(Bend, Oregon. September 2013) Todd and Lori Sensenbach, owners of Home Instead Senior Care serving Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook Counties, taught the Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias Family Caregiver Training to more than 40 people on September 18, 2013, at the Partners in Care office in Bend. Family and friends caring for those with dementia were encouraged and received creative resources to assist them as they provide care to their loved ones. Caregivers learned about the disease processes and were taught to understand that dementia is organ failure, the failing organ being the brain. Understanding that our loved ones are not capable of the functions of a healthy brain, including memory, judgment, decision making and behavior, helps develop empathy for the process and frames in a new light the day-to-day frustrations that we experience. By learning how to collect our loved one’s life story and really understand who this person was, it helps us better understand who they are today when they can’t explain this to us anymore.
Using the facts we know of their life story we can incorporate care techniques unique to our loved one. We were encouraged to “put on our detective hat” based on what we know from their history, as well as examining their environment to figure out what may be causing them to be upset and then modify the surroundings and situations based on what we discover. We were also encouraged to keep our loved ones as active and engaged as possible, including tailoring activities based on those things that have always been intriguing to them and their current capabilities. Tips were included in this class to help everyone “stack the deck” in their favor to deter this disease by maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. It is so important for the person caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia to care for themselves in order to best care for their loved one.