This weekend my family gathered together in Los Angeles for the annual Walk4Alz fundraiser, and just before it began my sister pulled a little memento out of her pocket: Mom's Sunrise name tag. Without knowing her history you might guess that Molly had worked at Sunrise, but in fact she lived the last year of her life there as a memory care resident.
The sight of her name tag reminded me of her caregivers, and the great job they did personalizing her care. Even though Mom had a very difficult time with verbal communication, they noticed right away that she loved to help out. She would often help clean up after meals, or assist other residents with activities and crafts. The caregivers spotted a fellow caregiver in Mom so they decided to make her feel like a part of the staff, and had a real Sunrise name tag made for her. She really liked it. Throughout her life Mom was an incredibly productive person and Alzheimer's stole that from her late in life. You could that when she was helping out with her name tag on she felt useful, and connected to her true self.
We created the Care Card to help care providers understand the unique needs and preferences of their clients or residents when they first meet them, and as they evolve. There is a tab for tips on "How to calm me down" for those times when things aren't going so well. On my Mom's I would have put "Give me a task or a chore to do." The Sunrise team got to know her as a person and kicked it up a notch. They made her a part of the team!
Jeff Gray | Founder & CEO
The Memory Kit
My sister sent me this video on empathy over the weekend. It's one of those rare things that speaks for itself and needs no comment from me. Whether you're a caregiver or not, I promise it will improve your day.
Those of you who have not experienced being a caregiver to a loved one with Alzheimer's might think empathy would be a constant; a naturally and frequently occurring mindset. But it's not. You are often so tired, frustrated, angry, guilt-ridden, and overwhelmed that empathy for your loved one can't find its way in. And also, a person with Alzheimer's isn't behaving like, say, someone going through chemo. Not by a long shot! They may reject you, be mean and spiteful, hit you, and develop unpleasant habits that will stretch you to the point where you don't know how in the world you can possibly do it another day. And there will be so many more days to come.
Throughout mom's illness my sister Amy was my hero for many reasons, but primarily because through it all she had so much empathy for Molly and what she was going through, no matter what the circumstances. It was a beautiful thing so see, and it changed me.
Care card Blog
If you have a loved one receiving long term care The Care Card can help ensure that their needs and preferences are always met.