Divinity and pickled herring.
Horse races and softball games.
Girl scout uniforms and bowling balls.
You are never certain what kind of item, smell, sound, or picture will trigger your mother’s memory, but now that she is in a health center that provides Alzheimer?s care services you are willing to try anything. Stories or pictures of the nationwide roadside gas stations that would sell the sticky, white divinity made with sugar, corn syrup and egg whites sometimes work. The overly sweet white fudge, as some people call divinity, sometimes includes mix-ins like nuts or coconut and specialty flavorings like vanilla or peppermint extract. Both sweet and chewy, divinity seems to be the perfect treat to help your mother transport herself from the Alzheimer?s care services unit where she lives to the front seat of the family car on vacation.
the only connection you can make between divinity and pickled herring is that they had absolutely no appeal to you. Your mother, however, is a different story. It is not that she would ever eat the two things in the same setting, but both divinity and pickled herring could spark your mother’s memory as much as anything else. Just the thought of the pickled herring from the roll-it-open can makes you queasy, but you are willing to risk an upset stomach it brings comfort to your mother when you visit the Alzheimer?s care services wing. The combination of the smell and the packaging description announcing that small bones were included keep it high on your list of foods that you will never try, but that familiar smell is likely what triggers your mother’s most favorite memories of being in her own home and choosing her own meals.
The sound track from the opening call of the horse races can also bring your mom away from the fog of the senior home care facility that caters those with memory loss to the days when she spent her Tuesday through Sunday afternoons betting on the ponies. A softball or a catcher’s mitt can also do the trick. So can the old bowling bag from her years of leagues or the girl scout sash full of the brightly colored and embroidered badges. All wonderful memories that some how invite your mother to talk, to smile, and to even sing on her good days.
Consider some of these statistics about Alzheimer’s and other memory issues and the effect that they have on many Americans:
- Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.
- 33% of seniors pass away with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
- 66% of U.S. Alzheimer’s patients are women.
- Alzheimer’s disease is the only top 10 cause of death in America that cannot be prevented, slowed, or cured.
Memory Care Patients Require Special Facilities and Trained Staff
Life can be challenging for families who are trying to help their loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. And given the fact that only one in four individuals are actually able to stay in their own homes until the end of their lives, many families first care for their loved ones at home, but then face the difficult task of finding an Alzheimer?s care services unit. Whether the memory care patients are able to stay at home or they are in a health facility, certain practices can make day to day life less of a conflict.
For instance, the choice between too many foods at once may be overwhelming for Alzheimer’s patients. Simplify by serving one dish at a time, however, the patient can have a more relaxed meal time. For example, serving mashed potatoes alone and not serving the meat until the potatoes are gone can often work well. Even getting dressed for the day can be difficult for memory care patients if they are given too many choices. Making the decision to lay out outfits ahead of time or simply offering just two choices of shirts and pants, for instance, can make morning preparations less stressful.
Everything from the colors of the walls to the arrangement of the rooms can also facilitate better care for patients who are experiencing an increasing amount of memory loss. Visiting a number of care centers can often help families make the very best choice.