Dementia and Lady-Links: Taking One Step at a Time

Want to get something done?  It won’t get accomplished unless you take that first step.  Empty shoes aren’t going to move by themselves. (That’s a very loose interpretation of Newton’s First Law of Motion!)


Taking one step, even a small step, in the right direction can be the beginning of something amazing.

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Sometimes that first step can be the hardest.  It takes courage to begin something new, especially if you’re not really sure if what you’re doing will work or not. That’s how it is in visiting a friend or loved one with dementia.   Each of our Lady-Links had to make a first visit, without knowing exactly what would happen.


As we share among ourselves every few months about what we’ve learned from our visits, there has never been one Lady-Link who regrets taking that first step.

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I know we all remember one of the most famous quotes in history about “one small step for man leading to a giant leap for mankind” (Neil Armstrong).  Lady-Links have found that taking that first step has resulted in giant leaps toward establishing treasured friendships.


Not exactly a moon walk, but investing in the lives of others is one of the best things on earth that we can do!

Dementia and Valentines: Celebrating Friendships

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote about it, we’re told that it’s what makes the world go round, it’s the meaning behind the name of the city of Philadelphia, and it’s found in our Lady-Links slogan. What is “it?” Of course everyone knows, the answer is love.


The Lady-Links celebrate friendship in a special way each year with a Valentine’s Party.  During the party we involve our dear friends with dementia in making valentines to give to others in our community.  This has been our tradition for years and there are benefits for everyone.  Our dear friends feel that they are able to still contribute to the happiness of others and those who receive our valentines truly appreciate that someone remembered them on such a special day.


Lady-Links express friendship love at each of our visits by treating our dear friends who have dementia with value and endearment.  Lady-Links personify the biblical commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself” as we link love, laughter and life throughout our interactions with our dear friends and their families. For us, Valentine’s Day is year-round but we are delighted to celebrate it in a special way each February.

Enjoy pictures from our Valentine Party showing how the Lady-Links share a special bond of friendship love.





















And for the dear friends who couldn’t make it to the party, we delivered their valentines to them.




With Lady-Links, there’s plenty of love to last a lifetime!


Dementia and Lady-Links: Wrapping with Care

When I was young, I remember helping my mother pack fragile items in boxes to be shipped to family and friends through the mail. We carefully wrapped those delicate treasures in layers of newspapers and sent them on their way.


Much later, bubble wrap was invented which provided a more secure way of sending our precious things.


Multiple layers of bubble wrap around a single item is practically guaranteed to prevent it from damage.


Too bad we can’t bubble wrap our precious dear friends to protect them from the damages that the progression of dementia will bring.  It’s sad that there’s so much protection for “things” but not for “people.”


Then I remembered the old packaging slogan from years ago, “Fragile: Handle with Care” which still remains in use today.


As Lady-Links, we realize that our dear friends are fragile in many ways, especially with their emotions and their cognitive abilities.  We make every effort to show love, kindness and compassion to each dear friend while we visit her.


In other words, we “handle with care” these fragile, treasured friendships by looking for ways to encourage and inspire our dear friends by what we say and what we do.


The result is that we’ve found these small acts of caring have the potential to turn lives around even if it is just for a little while.

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Although bubble wrap is a great invention for protecting breakable gifts, the Lady-Links know that handling their dear friends with loving care provides the best possible protection until a cure for Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia can be found.

Dementia and Friends: When All Else Fails, the Lady-Links Know What to Do


“When all else fails, read the instructions.”

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Have you heard that saying implying that the last thing most of us do is to read the instructions?  In many situations, reading the instructions will help prevent a disaster.

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We all have choices in the strategies we use to successfully meet the challenges before us. Some work better than others.  Following the scientific method for problem solving is one choice but only if your investigation follows a logical path.

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But what if there are no instructions, and common sense isn’t any help? What if there aren’t any warning signs along the way?

That’s what it feels like when working with a person with dementia.  There’s no blueprint to follow, only a general idea of what to do.


The Lady-Links face this occasionally during our visits with our dear friends with dementia.  We have an idea of an activity that will be meaningful, and usually they are.

But when not, we react with kindness and compassion as we transition to something that will work. We don’t count those as failures, because they may work next week.  Rather, they are opportunities to go in a new or different direction.

When a craft project doesn’t interest our dear friend, looking at pictures of her family might be just what she would enjoy.  It doesn’t mean that our planned activity isn’t appropriate, it simply means that something else would catch and hold her attention better at this particular time.Girl Talk looking at picture

The Lady-Links understand that showing kindness works better than following a set of directions when attempting to engage our dear friends in activities, and we do that with plenty of smiles and cheerful conversation.  Never once will “failure” be a part of our vocabulary for ourselves or for our dear friends.  Our purpose is to bring joy into their lives and into ours during our visits, not to accomplish a set number of projects.  If a project isn’t finished because of lack of interest, then smiling, talking, special hugs and holding hands take its place as we transition to something else. Those little acts of kindness are the solution.


Kindness counts when all else fails!

Dementia and Birthdays: Celebrating Life


20160229_140504When one of our dear friends has a birthday, it is an occasion to celebrate! But just as our visits are individually tailored to meet each dear friend’s needs, so are our birthday celebrations.


Some of our dear friends know it is the day of their birth and, with clues, can give us bits and pieces of information about their early years.  Yet others don’t understand the concept of birthdays any more, but simply enjoy a party atmosphere with the brightly colored decorations, the singing, the cake, and the fun party favors.



Our Lady-Links know how to celebrate with much fanfare or with softer, gentler demonstrations of acknowledgment.  But the purpose is the same….to celebrate life and friendship.


For us, it isn’t about age…in fact, our youngest dear friend is the one who is in the most advanced stage of Alzheimer’s.  Rather, we celebrate our dear friends’ birthdays because we believe it is a way to honor them and to show that we value our relationship with them.

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It doesn’t matter whether they “get it” that it is their specific birth day…what matters is that they know that we care and have arranged an event in which they feel special.

Dementia and Friends: Finding Joy in the Journey


Can the words “joy” and “dementia” be found together?


Of course they can if you know where to find them.


Being involved with a person who has dementia is like a journey without a  map or GPS.  You travel from Point A to Point B and the road was just a little bumpy. When you start from Point B to Point C, there’s no telling what you will find or how long it will take.  Lady-Links want to make the journey as pleasant as possible by forming a connection with each dear friend to make traveling easier. Those connections, whether through shared childhood memories or specifically selected activities, create a link between the discouragement the disease brings and the hope that meaningful times are still possible.  The word for that connection is JOY, and it can be found throughout the entire journey when a Lady-Link rides along.

There is JOY when one of our dear friends adds the finishing touch to a craft and smiles.


There is JOY when another dear friend says a few words about an early childhood event she remembers after being prompted by something we said or showed her.


There is JOY when we see our dear friends respond to their favorite music or game.

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JOY is given and received between our dear friends and the Lady-Links at every visit.  We’ve learned to embrace those moments and cherish them because we know that they are precious.

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Want more JOY in your life?  Choose to visit a friend or loved one with dementia.  You’ll find JOY in what you’re doing and you’ll be bringing JOY to the one you visit.


The more JOY you share, the more peace you’ll have in your life.  It just happens to work that way!


Here’s wishing you a JOYFUL JOURNEY from all of us at Lady-Links.

Dementia and Friends: Why It Helps to be Flexible

Are you flexible?

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I guess any answer would depend on your definition of “flexible.”  My grandchildren can make their bodies do many things my body no longer will do or even think of doing!

But the kind of flexibility I’m thinking of is “able to easily change to altered circumstances or conditions.”     If you have children around you, it’s difficult to predict the outcome of any event because they don’t always perceive things the way we expect them to.  They’re not very flexible when things don’t go their way.

Crying at Santa

When things don’t go as expected, we have to be flexible and make the best of the situation.  Otherwise, the day is ruined for all of us.  A little humor and a lot of flexibility go a long way in turning a ruined activity into an enjoyable alternative.  In the case of the crying with Santa episode, just around the corner was a model train display which quickly turned those wails into laughter.  Although he never made it to Santa’s lap, it made a memory that we still chuckle about seven years later!

Our dear friends with dementia don’t always understand the activities and events around them because their brains don’t interpret what’s happening as clearly as they once did.  Signals between the brain cells aren’t fully functioning, often sending misinterpretations of even the best of activities.  Children misinterpret events because their brains aren’t fully developed.  Our dear friends misinterpret events because the cells in their fully formed brains are damaged or dying.  But the reaction is the same.

If you live with or visit someone with dementia, you need to be flexible….I’m talking about the kind of “flexible” that allows you to adjust to altered circumstances. It’s one of the attributes we look for when we select Lady-Links, and I’ve seen wonderful examples of how they changed plans in the middle of a visit to accommodate an unexpected response on the part of the dear friend with dementia.  Sometimes our dear friends aren’t interested in the activity we have selected for the visit.  In that case, we switch to a backup.  If a craft project seems more difficult than we anticipated, we make adjustments so that our dear friend is adding a part that is easy to do.  If a dear friend seems sad or confused by something, we change the subject.  As motor skills decline, we make changes to our activities and projects.

At one time, we used glue with our craft projects.

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Pine cone with pompom on glue

However, as the dementia progressed with several of our dear friends, we knew we needed to make the switch to using self-stick adhesive projects.

Sticker sheet of thinking of you

We even purchased a sticker making machine.  As we watch their dementia progress, we look for changes that are needed to continue to make our visits meaningful and enjoyable.  The result is that we meet the needs of our dear friends individually, and it takes flexibility to do that.

20160111_101218We are in the process of making a few changes, including shortening the length of some visits and extending the length of others. Change is a part of life, and the Lady-Links make every effort to support whatever is necessary for the benefit of our dear friends.  That’s what flexibility is all about!


Lady-Links are person-centered when it comes to our dear friends and flexibility is an essential part of our philosophy.  Love,  laughter and flexibility…they’re sure better than crying when things don’t go as planned!

Dementia and Christmas: Sharing and Caring

20161216_143134The Lady-Links annual Christmas party is always planned with our dear friends who have dementia and their families in mind.  We want them to feel that this event is a time of joy and love, and is filled with meaningful activities that highlight the season.

We included Christmas music…only the most familiar of the carols and songs so our dear friends would know the lyrics. We included activities…easy-to-make peel-and-stick Christmas ornaments that were both faith-based and holiday-based.  We included refreshments…cake and punch or coffee which was brought to each dear friend as she sat at a table for four so as not to be overwhelmed by too many people.  We included a time limit…in and out in one hour so that each dear friend wouldn’t become overly tired or stressed.








The families of our dear friends were most appreciative that our party was structured the way it was, helping their loved one to feel a part of a holiday tradition that otherwise might not occur if it weren’t for our understanding of how overwhelming events like this can be without specific planning.

Loving hands helped each dear friend make an ornament that she could share with others in our community. Sharing and caring….a part of this season and of this party.


Just scroll down to take a look at our pictures from the party and you’ll see what a delightful time we had.  May your hearts be  filled with joy regardless of circumstances as you embrace your loved ones with dementia knowing that with careful planning, they can be a part of each holiday season throughout the year.

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Dementia and Friends: Adding A Smile to Your Wardrobe

Who can forget the inspiration we get from certain movies that resonate with our hearts?  “Annie” was one for me.  So many great messages there…focusing on the positive…having hope….spreading kindness…and the importance of a smile.  To be fully dressed,  according to Annie,  we must have a smile!


Lady-Links try to convey all those messages each time we visit our dear friends with dementia, and one thing for certain is that we know that a smile is a vital part of what we wear each day!  We see how our dear friends respond to our smiles.


It’s easy to smile because we enjoy our dear friends so much.  We look forward to our visits which we find fun and delightful.

20150803_150524There are many studies that show that when you smile at someone, they will smile back.  That is true with our friends with dementia.  They will respond to our smiles and laughter, even though they don’t always fully understand exactly what is happening.  But they “catch” our mood and it uplifts theirs as well.

Laughing fun

Our Lady-Links smile so much because we enjoy becoming involved in meaningful activities with our dear friends, whether it is playing a game, sharing a show and tell object, participating in a musical activity or making a craft.


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Our Lady-Links “dress” in smiles naturally!  That simple act generates a “domino effect” of smiles traveling from one person to another, helping to create an atmosphere of happiness regardless of circumstances.

Lady-Links Enjoying the Fun

Lady-Links Enjoying the Fun


Families and caregivers of our dear friends tell us that after we leave, that the person with dementia remains in a good mood for a while even though she might not remember what we did or even that we visited.


The Lady-Links dress for success…and we know that includes a smile because as Annie says, “You’re never fully dressed without one!”

20160414_141742What’s in your wardrobe?  A smile is the right accessory for any outfit you choose, so be sure to wear one each day. Your world awaits it!

“When you’re smiling, when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.”

Louis Armstrong








Dementia and Lady-Links: Trending Thankfulness

Social media enthusiasts respond to this question every day, “What’s trending?”  They follow these trends on their phones and other electronic devices just to keep up with what’s going on.  To make categorizing the answers easier, key words of “what’s trending” are identified with a # symbol called a hashtag.


The range of possibilities is unlimited, but I like to think that at Lady-Links there would be no doubt that our hashtag would be # Thankfulness.  We are thankful that the families of our dear friends with dementia allow us to make visits, and we are thankful to be a support and encouragement to them as they care for their loved one.

Being thankful is easy in some circumstances but not so easy in others.  When a family faces dementia in the life of a loved one, it’s often hard to know how to give thanks. Yet, many families do.

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If you read articles and blogs posted on the internet from families in that exact situation, you will read of hope and joy in the midst of such a difficult disease. Hope that the love and care they are providing is making a difference, and joy when they realize that it does. Much of their thankfulness is for friends who continue to visit their loved one with dementia.

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That’s where Lady-Links come in…we bring love and laughter into the lives of our dear friends with dementia as we help them engage in activities that are cognitively and emotionally stimulating.  We support the families and join in with them to celebrate birthdays and other special occasions.


Our visits are person-center and we find ways to make our dear friends feel valued and appreciated.


Families of our dear friends are thankful for what we do, and we are thankful for the opportunities to become involved with their loved ones.  Thankfulness is an attitude that the Lady-Links choose to bring to each visit because it is a blessing to be an answer to a family’s prayer and a joy to help those we care about.  It lets us be a part of the “goodness” that we look for in the world around us when things don’t always look so good, especially for those families affected by dementia.

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So, what’s trending with the Lady-Links?  #thankfulness

What’s trending with you?