Positive Peer Re-Enforcement

I have a resident that is so soft spoken it is almost impossible to understand what she is saying.

Positive reinforcement can yield positive results
Positive reinforcement can yield positive results

In the past when she spoke it was completely undistinguishable.  Even speech therapy had stopped working with her.

However, her roommate is very patient with her.  She coaxes and encourages her to speak in a manner that is kind and caring.

Lately, I’ve noticed that this sweet lady is speaking more distinctly and louder.

It’s amazing what a little encouragement and love can accomplish.

What positive re-enforcements have you seen from peer interaction?

Breaking the Ice with Dementia

I have several patients that most staff and visitors are scared to approach.  This is mainly due to their disability or behavior.

However, I’ve determined to get to know these residents and spend time with them.

So what have I learned? What are some ways to break the ice with dementia patients?

It may take a while to break the ice but it is definitely worth it
It may take a while to break the ice but it is definitely worth it
  • This takes time
  • Slowly, but surely we both warm to one another
  • Touch shows I care
  • Music is a great way to break the ice
  • Even short visits show I care
  • I need to genuinely care
  • Speak with the family to learn about this person and their life
  • Find one thing we can bond over {each person is different but there is something}
  • This takes time
  • I can’t rush the process
  • Don’t give up

How have you broken the ice?

Power of Touch

I have several residents that are difficult to reach and many people don’t even try to get to know them.  I feel as if they are the ones missing out.

Touch can make a big difference in Alzheimer's
Touch can make a big difference in Alzheimer’s

One way to reach out to a bed bound, hard of hearing or comatose patient is through the power of touch.

  • Just a hand on their arm
  • a squeeze of the hand
  • a hand massage
  • a stroke of their upper arm
  • a pat of their foot

These are all ways the power of touch can work.  It doesn’t have to be for long, but even a minute of this can show you still care and connect you.

What way has the power of touch worked for you?

Alzheimer’s Perception of Situation

We have a resident that is well over 100 years of age.  Although she has dementia, she also has lucid moments.  Recently, I stopped in to visit with her and had a conversation we’d never had before.

Dementia patients often see much more than we think
Dementia patients often see much more than we think

Me: “How are you?”

Her: “I’m sad.”

Me: “Why are you sad?”

Her: “Someone was talking about me.”

Me: “What did they say?”

Her: “I don’t know but I didn’t like it.”

This was a reminder that even when we think an individual with dementia or Alzheimer’s does not know what we are saying, there are times when they do understand.

Even if they do not understand the words they may understand in a number of other ways.

This can include:

Dementia Patients know how you make them feel
Dementia Patients know how you make them feel
  • Tone of voice
  • Touch
  • Look on our face
  • Attitude toward that individual
  • Perception

What ways have you noticed an Alzheimer’s individual is perceptive to their situation?

World Alzheimer’s Day

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day.

September 21 is World Alzheimer's Day
September 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day

September 21st, is the date chosen by the Alzheimer’s organizations, to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia.

According to Alzinfo.org, someone develops Alzheimer’s every 68 seconds.

With Alzheimer’s, family members slowly watch their loved one die again and again.  With each stage comes more loss of memory and motor skills.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve witness pain cross an individual’s face because their parent did not remember them.

Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.

3 Everyday Lessons for an Alzheimer’s Caregiver by Kathleen Brown

Today, I am thrilled to welcome Kathleen Brown to Caregiving Monday.  She is going to share lessons she has learned from being an Alzheimer’s Caregiver.  This seemed very apropos today, because Wednesday is World Alzheimer’s Day.  Welcome, Kathleen!


3 Everyday Lessons for an Alzheimer’s Caregiver
by Kathleen Brown

Sapphires were once associated with clear thinking
Sapphires were once associated with clear thinking

I discovered Mom had Alzheimer’s during a September trip. September. Its flower is the forget-me-not; its gemstone, the sapphire. Sapphires were

once associated with clear thinking. As I began caring for Mom, in the house where I grew up, I hoped the clear thinking part was for me.

If you’re an at-home caregiver, you know it presents unique challenges. My first weeks with Mom felt like one emergency after another; I was on adrenaline overload. Then I began noticing the miracles: tiny ones (finding one of Mom’s shoes in the trash can), and huge ones (Mom suddenly agreeing to a long-needed bath). Feeling the Lord’s presence and help, I calmed down and began to learn. Fear not—you’ll see miracles, too.

Finding the best way, however, means we must look at all the options.
Finding the best way, however, means we must look at all the options.


Three of the Biggest Everyday Lessons


#1-You always have options.

In the beginning I thought there was only one right way to accomplish any care task. Wrong. There will always be more than one way to do what you need to do. Finding the best way, however, means we must look at all the options.

Example: Doctor to Mom: “Exercise.”
Mom to doc: “No.”
Solution: Two carts at the mega-store. While Dad shopped with one, Mom used the other like a walker, happy to stroll with me all around the store.


Laughing in the face of Alzheimer’s is absolutely necessary for survival
Laughing in the face of Alzheimer’s is absolutely necessary for survival

#2-Be ready to laugh.

Laughing in the face of Alzheimer’s is absolutely necessary for survival. The day Mom opened her mouth and I saw her dentures were in upside down, I smiled when I wanted to cry. After I fixed them, I laughed. Her poor gums were no longer being bitten by false teeth! Humor is an invaluable companion in caregiving.


When you need strength, you’ll have it.
When you need strength, you’ll have it.

#3-You will make it, even through the most difficult times.

When you need strength, you’ll have it. When you need words, they’ll come to you. When there’s nothing you can do to help your loved one, she will, against all odds, help herself. I can’t tell you how it happens—who can explain a miracle?—but I can tell you that resolution

always comes. Expect it.

Expecting solutions widens your field of vision. You’ll find resources and strategies you won’t see if your eyes are closed in despair.

We hope effective treatments for Alzheimer’s will come—someday. Ways to cure and even prevent it. Until then, our peace will be in knowing we can help our loved ones through it. We can.



Kathleen Brown
Kathleen Brown


Kathleen Brown is a writer, speaker, and firm believer in everyday miracles. The author of A Time for Miracles: Finding Your Way through the Wilderness of Alzheimer’s, she focuses her work on needs of at-home Alzheimer’s caregivers. You can reach Kathleen through her blog, www.hopeandhelpforalzheimers.wordpress.com, or by email to http://kbrown.writer@gmail.comkbrown.writer@gmail.com.



All pictures courtesy of Pixabay.com and are free creative commons pictures

Alzheimer’s Patients Don’t Like to Be Alone

While working with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients over the years, I’ve noticed most of them don’t like to be alone.  This could be because of the confusion the disease creates.

Those with Alzheimer's are more perceptive than we give them credit
Those with Alzheimer’s are more perceptive than we give them credit

Sometimes the disease demands they are not alone because of their actions, also.

However, some of the reasons I’ve noticed this are:

  • Need reassurance not alone
  • Need reassurance someone cares about them and loves them
  • Need guidance to know what’s next
  • Need comforting when they are confused

What reasons have you noticed in Alzheimer’s patients that don’t like to be alone?

9 Ways Alzheimer’s Changes Our Loved Ones

The diagnosis of dementia and Alzheimer’s means the change in our lives as we know it.

Often the change is slow and other times it is rapid.

However, the one thing that is for sure is that Alzheimer’s changes our loved ones.

Our loves one may now be more:

People with Alzheimer's aren't that different than the rest of us. They just want to feel loved.
People with Alzheimer’s aren’t that different than the rest of us. They just want to feel loved.
  1. agitated
  2. easily flustered
  3. react differently
  4. may express anger
  5. may show out
  6. may withdrawal into self
  7. lose interest in previous hobbies and activities
  8. personality change
  9. becomes more fixated on things

What changes have you seen after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis?

10 Benefits of Hospice

hospice 2




Recently, I’ve learned of several families that placed a loved one in hospice.

This is never an easy decision. There’s no easy way to prepare for this.

However, I’ve worked with hospice on numerous occasion.

Some of the benefits of hospice are:

  1. Helps in decision makinghospice
  2. Offers support groups
  3. Offers spiritual support
  4. Certified and knowledgeable workers in the end of life stages
  5. Provides knowledgeable feedback
  6. Oversees the final preparations {such as contacting mortuary, having death certificate issued, etc.}
  7. Provides services to you at home, in a hospital, at a nursing facility or at their own facility
  8. Continues to care for your loved one through a decline—while usually this is for six months or less, at times their services extend beyond this time period. If the loved one improves they can be discharged and later readmitted when a decline reoccurs.
  9. Give the patient and their family a sense of dignity
  10. Respects the patient’s wishes
  11. Bonus: Lessens financial burden of being in the hospital

How has hospice been beneficial for you?

Acceptance of an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

I’ve worked with many families that have a loved one with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Often I see a struggle to accept the diagnosis.

Accepting a loved one has Alzheimer's is not always easy. Sometimes we have a mental block.
Accepting a loved one has Alzheimer’s is not always easy. Sometimes we have a mental block.

This happens in a variety of ways:

  • Mental block
  • Inability to accept changes
  • Lack of knowledge about the disease
  • Belief loved one will be healed
  • Denial


Often you hear the saying that when you have a loved one with dementia you “mourn the loss of them now, to mourn the loss of them all over again when they’re gone.”


That is so true.  The person we know and love is no more as dementia changes the person.


Acceptance of the disease is a private journey that everyone has to reach in their own way and time.

  • However, a few tips to help are:

    Cheirsh the time you have together
    Cheirsh the time you have together
  • Educated self on the disease
  • Celebrate the time you have with your loved one
  • Listen to the professionals and be open to what they are saying
  • Understand you can slow the disease but not stop it
  • Pray and ask God’s help and guidance on this journey


How have you dealt with the Alzheimer’s diagnosis of a loved one?

The Sad Cycle of Alzheimer’s



Alzheimer’s is a sad disease.  We slowly watch our loved one die.

I’ve heard the saying “mourning your loved one now, to mourn all over again.”

This is true, we are mourning the loss of who our loved one was with the loss of abilities and interest now.

However, when s/he passes we will mourn them all over again.

This is why it is importance to raise Alzheimer’s awareness and find a cure.

Understanding When An Action is Important

I often notice while working with the elderly, especially Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, that some stories are repeated over and over.  There have been times I’ve heard the stories so much that I feel that I can tell the story.

Those stories are important to the teller and we can learn lessons from the experience
Those stories are important to the teller and we can learn lessons from the experience

However, I also learn more about the person while listening to the story.  Sometimes through the retelling I can glean nuggets of insight about the person’s life.

However, I recently had a conversation with another worker that got me to thinking.  She said “when they repeat the story over and over it is really important to them.”

I realized that she had a valid point.  That incident was important to that person or made an impact on their life and/or thought process.

I realized this can also prove true when actions are repeated over and over again. After all actions speak louder than words.

What story or action is important to your loved one?

Importance of Caregiving Support groups

Caregiving can be a very lonely task.  After all you spend hours or days with the person being cared for.

During this time family, friends and co-workers may not understand all of the strain and frustration you feel.

These groups are important because they provide an outlet of discussion with other likeminded individuals.  These individuals are experiencing the same concerns and struggles and need to vent or talk through their problems. support

However, there are groups where you can find support.

A few places to find support include:

  • Alzheimer’s organization
  • Church support groups
  • Facebook groups
  • Online support groups
  • Workplace support groups
  • Meetup Groups

Other places to check include:

  • Doctorcaring for caregiver
  • Local Agency on Aging
  • Family caregiver support program
  • Skilled nursing or rehab center

Where have you found caregiving support?

Alzheimer’s is not dumb

Working with Alzheimer and dementia patients, I often witness family and/or staff talking about a person right in front of them.

Things will be said that are demeaning or degrading to the person.

Those with Alzheimer's are more perceptive than we give them credit
Those with Alzheimer’s are more perceptive than we give them credit

Often the attitude is that because the person has Alzheimer’s or dementia, then s/he does not understand what is being said about them.

I’ve discovered through observing my residents that this is not often the case.

Yes, there are times when they may not understand.  However, more often than not they understand more than they can express.  They understand exactly what is being said about them.  This can also show the person how those speaking really care about them.

So as with all things be careful what you say.  If the individual did not have Alzheimer’s, would you be saying these things directly to them?

7 Ways Personality emphasized in Alzheimer’s

I’ve discovered that with personality traits and characteristics from childhood and adulthood are often intensified and emphasized in dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.

These can include a variety of personality characteristics.  Some that I’ve seen are:personality

  1. Wanting attention
  2. OCD tendencies
  3. Meekness
  4. Neatness
  5. Sweetness
  6. Irritations
  7. Food likes and dislikes

In what ways have you seen the personality emphasized due to dementia?

5 Simple reasons Alzheimer’s are happy

We’ve all heard the saying the simple things make us happy.

This seems to even be more true with the elderly.connecting

They don’t care about how much clout a person has, the money in the back, the reputation, etc.

What they know is:

  • They are loved
  • They are wanted
  • They are protected
  • They are care for
  • They are safe

What little things make your loved one happy?

7 Ways to Help Alzheimer’s when have Trouble expressing self

Many people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia have a difficult time expressing themselves.

Often they cannot find the work or get the word to roll off of their tongue, although they long to.

Sign Language is one way to help people express themselves
Sign Language is one way to help people express themselves

Some ways in which to combat this are:

  1. Teach sign language for simple words {drink, eat, bathroom, etc.}
  2. Have picture cards for the person to point to {food, bed, family, shower, etc.}
  3. Watch non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, posture, gestures, clenched hands, etc.
  4. Understand a native language {ex. I had a man that was a missionary to Africa. He would divert to that language at times.  Understanding words for that language helped to understand his needs.}
  5. Use music to soothe. Often music helps a person with the disease to find words they are having trouble finding. Also, playing an instrument can provide a way for self-expression.
  6. Ask to draw or paint a picture {if capable—mid to late stages may not have the capability}
  7. Point to what they would like.
  8. Bonus: We’ve discovered that sometimes playing charades also helps in expressing oneself.


How do you help your loved one express themselves when they struggle?

7 Ways to Calm Agitation in Alzheimer’s

I shared recently about how Alzheimer’s patients can become fixated on various things.

Alzheimer’s patients can easily become agitated.

Calming others is never easy
Calming others is never easy

So what do you do when nothing works to redirect your loved ones?

  1. Use a lot of patience
  2. Try a change of scenery {go to another room or outside}
  3. Continue to keep trying to redirect and divert attention
  4. See if softly singing or playing a CD will help
  5. Walk out of the room and see if being left alone helps {sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t}
  6. Pray for patience and guidance. I’ve even prayed over a person and find that this often works.
  7. Create a calm environment and allow to get some sleep. This often leads to increased agitation.

How do you calm agitation when nothing else works?