One of the most challenging things about living with someone with Alzheimer’s can be the constant confusion.
Often, the person isn’t in touch with reality and may not realize where they are, or what year it is, or who you are- and that can be heartbreaking and frustrating.
“No Mom, that’s not Suzie, it’s Karen- your daughter”, or “No Dad, we aren’t going to church today- it’s Wednesday. We don’t go to church on Wednesday”… and so on.
Unfortunately, these types of (well intentioned) responses can often illicit an argument- and actually add to the confusion and anxiety that the person is already feeling.
I distinctly remember having these exact kind of conversations with my grandmother- she would get confused and when we would try to gently correct her- she would become visibly agitated and sometimes even downright angry.
I only wish I had heard of the ‘yes, and’ approach then.
I first heard of the ‘yes, and’ approach on the radio (KUOW). I was driving to work and listening to a story about a comedian who’s mother in law suffered from Alzheimer’s. She was often confused- and sometimes even delusional- but rather than correct her, he used a technique he had learned in an improv class- that of always saying ‘yes, and’ to whatever was thrown at him on stage.
He decided to try this same approach at home. The example he gave was one day his mother in law looked out the window and mentioned something about seeing monkeys in the trees. Instead of telling her how ridiculous that was (as some family members felt the need to do), he just went along with it;
“Yes, I see the monkeys, and don’t you think it’s a bit early in the season for monkeys?” Upon hearing this response, she immediately lit up and the two of them went back and forth in a crazy conversation- one that left a lasting impression on both of them.
By saying ‘yes, and’ to whatever his mother in law would say- he was engaging her in a conversation (no matter how silly or outrageous) which allowed her to feel connected and in turn, gave her joy.
Over time the family began to see that she clearly favored the son in law over anyone else. Her face would light up when he would enter the room and she would get excited to converse with him. They recognized that the change was due to his ability to meet her where she was, and eventually they all adopted the ‘yes, and’ approach.
Sometimes it was easy, other times not so much… but it reminds us that by entering into the reality of the person with memory loss- you are giving that person the opportunity to connect with you. That connection and social engagement is far more important than ‘being right’.
Through patience, humor and creativity- you can change your interactions with the person you are caring for.
Capability Homecare has trained and experienced caregivers who work with Alzheimer’s and Dementia clients daily.
Today I wanted to share a letter we received from a former client*, I’ll call her L.
Several months after our client passed away, his daughter emailed us this letter:
I do not know how to begin to thank you for the exceptional care and compassion you and all of your staff and caregivers showed towards my father and my entire family during our time of need. It has been several months already since my father passed away, and as I look back on those few months that he was not able to care for himself, there was such an obvious turning point the moment we came in contact with your group. I just wish we had found you sooner!
I will always be grateful that we found Capability to see my Dad through his final days.
Before we came on board her dad had been on hospice- and the family had hired an agency to help take care of him throughout the day. Many people don’t realize that when hospice is in place, the care they provide is not 24 hours a day; so often families hire extra help to take care of the day to day stuff (ADL’s, bathing, med management, companionship, housekeeping).
Unfortunately, our client was very unhappy with the care the agency was providing (for a number of reasons; which included poor communication, concerns with transfers, rotation of staff and non pro-active caregivers)- so they brought Capability Homecare on board to take over.
After meeting with the client and his family, Capability Homecare developed a care plan specific to their situation. By meeting with them as a family- and careful listening, we then had a better understanding of exactly what went wrong with the other agency- and how we could better meet their needs.
We then used our Care Match system to find the perfect caregivers to meet these specific requirements. Our caregivers were ‘live in care’- meaning they lived in the client’s home and were able to provide care as needed. Our amazing caregivers had the pleasure of serving this client until he passed away.
It’s letters like this that make our day. We are so blessed to do the work that we do- and so honored to be a part of someone’s life at such a crucial time. Thank you, “L” for taking the time to write.
*We always ask client’s permission before sharing their letters.
Considering that 1 in 3 seniors will die with either Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia*, and more than 5 million Americans* are living with the disease, it is very relevant that September is World’s Alzheimer’s Month.
Capability Homecare specializes in caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s– it is a disease that hits very close to home for us. Our caregivers are highly trained and experienced at working with seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s.
What’s important to know is that families who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s are often stressed, confused and exhausted. You are not alone.
At Capability Homecare, we want to make sure you take care of yourself and find ways to alleviate the stress and burden of caring for a loved one with this disease.
Some ways to take care of yourself include exercise, joining a support group and hiring outside help to give you some respite.
Other important things to do when faced with Alzheimer’s is to make sure you get as much information as possible. There are many resources available to help educate you about the disease. There are wonderful books, films and lecture series that deal specifically with Alzheimer’s. Social workers at your doctor’s office or local hospital are a great resource for this.
One way to get involved is to support Alzheimer’s research. On September 21st (in Seattle) there will be a Walk to End Alzheimer’s– have you considered forming a team? For more information- click here!
A friend of mine recently went down to Florida to help her dad move out of his home and move into an Assisted Living*. While living in his own home he had become anti social- staying indoors most of the time.
Before the move, my friend wanted to go see a tree that she had planted several years ago in memory of her mother- and asked her dad to take her there. He reluctantly agreed to go and proceeded to climb in the car. Since the tree was only about 75 feet away, my friend insisted he get out of the car and they could walk. After a little resistance, eventually he gave in and together they walked down the road- and this is where an amazing thing happened.
As they slowly walked they started running into people he knew. People he hadn’t seen in months.
They stopped to talk, to laugh, to socialize. They shared stories, caught up on news and saw old friends.
All of a sudden- after months of feeling lonely and depressed- he felt alive, connected and loved. Just this simple task of getting outside and going for a short stroll opened up his world and brought him joy.
When my friend shared this story with me I knew it was something I wanted to share here because it is something so simple- and yet so rewarding. So I encourage you- if you have been cooped up in your home for too long- get outside. Go for a walk. Even if it’s a short one, being in the fresh air will re-invigorate you. Seeing other people will re-connect you and getting exercise will re-energize you.
There is no rush, take your time and take it slow. Just get out there and see the world. We’ve been waiting for you…
*Capability Homecare is a premiere homecare agency in the Greater Seattle area. We provide in home care for seniors for short or long term stays.
I was out to lunch with my children the other day- and as I sat and looked at them across the table my heart was literally filled with love.
Like bursting at the seams love.
I honestly didn’t know it was possible to love someone so wholly.
I looked at my kids and thought:
I love you more than anyone else in the world will ever love you-
I know you better than anyone else in the world will ever know you-
and I will always feel this way, no matter what.
It’s a pretty powerful love a mother has for a child. It’s also a reciprocal relationship. Despite my flaws, my children love me completely as well. In their eyes I am beautiful, smart, funny and kind.
I’m not sure why I’m writing about this love for my kids- except that in working with seniors and their families- we see this sort of love all the time. We see how even when children are adults and have families of their own- that love between a parent and child never fades.
We have a client who lives on Mercer Island. His daughter loves him so much- during our initial assessment, she ( a 50 year old woman) kept exclaiming ‘My dad deserves the best caregiver because he is the BEST dad in the whole world’. Her love for her father was bursting at the seams. She is so proud of him- and wanted to make sure we recognized what an incredible man he is. Because of her unconditional love, she wanted the very best for him.
That is what separates Capability Homecare from the others.
We understand that love- and we take the time to get to know our clients. We treat them as if they are our parents- and we offer them the very BEST caregivers. Our standards are higher because we truly understand the importance of having the very best care for the one you love. Nothing else will do.
If you have a family member who is in need of in home care, please call Capability Homecare today 425 679-5770.