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Working with Dementia patients now

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Old 12-11-2009, 08:23 PM   #1
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Working with Dementia patients now

Well, I just completed day 2 of my new job working with dementia patients. I wanted to jump on the boards for a second before I fall exhausted into bed, ready for work tomorrow...

I want you all to know that during our staff meeting today, I brought up this board and all you life savers on it. It seems that the staff is "impressed" by my knowledge of this horrible disease, how to "speak" Alzheimer's, and since I am the activities assistant, how to make them smile and stay as active as possible.

Most of that is thanks to you. You all teach me and each other so much - you will never know how much. When I suggested that we bring in some dolls for the ladies (we have a playground ball in the activities room with Dora the Explorer on it, and the ladies all just want to hug it and hold it), they were so "on board" with that idea - it will be implemented next week. That idea came from you.

When I suggested that the stuffed animals they pack around be put in a hot dryer a couple times a week to kill the germs and flu bugs - they were impressed and will do so 3x a week. That idea also - from you.

So it's thanks to you all that I sound like an absolute Alzheimer's genius, and I wanted to thank you for that. It's a tough job, and I can only take it one day at a time, but for today, I can do it. A large part of that is thanks to you.

Those of you that are concerned that it's awfully early for me to do this kind of work, you are right. It is, and it's terribly hard, and I don't know if I can physically and emotionally do this - but for today, I can. We'll deal with next week - next week. And you'll keep hearing from me often, because NO ONE - not my dh, my dd, my son - NO ONE understands how difficult it is to look into eyes that look like daddy's, or hug the shoulders of a woman that looks exactly like my mom. The director said today that I have a "gift" for connecting with the residents. I don't know about that, but I appreciated the compliment.

But of course I always end up back here, no matter what. Cuz' I can't seem to function without you. Each and every one of you.

...lil' deb

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Old 12-11-2009, 09:02 PM   #2
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Re: Working with Dementia patients now

lil Deb, I just read your post and I think it's awsome!! I missed seeing that you were planning to do this, so I was a little surprised. But you have so much to give, AND you seem to know how to give to yourself also from the advice you've given me. I get the feeling that this new job is you giving to day at a time.

Love, JoJo

Old 12-12-2009, 02:48 AM   #3
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Re: Working with Dementia patients now

I will keep you in my prayers. You will need all the inner resources you can muster up. I am so thankful for the people who helped my Mom at the NH, including the activities director. I was amazed at how these 'forgetful' people still could remember and sing the Pepsi Cola slogan from the 40s "Pepsi Cola hits the spot, 12 full ounces, that's a lot, twice as much for a nickel too, Pepsi Cola is the drink for you!" and ''see the USA in your Chevrolet" etc, as they did in a quiz one day. Laughing and feeling good about themselves because they knew the right answer, even if they did not recognize their families ...

God bless you and all caregivers.



Old 12-12-2009, 03:32 AM   #4
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Re: Working with Dementia patients now

It is amazing what is remembered. My Mom and I sent Christmas cards yesterday. She can still write and spell correctly "Much Love etc" and her name. She can't form a complete sentence most of the time but still maintains the ability to write with a little prompting. She seemed to enjoy doing the cards and it made me feel good to be doing an activity with her. Hope everyone has a blessed holiday. This board is a life saver. The best help I have had since I discovered it again. I had registered a couple of years ago and never posted till recently. So, thanks for being there you all have keep me sane for the most part.

Old 12-12-2009, 05:58 AM   #5
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Re: Working with Dementia patients now

Hi lil Deb,

I salute you. It doesn't surprise me that your in this kind of work. Knowing you and your big loving heart you'll be such a help to the residents there.

My sister started to volunteer at Moms Assisted Living facility long before Mom passed away. She's about two minutes away. She fell in love with the residents there and continues to volunteer. I salute you both. I can't walk in Moms facility. As matter of fact I can't or won't even drive past the place. I cry too easily. My younger sister formed bonds with some of the ladies and the activities director and she loves it. She is strong and can keep up with most of them. She does their nails, formed a kitchen band and they play games. They all love popcorn day with music. So sweet.

Martha is so right about the songs. Old songs from the 40's and 50's. We gather all we can and give them to her and when she is playing games she plays old songs and everyone sings along. Some don't know where they are but will sing the songs so loud and just smile. Maybe at those moments they are remembering something?? Who knows but they sure love it.

Keep us up to date whenever you can Deb. I'll be cheering you on.

Love and hugs,

PS..............Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Old 12-12-2009, 06:48 AM   #6
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Re: Working with Dementia patients now

lil deb,
The activities staff play such a huge part of caring for the elderly.... It is such a postive role you play for them... You will be good at. I remember when mom was in her facility they would take her down to the room to participate in the singing/music. At first mom was a little unsure of it all. But then once they started in on the songs she remembered them so well word word. It was such a positive thing to watch mom doing something she loved and felt good doing. The activities staff always had a special knack for making everyone feel included.. I wish you all the best. Just take it day to day. You will be good at it. You have a heart of gold....

Drews Gram I know exactly how you feel about revisiting the facility your mom was in. My mom was in a facility 1/4 mile up the road. I cannot go near the place. That used to be my walking route at night. I would pop in and visit mom then continue on with the rest of my walk route. Now I have changed my whole walking routine I cannot go by there. Everyone has a different way of dealing with things. Some people have to get right back into that way of life or environemnt.... me I cannot.

Somedays even here at the hospital working with patients I will get some very frail weak elderly people come into my office, and a flash goes off in my mind and a sinking feeling in my heart, gee that lady reminded me of my mom. Then for a few seconds after I feel sad...

love pauline

Old 12-12-2009, 11:10 AM   #7
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Re: Working with Dementia patients now

They're surprised at how much you know. Made me laugh.
We are the experts.
We are the front lines.
We can write the book.
We can give lessons.
Oh wait...we do! Hah. To each other and with each other.

You are a jewel for these people. Your daddy would be so proud of you!

Do what you can for as long a you can.
I know those patients there with you are so fortunate to have someone as loving as you to be there for them. I would feel honored and blessed if I knew you were there with my mom when I was not.

Love, Meg

Old 12-12-2009, 05:45 PM   #8
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Re: Working with Dementia patients now

I fear you are all too kind. But nevertheless, I thank you for your warm words.

Today was my first 9 hr shift. I feel like I have been hit by a moving semi. Doing about, oh, 60. But that notwithstanding, I find that I now have an opinion of the work I am doing. Here it is: I love it.

Edna would not let the CNA do her breathing treatment, but she settled right down and let her put the mask on her when i held Edna's hands and sang "Jesus Loves Me". She sang along, making her breathing treatment all the more effective.

Dee cries all the time. But when I go to her and softly say, "Mama, what's wrong?" she puts her head on my shoulder and lets me hold her for a few minutes, and she stops crying.

Jack is so worried about his truck. He felt so much better tonight when I told him that I made sure it was safe garaged for the week. He hasn't driven in 10 years, but still...he worries.

Rudy can't seem to "connect" visually with anyone. But as I sat and clipped his nails and buffed them, he looked at me, and smiled. He saw me. And that warmed my heart.

Delores has been in a wheelchair and oxygen for the longest time. But as I bounced the beach ball around, and gently tossed it to her, I found that she loves beach-ball-volleyball. We played together for 15 minutes.

Eileen can't eat the food they give her. But the strawberry yogurt I gave her went down like magic. She smiled at me as I washed her face.

Marie never comes out of her room. Never. But today, she let me wash and blow dry her hair, and when I spun her around in the chair to see how lovely she looked, she squeezed my hand. Later, she came up to me and whispered, "Thank you, honey".

The stories never end. And I love these people. I knew them when daddy went there, but now, I KNOW them.

This is gonna be wonderful. I just know it is. Now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to go eat some Aleve like popcorn. Lord. I am SORE!!!

...lil' deb

Old 12-12-2009, 06:16 PM   #9
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Re: Working with Dementia patients now

You deserve a raise. Tell them I said so !

Love, Meg

Old 12-12-2009, 07:13 PM   #10
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Re: Working with Dementia patients now

When you have the time for one on one with the residents, it is among the most rewarding jobs you can have. I am thrilled that it is going so well for you little deb. It does appear that you have found your nitch. As for that semi.... each day you work it will be a little easier until you will sail right through it

Love, deb

Old 12-15-2009, 06:16 AM   #11
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Re: Working with Dementia patients now

Lil Deb

I have a great project for your group!. Its making wreaths.

You can do this two different projects:

1) Ask for old CD's from people. And take glue and glue 'crinkled' green tissue paper onto the cd's filling it entirely up with the green tissue. Then glue red beads on it and a red bow. You can hang them by a ribbon glued to the back.


2) take wire hangers!, bend them open into a circle. Now take 1" strips of green tissue paper and put it onto the hanger by folding it in half with the hanger wire in the middle and then twisting the paper (like a twist tie on a grocery bag). Keep adding and twisting these 'strips' it'll take a lot to make a really full wreath. Add a bow and a couple of red balls and viola! a beautiful wreath.

So there's two ideas.

if you do the CD one, I used a hot glue gun to put the glue onto the cd but it may burn the people so, you may want to find better craft glue or use a cool touch glue gun if you find any.


PS thanks everyone for the warm words and wubblies! I'm getting through this as best I can.

Old 12-15-2009, 06:19 AM   #12
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Re: Working with Dementia patients now

Balloon volleyball also good. Lighter than the beach ball for the weaker ones.

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