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Personalized Education
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
I was called to see a client in Bristol County a few years ago. The caregiver said "I don't think I need coaching. I have the internet and have studied everything there is to know about Alzheimer's." I replied, "Ok, can you agree to one visit with me and if after 15 minutes I add nothing to your knowledge, we'll shake hands and I'll leave." "Ok, he said.", and we met.
His mother with Alzheimer's and his father were present. They spoke only Portuguese so they sat nearby in another room. I noticed his mother pacing and his father looking bewildered as to how to soothe his wife.
Ninety minutes later, our meeting over, the son asked, "Why didn't I know all that?" I replied, "The internet is not your mother. The internet, seminars, books all give you information about the disease, but each person with dementia is unique as is your relationships in the family. Caregiving is a personal journey. A coach can find out that from you and guide you accordingly."
I am always amazed that people will struggle along through this disease without seeking guidance from a dementia coach. A coach understands family dynamics, the role of grief in caregiving, and how to address the unique challenges families face.
My advice? Find a personal professional coach to help save you days, sometimes years of frustration trying to figure out how to respond to the changes dementia bring.
Some agencies like VNAs and some astute homecare companies have dementia-educated nurses and social workers who can guide you. I started my little company in 1999 when I found how uninformed families were and I wanted to help. We have coached over 2000 families and received comments like, "How did you know that about my mother?" or "You didn't even meet my father; how did you know he'd respond that way?" It is because we know through experience what approaches work and which make things worse, confusing to the person with dementia.
That is where my brand name came from; one man with dementia retorted "Speak to me like the coach does. I'm Still ME you know; I'm not just Alzheimer's!"
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"Coaching helped open my mind to what our mom is going through and how we can work to make her life better."

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