Thursday, February 17, 2011

Living In the Moment: Highlights from "Think About It" Conference

Reagan by
Today while we were looking at booths at the conference artist Toni Trotti painted someone upside down and when he finished it, he turned it so you could see who it was! I blogged about him here on February 6th.

Dr. Arny Bush, from USF, spoke on "So What Is Dementia Anyway". She covered many terms simply and visually. I learned that with Early-Onset dementia (before age 65) the decline can be fast, whereas the older patient can have a slower decline especially if they early receive medicine such as Exelon/Aricept and Namenda as my husband has. At some point these medicines might not matterl. Early Stage such as my husband and Jake have shows functional impairment:
  • Difficulty organizing and expressing thoughts (DH or Jake do not seem to have this although we have difficulty expressing things to them simply.)
  • Memory loss of recent events (However my husband does remember the crash and our camper. His photo albums on Facebook help him with recent events also.)
  • Difficulty with problem solving (DH shows no interest now in carpentry and the last thing he made, a bird feeder, seemed complicated to him.) 
  • Difficulty with complex tasks. (His long-term memory helps him still, but he no longer wishes to handle our finances which he turned over to me when I retired from full-time school teaching.)
  • Getting lost or misplacing belongings. (Keys, cell phones, yes. Getting lost--no. He used a GPS when we had two cars up until two months ago.)
  • Personality changes. (Some days he shows Sundowner's Syndrome and gets very upset. So far I am the only one that has witnessed this.) 
Dr. Bush concluded with what she observes 1) "unconditional love" of the caregivers and 2) "living in the moment" of the patients. I have been so concerned with being proactive, that at times I do not enjoy my husband's humor and each day. I need to focus more on each moment and live in the moment.

Dr. Megan Janke, also from USF,  spoke about "Leisure Activities as a Means of Connection and Stimulation". I feel so good about going camping now with my husband--wonderful for DH and myself and also to share this connection with Sally and Jake. Leisure benefits the caregiver as well. Dr. Janke also passed out 101 Things to Do With a Person With Alzheimer's and I also found in on line here when I came home.

Brad Beatty spoke on stress management. Accept the new normal he said. He wisely told us to bring meaning to the situation and do not ask why but to what ends.

Cudos to Stephanie Thompson of the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association and her volunteers for putting on such an outstanding conference for us caregivers for free.

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