Caregiver Resiliency

What Your Loved One
 Wants You to Know

​​Caring for the Caregiver: 

Tips for November

The holidays provide ample opportunities to travel to visit with family and friends. With careful planning,
persons in the early stages of Alzheimer's will do well during these visits. Joyce Simard of “Today's Caregiver”, rightly suggests that safety is the number one concern when traveling, since the departure from familiar
routines and environments can result in anxious behaviors, such as wandering. Joyce offers the following suggestions:

  • BEFORE leaving, register your loved one with the “Safe Return Program” sponsored by the Alzheimer's

  • Never leave your loved one alone and unattended when you are traveling.

  • BEFORE leaving, develop a crisis plan in the event your loved one wanders. Include the address and phone numbers of the police departments or emergency services located in the areas you will be visiting. Don't hesitate to call them if a situation arises.

Support Your Loved One During the Holidays
Part 2
by Catherine Gentile

Last month we listed the ways in which we can help our loved ones with Alzheimer's/dementia celebrate the holidays with family and friends. Here are a few more suggestions, some taken from my family's experience with my mother:

  • As much as possible, maintain your loved one's routines. 

  • Avoid introducing the unfamiliar: The first Christmas after we placed my mother in a skilled nursing facility, I gave her a velvet stocking filled with packaged goodies, snack foods for her to nibble on whenever she wanted. I overlooked one important fact: she'd never eaten packaged raisins, crackers, or nuts. She shot me a puzzled look, but didn't complain about this new foodstuff. I failed to anticipate that she wouldn't know what to do with these items. All was not lost. Later, I found her running her hand back and forth over the velvet. A talented seamstress who loved fabrics, she was enjoying the sensation of a familiar fabric.

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With best regards,
Catherine Gentile, editor
Together With Alzheimer's Ezine​


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. 


Meets every Wednesday, from 7:00-8:00
To discuss our experiences with caregiving and share information and resources
within a supportive and caring environment.

Conference Room
  Sacred Heart Parish Center,
326 Main St, Yarmouth, Maine
All are welcome to attend at no charge.  

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Enhance Your Loved One's Functioning
Through the Power of Light

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Dear Readers:

This holiday season I am grateful to all caregivers for sharing your stories with me. The dedication with which you address the challenges of dementia care is, even on the most mundane of days, inspirational. I feel honored to have heard from caregivers who strive to maintain persons with dementia in their homes; those who embrace the support of memory care programs (both day and residential); those who have opened their hearts to persons carrying the diagnosis of 'early onset Alzheimer's' and; those leading our local and national organizations that provide services in hopes of fostering a greater understanding of Alzheimer's and its impact on individuals, families, and caregivers.

We at Together With Alzheimer's wish you a peace-filled Thanksgiving holiday. 

By the time you receive this ezine, we will have set our clocks back one hour, thereby forcing ourselves to adjust to a mere 9.34 hours of natural light. As much as we bemoan this loss, it is far more unsettling for our loved ones with Alzheimer's/dementia.

Current research points to lighting having the “greatest impact” on care for those living either within the home and/or memory care unit. Individuals with dementia are often able to function independently if they can see properly (sounds like a common commonsensical kind of statement, but it's not). Adequate sight is a combination of visual acuity (i.e., the functioning of the eyes) and adequate lighting.

To test this statement, try to complete familiar activities such as threading a needle in low lighting and notice your annoyance. I recall having lunch with a dear friend with mild dementia who became verbally aggressive when she was unable to read the menu in the poorly lit restaurant. Her reaction startled me until I realized what had upset her: she had endured yet another affront to her rapidly diminishing cognitive abilities, one more proof that she was “losing it.” When I shined a flashlight on her menu, she was able to read the entrees and, although she continued to grumble, she eventually relaxed.

Pitfalls of Inadequate Lighting:

Low levels of light affect other aspects of functioning, too. Consider the following safety and health issues:

  • Decreased ability to find one's way, even in familiar surroundings
  • Increased risk of falling
  • Increased intensity of sundowning (e.g., magnify the example provided above)
  • Marked difficulty sleeping due to a disruption in one's circadian rhythm
  • Inadequate synthesis of Vitamin D3 (making one more susceptible to colds and flu)
  • Inadequate absorption of calcium
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Technology in Service of ​Caregiving