Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Reflections of a Past Caregiver

On the eve of my father’s passing in 2005, I reflect on how much joy and sadness were combined in caring for my dad after my mother suddenly passed away.  

My 82 year old father had Parkinson’s disease, a form of dementia.  

I was 30 years younger than my mother, who was 82 at the time of her death. I can only imagine how difficult the demands and struggles of caring for him must have been on her, his lifelong partner of 58 years. 

Statistics say that 70% of those affected by Alzheimer’s disease are being cared for at home by their loved ones, with the sole burden of care resting on their shoulders. I can only imagine how exhausted elderly caregivers, like my mother, who are often frail or suffering from other ailments and illnesses, must feel while caring for their loved ones or their lifelong partners. As with many couples who have been married for many years, Dad’s health declined rapidly after her death.

I did not know what caring for a person with dementia was like until I was thrust into it after Mother’s passing. It was a struggle to combine working full time, caring for my own 3 children and caring for my father. I often found myself wondering if I was doing enough and was torn between duties at home and duties caring for him at his home. At the same time, it was a joy to know that I was caring for him, the way he had always cared for me. It was a joy to know that I was doing the best I could, even though I always felt like I could or should do more.

It saddens me that I did not know a place like Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area or Charlie’s Place, our adult respite center, existed. What a relief it would have been to be able to bring my dad to Charlie’s Place while I was at work, or to have joined a support group to vent my frustrations and listen to others going through the journey, or to use the library to obtain information on how to better care for Dad, or just have the pleasure of walking through the doors to hear, “Your doing a great job.”  

I wouldn’t have been just a good caregiver; I would have been a “better” caregiver.   

It is my hope that all of you, who are caregivers of loved ones at home, seek knowledge, respite relief, and support by calling or visiting Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area at 334-7494 or by emailing Please join us for Cause to Remember sessions. You can find dates listed on our website

Happy Easter!
Debbie Kidder Little – Development Director

Monday, March 26, 2012


Delusions (false beliefs that remain fixed in the mind) can occur at any stage of Alzheimer’s. Following are some common delusions:
  • Things/money are being stolen.
  • Food/drinks are being poisoned.
  • Family is plotting against loved one.
  • Spouse is having an affair.
Delusions are distressing to the loved one and heartbreaking to the caregiver who is often called an “imposter” by the loved one. Some coping ideas include:
  • Reassure the loved one as much as possible.
  • Focus on topics the loved one enjoys – e.g. grandchildren, food, weather
  • Ask for help with a task in another room or outside.

Always avoid arguing with the loved one – it will only cause more distress.  Make sure that any violence on TV is turned off and remove disturbing articles from newspapers or magazines.

Always inform your loved one’s physician of the delusions.  Physical ailments and medications need to be checked and then reviewed with the family.  Changes in medication or additional medication may be necessary.

Remember that the delusions are caused by the changes happening in the brain of the Alzheimer’s patient.  Make sure that you and your loved one are safe.  Take advantage of support groups and services provided by agencies such as Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The “Recollection Collection”

Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area has started a new project called “The Recollection Collection.”  The “Recollection Collection” is a resource kit of training activity guides and caregiver resources that improve the care of Dementia residents. 

Our one-of-a kind project contains cds/songbooks for music therapy, word/trivia games, sensory items, arts and crafts activities, simple cookbooks, storytelling programs, and an interactive exercise Octoband.  Easily implemented activities will stimulate and engage the residents in socialization and cognitive abilities. The kit also contains additional resources in an effort to educate caregivers on the disease process and gives them practical tips for caring and communicating with their loved one.

Our goal is to provide the Recollection Collection to 40 Long Term Facilities and Assisted Living Facilities in the ten parish area we serve. We hope to start distribution of the kits by May 1, 2012. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Walk to Remember

Alzheimer’s Services will hold our annual Walk/Run to Remember on October 20, 2012 at LSU “Old Front Nine.” Paul and Michele Gates have accepted the position of Honorary Chair Family for 2012. Paul announced last year that he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s Services is here to support Paul and Michele as well as the rest of our community. Our walk is held to raise awareness and funds in support of those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

We expect over 8,000 participants this year. On April 3, 2012 we will host our Corporate Sponsorship Breakfast of Champions at Juban’s Restaurant on Perkins Road. For more information contact me by phone 225-334-7494 or by email, We serve 10 parishes in the Greater Baton Rouge Area and all funds raised here, stay here. The money is used to fund our many programs and services like Charlie’s Place Respite Center, a helpline information service, education programs, resource library and dementia training.

I look forward to meeting you.

Teri Brantley

Walk Coordinator

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Going Green

The month of March is extra green for Alzheimer's Services. We have begun the transition of moving our printed newsletter to an e-newsletter in efforts to GO GREEN. Also, we are days away from that oh-so-green holiday we all know as St. Patrick's Day. With shamrocks, pots of gold, Leprechauns, and lots of GREEN, this holiday offers a great deal of fun. Dementia patients sometimes miss out on holiday celebrations because of their elaborate nature. However, there are ways they can comfortably celebrate without becoming too overwhelmed. Charlie's Place is celebrating all week with Luck O' the Irish Socials. Some fun and stimulating activities you can do at home are:

  • Eat green foods—green beans, lime Jell-O, boiled eggs peeled and soaked for a few minutes in green food dye, biscuits sprinkled with green candy sprinkles… Use your imagination!
  • Try Irish Folk Dancing.
  • Wear green, of course.
  • Purchase Leprechaun hats from a party store and wear them at dinner time.
  • With dietary restrictions in mind, consider serving corned beef and cabbage for dinner.
  • Use finger paints to create pictures of the Pot O’ Gold at the End of the Rainbow.
  • Search for Four Leaf Clovers

Remember to plan simple, easy to carry out activities that will fit into the patient's usual routine and you can ensure their holiday celebration will be a success.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


As we grow older, maintaining independence is important. Many older adults want to continue driving for as long as possible. But how can a person tell when it is no longer safe to drive? How can you talk to a senior whose driving concerns you? These tips can help.

Age alone does not tell you who should or should not drive.

  1. Many healthy older adults can drive safely. But because some age-related conditions do affect driving, seniors need to evaluate their driving skills regularly.
  2. Many older adults will decide to stop driving when they notice changes.
  3. If you need to discuss driving with a loved one, bring up the subject in a caring & supportive manner. Remember that the decision to stop driving will be life-changing.

Signs that indicate unsafe driving.

  • Having “close calls” or accidents.
  • People honking.
  • Difficulty staying in the lane.
  • Difficulty judging distances.
  • Driving too slowly.
  • Confusion about directions in familiar places.
  • Accidentally hitting the gas pedal instead of the brake.
  • Getting frequent tickets or warnings.

If you are not sure about a senior’s driving, offer to be a passenger on a few errands.

  1. If you see indications of unsafe driving, talk to the driver. Say, “know you enjoy driving, but I am concerned about your safety & the safety of others.”
  2. Be respectful. Talk about what you saw in a non-judgmental manner.
  3. Watch for openings in the conversation. For example, “Yes, that was close. Was it hard to see that sign?”

If your loved one shouldn’t drive—but still is—what can you do?

  1. Give specific driving details to the person’s doctor. Ask the doctor to discuss driving at the next visit.
  2. Call your state Department of Motor Vehicles. Ask about driving evaluations for seniors.
  3. As a last resort, family members or caregivers may need to disable the car or “lose” the keys.

When a person can no longer drive….he or she will need alternative transportation.

  1. Ask family members or friends to provide rides.
  2. Contact local public transportation about special services for people with limited mobility.

After a serious accident, it’s easy to say a person shouldn’t be driving. But assessing driving ability before an accident can help make the roads safer for everyone. You can get more information by talking with your health care provider or visiting :

Ed Picard, Respite Center Coordinator

Charlie’s Place/Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area