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joyful journey Creating a more PART 5 of a 6-part discussion series Creating a More Joyfull Journey Enhanced Moments Part 5 of Edgewood Helena’s 6-part book discussion series will explore how to make the most of each moment and interaction, because in each moment there is an opportunity to create a better one. Discover how to do this. • • • “You look comfortable here, Mary. May I sit down and join you?” “I brought these homemade cookies, they’re my grandma Jo’s recipe. Would you like one?” “I’m going to sit here by the window and enjoy this view and my lemonade. Would you like to join me?” In Jolene Brackey’s book “Creating Moments of Joy”, she reminds us “What triggers their memory is not what we say, but what we put in their hands. What they touch, see, smell and hear helps them connect their memories. Every time you visit put ‘something’ in their hands.” Brackey goes on If you are the loved one or caregiver for someone with to further describe some of these “things” to bring, that can dementia, it’s important to understand that you cannot help you create a moment of joy for your loved one: control the disease you can only control your reaction to it. The sooner you make this realization the sooner you • Something to share: a flower, variety of garden seeds, a can let go of conventional expectations and adjust your present, postcards, old photos communication and reactions to appropriately match the current abilities of your loved one. When words are no • Something to smirk about: a love letter, a book of jokes a silly mystery item, a funny picture longer your loved one’s primary communicative tool, you can learn to make the most of each moment, creating true • Something to nibble: fruit, popcorn, Cheetos, bread, connections and enhancing each experience by triggering homemade cookies all the senses. You will also quickly learn there’s no winning • Something to play with: a soft bouncy ball, a balloon an argument with someone with dementia, we cannot to bat, a noodle to swath others with, two squirt guns, reorient them to “our reality”, we must enter their reality. bubbles to blow In other words, they’re right and you’re wrong, every time. If they’re right every time there’s nothing to disagree about, • Something to hear (bring headphones): birds singing, this helps stress levels remain low and spirits high. familiar songs, their favorite person or child’s voice, a Broadway or radio show Introducing yourself to someone you’ve known • Something to smell: lilacs, bacon, cinnamon rolls, for decades. One of the days families dread the most is the day when their loved one no longer recognizes them. Imagine (or maybe you’re already living it) your spouse of 60 years doesn’t recognize you anymore, or your mom doesn’t realize you’re her daughter, she thinks you’re just another friendly visitor. How would this make you feel? How would you even talk to and connect with him or her anymore? The effects that dementia has on the brain and the related outward symptoms they cause are irreversible. No matter how hard we try, we cannot bring back their short term memory or the person they were before the disease. Saying things like “I’m your daughter Mary. Don’t you remember me?” or “Just try harder; I’m sure you’ll get it.” are counterproductive, as it can cause feelings of frustration, shame and defeat. Instead, encourage yourself and others to let go of conventional expectations and adjust your communication and reactions to appropriately match the stage your loved one is at. If your loved one no longer recognizes you in the lifelong role you’ve always held of spouse, child, grandchild, etc. it doesn’t mean you can’t still connect in other ways. Start by introducing yourself, then you’re no longer a stranger. Use his or her name (everyone likes to hear their name plus it could make them feel more comfortable, like they know you) and offer something you know he or she will like or make a polite comment or gesture, for example: lotion Live their reality Once you’ve made that initial connection and your loved one is feeling comfortable, it’s time to join their reality. To ensure the most positive outcomes we must live their truth. The memory care experts at Edgewood Helena suggest a few tips that may help: • Watch for signs your loved one is giving as to what reality he or she is in currently – asking for mom and dad, looking for young children or siblings, talking about work, etc. • Talk about what he or she can talk about; join in the memory and story • Don’t attempt to reason or argue, rather meet the person where he or she is, and create conversation around a topic that is present to him or her • Focus on how the person is feeling; actions may be forgotten, but feelings remain Quality over quantity, every time. Quality connections don’t only come from long conversations and drawn out visits. Many families express feelings of guilt or believe they “owe it” to a loved one to spend hours visiting. Remember, someone with dementia will not remember if you visited for 5 minutes or 4 hours, yet she will be left with the warm feelings your visit created, which can be accomplished in just moments. Leave them with some magic. Have you ever been really upset or just down in the dumps? Who pops into your mind; who’s that person that can always make you smile or laugh, that you know will help ease your mind and lift your spirits? Chances are, for your loved one, you’re one of those people. For someone with dementia, those feelings of anxiety, anger or frustration can develop quickly and due to the disease, they are no longer equipped to deal with it on their own. Remember that, if you handle the moment correctly, you can possess a powerful calming effect on your loved one. Your role is to be the person that always has those “magic words” to help ease your loved one’s mind and reset his or her mood. Here are some examples of phrases you can try: • “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of...” • “If you need anything, just let me know. I’ll be here all day.” • “We’ll figure this out together.” • “I couldn’t have done it without you!” • “You’re so special. I’m glad we’re here together.” There are countless ways to enhance the moments you spend with someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Remember, the average memory retention for someone with mid-stage Alzheimer’s is 7 to 10 seconds, which means you literally have just moments that he or she will retain what you just said or did. You must learn to capitalize on those moment, to trigger the feelings that will allow you to create better moments that can string together to make better days for everyone. For more information and tips, join the Edgewood Helena team at their next event: “Enhanced Moments” Thursday, May 30 1pm and 5:30pm Join the Edgewood Helena team for part 5 – Enhanced Moments – of their 6-part series of engaging discussions using Jolene Brackey’s popular book “Creating Moments of Joy Along the Alzheimer’s Journey” as a guide. Enhanced Moments will explore how to make the most of each moment and interaction, because in each moment there is an opportunity to create a better one. Discover how to do this. All attendees will receive a COMPLIMENTARY copy of the newly revised and expanded 5th edition of “Creating Moments of Joy”. Please join the Edgewood team at any point during the series, discussions will be independent of each other and based on sections of the book as well as stories, questions, challenges and solutions shared by attendees. Assisted Living & Memory Care | RSVP 502.1001 3207 Colonial Drive, Helena |

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