Being a member of the Sandwich Generation requires more than a lot of energy – it also involves knowing more than you ever cared to about a host of subjects that weren’t on your radar just a handful of years ago, including coping with memory loss in one or both parents.
According to data from the National Institutes on Aging (NIH), Alzheimer’s Disease affects as many as 5.1 million Americans, and there is currently no effective method of prevention or treatment. Risk increases with age, with the number of victims doubling for every 5-year interval beyond age of 65.
Of course, a parent suffering from Alzheimer’s or similar affliction involving memory loss often experiences “good days,” during which they may want to be involved in activities. Helping them plan and participate in things they enjoy adds to their quality of life, and helps keep them connected to friends and family.
One of the more heartbreaking aspects of the disease for many adult children is watching their parents forget whole pieces of their lives. The Alzheimer’s Association cites a number of “Memory Aides” to help patients and their loved ones cope with memory loss:
- Labels – posting the contents of drawers, cabinets – even closets and storage bins – can help your loved one find everyday and seldom-used items more easily
- Contact Lists – posting phone numbers – perhaps with a photo of the person “belonging” to each number – provides peace of mind
- Reminder Lists – daily chores such as turning off the coffee pot, locking the door, or shutting the window can help ensure safety precautions are followed
- Instructions – easy-to-find, easy-to-understand instructions for using appliances such as the computer, the stove or the cable television; as well as for routine tasks such as brushing their teeth or fixing their hair can alleviate stress and provide a sense of calm
A number of activities and organizations also provide ways to preserve memories before the disease advances:
- Journals – encourage your parent – or help them – write down memories and significant events in a journal that can be printed and shared with friends and loved ones
- Photo albums/photo books – traditional photo albums can be scanned and uploaded into a digital format, and shared as framed prints, albums or memory books, complete with identifying tags or stories
- Story Corps – this independent nonprofit organization provides the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of individuals, and offers a free CD to keep and share. StoryCorps also preserves the interview at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Since 2003, more than 40,000 interviews have been collected and archived, many of which have been broadcast on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition program.
Each Windsong community was designed with the active Boomer in mind, with low-maintenance features and home designs that maximize accessibility, minimize hassles and provide opportunities to enjoy an active lifestyle. Since maintenance chores are minimal, Windsong homeowners find they have more time to spend with friends and neighbors – and to relax and create memories with their aging parents.
Welcome home to Windsong – Where Life’s A Breeze!