Assisted Living is NOT your enemy

“We want to keep her out of assisted living as long as possible.” “My brother thinks it’s horrible that we want to move dad.” “I’m exhausted caring for my loved one at home, but moving them just seems cruel.” “She took care of me when I was younger, so now it’s my turn.” “I don’t […]

SOLVE their fear of water

I had a reader write in recently and ask me about her grandfather’s fear of water. Although it had started with the shower, the problem had migrated to even brushing his teeth. He was afraid of the water in the sink, not just the water from the shower faucet! She asked how they could solve this issue, […]

At home, in adult day care, in assisted living…how do you know if it’s a good fit?

How can you tell if where your loved one with dementia is currently living is…well, working? How do you know if it’s the right fit? It’s pretty difficult to ask someone living with dementia what their opinion is on the subject. Even if you were to move them, would that make them happier? Would it […]

Don’t ask if they “remember your name”

If I can, I always opt to ditch my name tag in a dementia care environment. I let my friends with dementia decide what my name is: I’ve been Susan, Gwendolyn, and various peoples’ kids. I’ve been so many identities to my residents, too: a coworker, a boss, a student, a sibling, a friend from […]

The always-made bed

Two single beds sat beside one another. One, unmade, sheets uneven, looked as though it had just been slept in. The other, made, simple—a single sheet on it. A black winter cap lay at the head of the bed, untouched for days, maybe months on end. The rest of the room contained women’s clothing. Clean […]

Underestimating what people with dementia can still do

“Wow, I had no idea that she could still do that,” he said. “That’s awesome.” It’s not the first time that I’ve heard something like that: so many times, we underestimate what people with dementia can do. Often, we take tasks away from people with dementia because we don’t want to give them something that is “too […]

Loneliness & soup

I was killing time at the grocery store. Really, I was also hungry, but I would’ve been eating at my house if my friend wasn’t at a nearby doctor’s appointment. And so, I was stuck in an unfamiliar part of town, waiting for him. And so I ended up in the Giant Eagle grocery store. […]

“You look like a wicked broad!”

Joan was the second British woman who had lived in one of my dementia care communities. She had moved to the US after meeting her husband, an American soldier, in World War II—a story similar to the one that I heard from my first British resident. If you asked Joan, she could still tell you […]

A Tough Conversation

Usually, when a visitor to our community tries to “correct” one of my residents, I jump in and try to save the conversation. For example, if a resident’s daughter is visiting and says, “No, mom, don’t you remember, dad died years ago!” I will try to swoop in and change the interaction so that no one […]

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