Grant Regional Health Center is proud to offer a new program to provide awareness, information and support for individuals who care for a loved one with dementia. Walking Together is a program designed specifically for anyone who wants to understand dementia better: what it is; what it means for daily life; and what we can do to better support those living with dementia, including family and friends.
Being a caregiver doesn't come with an instruction manual, but we have developed a program that can provide valuable resources that may help. Caring for a loved one with dementia is a difficult task and is an extraordinary challenge that can impact your life. We want to assure you that you are not alone. No matter what type or stage of dementia you are dealing with, our goal is to help you through this journey. We will walk beside you and provide support to you and your family.
If you or someone you care for has a diagnosis of dementia, you will probably have questions about what it means, what to do and who can help—both in the short term and in planning for the future.
The most important thing to understand is that help is available. Whether you're living in your own home or in a nursing home, there are services that specialize in helping people with dementia.
What is dementia?
There are a number of different types of dementia. Dementia is a condition (a group of related symptoms) that is associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities, including:
People with dementia may also become uninterested, have problems controlling their emotions or behave inappropriately in social situations. Aspects of their personality may change, or they may see or hear things that other people do not.
What are the early symptoms and warning signs?
Early symptoms of dementia can vary a great deal from person to person and may not be immediately obvious. Usually people first notice memory problems, such as difficulty remembering recent events.
If you notice problems like these or are worried that you or someone you care for may have dementia, visit your doctor as soon as possible, as early diagnosis is important. If the symptoms are caused by dementia, an early diagnosis will help you to access appropriate care, support and information.
Our program will focus on a variety of topics to help you and your loved one live a better quality of life as you face the changing days ahead. Program content will include:
- Dementia education.
- Early detection, signs and symptoms.
- Resources in our area.
- Behavior modification.
- Suggestions for improved quality of life.
- Safety/living at home.
- Caregiver resources.
- Walking Together tour.
The Walking Together tour is an interactive learning experience designed to help those caring for someone with dementia. By walking in their shoes, even briefly, we can develop a sense of how we might feel and what might make us more comfortable if we were the ones with dementia.
The tour is designed to help family members better identify with the day-to-day struggles of those with dementia, thereby improving their ability to communicate and provide care. The patented tour offers hope by providing tips and tools necessary to create an environment that supports the disease and lessens confusion.
We know there will be challenges and stress associated with caring for a loved one with dementia. Here are some tips on keeping your stress levels as low as possible:
- Know what resources are available. Adult day care, in-home assistance, visiting nurses and Meals-on-Wheels are just some of the services that can help you. Find out what's available in your community.
- Become an educated caregiver. As the disease progresses, new caregiving skills will become necessary. We can provide you with information and resources on all aspects of the disease.
- Get help. You are not failing as a caregiver by asking others for assistance. Seek the support of family, friends and community resources.
- Take care of yourself. Watch your diet, exercise and get plenty of rest. Make time for friends and family. Take advantage of respite care options so that you can take a break once in a while.
- Manage your stress level. If you experience any of the symptoms of caregiver stress, try relaxation techniques that work for you and consult your doctor to learn if there's anything further you can do.
- Accept changes as they occur. People with dementia will change, and so will their daily needs. They often require care beyond what you can provide—and it's important that you don't try to do everything yourself.
- Make legal and financial plans. At the beginning of your duties as a caregiver, consult an attorney to discuss legal, financial and care issues. Whenever possible, involve the person with dementia and family members.
- Be realistic. Many of the behaviors that occur are beyond your control and the control of the person with dementia. You will need to find time alone or with supportive friends to grieve and be angry.
- Give yourself credit, not guilt. You are doing the best you can. Don't feel guilty because you can't do more. The person with dementia needs you, and you are there.