Senior Citizens Face Double-Edged Sword of COVID-19

Senior Citizens Face Double-Edged Sword of COVID-19

August 18, 2020

Mary Gilliam, MBA, LNHA

            We’ve now had several months experience with COVID-19 and it’s become abundantly clear that senior citizens are the ones most at risk.  This is especially true for seniors with underlying health issues, such as serious heart conditions, lung disease, or a compromised immune system.  The relatively high COVID-19 infection and death rates among seniors is well documented and won’t be repeated here.  Instead, I’d like to focus on a less discussed risk associated with medical quarantine, a practice that is touted as the first line of defense when protecting this most vulnerable segment of our population.

Some argue that it makes intuitive sense to quarantine our vulnerable senior citizens from younger folks who may be infected with COVID-19 and capable of infecting others even though they, themselves, are completely asymptomatic.  Problems arise, however, if this medical quarantine turns into social isolation.

Social isolation comes with its own risks.  Seniors who are isolated from others in the community – whether it be at home or in a health care facility – risk succumbing to stress and depression which, in turn, can adversely affect the immune system.  Social isolation among seniors can increase disorientation and the risk of falls.  Isolation can reduce physical activity and that can lead to dehydration, along with urinary tract infection.  Social isolation can contribute to a solitary lifestyle that can reduce the level of mental stimulation and thereby increase the risk of dementia.  None of this is good for the seniors we are trying so hard to protect.

How do we keep a medical quarantine of our senior citizens from devolving into a form of social isolation?

For seniors who live in a health care community, we need to provide additional opportunities for increased social interaction.  This could include bingo over an audio system, outdoor walking groups, pen pal letters, and social distancing meals with a friend instead of eating alone in his or her room.

For seniors who live at home, we need to find creative ways to promote more social interaction and meaningful engagement.  Grandchildren can play outside so grandparents can see and physically interact with them.  Perhaps you can teach the seniors in your life to use FaceTime so they can stay connected to the family by watching important family activities, such as playtime with the grandchildren, family supper, and evening prayers before bedtime.  They might even be encouraged to engage in social activity via FaceTime with their friends in the senior community.  Essential caregivers can not only provide care, but also reduce isolation with social interaction.

As states continue to re-open their economies, there undoubtedly will be an increasingly greater amount of social interaction and an increase of COVID-19 infections among those whose health will be relatively unaffected by the disease.  All the more reason to protect our vulnerable senior citizens.  Let’s just re-double our efforts to ensure that medical quarantine doesn’t devolve into social isolation.

What To Look For In A Home Care Assistant In Plano, TX

The average adult makes an approximate 35,000 remotely conscious decisions on a daily basis.  Of course, each decision carries certain consequences – whether good or bad.  For many people, at a certain point in their life, there will be a decision that needs to be made about the care of our parents or other elderly relative when they can no longer care for themselves.  Home health care services in Plano can make these hard decisions a little easier providing support, relief, quality and assurance when caring for an aging loved one.

Aging parents often do not want to be a “burden” on their children and will often hide their ailments from families as not wanting to alarm worry.  Often, it is hard to recognize issues during short visits with things that may be getting harder for a loved one including bathing, driving, climbing stairs, and even cooking.  Home care in Plano or nearby locations can provide highly trained and skilled caregivers who can help support graceful aging right at home so that a family caregiver can leave these tasks to someone else and re-focus on just being the daughter or son again.

Sometimes, when ailments are easier to spot home care assistance that is needed could be much simpler and smaller in scope. It may just be that assistance for doctor’s appointments or meal preparation is needed.  It could be having a caregiver friend take Mom out to lunch and to get her hair done when her son is unable to leave work to do so.

For others, the home health care services that they need may be much more serious. If a loved one is struggling with dementia or Alzheimer’s, their condition may require full time care when you or another loved one is unable to provide the constant attention that they need. During late stages of Alzheimer’s, Cancer, etc. end of life home care  would be appropriate. This is where you need not only a technically skilled home care worker, but also one with compassion, patience, and understanding.

Whether small in scope or large in need, home care assistance can be a wonderful benefit to families and clients a like.  As families make these important decisions to keep an aging relative at home, consider how home care can help guide the path to graceful aging.

How To Find The Best Home Health Care In Plano, TX

Mother Theresa once said, “Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.”  Caring for an aging relative is something that many Americans will face at some point in their lives.  Supporting parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and even siblings during a vulnerable time, while also trying to practice self-care is no easy feat.  This is why home care in Plano from a certified home health agency or the surrounding area can be just the solution you may be searching for.

There are a number of reasons that an elderly relative might need a service such as home health care in Plano or nearby location.  As we age, vision problems may occur creating a change in balance or mobility.  This small change can create a higher risk for accidents and injuries including falls.  Perhaps nutrition is a growing concern and meals planning and preparation are needed.  With schedule conflicts, sometimes transportation is needed to get to an important doctor’s appointments and be an advocate every step of the way.  A home health agency in Plano can help with these needs and many others.

No one wants to see their older family members lose their independence or the ability to stay in their own home during their golden years.  Home Care allows your loved ones to age with grace and dignity, continuing to live in the home that they have been accustomed to.  For many older adults, having the autonomy to live in their own house creates emotional health and happiness.

Trained and trusted healthcare caregivers can help your loved one handle many of the daily tasks that can become more difficult as we age.  By providing these services your relative will be able to enjoy the comfort and familiarity of their home well into their later years, providing stability and a sense of normality even if their health is gradually declining. Home health care in Plano offers the following assistance programs, in addition to numerous other options:

  • Senior home care
  • Dementia home care
  • Transitioning home
  • End of life care
  • Home respite care
  • Companion travel

These services help your loved one continue to live at the highest levels; ensuring their safety and well-being.  In addition, home care services provide peace of mind to the family that your loved one is taken care of with dignity and compassion.

You Are My Sunshine: Benefits of a “Sunlight Diet”

You Are My Sunshine: Benefits of a “Sunlight Diet”

Vivienne Echendu


Whether you prefer a spray tan, natural tan, or television screen tan, we can all benefit from a little UV once in a while. Toss your sunscreen aside (but feel free to bring your shades, a hat, and a water bottle) and keep reading to learn the amazing benefit of a “sunlight diet”.

Unlike other diets, a “sunlight diet” (1) is 100% FREE, (2) requires ZERO sweating or food restriction, (3) works IMMEDIATELY. So, what’s a “sunlight diet”? For starters, to understand the sunlight diet is to understand the role of Vitamin D–the vitamin that between 2001-2010, almost 29% Americans were deficient in and over 40% of Americans had insufficient levels of[i]. Vitamin D is essential for:

  1. Maintaining healthy bones, nails and teeth[ii]
  2. Supporting healthy immune system[iii], brain (including learning and memory[iv]), and nervous system
  3. Supporting healthy lungs[v] and cardiovascular system[vi]
  4. Supporting healthy eyes[vii], pancreas[viii], hair and skin[ix]
  5. Supporting weight managementviii
  6. Supporting healthy aging[x]
  7. Managing sleep patterns[xi]
  8. Regulating insulin levels to help with diabetes management[xii]
  9. Lifting up your mood and supporting overall mental health[xiii]

The estimated average required (EAR) amount of vitamin D in seniors is400 IU (10 mcg/day, but the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 600 IU (15 mcg/day)  for seniors between 51 and 70 years old and 800 IU (20 μg/day) for seniors over 70[xiv]. The National Academy of Medicine recommends shooting for an upper limit of 4,000 IU (100 mcg/day) just in case. Your skin is designed to generate large amounts of vitamin D simply by exposing it to the sun. How much sun, you ask? According to Mayo Clinic, getting 15 minutes of afternoon sun on your arms, legs, face and chest every other day (without sunscreen) is enough to soak up a healthy dose of Vitamin D on fairer skin.

Much like how quickly someone gets a sunburn (ouch!), people absorb vitamin D from the sun differently. There are a several factors that play into this: age, location, altitude, ozone layer, pigmentation, clothing, weight, etc. For example, the closer you live to the equator, the easier it is to get vitamin D through sunlight[xv] (another great reason to be a Texan; yee-haw!).

Melanin is like natural sunscreen. It’s our body’s primary way of preventing DNA damage from UVB rays. By allowing less of these “tanning” rays to enter the skin, less vitamin D is produced each minute in skin with more melanin. African Americans and Latinos, therefore, absorb less vitamin D compared to someone who is lighter[xvi]. Because vitamin D is oil soluble, it hides in fat, and therefore, the more body fat one has, the more sun he or she may need[xvii]. Those with darker skin and/or who are overweight, will need about 3 times more sun to produce enough vitamin D. That sunlight diet is at least 1 hour and 30 minutes of sun bathing.

Before you whip out your itsy bitsy teeny weenie yellow polka dot bikini….make sure you have enough supplemental nutrients to ensure your body can use that vitamin D. The Vitamin D Council suggests that you’ll need enough vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, boron, and zinc (except that zinc in sunscreen) to boost your sunshine diet. As always, follow the rule of thumb of talking with your physician about the appropriate amount of sun you are safely able to expose your skin to. Existing diet, medications, and health conditions may make it unpleasant or unsafe to sun soak for even a short period of time.

[i]Liu, X., Baylin, A., & Levy, P. D. (2018). Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency among US adults: prevalence, predictors and clinical implications. British Journal of Nutrition, 119(8), 928–936.

[ii]Michael F. Holick; Vitamin D and Bone Health, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 126, Issue suppl_4, 1 April 1996, Pages 1159S–1164S,

[iii]Prietl, B., Treiber, G., Pieber, T., & Amrein, K. (2013). Vitamin D and Immune Function. Nutrients, 5(7), 2502–2521.

[iv]Al-Amin, M. M., Sullivan, R. K. P., Kurniawan, N. D., & Burne, T. H. J. (2019). Adult vitamin D deficiency disrupts hippocampal-dependent learning and structural brain connectivity in BALB/c mice. Brain Structure and Function.

[v]Chesdachai, S., & Tangpricha, V. (2016). Treatment of vitamin D deficiency in cystic fibrosis. The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 164, 36–39.

[vi]Judd, S. E., & Tangpricha, V. (2009). Vitamin D Deficiency and Risk for Cardiovascular Disease. The American Journal of the Medical Sciences, 338(1), 40–44.

[vii]Reins, R. Y., & McDermott, A. M. (2015). Vitamin D: Implications for ocular disease and therapeutic potential. Experimental Eye Research, 134, 101–110.

[viii]Wallbaum, P., Rohde, S., Ehlers, L., Lange, F., Hohn, A., Bergner, C., … Jaster, R. (2018). Antifibrogenic effects of vitamin D derivatives on mouse pancreatic stellate cells. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 24(2), 170–178.

[ix]Bikle, D. D. (2016). Extraskeletal actions of vitamin D. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1376(1), 29–52.

[x]Meehan, M., & Penckofer, S. (2014). The Role of Vitamin D in the Aging Adult. Journal of Aging and Gerontology, 2(2), 60–71.

[xi]Gao, Q., Kou, T., Zhuang, B., Ren, Y., Dong, X., & Wang, Q. (2018). The Association between Vitamin D Deficiency and Sleep Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients, 10(10), 1395.

[xii]Ostadmohammadi, V., Milajerdi, A., Ghayour-Mobarhan, M., Ferns, G., Taghizadeh, M., Badehnoosh, B., … Asemi, Z. (2019). The effects of vitamin D supplementation on glycemic control, lipid profiles and C-reactive protein among patients with cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 25.

[xiii]Penckofer, S., Kouba, J., Byrn, M., & Estwing Ferrans, C. (2010). Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine? Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 31(6), 385–393.

[xiv]Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. (2011). National Academies Press.

[xv]Holick, M. F. (2004). Vitamin D: importance in the prevention of cancers, type 1 diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 79(3), 362–371.

[xvi]Gutiérrez, O.M., Farwell, W.R., Kermah, D. et al. Osteoporos Int (2011) 22: 1745.

[xvii]Walsh, J. S., Bowles, S., & Evans, A. L. (2017). Vitamin D in obesity. Current Opinion in Endocrinology & Diabetes and Obesity, 24(6), 389–394.

Caregiver Time – The Power of Our Time


Mary Gilliam, MBA, LNHA, Certified Dementia Practitioner


The dawn of a new year is a good time for us to reflect on something extremely important.  Time – or in our case caregiver time.  This upcoming year has the same maximum amount of time for each one of us.  The same 24 hours in each   day.  The same 7 days each week.  The same 12 months in the year.  We each get to decide how we will use our time and when the day is over, the time we had is forever gone. The decisions on how we prioritize this time determine many things such as how we will perform at work and how our personal relationship will develop.  Time is the most valuable resource we have.

It seems like many people live life with the attitude that the busier one’s schedule is, the more significant their life. The ability to multi-task has become glorified to the point that focusing on one task at a time can be misinterpreted as laziness or unproductive.  As a culture, caregiving is a great opportunity to reconsider the way we place value on what we spend our time doing, in making choices and setting our priorities.

Cheryl Beaver, Director of Community Relations at Monarch Senior Solutions, recently spoke on the power of time.  She highlighted a plaque she had given her daughter hanging prominently in her room stating; “do something that fuels your soul.”

For millions of Americans, caregiving is what fuels a passion of purpose, empathy and love.  These moments of joy can come in the simplest of caregiving tasks.  Cheryl told a story of a recent client she had gone to visit late morning during her off time.  Upon entering the room, Cheryl noticed the client was still in bed, wet and weak.  She immediately helped her to a sitting position, gave her a bear hug to help stand her up when all the sudden the client started passing a large amount of gas.

“Did you hear that?” said the client and she was cradled between the arms of Cheryl.

“No, no, didn’t hear a thing,” responded Cheryl allowing her to maintain her dignity during this transfer.  A moment passed as they slowly transferred to the wheelchair.

Her client looked up, caught Cheryl’s eye and said, “Well, I hope your sense of smell is as bad as your hearing.”

The two of them burst out in a belly laugh and a normal caregiving moment was instantly turned into a lifelong memory.

Time well spent and inspiration looks different to different people.   For Cheryl, that moment where she allowed herself to slow down and make the client in front of her the most important person in the world.  Cheryl said that “E-Mails, phone calls, meetings, life stops in that moment for a short period of time to serve the person in front of me.”  That is the time that it well spent.  It is not scrolling through FaceBook, rather it is laughing with the person in front of you.  It is these moments, transferring a sweet, wet, thankful client to a chair and laughing until your stomach hurts over flatulence, these are the moments that matter.  These are the moments that allow us to create hope, be a blessing, be an inspiration and share our love wherever we go.


Mary Gilliam’s passion for serving seniors has become a lifelong mission.  She is the founder of Monarch Senior Solutions and responsible for leading the in-home care partners and senior advisors.

Mary holds a Master’s Degree of Business Administration with an emphasis on Health Care Administration and is a multi-state Licensed Nursing Home Administrator.  She has been in long term care operations since 2002 serving those in assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing. 

Recognizing Changes

Recognizing Changes

Chad Anderson, MBA

As we begin the new year it may be a good time to reflect on 2018 and assess the areas in our lives requiring attention in 2019.  Many of us set goals for all aspects of our lives; from work, activities, children, and physical health to our families. As families transition from caring for their children to now caring for their adult aging parents, it can be challenging to recognize or know when to seek the proper type of care for them.

There is a delicate balance between assuring our parents are well cared for and understanding their desire to maintain independence.  For the majority of seniors, living at home is very important.  While maintaining a regular lifestyle helps our loved ones remain active and preserve their dignity, it often becomes necessary to adjust their living situation.  So how do we decide when, how much, and where our parents need assistance?

As loved ones decline physically and mentally, the changes can be subtle and occur over time. There may not be obvious red flags or noticeable changes. It is important to assess their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and understand where they may benefit from having some extra support and assistance.


  • Bathing and showering
  • Preparing meals
  • Self-feeding – in later stages
  • Dressing and laundry upkeep
  • Personal hygiene – haircuts/hairstyles, shaving, nails
  • Mobility – getting out of bed, walking, driving a car
  • Housekeeping
  • Managing finances
  • Medication management

Assessing your loved one’s abilities can be difficult. Often times, aging parents will not agree they need help. Perhaps their decline has been slow and they may not notice (or care to notice) their need for help. If you have identified your loved one requires assistance with one or sevsenior man and woman laughing during therapy session in homeeral of the items on the list above, there are many resources available:

  • Home Health: Home Health is covered under Medicare and most insurances and will provide skilled nursing in the comfort of your own home.
  • Home Care: Home Care Companies will visit and assess your loved one to determine how best to support them at home (Monarch Senior Solutions)
  • Government Resources : a good place to check for benefits that may be available to support aging gracefully (,, local agencies on aging, Veterans Administration for veterans)
  • Placement specialists: if requiring placement outside the home Monarch Senior Solutions can assist with advising on the many options available.

It is difficult today with many households having both spouses working outside the home to find time for adding parental care to the list.  But the stress/worry of knowing if Mom or Dad are properly cared for can take away from our professional efficiency and family time.  Try to make it a goal for 2019 to communicate with your parents and share with them your concerns.  The earlier you can start the discussions with them, the better it will be when their health begins to decline.  Also, in some cases, starting with basic in-home help can extend their ability to stay at home longer.



7 Tips to Connect with Dementia Clients

7 Tips to Connect with Dementia Clients  


Landon Sands, Care Partner
Future Healthcare Leader

After completing my certified nursing assistant program, I became a caregiver for two clients suffering from dementia.  During this time, I quickly realized that making a connection is one of the most important things I can do as a care partner.  In our fast paced, technology driven society, making a connection with people seems harder than ever.  If you’ve ever had a hard time connecting with someone suffering from dementia, below are seven tips that are worth trying.


When caring for patients in any stage of dementia it is important to find that person’s sense of humor. Making jokes and laughing with a client is one of my favorite parts of being a care partner. Being able to communicate a light hearted joke may seem insignificant, but this allows for a moment of bonding as well as creating a break from the monotony of a normal day. Simple jokes allow for time where a person with dementia can become more comfortable with you, and see you as someone interested in taking the extra time to do this is vital to portray that you care about them and are there for them.


De-escalate and Redirect

I have been in many difficult situations where two residents have gotten into arguments that have had potential to be violent. One thing I try to do is physically stand in between the two residents in the dispute, remain calm while making eye contact with my client and listen to what it is that is aggravating him, and offer a peaceful alternative to the dispute, all the while, allowing the other resident to distance his or herself from the situation. After the client has calmed down a little, I often offer them an alternative activity to redirect them from an aggravating situation and environment. If the clients’ aggravation is directed at you I try to ask what is upsetting them and try to verbally calm them down. However, if the client is upset with you (the caregiver), I try to physically lower myself (if the client is in a wheelchair) to go from a less dominant position and be eye level allowing the resident and ask what is wrong this allows the client to voice their discretions along with calming them down to where the two of you can come to a compromise. If that fails, I allow them a few moments of privacy and attempt a different approach to the situation.



Questioning and taking a genuine interest in others allows me to have great success connecting with my clients. Having a loved one answer a question allows you to somewhat steer a conversation while allowing them to freely express themselves and reminisce on fond memories. Simply asking “what did you do for a living” can be helpful in bonding with a patient showing your willingness and interest in their life showing that you are there for more than just a job but care and are actively trying to learn about them and their interests. This question allows the opportunity for patients to open themselves up and explain something they once took great pride in as well as learning more about the person which in turn helps builds relationships based on commonalities in your personality and shared experiences.


Body Language

Do it with a Smile! Body language can be a big barrier when trying to communicate with anyone, but it is crucial to have positive body language when working with patients suffering from dementia. Smiling is a very simple portrayal of your mood and can change how the person perceives you. A simple smile shows an eagerness and enjoyment in spending time with the client. Many people with dementia are afraid to ask for help and feel as though they are being a burden, a quick smile can alleviate a lot of these feelings by showing active interest and willingness to help! Another important factor is their body language. Being able to read a person’s body language can be really helpful when trying to fill in the blanks of what a person with dementia is trying to convey when they are having trouble finding the words.



Similar to body language, your tone and careful vocabulary can drastically impact a patient’s cooperation In my experience simple politeness goes a long way. “Yes Ma’am,” “please” and “thank you” show your patient that you are listening to their concerns and are considering their thoughts and feelings giving them a say in their day to day life. Most importantly just be nice make the resident feel like you want to be there and enjoy their company.  Avoid phases such as “are you trying to make my job harder” or other connotations that lose the friend relationship.  I would rather be the friend who helps them out rather than a paid worker doing a job.  Residents commonly respond negatively to this and can also feel as though they are being a burden if you demonstrate signs of annoyance or disinterest. The way you approach a resident and the tone you use and drastically affect a client’s willingness to cooperate.



One easy way to foster a stronger relationship with someone suffering from dementia is offering them a sense of validation. This is really simple and makes both parties feel better, a simple and genuine “good job” after completing a task can go a long way in encouraging someone and having an increased cooperation. In general, being validated is important, no one wants to be told they are wrong are doing something incorrectly.  An easy way to avoid this is to ask leading questions instead of making demands such as “would you like to get up for dinner.” This is an easy way to change your tone and once you are done with the task let them know they did a good job or gently correct as you are going along the best way to do this to make clear and direct instructions. I always try and do one thing at time to keep confusion to a minimum, instead of telling the patient you are going to get up. shower, brush their teeth and hair, and bring them to breakfast, take it in steps don’t overwhelm them with too many tasks and instructions at one time, offering sincere compliments and validation of good work and appreciation in between tasks.



Encouragement is vital with patients suffering from dementia, giving them a gentle push can be all they need to try something new or difficult. Whether it be rehabilitation through a tough surgery or just staying positive during hard days, encouragement can go a long way. While doing exercise with dementia patients I often try and break the exercises up into little ones with breaks along the way to make the task seem less daunting and more easily achievable. Another big part of being a care partner is getting residents to join in the planned activities for the day a simple “it’s a lot of fun if you give it a try” can make a resident willing to get out of their comfort zone and try something new while not sounding like a demand. These gentle pushes can have a large impact in a resident’s mood, recovery process and overall health and can be very rewarding on both sides.

Landon Sands started with Monarch Senior Solutions in 2018 after receiving his C.N.A. certificate.  He has been awarded the high honor of Eagle Scout and is currently pursuing his education in nursing. 

Monarch Senior Home Care – Caregiver of the Year Award


Mary Gilliam






September 9, 2018

Monarch senior solutions Congratulates Azucena Arroyo as 2018 Caregiver of the Year Strong Heart Award Winner

Caring | Responsible | Providing Piece of Mind

Plano, September 9, 2018– North Texas Area Gerontological Society (NTAGS) recognized the importance of caregivers to long term care communities and the home setting alike Tuesday night.  Monarch Senior Solutions care partners, Lois Mullet and Azucena Arroyo were both recognized as finalists in outstanding care and dedication to those they serve.

From the finalists, Azucena Arroyo was elected 2018 Strong Heart Caregiver of the Year.  Azcuena has been with Monarch Senior Solutions since its inception serving clients and their families alike.

“Azucena has a huge heart that knows no bounds.  She inspires not only the clients she takes care of but others around her.  She mentors new caregivers and helps family members find silver linings in difficult disease processes.  She is an expert in care and an angel to the clients and families she serves.”   Mary Gilliam, Monarch Senior Solutions Administrator


NTAGS is a non-profit voluntary organization dedicated to educating senior advocates interested in improving lives and lifestyles as we age.  Through education, advocacy and networking NTAGS will improve the future of aging.

# # #

If you would like more information, please contact Mary Gilliam at 469-300-2288 or email at

Azucena Arroyo – 2018 Strong Heart Caregiver of the Year

Lois Mullett & Azucena Arroyo Finalist and Winner of 2018 NTAGS Caregiver of the Year Awards.

The Life-Changing Magic of Finding Joy

Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up –> The Life-Changing Magic of Finding Joy

It seems like when something is on your mind, you see it everywhere you look.  When recently reading, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo, I read several take-aways related back to caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.

The recurring theme in the book is “keeping only those things that speak to your heart” and asking yourself “does this spark joy.”  This idea is so important in many aspects of life.  Albeit, one must understand sorrow to appreciate joy, finding the silver lining during difficult times can give you comfort and peace.

Visiting a person with Alzheimer’s may not “spark joy” for you the minute you walk into a community, however, even if fleeting, it might create joy for that person with the disease.  The more time you have with a loved one suffering from dementia, the more opportunity you have to let that person “speak to your heart.”  There are countless stories in which family members thought visits were in vain just to realize in a moment of a Resident’s lucidity, how much alive that person still was.   “Sparking joy” could come from a laugh with a staff member remising memories with your loved one or simply the touch of holding hands.    If a visit is going poorly and not productive for either party, cut that visit short and find joy at a different time.

The fact is that Alzheimer’s and most forms of dementia are non-reversible.  The person you know now is not the person you knew ten years ago.  As Marie Kondo wrote, “[N]o matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past.  The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important.” The “new” person with dementia must be embraced even if it means finding joy by tapping into their reality.

Alzheimer’s changes a person, but they are still a person that can speak to your heart if you let them.  Count blessings and find joy in the moments that you have with your Mom, Dad, Husband, Wife or friend.