You wouldn’t know it because she is very humble, but Ann is an award-winning Home Instead CAREGiverSM whose clients around Hattiesburg have included those who have Alzheimer’s disease or another of the 50 types of dementia.
This dedicated CAREGiver helps clients whose loss of mental functions, such as thinking, memory and reasoning, interferes with their daily life. She has watched as her clients’ symptoms have worsened, causing dramatic changes in personality, mood and behavior.
“I had one situation in which the spouse was absolutely lost without his wife, who had to go to the hospital,” Ann recalled. “She feared he wouldn’t eat, so she made sure I checked on him. She was right – he put a sandwich in his pants pocket and put some dirty clothes in the microwave. That showed what stress can do to a senior who has dementia. I needed to be his calming influence.” Ann shook her head as she recounted many other stories of how Alzheimer’s decimated not only her clients but their families.
She and her fellow CAREGivers near Hattiesburg have benefited from the Home Instead Senior Care® network’s Alzheimer’s Disease or Other Dementias CARE: Changing Aging Through Research and Education® Training Program.
CAREGivers trained in the CARE program have a passion to work with Alzheimer’s clients and receive ongoing classroom training and testing prior to caring for a senior with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. The Home Instead program offers a personal approach to taking care of seniors with Alzheimer’s disease at home, where 60 to 70 percent live, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. It is a unique program that has received acclaim and endorsements from experts.
The program equips CAREGivers to provide the highest quality of customized care that includes:
- Maintaining a safe home environment
- Encouraging engagement
- Providing mind-stimulating activities
- Supervising daily activities
- Creating social interaction
- Providing nutritious meals
- Managing changing behaviors
- Supporting the person’s family
The Home Instead Senior Care approach of encouragement and assistance helps those with dementia and their family members cope with the challenges of memory loss and confusion. CAREGivers also can provide assistance with establishing a regular routine and restoring the simple pleasures of life, among the best non-medical treatments for the disease.
“I had worked with dementia clients quite a bit, so I knew how to redirect and remain patient with them. However, I picked up things from the special training that I found helpful,” Ann said. “I thought my ability to anticipate and read the clients was good, but now it is even better. You need to pay close attention and figure out what they want before they say anything. You can look in their face and see in their eyes how they are feeling and how you should work with them. When they are afraid, you need to comfort them. A Life Journal is a tool we use to collect information about a senior’s life before dementia. We get the family to help fill in all their life’s details so we can connect with clients through their past. The main thing is to look for things they at one time liked to do, like singing or a hobby. If you have a scrapbook or photo album, they can remember things from way back and they will tell you who they were.”
Clients’ families around Forrest have watched as Ann kept their loved ones safe in their own homes and helped them experience as fulfilling and meaningful lives as possible.
“I’ve taken dementia clients to a lake to feed the ducks,” she said. “That was one way of getting them outside and having them focus on something enjoyable. With one of my current client, I figured out what she likes best and try to do it with her. So I play rummy with her because I had seen her try to play with her card-club buddies. I’ve used crossword puzzles with clients. You’ve got to keep their minds functioning as much as possible.”
Innovative, skilled and compassionate – those words describe Ann and her fellow Home Instead CAREGivers serving greater Hattiesburg, as well as the Home Instead Senior Care network, which continues to explore new ways to help seniors and their families.
For more information, contact Home Instead Senior Care Hattiesburg, MS at 601-261-2114 or Ask us a question about Senior at Home Care near Hattiesburg.