Cheryl Blanchard, LMSW, CCM
The Morning Pointe Foundation, with guest speaker Cheryl Blanchard, LMSW, CCM, presented a virtual seminar on the difference between normal aging effects on the brain and dementia.
The presentation on Jan. 24 was the latest in the Morning Pointe Foundation’s Caregiver Café series, free webinars providing education for seniors, their families and other caregivers.
Ms. Blanchard is a certified dementia care specialist and Middle Tennessee regional director with Alzheimer’s Tennessee.
“If you notice that your loved one is forgetting something that happened earlier in the day or maybe something that happened yesterday, but they have perfect recall of something from 30 or 40 years ago, that is really a hallmark symptom of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Ms.
Other symptoms of dementia include forgetting the names of familiar people, putting things in inappropriate places (such as a phone in the freezer), forgetting how to use familiar devices, such as a thermostat or TV remote and getting lost in familiar places or on familiar routes.
In contrast, normal aging signs include sometimes forgetting names of acquaintances, forgetting the reason for walking into a room or occasionally forgetting where something is.
In addition to the discussion of dementia vs. aging, Ms. Blanchard shared steps that families can take if they are concerned their loved one has dementia, as well as ways to best approach loved ones with a dementia diagnosis.
Ms. Blanchard advised offering the loved one a choice between two options, such as two different menu items for lunch, rather than inviting confusion with open-ended questions. She emphasized entering into the person’s view of reality rather than trying to correct them about facts. And she talked about the importance of continuing to call and visit and include loved
ones with dementia even though it may feel awkward.
“One of the biggest determinants of longevity is social engagement,” Ms. Blanchard shared. “It doesn’t matter that you say the perfect thing. It matters that you show that you still care and that you’re still there for this family and that you’ll support them.”
Ms. Blanchard also addressed wandering, a behavior that six out of 10 dementia patients will exhibit at some point. Tips to keep a loved one from wandering off include providing activity throughout the day to keep them engaged, as well as installing sound-making devices on exterior doors, such as chimes or bells, to alert when someone goes in or out of the house.
At the end of the seminar, several registrants participated in a live question-and-answer session with Ms. Blanchard.
The session is available to watch on the Morning Pointe Foundation website:
The site also includes past webinars with expert speakers from around the southeast, as well as future speakers and topics for this year’s Caregiver Cafés.
The Morning Pointe Caregiver Café wellness series connects experts on senior living and care with those experiencing the physical and mental effects of aging and their families for free.