, feeding, clothing, toileting, reassuring, calming, entertaining--to an adult.
TO LEARN MORE Sign Up For: Together With Alzheimer's Ezine
Say "NO" to Loneliness:
Former Caregivers Speak Out