Alzheimer’s disease and others forms of dementia can be devastating both, for those affected as well as the friends and family members who love them. Staff members at Rolla Presbyterian look at the disease from every angle to provide the hands-on care and behind-the-scenes support needed to meet the complex needs of everyone dementia touches.
Internally, nurses in the community’s Tranquility House learn that the symptoms of dementia can vary depending on the root cause. Staff members are trained to look for the symptoms associated with a decline in memory that could include memory loss, difficulty communicating or finding words, difficulty with complex tasks, difficulty planning and organizing, difficulty with coordination and motor functions, problems with disorientation and personality changes.
According to Tranquility House nurse, Dolly Smith, the advanced training she and her colleagues receive at RPM leads to better, more personalized care for both residents and family members.
“I believe the staff benefits greatly from the in-depth, personal training we receive,” said Dolly. “It is what allows us to work one on one with the residents and their families to meet their needs.”
For those in the area who have become caregivers themselves, RPM provides a support group that meets on the third Thursday of every month. Led by Marketing Director Joelle Freeland, who was recently named “Facilitator of the Month” by the Alzheimer’s Association, the support group provides a forum for caregivers to talk, share their experiences and get advice from others in a similar situation.
“It is very stressful caring for those who have dementia. In many cases, these people are 24-hour caregivers,” said Joelle. “This support group gives them a time to come and relax, which they rarely get to do.”
And for Joelle, taking time for yourself is one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver.
“You have to take care of yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, then you’ll get to a place where you can’t take care of the person you’re caring for,” said Joelle. “It could be a support group, it could be finding someone to come in, going to church or the grocery store, whatever it is, you have to find time to take care of your needs.”
Joelle’s involvement in the group is enhanced by her own personal experiences.
“Being a caregiver myself, I can talk from that end of it,” said Joelle. “When you need someone to talk to, it can’t just wait.”
To learn more about Tranquility House, or RPM’s caregiver support group, contact Joelle at 573-202-6933 or email [email protected].