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Friday, September 19, 2014

Christmas tree safe for patients with Alzheimer's

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To all the readers of this blog who are eager to learn more about dementia, 

It is not too early to be thinking about Christmas

You, as an activities director, other healthcare professional or caregiver will be interested in this story about decorating a Christmas tree that is safe for most with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia
Calgary Herald
Canwest News Service
Alice Jones's home is decorated with a special Christmas tree that glitters with everything edible.


Tinsel has been replaced with popcorn strings and Cheerios chains. Gingerbread men and sugary santas have taken the places of wooden soldiers.


The old-fashioned tree was the idea of the staff at the McConnell Place north Alzheimer Care Centre in Edmonton.


Alice Jones's home is decorated with a special Christmas tree that glitters with everything edible.
Tinsel has been replaced with popcorn strings and Cheerios chains. Gingerbread men and sugary santas have taken the places of wooden soldiers.
It's a way to spark Christmas memories in the residents, but also to keep them safe should they decide to eat something pretty.
Years ago, one woman was attracted to the tree trimmings and occasionally tried to take a bite.
That's a rare occurrence, said Kerry Kilback, a resident companion in one ward of the alzheimer's centre, where 12 of 36 people live.
But horrific things can happen to people with dementia.
"We have to be aware of our surroundings. we want to make it safe for ourselves as well as our residents," Kilback said. "We wanted what the residents were used to, what would trigger memories. It seemed like a neat idea."
Such "reminiscence therapy" isn't new for the centre, which also puts on re-enactments of weddings to rekindle memories, even if those memories can't always be voiced. Long-term memory is generally the last to go for people with dementia.
Alice Jones has lived at McConnell Place north for two Christmases.
The 74-year-old said she associates Christmas with carols and festive trees.
"I don't think it would be Christmas without them."

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