By Kathy Kappler, RN
Memory Loss…dementia…Alzheimer’s, those are words that are frightening to hear whether it’s pertaining to you or a loved one. Personally, I lost a sister to Alzheimer Disease. Prior to her diagnosis I worked directly with families dealing with any and all forms of memory loss. As I slowly saw symptoms in my sister, I knew what the future held for our family. So now, as an advisor for Concierge Care Advisors, I assist many families in the same situation. It is not only important to educate families regarding the care needs associated with memory loss, but to be available and a very good listener. Families come to us when they have many decisions on their mind. When is the right time to find another living option? How can I handle the frustrations of memory loss in a better way? How can I possibly find the best place to take care of my loved one? As I meet with my clients going through all of the feelings, fears and frustrations (the three F’s) of memory loss it is important to put them at ease with discussing the disease. Many folks are reluctant to tell you details about their family member, they worry that it sounds too awful or too bad. I often give examples of what I have experienced or heard from other clients. They soon realize they are no different from anyone else and there are many common behaviors unique to the disease and behaviors unique to the individual.
In my many years of experience working with memory loss, there are many stories that touch my heart. I once worked with a client by the name of Hans who had been a mountain climber and was actually fairly advanced with Alzheimer’s. He often climbed partially up a secure fence but never to go over it. He just liked to be up off the ground. I called him down one day and he came down as he always did. He looked at my name tag and said “Kappler-I was in the army with a Jack Kappler” I have an uncle named Jack and thought it was just a coincidence. But as I walked Hans back to his room he walked over to a photo album on his shelf that no one had ever seen him touch. He thumbed through the pages and handed me a page with a photo of him and my uncle in their uniforms walking down the streets of Paris together. I called my uncle and he remembered Hans. I took Hans out to meet my uncle and have lunch together. My uncle brought photo’s of their time together in the service and I heard Hans talk and share laughter more than I ever had.
I tell this story often when I am working with my clients for one specific reason. I personally believe to never assume someone with memory loss never understands because they will fool you. As I work with a client that may be advanced with the disease, sometimes it is just a little glimmer in their eye or a tiny smile that tells me they understood a piece of what I just said to them. It’s amazing how that little smile can warm my heart!
Concierge Care Advisors gives me the opportunity to work with these families. If a move out of their home is what they need we have the experience and education to personally guide them through the whole process of finding the best possible community or adult family home that will meet their physical and emotional needs.
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