Dear Caregiver: Consider This Child’s Perspective
May 8, 2024

Did you know? May is National Older Americans Awareness Month, and Oakwood Creative Care is committed today and every day to serving the older adults in our communities.

For almost 50 years, Oakwood has continuously taken new and innovative steps to allow older adults to experience a life fully lived, no matter their diagnosis.

Sherri Friend, Oakwood’s President and CEO, spoke about the impact these steps have had on seniors and their caregivers during a panel featured in the Morning Scoop presented by the Arizona Capitol Times called “Navigating Dementia – Arizona’s Innovative New Model.”

You can catch the full panel discussion here.

Dear Caregiver,

I have a personal story that I want to share with you all starring my niece, a fellow (tiny) member of the Oakwood family. I was driving with my niece a while back when we kickstarted our usual pattern of 20 questions. Typically, our line of questioning goes a little something like this: What is your favorite color? What is your favorite animal? And, this time, what do you want to be when you grow up? Usually, my niece’s response to this question varies from Toy Doctor to Taylor Swift; however, this time, she said something that made my heart glow. She said, “I want to take care of all the grandmas and grandpas like my mommy does.” 

WOW, am I right? Without hesitation, my sweet niece, who is only six years old, declared how important it was to her that she would one day grow up to care for the grandmas and grandpas. And, most importantly, she didn’t just mean her grandma and grandpa. No, she very enthusiastically meant all of the grandmas and grandpas. 

Not only was this conversation a shining example of how highly my niece looks up to her mother, but it also powerfully demonstrated a line of thinking that we adults too often overlook — and that’s just how much love and compassion our little ones are capable of. 

What if we all shifted our mindsets to align with how kids view the world around them? Instead of focusing on someone’s dementia and everything that comes with the diagnosis, what if we simply just concentrate on the person? Who they are, who they have been, and who they could still be. Imagine the sort of impact we could have within the healthcare and creative care industry if we looked at older adults the same way my niece does: not as a group of people with varying degrees of cognitive and physical challenges, but purely as our generation’s grandmas and grandpas. The very people who shaped the world we currently live in and raised us with the sort of values and morals we’re now passing off to our children!

Honestly, this conversation has humbled me and stuck with me for days. What a much-needed reminder my niece gave of how important it is to honor someone’s identity and personhood when facing the circumstances many of us share. Being a caregiver is hard work, and making way for independence and age-appropriate interactions for our loved ones with dementia can be even more complicated. But these are the loved ones who spent so much of their lives taking care of us, and now it is our turn to take care of them. So, maybe, just maybe, if we remind ourselves to treat others based solely on who they are — our parents, grandparents, and friends — we might be able to bring them more joy and a higher quality of life beyond the diagnosis they’ve been labeled with.

 

Signed,

A Fellow Caregiver

We're Here For You

The impacts of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other age-related issues affect the entire family. Oakwood Creative Care provides services, education, and support to help you ensure you never have to navigate through this journey alone.

Learn more, contact us, and get started with the Guide Program today, at:

dear caregiver, may 2024

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We're a nonprofit organization based in Mesa, Arizona with three senior day club locations (and a fourth on the way) which serve older adults with Alzheimer's, dementia, Parkinson's, and various other physical or cognitive challenges. Life does not end with a diagnosis. Our members continue to learn new skills, enjoy new discoveries, make friends, laugh, and live a joy-filled life. Our team of dementia experts lead support groups, events, classes, and private sessions with caregivers and families, guiding them on the best methods to care for their loved ones while also caring for themselves.


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