Ways to create moments of joy for someone with Alzheimer's

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ABILENE, Texas (KRBC) - More than 5 million people in the United States live with Alzheimer's and with September being World Alzheimer's Month, we take a look at ways you can spend time with your loved-one who has Alzheimer's or dementia.

When it comes to people living with Alzheimer's or dementia, it is important to focus on creating moments of joy and helping them maintain person-hood and dignity.

"We're 7,000 strong," Mary Gauldin said.

Mary Gauldin is a certified dementia practitioner at Windcrest Health and Rehabilitation.

"A lot of times people think people with Alzheimer's and or dementia, can't do the things that they used to do and that's so very untrue. It's all about modification, encouragement, interaction and being involved," Gauldin said.

She explained people are always people, no matter what disease they have.

"We need to remember who they were. We tend to cling on to that, so it's good to remember who they were, but we really need to celebrate who they're becoming," Gauldin said.

Gauldin said we also need to remember they are still able.

"If they like to sew, it's my responsibility as the activities director to make sure we can allow them to do the activity as long as they can," Gauldin said. "Purchasing ergonomic crochet hooks and needles. They're bigger, it has a grip on them so it doesn't hurt them with their arthritis, helping them with easy patterns. If they get to the point where they actually can't crochet or knit but they can loop together string, they can loop yarn balls and help with things like that."

At Windcrest, the residents are grouped with the same social, physical and cognitive ability, which creates a good environment for them, in which the staff base the activities as well.

"For instance, for arts and crafts, we've been making these candles, for a craft show we're having in October," Gauldin said. "On unit 1, I may not have to do much preparation, I do more preparation for unit 2. I'll have the beans actually in the cup. I may have the ribbon already cut and probably actually put the chicken wire on for them. And then on unit 3, they are mixed-functioning and they are a lot of energy over there."

If the activities do not work, it is most likely because you are setting them up for failure.

"If you set them up for success, they are going to have a more enjoyable time," Gauldin said.

'The 2017 Walk to end Alzheimer's' is happening this Saturday, September 16 at Rose Park Senior Center.

The opening ceremony begins at 9 a.m. and the two-mile walk begins at 9:30 a.m.

If you are interested registering for this year's walk, click here.

If you would like learn about how to help your loved-one with Alzheimer's it is encouraged to contact your local Alzheimer's association. They host a support group which will help people be comfortable around other people going through the same thing.

Gauldin said, a lot of times they can become isolated, be depressed or have anxiety even if they are in their home and the caregiver can really struggle with how to meet that need, so this support group helps. The caregiver and person with Alzheimer's or dementia both go to the meeting.

As stated earlier, on Friday, October 20 the Windcrest Health and Rehab will be hosting a craft show, featuring a pumpkin walk, plants for sale by the and crafts that the residents have made. This will go to the walk for Alzheimer's. Donations will be accepted until October 31.


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