The Alzheimer’s Association reports that in 2023, over 6 million Americans are currently living with a form of dementia—1 in 9 people. By 2050, that number is projected to almost double to 12.7 million people. With nearly 75 million “Baby Boomers” entering retirement age, the importance of separating fact from fiction has never been more important! We invite you to educate yourself about dementia and share your knowledge with others.
Knowledge is Power
The Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter offers great resources, provides a calendar of events, and connects people to support groups near them. Visit their website and explore what they have to offer: https://www.alz.org/illinois
Be in the Moment
Dementia requires a lot of patience, as something that worked well yesterday may not work at all today. When encountering a difficult situation with your loved one, ask yourself these questions:
“What are they trying to tell me?” Start with the basics—what do they need to be safe and comfortable?
“What non-verbal cues are they showing me?” Pay attention to body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice.
Find Joy in the Quirks
When your loved one says things to you that are “incorrect,” instead of trying to make them change course, try following their lead. If your loved one wishes you Merry Christmas in August, share in their holiday cheer and wish them a Happy New Year! If they complain they haven’t eaten all day and they’re hungry, despite having just finished lunch, sympathize with how frustrating it must be to have missed a meal and see if they are interested in a snack! Go with the flow.
While sharing memories with your loved one, try leading the conversation by saying, “I remember when we went to the zoo” rather than asking, “Do you remember when we went to the zoo?” This helps them enjoy the memory with you rather than feeling bad if they can’t recall the memory with you. It sets them up for success!
Remember, it takes a village…