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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com
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).
Flu Shots Provided in Kent County
The Kent County Senior Millage will again provide funding for flu, pneumonia and shingles vaccines through both AngelCare and Catherine's Health Center for older adults in Kent County age 60 to 64 who do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid funded vaccinces.
For more information contact
AngelCare at (616) 245-8899
Catherine's Health Center at (616) 336-8800
AngelCare will also be providing the following Flu Shot Clinics
Thursday, October 6
12:30 pm- 2:30 pm
Grandville Senior Neighbors (3380 Division)
Tuesday, October 11
10:30 am- Noon
Grand Rapids Senior Neighbors (333 S Division,Suite 100)
Tuesday, October 25
11:00 am -12:30 pm
Sparta Senior Neighbors (Harvest Way,100 Ida Red)
10:00 am-2:00 pm
AngelCare Home Care (2422 Burton St SE)
Consumers Energy Warns About Prepaid Credit Card Phone Scam
Consumers Energy is warning people about a scam that tries to get people to pay for their utility bills over the phone using a prepaid credit card. Consumers Energy has received almost 1,000 complaints regarding this scam with a total of 46 people making "payments" to the tune of $58,000.
Callers threaten to shut off service if immediate payment for residential or commercial services is not made on accounts using a Green Dot or other prepaid credit card.
Consumers Energy wants people to know that they never demand payment using only pre-paid credit cards and urge customers to never be coerced into paying an energy bill over the phone. They also warn customers not to give out personal information to people they don't know.
If you think you have been a victim of this scam, contact your local law enforcement.
For more information on elder abuse, including financial abuse, and how to prevent it, visit www.protectkentseniors.org
Office Closed for Labor Day
The Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan office will be closed on Monday, September 5, 2016 in observance of Labor Day. Our office will resume normal business hours (8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.) on Tuesday, September 6, 2016.
New Senior Scam
A new senior scam involves a phone call from someone claiming to be from the Kent County Probate Court claiming they are going to be in the area and want to stop by to talk about preparing a Will. The Kent County Probate Court is warning residents that they never send people out to do Wills or to conduct any type of investigation without a court order.
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the Kent County Probate Court with the scam above, please hang up immediately and contact your local law enforcement to report the incident.
As a reminder, never give out any personal information such a social security numbers, Medicare/Medicaid details, or financial accounts over the phone to someone unless you initiated the phone call.
For more on the latest senior scams and to learn more about how to protect yourself from elder abuse, visit the Kent County Elder Abuse Coalition. And remember elder abuse can be financial, physical, sexual, or psychological.
AAAWM Accepting Proposals for Adult Day Services in Kent County
Starting August 1, 2016, AAAWM is accepting Proposals for Adult Day Services in Kent County for 2017-2019 Older Americans Act funds. The proposal is due to AAAWM no later than 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 31, 2016. Click here to access the proposal. There will be an informational meeting to answer any questions about the proposal on Friday, August 12, 2016 at 8:30 a.m. in AAAWM Conference Room C at 3215 Eaglecrest Drive NE, Grand Rapids, MI. Questions can be submitted prior to the meeting to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions will not be answered outside this meeting; however, answers to any submitted questions will be shared. For more information on the proposal, click here.
Kent County Senior Millage Letter of Intent
AAAWM is accepting Letters of Intent for 2017 Kent County Senior Millage funds. Letters of Intent are required for all new agencies, as well as for current millage funded agencies who wish to add a new service. The letter is due to AAAWM no later than 12:00 p.m. on Friday, July 29, 2016. Click here to access the Letter of Intent form.
There will be an informational meeting to answer any questions about the Letter of Intent on Wednesday, July 13, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. in the AAAWM conference room A at 3215 Eaglecrest Drive NE, Grand Rapids, MI. Questions can be submitted prior to the meeting to email@example.com. Questions will not be answered outside this meeting; however, answers to any submitted questions will be shared. Please do not ask AAAWM Contract Coordinators any direct questions, as they are unable to respond to individual inquiries.
Letters of Intent will be reviewed by the Kent County Millage Review Committee (KCMRC).
Agencies will be notified by August 15, 2016 if they are permitted to complete a full proposal. Proposals will be due September 12, 2016. Meetings with the KCMRC will be October 10, 11 and 12, 2016. Please save those dates to ensure your availability to give a short presentation to the KCMRC.
Continuation Funding Forms
Current service providers will receive continuation of funding forms August 15, 2016. You will also be meeting with the KCMRC on the above October dates.
Funding decisions are guided by current needs and community priorities. To learn more Click here and look under Resources.
Questions about Continuation Funding Forms can be directed to your Contract Coordinator or Anne Ellermets at 616.222.7014 or Anne@aaawm.org.