It takes a patient and kind-hearted person to be a caregiver for someone with dementia. People with dementia often require a higher level of care. But when you talk to the team at The Arbors, there is a common theme of: “I was meant to do this job.” They couldn’t imagine themselves doing anything else. And that’s why caregivers of those with dementia are celebrated this month in Dementia Care Professionals Month.
The most rewarding part of Talin Ganemian's job (The Arbors at Westfield Reflections Memory Program Director) is the memories she’s building each and every moment with her residents. “The smiles I get to see on my residents' faces every day; that’s why I love my job so much,” says Talin. She’s been taking care of people with dementia for 25 years. “It still feels like my first day every morning when I walk through the doors. I’ve never grown tired of doing what I do,” says Talin.
Talin gives credit to her grandmother for shaping her into the person she is today. “My grandmother raised me for my entire life, she was my inspiration. She had memory issues when she got older and everyone would call her 'senile'. It was hard to watch because back then they didn’t have the care options like we do today. I never want my residents to feel like my grandmother did,” says Talin.
Managing Caregiver Stress
Working in memory care can take a toll on caregivers, leading to caregiver stress or even burnout. It’s important for caregivers to find a way to cope with the stress. “I meditate every morning and night. I use soothing music and candles to create a relaxing environment, it’s my favorite way to relieve stress after a difficult day,” says Talin.
Pattie Ricketts, Regional Director of Activities and Reflections Memory Program at The Arbors, wants her staff members to take the time to talk about their feelings and be a support system for them, no matter the time of day or night. “I am available for my team 24/7. I want them to feel like they can call me anytime – if they’re getting frustrated with a certain activity or brainstorming ideas to relieve stress. It’s my job to support them and help prevent them from being burnt out. Caring for those with dementia can be challenging,” says Pattie.
Being a caregiver for people with dementia is a noble task. “My staff members truly have hearts of gold. They show up every day giving their all to make sure our residents are taken care of, making most of their days. It’s not about just keeping them ‘busy,’ each activity and outing is carefully planned to help each resident get the most out of their day,” says Pattie.
Outings & Activities
While some communities hesitate to take dementia residents on outings, The Arbors encourages it. Residents can enjoy going out to lunch at their favorite restaurant, going to the park, bus tours or even social hour with assisted living residents.
Kimberly Stout, The Arbors at Dracut’s Reflections Memory Program Director, enjoys taking her residents out into the community. “When we go out to eat with our residents, I call the restaurant ahead of time to reserve a table and let them know a larger group of people (some with dementia) will be eating. We request that the serving staff has a little extra patience as we let the residents choose from the menu (with help from the caregivers). They still want to feel like an adult who can do those things, we just have to create the right environment for that to happen,” says Kim.
Staff members at The Arbors are committed to keeping residents engaged and active in a safe, homelike environment. They promote the highest quality of life by adapting their staff, environment and daily routine to the needs of each individual regardless of their memory loss.