Don’t Retire, Refire: Facing the challenges of Alzheimer’s

By Gail Suplee Tatum, Columnist, The Times

To my Readers, while my articles, up to now, have been focused on keeping well, staying sharp and getting excited about this next chapter in our lives, what if we have challenges that are keeping us from fulfilling our ReFirement desires.

I am so excited to share with you information of an event in our neck of the woods that I feel you will very much appreciate attending. As an expert in Don’t Retire-ReFire, there are unfortunately many of us and our loved ones that are faced with the challenges Alzheimer’s. I have helped many clients deal with their challenges in loving, supportive ways, that have lessened their burdens and allow them to realize their potential.

Theresa Clement, of MyFixitUpLife, will be speaking at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks on helping the caregivers of those family members with Alzheimer’s to live a more fruitful life. Here are a few of her design tips that can make something as simple as mealtime, a little bit easier, less stressful and more enjoyable.

  1. Sturdy and cleared table. Make sure your table can support the weight of your loved one, as it may be used to assist in sitting down or standing up. A sturdy table also lessens the chance of spillage, as does having minimal items on the table.
  2. Strong, low-armed chairs. The chair needs to be sturdy for easy access when sitting down or standing up. Strong back support is important, as well, as it will help decrease the chances of food spilling down their shirt and/or on their lap.
  3. Solid fabrics. Patterned fabrics on chairs and tablecloths can be confusing. For someone with Alzheimer’s, the pattern of flowers may seem real, and make it difficult to convince your loved one to sit or dine on a bed of flowers.
  4. Clear the area. Beyond just removing items from the walking path to the dining chair, remove more than what is needed, to make the path more clear. The Alzheimer’s brain sometimes thinks that items are closer than they really are.
  5. Serve one-at-a-time. It may be time consuming, but it’s helpful to serve only one item of each meal at a time and that the proper utensil is the only one presented. This also can help with the decision dilemma of remembering if a spoon or a fork should be used to eat soup or spaghetti.
  6. Soothing scents. While the sense of smell starts to decline for someone with Alzheimer’s, odors that are positive and familiar from their past help remind them of happy times. Plug-ins and battery-operated scented candles can be perfect; so can an apple pie.
  7. Natural light. Research has proven that light becomes more important in the life of someone with Alzheimer’s. Not only are there issues with Sundown Syndrome, which is a term that describes the onset of confusion and agitation that generally affects people with dementia or cognitive impairment and usually strikes around sunset, but there are also issues as we all age with the yellow tinting of our sight, and the narrowing of our vision. The more there is natural daylight, and the more even the light can be at night, the easier and less stressed it will be for someone suffering with Alzheimer’s.

For more information about dates and times, as well as ticket pricing, for the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks, please go to:

Please share with me if this has been helpful and if there are any other topics you’d like me to speak to in future articles.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

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