June 6, 2017 - Our speaker for the day, couldn't have come at a better time as our previous speaker had a last minute cancellation! And so, Gabriel De Armas Jr., a club past president and current president of Home Instead Senior Care came to the rescue with what was undoubtedly the best lecture of this Rotary year!
Make Your Moments Matter!
Gabe started out his lecture with a scary statistic! Every 1 in 9 will, at some point, suffer from some form of mental impairment, some form of dementia and potentially, some form of Alzheimers! "We are all very fragile, things happen, we need to make our moments matter! We're only as good as our memories!" Gabe began.
Ways to Help!
Dementia can lead to confusion, then, disorientation and ultimately fear! The elderly can go quiet, withdraw from the world, sometimes sleeping 16-18 hours a day! As a caregiver one technique to use, while helping them to feel like they are more in control, is to present them with options. Never say, "Do this, or do that!"
Flavia Berti, our newest board Director, asked "So, how do you ask them to do things then?"
Gabe, "You give them two choices, A or B, always give them two choices!"
Memories and Music
Gabe continued noting that some memories, especially feelings, are always going to be there, these are just stored in another location, more like in the back of the mind, and, are just a little more difficult to access. However, each mind is wired differently, and it may take other varying kinds of prompts to bring those memories forward. For example, with a sports fan, you might ask them about baseball statistics, suddenly, with just a simple question, a withdrawn person, who may have been quiet and reserved, will light up, recalling astronomical numbers!
Julia, our exchange student from Hungary working on her Masters in Music, shared her story of her Grandmother and how they were able to connect after considerable time. Gabe followed up noting Julia's remarkable sense of empathy and how she instinctively knew how to relate to her loved one through her own unique approach!
Dr. Michael Newman observed, “Well, musicians actually have to be empathetic to be good, and Julia must be greatly empathetic because she’s a great musician!”
There's no doubt, music itself is huge! One sure fire way to connect with a Jazz fan, even if they have lost the ability of speech, is to play a record and watch as they suddenly start moving to the grove and begin to dance!
Connections are still there!
The fact, as Gabe pointed out, some of us may lose a part of our mind as we grow older, but fond memories and feelings have no expiration date! It just takes time, empathy, patience and love, to reconnect, for our elderly loved ones are still with us here and now! We just have to find the intellectual key to unlock this emotional door! That key can be through music or, just the right question sparking the unforgettable!
Thank you Gabe for your continued service to our community!
by Jeff McNabb