At Twin Creeks, we treasure our time with each prospective resident, learning their individual histories so we can help them create bright futures. Attending one of our educational events, we were lucky enough to meet Susanne Seivert. Susanne has had a recent diagnosis of dementia and because her path to this realization is not unlike many others, we were excited when she wanted to share her story with Shane Potter, our Executive Director at Twin Creeks.
Susanne: The reality hit me in the face every day. I realized, at times, I could not remember which day of the week it was, without recalling what I did the day before. And now, it has become a more common occurrence.
Shane: Oftentimes, there can be denial and replacing reality with excuses. It must have been a confusing time for you.
Susanne: Of course. I told myself this was because I had retired and every day is Saturday when one is not at work. The reality of me making mistakes in the kitchen became almost daily. I told myself it was because we had moved into a new house. It wasn’t too long before my husband started to notice these changes as well. Unfortunately, this caused me to become secretive. I was trying to cover up for my mistakes, which caused me to become anxious, unable to sleep, irritable and very argumentative at times.
Shane: When, would you say, that you were able to gain clarity on your behaviors?
Susanne: One day, a friend of mine, invited me to a Health Fair. There was a Memory Bus, sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association, which was giving free memory tests. Reluctantly, I took the 15-minute memory test. At the end of the test the representative suggested I see my primary care doctor to give him the results of the testing.
When it was time to see the doctor, my husband came with me. It was important for him to be there, so he could express what changes he had seen taking place in me, but also so that I could not hide in denial of these changes. As a result of the appointment, I was prescribed an anti-anxiety medication to help get a better night’s sleep, as well as the doctor’s referral to see two specialists.
The results of the testing by the specialists confirmed that I have Early Stage Alzheimer’s disease.
Shane: I’m sure that was eye opening for you, and your husband. Please share how you decided to take this information and be proactive in your research.
Susanne: Well, now I knew why I was making mistakes and was forgetful. Which now meant that I had to learn about my future. It was time for me to face the results and form a new reality. I could not deny the facts based on science and medicine. I read everything I could about dementia, and particularly Alzheimer’s. My husband is my caretaker, so we started going to support meetings together – and still attend – finding them to be very helpful and supportive.
Shane: Having a caring partner, as you do, is so valuable. Working together can relieve anxiety and stress. What were your first steps?
Susanne: My husband and I, together, made a list of things to do to relieve concern and take action to ready ourselves for the future. We still have the ability to enjoy this stage in our lives but for how long is unknown. We wanted to create an atmosphere with the least amount of emotional stress for today and into the future.
Our first step was to create a support team of doctors, family and friends, who would be supportive.
Second, we both reviewed the possible health needs we currently face and with honest anticipation of possible needs in the near future. We stated the reality that each of us will lose our abilities, how much, how fast, we do not know…but we took an educated guess. For me, I am able to stay at home now, but know that eventually I will need an Assisted Living residence that has Memory Care available to me to help care for my own personal needs.
Third, we reviewed our financial situation with an advisor to be aware of our funds that can be allocated for our health care needs in the future. We checked our health care insurance, bank accounts, and financial investments comparing them to anticipated needs in the future and made changes according to what might be essential to use for my health care.
Fourth, we consulted an Elder Care Attorney. We scripted our needed legal papers for health care and end of life directives as well a distribution of any assets to our family upon our passing.
And finally, we researched the costs and scope of home healthcare and Assisted Living residences with Memory Care. Learning the type of care and the training of the staff was important to me, as not all residences have a specially trained Memory Care staff, like they will at Twin Creeks.
Shane: It looks like you’re heading in the right direction to create a bright future for you and your husband. At Twin Creeks, our Resident Life Coordinator interviews each new resident and works with him or her to create an interesting and fulfilling program based on the resident’s background and current abilities. Our specially trained team then implements these programs, making life more rewarding for all involved.
Susanne: It’s a new world for seniors, especially with many families living miles away as mine do. It’s far different than the generation before me. Whether you have arthritis, heart issues, diabetes, blood pressure issues, dementia or other health issues you can do things now to make each day as good as it can be – for now and in your future. No time is better than the present. Things are not going to get markedly better. But one deserves to feel cared about and be with people around them that understand and have the right skills to meet needs.
Shane: You’re to be congratulated. Many people wait until it’s too late. Your thoughtful consideration of the issues will pay off.
Susanne: This process did take a period of time and effort on the part of my husband and me. We had to take the steps to logically and emotionally consider what we need and want for ourselves.
Shane: It should be a source of comfort to know you’ve both taken the time to plan for a happier, safe and rewarding life.
Susanne: I feel more in control of my future after facing reality. Anxiety on a daily basis has diminished making each day more manageable and enjoyable for me and my wonderful husband. My husband and I are happy. We worked for what we have and want to spend our time with positive thoughts and actions. Creating direction for my future needs gives us peace of mind. My denial has turned into acceptance and my anxiety quelled as I took control.
You can too. Each person who wants to have control, based on their medical condition and needs, can live the last chapter of their life with good care if they put in the effort and face reality. You can too!
Twin Creeks understands these needs and we are naming our Memory Care Neighborhood – “Gemstone Lane” as an homage to Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach to Care. We intend to carry out her vision that all Alzheimer and dementia residents are precious gems at different stages of the disease.
We are so grateful to people like Susanne, who are willing to share their story to help others. We look forward to the opening of Twin Creeks and if you, or someone you know, could benefit from the care and amenities that our community could offer, contact us today at 813-336-2128