Wednesday, June 17, 2009
My mother, Elizabeth Chandler, was diagnosed with moderate-advanced alzheimers in October 1998. She passed away June 10, 2007. During most of that time she lived with me. I still miss her. In honor of her life I would like to share some snapshot experiences from our family's journey.
In looking back there are things I wish I had understood better, and successes that I wish we had celebrated more.
Last fall (2008) I attended the Montana Alzheimers Conference, one of the presenters was Jolene Brackey. I wish that I had met her years ago. She shared some very practical and down to earth strategies.
One observation that she made was to determine where in the past your loved one is living. If the chrological age of the person is 85 and they are worried or talking about their young children. In their mind they are probably about 25. Jolene's recommendation was to find and copy pictures from that time of their family. She also said to write out the names, including pet names, of the people. Write several short stories (events) about the people in the pictures. Make copies of the pictures and the stories so that anyone who visits your loved one can talk about that time and people. This helps them reconnect to their memories, and gives them real conversations.
"Families have the knowledge to build a bridge between the care provider and the person with Alzheimers. Once families understand dementia and how to apply the knowledge they hold. They can become "helpers" in the journey." - Jolene Brackey
Jolene has a CD set called "Family Moments"