Healthy Aging Open House
Join us on Tuesday, April 11th at 10:30 a.m. for our Open House! Try beginner classes: Enhance Fitness and Tai Chi for Free: Start where you are! Use what you have! Do what you can!
Can't make our open house? You can still register for upcoming sessions. Contact us: (616) 588-2580 or HealthyAging@aaawm.org.
It's never too late to get fit! We look forward to seeing you!
Caregiver Resource Network Brings: 'Mindful Self-Compassion for the Caregiving Journey'
The Caregiver Resource Network is bringing an amazing opportunity to Area Agency on Aging for all caregivers! April Hadley, MSW, from Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness will conduct this four-week class, "Mindful Self-Compassion is the practice of offering kindness to yourself in the midst of difficult experiences. It provides a foundation of emotional strength and resiliency." These classes will offer valuable support to caregivers.
Classes will take place on Wednesday, April 5, 12, 19, & 26 from 1:30 - 3:30p. It is important to be able to attend all four sessions, so check your schedules before registering.A $5.00 suggested fee per class is payable at the door. Maximum class size is 20. Register soon! Call: (616) 222-7032 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
MI Choice Medicaid Waiver Program
Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan now has open enrollment for the MI Choice Medicaid Waiver program. Please contact us at (888) 456-5664 and ask for an Access Coordinator to learn more.
New 2017 Kent County Senior Services
The 2017 Kent County Senior Services directory is now available. There are a wide variety of services available to Kent County seniors to help them stay in their home.
Mecosta County Senior Center Earns Award
Congratulations to the Mecosta County Senior Center (one of our partner agencies) for earning first place in the Tess Canja Innovation Award given by the Silver Key Coalition. "Confronted with a 25% increase in demand for meals-on-wheels, the agency rose to the challenge, nearly doubling its budget by partnering with Meals on Wheels America." Congratulations again for everything you do to help older adults in Mecosta County.
AAAWM Annual Giving Tree
Would you like to make Christmas a little brighter for one of our clients? Each year we host the AAAWM Giving Tree to provide Christmas gifts for our home bound clients. For many this is the only Christmas gift they will receive. If you are interested in helping, please purchase a Meijer gift card for $20 or $25 and mail or hand deliver it to our office no later than Wednesday, December 14, 2016. We are also accepting cash or check donations (please designate on checks that they are for the 2016 Giving Tree). Thanks for helping us spread holiday cheer this season
Tips for Holiday Gatherings with Family Members with Dementia
For family members caring for someone with Dementia, the holidays can become an incredibly stressful time. Often caregivers feel pulled in many different directions and also have the difficult task of identifying what their loved one can and can’t handle during the busy holiday season.
“Many family caregivers have confided in me that the holidays can become stressful as many relatives may be in town or available to come see the person with dementia and don’t understand the added strain this puts on both the caregiver and the person with dementia,” says Julie Alicki, LMSW, Certified Advanced Dementia Practitioner and Alzheimer’s Support Group Leader at the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan. “For people with dementia, gatherings with a large crowd may be too overwhelming and changes in their daily routines may cause additional confusion and frustration. Often out-of-town family does not understand these realities as they may not be aware of the cognitive changes that have taken place since they last saw their family member.”
Alicki recommends that family members of those with dementia follow the six tips below to help make the holidays more enjoyable for both the person with dementia and their caregiver.
- Practice Patience and Understanding: Those providing care to someone with dementia often are very aware of what may agitate that person or trigger a negative response. Out of town family and friends who do not have the same interaction may not understand why an invitation to attend a gathering is turned down or why their family member with dementia doesn’t recognize them. Practicing patience and understanding with both the caregiver and the person with dementia can make a huge difference. “I tell people to trust that the family caregiver knows what the person with dementia can and can’t handle and don’t try to add guilt about not participating in an event or gathering,” says Alicki. “Also understand that when it comes to dementia a person can have moments of clarity mixed with moments of confusion and it may be frustrating to them as well.”
- Provide Alternatives: The activity or gathering you have planned may be too challenging for someone with dementia. If an invitation is turned down try providing alternatives. Some people with dementia may get agitated in large groups, so offer to meet with that person one-on-one or in a smaller setting. For some, a restaurant may involve too many distractions; perhaps a quieter environment would be best. Talk with the family caregiver to find out what would work for them and be flexible.
- Offer Respite: Caring for a loved one can be extremely rewarding and often overwhelming. Ask the family caregiver if you can provide them with a break while spending time with the person with dementia. For some caregivers this is the greatest gift you could give them for the holidays- some time off! If you are unable to provide them with a break, ask what they do need. Caregivers might be hesitant to ask for help, but may be able to identify an area where they could use help (i.e. doing laundry, cleaning the home or preparing a meal).
- Create Nametags: You may think this sounds silly as everyone in your family knows who people are, but for someone with dementia remembering names can be difficult and may make them anxious or frustrated when they realize they are unable to recall a name. Providing nametags is a simple way to help them feel a part of the festivities and remove that obstacle.
- Designate a Quiet Place: For many individuals with dementia, a loud gathering can be overwhelming and may cause agitation. If possible, provide a quiet room so they can take a break if they need some space away from all the commotion. Or, consider having them in the quiet room and have family members come in one at a time or in small groups to visit. Again, talk to the caregiver to see if this would be a beneficial alternative.
- Be Prepared for an Early Departure: If the person with dementia is having a difficult time at the gathering the caregiver may have to take him/her home earlier than expected. If gift giving is involved in your celebration you may want to do this earlier in the evening in the event that an early departure is necessary.
By making the changes above to your holiday plans you may be able to provide some relief and more enjoyment to your family member or friend with dementia and their caregiver.
For more information on caregiving, support groups, in-home care, and other senior related services, visit www.aaawm.org or call the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan at (616) 456-5664.
Finding Calm as a Caregiver
The Caregiver Resource Network's Family Caregiver University class "Finding Calm as a Caregiver" will be held on December 7, 2016 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (3215 Eaglecrest Drive NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525).
The event will teach caregivers to build a foundation of clarity and calm in the middle of life's rockiest times so help face the challenges and joys of caregiving with a renewed sense of energy and balance.
Registration is required at email@example.com and a $5 suggessted fee per class is payable at the door.
For more information on the event, click the flyer below.
An Aging Rainbow: Meeting the Needs of LGBT Elders Dec. 5
The Caregiver Resource Network's Diversity Academy present "An Aging Rainbow: Meeting the Needs of LGBT Elders" on Monday December 5, 2016 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. at the Wealthy Street Theater (1130 Wealthy Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI).
The program will provide an overview of topics related to improving care for LGBT elders, with an emphasis on life experiences of LGBT elders, barriers to quality late life experiences, and real-world models for improving LGBT elder care.
Registration is required by November 30th to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the training, including details about speaker Dr. Mira Krishnan, click on the flyer below
Dementia Friendly Grand Rapids Host Pep Rally to Raise Awareness and Funds
Dementia Friendly Grand Rapids, a program of the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan, hosted a pep rally on October 26th to educate attendees and raise funds for future efforts.
The Pep Rally was held at The Dominican Center at Marywood (2015 Fulton St. East, Grand Rapids, MI 49503).