773 E. Haverford Road • Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

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Celebrating Milestones and Encouraging Independence with Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease

Crystal Yost, BA, PAC certified, Program Director at Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr in Bryn Mawr, Pa., says, “Although loved ones with Alzheimer’s diseases and other forms of dementia may lose the ability to understand what they are celebrating, celebrations should remain a central part of their life.

“In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association encourages caregivers and their families to celebrate life’s special moments with their loved ones every day. Celebrations have been found to be an important form of social interaction, which can lower your loved one’s stress, help to reduce symptoms of depression and provide them with moments of pleasure.”

Celebrate Life Wherever You Find It

Crystal adds, “Life provides us with many reasons to celebrate: a holiday, a graduation, a marriage, the birth of a baby, a job promotion and special anniversaries. It is important to involve your loved one with memory loss in these events whenever possible.

“However, what is even more important is to find joy in your loved one’s small daily successes. These things are worth celebrating, as well. So celebrate life with your loved one, everywhere you find it.

“Additionally, keeping your loved one engaged in activities they find interesting and meaningful is vital to their self esteem, sense of purpose and overall well-being. Such activities can provide them with a means of personal expression and a way to stay connected with the word around them.

“Here at Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr, social engagement activities based on our resident’s personal interests are an essential part of daily life. Whether it is listening to favorite music from their younger days, viewing classic movies that recall fond memories or spending time with a friendly pet, Life Enrichment therapies afford many physical and emotional benefits.”

What Engages Your Loved One and Brightens Their Day?

Experts at the Mayo Clinic advise that loved ones living with Alzheimer’s disease can lose the ability to begin an activity or find interesting things to do without assistance. As a caregiver, you can play a key role here by making a list of your loved one’s primary interests and planning activities that are most enjoyable to them.

In the article, Bringing Dementia Patients to Life Richard Gunderman, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice Chairman of the Department of Radiology at Indiana University, says, "We should dwell less on what dementia patients are incapable of and focus more on celebrating what they are capable of doing."

According to Dr. Gunderman, dementia can affect a person’s emotions and personality as well as memory. He asserts that care needs and activities should be tailored to each person’s personality, life history and stage of the disease.

“When this is done well,” he says, “new possibilities open up. What might have been an atmosphere of regret and hopelessness centered on the disease’s relentless progress can be transformed into an upbeat outlook that celebrates abilities, rejoices in moments of recognition and looks to the future with hope.”

Develop a Personalized List of Activities Based on Your Loved One’s Life

Based on the advice above, try to tailor your loved one’s daily experiences. For example:

  • Develop a list of the activities that connect with the things your loved one enjoyed most in their life and try to include them in your regular care plan.
  • Include your loved one in important family events such as the birth of a baby or the wedding of a grandchild. Even if they are unable to attend the event, you can still create a special occasion around it for them with cake and punch. This enables them to celebrate the moment and feel a part of it.
  • Take a walk or exercise together. It’s another way of having fun and promoting your loved one’s physical and emotional well-being.
  • Utilize “holistic therapies” that have proven to be effective in reconnecting with loved ones and providing them with an opportunity for personal expression. Examples include listening to favorite music from their younger days; looking through old photo albums together; painting and drawing pictures of favorite things; and visiting with a pet.
  • For those whose religion has been an integral part of their lives, spiritual activities can also provide calm and positive stimulation. Many people with Alzheimer’s disease enjoy singing hymns or having scripture read to them, especially when attending church services is not possible. Alzheimer’s research contains documented cases of people who no longer speak, but are able to sing the complete versions of their favorite hymns.

Ms. Yost says, “Be a daily source of encouragement for your loved one. Praise them for what they are still able to do. Celebrate their daily accomplishments and keep them engaged in life for as long as they are able. You’ll be giving them pleasurable moments that will be worth celebrating for both of you.”

We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments about questions on our blog, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences in our comments section.

Engaging Days. Meaningful Moments.

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments require specialized care and support. They also deserve a lifestyle rich in dignity and fulfillment. Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr provides residents with Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments that emphasize individual abilities, encourage socialization and promote the highest level of independence possible. We offer a complete continuum of leading-edge programs, services and amenities that address the total physical, emotional and social needs of residents in a caring setting that offers individual suites with large private baths and the comforts of home. Our community touches hearts and changes lives.

Helping Families Be “Family” Again

Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other forms of memory impairment don’t only affect the person who has it – it affects the entire family.

If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care that’s needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. It’s often difficult to be available to care for your loved one’s health and well-being around the clock.

If and when the time comes to seek additional help, place your trust in Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr. We lift the stresses and worries of being a caregiver from your shoulders, enabling you and your family to enjoy time with your loved one again. For more information, please call Sharon at (484) 380-5404,or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Impressions Memory Care and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.