While many things have been put on hold in 2020, there are some things that have not — like the progression of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia and the caregiving responsibilities that accompany it. Despite these limitations, the compassionate professionals who serve the Alzheimer's community have not lost their zeal for helping families. There is still a multitude of ways to get assistance.
We often joke that wives are better at remembering things than are husbands. Men are portrayed as forgetting anniversaries and birthdays, and sometimes their kids’ names and ages. The stereotypical women remember things from long ago, especially unwise words from the husband, as well as romantic events the husband has forgotten.
Recent scientific research indicates that this characterization may not be far from the truth. Against expectations, dementia rates seem to be declining as baby boomers creep into the dementia-prone age bracket. Despite the prevalence of brain-health risk factors, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, the rates have been decreasing over the past decade or so.
Do you remember the days when you played board games with your friends and family? Back then, a “screen” was something to keep out bugs, not a portal to digital paradise. As “primitive” as a game of chess or bingo or Monopoly may seem, those neighborhood bridge tournaments were honing your thinking and memory skills, according to a recent study by the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
We may try to avoid it, shut it out, ignore it, and minimize it, but we can’t escape this COVID-19 pandemic. We may not contract the disease, but reminders are all around us: masks, closures, constant updates, and isolation. Thinking “happy thoughts” about it won’t make it go away, but our thoughts (and attitudes) have a lot to do with how we cope with this new, unexpected life.
Here are some things to think about that may lift up and refresh your spirit during down times.
When dementia strikes an older family member, the effect on children can be overlooked, especially when the children knew “Grandma and Grandpa” in earlier, more “normal,” days. Discussing the situation may seem as scary to adults as the patient’s actions seem to grandchildren, but ignoring or covering up the matter is neither wise nor helpful.
Children look to adult family members for care and security, so they can be distrustful and confused when things change. An older child can be taught to treat Grandma’s mistakes with grace and enjoy Gramps’s company as much as possible, as long as communication remains open and the reasons for the change in personality are explained on their level. Otherwise, children may reach their own — often frightening — conclusions.