DEMENTIA-FRIENDLY LEADERS Making a Difference: Right at Home

DEMENTIA-FRIENDLY LEADERS Making a Difference: Story #2

We are an “in the meantime” organization. We help people discover that “in the meantime,” until cures for the various causes of dementia are found, we can make life changing differences NOW for people striving to live well with dementia.” Our purpose is to leverage all the great work being done in Northern Colorado and provide life enrichment opportunities and education where gaps previously existed. Today, this blog and the next few are about leveraging some of that great work done by organizations so committed to extensive staff education and dementia care excellence that they each have achieved annual designation as a Dementia-Friendly Leader®. The Dementia-Friendly Leader® home care agencies are working to impact lives of their clients and families and demonstrate that people living with dementia CAN live well at home with the right resources in place. We want to share a story with you from Right at Home, a nonmedical home health care agency, which recently received a letter from a husband of one of their clients.  

“Heather has been with us for more than one year, taking care of (my wife) Laura as her Alzheimer’s advances. The first thing that was impressive was the manner in which she met Laura. She was introduced by Patti (owner, Right At Home) and immediately took Laura aside and began interfacing with her. It was a difficult time for Laura because she recently had her driving privileges taken away and had to be dependent on me for transport. This created resentful feelings and made life difficult. Heather was able to assess Laura’s needs and we began to establish a pattern. This has been an ongoing process as Laura’ s disease progresses. Heather always comes in with a cheery manner and greeting. Laura is always eager to see her and find out what is planned for the day.
Heather has accomplished turning chaos into order. She has given Laura routines that are followed on each visit such as: helping with laundry, changing her bed linens, cleaning up her bathroom and bedroom, going grocery shopping and shopping for clothes that need to be replaced. She also makes sure Laura gets physical exercise by taking walks several times each visit. They also put aside time to talk and Heather has encouraged Laura to do some simple crewel projects.

One of the major achievements Heather accomplished was to bring order to the areas that Laura had been accumulating items in for several years after her diagnosis. The kitchen area, her bathroom and bedroom, any flat surface seemed to accumulate papers, books, and unneeded supplies which were guarded by Laura as untouchable. Heather was able to create order from all the mess without antagonizing Laura. The kitchen counters and table were cleaned and ordered. All of the excess food and supplies were either used up, tossed if outdated, stored in the cabinets, the refrigerator and freezers were also cleaned and made orderly. The kitchen table which Laura had proclaimed as her office was cleared and is now useable. This same treatment was given to Laura’s bedroom and bathroom. All of this was accomplished with Laura’s cooperation and assistance. Laura’s attitude has been much improved since Heather has been with her. She is much happier, less confrontational and slower to anger. Laura has now progressed to needing assistance with changing clothes and underwear. She allows Heather to help her choose what to wear.
Heather always takes time to chat with Laura and has been helping her with a simple sewing project. Laura looks forward to Heather’s visits and now considers her as a sister.
From the first visit Heather has stepped in and identified Laura’s needs. Her first concern is always Laura and her well-being. Both of us always appreciate her upbeat manner and look forward to her visits. As I said prior, she has made life with Laura much better. Laura has responded by being happier, more content and cooperative. She is much calmer and less prone to anger. Heather has become part of our family and we really appreciate all she does for us.”

Thank you, Right at Home for being a leader in making Northern Colorado more dementia-friendly!