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How To Write A Letter To Someone With Dementia

How The Disease Affects The Brain

How to Talk to Someone With Dementia

Physiologically, dementia and/or Alzheimers affects various parts of the brain, specifically, it affects the brain in such a way that people have a difficult time learning new information. This is why, for a long time into the disease, patients and/or loved ones can remember things that happened a long time ago. They can remember wedding dates, the war they fought in, where they went to high schoolbut they can’t remember the visit that they had with their daughter yesterday. This is because the disease affects certain parts of the brainthe temporal lobeswhich are responsible for helping us learn new things.

The reason theyre able to hold onto the memories that happened a long time ago is that those memories are represented throughout the brain. Long-term memories don’t require just one or two areas of the brainthey’re probably represented in multiple systemsso the disease has to be quite advanced before patients and/or loved ones start losing those memories.

In the brain of someone with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s, there are actual holes in the brain that form. In an image of an Alzheimer’s brain, one can see where many of the brain cells have diedand it affects every area of the brain.

Top Communication Tools For Seniors With Dementia

Although dementia signs and severity vary, there are many communication tools for dementia and support techniques to improve conversations with your loved one. In general, its best to remain patient, clear, and understanding. Here are 10 Alzheimers communication strategies to help boost your bond with your loved one and improve communication.

Caregiving In The Early Stages Of Alzheimers Or Dementia

In the early stages of Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia, your loved one may not need much caregiving assistance. Rather, your role initially may be to help them come to terms with their diagnosis, plan for the future, and stay as active, healthy, and engaged as possible.

Accept the diagnosis. Accepting a dementia diagnosis can be just as difficult for family members as it for the patient. Allow yourself and your loved one time to process the news, transition to the new situation, and grieve your losses. But dont let denial prevent you from seeking early intervention.

Deal with conflicting emotions. Feelings of anger, frustration, disbelief, grief, denial, and fear are common in the early stages of Alzheimers or dementiafor both the patient and you, the caregiver. Let your loved one express what theyre feeling and encourage them to continue pursuing activities that add meaning and purpose to their life. To deal with your own fears, doubts, and sadness, find others you can confide in.

Make use of available resources. There are a wealth of community and online resources to help you provide effective care on this journey. Start by finding the Alzheimers Association in your country . These organizations offer practical support, helplines, advice, and training for caregivers and their families. They can also put you in touch with local support groups.

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Sample Condolence Letter To A Client

Dear Mark,

I was deeply saddened to hear about Jacobs passing. I know that you were partners in life as well as in business, and that kind of loss is unfathomable. Jacob had such a brilliant mind. But beyond that, I appreciated his integrity. The world has lost a great light.

This is obviously a massive transition for you, both personally and professionally. I understand that business wont be at the top of your priority list right now. We want to go ahead and waive our monthly fees for the next three months while still offering technical support to your staff if they need it during your absence. You dont need to worry about additional expenses right now.

If theres anything else we can do to support you or your business at this time, please dont hesitate to reach out.

Cordially,

When Is It Appropriate To Write A Condolence Letter

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If youve never been in a position to write a condolence letter before, you may not know about the etiquette surrounding this practice. Well do our best to demystify it for you.

The main thing people are often concerned about is whether or not it is appropriate for them to send a condolence letter. For example, if the person who suffered a loss is a co-worker or casual acquaintance, you may worry that sending condolences is an overstep. Or if you didnt know much about the deceased, you might worry that you wont say the right words. If its been longer than two weeks, you shouldnt feel like youve missed your window. Its never too late to show your support.

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Talk About One Thing At A Time

Someone with dementia may not be able to engage in the mental juggling needed to maintain a conversation with multiple threads. Its best to keep it concise and simple.

Ask open-ended, observational questions, instead of quizzing or asking too much at once. If youre looking through an old photo album, for example, you could say, This is a beautiful dress. What do you think? instead of, Do you remember your wedding day? Asking specifically about the dress keeps the conversation simple and direct.

Hospital Visits During Covid

Due to COVID-19, hospitals continue to update appointment and visitor policies to comply with state department of health guidelines to protect the health and safety of patients, visitors and employees. For example, visitors may be required to wear a face mask or cloth face covering. Or, they may not be allowed to accompany patients in clinics, hospital departments or the emergency room, with exceptions in certain cases. Before you plan a visit, call or check the hospitals website for information on their policies. Get the latest public health information on the coronavirus at coronavirus.gov.

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Example Of Report Updating On Progress During An Ongoing Project

This is a pdf of a presentation which was shared in whole, or in part, according to people’s access needs and preferences. It tells the story of an ongoing project – to develop this resource – so that people can see the feedback, ideas that have shaped it, and what has been done as a result of feedback and working together with people affected by dementia, commissioners and people working in health and care services.

Why Someone With Dementia Asks To Go Home

Dementia: A Love Letter

Alzheimers and dementia damage the brain and cause a person to experience the world in different ways.

So, what we hear as I want to go home is often a request for comfort rather than literally asking to go somewhere.

The kindest thing to do is to meet them where they are, focus on comfort and reassurance, and respond to the emotions behind their request.

The goal is to reduce your older adults anxiety or fear so they can let go of the idea.

Helping them to calm down also gives you a chance to check ifdiscomfort, pain, or a physical need is causing this behavior.

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Caring For The Caregivers

Dear caregiver, you have given and given and given some more. I hope you are finding real help and I hope you believe that it is OK to let someone else take over. You are not giving up and you are not giving in. Rather, you are wisely acknowledging that your loved ones needs exceed your capacity to give. I hope you can let go of hurting yourself while tending to someone whose needs will only increase over time. I pray you can refrain from judging yourself for not being able to do the impossible.

Dear caregiver, thank you for what you have done and are doing. Thank you, and may you be at peace with yourself when you can no keep doing this. Your inability to meet all the needs of someone with dementia is hardly a character flaw or indication of any lack of love. You have done what you know how to do. Thank you for it. Now, please, take very good care of yourself. We need more kind, compassionate, giving people like you in the world.

When Caring Isnt Enough

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No one familiar with the situation has any doubts this was what needed to happen. That didnt make moving him one lick easier. It appears that within a day of introducing him to his new home, he is adjusting well, but the transition is hard to watch. Dementia diminishes a person layer by layer. Caretakers watch their loved one gradually fade away, sacrificing themselves in hundreds of little ways day by day while the one with dementia grows increasingly dependent on them.

So I want to thank everyone who provides care to anyone with dementia. You are a special kind of hero in my book and deserve all help and encouragement you can get. You remember their better days while they dont remember much of anything anymore.

Living with someone with dementia means you learn how to respond to the often puzzling and at times frightening changes of behavior brought on by the mental deterioration. Patiently you let them tell you the same story over and over and over a dozen times in a row. Equally patiently you repeatedly answer the same questions, knowing they arent going to understand or remember the answer for even five minutes.

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Moving To A Care Home

If the persons needs become too great for you to manage at home, you may need to consider other long-term options. If youre becoming exhausted or the person with dementia is becoming harder to care for, a care home might be the best option for you both.

A move to a care home can be a difficult decision, but there are limits to the care you can provide.

If the person you care for is moving into a care home, familiar furniture, belongings or music can help them feel more settled.

Should You Keep Trying To Communicate

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Family members may frequently ask, How often should I visit?, or, Should I visit at all, because they dont seem to be understanding what were saying, most of the time they dont seem to recognize me, etc. Caregivers can encourage family members to visit because its important to them. Also, the person with memory loss may catch some things on some days, and if family members can make the interaction a pleasant moment, it can be rewarding for both.

Communication amongst family becomes particularly difficult when the person with dementia and/or Alzheimers doesn’t recognize family members anymore. In this situation, a spouse or children can think that it doesnt do any good to go talk to the personthat anyone could talk to him/her because they dont remember who they are. But there is a richness that happens because of family history together, something that can only come from people that have been family or friends for a long time.

The type of communication families can get out of visits can be pulled from the strength of the patient and/or loved ones long-term memories. They can still talk about the past, and for family members, to hear those things are perhaps a worthwhile gift.

Even though the patient and/or loved one can no longer communicate the way they used to, there are still other ways to enjoy time together. There is beauty and simplicity in being in the present moment.

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Sample Condolence Letter For The Loss Of A Friend

Dear Brian,

Im reaching out to let you know how sorry I am about Joe. I do not doubt that many people – including you – are taking care of his family during this terrible time. But I know how close you two were, and I want to make sure youre also receiving support.

I have so many fond memories of our group of high school friends. I was thinking maybe we could get together with some the old crew and have a toast to Joes memory in a few weeks. Let me know if youre interested, and Ill put it together. In the meantime, Im here if you need a shoulder to lean on.

All the best,

Louis

Caregiving In The Middle Stages Of Alzheimers Or Dementia

As your loved ones Alzheimers disease or dementia symptoms progress, theyll require more and more careand youll need more and more support as their caregiver. Your loved one will gradually experience more extensive memory loss, may become lost in familiar settings, no longer be able to drive, and fail to recognize friends and family. Their confusion and rambling speech can make communicating more of a challenge and they may experience disturbing mood and behavior changes along with sleep problems.

Youll need to take on more responsibilities as your loved one loses independence, provide more assistance with the activities of daily living, and find ways of coping with each new challenge. Balancing these tasks with your other responsibilities requires attention, planning, and lots of support.

Ask for help. You cannot do it all alone. Its important to reach out to other family members, friends, or volunteer organizations to help with the daily burden of caregiving. Schedule frequent breaks throughout the day to pursue your hobbies and interests and stay on top of your own health needs. This is not being neglectful or disloyal to your loved one. Caregivers who take regular time away not only provide better care, they also find more satisfaction in their caretaking roles.

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Be Patient And Avoid Jumping In

Its best to give your loved one extra time to process what you say. If you ask a question, patiently wait for their response and avoid rushing an answer. Get comfortable with silence while your loved one is thinking.

When your loved one is struggling for a word, it can be tempting to jump in. But rather than helping, you may unintentionally derail their thought process, Gurung says.

Develop Helpful Daily Routines

How to Care for Someone Suffering with Dementia

Having general daily routines and activities can provide a sense of consistency for an Alzheimers or dementia patient and help ease the demands of caregiving. Of course, as your loved ones ability to handle tasks deteriorates, youll need to update and revise these routines.

Keep a sense of structure and familiarity. Try to keep consistent daily times for activities such as waking up, mealtimes, dressing, receiving visitors, and bedtime. Keeping these things at the same time and place can help orientate the person with dementia. Use cues to establish the different times of dayopening the curtains in the morning, for example, or playing soothing music at night to indicate bedtime.

Involve your loved one in daily activities as much as theyre able. For example, they may not be able to tie their shoes, but may be able to put clothes in the hamper. Clipping plants in the yard may not be safe, but they may be able to weed, plant, or water.

Vary activities to stimulate different sensessight, smell, hearing, and touchand movement. For example, you can try singing songs, telling stories, dancing, walking, or tactile activities such as painting, gardening, or playing with pets.

Spend time outdoors. Going for a drive, visiting a park, or taking a short walk can be very therapeutic. Even just sitting outside can be relaxing.

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Too Much For One Person

No matter your situation, you now have more responsibility than one single person should ever be asked to take on. But no one asked you, nor did you ask to have this responsibility. You accepted the role because you are a dementia warrior.

You fight back. You help people when they are down. You dont turn your back on someone in need especially family. So why do you feel like youre failing?

To say youre failing makes it seem as though youre not getting anything right. But Im sure thats not the case. In this situation, its impossible no, its doubly impossible, to get everything right.

But we tend to focus on our perceived failures rather than the abundance of good we do.

Dont Answer Questions Of Patient/loved Ones Regarding Bad Memories

People with Alzheimer’s often ask difficult questions, mostly about people who have passed away years ago. Its not helpful to remind the patient and/or loved one that a person theyre asking about has passed away. Rather than avoid the subject, you can say, He/shes not here right now, but tell me about him/her. Often the person with memory loss is looking for the sensation and security that they would have if their loved one was around.

Caregivers and/or family members should be helping patients and/or loved ones comfortable, safe, and protected. Elderly women, for example, who have had children commonly ask, Where are my babies? This question will often come up at meal time, when feeding the children was an important part of motherhood. Find a way to soothe their concern. You could say, The babies are sleeping.

As stated earlier, trying to bring a person with Alzheimer’s the present-day reality is not effective. Caregivers and/or family members should adapt to the patient and/or loved ones reality. Its ok to go anywhere in any time period in order to communicate.

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Things Not To Say To Someone With Dementia

Speaking to an elderly loved one with dementia can be difficult and emotionally draining. Alzheimers and dementia can lead to conversations that dont make sense, are inappropriate or uncomfortable, and may upset a family caregiver. However, over time, its important to adapt to the seniors behavior, and understand that their condition doesnt change who they are.

For senior caregivers, its important to always respond with patience. Here are some things to remember not to say to someone with dementia, and what you can say instead.

1. Youre wrong

For experienced caregivers, this one may seem evident. However, for someone who hasnt dealt with loss of cognitive function before, it can be hard to go along with something a loved one says that clearly isnt true. Theres no benefit to arguing, though, and its best to avoid upsetting a senior with dementia, who is already in a vulnerable emotional state due to confusion.

Instead, change the subject.

Its best to distract, not disagree. If an elderly loved one makes a wrong comment, dont try to fight them on it just change the subject and talk about something else ideally, something pleasant, to change their focus. There are plenty of things not to say to someone with dementia, but if theres one to remember, its anything that sounds like youre wrong.

2. Do you remember?

Instead, say: I remember

3. They passed away.

Instead

4. I told you

Instead, repeat what you said.

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