Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - North Mississippi - 21
a really big emotional component in
watching that decline."
Beyond the loss of the person's mind,
you might be grieving lost future experiences. That's normal, Hartrey says. Let
yourself go through that process.
In a class she teaches on dealing with
dementia-related behaviors, Hartrey
shows pictures of imaging scans of
two brains from autopsies: One is a
normal brain, the other from a person
"Every single time I show those
slides, people gasp," she says. "The
Alzheimer's brain looks like it's been
eaten away. There's so little brain left."
When a loved one's behavior is nonsensical to you, it can be frustrating.
But remember: "They're not doing
this on purpose," Hartrey says. "This
is not the same person. This is not the
People with dementia might wander off and not know where they are.
They might resist care, even becoming
volatile. They can become increasingly
agitated, paranoid or delusional.
You can't control their behaviors.
But you can adjust your own behavior
or change the physical environment.
For example, if your loved one insists
on sleeping on the floor, put a mattress
down. And stay calm, using a soothing
tone during stressful episodes, the FCA
advises. It's not easy, but it can help.
Look for HELP.
Caregiving for a loved one
with dementia is stressful.
When your loved one's dementia is
to a point where he or she might do
EARLY STEPS YOU CAN TAKE
When you are just beginning your caregiving journey with a loved one who has
dementia, your focus may be on helping him or her live as independently and
healthily as possible.
The Alzheimer's Association offers a few tips.
* Encourage exercise. Whether it's getting out for a daily walk or gardening,
regular physical activity may help a person with dementia live better.
* Identify stressors. Are there things that might cause stress for your loved one?
Help avoid those situations.
* Help with healthy eating. Be sure you prepare balanced meals that ensure
* Focus on sleep. Help your loved one create a routine that encourages proper
sleep quality and quantity.
* Foster friendship. Interacting with others is stimulating for the brain. Help
your loved one continue to maintain relationships for as long as possible.
something like turn on the stove and
forget about it, "they need constant
monitoring," Hartrey says. "So caregivers feel like they can't turn their eye for
a minute. It's hard to leave the house."
In addition to your own network
of friends and family, you can seek out
One place to start, Hartrey says, is
your local Area Agency on Aging. "There
is one in every county," she says. "They
can direct you to local resources."
Eldercare.gov and the Alzheimer's
Association (alz.org) are great resources.
You can also research respite programs
that offer in-home care or adult day
And, Hartrey adds, if your loved one
is a veteran, he or she might qualify for
services. Your local Veterans Affairs
office can offer guidance.
On an airplane, you're advised
to put on your own oxygen mask before
helping others. The same is true for
caregivers, Hartrey says. Taking care
of your own health is essential.
Caregivers often put off doctor
appointments, even surgery, she says.
And they don't always manage their
grief and stress, which contributes to
"Caregivers get sick and die sooner
than non-caregivers, even five to
10 years after they stop caregiving,"
"Self-care," she adds, means different
things to different people.
"What I encourage my clients to do
is to schedule it," she says. "It doesn't
mean you need an hour a day. If you can
get that, wonderful. But it can mean five
minutes to yourself for a cup of tea and
some deep breathing." n
Sometimes life gets in the way of
exercise. The good news is that
virtually any type of exercise can
relieve stress. To find a North
Mississippi Medical Center
Wellness Center near you, visit
centers.php or call 800-THE
SUMME R 2017