Alzheimer's Awareness Month: Sunrise Senior Living offers
suggestions for relating to loved ones living with Alzheimer's
disease or dementia
MCLEAN, Va., Nov. 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The diagnosis of
Alzheimer's disease in a family member or loved one can sometimes
wreak havoc on these important personal relationships both
emotionally and physically. While their most significant memories
are slipping away, so is their ability to communicate their need for
additional emotional support.
This can create a very lonely experience for all parties involved.
Still, the presence of the disease in a loved one does not have to
mark an ending point in a relationship.
It can be a challenge connecting with people who, it seems, are no
longer themselves. Still, no modern medicine can replace the hope
and strength that comes from a loved one. Sunrise Senior Living (NYSE:SRZ)
, one of the nation's largest providers of senior living services,
offers the following suggestions for relating to loved ones living
with Alzheimer's disease or dementia:
* Reminisce together -- Engage in simple, non-stressful
activities such as looking at photo albums, going for a drive in
an old neighborhood or watching home movies.
* Join the journey -- When a loved one goes on a mental journey to
a different place or time, join the experience. Ask questions and
be engaged; it will make the overall experience much more pleasant.
* Keep a calm demeanor -- Resist the urge to overcorrect their
mistakes or argue back if they become aggressive. Your hostility will only
feed the stress and frustration.
* Offer a loving touch -- Don't underestimate the impact of a warm
hug or gentle shoulder rub. A loving touch sometimes speaks louder than
* Exercise -- Exercise increases blood circulation and boosts
levels of oxygen in the brain. It is also a great bonding opportunity
while giving your loved one a safe and supervised workout. Exercise
can include a walk outside or dancing to a favorite song.
* Be involved -- Fulfill those emotional needs and talk about
what's on your mind. Friendships can be a wonderful outlet for releasing
your thoughts and concerns. Also, if additional care is being
provided by a third party, your involvement will help provide the caregiver a different look into your loved one's life. This will help
improve their style of caring, stimulating and joining their journey.
"The loss of the 'sense of self' that victims of the disease feel
can be very frightening and some times even leads to depression,"
explained Carol Edelstein, vice president for Program Development at
Sunrise Senior Living.
"But one positive aspect of those living with
the disease is that they totally live in the moment. Taking the time
to make those moments special and meaningful will make all the
difference in their overall demeanor. That is why spending time
together is so important."
Sunrise, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, has developed
programs specially designed for every stage of memory impairment in
the event that seniors living with memory loss need additional
support. The Company also offers support groups, in conjunction with
the Alzheimer's Association, to encourage family involvement.
"Providing more focused and personalized care, either by a loved one
or a trained caregiver, helps keep people experiencing memory loss
engaged in life, which is critical to improving their quality of
life," added Edelstein.