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Caregiver Connection

A Quarterly Newsletter for Family Caregivers of Older Adults

The Caregiver Connection Newsletter is a free publication of the Baltimore County Department of Aging (BCDA).

October, November, December 2021

Stories in This Issue:

Creative Caregiving: Thinking Outside the Box

This Virtual Conference will take place on Tuesday, November 9 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Grab a coffee, or your drink of choice get comfy in front of your computer, phone or tablet and join in to learn how to increase creativity and keep a sense of humor in your world of caregiving. Whether caring for a parent, spouse or other family member the daily demands can become overwhelming. This year’s BCDA Caregivers conference will cover information on looking for the positive and ideas on creative ways to make a Care Partner’s day less challenging.

The conference will begin with Keynote address, Building Joyful Caregiver Experiences with Humility Hope and Humor. Presenter, Loretta W. Veney will inspire participants to uncover the joy and humor that may seem to be buried under all of the daily chores and challenges. Ms. Veney is an inspirational speaker and author. Her presentation Being My Mom’s Mom at the 2019 Caregivers Conference received such positive feedback that she has been asked to return for the 2021 Conference. Using the concepts of humility, hope and humor Loretta will help participants focus on their values and joyful practices to build outstanding caregiver experiences for their loved ones.

Participants will continue to be uplifted by the second session “The Joy of Creative Engagement for Caregivers” presented by Ilyana Kadushin, Founder of "Stories Love Music." This program is designed to support caregivers in managing the reactive emotions of the seniors they care for and themselves, using creative tools like and music and storytelling. Participants will have the opportunity to experience a piece of this engaging program.

The wrap up session for the conference is Using Assistive Technology in Caregiving presented by James A. Whitney, OTR/L, OTD for the Assistive Technology Program at the Maryland Department of Disabilities. Assistive technology (AT) is any service or tool that helps older adults or persons with disabilities perform activities that might otherwise be difficult or impossible. It can improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities by, for example, improved mobility and accessibility. Mr. Whitney, will discuss and demonstrate a variety of Assistive devices that are available to increase quality of life.

Building Better Caregivers

Building Better Caregivers is a series of classes designed to empower family caregivers of adults with Alzheimer’s (or other dementias) and other chronic conditions.

The topics discussed in the seven-week series benefit caregivers by helping them: reduce stress, improve caregiving confidence, establish balance in their lives, communicate their needs, make tough decisions and locate helpful resources.

The workshop will be held from 2 to 4:30 p.m. every Thursday, starting October 5 and ending on November 16. The first class on October 5 is for introductions and testing equipment; this class will be 2 to 3 p.m.

Pre-registration is required. The workbook can be picked up in Towson or mailed to you. Email caregivers@baltimorecountymd.gov to register.

This workshop will be held virtually and is interactive. A computer or tablet with video, sound and a microphone are required.

Holiday Hints for the Care Partner

The holiday season is full of excitement. Bustling streets full of beautiful decorations and holiday shoppers. A surge of community events such as tree lightings, holiday concerts and parades. Families and friends gather to celebrate with traditional holiday meals, gift exchanging and yummy treats. This is a time that many people look forward to, but for the caregiver it can bring added stress to their already heavy demands. Here are some ideas on ways that you can still celebrate the holidays without feeling overwhelmed.

Adapt.

Accept the need to adapt your traditional role or experience of the holidays. This may mean allowing another family member to host more time-intensive festivities. Modify the amount of time away from home to match the comfort level of your loved one. You may also have to choose which events to attend based on which would be the simplest, least exhausting and most enjoyable for the person for whom you provide care—and for you.

If hosting or attending a large gathering arrange for a room in the house to be designated as a quiet place. Many people with dementia or hearing challenges find multiple conversations and background noise disturbing. To avoid this anxiety, the person may benefit from time in a quieter room with less stimulus where family members could take turns visiting with them.

Adjust traditional holiday meals to decrease the time involved in preparations. Food is a big part of many holidays but should not create a stressful environment. Here are some suggestions on how you can enjoy a holiday meal and still have energy for your loved one.

  • Simplify the menu. Try fewer side dishes or one dessert instead of three.
  • Split up the grocery shopping and cooking among other family members and guests. There’s nothing wrong with a potluck.
  • Pay someone to cook meals at your house ahead of time or on the holiday.
  • Purchase all or part of meals at a local grocery store or restaurant—either fully cooked or ready for you to cook at home.
  • Eat at someone else’s home, or at a restaurant.

Communicate.

Many families only gather a couple times a year. The change in a loved one’s appearance and abilities may be shocking. Being surprised could make family members irrationally angry, ignore your older adult, or insist on making unwise changes to their care. Giving your family a heads up before a visit with your loved one can minimize this behavior.

Things you may want to share:

  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Being in a wheelchair or relying heavily on a walker
  • Wearing disposable briefs and dealing with incontinence
  • Inability to do things for themselves, like eat or use the restroom
  • Unpredictable behavior or memory and cognitive problems caused by Alzheimer's Disease or another dementia

It is common for caregivers to be disappointed with family members who they feel are not “pulling their weight” in caregiving responsibilities. If your goal is to enjoy the holidays, consider clearing the air before the holidays or perhaps resolve within yourself to put those feelings on hold, with the intention to discuss the matter after the holiday season passes. In the meantime, enjoy the holiday!

Focus on what is most meaningful.

As much as we’d like to create the perfect holiday experience, remember that perfection is not the goal of the holidays—meaning and joy are. There are many factors we can’t control when it comes to our loved ones’ health and abilities, so adjust your view of a successful holiday. Talk about prioritizing the holiday activities that hold the deepest meaning. Focus on what feels necessary to produce a holiday feeling and create good memories.

For more tips on surviving the holidays check out these websites.

Dealing with Dementia Workshops

This workshop will help family care partners to effectively use the Dealing with Dementia Guidebook and be more confident in caring for their loved ones.

All workshops are virtual at this time. Participants must have access to the internet and technology, such as a computer or laptop. Space is limited and reserved for care partners who have not yet attended a Dealing with Dementia workshop.

  • Saturday, October 23 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Wednesday, November 17 from Noon to 4 p.m.
  • Thursday, December 9 from Noon to 4 p.m.

Please email caregivers@baltimorecountymd.gov or call 410-887-4724 to register.

Upcoming Events

Be sure to register for these virtual events. It is also encouraged to share event information with other care partners in your life. 

Please email the BCDA Caregivers program at caregivers@baltimorecountymd.gov or call 410-887-4724 to register or learn more.

Resource Sessions

Learn about the services and programs offered through BCDA, resource options and receive guidance about your caregiving situation.

  • Wednesday, October 13, from 1 to 2 p.m.
  • Monday, October 25, from 11 a.m. to Noon
  • Wednesday, November 10, from 11 a.m. to Noon
  • Monday, November 29, from 1 to 2 p.m.
  • Wednesday, August 30, from 11 a.m. to Noon
  • Monday, December 13, from 1 to 2 p.m.
  • Monday, December 29, from 11 a.m. to Noon

Caregiver Support Network

Join fellow care partners in further developing and strengthening your knowledge. Each session begins with a guest presenter and concludes with a question and answer session and open discussion. Sessions are hosted on the third Wednesday of each month.

  • Wednesday, October 20, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, November 17, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, December 15, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Caring for Ourselves While Caring for Others

Grow your self-care toolbox by earning simple, yet impactful, practices we can incorporate into our daily routine to help reduce stress and increase our experience of well-being. As we balance work, chores, and caring for others, so often we feel last in line. During this session, for this hour, you are priority! Come explore new tools for increasing calmness and relaxation including: visualization meditation; Reiki - light touch relaxation; awareness-tracking of body/thought/emotion; forest bathing, laughter yoga, and more.

  • Tuesday, November 16, 11 a.m. to Noon. Location: Virtual

Register by emailing caregivers@baltimorecountymd.gov or calling 410-887-4724.

Dementia Live

Participate in this unique dementia simulation experience that immerses participants into life with dementia, resulting in a deeper understanding of what it’s like to live with cognitive impairment and sensory change. Sessions are 30 minutes long and you must register in advance for a time slot.

  • Friday, October 1, from 9 to 11 a.m. Location: Liberty Senior Center. Register by calling 410-887-0780.
  • Friday, November 5, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Location: Parkville Senior Center. Register by calling 410-887-0780.

Dementia Friends Information Session

Join the global dementia friendly movement by participating in this free virtual session. Increase your understanding of dementia and learn what you can do to better support friends, family, neighbors and colleagues with dementia and their care partners.

  • First Tuesday of each month from Noon to 1:15 p.m.
  • Upcoming dates: October 5November 2, and December 7

Register by emailing dementiafriendly@baltimorecountymd.gov or call Emily Kearns at 410-887-4751.

Creating a Dementia Friendly Baltimore County

Dementia Friendly Baltimore County would like to encourage you to join us to envision what it means to make our Baltimore County communities dementia friendly. A dementia friendly community is informed, safe, and respectful of individuals living with memory challenges, including Alzheimer's and other dementias and their families and care partners. 

Dementia Friendly Baltimore County (DFBC) is a new community-based, cross sector initiative aimed to create a more inclusive and accessible Baltimore County so that all of us, regardless of dementia-related challenges, can have the resources we seek to create the life we choose, and experience a sense of belonging, purpose, and well-being. 

We will learn how other communities are growing dementia friendly communities. Inspired, together we will move in the direction of our vision and begin to identify what we need to do to create a Dementia Friendly Baltimore County. 

  • Wednesday, December 8, from 10 a.m. to Noon, Virtual

To learn more, visit the Dementia Friendly Baltimore County page or contact Emily Kearns, Dementia Friendly Coordinator, at dementiafriendly@baltimorecountymd.gov; or call 410-887-4751.

 
Revised October 4, 2021         

 

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