Organization and Introductions

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  • My name is Karen. I live in Wyoming. I was the activities director at a nursing home, and found valuable ways to work with residents from a workshop with Naomi Feil in the 1980*s. I am back to working with the elderly since my kids have all grown up and have their own homes. I recently had a resident who had severe anger problems, and would make accusations, hit, and constantly asked to call her family (which she had been used to doing). I
    could often keep her calm, but not always. She was so disruptive to the other residents that she was transferred to another facility. I currently have a client with whom I walk. She is generally very pleasant, but there are times she can become angry, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to get her to go the direction we need to go to get home. In general, I want to learn more about Validation so that I can help my clients and their families and caregivers.

  • Hi, my name is Marika, I live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (I’m french canadian, so pardon my future mistakes in english 😉 ). I’m 51 years old, and my father (89) has dementia. He now lives in an institution because the situation was becoming unbearable at home with my mother. Along with my sister and my mom, we have been taking care of him and visiting as often as we can (he’s been in three different places in the last year, yeah, our medical system has it’s downfalls…) and has suffered from severe anxiety, bouts of aggressiveness, depression, and even some psychotic delirium. The situation has stabilized now, but he is still unhappy and always wants to leave the facility. We often feel helpless in how to relate to him and didn’t get much help from anybody in the medical system. I want to make a better connection with my father and enter his world. I want to take him as he is now. I feel that the Validation technique can help me with that. I’ve been very inspired by some of Naomi Feil’s videos (which I found by accident – or rather by chance – on the internet). By the way, my father doesn’t recognize me anymore, he thinks I’m his first girlfriend from when he was a kid, his neighbour Margot, whom he liked very much. So he’s always happy to see me, and likes to remember the good times he had when « we » were kids. Thanks. Looking forward to meet you all.

  • My name is Robin Van Riper. I am 67 years old and live in Derwood, Maryland with my husband James of 39 years. He’s a healthy, strong 80-year old who does all of our garden and yard work. This past week he single-handedly cut down and cut up three of our forty to fifty feet evergreen trees for firewood and mulch. I am teacher. Currently, I am adjunct faculty for a theological institute where I teach live online biblical Hebrew grammar and text courses. While I am not teaching any classes this summer, I am in the midst of developing a new two-year course plan for our language program.

    I am Joan Harn’s sister, who has already introduced our Mom. Joan and I (along with our sister Joyce) have been working well together as a team in our Mom’s behalf over these past few years. Our aides are day-time only. Mom had her first incidence of wandering last December at which time we attempted to have an aide there around the clock. It made her so angry that we scaled back. Joan’s early morning breakfasts with Mom have been a great boon to Mom’s mood and sense of well-being.

    My sisters and I are keenly aware of the challenges and stresses of being a caregiver. Joan is a project manager and probably a lot better at time management than I am, and still, she’ll drop everything in a second to be there for Mom when needed. I’ll drop everything too, and hopefully not to the peril of my own well-being.

    We each adore our Mom and each have a unique relationship with her. She’s still fun to be with. Yesterday, however, I was a bit bewildered when I arrived to visit. She was thoroughly enjoying a movie she was watching. Pointing to the television she said animatedly, “You’re missing something, you’re missing something, you must sit down and watch this!” It was Hilary Swank in some movie. I couldn’t tell if it was in French or Italian. There were no subtitles. I said, “Mom, it’s in French.” She said, “No, no, it’s in English. I understand it perfectly.” I wasn’t going to argue with her. I was delighted that she was smiling and enjoying the movie. But she seemed to be in a world of her own making… and I’d not seen this before.

    I look forward to learning and adopting Validation perspectives on dementia in our communications with Mom and learning to apply these perspectives as we continue to navigate the many decisions that are before us in our ongoing care for our Mom.

  • My name is Jaye Kephart and I live in Denver. Mike, my husband, has Lewy Body Dementia. He is 78 years old and has just started to show more symptoms of Parkinsons. We have two very busy adult children and I have called on them, infrequently, to spend time with him when I have something planned. We do have dinner together every few weeks. We have 4 preteen grandchildren who have a group sleepover once/month. When I watch them, they are so good with him, which shows me how much more I have to learn. Looking forward to this class.

  • My name is Jeff Harn. I live in Bethesda, Maryland, along with my wife, Joan. Our adult son also lives with us, along with our aging Lakeland Terrier. I am 65 and retired a year and a half ago after 35 years of public service with Arlington County, Virginia, where I headed up the County’s sustainability and environmental management program.

    I am interested in learning more about the validation technique to help me understand and better deal with my mother’s early Alzheimer symptoms. She is 86 and lives in the Minneapolis area.
    She receives primary care and support from my three sisters, one of whom lives with her. We are also dealing with more advanced Alzheimer symptoms in my mother-in-law, who lives near us and will soon be 95. Her living situation is described more fully in Joan’s introduction below.

    I especially want to learn how to provide better support to my wife and to my three sisters who are dealing on a day-to-day basis with the increasing challenges of caring for my mother. I want to gain a better understanding of strategies to maintain all of our loving family relationships in the face of this illness. I also want to be able to continue to communicate with both my mother and my mother-in-law as the short-term memory loss and other physical and behavioral symptoms become more pronounced.

  • I am Janet Bloom from Denver, Colorado.
    My 92 year old mother has the beginnings of dementia. My three siblings and I have not been able to appropriately respond to my mother’s paranoia and confusion because we don’t know the words to use. She now has a full-time caregiver who lives with her and my mother hates her. This is a situation that needs to change. The dementia is compounded by hearing loss and vision loss, all due to changes from aging.
    We want a better living environment for my mother and her caregiver, and need help in dealing with this time in our lives.

  • I retired in April from a career in river conservation with the National Park Service in Washington DC. I like to read, get outdoors to hike, fish, and paddle, and travel. I live with my husband of 41 years (who is also taking the class), adult son, and old dog, five minutes from my mother. She is 94, very introverted, and has been in decline from Alzheimer’s for the past 6 years.

    My mother lives in an independent apartment in a Senior Community with Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing. We started having aides last summer to assist my 2 sisters (one is taking the class) and me with her care. Physically she is very healthy and mobile. She resents having aides and sometimes can get angry. Occasionally she wanders and can’t find her way back to her apartment on her own. Frequently she is confused. She can also be very sweet. I prepare and have breakfast with her 5 days/week. We learned about Validation techniques when we started to explore memory care facilities. I’ve had some success using Validation with the little I have been able to pick up from some of the videos and I’d like to learn more to help relate to her and resolve (or cope with) the strong emotions from her childhood that she dwells on.

    My mother-in-law is also showing signs of dementia. She lives with one of my husband’s 3 sisters in Minneapolis, MN.

  • My name is Robert Deane, I live with my wife of 51-years in Temecula, CA. I’m 79, she is 80 and is in the early stages of dementia. I’m her primary caregiver, a daughter age 49 lives nearby and spends time with her but always together so I do not get any “alone time”.

    We have a comfortable single story home which she loves. I hope to keep her at home as long as possible and my main challenge in doing so is to learn better how to communicate while being patient.

    Problems I face include finding meaningful things for her to do, finding friends that will be patient with her dementia (we have recently moved to Temecula from Newport Beach in Orange County) and remaining calm when faced with repetitive behavior. On occasion she has stayed up all night, with no sleep I find this the most difficult behavior to deal with.

    I am often occupied with other things (yard work, cleaning the home or on the computer) and she does not seem to deal well with being alone. When I leave the home, I always leave her notes about where I am going and when I will be back. It would be helpful to know just how much time to be with her and if there are critical times of the day.

  • Hello. My name is Rebekah. I am a social worker with Boulder County, and I work primarily with older adults (70+). My 85 year old mother has dementia, moderate, and I while I have read much on this illness and watched videos (I recommend Teepa Snow), I still find myself, after an incident, thinking “I should have handled THAT differently!”
    My mother lives in Michigan but I manage most of the care giving communication/arrangements and travel there every 6-8 weeks although I will be there the full month of July. My biggest difficulty, at least at this moment, is family members who refuse to acknowledge my mothers dementia, shrugging it off as a “bad day”. This brother has a personality disorder (not only does he lack empathy, he actively attempts to manipulate my mother into behaviors that are unsafe or ill advised – eg., telling her she can drive when the doctor has advised her not to do so). I worry that my communication will not be as “effective” as those of brother Paul, whom she favors…

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