Conversations Can Change The World

Cover of Motherhood Lost & Found

Conversation with author Ann Campanella.

Join me in my conversation with Ann Campanella, author of the book Motherhood: Lost and Found. Ann’s’ book is an autobiography tracing her life after marriage, through several miscarriages, aging parents, and her mother’s decline with Alzheimer’s disease.

Ready to start a family, Ann was used to setting goals and accomplishing them. After being plunged into an emotional journey Ann finds herself with a challenge to tackle. Reading her book allows us to follow her on this journey; a journey that leads to a deeper understanding of her and what it means to love.

During our conversation Ann and I share our collective advice, our bond as dementia daughters and our shared journey. Hearing this conversation will certainly help any caregiver dealing with dementia. Both of us have found that conversations can have positive effects on those who are participating or listening. Ann is a firm believer that good conversations can change the world.

What better way to change a caregiver’s world than to share a good conversation with them? I hope you enjoy this episode and that it changes your world in some positive way. If you are raising children while caring for a parent you will love reading about Ann’s journey. You can also listen to the audiobook if you lack the time for meaningful reading.

About AlzAuthors

Following the publication of her book Ann found the group AlzAuthors. AlzAuthors.comis a community of bestselling, award-winning authors who have never shaken hands or shared a cup of coffee. These authors come together because Alzheimer’s and dementia have impacted their lives.  Together, all AlzAuthors strive to eliminate the stigma surrounding the most important disease of our generation, estimated to affect 47 million people worldwide.

The AlzAuthors collection of books includes memoirs, novels, nonfiction, children’s books, and blogs – and the poignant real-life stories behind these works. They hope to make your life a bit easier. AlzAuthors is an excellent resource put together by people who have walked in your shoes.

Link to Ann’s book (favorite things page)

Talking with Psychology in Seattle Podcast

Psychology in Seattle podcast logo

Sharing an episode with Psychology in Seattle to discuss talking to children about Alzheimer’s.

 

Fading Memories teamed up with the Psychology in Seattle podcast host Dr. Kirk Honda to discuss how to talk to children about Alzheimer’s. Talking with Dr. Honda, a professor and therapist was a lot of fun and informative. Dr. Kirk Honda teams up with Humberto (the layperson voice) to bring their 100,000+ podcast listeners an entertaining mix of seriousness and levity.

Talking to children about a seniors diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is tough. Grandma’s memory loss might be scary especially if they haven’t seen her for some time. How do we maintain the loving relationship when faced with the challenges that accompany Alzheimers?

That was my main desire in wanting to talk to an expert and finding one that is also a podcaster makes this episode even more enjoyable. During our conversation I learned that Kirk also had a Grandmother with dementia. Our conversation covered many areas that you might expect when talking to a professional and that was good. I’m confident you’ll get a lot out of this episode.

Talking to Children About Memory Loss

Understanding Alzheimer’s or other dementia’s is challenging enough for adults. For children, watching the disease progress can be scary and overwhelming. The best approach to helping children cope is not an educational one but a reminder that they’re still loved. Grandma is still the same person, but she has a disease that effects her memory. She still loves you even is she doesn’t remember your name. Remind children that it’s important to continue to be affectionate because that’s what Grandma needs the most.

Here are the top things children need to know:
  • Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain.  It’s not contagious. You won’t get it by hugging or kissing Grandma. It may be beneficial to point out relatives who do not have the disease because children may fear that their parent will end up like Grandma.
  • Memory is a very complex process. Explaining memory like a recording on a DVR might help children visualize how the brain works. Alzheimer’s means that Grandma’s DVR doesn’t record all the show anymore. This may help them to understand why reminding them that they answered that question or that Grandma already said that won’t help.
  • Things will get worse. In an age appropriate way, explain that this is a progressive disease and the brain will gradually lose it’s power to tell the body what to do. Preparing kids for behaviors they might see as the person gets sicker is kind for all involved.
  • Nothing is your fault. Grandma didn’t get Alzheimer’s because you were naughty or got a bad grade. It may help to explain that there are a lot of grandkids whose grandparent has the same disease. There are almost 6 million people in the United States with this disease.
  • Be respectful, kind and calm. While nobody can fix dementia, we’re not helpless is an important message. Your loved one will benefit from many activities like singing, looking at old photos, walks in the park. Kids will feel empowered if they’re given positive things to do. Kids learn how to treat the elderly from their parents so it’s important to stay calm, have some pre planned activities and to keep visits to just the right length. Too short or too long invites negative issues for everyone.

 

Parents Guide To Helping Children Understand Alzheimer’s

Psychology in Seattle Podcast on iTunes

Favorite Things Page (Resources)

Soup on a Plate Part Two – Advice Sharing

Advice on coping with challenging behaviors.

Sharing advice on coping with memory loss is important for caregivers.

Presenting part two of my advice conversation with Hailey and her Mom. We discussed the challenges associated with caring for a loved one with memory loss. Sharing advice is the best way caregivers can help each other and that’s what you’ll get in this episode. Listen to part 1 first because this episode picks up in the middle of our conversation.

What I shared, at least some of it;

  • Don’t invite their Dad/Grandpa to “our” reality. Also known as “fiblets”. Their reality is different and trying to bring them into ours causes frustration for everyone. This was especially helpful since they did not bring James to Haliey’s 8th grade graduation and he frequently asked when it was happening.
  • Coping strategies that please both parties.  My Mom loves to take a walk in nature or watch children play in the park. While she’s happy, I can relax or possibly do a little bit of work. Allowing her the time to do something that she enjoys makes both of our lives better. I suggested their taking Granddad out for sunshine, visits with Navy personnel both of which may alleviate some of his challenging behaviors.
  • Understanding that Alzheimer’s disease is a daily challenge and that doing the best that they can is all that can be expected.

Working with the individual where they are at right now is important. Their reality is different and attempting to force them into ours is a recipe for frustration. Unfortunately, it’s a constant challenge to “meet them” where they’re at because the disease causes their perceptions and behaviors to change frequently.

About Dad/Grandad;

James served 30+ years as a Navy chief. Serving in Japan are where some of his fondest memories come from. Growing up Halieys grandfather loved to teach her how to cook. Making  lunch together before going to the park or playing board games is how they spent their time until her mom got off work. About 5 months ago (April 2018) he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The stories he still tells are from the time he spent in the Navy, even if his words seem distorted.

Enjoy Part 2 of Soup on a Plate and stay tuned for more stories from other families.

We’re looking for other families who would like to share their story or discuss their challenges on the podcast. Sharing out journey is the best way to help others who are in this boat with us. Contact us via the website if you’d like to be featured on an episode.

 

Haileys’ Story

Great Video on Managing Behaviors

Link to Part 1 of Soup on a Plate

 

Soup On A Plate – Granddads Memories

Memories flying from the brain

Losing memories is harder on the family that remembers.

His name is James and he served 30+ years as a Navy chief. Serving in Japan are where some of his fondest memories come from. Growing up her grandfather loved to teach her how to cook. They often made lunch together before going to the park or playing board games until her mom got off work. About 5 months ago (April 2018) he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The stories he still tells are from the time he spent in the Navy, even if his words seem distorted.

On this episode of Fading Memories I talk to a daughter & granddaughter trying to navigate their life while also caring for and protecting their Dad/Grandpa.  There are lots of challenges learning how to handle someone losing their memories. Our conversation went from talking about Grandpa to sharing stories and advice.

Hailey and her Mom were unsure how to handle some of Granddads emotions which came up in our conversation. It’s difficult to lie but also difficult to tell the truth. Where does that leave us? Listening to this episode may help you answer that question.

 

Link To Hailey’s Story

Obesity and Alzheimer’s

Obesity & Alzheimer's image

Is there a link between obesity & Alzheimer’s? Seems that may be the case.

Is there a connection between obesity and Alzheimer’s?  There’s been a lot of research lately on lifestyle choices and our risk of Alzheimer’s. Seems like there may be a link. Another of my episodes was on the benefits of exercise for reducing the risk for Alzheimer’s. However, the volume of research on the topic made it easy to say yes when a past guest reached out.

Matt Peale is the Sales Director & Founder at The Movement Academy. Helping youth and seniors by improving their athletic and cognitive performance is their main goal. Focusing on reducing obesity and the associated risks it carries is also a core part of their program. In addition to the known risk factors of heart disease, cancer, and stroke, obesity is now a risk factor for Alzheimer’s.  Obesity has been associated with altered brain structure and function in metabolically and neurologically healthy adults and children. (Stoeckel, 2016).

Most noteworthy is the volume of research detailing the harmful effects obesity has on the brain. Sharing this information is critical to a longer and healthier life for everyone. Emphasizing moderation and lifestyle changes over extreme diets and high intensity workout programs are the keys to long term success.

It’s Not Hard To Get Started!

Certainly we all have 10 minutes a day that we can add in some purposeful movement. Adding in movement may also help alleviate some of the negative behavioral aspects of dementia’s. Wandering, night waking, and restlessness may be minimized when physical activity is part of our daily lives.

Movement Academy’s Active Aging Program is here for you!  In only 10 minutes a day for 30 days, maintain your independence with better balance and a better brain guaranteed, or your money back. Fading Memories listeners can get 50% off their 1st month by using the code MEMORY. (Good through 10-31-2018)

Listen to our episode, then check out their app!

Link to My Favorite Things Page

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Matt’s Fading Memories Episode on Nutrition