Meeting Alzheimer's: Learning to Communicate and Connect
- For Family and Informal Caregivers
As the numbers of persons with Alzheimer's and other diseases of dementia increase, the stress experienced by their caregivers is becoming overwhelming to individuals and more evident to society. Under the burden of this stress, both caregivers and persons with dementia suffer. According to the Alzheimer's Association, one way to reduce caregiver stress is to "accept changes as they occur." Accordingly, research indicates that the most effective coping technique for reducing caregiver stress is acceptance.
The primary goal of Meeting Alzheimer's is to encourage family and informal caregivers to adopt an attitude of "Yes," which we interpret as an attitude of Acceptance and Affirmation. Combining the gentle spiritual practice of accepting reality (versus denial or resistance) and the energizing improvisational practice of saying "Yes!" to what is, caregivers will discover creative ways to reduce conflict and enjoy more peaceful and meaningful relationships with their loved ones.
This compassionate program teaches caregivers how to implement the recommended interventions for addressing the challenges and stressors experienced by Alzheimer's caregivers by:
1. Combining basic information about Alzheimer's disease and quality of life issues for persons with Alzheimer's,
2. Teaching caregivers to communicate in ways that promote self-esteem and dignity for all,
3. Offering spirituality as a way to find healing in the face of an incurable illness,
4. Providing caregivers with the opportunity to acknowledge their feelings of loss and grief in a safe, supportive environment,
5. Showing caregivers a way to experience joy by celebrating the beauty of living in this precious moment with their loved ones.
Caregivers who attend Meeting Alzheimer's will develop a deeper understanding of their loved ones with Alzheimer's; and they will learn and practice skills for:
- Improving communications and interactions with their loved ones
- Enhancing the quality of their own lives and the lives of their loved ones
- Reducing the stress and distress of caregiving
- Creating healing moments, laughter and joy while connecting with their loved ones.
The Healing Moments staff has studied about and lived with Alzheimer's disease and other diseases of dementia, and through our experiences and witness we have learned that when we look beneath memory loss and the inability to reason, persons with Alzheimer's and dementia can reveal to us the true value of Life: theirs AND ours. The value we have discovered and witnessed in the lives of persons with Alzheimer's and dementia is the foundation of the our programs.
From the perspective of love and respect for persons with Alzheimer's, our workshops and support groups invite caregivers to say "Yes" to Life with Alzheimer's. The program includes conversation about Healing vs. Cure; about Hope for Healing and Transformation; about our capacity to make a difference in the lives of Persons with Alzheimer's; and about their capacity to make a difference in our lives. Further topics include the possibility of deepening relationships with Persons with Alzheimer's up until their last breath.
"Alzheimer's Disease can be very isolating. Healing Moments is a joyous approach to finding the support that all caregivers need on their journey."
~ Virginia Sinkoski, Alzheimer's Association MA/NH Chapter and Kathryn Hedgepeth, VP, Educational Programs and Regional Offices, Alzheimer's Association MA/NH Chapter
Leonora, the primary caregiver for her father, attended a Meeting Alzheimer's program for family caregivers. When we spoke on the phone, prior to the workshop, she wept. During participant introductions at the workshop, she wept. Her stress and her distress were painfully obvious. By the end of the workshop, Leonora radiated joy and empowerment. Her comments after the workshop follow:
One week after attending the Meeting Alzheimer's workshop, Leonora wrote:
"I'm still feeling great - very optimistic and upbeat regarding the challenges I am facing with my father. I also have been giving my brother some pointers on how to address questions my father asks and the way he acts/reacts, so I'm able to help my father, my brother, and me all at the same time!"
One month after attending the workshop, Leonora wrote:
"I'm doing very well with my father. I'm enjoying his company more and more. I'm noticing he does much better when I show concern about his feelings. It actually seems he remembers more."
Two years after the workshop, Leonora wrote:
"My father is declining. He can no longer walk (due to the Parkinson's) and when he talks nothing makes sense, but we just give him the respect and care that he deserves and make sure he's happy. We typically pull up a chair right next to his, hold his hand, and talk and laugh. It seems all he really wants is to go to work! I always have to remind him it's Saturday or Sunday and he doesn't have to work on those days. He sings a lot and speaks in Italian now, which sadly, I don't understand. I tell him "Could you please speak English because I don't understand Italian' and all he does is laugh. He's very cute. I also found that when he wants to get out of bed in the middle of the night that I pull the blankets up, adjust his pillows and tell him 'Now please stay in bed and stay nice and warm so that you don't get a cold.' He eats it up - he really enjoys the attention."
For more information or to schedule a Healing Moments presentation or workshop, please contact:
So those with allergies and sensitivities may attend in good health, all Healing Moments programs are Fragrance Free. Please refrain from wearing perfume, cologne, aftershave or scented care products.