For family caregivers of people with dementia, everyday activities such as bathing, dressing, eating, and conversing can morph into periods of conflict, exhaustion, and grief. For this reason, JF&CS hosted trainer Sue Blackler of Hearthstone Alzheimer’s Care on October 7. Thirty-five spouses, adult children, and other relatives and friends who care for a person with dementia participated in this free day-long training.
Because symptoms begin in middle or more typically older age, one of the challenges of dementia is that family members must reshape their expectations of someone they have known for years, or perhaps all of their lives. Understanding the brain changes that cause symptoms of dementia can help care partners adapt to a changed relationship with less frustration and blame. For this reason, Sue first helped the group appreciate the effect of brain changes on field of vision, recall of information, and the speed with which a person processes information. One of the exercises called “dementia eyes” helped the group imagine how the person with dementia sees them and the world.