Impacting our Neighbors at Mental Health America's Alzheimer's and Aging Program

Impacting Neighbors MHA Alzheimer's and Aging

Lynn Wood, MHA's Caregiver Support Coordinator, recently had the pleasure of meeting with "Jane" who was caring for her husband "John." The couple had been married for 29 years, and after John's diagnosis of vascular dementia, his communication skills had started to diminish, and he could no longer do many of the activities of daily living, including driving. Jane was concerned that her formerly active husband had become sedentary, and had lost interest in the things he used to love. Lynn talked through the dementia-related changes John might be experiencing, and helped Jane brainstorm ideas of how to engage John in everyday routines, including incorporating John's past as a journalist.

Jane also shared how she used to regularly take trips with her girlfriends or travel with her son and grandchildren. During her last trip in October 2020, she made the decision to let John stay home. The trip went well, yet upon her return, it appeared that John had not eaten consistently in her absence, which caused Jane to feel intense regret and stress. Lynn introduced Jane to services such as Adult Day Stays, Respite Service, and even explained how it was possible to place John in an Assisted Living Community for a week or two so she could continue to travel with family, take day trips with friends, and maintain her social connections. At the end of their conversation, Jane was crying. When asked why, she stated that they were "tears of joy." She explained that she said she felt as if she had been holding her breath for 4 months and said, "I feel like I can breathe knowing that there are options out there" and "my life can still include moments that are just mine."