...Because Life Goes On
Experiencing Memory Loss or receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease or other dementia does NOT mean that Life is Over.....it is a tough time and filled with anxiety of the unknown. We all must keep in mind that the individual with dementia is a Person with an illness and a Life still worth living....not just a dreaded statistic.
Even in latest stages of dementia, the Essence of the Person is Still Inside....it just may take more effort to engage and connect. With love in your heart, a smile on your face, a positive attitude, simple kindness and a bit of knowledge, supporting someone who is living with dementia to find Quality of Life IS possible....Not Easy, yes, but possible. Join me on my quest to find and share positive solutions to the challenges of living with dementia.
Simple Solutions for the Challenges of Living with Dementia
cognitive and behavioral expressions associated with dementia can be
managed and many times avoided. Life does NOT have to be dreaded! In
general, understanding a person's Life Story, focusing on meeting the
needs of the individual, cultivating a Positive attitude, maintaining a
calm atmosphere, focusing on what an individual CAN do instead of what
they cannot do, being prepared, creating opportunities for Connection
and maintaining a daily routine including exercise and familiar music
can go a long way in helping all involved find Joy in Living.
- Meet Unmet NEEDS...Pain,
thirst, hunger, fear, sadness, frustration, need to use the bathroom,
fear, tiredness, excitement...think of every behavior as a Communication
that cannot be put into words.
KNOWING their Life Story and understanding the individual as a unique human
being; their history, likes, dislikes, habits, background, needs, routines is
- FOCUS on the ABILITIES of the
individual. Not on what he/she cannot do....but what he/she CAN do. A person may not be able read and understand a
novel any longer, but Can read a children's book to a grandchild or chat about pictures from their past, mall shopping doesn't work, but catalogs & circlulars can.
- VALIDATE.... don't discount manifestation of anger, fear, saddness, anxiety or other emotion...rather
understand and empathize with the needs the person is trying to
express. Say..." you must be sad, tell me about it" not, "don't be sad"
- FEELINGS......are NOT forgotten! The person may not remember what you said, but...WILL remember how you make them Feel! LOVE THEM!
- KINDNESS..... Smile and Be Kind. Its that simple. Act from the Heart.
- Caregivers Take TIME for Yourself!!! Enlist the help of family, friends, neighbors and get away! Every Day!! Even if just a few moments.
Music to Life every day. Musical and Emotional Memories do not fade
away but are the bridge to self. Use familiar music to soothe, connect to the past, create
energy....to just enjoy as an activity. Use soothing music during
bath or other personal care routines. Experience the Power of Music!
walk, garden, march in place, sweep, follow along with an old fitness
video like Jack LaLanne, pretend you are a conductor of an orchestra or a
butterfly!! Sing Sinatra and do the Jitterbug. Cardiovascular exercise
is a Must and Whatever the person with dementia can move should move
- SIMPLIFY - Don't
increase confusion by introducing multiple tasks, ideas, steps all at
once. Think: One activity at a time, One thought at a time, One step
at a time.
- Engage the individual with dementia by asking for his/her help or
opinion. Offer two choices "Shall we have Pizza or steak today?", not
"Are you hungry? "Can you help me with .....?", not, doing everything for them.
- REDUCE CLUTTER - In
the environment and in routine. Maintain lifelong daily routines - the
person with dementia is struggling to organize his/her own
thoughts....seeing clutter and not having dependable routine increases
confusion and frustration. A few precious, familiar items....not stuff everywhere works best.
- SLOW DOWN
- The brain of a person with dementia processes information one thing
at a time. Approach SLOWLY and from the front.....Speak Slowly allowing
comprehension of each thought before moving to next thought.
- Stay CALM- The person with dementia will MIRROR your energy.... so Smile, Stay Positive, Center Yourself - take a few deep breaths Before approaching.
- GO with the FLOW of the situation-
and BE WITH the person with Dementia wherever he/she is. If Dad thinks
he is waiting for the train, sit with him and talk about trains, his
work, traveling. Don't try to re-orient the person to your
reality..enter his/her reality. ENJOY THE MOMENT.
- Be FLEXIBLE...things can change in an instant. Adapt to the situation.... Remember the individual is struggling, its Not about you.
you do...do it side by side, not FOR the individual but WITH the
individual. Ask for Help, their opinion and then say THANK YOU!
activities to that help relieve stress like
aromatherapy, hand massage, deep breathing, stretching, soft items to hold, soft music and soft lighting, art, dancing.
- MAKE ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES - Use Contrast, nightlights, sensory cues. This Website "Dementia and the Home Environment" provides details on modifications you can make to optimize the home environment.
- HAVE FUN!!! - Smile a lot...laugh! ENJOY the Moment!
Learn about ways to help reduce stigma and change the way we support individuals with dementia at the DEMENTIA ACTION ALLIANCE
To help you Understand what is happening to your loved one with Alzheimer's disease or other form of dementia, watch
this very informative video for a clear explanation of the brain
changes that occur.
Visit my Resources Page to learn more!
Thanks for visiting!
is Francine Pannella. This
website is focused on sharing up to date information and practical ways
to enhance quality of Life for aging adults with cognitive decline through education, assistance with lifestyle changes & physical and cognitive fitness. I believe that Joy in Life can be achieved and connection to self can be made
through the inclusion of human connection, movement, music, reminiscence & and other holistic pathways into daily life; and by doing this reduce the need for some drugs as a response to
some of the challenges of aging with memory loss or dementia. My Vision is to someday create special places where individuals with dementia are welcome to spend time - without stigma - to experience joyful moments and for their care partners to find resources and a connection to to others living with the same challenges. I have worked for almost 20 years is in geriatric nursing, dementia care, and in transitions to all levels of eldercare living. I am on staff at Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey as Manager of their Alzheimer's Respite Care Program in the New Jersey counties of Ocean and Monmouth. I am a past Associate Director of of the Alzheimer's Association Greater NJ Chapter and on the Advisory Board of the ALIVE INSIDE FOUNDATION , whose mission is to create an Empathy Revolution through education, inter-generational practices, music, and film. I hold certifications as a Licensed Practical Nurse,
Dementia Care Practitioner, ASFA - Senior Personal Trainer, Balance
Fitness Progression Specialist, Long Term
Care Fitness Leader and Brain Fitness Facilitator. I am NOT the Expert, but a student of the
amazing & growing wealth of knowledge being shared by practitioners, scientists and
researchers from all over the world.
I am continually expanding my education in the field of Aging, Dementia & Fitness - and sharing it
you to use in your life, so please check back often.
I hope that you
find the resources on my site helpful - I welcome your comments. I am available to speak to your group or staff about any of the information found on this site.