Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How 'Bout a Cookie?

It's tough to say goodbye and leave your kids at camp- and you KNOW they are going to have a blast, make new friends and have wonderful new experiences. How much more difficult is it to move your parent into a senior community? Regardless of whether or not your parent is moving into a "senior retirement community" or assisted living, or even skilled nursing, you worry about them much like sending your child to kindergarten or summer camp. Who will they sit with at meals? Will the others be kind to them? Will they participate in activities?

I pray for patience, love and kindness in the heart of every person who works with our elderly. I hope they look at each resident and picture their own mom or dad in that situation.

When your parent has dementia, there is the extra pain that each day may bring a fresh volley of questions- when am I going "home"? Where am I? And the separation begins anew each time.

I wish I had many words of wisdom to impart about how to make this easier. What worked with my Mom (who had Alzheimer's) does not necessarily work with my Dad (who has Parkinson's dementia.) I do know that engaging your parent in a simple activity that still captures their attention- perhaps a Seinfeld episode, an old musical DVD, enjoying a favorite snack, or perhaps dialing an old friend for a short conversation- creates a pleasant diversion when it is time for you to leave. Most staff in memory units are skilled in these diversions. Ask them for help!

BOTTOM LINE: Just as you might with a child, be creative with diversions at the end of visits with your memory-challenged parent.

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