Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Dementia decreasing--let us give thanks

According to findings of a team at the University of Michigan (JAMA Internal Medicine), despite the rise of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, which are thought to contribute to dementia, the percentage of Americans with these various memory disorders has dropped 3%.

Interestingly, they also found that those with the most years of education had the lowest chances of developing dementia. (Today's seniors are more likely to have a HS diploma than a decade ago.)

However, the number of seniors is going up (Boomers) so the overall burden of dementia is still rising.

So if you have someone at the Thanksgiving table with this condition, Rebecca Aline, LCSW, supervisory clinical social worker at Houston Methodist's Nantz National Alzheimer Center, recommends creating new traditions, instead of insisting on old (such as Grandma doing the cooking).

--Keep celebrations simple. Engage the senses--cookie baking, decorations, church.

--Communicate beforehand to explain how the person may have changed from a year ago.

--Realize the person has changed, so the holiday celebration may be a little different, too.

--Focus on new memories.Grieve for old times, but try to create new times.

--Be sure to follow doctor's orders and get the person their meds on time, provide rest periods, and reduce stress.

When Mom was at the holiday table, sometimes someone would say, "Mom? Remember when..." And then stop. Not a great phrase in these circumstances.

Just let the warmth and love come through. This people never forget.

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