It started with Charlie....

I became an advocate of better training of caregivers when I realized that Dementia was not normal aging or just getting older and forgetful. I remember, one night working as a homecare nurse, I was sitting with a new client in his home waiting for our overnight caregiver to arrive.  Charlie was a pleasant older man who had just been discharged home from the hospital. He walked with a walker but seemed to do pretty well on the surface.  As I sat with Charlie, we began to talk and he asked me, "What night is it tonight?"  I told him it was Friday.  "Big night in Cincinnati", was his response.  I had made him a large bowl of popcorn, and he was digging his hands through the warm snack and said," I love popcorn. My Mom use to make me popcorn balls."  He smiled and sighed, "I love popcorn."  A few minutes went by, the TV was talking, and Charlie looked at me as if I had just gotten there and said, "what night is it?" I told him again it was Friday. "Big night in Cincinnati," he said with enthusiasm.  He looked down at the bowl of popcorn and you guessed it, repeated, " I love popcorn. My Mom use to make me popcorn balls."  He smiled and sighed, "I love popcorn." 

 This circle of sentences went around about five times and I never corrected him but found myself looking for something to do to escape for a minute. I did not understand this circular conversation, but there was certainly a short circuit somewhere in his mind.  I excused myself and went to the kitchen where I could still see him but busy myself by washing the dishes.  That was when I began my quest to study and research Dementia and Alzheimer's.  I made a commitment to educate myself and the people around me.  It was through this education that I could see the signs and realized my mother was showing symptoms of this dreaded brain disease too.  Then I was all in!

It's a brain disease and they are doing the best they can. We need to educate ourselves so we become part of the solution to their care needs not part of the problem.  I hope you find inspiration, encouragement, and a new knowledge about memory care as you tune in to my blog.  It will take effort and a humble heart to really serve their needs, but it is a wonderful thing when you connect with that special person who is in there and counting on your help. 

Teresa Youngstrom