Dementia, described as a number of conditions characterized by the gradual loss of intellectual function, affects more than five million Americans. Most people who suffer from dementia experience memory loss as well as difficulties with language, motor activities and recognition. And as your loved ones with dementia progress through the stages, life becomes harder and you, as family members and caregivers, are often torn when it comes to making decisions about what they really need.
Mary Jo Hannasch, memory care and care suites coordinator at Vista Prairie at Garnette Gardens in Redwood Falls, MN helps guide people who have loved ones with dementia through the process. Her best advice is to learn all you can about the disease. “The more you know, the better prepared you are to walk with your loved one through the changes that are coming,” Mary Jo says. She also recommends joining a support group, attending lectures or connecting with your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. “Knowledge of the disease is your best defense,” she adds.
Throughout Vista Prairie and its communities, we understand the difficulties and heartbreak that come with dementing illnesses. We also know that one of the most difficult times for a family is the period following the placement of a loved one in a care setting.
Together, with Mary Jo, we have set out on a mission to help lessen the burden and ease the pain by offering support and education for families who are close to the disease. The innovative program called Endings and Beginnings is a free six-week series that covers a wide range of topics including the various stages of dementia and how to treat them, coping with your own feelings of loss and confusion, and how Memory Care Unites accommodate seniors with dementia.
With the proper knowledge and support, we can help our loved ones—and each other—navigate the difficult changes these illnesses bring.
Endings and Beginnings launched at Garnette Gardens in February and is on its way to expanding to Vista Prairie Communities other senior communities in the coming years. For more information about the program, please visit http://vistaprairie.org/news-events/resources/dementia-support/ or call 507-644-8500.