Jim Lang’s father died of cancer in 2015, leaving him to take care of his mother Darlene who had Alzheimer’s dementia.
He found several different tools that, along with patience and understanding, made both his and his mom’s lives easier. And with the help of the Naperville Public Library, he was able to share those through their Masterclass speaking program.
“A wireless doorbell works wonders,” said Lang. “No cords, no nothing. I could carry it with me if I was in a different part of the house and the button was there. And again it’s battery operated so I could use a little Velcro tape and stick it by the bed.”
A creative combination of baby monitors and alarms alerted him whenever his mother needed help or tried to wander off.
He also created signs for each room, which would help Darlene remember where she was in the house.
Many of the ideas Lang showed off were originally meant for children or babies. But he said allowing the Alzheimer’s patient to maintain dignity is vital.
“The bib or napkin is a good example,” said Lang. “As long as I called it a napkin, she was fine with it. If I had called it a bib, which it essentially is, there would have been a rebellion and a problem. Avoiding those terms which would have set her off and explaining it in adult terms made her more comfortable with it.”
The audience was also invited to share stories of what worked with them when caring for Alzheimer’s patients.
An estimated 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. And, according to alz.com, 16.1 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
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