September 21st is World Alzheimer’s Day
- Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease which effects the mind and results in loss of connection
- It may hinder a person’s ability to express themselves or make decisions
- Some individuals become withdrawn and disinterested, where others may show aggression which would generally be out of character
- Alzheimer’s also takes a physical toll and can make performing simple daily activities seem insurmountable
It is important to continue to engage, to seek out the joy in simple things and to build routine and practices that will help to ease the confusion and uncertainty that come along with this disease.
My name is Chloe and I’ve worked with Rose Hill Lane for almost three years. As is standard for a Companion Caregiver, I completed educational training with the Alzheimer’s Society of Niagara. Once I was certified, I was assigned my first client- Katharine.
I met Katharine at the beginning of her journey with Alzheimer’s. Katharine was a lover of art in every form. She wrote poetry. She painted beautiful water colours and was an avid bird watcher. She loved music- from Chopin to Cohen and everything in between. We were instant friends.
When it came to Katharine’s Alzheimer’s she would often describe herself as feeling untethered. Something as simple as too many people waiting in line for the elevator could throw her into an episode of anxiety. If these anxieties went unchecked they would become debilitating. She needed familiarity and routine to feel level. With the help of her loving family we were able to put together a care plan based on things Katharine found therapeutic- things that would make her feel grounded.
I would keep an eye out for situations that might not suit her and redirect. We would sneak off to a quiet corner of the library and pick a classic. I would read aloud to her for hours. As our bond grew, Katharine felt more comfortable doing things that normally would have caused her anxiety. We went to multiple plays at the Shaw together, enjoyed high tea at the Prince of Wales and would spend our summer days walking from park to park collecting leaves and flowers for her outdoor journal.
As time went on Katharine needed more care and required a personal support worker rather than a companion. The things that we enjoyed together, like music therapy, became woven into her care plan and new PSW’s were able to share them with her as well. It was clear that integrating these meaningful activities into Katharine’s days vastly improved her quality of life.
Alzheimer’s can feel like it only ever takes. As a caregiver, I was able to redirect and create moments of joy throughout Katharine’s day. The friendship that Katharine and I shared was based on experiencing and exploring. Our bond gave so much to the both of us. It was a reminder that there’s still joy to be found. There’s still life to be lived.
If you know someone or are currently caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and you are feeling lost, overwhelmed, or even defeated, you are not alone.
Rose Hill Lane has the honour of working closely with the Alzheimer’s Society of Niagara which offers respite programs for caregivers, educational courses, support groups and countless other resources.
To continue with Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, our next blog will be featuring the CEO of the Alzheimer’s Society of Niagara, Teena Kindt.
Follow the link below to their website for further information on Alzheimer’s and the support that the Alzheimer’s Society of Niagara has to offer the Niagara Community.