Dementia Care: “Now What?”
My father passed away last week – the week of his 85th birthday and the birth of his 85th descendent. My dad always kept me on my toes. With every accomplishment he smiled and said- “Good Job- Now What?” There was never an end- everything was the beginning to the next task- the next area to grow.
My family has been long term care operators for 3 generations. We have had the privilege to take care of thousands of seniors over the years. I have fond memories of my mom singing “You are My Sunshine” with her residents and giving out hugs on an hourly basis. It wasn’t a business- it was a way of life. When my mom was diagnosed with early onset dementia it felt like the ultimate irony. We were the experts at this and suddenly became clueless. We began OUR own personnel journey as dementia caregivers.
My dad became the primary caretaker for my mom. There was never an end to what he wanted for her- more activities, more therapy, more family visits, just more. Time and place became confusing, and my mom required frequent reorientation which became frustrating for all of us. My family is scattered across the world and communicating with my mom was complicated. She didn’t do well with the phone and needed to “see” her caller. This became cumbersome with my low-tech father at the helm and there was a lot of “guilt” by the family for not being in touch and communicating with mom.
It is well known that music can have many benefits for the dementia patient and the care giver as well. According to NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Dementia and the Deputy Chief Allied Health Professions Officer “music can help reduce anxiety and depression, help maintain speech and language, is helpful at the end of life, enhances quality of life and has a positive impact on carers” . We saw this very clearly with my mom. She loved music and responded well to familiar songs and songs from prayer. Music helped with agitation and in turn brought a smile to my father’s face. As a family we tried to send music and links to musical videos, but it was very cumbersome and frustrated my dad that there wasn’t an “easier way.”
It turns out, there actually was an easier way- but I didn’t find it until after my moms passing. As someone involved in senior care and senior technology for over 30 years, I was introduced to Dani Waxman about a dementia clock and an interactive app he developed. RecallCue came from the pain Dani’s family was experiencing with his in laws suffering from dementia. RecallCue was the answer I was looking for. Dani developed an efficient and cost-effective way for the entire family- near and far – to easily communicate with their loved ones. I was so excited by this app I ran to show it to my dad- his response… “Great Idea- Now What?”
Well Dad, the “now what” has happened. RecallCue will now grow and provide a community for care partners struggling with communicating with their loved one. We will grow our platform and offering and make you proud Dad.