St. John’s Inspires WXXI Discussion on Dementia Caregiving

Mimi DeVinney with a St. John’s Home resident

The recent death of retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and her connection to Alzheimer’s disease was the catalyst for a thought-provoking discussion about supporting dementia caregivers. “Caring for a Loved One with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease” was the featured topic on an episode of WXXI News program Connections. As one of the Rochester area’s leading voices on the topic, St. John’s Dementia/Quality of Life Specialist Mimi DeVinney brought her unique expertise to the conversation. DeVinney shared insights and information about the many resources St. John’s can offer caregivers throughout the stages of the disease.

Caregivers and former caregivers alike were a prominent part of the discussion, both as members of the panel and those who called into the program to share their own perspectives. “We have a lot of staff and a lot of support,” said DeVinney, when asked about the advantages of caregivers considering long-term care as needs  begin to exceed what they are able to provide on their own. “When it becomes more difficult at home, we can pick up where they left off and even include them in the future care of their loved one.”

One caller reiterated the positives that can come from a move to a senior community, calling it “life changing.” He cited his experience caring for his wife with Alzheimer’s disease and how the caregiver experience changed for the better once she was in the safe environment of a dementia care community. He reported that after the move, husband and wife were better able to enjoy their time together during his daily visits.

“I’ve seen this with a lot of families,” said DeVinney in response to the caller. “I very often see people who, after making a change, are just relieved,” she said. She further described how caregivers are able to better relax and get more rest once primary caregiving duties are handed off to paid staff in the community of their choice. “I think that does come as a surprise to people when they bring their loved ones to St. John’s.”

DeVinney also talked about some of the St. John’s resources available to dementia caregivers of those in the earlier stages of the disease, including the St. John’s Dementia Resource Center website as well as the new drop-off respite program at St. John’s with partner Lifespan of Greater Rochester.  Lifespan’s Director of Caregiver Services Katy Allen was part of the panel as well and offered some great advice for new caregivers to follow.  “Take those moments early on, shortly after a diagnosis or when you have moments to breathe,” Allen said. “Connect with professionals in your community at that time just to start getting educated about the options available to you. Become as educated of a caregiver as possible.”

Listen to the December 20 episode of Connections and begin your caregiver education.


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