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Q & A

Dementia is a collection of symptoms. It is not a disease. Think of dementia as an umbrella and under that umbrella are all the different types of dementias. Which includes: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, Lewy Body, etc…

So if a Dr. says your Aunt has dementia then you should say,  “What type?”

If you have Lewy Body then you have a type of dementia.

There have been 13, 7 and 3. Personally I do not think you can put any individual into 1 particular “stage” or whatever you may call it of Alzheimer’s disease. If you look at them there is not 1 stage that your loved one is in. I believe the 3 levels of Mild, Moderate and Severe are mainly for charting for care communities. Otherwise they really are not helpful. Don’t let anyone tell you that if your loved on is in “stage 3” there is a specific way to communicate or be with them or there is a specific way they will act. NOT TRUE. We are all individuals. This is a brain disease. We must look at every person as an individual and not place them in one group or another.

First of all, think about the timing. Ask the staff there when there are event or things happening that she likes to be a part of and if you can volunteer at all during those times. Or do you have a special skill that you can co-lead with a staff person? Do you sew? Crochet? cook? paint? Maybe you can share yourself with others as well as visiting your Mom?

I used to keep my visit bag when I went to see my Dad in the nursing home. I felt I was ready with something if the conversation lagged or he didn’t want to go for a “roll” outside. It was used more and more as he became less verbal.

It was a zip lock bag that had these items in it:

  • A small comb – he liked for his hair to be combed
  • travel size lotion – his skin was always dry
  • small pack of kleenex – to clean glasses
  • latest Reader’s Digest – great for jokes and sometimes interesting articles that I would read
  • a couple of fishing lures without the hooks – we would talk about fishing or fish
  • a combination lock – for a while. He enjoyed trying to open it. Then it just started to frustrate him so I stopped. and added:
  • colored pencils, small ruler and small pad of paper – Dad was an architect and artist. So he would draw some with me
  • chocolate – always have chocolate

TIP: Remember that they are struggling to remember.

Instead of:

“Hi, Mom! Do you know who I am? What’s my name?”

Make it easy for them. Tell them who you are and who they are. If someone knows your name it feels they know me, they are my friend.

So maybe, ” Hi Virginia. it’s me Karen. It’s so good to see you!”

​Hope that helps.