Independence and Memory Loss
Summer is here, and come July, we ready ourselves to celebrate Independence Day. Every year on July 4th our country commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Alzheimer’s disease threatens the independence of many. Not only does it threaten the autonomy and independence of the one diagnosed, but it also demands increasing interdependence among family caregivers as they strive to care for and protect their loved one.
For many people with Alzheimer’s, an eventual loss of independence is inevitable. The effects of the disease, which include memory loss, confusion, difficulty communicating, and emotional disturbances, make it difficult for people suffering from the disease to care for themselves. Despite the need for help from caregivers or loved ones, people with Alzheimer’s greatly benefit from maintaining a degree of independence, especially in the early stages of the disease.
Remaining active and engaged with daily life is essential to preserving a sense of meaning and self-worth among Alzheimer’s sufferers. A sudden transition from complete independence to complete dependency can lead to depression and worsen symptoms of the disease. Promoting independence for as long as possible creates a gradual transition from independent living to dependence on caregivers. Making sure to involve people with Alzheimer’s in daily life to the extent that their condition allows is a healthy way to foster a personal sense of meaning and maintain a good quality of life.
Here are some ways you can promote independence for your loved one:
- Do things together – try to do things with your loved one rather than for them when offering assistance.
- Focus on things your loved one can do, rather than those they can’t.
- Offer help in a supportive way.
- Try to be patient, allowing plenty of time for tasks and offering reassurance, praise, and encouragement.
- Break down tasks into smaller, more manageable steps.
- Try to adapt tasks to take account of particular difficulties. If your loved one is happy, keep doing the things they enjoy – just differently. Focus more on the process rather than the completion of a task.
At Kemper House, we strive to support residents’ remaining abilities for as long as possible, to encourage independence in areas where individuals can still maintain control. This starts first thing in the morning with self-care and continues into mealtimes, activities, etc. Encouraging independence is one of our best bets for maintaining dignity and self-worth among our residents.
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Thank you so much for the loving care and compassion you showed to our mother and to us during her stay and death. We know, she was not the most compliant person, buy you showed her the same loving care no matter what. We were blessed to have her in your care. You are truly all angels. Thank you again!
I want to take the opportunity to thank you for the wonderful care you gave my dad the last 5 1/2 months of his life. If he couldn’t be at home with my mother, you were the next closest thing.
Thanks to the staff for your ongoing care of my Dad. Your patience, kindness and caring for Dad help my Mom and I rest easy knowing he is in good hands at all times. Thanks for everything you do for him!
Every time my family visits each week for their porch visit mom looks FABULOUS! You and your whole organization really understand what to do with the residents and I have seen an amazing change. You are a blessing to our family.
Thank you also for the very touching and beautiful memorial service and luncheon honoring Mom and Dad. It meant a lot to us to have all of you share your remembrances of them.
Marianne & family
We greatly appreciate all that you have done for my Dad and for us. Your compassion, dedication, and gentle ways were a tremendous help. No one ever said to us, “It will be okay,” instead you said “We’ll help you.”
Alzheimer’s and dementia are formidable foes and they strip the individuals stricken of all of their dignity, yet you and your staff work diligently to reinstate the dignity and you do it quite successfully.
This is to thank you and all the Kemper staff who organized the memorial service last Friday. The content was perfectly appropriate and many of the participants expressed compliments to the kitchen staff for the great luncheon.