There are over 16 million Americans providing unpaid caregiving support to someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another Dementia. These caregivers provided an estimated 18.6 billion hours of care valued at nearly $244 billion dollars! (per the 2020 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts & Figures report)
Imagine ‘every-day-people, often with minimal training and/or understanding of the Dementia journey; providing personal care to someone with the disease. It’s like jumping into the deep end of a pool and not knowing how to swim.
Far too often, family members are thrust into a ‘crash-course’ of caring while in the midst of doing the actual caring. This unfortunate circumstance can lead to negative outcomes for both the caregiver and the care receiver.
Family members who find themselves providing Dementia support to a loved one or a neighbor are encouraged to join support groups and take advantage of trusted local and national Dementia care resources.
Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia
The common misconception is that the words Alzheimer’s and Dementia are synonymous; when in fact Dementia is an ‘umbrella’ term for a particular group of symptoms. Distinctive dementia symptoms include difficulties with memory, language, problem-solving, or other thinking skills that affect a person’s ability to perform ordinary daily activities.
Although Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of Dementia; there are other types like Vascular, Lewy Body, Fronto Temporal, Parkinson’s disease, Hippocampal Sclerosis and Mixed Pathologies Dementia.
Purposeful Engagement is Key
Regardless of which type of Dementia your loved one has, there are still ample ways to maintain a quality of life for those in your care through purposeful engagement and encounters during each day.
Ensuring that each encounter or caregiving ‘touch’ leaves a long-lasting positive impact on the heart and soul of those in your care is a key to overall success.
Make It Special!
Regardless of whether you are a paid caregiver in a professional setting or a valued family member in a home environment; there are ample ways throughout each day and night to have dignified, purposeful interaction with those in your care.
Keep in mind, that regardless of what type of Dementia someone has, there are common characteristics wherein their memory and critical thinking skills will be impacted. However, make no mistake; Dementia cannot touch the depth of a person’s heart and soul. Those areas remain in tack. They can still feel love when it’s shared.
The heart and soul can still be nourished by gentle touch or compliments and a loving smile. Therefore all caregivers are encouraged to weave in magical moments that foster happiness in the heart and soul of those they serve.
In Just 3 Minutes
It’s not that complicated. Here are some easy-to-execute ideas that have high impact:
- Be generous with hugs, smiles, and compliments!
- Ask for their advice or opinion and patiently wait for the response, while maintaining eye contact.
- Spend time outdoors in the fresh air. Walking or sitting on the front porch
- Sing along together to a favorite tune
- Look through photo albums or view family photos while reminiscing
- Tell a joke to make them laugh
- Sit silently while holding hands
- Perform a household task together. Not worrying about how long it will take or if it’s completed perfectly
- Water the plants. Both indoors and outside!
- Say a prayer together
- Write a letter to a family member, friend, or neighbor
- Share a sweet treat
- Do a simple puzzle and celebrate with high-fives when you finish!
- Blow bubbles
- Recite a poem
- Arrange flowers
- Review recipes in a vintage cookbook while reminiscing about favorite meals
- Feed the birds
Remember this, each encounter you have with those in your care is an opportunity to add impromptu special moments to their day! In just three minutes, you can have high impact. More importantly, in just three minutes you can leave a lasting impression on those in your care.
Make it a good one!