All posts by Julie Boggess

Julie has worked in Aging Services for over 30 years and has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 1990. She is a Certified Master Trainer with the AGE-u-cate Training Institute and provides education and training to private and professional caregivers through her company Enlighten Eldercare. She lives in the Chicago Northwest Suburbs of Mount Prospect, IL.

The Trauma of Relocation for People with Dementia

 

 

A sudden relocation from home for a person with dementia can be traumatic.

My husband and I have made the decision to right-size our lives and sell our house of 23 years. For many years now, I have anticipated this moment wondering how I would feel.   Surprisingly, it wasn’t a hard decision to make.  However, I recognize that moving day could be a different story.

The decision to relocate is one we made being of sound mind and body.  As overwhelmed as I sometimes feel about our move, it must pale in comparison to what people with dementia feel when they are moved to a different environment.

Easing the Trauma of Relocation

My husband and I will adapt to our new surroundings.  I will find a place for all of our things and make our new house into our home.  The people I love most will be with me,  including my fur-babies.  I’ll drive to visit my friends and attend the same church.  All will be right in our world.

This mile-marker in my life makes me think long and hard about what moving day must be like for someone with dementia.  I can’t even imagine.  The sudden loss of leaving the familiar and the people you love must be horrifying.

Stop and think for a moment how you would feel if someone walked into your home and said that you had to leave for a new place that you had not chosen for yourself.

Imagine your behavior.  Would you be crying, screaming, punching, kicking?

The AGE-u-cate Training Institute program Compassionate Touch begins with looking at life through the lens of someone with dementia.   We discuss the grief and loss that often accompanies a person with dementia when they move into a long term care facility.

Realizing that people with dementia communicate with us through their behaviors is a pivotal moment in Compassionate Touch and Dementia Live Training.

So how can we ease a transition into a long term care facility for someone with dementia?  Here are a few tips:

    • If possible, set up their new space with familiar items prior to move-in day.
    • Remain positive and keep your personal emotions in check.
    • Minimize chaos on move-in day by limiting the number of family members present to no more than two.
    • Allow the staff to immediately begin bonding with your loved one.
    • Refrain from prolonged day-long visits until your loved one is settled in and comfortable.
    • When your loved one says, “Take me home” don’t say, “this is your new home.”  Rather, “I understand how hard this is, and I love you.”

Julie has worked in Aging Services for over 30 years and has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 1990. She is a Certified Master Trainer with the AGE-u-cate Training Institute. Through her company Enlighten Eldercare,  Julie provides training and educational programs on elder caregiving for family and professional caregivers.  In addition, she is an instructor and the Interim Director of Gerontology at Northern Illinois University and lives in the Chicago Northwest Suburb of Mount Prospect, IL.

Transparency in Dementia Care With Family Education

Family educational programs that are fun and engaging could help ease frustrations and tensions LTC providers experience with family members.

I read with  interest an article by Martie Moore in McKnights Long Term Care News, “Truth-Telling for True Transparency: Why Does it Matter to your Organization.”

Her research occurred with parents faced with losing a child. Two findings in her study resonate.

Family members are less likely to sue when they understand what is happening to their loved ones.  They are also far more willing to give the care providers grace and forgiveness.  In contrast, families create their own version of what occurred when information is withheld.  Consequently, these opinions are difficult to turn around.

Dementia Out of the Darkness for Families

These research findings led me to think about how much effort Long Term Care providers should put into family education about the effects of dementia.

An article in the Journal of Applied Gerontology cites that family members with loved ones in a nursing home expressed the need for more education and support for involvement within the nursing home setting.

Dementia is perplexing and complicated.   No two people are identical in the way dementia strikes and plays out.  Therefore, being transparent with family members about the myriad of realities living with dementia could prove helpful.

Being accused of neglect with statements like, “my mother has not eaten in three days.”  is troubling.  In addition, how many times have we heard, “someone stole all my mother’s clothes” only to find them shoved under the bed mattress?

Topics for family education

  • The impact of memory loss on day to day living
  • Common behaviors in persons with dementia
  • Helpful communication techniques
  • Can there be Joy with dementia?
  • Well-being and Ill-Being

Consider offering a dementia workshop/R&R afternoon for family members.  To that end, a rotation of educational sessions interspersed with opportunities for a massage, manicure, chocolate, pet therapy, fancy coffee, more chocolate, support, fun, and mutual support could go a long way!

I encourage long term care providers to explore opportunities to educate families about the realities of living with dementia.  In doing so, we might be able to improve relationships and decrease difficulties driven by a lack of understanding.

 

Julie has worked in Aging Services for over 30 years and has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 1990. She is a Certified Master Trainer with the AGE-u-cate Training Institute. Through her company Enlighten Eldercare,  Julie provides training and educational programs on elder caregiving for family and professional caregivers.  In addition, she is an instructor and the Interim Director of Gerontology at Northern Illinois University and lives in the Chicago Northwest Suburb of Mount Prospect, IL.

Joy and Dignity with Alzheimer’s

Create moments of joy for persons with Alzheimer’s and leave them with lasting positive feelings.

When telling people about my work, the response I almost always get is, “I know someone with Alzheimer’s.” A comment that usually follows is, “and it is so awful.”

Yes, having Alzheimer’s is awful. It robs people of their memories, independence, and cognitive functions. Many times, we refer to people with Alzheimer’s as “suffering” with it.

We cannot minimize the suffering, but we also shouldn’t maximize it. Finding moments of joy can help balance “suffering with” and “living with” Alzheimer’s.

Find Joy and Dignity

I participate in a networking group, “Cognitive and Memory Professionals (CAMP).” This group is lead by Dan Kuhn, Vice President of Education with All Trust Home Care in Hinsdale, IL.  The purpose of this group is to discuss current thinking about caring for persons with the many varieties of cognitive impairment.

Recently, we read and then discussed the book, “Dementia Reimagined” by Tia Powell, MD. The tag line for the book is “Building a Life of Joy and Dignity from Beginning to End.”

In my thirty-one years working in long term care, I can recite story after story of the fun and laughter shared with persons with Alzheimer’s.  The reason is this- people with Alzheimer’s forget the facts, but they remember the feelings. By making someone with Alzheimer’s feel good, loved, respected, and dignified is where joy is found.

To illustrate, a colleague at the AGE-u-cate Training Institute likened this to feelings about our kindergarten teacher. While we probably don’t remember specific conversations or interactions, we know if the teacher made us feel good or bad. We will either smile or cringe when we think back depending on the experience.

Friends, by looking through a different lens, perhaps we can discover joy lurking underneath life with Alzheimer’s.

Julie has worked in Aging Services for over 30 years and has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 1990. She is a Certified Master Trainer with the AGE-u-cate Training Institute. Through her company Enlighten Eldercare,  Julie provides training and educational programs on elder caregiving for family and professional caregivers.  In addition, she is an instructor and the Interim Director of Gerontology at Northern Illinois University and lives in the Chicago Northwest Suburb of Mount Prospect, IL.

Celebrate Seniors in Long Term Care

Long Term Care should continue to celebrate it’s seniors. In doing so, we might just change the narrative associated with long term care.

I read with great interest John O’Connor’s article “10 Bold Predictions About the Year Ahead in Long Term Care” that appeared in McKnight’s Long Term Care. Unfortunately, 9/10 of the predictions are negative.

Sadly, his predictions are not off base.  Therefore, what needs to happen to turn-around the negative narrative about nursing homes?

One possible answer I found also appeared in McKnight’s. GaryTetz discussed the idea of a growing societal appreciation of seniors. Could this be true? Is society developing a stronger appreciation for seniors?  If we genuinely valued seniors, our long term care system would not be in such a mess. Accordingly, we would have a vital and thriving long term care system that isn’t fighting for survival every day.

None of us individually has the power to change societal views or unwind the overwhelming challenges in long term care.  In addition, the negativity that swirls around the long term care industry can hijack our energies and make us forget why we work in this business.

For this reason, we must remember that we have the power and responsibility to celebrate and honor our seniors.

Changing the Long Term Care Narrative

An organization that honors seniors is “One Dream.” Located in the Chicago area, One Dream is a not for profit that was created in 2014 to bring happiness, meaning, and excitement into the lives of deserving, lower-income seniors. They make dreams come true for seniors and restores dignity and hope.

Bethesda Rehab and Senior Care, a skilled nursing community in Chicago, celebrates the creativity of their seniors by hosting an annual art exhibition, showcasing their works of fine art.

The Birches Assisted Living in Clarendon Hills, IL, has their assisted living residents write blogs for their website.  As an example, this is a tremendous way to honor the wisdom of their seniors.

In conclusion, the Long Term Care Industry should drive the narrative about the vibrant lives of their seniors.  To that end, let’s continue to celebrate our seniors more loudly and boldly than ever before!

It would be amazing to see more positives on the McKnight’s list for 2021.

Julie has worked in Aging Services for over 30 years and has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 1990. She is a Certified Master Trainer with the AGE-u-cate Training Institute. Through her company Enlighten Eldercare,  Julie provides training and educational programs on elder caregiving for family and professional caregivers.  In addition, she is an instructor and the Interim Director of Gerontology at Northern Illinois University and lives in the Chicago Northwest Suburb of Mount Prospect, IL.