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Family Caregivers Share Challenges and Coping Skills

December 15th, 2015

Are you a family caregiver? I am. In fact, With A Little Help’s average staff age is 51 so several of our professional caregivers and office staff members also have family caregiving experience. Understanding both situations strengthens empathy for the natural differences in perspective of client and client’s family. I originally conceived of this blog, featuring the challenges and coping mechanisms of four family caregivers, because I was curious about the issues other people encounter in family caregiving and I hoped to gain understanding that would help all readers caring for a loved one. What I found was that these narratives helped me as much in my professional caregiving career as they have in the care of my own mother. I hope you enjoy these four honest and inspiring stories.

andrewAndrew Cohen, of Coho Accounting, provides care for his mother. His biggest challenge was preparing emotionally for her journey into dementia. A bright, resourceful and independent spirit, his mother learned she had Parkinson’s 12 1/2 years ago but kept it in abeyance for 9 years during which Andrew was able to prepare himself for Parkinson’s inevitable physical progressions.  Not all Parkinson’s patients develop dementia but when Andrew’s mother started experiencing symptoms it put added stress on their ability to negotiate her care and, at times, strained their communication. Where does he turn for support? “I try to remember the good times,” Andrew told me. He also receives important guidance from a dear friend who is a hospice nurse and talks to friends about their own family caregiving situations…his “ad hoc support group.”  Most remarkably, he founded his business, Coho Accounting, as a result of his experience with his mother’s need for fiduciary support. He works now with client families going through situations similar to his own. What has he learned? Three main things: Really listen. Don’t disagree with your mother (or with anyone experiencing dementia). Be willing to have difficult and honest conversations. Read the rest of this entry »

Seattle Walk to End Alzheimer’s August 29th. Register Today!

August 19th, 2015

This guest post is authored by McKenna Grimsby, Marketing Chair for the Alzheimer’s Association Washington Chapter Seattle Walk.

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The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide and 16 locations in our region, this inspiring event calls on participants of all ages and abilities to reclaim the future for millions. Read the rest of this entry »

All Present Song Circle Starting Up January 28 2016

July 3rd, 2015

all present adMost artists know that a performance is authentic when they can stay in the moment.  Athletes too understand that power when they talk about “staying within oneself.”  It’s that quality of presence in the moment that gives Elena Louise Richmond’s song circle for Early Stage Memory Loss, All Present, its name and moving impact. “All Present is just that. It’s just for now,” writes Richmond in her blog, All Present Almost Past. “It’s not for a performance later; it’s not to record and listen to. It’s just for that hour and a half when we sing and we can’t stop smiling at each other.”

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Members of the Song Circle

All Present  meets 8 weeks a quarter at Greenwood Senior Center under the auspices of OK Chorale director Elena Louise Richmond and her assistant/copy editor, Susan, Susan’s husband, Mike, and “the other Susan!” Read the rest of this entry »

Greenwood Senior Center Features Progressive Early Stage Memory Loss Programming

June 26th, 2015

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Carin Mack

You probably think of Seattle as a national leader in tech, bio tech, aviation, and, of course the standardized cup of coffee…but did you know Seattle leads the nation in comprehensive, innovative dementia programming? Pockets of programming have been available in the city since the late 90’s but recent expansions in services complement one another and form an outstanding network of support for all stages of memory loss. Seattle social worker Carin Mack stewards and develops Early Stage Memory Loss (ESML) programs for people in the early to mid stages of dementia.  I spoke with Mack about her ESML programs and Seattle’s progressive dementia services.

“It takes money, time and structure to build programming,” Carin Mack explained. Leveraging her experience and vision gleaned from nearly 40 years of social work  Mack gradually built the structure for her nationally unparalled hub of ESML services at Greenwood Senior Center with steadfast support from Phinney Neighborhood Association. At the core are: the Gathering Place, a wholistically designed weekly program of cognitive and cultural enrichment components with exercise, Piano and Music Making sessions, support groups for ESML care partners and spouses, the professionally facilitated song circle “All Present,” and a book group at the local library. While medicine searches for solutions to memory loss, programs such as these are crucial in keeping minds engaged, improving self esteem, and lifting awareness in the community. “Alzheimer’s is nothing to fear. I am a loving person; I am a happy person. I have fun, friends, and family, and that gives me joy,” group pic gatheringCeCe, a Gathering Place attendee writes in an awareness handout created by members of the program. Read the rest of this entry »

Award Winning MemoryCare Plays Come To Seattle

April 27th, 2015

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The MemoryCare Plays, three award winning one act plays focusing on the challenges of dementia, come to Seattle for the first time in May. The plays, “Steering Into the Skid,” “In the Garden,” and “Riding The Waves,” are directed by Taproot Theatre’s Artistic Director, Scott Nolte and will run two nights, May 8 and 9. All proceeds support arts programs serving individuals with memory loss and their caregivers. Arts and music are unique in their ability to promote healing, connection and purpose through all stages of dementia. Read the rest of this entry »

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