Living Well with Dementia: Our 2022 Ambassador’s story

Posted 2/1/22

Family works together to manage mom's journey Brian is the CEO of a St. Croix County business. He’s also a caregiver for his 92-year-old mother. He represents one of 11 million Americans who …

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Living Well with Dementia: Our 2022 Ambassador’s story


Family works together to

manage mom's journey

Brian is the CEO of a St. Croix County business. He’s also a caregiver for his 92-year-old mother. He represents one of 11 million Americans who is an unpaid caregiver for an aging adult with memory issues. He is one of five siblings but is the only one living near his mom – the others are each at least 2.5 hours away. He stops to see her once or twice during the week and then he and his siblings each take one weekend a month to visit and ensure she is continuing to thrive in her independent living setting. Brian expresses gratitude for his siblings and their willingness to take off from work to also help manage their mom’s appointments, which they try to schedule Mondays or Fridays to better accommodate work schedules.

His mom’s transition from a three-bedroom condo to the independent senior living apartment several years ago has made things easier for this active family. That decision was made when she was still actively driving to and from the cabin and was truly independent. He says she is fortunate to have made friends in the senior living apartment and has strong bonds with family and friends who communicate with her frequently. Although she now walks with a walker, she still goes for walks, car rides and/or dinner with friends in addition to her many phone conversations.

Over the past two years, Brian and his siblings started noticing their mom was forgetting when she had talked to others, or who she had talked to, and also started repeating conversations more frequently. He recalls grocery shopping for his mom started to become more challenging as she would tell him she needed fresh fruits and vegetables, a loaf of bread and a steak or burger, but when he arrived with the items, he’d find the same things in multiples already in her very full refrigerator. She was asking several people for the same items without first checking her refrigerator.

After the realization that mom’s cognition was changing, this family worked together to make decisions and get support for their mom to keep her as independent as possible in her apartment.

First, they hired a home health aide to come in two days a week to help with cooking, cleaning and grooming and a nurse that would set-up pill planners for two weeks at a time. Over time the aide visits were increased to five days/week. Brian appreciates the benefit and reassurance that the home health visits provided to his family, especially during COVID, so that mom continued to have daily interactions with people.

During that time, they also secured SCEC FirstCall Medical Monitoring, installed in a home to give peace of mind to individuals and their families and help promote independent living. If she needs assistance as a result of a fall or feeling unwell, she can push the button on the pendant to initiate a call to a Cooperative Response Center (CRC) operator who assesses the situation and determines if Brian needs to be contacted.

These siblings recognized their mom’s need for continued opportunities to be in control, to do little things that are still significant to her. They obtained a low-balance credit card that caregivers could use but also that their mom could use so she could pick out items, reach in her purse and pay for things. They acknowledged that although it would be easier for the caregivers to just handle it all, it was important for mom’s feelings of selfworth and control to be able to complete these tasks on her own. They used a similar approach to empower her regarding holiday gift-giving. Instead of shopping for 15 people, they helped mom prepare cards for each child and grandchild and she was able to put money in them that covered Christmas and their upcoming birthdays. She was reassured that all were treated equally, and no one was forgotten. She was able to complete the gift-giving with pride and contentment that she was still in charge of this familiar and important task.

Brian says another reason his family has been fortunate is that his father was a good planner. He had purchased a long-term care policy which is now helping to pay for the home health aide. In addition, he had addressed financial and health decisions, so those documents were in place. Brian notes he and his siblings discuss mom’s care and finances regularly to keep all of them aware of what is happening, but plans were in place for years, so they know what their mom’s wishes were earlier in life.

The St. Croix Valley Dementia Friendly Communities Coalition has shared this Ambassador’s story to raise awareness. We strive to inspire hope and positivity by recognizing how individuals can maintain social involvement, physical activity, and community engagement as people age. Our mission: Collaborating to inspire healthy, friendly communities that support those living with dementia.

If you would like to learn more about our coalition, please call Dementia Care Specialists Kimberly Bauer in St. Croix County, 715 381-4411, or Amy Luther in Pierce County 715 273-6780.

SCEC FirstCall Medical Monitoring, offered by St. Croix Electric Cooperative to not only co-op members but also to the larger community, is partnering with the Coalition in sponsoring the Living Well with Dementia balloon at the Hudson Hot Air Affair, which this year will be held Feb. 4-6. SCEC FirstCall offers peace of mind at the touch of a button with local service from local employees you know and can trust.

For more information about SCEC FirstCall Medical Monitoring visit or call 715-796-7000 or 800-924-3407. For more information about Hudson Hot Air Affair, including a schedule of events, visit www.hudsonhotairaffair. com or see posters and brochures around the greater Hudson community.

Submitted by St. Croix Valley Dementia Friendly Communities

St. Croix Valley Dementia Friendly Communities Coalition Ambassador Brian, pictured with his mother, shared his story to bring awareness, inspire hope and positivity. Photo courtesy of Amy Luther