Happy Senior Couple on a Walk - Living with Dementia

You or your loved one have realized that your circumstances are changing. It is inevitable and happens to all of us at some point, but it still probably feels like it is happening sooner than you anticipated, and definitely sooner than you wanted. Perhaps you or your loved one have recently received a diagnosis that is terrifying. You realized things were different but weren’t expecting to hear words like dementia… or Alzheimer’s. You may be scared, you may be grieving. You may be scrambling to determine how to set a plan in place to assist you or your loved one in determining how much extra care you may need and when for living with dementia. And, of course, where you will eventually receive the care. Will this alter your living situation? You realize that you need to reach out for help but may be confused as to where to begin.

We all likely are familiar with portions of the works of Robert Frost:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Sometimes those choices are not ours to make, and the paths are not ours to determine. Life happens – our health changes, our circumstances change, our families change. Growing older can feel uncertain, un-stable, and sometimes undesirable. It does not seem like long ago that you were making friends on the playground or trying to determine with whom you should sit for lunch on the first day of a new job. A lot of life is an unknown but finding kindred experts with whom to explore this new, previously untaken road can make all the difference between feeling like you are floundering or are thriving as you age. Aging at 5280 is experienced in helping you to make the connections you or your loved one need, during a time that feels frantic, rushed and like it came all too soon.

Finding Hope in New Beginnings while Living with Dementia

By the time you or your loved one have a diagnosis, you have likely experienced some of the first symptoms of dementia, including short-term memory issues; communication issues (what’s the word for that thing?); getting lost in familiar surroundings; being unable to complete a complex, but familiar task (how do I make my favorite meal?); and personality changes (depression, agitation, paranoia). As these symptoms progress, you and your family may begin to see that your social interactions with your friends and acquaintances have started to change, and possibly dissolve. This is a sad, but not an uncommon experience of those living through dementia with someone in their family.

Spring is a time that makes us think of new beginnings, starting over, and the refreshing change at the end of a long, dark winter. Imagine the long, dark winter is the diagnosis and progression of your dementia, while finding others who understand is like the rejuvenation of spring. Despite a challenging diagnosis or fear of a progressive illness, there is a need in each of our lives to seek allies and friends in our journeys, whether we are the individuals living with dementia or the caregiver. Finding others who understand our current season of life helps us know that we are not alone. Sometimes these are other patients or caregivers, and sometimes these are professionals.

Extended Family Walking in the Park - Living with Dementia

Connect With Us, To Connect Yourself

Mary Archer is the Director of Out And About Colorado Dementia Program, a Colorado non-profit dedicated to helping people who have dementia. Her primary focus is for those in the early to mid-stages of dementia, at a crucial time when family and friends need support, resources, connections, education, and respite.

With an undergraduate degree in Sociology and a certificate in Gerontology, Mary has spent her career working with people in all stages of dementia, in a variety of settings. She educates on dementia, provides training for caregivers and facilitates support groups. Mary is an amazing resource for processing a diagnosis and helping you to plan for the future. Sadly, dementia, in any form, can shorten your life. According to Mary, “I know everybody in my care has a limited number of days ahead of them. I’ll help them make the most of these years.”

Out and About Colorado Dementia Program, provides outings and socialization for individuals diagnosed with early stages of dementia. Not only do these activities assist the patient, but they also provide respite time for caregivers, as well, while their loved one is safely participating with the group.

If you feel that a loved one might be experiencing the early signs of dementia, we encourage you to reach out to the team at Aging at 5280 who will make an appointment to visit with you and your loved one and will invite Mary Archer to this initial visit where she can assess your loved one.

While many patients with dementia can be safely cared for at home for many years, you or your loved one may eventually need more advanced care in the environment of an assisted living or memory care facility. When that time comes, Aging at 5280 is here to assist with your family transitions helping you along this road your family has never before traveled.

Resources: WebMD | Littleton Independent | Out and About Colorado


Author
Cindy Koch

Cindy Koch, MA

Certified Placement & Referral Specialist (CPRS) | Owner

Aging at 5280 is here to help elders and their families navigate through the healthcare system and customize a plan to meet their needs.

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