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October 22nd, 2017

Aging with Grace…

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Happy holidays everyone! The questions being answered in this column relate to the coming holidays, what gifts to give and how to help make them enjoyable for everyone.

Dear Grace,
I have a bit of a dilemma about what to give my uncle for Christmas. He has dementia and we always have given him novels to read in the past or a gift certificate to a book store. My aunt says he isn’t really able to read anymore.
Help,
Mary

Dear Mary,
Even though your uncle can no longer read novels the way he used to, he may still retain his love of books. Look for a book that is mostly photos of something or somewhere he used to enjoy. Popular books at Project Independence include scenes from VT, old railroad or granite industry photos, farming are a few ideas to start you off. Another idea is a gift of his favorite food, beverage or candy. Have a discussion with your aunt about what he may want, need or enjoy. Remember, the best gift you can give to both of them is the time you spend with them at this special time of year.
Have fun,
Grace

Dear Grace,
Every year the holidays get more difficult for me to enjoy. I care for my mom who is disabled with severe arthritis and is in constant pain. We both get invited to several family parties and of course she wants to go to all of them. This results in both of us being exhausted and leaves her in excruciating pain. Any suggestions for improvements on this would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Joyce

Dear Joyce,
The first thought that comes to mind is having a discussion with Mom about having your own party instead of going to all the other ones. Plan an informal pot luck party where everyone brings a dish to share and if you want to have a gift exchange, do a Yankee Gift Swap. Involve your Mom in the planning and which guests to invite.

If you think a pot luck won’t work, here are a few other suggestions; order pizza or sandwiches, have a cocktail party with simple offerings like cheese and crackers, dips and chips, have guests bring a dessert to share. There are numerous ways to simplify your role in preparations so take advantage of as many as you can.

Have a special holiday season with your mom,
Grace

Looking for gift suggestions for family/friends with dementia? Always check with the caregiver for suggestions, wants, needs, etc. Listed below are some items Project Independence uses:

-Music of almost any kind (music therapy and music in general is proven to provide a satisfying, enjoyable and therapeutic activity for someone with dementia)
-Fidget Blanket (for those folks who have restless hands and need to be doing something)
-Baby doll with easily removed clothing (for someone who spent their life caring for children and grandchildren, having a baby to hold is soothing)
-Clothing that is easy to put on and remove (no buttons and possibly no pullovers, pants with elastic waist work well)
-Stuffed animals that are soft and cuddly
-Scarves, hats and gloves or mittens, as these are items easily misplaced or left behind
-Coloring pages/books with washable markers or gel pens

If you have questions or are looking for information related to caring for an elder loved one or other individual with disabilities or health issues, please email me, deargrace@pibarre.org or write to Dear Grace, c/o Project Independence, 81 N. Nain St. – Ste. 1, Barre, VT 05641-4283

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