Last night the Alzheimer Society of Toronto (@AlzToronto) hosted a workshop at their office led by a social worker & entitled Finding Humour & Joy In Caregiving. And because I am a social media NUT – seriously – I decided to join in on their live Twitter chat using the hashtag #FindingJoy. Through out the hour they made some very good points which I would like to share & elaborate on. As a PSW, I’ve come across so many varying degrees on dementia that the list would take eons to type. Just like the individuals they affect, the disease is extremely unique and has personalities of it’s own. I’ve found that getting to know your client & the basic facts of dementia and what it is can go a long way in helping one to cope with caring.

To look at the lighter side of caregiving, we should treat the experience as a gift, a chance to improve life for our family

I don’t look at being a PSW as anything LESS than a gift. I feel so privileged to help these people & their families, in turn learning and improving on my skills as a caregiver.

To keep positive, stay realistic about your abilities as a caregiver & seek support to help with your tasks.

Guys. We’re not magic makers. We can’t snap our fingers to make something happen. We are one person. Sometimes a group of persons and there is only SO MUCH we can do at one time. It isn’t worth it to stress yourself out. The person you are caring for won’t benefit nor will you. One step at a time.

To make caregiving easier, try to understand the meaning behind the behaviour of someone with dementia to see what they need.

At this point in the game, most dementia patients aren’t capable of telling you with logical conversation how they’re feeling. They’re not yelling to purposely piss you off. If someone with dementia spits out their food, they’re not doing it with malicious intent (yes, I’ve actually heard people speak like this). Maybe they aren’t hungry anymore. Maybe they don’t LIKE it. Pay attention to their behaviours to learn what they mean.

Humor can reduce the embarrassment of mistakes and awkward moments for a person with dementia.

This was one of my favourite Tweets. Someone with dementia – especially those who are still somewhat cognitively aware of what is going on – tend to feel embarrassed of their memory loss or bladder control. Don’t emphasize this. They know what it is. They don’t need YOU to point it out. If they mention it to you, act like it’s no big deal. Perhaps suggest that this has happened to you so that they can have something to relate to. Sounds silly, but it works. As a 29 year old I can’t tell you how many bladder problems I’ve been able to “relate” to.

Follow me on Twitter @apswlife
To learn more about workshops and other programs offered by the Alzheimer Society Of Toronto, follow them on Twitter @AlzToronto

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