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LoveI was at the corner coffee shop yesterday when I ran into a man who I have seen over the last few years at a certain nursing home down the hill. I’d never really talked to him, though he’d been a constant presence at dinner time, helping his wife as I sat and fed other patients in the same dining room.

As he got into his car, I asked how his wife was.

He smiled an ironic little smile something between pride and exasperation. “If you asked her she’d say she was getting better every day,” he said.

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9425e1aa464bf22a0823d2e4b47d5674When I reflect on some of the caregivers I’ve worked with over many years, I recognize them as some of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever known. Caregivers have always been my heroes; from the days when I watched them care for far too many patients at one time in a nursing home, to the following years doing home care, I’ve been in quite awe of them. The dedication, the patience, the gentleness, and of course the plain hard physical work.  Transferring and bending over bedridden patients all day and night in order to do personal care, and assisting patients from bed into wheelchair or back into bed.

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3a241d632c461af71a15c1198cff46d1With nearly 50% of all seniors over 80 years old having some form of Dementia, Geriatric Care Managers are in the position of teaching caregivers and family members how to communicate with their loved ones. The following list of “do’s” and “don’ts”  from the Alzheimer’s Association are important reminders that even though an elder has memory deficits and cognitive decline, their human dignity is still very much intact. Kindness, compassion and learned communication techniques can make all the difference.

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