Better Alzheimer's Care Kansas City

When you love someone
with memory loss, you worry.
We’re Here To Help…

Follow Us: care-haven-homes-facebook care-haven-homes-linked-in care-haven-homes-google+ care-haven-homes-pinterest newsletter-icon

NowHiring

Questions? alzheimers-care-homes (913) 643-0111

Better Alzheimer's Care Kansas City

Follow Us: care-haven-homes-facebook care-haven-homes-linked-in care-haven-homes-google+ care-haven-homes-pinterest newsletter-icon

NowHiring

Holidays

Our Father’s Day Gift: Dad’s Advice

Father's Day gift from our dads

Happy Father’s Day!

We asked our Care Haven dads for help with a special Father’s Day gift for new generations of dads. They responded with plenty of fond memories and sage advice.

Reflections from our dads on Father’s Day

We noted some common themes in our residents’ Father’s Day musings.

  1. Our dads most enjoyed playing and sharing day-to-day adventures with their children, guiding and watching them grow.
  2. Most taught their kids to
    • Be kind.
    • Work hard.
    • Always do your best.
    • Value your education.
    • Tell the truth and do the right thing.
    • Treat everyone with respect.
  3. As for new dads, they suggest you
    • Get prepared before the baby arrives.
    • Trust your instincts.
    • Help your children make the right choices for themselves.
    • Stay healthy.
    • Marry a good wife — and listen to her!
    • Remember to laugh.

Herb

Always do your best

  • What is your favorite part about being a father? Being in charge!
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Do your best.
  • Any advice for new dads? Follow your instincts.
  • What is the key to a good life? Stay healthy.
  • Any funny stories about being a dad? My kids were pretty big, so I would jump on top of the washing machine to talk to them!
  • What would you consider your motto? Always do your best.

Matt

My word is my bond

  • What is your favorite part about being a father? Watching my kids play and have a good time.
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Be mannerly.
  • Any advice for new dads? Don’t take too much for granted.
  • What is the key to a good life? Marry a good wife.
  • What would you consider your motto? My word is my bond.

IMG_1475

Bob

Always follow the right path

  • What is your favorite part about being a father? Advising my children on what’s right — and then seeing them follow through by doing what’s right.
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Be straightforward — and honest when you need to be. Love your father and mother. (Even though sometimes we’re turds!)
  • Any advice for new dads? Do the right thing.
  • What is the key to a good life? First, be the best you can. And then try to stay on the right path.
  • What would you consider your motto? Always follow the right path.

Jim

Tell the truth

  • What is your favorite part about being a father? Playing with my kids.
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Be honest.
  • Any advice for new dads? Try always to be truthful with your family.
  • What would you consider your motto? Tell the truth.

Ken

Be prepared — and educate yourself!

  • What is your favorite part about being a father? Watching my children learn and grow, seeing what interests they develop and how they make out.
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? To behave in public and do well in school — because you need a good education. I also taught them the difference between what’s right and wrong.
  • Any advice for new dads? Read anything available to help you learn what to expect and how to prepare.
  • What is the key to a good life? Educate yourself.
  • What would you consider your motto? Be prepared.

Mike

On Father’s Day, on every day: Be nice to everyone

  •  What is your favorite part about being a father? Spending time with my girls.
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Be nice.
  • Any advice for new dads? Do whatever you can to be a good dad.
  • What would you consider your motto? Be nice to everyone.

Bob

Pay yourself first

  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Bob’s kids learned to “pay yourself first.” In other words, save for your retirement, your kids’ college and other critical long-term expenditures before all else.
  • What is the key to a good life? If you want to follow Bob’s example, you’ll walk many miles wearing a red headband and drink lots of mochas.

Harold

Develop a strong work ethic

  • What is your favorite part about being a father? It’s a great experience!
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Develop a strong work ethic.
  • What is the key to a good life? Get outside.

Craig

It will work out

  • What is your favorite part about being a father? I get to set the rules that others must follow.
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Never gossip.
  • Any advice for new dads? If you can, then wait so you can better afford the expense of raising children.
  • What is the key to a good life? Do unto others as you expect them to do unto you.
  • Any funny stories about being a dad? I still laugh when I remember my daughters’ horror when I kept eating the chili — even though we’d discovered the crackers were full of weevils. “More protein!”
  • What would you consider your motto? It will work out.

A word from Craig’s family:

If you’re wondering whether our dads’ recollections match their children’s, Craig’s family passed on their recollections for comparison.

  • Craig’s children see him as their mentor — a rock and sounding board in times of need. He’s always curious/ surprised/ happy about the choices they make, proud and filled with wonder at their accomplishments.
  • Craig gave them practical advice for facing a challenge: Make a detailed, comprehensive outline to break it down. That works to create a study guide, a term paper or even a plan to pay for college.
  • His family recalls Craig encouraging them to listen to their feelings. “You think what you feel and feel what you think.”
  • Speaking of feelings, Craig knew his kids might feel mad at him from time to time, which was okay. Parenting is hard, and sometimes you don’t get it right. In the end, it’s most important to teach your children to think for themselves and make good choices — be themselves, strive for happiness, serve others.
  • Craig’s keys to a good life? Laughter, love, compassion, the active pursuit of your own path. And acceptance: “It is what it is — It will work out.” (He might add red wine and a subscription to Scientific American to the list, too.)
  • Did they remember any funny stories? Too many to tell! A sampling: Craig is known for busting out his absurd “hula” moves when feeling silly — and family tradition requires each new dad to eat a chocolate candy bar and drink a warm beer the day his baby is born.

Now, don’t you think Craig was a bit modest?

From our camera-shy dads on Father’s Day

John

Be honest

  • What is your favorite part about being a father? My first grandchild! He’s a beautiful boy, 7 months old. I love watching him change as he grows.
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Be kind.
  • What would you consider your motto? Be honest.

Ron

Never give up the ship

  • What is your favorite part about being a father? Just having my children.
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Work hard at school, and get along with the people in your life.
  • Any advice for new dads? Get some sleep!
  • What is the key to a good life? Treat people like you would treat yourself.
  • Any funny stories about being a dad? Plenty — we laughed a lot.
  • What would you consider your motto? Never give up the ship.

Greg

It’s a wild ride!

  • What is your favorite part about being a father? That it’s a wild ride!
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Be patient.
  • Any advice for new dads? Yep — Do what your wife says.
  • What is the key to a good life? Doing the right thing.
  • What would you consider your motto? Be wise.

Stu

Be caring, not judgemental

  • What is your favorite part about being a father? Stu’s wife, Hazel, says he’s enjoyed time spent with the whole family: traveling, eating together, hiking in Colorado. Janet and Brian agree, recalling how he shared a love of nature, new foods, music and the simple joys of life with his children and grandchildren.
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Be honest and caring. Waste not, want not — leave every place better than you found it, too. (And be willing to try new things once.)
  • Any advice for new dads? Take a couples’ class to learn to diaper, wash, dress and comfort a new baby. (Stu so excelled in these that the instructors asked him to demonstrate!) As the baby grows, remember that little eyes always are watching, too. Be a good example.
  • What is the key to a good life? First, show your love through your actions. Second, when life brings you lemons, make lemonade. Third, apologize even when you don’t understand how something happened, too. And, finally, laugh.
  • Any funny stories about being a dad? Hazel remembers Stu following the doctor’s orders to get the baby more sunshine: he took Brian into the front yard and turned him every 10 minutes, just like a pancake. Janet recalls her dad stealthily unwrapping hard candy under his car seat, so he wouldn’t have to share. Brian laughs at how Stu impressed young Boy Scouts: breaking big sticks for the campfire, purging spiders from tents, teaching them how to catch and cook crawdads. (Perhaps relishing a particularly loud burp, too.)
  • What would you consider your motto? Everyone is a child of God, so be caring and not judgmental. (Janet’s suggestion: “I’m just resting my eyes.”)

Uncle Tony

For a terrific Father’s Day visit

Our former Activities Director, Marie Rogers, offers the following tips for your own Father’s Day celebration:

Take this opportunity to show your deep appreciation for an influential father figure.

That may be your dad — or a special uncle, brother or family friend.

Recognize the significant role he played in your life.

Get the conversation started by bringing

  • Coffee table books that feature past travel destinations.
  • A photo album featuring the home improvement projects or gardening triumphs that earned him bragging rights.
  • A classic movie with a favorite scene set to stream on your tablet, so you can thank him for introducing it to you.

There’s so much to choose from: the baseball glove you wore when Dad taught you to catch pop-up flies, a favorite fishing reel or hunting cap, the scorecard from a memorable golf outing, a wooden car he carved for your children.

Father’s Day, in particular, is a great time to share these priceless treasures and memories.

Happy Father’s Day to all dads!

If you need help finding a last-minute present, then be sure to see our blog post on the best holiday gifts for seniors and people with Alzheimer’s.

And, if you want to see how our residents spend the rest of the year, then like our Facebook page.

Our Mother’s Day Gift: Mom’s Wisdom

mothers day

Happy Mother’s Day!

In anticipation of Mother’s Day, we asked our Care Haven moms for help with a special present. We hoped they’d be willing to pass their collective wisdom to the next generations of moms.

Without hesitation, they jumped right in with their insights.

Reflections from our moms on Mother’s Day

We detected some common themes as our residents looked back on motherhood this Mother’s Day. Most suggested that new moms should:

  1. Teach children to
    • Be kind.
    • Work hard.
    • Tell the truth and take responsibility.
    • Take care of themselves.
    • Treat everyone with respect.
    • Help others, especially friends and family.
  2. As a parent,
    • Be prepared for anything!
    • Shower kids with love and affection.
    • Cherish the moment — they grow up fast!
    • Listen.
    • Welcome your children’s friends.
    • Do your best to make the most of every situation, and focus on the positive.
    • You’ll make mistakes, so learn to forgive yourself. Take comfort knowing that children are resilient. And tomorrow is a new day!
  3. Also, don’t forget to take care of yourself.
    • Surround yourself with people you love.
    • Be open to new things.
    • Relax, live, love and laugh.
    • And, finally, get some sleep.

Nearly all our mothers agree: new moms MUST sleep while baby sleeps. You’re a better mom when you rest!

D284D471-1412-4A07-9D0C-B72A8ECF1D57_1_201_a

Maxine

Be kind

  • What is your favorite part about being a mom? Every part — I love being a mom!
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Be kind and help each other out.

Mary

Enjoy the moment

  • What is your favorite part about being a mom? My children and grandchildren
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? I’ll allow you to get in trouble once. But if you haven’t learned your lesson, you’re really in trouble the next time!
  • Any advice for new moms? Get some sleep when your baby sleeps.
  • What is the key to a good life? Enjoying the moment
  • Any funny stories about being a mom? Finding my daughters in the bathtub, trying to figure out how to mix fingernail polish in the water. (Their dad was supposed to be watching them!)
  • What would you consider your motto? Been there, done that.

Maggie

Be a nice person

  • What is your favorite part about being a mom? Raising 3 daughters and seeing how they’ve grown up
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Be a nice person.
  • Any advice for new moms? Cherish your children at every stage. Time flies!
  • What is the key to a good life? Surround yourself with people you love.
  • Any funny stories about being a mom? Maggie’s children remember her chasing them around with a wooden spoon. They’d all laugh because they knew she’d never spank them!
  • What would you consider your motto? Take care of everybody.

Jeanene

Always be flexible

  • What is your favorite part about being a mom? Celebrating holidays
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Take responsibility for your actions.
  • Any advice for new moms? Kids are more resilient than parents!
  • What is the key to a good life? Love your husband. (Did we mention that Jeanene’s husband helped with the answers?)
  • Any funny stories about being a mom? I MAY have made the kids show me how to get home from somewhere by making only right-hand turns.
  • What would you consider your motto? Always be flexible.

Bev

Never quit what you start

  • What is your favorite part about being a mom? Raising 5 children
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Never quit what you start.
  • Any advice for new moms? Sleep/nap when baby is sleeping.
  • What is the key to a good life? Let us be ourselves with fun and laughter.
  • Any funny stories about being a mom? On a vacation road trip, we left one of the boys at the gas station. There were 8 of us in our Rambler station wagon, so it was hard to keep track of everyone. We were way down the road before we noticed we were short a person.
  • What would you consider your motto? Having structure while raising my children resulted in kids who were successful in their own lives!

Claire

Stick together

  • What is your favorite part about being a mom? The kids — Jokes and laughter — Attending activities —  Welcoming the neighborhood kids into our house!
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Always tell the truth — Be kind to others — Most important, Murray’s stick together!
  • Any advice for new moms? Patience. And be sure to read the manual that comes with each baby . . . oops!
  • What is the key to a good life? Be honest — Love life and laugh — Bloom where you’re planted.
  • Any funny stories about being a mom? Once, we were on a family trip and stopped at a rest stop for lunch. Bees swarmed us. Beth ran to the car, locked herself in — and us out!.
  • What would you consider your motto? Always tell the truth, and treat all people with respect.

Janet

On Mother’s Day, on every day: Be there for each other

  • What is your favorite part about being a mom? Being there for my kids
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Be there for each other.
  • Any advice for new moms? Be there for your baby.
  • What is the key to a good life? Love each other.
  • What would you consider your motto? Live and love.

Larna Sue

Make the best of any situation

  • What is your favorite part about being a mom? Spending time with my kids and their families
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Stay positive and see the good in people and situations. (And, for the girls: always wash your face at night. A little lipstick will help you look put together, too.)
  • Any advice for new moms? Be generous with love and affection.
  • What is the key to a good life? Faith and a sense of humor
  • Any funny stories about being a mom? Larna Sue’s children recall that she often baked cookies or treats for events. If she didn’t want the kids getting into them, then she hid them under Will’s bed. (He never found them!)
  • What would you consider your motto? Make the best of any situation.

Monna

Always do your best

  • What is your favorite part about being a mom? I don’t know what I’d do without my kids!
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Don’t say anything unless you have something nice to say.
  • Any advice for new moms? Every child is different. Try to listen to them, and always say, “I love you.”
  • What is the key to a good life? Marry a good man like Bob, who was a great father and partner.
  • Any funny stories about being a mom? Two!
    • I have fond memories of our cub scouts riding in a pink thunderbird when we lived in Dodge City.
    • My husband and I always said either was free to leave the marriage. However, whoever left had to take all the kids. No one left!
  • What would you consider your motto? Always do your best.

Linda

Love above all things

  • What is your favorite part about being a mom? Having children and, basically, being a mom
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Anything worth doing is worth hard work.
  • Any advice for new moms? Make your babies sleep all night by 6 months.
  • What is the key to a good life? God and family
  • Any funny stories about being a mom? Too many to tell. But I do remember wearing non-matching shoes out one day!
  • What would you consider your motto? Love above all things

Edna

Be careful

  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Be careful!

Ann

You have to laugh

  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it. (Ann’s children also learned to stay positive — and always to write thank you notes.)
  • What is the key to a good life? Laughter! You have to be able to laugh.
  • What would you consider your motto? Kindness

Shirley Ann

Know where you came from

  • What’s your favorite part about being a mom? Having my kids call to check in or stop by for a surprise visit.
  • What is a lesson you always taught your kids? Like most mothers, “Always wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident.”
  • Any advice for new moms? Be prepared for anything, especially with boys. And make your house the house where all your children’s friends want to hang out.
  • What is the key to a good life? Know where you came from, and honor your past.
  • Any funny stories about being a mom? Have I told you the one about me jumping up and sitting in the clothes washer after seeing a mouse?
  • What would you consider your motto? You’ll miss me when I’m gone.

Genita

Be honest

  • What is your favorite part about being a mom? Trying to do good
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Be dependable and honest — and maintain a strong work ethic.
  • Any advice for new moms? Do the best you can.

Happy Mother's Day

Kathy

There’s always another day

  • What is your favorite part about being a mom? There is something new every day.
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Again, there is something new every day.
  • Any advice for new moms? Pray a lot.
  • Any funny stories about being a mom? Lots!
  • What would you consider your motto? There is always another day.

0527818C-EAA0-43A5-BC59-140DEAF5F170_1_201_a

Lois

Appreciate nature

  • What is your favorite part about being a mom? Well, I don’t know, it’s what you do. (But I enjoyed laughing at the dinner table, watching my kids grow and having special relationships with them.)
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Enjoy and appreciate nature. Eat what you have and finish it — you’re lucky. (And one of her adult children recalls this: “Don’t sleep with underwear on – you gotta let it breathe.”)

  • Any advice for new moms? Don’t encourage them to walk early! Seriously, though, you do the best you can. You’ll make mistakes, but that’s okay. What doesn’t kill them makes them stronger!
  • What is the key to a good life? Friendship, fellowship, doing some good, being open to trying new things … and crossword puzzles
  • Any funny stories about being a mom? Too many. Sometimes something tickled me at the dinner table, and then I’d laugh. Eventually, we’d all be giggling uncontrollably, tears streaming down our faces, unable to stop. Yet no one else knew why we were laughing!
  • What would you consider your motto? So many to choose from:
    • Do your best, forgive your mistakes. Enjoy life, and be of service to others. Have a sense of humor. Accept difficult situations in life. (But it’s ok to complain about the small stuff!)
    • Eat your veggies and get out of bed. (Lordy me, I gotta eat, or I will get the heeby-jeebies!)
    • Just keep swimming!

From our camera-shy moms on Mother’s Day

Mary Dey

Surround yourself with family & friends

  • What is your favorite part about being a mom? Spending time with my son. We love to go out to dinner and see movies.
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? Always be kind to others.
  • Any advice for new moms? Enjoy them while they’re young. They grow up fast!
  • What is the key to a good life? Surrounding yourself with family and friends
  • What would you consider your motto? Don’t forget to laugh!

Lou

Don’t be too critical

  • What is your favorite part about being a mom? Raising my children
  • What is a lesson you always taught your children? I taught them to take care of themselves.
  • Any advice for new moms? Don’t be too critical.

For a terrific Mother’s Day visit

Our Activities Director, Marie Rogers, offers the following tips for your own Mother’s Day celebration:

Take this opportunity to show your deep appreciation for an influential mother figure. That may be your mom — or a nurturing aunt, sister or friend. Recognize the significant role she played in your life.

Aunt Dee

Aunt Berta

Aunt Joy

Get the conversation started by bringing

  • A cookbook to look over favorite recipes and recall afternoons rolling out sugar cookies.
  • A photo album to laugh over shared adventures on a memorable trip.
  • An album or playlist, expressing thanks for introducing you to the music you love.

There’s so much to choose from: Hot Wheels cars you once raced together on the hardwoods, an afghan knitted to warm your first apartment, the diploma she dreamt of for you, the beloved bedtime book she introduced to your children.

Mother’s Day, in particular, is a great time to share these priceless treasures and memories.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms!

If you need help finding a last-minute present, then be sure to see our blog post on the best holiday gifts for seniors and people with Alzheimer’s.

And, if you want to see how our residents spend the rest of the year, then like our Facebook page.

Best Holiday Gifts for People with Alzheimer’s

care haven homes

Tips from 12 Caregiving Pros

(plus bonus tips for family caregiver gifts)

Shiny red satin ribbon on white backgroundFamilies always ask us what Mom or Dad would most enjoy as a holiday gift.

We have our favorites. For this post, we sought the advice of other seasoned caregivers, too. Here are the gifts we suggest for people with Alzheimer’s. (You’ll find most also are great for other older adults.)

 

The Best Gifts for People with Alzheimer’s Appeal to their Senses

Our experts all recommend gifts that look, taste, smell, sound or feel good.

Most people love the aroma of fresh-baked cookies or the relief of soothing lotion.

Someone with Alzheimer’s is especially sensitive to stimulation. A favorite song, fragrance or fabric stirs more memories and feelings than conversation.

Think of your loved ones’ happiest days. Were they spent resting on a soft picnic blanket, or bundled in Grandma’s afghan? Smiling with grandchildren? Sucking on a butterscotch candy, or sipping a favorite tea? What music and scents wafted through the air?

Bring back these sensations to brighten a long, grey day.

 

From Expert #1: Deonisia Hernandez
House Manager & Caregiver
Care Haven Homes’ Broadmoor house

People of all ages love lots of little holiday surprises. Bring a small treat every time you visit. Share favorite candies or cookies. Give a mini bottle of lotion, and then massage Mom’s hands. Leave her with a new tube of lip balm, non-skid slipper socks or a pair of warm gloves.

(“Nonskid” is essential. If socks are too bulky to wear with shoes, be sure they have a gripping surface on the bottom of the foot.)

 

Enjoying a feline friendship

From Expert #2: Sharon Springer
Activities Assistant
Care Haven Homes

Make Mom and Dad FEEL good. Give soft, flannel pillowcases and fuzzy blankets.

It’s a great time for fun flavors, too. Give a holiday pack of Lifesavers or flavored lip balm. Don’t forget that crowd favorite: the popcorn gift tin.

(But don’t leave a big basket of fruit, jellies or other “spoilables” in your loved ones’ room. Bring just enough for the two of you to share during your visit. OR plan to share with other residents and caregivers. OR ask a caregiver to store the “leftovers.”)

 

From Expert #3: Teresa Borger
Community Liaison
Spectrum Home Health

Create a calendar filled with family pictures from your loved one’s past. Hang it in their personal space, in clear view. There are lots of scrapbooking products and online services from which to choose. Look for a seasonal special.

Hint: If you don’t complete your calendar in time, make it a New Year’s gift. Ask friends and family to bring photos to seasonal gatherings. Have them scan and send high-resolution copies of their favorites. Once you’ve fulfilled your holiday obligations, use your “down time” to finish.

(We’ll add a special request here: Please fill in birthdays, anniversaries and other important family milestones or events. These make great conversation starters for caregivers and visitors.)

 

The Best Gifts for People with Alzheimer’s Keep Them Smiling

Be careful as you stir memories and emotions. Not all are happy. Do your best to make Mom and Dad feel good right now. Distract them from unhappy thoughts by introducing pleasant new sights, smells, tastes and sounds.

 

From Expert #4: Karen Clond, LMSW
Dementia Care Specialist
Heart of America Alzheimer’s Association

I’m a huge fan of an amaryllis bulb in a pot. Watch it grow and flower during the dreary winter months. (You can force other spring bulbs to bloom, but the amaryllis gives a fantastic show.)

 

From Expert #5: Linda Harmon
Director
Jeanne’s Place

A soft stuffed animal is very comforting. I once worked with a cat lover who no longer had a pet. Her family’s gift of a FurReal kitty, which purred and moved its head, was a huge hit. Mom spent much of her day calmly petting her feline friend!

While that cat lover wasn’t a bird lover, many people are. Consider buying and installing a bird feeder just outside a window. (If Mom is living in a home other than yours, be sure to consult with her caregivers first – bird seed can be hard on grass and landscaping. Please volunteer to take charge of refilling the feeder, too!)

I’d also suggest a digital photo frame loaded with lots of pictures of family and friends, set to change images every several seconds.

 

From Expert #6: Michael Fleming
Son of a former Care Haven Homes resident

You can’t go wrong with warm, non-skid socks and full slippers for Mom or Dad.  Give long sleeve mock turtlenecks to the ladies and flannel shirts to Dad!

 

(Mike shows he’s an expert when he specifies “full slippers.” Avoid any mule-style, backless slippers. They might slip off while Mom or Dad walks, causing a fall.)

 

From Expert #7: Jane Knapp
Daughter of a former Care Haven Homes resident

Dad loved the cuddly blanket Jeannine recommended – sheepskin on one side and velveteen on the other. He enjoyed getting new pajamas, too.

He appreciated the way specially designed clothes, like shirts and pants for the wheelchair-bound, made life more comfortable. We even found a winter cape that was fantastic for outings.

Dad loved popcorn, diet soda pop and cookies. He was thrilled to get a new video or a personalized calendar with pictures of his kids and grandkids.

The absolute best gift anyone can give is time. Your loved one appreciates that more than anything else. I often saw sullen residents turn joyful with the arrival of a family member.

 

The Best Gifts for People with Alzheimer’s Create Special Moments

Jane makes a good point. Winter days often seem long and lonely. Things get interesting as soon as visitors appear.

Give your loved one 20 to 60 minutes of your undivided attention. Pledge to stay calm and relaxed, no matter what happens. Join them in their moment, just as they are today.

 

From Expert #8: Deborah Garnett, RN, PhD
Daughter of a current Care Haven Homes resident

Keep it small and simple. Instead of a big Christmas gift, I “treat” Mom to fun times spent with family.

There are so many ways to give the gift of a better visit:

  • I buy small craft projects, games or jigsaw puzzles and keep them in the car. If Mom is in the mood, we dash out to retrieve one and spend a fun visit working together. (On the other hand, if she’s not interested, we leave everything in the car, thus keeping her house uncluttered.)
  • I keep a digital photo album of Mom and different family members on my phone. I also keep a photo collage in her room, which we occasionally take down for a closer look. Here’s a special tip: Mom is more engaged when we’re looking at pictures that include her, too!
  • Bright flowers are always a hit. Mom enjoys arranging them in a vase and putting them on a table in the living room to share.
  • She also loves it when I bring a bag of small candy bars. Again, she loves having something to share, delighting in doling out one or two to each of the other residents.

 

Among the best holiday gifts for people with Alzheimer's: visit by a silly elf!

Our Employee Photo Contest Honorable Mention: Silly Elf! (photo credit: Deonisia Hernandez)

More Tips for a Better Visit

Whatever present you bring, deliver it with the gift of a quiet visit. Go by yourself or in a group of two or three. Prepare to leave whenever your loved one seems tired, overwhelmed or agitated.

Be sure everyone is healthy. DON’T bring the “gift” of a cold or flu to seniors, whose immune systems are much weaker than yours.

DO consider sharing a toddler’s infectious giggles and smiles with Mom or Dad. Many older adults love seeing babies and young children. Stay awhile if your little one is happily engaged. Bring your visit to a close as soon as she – or Mom – is ready for a nap.

(You’ll find more tips in the articles linked at the bottom of this post.)

 

Occasionally Consider Becoming a Tour Director

From Expert #9: Caroll Oliver
Patient Care Coordinator
Great Lakes Caring

Take Mom or Dad on a fun outing. For example, I take my mom to lunch. Then we get a manicure or pedicure together.

 

From Expert #10: Nori Nakamura
Owner
Musical Journey

Spending time together is a beautiful thing. Take your loved one to a restaurant or Christmas concert, or for a car ride to see Christmas lights. They may not remember the details later, but the positive mood you create lasts long after the event.

(Just be careful while you’re out and about. Check out our 5 winter safety tips, so everyone returns home safe and sound.)

 

Above All, Bring Joy

From Expert #11: Caroline Dawson
LMSW
Agewise Advocacy & Consulting

During this over-stimulating season, comfort is one of the best gifts you can give your loved ones. Over-stimulated leads to OVERWHELMED, and they need your help to avoid growing tired, agitated and confused.

Give yourself permission to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Aim to spend time together in calm one-on-one moments or small group gatherings, rather than in an overwhelming celebration. Adjust your expectations – and those of family and friends.

  • Are old neighbors asking to visit? Tell them what dates and time work best – even if that means waiting for the new year. Or invite them – one or two at a time – to share an hour looking over favorite photo albums.
  • Do family members insist on giving big presents? Try to avoid a big, noisy exchange. Suggest gifts or gift certificates that will bring Mom joy in the new year: coffees, teas, sweets, manicures or movies, to be enjoyed at home or during special outings. (And assure them you’ll remind Mom of their generosity every time you bring out their decadent chocolates!)
  • Does the loss of a particular tradition seem too much to bear? Preserve it by passing it on! Teach your children, nieces and nephews to bake Mom’s cookies or carve a roast like Dad. Go ahead and buy tickets to the Messiah or the Nutcracker, and treat a friend to the experience. Spread the joy!

 

The Best Gifts for People with Alzheimer’s Support, Stimulate & Engage

Alzheimer’s is a journey. As you plan gifts, visits or outings, prepare to meet your loved one wherever the road has taken them. Use the past as a guide, but look for clues that they may need or prefer something new.

 

From Expert #12: Jeanne Reeder
Board Member
Jeanne’s Place

For people  in the early stages of dementia:

Give anything that enhances or jogs their memory

  • Pocket-sized calendar, diary or notebook
  • White erase board (maybe several – one for each room)
  • Calendar with family members’ pictures and names (see Expert 3’s suggestions above)

Help with everyday tasks

  • Memory phone with pictures accompanying name and contact information
  • Clock with the date and time in large type (a much-loved gift that helps caregivers, too)
  • Night lights that come on automatically at dusk

Keep them engaged (see Expert 8 above, too)

  • Outings to movies, museums, plays or sporting events
  • iPod personalized with their favorite music
  • DVDs of favorite TV shows (e.g., Gunsmoke, I Love Lucy, Golden Girls), musicals or music videos

Concentrate on stimulating the senses as your loved one moves to the middle or late stages (See Experts 1, 2, 6 and 7 above for ideas)

Keep them connected to friends and family

We’ll add one of our favorite holiday suggestions here, for anyone with dementia – but especially for those in the early stages. Help Mom and Dad share their most valuable gifts: talents, recipes, traditions, family history. Show your respect and delight as these treasures are being passed on to you. For example, when you look at old photos together, listen as Mom names the stranger no one else remembers – and tells their story. Thank her for passing on these memories.

 

Jeanne’s Bonus Tip: Don’t Forget A Gift for the Family Caregiver!

A family caregiver values time, respite and companionship – on their terms.

Deliver a meal once a month. Stay to visit while you share it.

Give a gift certificate for professional services – or a homemade coupon if you’re willing and able – to

  • Help with house cleaning, lawn care or snow removal
  • Provide respite care

Consider gift certificates that help the caregiver enjoy their respite

  • For entertainment, like restaurants, concerts or movies
  • For personal services, like a day at the spa, or a massage, manicure and pedicure
  • For splurging on their favorite sort of shopping trip: to a craft store, bookstore or boutique

Support them no matter how they choose to spend their time off: perusing an art gallery, catching up on their knitting, enjoying a cup of coffee, attending a support group meeting.

Don’t forget: even little splurges brighten a family caregiver’s difficult days. A box of special teas says you’re thinking of her as she sips her afternoon cup. A luxurious hand cream brings welcome relief to chapped hands as she washes them yet again. Flameless candles add ambiance without raising any safety concerns.

 

Make It A Season – Not a Day – of Giving

Among the best holiday gifts for people with Alzheimer's: A quiet moment listening to Christmas music

Our Employee Photo Contest Winner: Holiday Season – finding joy in a quiet moment (photo credit: Deonisia Hernandez)

To sum up, don’t stress over dates and deadlines this season. People with Alzheimer’s – and their family caregivers – needn’t be tightly tethered to the holiday calendar.

Something Nori Nakamura said bears repeating. Your loved one

“may not remember the details later, but the positive mood you create lasts long after. . . .”

Don’t worry about presenting the perfect gift on the date you’ve always celebrated. Choose the day you can relax and enjoy together. Ask your loved one’s caregivers if they’re most content and alert at a particular time of day. Check for the quiet times, when other residents and activities won’t distract.

Then, as Caroline Dawson suggests,

“Spread the Joy!”

Enjoy simply being together. When you leave, know that you’ve given Mom or Dad a sense that all is well. That’s a comforting feeling that will last for days to come.


Resources from other sites, to help with this season’s visits

Photographing Older Adults: Make Silver Shine in the Golden Years

alzheimers dementia care

The seasons of smiling and snapping are upon us. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, New Year’s Eve – family and friends gather with cameras.

Each generation presents its challenges. Toddlers speed out of the frame. Teens who beam for selfies frown darkly at a parent’s lens.

Our beloved grandfather and great aunt can be uncooperative, too. Especially if past portraits have been less than flattering.

With a little luck and planning, photographing older adults creates treasured family heirlooms. Try these 10 tips for making the silver-haired members of your clan shine. (They’ll make your other photos sparkle, too!)

1. Picture Mom in the Moment

Remember the first year you lived away from home? When you returned for the holidays, you hoped everyone would notice you’d changed.

alzheimer care homesNow it’s your turn to notice. When photographing older adults, focus on who they are now – not who they used to be.

Don’t try to recreate scenes from the past. Let go of the memories or abilities Mom has lost, or the traditions she’d prefer to forget. You won’t capture her smile after a chorus of “You forgot to wear your holiday sweater!” or “Not making your apple pie?”

Before you raise the camera, take a good look at who Mom is today. How does she spend her days? Does she have new friends or hobbies? What makes her smile? If you want a good picture, focus on that.

Ask her to model her outrageous Red Hat Society garb. Admire her newfound talent for painting. Snap a shot as she spoils her dog or gets silly with the grandchildren.

2. Put Away the “Cheese,” and Put Her at Ease

We often rush into picture taking, especially during the holidays. We race to line everyone up before anyone gets away. We wonder why we end up with a shot full of squints, wiggles and grimaces.

Like an athlete, you need to warm up before photographing older adults. Join Mom in setting the table, filling the bird feeders, or putting together a puzzle. Keep the conversation light. Watch for a smile.

THEN it’s time to get out the camera.

3. Stand Back – But Let the Camera Move In

alzheimers dementia careWe’re tempted to get EVERYTHING in the picture: the people – table setting – holiday decorations – snow on the ground outside.

That usually makes for a bad picture.

Focus on one subject in each photo. If you hope to capture many people or things, take lots of carefully focused photos.

Your subject should fill the frame. If you want to capture Mom’s smile, concentrate on her face. If you want to show off her pretty blouse, picture her from head to hip. Reading to her grandchildren? Sneak in till you’ve framed just this intimate little group.

Worried that she’ll feel uncomfortable when you’re so close? That’s what your adjustable lens is for! Stand back and zoom in.

4. Turn the Spotlight on Her

A director sets the stage to fasten attention on one actor or small group. He removes all distractions.

Make sure Mom plays the featured role in your photo, too. Check the background.

  • Does it make her seem small, frail or unimportant? Do things appear to stick out of her head?
  • Do dirty dishes, cords and clutter surround her? Are you taking a picture of Mom or a mess?
  • Sometimes Mom’s wheelchair or walker will show in your pictures. Consider adjusting the shot to make it seem less important. Get less of it and more of Mom.

senior care for alzheimer’s5. Make Sure She Shines

“I want to be in an ambush photo on the front page of a tabloid,” said no one ever.

Avoid the unflattering shot. Paraphrasing the Golden Rule, take pictures of others that you would have them take of you.

It may or may not be okay to take a picture of Mom misty-eyed, or in a bad mood. But if she’s always taken pride in her appearance, is it okay to photograph her with smeared lipstick? With spaghetti sauce spattering her blouse?

Be kind. Honor her spirit. See that she looks her best.

6. Don’t Shoot Till You See the Twinkle in Her Eye

Like the rest of us, some seniors are hams. Others freeze up when formally posed.

If Mom always flashes a fabulous smile, by all means snap away. Otherwise, catch her in action, doing whatever makes her happy.

Frame a picture worth taking. Focus in on the smile she exchanges with her grandbaby. Zoom in to show her absorbed in a book or puzzle. Capture her far-away gaze at the bird feeder, or her glee at joining in the sing-along with a tambourine.

7. Catch the Light

dementia homecarePhotography is the capture of light on film or in digital memory. You can’t take a good picture in the wrong light. Too little and you’ll have a dark, dull blur. Too much washes away color and details.

Remember that strong light highlights every blemish, bald spot and wrinkle. It casts dark shadows. Handled correctly, this creates a distinctive portrait. More often, the results are downright scary. As an amateur photographer, it’s better to start with soft lighting.

When outdoors, avoid the fierce mid-day sun. Take photos in early morning or evening, when light isn’t glaring from overhead. If you have an early afternoon event, take your pictures under an overhang or in light shade.

Indoors, during the day, open the blinds and let the light shine in on Mom’s face.

WARNING: Don’t use a window as Mom’s backdrop. A camera adjusts for the light behind her. If it’s bright outside, Mom’s image will turn into a dark shadow.

  • Move between Mom and the window, so the light shines on the side of her face. (Be careful that you’re not casting a shadow on her.) OR
  • Add a soft light at her side. OR
  • As a last resort, use your flash to balance the light.

At night or on dark days, you’ll need to add lots of light. Avoid harsh overhead lighting, especially fluorescent fixtures that give your photos a green hue. Use plenty of soft lamps. If you can, adjust a desk lamp so it bounces light up, off the ceiling and onto your subject.

A note about taking action shots in low light: Use your flash. Stay close enough to light everything in the frame. Steady yourself, then take a deep breath and hold it until you get the shot. When it’s dark, the camera lens stays open longer to capture enough light to make a picture. If Mom moves or your hand shakes, the lens will capture that, too – with a blur.

8. Capture Color – or Contrast

dementia homecaredementia home care services

Long ago, a photographer had to choose between color or black and white film. Today’s digital cameras can shoot in either. Editing programs let us keep changing the colors long after we shoot. Look at your photos in both.

Colors create a mood, make a statement or express someone’s personality. Aunt Mabel shows her spunk as she embarks on a morning walk in shiny purple warm-up suit and silver sneakers.

A monochromatic scheme focuses our attention on shapes and lighting. If too many colors draw your eye away from what’s most important, then consider black and white. Keep in mind, though, that the most appealing black and white pictures are not grey. They feature a strong contrast between light and dark spaces.

9. Count on Correct – Not Autocorrect

It’s fun to experiment with colors and filters. Don’t, however, take bad pictures and expect to save them with photo editing.

In the beginning, concentrate on getting the lighting and framing right. That produces a much sharper photo than one relying on heavy cropping and enhancement.

10. So Many Shots – So Little Time

Another advantage of digital photography is that you can experiment for free. Take lots of shots, quickly. Take even more shots when you’re shooting action or a group of people. A surprising number are ruined when someone blinks or leans out of the frame.

Move fast, especially if you’re asking someone to pose. Irritated, tired or bored subjects stop smiling.

Of course, friends who have to look through a lot of bad pictures stop smiling, too. Choose only your best photos and edit before sharing. Delete the rest.

NOTES ON SHARING:

Be sure your photos are shareable. If a friend likes a quick look at lots of pics, “optimize” them, shrinking before sending. If she wants to print your photos, be sure to send them “Actual Size.” Send just one large image at a time to get through most spam filters.

It’s important to get permission before sharing a person’s image. It’s especially important when photographing older adults in health care or senior living settings. Privacy laws such as HIPPA may apply. If a person has dementia or can’t make decisions for themselves, get approval from someone with legal authority to speak for them. If you’re not a close friend or family member, get permission from the operator of the health care or senior living facility, too.

When Coping With Alzheimer’s, Celebrate BIG in Small Spaces

10 Tips for Holiday Decorating That’s Festive, NOT Overwhelming

Getting ready to celebrate the first holiday since Mom moved out of her house? What can you do with overflowing boxes of decorations now stored in your basement?

(Hint: You have everything you need to decorate Mom’s new home. Just pick and choose wisely. We’ve got a new Pinterest board to inspire you.)

1. Start with just one special thing

The best designers begin decorating small spaces by selecting a focal point.

Is Mom proud of the flair she had for trimming a tree? Honor that. Decorate a beautiful miniature tree. Display a strand of twinkling lights or gleaming garland. Create a small display of shiny ornaments.

If Mom loved baking, tie cinnamon sticks, gingerbread men or cookie cutters to a wreath.

Trigger her memories with the sights and sounds of the season. Remember: Someone coping with Alzheimer’s appreciates their sensory experiences in small doses. Avoid the busy and the blaring. Let them concentrate on one thing at a time.

2. Focus on memories, not decorations

If you could relive any holiday memory with Mom, which would you choose?

  • Did she teach you how to glide across an icy pond or build the perfect snowman? Feature mittens or skates in your holiday décor.
  • Did you enjoy caroling together? Play a CD or iPod loaded with seasonal music when you visit.
  • Don’t forget to find space for framed pictures that capture your special moments together.
  • Leave a note for caregivers to explain especially important memories. Attach labels to the backs of pictures so they can guide a conversation about the people and places in them.

3. Build to scale

When decorating small spaces, go for a big impact – without crowding. For example, don’t smother the windows and walls of a cozy room with garlands.

  • Surround the frame of a round dresser mirror with artificial greenery, to form a wreath. Leave the center open for a clear view. OR
  • Highlight a single beaded garland. Drape it, shimmering, over a rod in the window – out of the way of moving curtains and shades.

4. Display heirlooms a new way

image-1Mom’s treasures might include an assortment of holiday photos, ornaments or cross-stitched handkerchiefs. Create a wall display of the best, arranged in the shape of a wreath or tree.

Was her pride & joy a collection of Santas, nutcrackers or holiday houses? Put out one or two. Take pictures of the rest for a brag book she can share.

5. Find a new favorite

If Mom’s holiday favorites are delicate or oversized, it’s time to make a substitution. To replace a fragile Nativity, try

  • Buying a small set made of composite material, built to withstand rough handling, OR
  • Exploring stores that feature unique yet inexpensive crafts from around the world.

Look for an intriguing, compact crèche. It might become Mom’s new bedside treasure.

6. Keep it user-friendly

When decorating small spaces, it’s tempting to display holiday greetings with ribbons or clips. Be careful.

Your clever display might frustrate Mom’s attempts to sort and study cards and photos. Keep them in a special basket instead.

Add photos of families, friends and holidays past (scanned copies of valuable originals).

Exploring the basket could become a favorite winter pastime. If it does, be sure to add new pictures from time to time.

7. Make it easy to maintain

Caregivers have a lot to do, keeping Mom warm, healthy, safe and calm during the holidays. Don’t distract them from her care by asking them to maintain your decorations. More importantly, don’t create tripping, fire and other safety hazards.

  • Choose small, artificial trees that don’t tip, shed or need water.
  • Use shatterproof ornaments.
  • Select lights that are cool to the touch (and turn on with the simple flip of a switch).
  • Avoid open flame; opt for battery-operated candles.
  • Don’t expect Mom to use special seasonal linens or appear in holiday outfits every time you visit.

8. Less is more

Mom has lots of ornaments, but only a few are truly special. Highlight three of them atop candlesticks on a table.

Mom once loved holiday lights, but now she’s disturbed by large, flashing displays. Hang a small marquee in the shape of an angel or other holiday design on her wall, and turn it off if it bothers her.

9. Create more memorable moments

Decorating small spaces offers a huge opportunity to work together. Side by side, you can create a blizzard of snowflakes for the window. Make an advent countdown chain for the wall, or an army of gingerbread men to march around a wreath.

Keep plans simple. You’re enjoying the company of someone coping with Alzheimer’s – not attempting to create an award-winning design.

10. Respect others’ traditions

Ask permission before decorating the common spaces of Mom’s new home. As you choose decorations, be sensitive to other residents’ tastes and traditions. If you place an advent candle on the mantle, leave room for a menorah or kinara. Use colors shared by many different faith traditions: silver, gold, white, blue.

Everyone can celebrate a winter season filled with snowflakes, snowmen, candles, cookies and stars. Those decorations can last till Valentine’s Day!

Visit Us on Pinterest

Care Haven Homes is on Pinterest this holiday season.
We display pictures of the season’s best ideas for decorating small spaces.
Look there for your inspiration!

 

Analytics Code