Alzheimer's group: Use Valentine's Day to reconnect

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

You're the last person I will love
You're the last face I will recall
And best of all, I'm not gonna miss you
Not gonna miss you

They’re the words to the last song and recorded by iconic country star Glen Campbell, written after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and part of the soundtrack to the film, “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me,” documenting his disease and final tour.

Whatever his feelings at the end, which arrived Aug. 8, 2017, Campbell was surrounded by those who loved him, vitally important for families affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is using Valentine’s Day to point out the importance of families finding ways to express love, show support and connect with one another throughout the year.

“It is important to have people to love and care about, especially when it comes to family,” said Charles J. Fuschillo Jr., AFA’s president and CEO. “To feel loved is one of the most basic human needs.”

Meeting that need will involve some creativity and adaptation to changing reality.

Some of AFA’s suggestions:

Find ways to reconnect. It may be unrealistic to do all the things you once did with your loved ones, but there are still ways to maintain, restore or create intimacy, love and connection. Doing things together such as sharing a meal, watching a movie, listening to or dancing to favorite music, looking at old photos or just taking a walk are all ways to help stay connected. Nonverbal cues, such as gentle touching, smiles and eye contact are all ways to “stay connected” with someone who may no longer be able to verbalize their emotions as they had before.

Know the person’s “love languages.” Love languages describe various ways people give and receive love. These include physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service. Try to be sensitive to the types of gestures your person responds to. These may change over time.

Be adaptable. Focus on what the person can do now, rather than dwelling on what they cannot, and be willing to adapt your relationship to the “new normal.” For example, if traveling is something you enjoyed together before but can no longer do, consider bringing a destination to them. Instead of going to Italy, have an Italian-themed night with Italian food, music, pictures and/or movies.

The AFA offers help through its national toll free helpline, 866-232-8484 or at www.alzfdn.org

Aso, the Alzheimer's Association can connect you with low-cost or free community support services at 800.272.3900.

Or contact your local healthcare provider.

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