Tanglewood Memory Cafe to Host Byrd Institute Speaker
September 18, 2013
Providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer's or dementia can be a stressful endeavor, however there are tools available to lighten the load.
Eileen Poiley, director of education for the University of South Florida's Health Byrd Alzheimer's Institute, will host a presentation on caregiver support at The Tanglewood Group's Memory Cafe located at Comfort Today. The session, entitled "Strategies for Managing Behaviors and Communicating with a Person with Alzheimer's" is set for 2 p.m. Thursday.
According to a Tanglewood press release, the session will focus on giving caregivers support and the tools to improve the level of care offered to their loved ones. Specifically, the session will focus on the following topics: effective approaches to responding to behaviors and to keep loved ones calm; tips and techniques to prevent or reduce behaviors and to interact with a person with Alzheimer's; how to communicate with a person with Alzheimer's and other related dementias; and cognitive loss and how it affects behavior.
According to Poiley, her focus of study has been on Alzheimer's and their caregivers for the past 26 years. When she speaks at the Memory Cafe, she hopes caregivers take away from them how to interact, communicate and how to reduce or prevent behaviors, she said.
"With the incidence of Alzheimer's as high as it is now, most people know somebody with Alzheimer's," Poiley said. "So, it will be helpful for people who would like to know how to communicate with somebody with a memory disorder because an Alzheimer's patient doesn't have the ability to talk to someone if they don't remember who you are."
The session will focus on providing practical information, and scenarios for caregivers to relate to. One example of a scenario is dealing with someone who may be having hallucinations or delusions in which they think they are many years younger.
"You could be taking care of your elderly mother, and wonder why every day at 3 p.m. she gets anxious, paces around and gets upset," Poiley said. "In her mind, she's much younger and she's looking for the children getting off the school bus. About half of all Alzheimer's patients no longer recognize their reflection in the mirror, so I've had caregivers who come home and their loved one is fearful of a stranger in the house because every time they walk in front of the mirror they see a stranger. They also may have trouble understanding the passing of time, so you tell them you're going outside for 10 minutes, but when you come back they are crying because they think you've been gone for hours.
"You may not know how to react to where they are, but what I always tell caregivers is that you have to learn to understand the Alzheimer's reality," Poiley continued. "The natural response is to try and correct people, but sometimes when its an Alzheimer's patient you have to learn to live in their reality rather than correcting them. Understanding how cognitive loss affects their behavior and how to best interact with them will give caregivers effective strategies on how to deal with the day-to-day issues that come up."
In addition to Poiley's session, open caregiver support meetings are held at the Memory Cafe on the first and third Tuesday of each month from 2-3:30 p.m. Melissa D'Agostino, LPN and corporate trainer for the Tanglewood Group is the host of the events.