Click on photo to read post.
When we first began gathering troops for Washington D.C., it was important that a variety of roles be represented. This is why a memory care director, family members, as well as a hospice director will be traveling with us to attend the Alzheimer’s Advocacy Forum. There is another integral piece, essential in caring for dementia patients - memory care aides. These are the folks on the front line taking care of our loved ones’ physical, medical, and personal needs.
They are the folks that were up all night with my father and other residents who had the stomach flu last night - they are the ones that are sick with the virus today. These selfless individuals dance my dad to the bathroom and feed many of our residents every bite of their meals. They administer their medications, give them showers, have the ladies looking like China dolls, and make sure my dad’s music is on when he sits in his recliner.
I do not have to venture far out of the safety and comfort of Dad’s home at memory care to be reminded - communication with dementia patients does not come naturally. Our trip to the emergency room this week highlighted the fact that many folks, even in the medical profession, do not have a clue how to relate to or respect an individual with cognitive loss functions.
Those working in the memory care profession learn to enter their patient’s world.
An aide stopped me yesterday to ask why my father had gone to the hospital. I explained what had happened and said, “Be glad it was your day off. Dad refused to get out of the car when we brought him back. After an hour and a half we determined the fire department would have to be called.” The aide’s response? “You have my cell number, why didn’t you call me? I would have come up and helped!”
In my Easter blog, I shared a similar story which occurred last year at my home. The difference is this time there was a stream of loving aides who joined our parade. Caring individuals who know and love my dad. One said, “I will fix him a plate - he loves cheeseburgers!” Another aide said, “Drive him around and come back.” “Turn on some music!” I chuckle remembering another friend, the aide who said, “Judy, you didn’t bring him back without stopping at the ice cream shop, did you?”
These folks get it. They understand the unique needs of Alzheimer’s patients. Even so, we all are eager to learn. Many of the aides at our memory care are actively pursuing education - some of our family members sponsor this endeavor. Yesterday an aide asked me what we planned to accomplish in D.C. When I explained what we are doing she said, “Tell them we need training and support.”
I would add - this much needed profession also deserves to be paid well.
I wish we could take more of them with us so they could explain to our leaders what their job entails and the support that is needed to accomplish it. Dad would not be keen on this idea; however, he and his buddies have an agenda of their own which deserves support. Thanks to the commitment of our community, one aide will be going with us this year.
The voice of caregivers will be heard in Washington D.C.
A patient aide at my father’s memory care will be traveling to Washington D.C. with us. They believe that dementia is definitely a learning process each and every day. “You really have to get to know the residents and their families - know the history of the residents.”
Dementia needs more attention and believes training is key in quality patient care. Considering that 5.4 million people currently live with Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. - this aide and coworkers hold an integral part of the puzzle.
#StoneBenches #TheyHaveAName #EndAlz #AlzForum #WashingtonDC #Caregivers #CaregivingTips #HOPE