Having a family member with a diagnosis of dementia can be stressful and exhausting, both physically and emotionally. That’s why at Weinberg Community’s Friend Center and Adult Day Services, we take a holistic approach to meeting the needs of both the resident and the family caregiver. For the resident, we offer art therapy, socialization opportunities, health care and nutritious food. For the entire family, whether resident or caregiver, we also consider their emotional well-being by providing a variety of support groups and educational programs.
This past September, the staff at Weinberg Community invited families and friends of Friend Center residents and ADS participants to take part in one such program, a Family Panel. This was an opportunity for members of the family to share information about their loved one. Then staff was encouraged to ask questions of the panelists and share some of their experiences.
The Family Panel members generously shared memories and more. Many brought photos of their loved ones for Weinberg staff to view to get a more well-rounded idea of who they were before they came to Friend Center and ADS. And in different ways, they all expressed their gratitude to staff for caring so deeply for their loved ones. Included in the panel of eight were the spouses, adult children and friends of Friend Center residents and ADS participants. In the days leading up to the Panel, family members were asked to consider a few questions to help them create a loose framework from which to discuss their loved one. The questions included:
- How long has your family member lived at Friend Center or attended Adult Day Services?
- Who was your loved one before the disease—what were their likes and dislikes, quirks and hobbies?
- What were the behaviors and changes you first noticed in your loved one?
- What was it like to receive the diagnosis?
- What do you enjoy about Friend Center and ADS?
- What is it like to visit? Is it difficult to visit?
- Things you miss the most doing with your loved one?
- What else would you like the staff to know?
Here are profiles of a few panelists: Bobbe, the daughter of Estelle, a Friend Center resident, shared that throughout her life her mother was very independent and was the supervisor of a chain of cosmetic stores with over 30 locations. At the time of her diagnosis, her mother was falling down and couldn’t put on her glasses. She wouldn’t allow Bobbe to help her bathe or take her medication. Now, Estelle’s doctor reports that she is in better health than before her move to Friend Center. The staff shared that she always has a smile on her face and she expresses her enjoyment of the activities and appreciation of the staff.
Mark, whose mother Ann is a Friend Center resident, has seen his mother’s personality rebound since she’s moved in. Her natural sweetness has been reinvigorated and he credits this change to the staff and the many programs that keep her active—the more active she is the happier she is.
Barbara whose father Don was at ADS for one year and has lived at Friend Center for the past two years, shared memories of her father being smart and independent. After retiring, he volunteered at a food pantry and led a group of friends in exercises and social activities. She says that it was initially difficult to see her father, once so concerned about his health, not even remember if he had eaten. So she is grateful for the attention the staff gives him, making sure that he eats the right amount of food. The staff told Barbara that they notice his willingness to try new things and that when she visits her father, he brightens up!
Steve, whose wife Susan is an ADS participant, shared that she has experienced a slow decline in memory over several years. She continues to be fun-loving and is easy to make laugh. However, she often appears uncertain when they are driving to ADS because she doesn’t remember it from day to day. Once she arrives in the building, she relaxes and eases into the day. Staff shared with Steve that Susan takes on a caring role herself while at ADS. She makes sure other participants aren’t sitting alone and that everyone has a full glass of water. They emphasized that her compassion and kindness shine through. Steve said “Thank you for choosing this as your occupation. I think it’s very unselfish to care for people who really need help.”
To learn more about Weinberg Community and all of its services and programs, call 847.374.0500 or visit WeinbergCommunity.net.