ABC of Dementia Workshop Follow-Up
By Carolyn Eckhart
Fifty-five members and friends of Grace Episcopal Church attended the ABC of Dementia workshop June 29th. The two-hour presentation by Debbie Selsavage and Ed Youngblood of Coping with Dementia LLC was informative, inspiring, and lively.
We learned that Dementia is an umbrella term for the many memory diseases, of which Alzheimer’s is the major cause (more than 50%). In addition to Alzheimer’s disease, there are more than 100 causes of brain deterioration that result in trauma and chemical and structural changes that destroy the brain on a cellular level. Behavioral changes from dementia can include memory loss, reduced ability to reason and to follow directions, lack of cleanliness, getting lost. It can also include a loss of ability to see, smell, hear, and a loss of motor skills. And these changes in our family and friends leave them frightened.
Selsavage and Youngblood believe we should strive to provide the best quality of care for our loved ones’ lives that we can. In the absence of a cure, care is what we can give our loved ones with dementia. We need to meet each person at the place where they are, adapting to the issues of each person’s situation. Selsavage suggested that: we keep our speech slow and specific; be patient; avoid arguments; try not to say “I’ve told you before,” and be flexible.
Caring for the care partner is important, too. A tired, upset, emotionally drained care partner cannot provide the quality of care that he/she wants to. Keep an eye on your own needs and seek help from family, friends and professionals. Coping with Dementia LLC provided pamphlets, handouts, booklets from organizations and a list of resources on the internet that focus on Alzheimer’s and dementia. It was a terrific workshop. If you have specific questions, please contact Coping with Dementia LLC can be reached at www.coping.today or firstname.lastname@example.org