Alzheimer’s Advocate, Mal Allard, spends the afternoon with McLean caregivers, staff and families to talk about Dementia.
“Go with the flow” was the message of Mal Allard,R.N., Alzheimer's consultant, Alzheimer's advocate and founder of a company called Their Real World, to a group of over 20 caregivers, staff and families at The New McLean on June 18.
As Mal began the meeting with a non-sensical agenda, talk of cancer and diabetes, and news of a dead bird and mention of being in the wrong room, many audience members looked around in confusion. Then as Mal walked over to a table full of listeners and sat down, seemingly waiting for the speaker to begin, things got more awkward.
Once back at the podium, she asked, “Is anyone confused?” For those of us who had not left thinking we were in the wrong room, of course we were. “Well that’s how I imagine someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s feels on a regular basis.”
Explaining that folks with memory impairment may comprehend half of the words that are spoken, so they are always feeling confused. They may also feel like they are constantly being tested, especially when we ask them questions they don’t know the answer to, or unable to give the expected response.
She explained that our role as caregivers is to help re-route their confusion, even if it’s only for a moment. We need to consider their immediate point in time and create a positive environment for them. A positive environment can be established in a matter of seconds, with mention of a loved one, or a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.” Creating this up-beat environment that may only last for a few seconds helps bring smile and positive emotions to those with dementia.
“Their care plan is us,” Mal concluded. “We need to jump on board with dementia like any other disease – unlike cancer or diabetes, there is no medical cure, or surgery that might help. Their care plan is us. Help them live a seemingly normal life.”