Truman Show for Dementia?!

The Lantern is creating assisted living and memory care facilities that break down the barriers between reality and fantasy. As their website and the below video show, these memory care communities are attempting to recreate entire neighborhoods underneath one florescent-sky roof. Looking at  their promo video's, one can't help but to feel like its all an Ohio version of the Truman Show. Are there mailmen? A boy who breaks window panes? Alley Cats? Senior care is consistently spoken of to be in a "transitional" period, but I'm hoping this is not where it's leading. The concept is not only dangerous for memory care residents (imagine a moment of lucidity, only to realize your clouds are painted panels of fluorescent lights and the path outside your home leads to a wall painted green), but its disrespectful to the person with the disease.

We are often told to "enter into their world" but this becomes us attempting to create their imagination for them. Aging in dignity doesn't look like this. Branded as a "home inside a home" would allow me to respect the idea more, but this version seems callous and mean. The devils advocate inside me says, "These are all in Ohio. Weather conditions don't allow for seniors to have year-round neighborhoods to walk through like the southern states. This is an answer to that." I still don't buy it. Operational costs must be off the charts for these places and logistically it must be crazy attempting to keep up the facade. In the end, I think this is one concept that won't be around by 2020.

Memory Care + Feline Care

Catalina Care has found a way to mix memory care with everyone's favorite pet: kittens. Located in Oro Valley Arizona, Catalina Care is a memory care only location, owned by Frontier Management LLC. The skeptic in me wants to say, "Playing with kittens. That's a one-trick-pony! They just have a great marketing team." The truth is, this place has only received its recognition due to its continued positive record. A 2017 Arizona Daily Star favorite, it's clear they're doing their best to provide topnotch memory care. Senior Advisor puts them at 3 stars. Digging deeper the complaints stem from a now let-go administrator, or trivial things that don't put residents at risk or endanger them. I've worked at great communities and horrible ones. This place clearly is doing its best to stay in the 80+% range of good communities. 

In any case, take a look, enjoy positive vibes, and consider asking a memory care administrator you may know if this is an option in your town. 

For more information on Catalina Springs, you can find them here.

 

Does Nana Remember Me? Memory Loss and keys to working with it.

People may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
— Maya Angelou

Grandma no longer remembers your name. She has no recollection of baking sweets every Christmas with you or that you always shared the first piece of cake from the oven. She may not remember the day, where she is, or who she is surrounded by, but be sure that her entire memory is not yet lost.  Before you visit grams, prepare yourself for the battle you are about to walk into. Expect the worst, hope for the best, and bring tools to help everyone who's going to be there.

   Did she love knitting? Bring some knitting needles and thread. Did she have a song she loved? Load it up on your smartphone and bring a speaker or headphones. My grandma was an accountant and she loves going through addition and subtraction questions with me (ex. "Whats 2 +3? 3+7? 10+5?). She lights up once she hears my voice, although her eyes stare blankly at my face. She has no idea who the bearded gentleman in front of her is, but the more I talk, the more I refresh stories of the past to her. Being with my babushka (grandmother in Russian) is never about correcting her forgetfulness, nor is it about going ten rounds of 20 questions with her. In my particular case, it's about reciting her favorite bible verses and children's rhymes. I can begin a rhyme and halfway through babushka is matching me word for word. It's familiar and warm for her - exactly what she needs. Her smile has nothing to do with what I say and so much more about what I do. The same can be said about her frustration. When she's clearly agitated at me, its never "What did I say" and more, "What influenced this emotion?" Did I wake her from a nap? Am I annoying her so she walks a bit farther instead of sitting? Am I trying to get her to take medication she doesn't like?

   When asking yourself, "Does she remember me", change the focus from "me" to "she". Ask simply, "Does she remember?" Does she remember that vacation to Israel? No. Does she remember how Israel mad her feel? Perhaps. Bring up the broad to feel the deep. "Do you like Israel?" is a much easier question then, "Do you remember that vacation?" She doesn't have all of her memories anymore. The ones you shared together are now your responsibility to keep. "Does she remember me?" Staying patient and listening to all the details has shown me that babushka may not remember "Misha her grandson", but she remembers a grandson who loves her unconditionally. Her silent squeeze of my hand, her need to adamantly talk to me in circles, her peace to just sit quietly with me at times: These are all actions once takes with someone they trust and rely upon. Look for memory deeper than what she says - look at what she does. After all, her language is not in words, but in how she feels. Speak to her in love and she will answer in the same feeling. 

Before seeing Nana...

Call To Action: See how many times you can make her laugh.

Call To Action: See how many times you can make her laugh.

It's key to understand she is in a new and beautiful chapter in her life. The tables have shifted. It's now time for you to give back to the woman who has given you so much. Visiting grams is now about making her feel as normal as possible. Dive deep into who she has been to see who she wants to still feel like in this new place she finds herself.

Comment below with any experiences, relatable stories, or advice. We'd love to hear it.

  

 

 

9 Things To Do With Alzheimer's Gramps

Alzheimer's sucks. Thats just a fact of life like grandmas' always being slightly racist and grandpas' wearing plaid shirts. The stupid disease doesn't mean you have to lock up grandpa and forget about the guy. Here's a list of some awesome things that you can do that will make both his and your day amazing.

1. RECORD GRAMPS

That funky chicken dance needs to be on your phone.

That funky chicken dance needs to be on your phone.

 How old was he when he first tried whiskey? Does he regret anything? What's his definition of love? I promise you it will be more valuable then any lunch photo's taking up space on your iPhone. Make sure you have 4gb of space for an hour of time. Need help with questions? Check out our list (shameless plug).

2. LUNCH

Remember his teeth

Remember his teeth

Diners: The great relic of America's past. Take gramps to the local eatery. He's probably going to want to pay (free meal), and you'll get the chance to chat it up with someone three times your age. Were the 50's really like Grease with Travolta? What was his grandpa like? Grab a milkshake, fries, and a burger: find all that out. 

3. PHOTO SHOOT

Put GPa in his element!

Put GPa in his element!

Smarthphone, a couple props, and a willing model: thats all you need. Snap away and make him a star. This also doubles as a great budget Christmas idea. Print and frame some awesome shots for family members. If he's really into it, theme it up and shoot an "Awesome Gramps" Calendar spread. For ideas, check out @hipsterbabushka (shameless plug)

4. SNAPCHAT & ICECREAM

POTUS is a proud grandpa as well.

POTUS is a proud grandpa as well.

Let's be honest - everyone loves snapchat filters. Don't have the app? Crawl out from under the rock and download it just for an afternoon of laughing till you cry. Giving hardcore gramps a crown of flowers will be the highlight of your families group text's and pairing it with an ice cream adventure is like Christmas. He's diabetic? Then its off to the pizza shop.

5. REACTION VIDEO

Hairdryer...priceless

Hairdryer...priceless

Youtube is everything that is right (and wrong) with the internet. Find a video gramps would question humanity for (pineapple apple pen?) set up your laptops front facing camera, and allow the magic to follow. Just stay away from those scary shock-value videos. No one wants a heart attack.

6. TACO TUESDAY

Grandpa + Hipster Taco's = best food review ever. Our generation has invested organic water and his generation still remembers polio. Having him try tofu for the first time will have to be a moment to record.

7. HOBBY TIME

Whatever gramps loves, cut four hours out of your week and ask him to teach you. Contrary to popular belief, the internet can't teach you everything and he probably has a trick or two up his sleeve you won't find anywhere else. 

8. THROWBACK THURSDAY

We need to bring back this whole look

We need to bring back this whole look

 Dust off that old album of his and ask him about where that picture on the beach was taken. LAYOUT will let you post a pic of him, then and now. 50+ years can put miles on a guy, but lets be real, you can only hope to look as good as he does at his age.

9. JAZZ NIGHT

All is fun till someone breaks a hip

All is fun till someone breaks a hip

Yelp a restaurant that has some live music, plead with your parents to get everyone there, and watch the sparks fly. Live music, your grandma in pearls, an da good dinner is a perfect time to egg him on to showing off his moves. No one dancing? Take your grandma's hand and be the first one to hit the floor. Seeing her shuffle should get his 25 year old self ready to go and take your place.

Basically....

Alzheimer's doesn't mean he's out of his mind, it just means life has gotten hazy. Everyday is a gift with your grandpa and its great to remind him. Making him feel like a grandpa still will make you feel like you're doing "grandkid" well. Make him laugh, make him smile, and you're job is done. If you have any other idea's, comment below and we'll add them to the archive of awesome Alz activities.