Rachel Linden recalls a story of a friend whose mother had slipped into dementia, and was often unable to recognize those closest to her. The right song, though, took her right back to her wedding and offered the opportunity not only to reminisce, but to get up and dance – bringing together both physical and mental stimulation.
That story resonates with Linden, Director of Marketing and Community Outreach for Homewatch Caregivers of Western Washington, which provides a wide range of home and personal care services.
“We know that active engagement can really improve the quality of life for individuals with dementia – doing things together with the client that benefit them both physically and mentally, and engaging them with activities and discussions,” Linden says. “Our specially trained memory care team understands various forms of dementia. We develop unique care plans that can be adapted as the condition evolves and progresses.”
“In addition, the activities and discussions benefit our clients emotionally. Our role is to support them, and we do that by living in their stories, in their timeline,” says Amy Kirby, the COO of Homewatch Caregivers. “We want to help combat the three plaques, loneliness, boredom and helplessness. We want them to live a life of purpose.”
- Active engagement: Caregiving is about much more than cooking, housekeeping or personal care. Connections are key. “We might use music, photo albums or excursions to a garden, for example, to connect with memories of past loves, interests or passions that really tap into who they are as person,” Linden says. And because diseases like dementia can be isolating, Linden and her team are big believers in organizing activities with people, walking together, and developing a sense of fellowship.
- Understanding each client’s individuality: “We really focus 0n the person, not the disease,” Linden explains. “Each person with Alzheimers or dementia is going to be different, so our approach will be different.” A free initial consultation with the client and their family explores their needs and level of care desired. Client involvement is key. “It’s their life and their home so we like to involve them as much as possible.”
- The right caregiver makes a difference: In any caregiving situation, it’s important to match the right professional with the client; that’s even more essential for those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, where calmness, understanding and adaptability to unexpected situations are vital. “We get to know each client and family on a more personal level, so we can more closely match the client and caregiver,” Linden says, noting that their team also receives specialized training for working with clients with dementia.
Homewatch Caregivers offers an array of services, from post-surgery hospital pick-up to personal care, to helping around the house, to 24-hour care for those with chronic conditions. To learn more, visit HomewatchCaregivers.com/Western-WA or call 425-778-1288.