About a year ago, my grandmother experienced signs of dementia such as loss of memory and motor skills. Visiting with her was difficult because she wavered between being confused, frustrated, angry, or withdrawn. Watching our extended family struggle as they tried to figure out the best ways to help her made me realize how unprepared most of us are to care for the aging.
Last summer, during an internship at Northside Hospital, I was selected to work with elderly and dementia patients through the hospital’s pioneer Patient Advocacy Liaisons (PALS) program. Before beginning my work, I went through a “PALS 65 and Up” training class which taught me about the sensory changes that affect the elderly, how the elderly struggle to come to terms with their newfound physical limitations, and how these limitations and changes can lead to social detachment or isolation. Through this training, I also learned different techniques to encourage or increase communication with the elderly.
After participating in this class and reflecting on my experiences with my grandmother, I became more curious about issues surrounding the elderly and eager to share helpful information with my family so that we could better assist my grandmother. However, after some research, I realized this information was not summarized anywhere. I approached the PALS and Volunteen coordinators at Northside Hospital with the idea of developing a treasure box concept that could be used at the hospital and placed on a website where it could be easily accessed by anyone with an interest in tools and techniques geared toward encouraging and increasing positive interactions and communication with early onset dementia and socially detached elderly adults.
This idea grew into my Girl Scout Gold Award Project, Talk To Me, and focuses on providing tools and techniques to those who care for or interact with the elderly on a regular basis. On this website you will find instructions on putting together your own Talk To Me treasure box. If you wish to have this information on paper, you can download a copy of my informational booklet in the "Digital Booklet" section of this site located under the "Home" tab. It contains a summarized version of the information on this website.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.