Learning to live in the moment with Alzheimers
As the admissions and outreach coordinator for health services at The Village at Gleannloch Farms, Gay Garrett draws on her own experiences to assist others concerning aging issues.
“My mother has Alzheimer’s. She was a registered nurse,” she said. “My mother had social graces and lots of friends. It really takes that person away. My mother was not the same person. The role begins to change. I was once the daughter and now I have to take control and run the finances.”
Located in Spring, the Village at Gleannloch Farms is a faith-based not-for-profit continuing care retirement community sponsored and owned by the Lutheran Social Services of the South, Inc. The 25-acre facility caters to adults aged 62 and above with more than 120 independent living apartments and cottages. The Village also offers an array of assisted-living arrangements, private suites, skilled nursing and memory support residences.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in eight older Americans has Alzheimer’s disease, and one out of every three people know someone who’s living with the condition.
Garrett’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s nine years ago. Since then, Garrett has made it her mission to use her personal story to support those who are living through the disease as well as their loved ones.
“It’s about making families feel comfortable. As a family member who is going through such a thing, you really don’t know what question to ask when bringing someone here,” she said. “What I learned is if that if you have the knowledge, people will know that you care.”
In March, the Village implemented an Alzheimer’s support program to help its independent residents who had spouses dealing with the disease.
“They want to support their loved ones, but quite honestly don’t know how,” Garrett said. “It provides a place to let them know that other people are dealing with the same thing. I think for a spouse it is just as difficult as a child of a parent.”
Garrett noted that the caregivers may often get so wrapped up in trying to hold and improve the quality of life of their loved one that they neglect their health or even their social lives. She suggested they aggressively practice patience in those trying times.
Garrett said, “I remember the doctor telling me something that I was overly concerned about it, and he would tell me, ‘This all will change.’
“It is almost like any situation you’re in, it will change. Living this teaches you to live in the moment. Pray for patience because this person is changing and the relationship is changing.”
November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. For more information, call the the Village at Gleannloch Farms at 877-384-1797 or visit www.gleannlochseniorliving.com.
About Gay Garrett:
OCCUPATION: Admissions and outreach coordinator for health services at The Village at Gleannloch Farms
EDUCATION: Earned a B.S. in elementary education from Stephen F. Austin University
FAST FACT: Garrett uses experiences with her mother, who lives with Alzheimer’s Disease, to help others in the aging community.