Caring for a Parent With Alzheimer's

As we all know, Alzheimer’s can have a devastating impact on individuals living with the disease, as well as on those involved in their care. Dementia Care Specialists believes that those with Alzheimer’s have many remaining abilities, and that capitalizing upon those abilities can lead to quality of life at every stage of the disease.

For this to happen, people with Alzheimer’s are dependent upon those around them to discover their remaining abilities, and to accept and compensate for what they can no longer do. When this just-right challenge happens, it is like a miracle, as all involved in the activity or social experience feel success, happiness, and peace. We strive to empower health care professionals with this way of thinking, as well as with the skills to provide this type of supportive, facilitatory care.

Individuals with Alzheimer’s are whole beings who have the capacity to coexist with the disease. They do not have to suffer. It is our mission to educate, empower, and enrich through our trainings everyone affected by Alzheimer's. It is our mission to support those with Alzheimer’s and their families. It is our mission to connect those living with Alzheimer’s with health care providers who are committed to providing high-quality dementia care. When a long-term care community commits to this high standard of Dementia Capable Care training and demonstrates evidence that it is implementing these training skills with care, the facility can earn our Dementia Care Specialists Distinguished Provider Recognition. We recently awarded our first two special recognitions to two wonderful assisted living facilities that specialize in memory care.

I now share with you a very special Facebook message we received from a family member who lovingly and skillfully cares for her mother, who has dementia. As we teach in our program, this daughter enters her mom’s reality instead of forcing her mom into our reality. This is an excellent approach, as Robbin’s mom no longer fully understands current-day reality. So Robbin successfully engages her mom’s remaining abilities. This is the perfect compensatory, accepting approach that enables Robbin to create happy moments for both her mom and herself. Robbin told us, “It would be an honor to share this story. It has been a long, tough journey with Mom, and so any peace that we find is such a blessing.”

We are so grateful to Robbin for sharing her story, and we hope that she has the blessing of having health care professionals around her with a dementia-capable approach to care to offer guidance and support when it’s needed.

Robbin says: My mom is 85, and has lived in a personal care home for the last four years. Lately, Mom’s dementia has been increasing, and she regularly talks about visiting with her own mom and dad, both of whom died over 40 years ago. In the beginning, I used to try to bring her back to the present day, but now I just listen as she talks about how she’s living "back home." She says that her parents made a home that is very much like the personal care home. When she’s more lucid, and more in the present day, I think she feels like she has to explain about being with her mom and dad. She tells people that they didn't like it in heaven, and that they discovered it was possible to come back here, so they did. Pretty clever, huh?

Mom often asks me if I've stopped in at her mother's house. Choosing not to lie, but still to support her reality, I say, "I haven't seen my grandparents since they passed away over 40 years ago. You, on the other hand, have entered into a phase in your life where you’re able to enjoy these relationships again, and to be with people you love and have missed for so long. This is special, just for you, Mom. I think it must be what happens, as we get older—the people we love come back to be in our lives."

This is working very well for us right now. Mom does worry that she’s "losing her mind," and so I try to find ways to make her feel like it's normal, and that what’s happening can actually be positive. It makes her feel special—that her parents would come back to be with her—and it makes me feel good to see that it makes her happy. And who am I to say that what is happening for her is not "real"? It's very real to her.

I hope Robbin’s story proves helpful and inspirational to everyone who strives to ensure that people with Alzheimer’s experience love and joy.



You might also be interested in