Dementia and Your Family

Posted by: The Bristal

Dear Maryellen,

My mom has been showing signs of dementia recently. I’m worried that she won’t be as involved with her grandchildren the more her condition progresses. Do you have any thoughts? -Sara, White Plains, NY

Dear Sara,

Dementia is a serious condition and it can be a life-changing factor for your family. This condition will hinder memory and interaction with those around her, but it doesn’t mean she has to be excluded from your family. Your mom can still be involved with her grandchildren. There are activities they can participate in together and this will help her with memory and maintaining her usual routine.

Establishing a schedule for your mom might be good way to go. If your mom usually takes walks, encourage her to continue doing that but make sure she is accompanied on her outings. If your mom likes to sew or bake or ride a bike, push her to keep doing her favorite pastimes. Your kids can join in these activities with her. If your children continue spending as much time as possible with their grandmother, that would be a great thing for all of them. Playing board games, cooking, and making crafts will provide them with plenty of activity time and will not only encourage interaction with each other. It will also help your mom with memory retention and reinforce familial connections.

Many Gerontologists suggest participating in clinical trials which are available at Cornell in NYC and Stony Brook here on Long Island. They also suggest speaking with your physician about having a neuropsychological evaluation. This evaluation involves testing that which is sensitive to problems in brain functioning. Unlike the MRI or CT scan, a neuropsychological assessment examines how well the brain is working when it performs certain cognitive functions (for example remembering). According to our specialists this exam will help provide a true diagnosis and allow for accurate treatment later on.

I’m available if you need any further assistance.

Maryellen McKeon

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