St. John’s Dementia Expert Has Holiday Advice for Caregivers
Chevrolet’s Holiday to Remember is arguably the most poignant holiday-themed commercial we have seen in some time. Clocking in at over five minutes long, it shows the fictional account of a common scenario: a woman living with memory impairment, a husband doing his best to manage her quality of life at home, and the extended family back home visiting for the holidays, asking about how the couple is holding up. “Good days and bad,” her husband says about the family’s beloved ‘Grams’. “But the love is always there.”
The Chevrolet ad ends on a positive note, with meaningful moments unfolding just in time for the start of the family meal. While the truth is that potentially complex holiday situations involving people living with dementia are not always easy, there are ways to increase your odds of fostering positive holiday moments and interactions. This December, St. John’s Dementia/Quality of Life Specialist Mimi DeVinney joined co-hosts Dan Schrack and Abby Fridmann on Good Day Rochester to offer viewers some perspective on the holidays as well as strategies Rochester area caregivers can use to help them better navigate the get-togethers and traditions the season brings.
“It’s a hard time for big family get-togethers because things are different now,” DeVinney said about how the holidays can be overwhelming for people as they progress through the stages of dementia. She suggested hosting smaller gatherings at home with loved ones and avoiding crowded and potentially overstimulating situations outside of the home. “If you used to go out for a tree lighting,” said DeVinney, “maybe now you go out for a drive to see the lights.”
DeVinney also advised Fox Rochester viewers that if they treat the holidays as a season as opposed to one “make or break” day to celebrate, they are more likely to have success. Her advice is to “focus on the things that are most important– those holiday traditions that mean the most to you– and then you simplify.”
Mimi DeVinney also discussed her role at St. John’s and gave insights into her work with residents living with dementia as well as her responsibilities training others throughout the organization to best support residents living with progressive memory impairment.
DeVinney’s expertise can also be utilized through the “Ask Mimi” page on the St. John’s Online Dementia Resource Center. This free resource gives web users the opportunity to send in to Mimi their own caregiver questions, with several of the answers posted to the website for the benefit of other caregivers in similar situations.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease: listen to Mimi DeVinney and a panel of experts on WXXI News program Connections December 20