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ComfortCare Homes Wichita Blog

How Hospice and Comfort Care Support Spouses of Seniors With Dementia

Thursday, August 31st, 2017 7:05:55 PM
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Comfort care provides more than physical assistance: companionship, emotional support, and understanding

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease lay a heavy burden not only on the senior suffering from the condition but on their family caregivers, children and spouses too. As the disease progresses, dementia brings on new sets of challenges and obstacles. Many family members find themselves in the role of caregiver, taking on responsibilities that change their relationship as a daughter, son, husband, or wife. In the late stages of dementia, it often becomes necessary to bring in professional comfort care or hospice care. While these services are essential to the physical comfort of seniors, comfort and hospice care providers can also offer precious emotional support and companionship for spouses and loved ones.

Challenges Faced by Family Members

Family members, especially adult children and spouses, often suddenly find themselves taking on the role of caregiver for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Providing adequate care for a person whose memory is deteriorating can be incredibly difficult. Many family caregivers have no formal training or experience in caregiving. Watching a spouse or any other loved one struggle without being able to do anything about it can be frustrating.

For the spouses of dementia patients, the hardship of caregiving adds an unfamiliar facet to their relationship. A husband or wife may feel like they have failed their spouse if they are unable to provide adequate care on their own. Additionally, as their loved one’s condition worsens, they may become unrecognizable to their spouse. It is devastating for someone with whom you have spent years of your life with to see you as a stranger or even a threat. Dementia causes spouses to lose pieces of their loved one slowly, sometimes over many years, until the person they knew seems to no longer exist.

For these and many more reasons, spouses and family caregivers of loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease often experience feelings of isolation, helplessness, and depression. When hospice or comfort care providers are brought into the situation, they provide much-needed assistance with providing care, companionship, spiritual guidance and grief support.

How Comfort Care Helps Spouses and Family

Hospice and comfort caregivers are uniquely trained to provide more than physical, personal care for seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Today’s hospice care is considered to be the model for compassionate care for people facing a life-limiting illness such as Alzheimer’s disease. [Source: Huffington Post]

For family caregivers, comfort care providers offer a helping hand, easing the burden of being the primary caregiver for a parent, sibling, grandparent, or other loved one. While a caregiver takes over the majority of responsibilities, you will have the opportunity to sort through your own emotions and feelings. Dementia can be like losing a loved one in slow motion and the disease changes your relationship to one another. It is okay to grieve over this loss. Allow yourself to focus on the time you have with your loved one while a trained care provider ensures their comfort and well-being.

For spouses, hospice or comfort care provides support immediately. Professionals can provide a compassionate, listening ear and offer factual information. Despite practical matters, a comfort care provider can offer advice and companionship based on experience. They can help a husband or wife understand the realities of the situation and offer strategies for dealing with stress, depression, anger, and grief. Comfort bereavement can also be continued after the passing of a spouse, with care providers checking in periodically.

Finding the Resources and Help You Need

Unique challenges are present for family members as their loved one moved through the different stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia. You may find that you need assistance providing adequate care for a loved one. There are a variety of types of care assistance, from adult day can and part-time care to assisted living and 24-hour comfort care.

Educate yourself on the options available to you and your family. If your loved one is able, talk to them about which options they feel comfortable with. If they are no longer able to make these types of decisions on their own, know that you have resources and support available to you. Comfort care professionals can help you understand your options and make the best care decision for you and your family.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia and how comfort care can help, please call ComfortCare Home of Wichita at (316) 444-0532 or visit our website by clicking here.

Why I Walk – Brooke Bowlin

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017 10:00:40 AM
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I can vividly remember the amazing breakfast my great grandma Oakley would make me when I spent the night. Eggs, bacon, juice, and sugary cereal, that I only got when we stayed at our grandparents. No matter what I asked for she would be delighted to make it. I was always overly stuffed when I ate at great grandmas house.

The Easters with our family where everyone was searching for their special plastic Easter egg, that would surely have a one dollar bill, were some of my earliest Easter memories. As my grandma’s Alzheimer’s progressed I would spend my weekends with my grandpa visiting my great grandma. Mowing the lawn, sweeping the grass off the sidewalk, and chasing the crows from the bird bath are memories I hold dear.

At the time I didn’t understand why my grandma thought I was my mom, but it didn’t matter, I loved spending time with her. Now, almost 20 years later, the impact my great-grandma Oakley had on me is still evident in my everyday life.

Each year as the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is in full swing we are all reminded that no one should ever walk alone. I am comforted to know my grandma and our family didn’t have to walk this journey alone. The love, compassion, and dedication my family had for my grandma were always evident.

Through this journey, I got to learn what unconditional love and support was all about. That love has helped turned me into the daughter, wife, mother, aunt, granddaughter, and person I am today.

My grandmother, and my families love for her, continue to inspire me throughout my adult life. It has given me a passion to help others as they walk through this journey.

So this year I walk to honor great-grandma Oakley and our family. I walk for all those that I meet, on a daily basis, who are on this journey. I hope for a cure to be found, but until that day comes, I walk to remind each person on this journey that they are not alone. I walk to share the love and support with them that I learned from my own families experiences.

Help Brooke by making a donation to the Comfort Crusaders Team – Click here to make a donation.

For more information about The Walk to End Alzheimer’s and how you can get involved, please visit our event page here. If you have any questions, feel free to call our office at 316-267-7333.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s Symptoms: Know the Signs and Find the Help You Need

Thursday, August 24th, 2017 8:24:32 PM
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Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are not new illnesses. Before the findings of modern medicine, Alzheimer’s patients were often misdiagnosed as senile and memory loss was just an unfortunate symptom of aging. Today we know more than ever about dementia and Alzheimer’s symptoms and continued research works to find the cause and cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

A specific type of Alzheimer’s, known as Early-onset or Younger Alzheimer’s affects adults under the age of 65. Typically, adults with early-onset will display Alzheimer’s symptoms in their 40s and 50s. Their disease typically goes either unnoticed or misdiagnosed by primary physicians, who attribute symptoms to stress or other neurological factors. Dementia may be common among elderly adults, but younger adults are at risk as well.

What is Early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is split into three general stages: early stage, middle stage, and late stage. The disease affects each person differently in each stage and the symptoms vary. Alzheimer’s typically progresses slowly over time in adults over the age of 65. What makes early-onset dementia unique is that it occurs in younger adults.

Doctors do not know why early-onset Alzheimer’s symptoms appear in such young brains. There have been studies that indicate several genetic mutations that directly cause Alzheimer’s. For this reason, early-onset Alzheimer’s is often referred to as “familial dementia.” These genes account for 60-70% of early-onset Alzheimer’s cases.

[http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/in-depth/alzheimers/art-20048356?pg=1]

Genetic testing for these mutations is available, but talking extensively with a doctor is recommended as a good first step. Getting an accurate diagnosis for early-onset Alzheimer’s can be difficult and require many neurological exams, brain mapping, and extensive tests. If you suspect you or a loved one are experiencing early-onset Alzheimer’s symptoms below, consult with a medical professional immediately.

What are Early-onset Alzheimer’s Symptoms?

Alzheimer’s symptoms focus on memory loss that disrupts daily life. This can include challenges in planning or solving problems, difficulty completing familiar tasks at home or work, misplacing things, and changes in mood and personality.

[http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_early_onset.asp]

Early-onset Alzheimer’s symptoms typically introduce new problems at work or at home for younger adults. Talking with a doctor is essential to determining the true cause of these symptoms and whether or not they are related to early dementia.

There are some major differences between forgetfulness and dementia. Read our “Forgetfulness vs. Alzheimer’s of Dementia” to learn more!

How to Plan for the Future

If you have been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, know that you are never alone. Below are some steps suggested by the Alzheimer’s Association for coping after a diagnosis:

  1. Educate Yourself on the Impact of the Disease on Your Life

Early-onset Alzheimer’s and dementia will inevitably have an impact on your life as a spouse, parent, and employee. It is normal to grief over anticipated changes. Taking care of your emotional and physical needs is essential. Educating yourself as much as possible about your disease and utilizing support groups can help your entire family move forward after a diagnosis.

  1. Make Plans for Your Financial Future

Many times, early-onset dementia impacts a young adult’s ability to work. Talking with your employer about the limitations of your disease is important. You should be open and honest about how you see your professional future fitting into your disease. Your employer may offer benefits such as disability insurable, early retirement, family and medical leave, and other health insurance benefits. View a detailed brochure about financial and health care benefits for Alzheimer’s patients here: https://www.alz.org/i-have-alz/if-you-have-younger-onset-alzheimers.asp

  1. Plan for Future Care

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, you are able to put critical plans into place. This can include the type of care you want to receive in the later stages of Alzheimer’s. Talk to your doctor about participating in a research study. Explore long term care options and assisted living facilities in your area. While it will no doubt be difficult, choosing how you want to spend your life with Alzheimer’s will make coping with the disease manageable for you and your family.

  1. Live Well

Early-onset Alzheimer’s presents a variety of unexpected challenges. The silver lining lies in your choice of how to live. Take care of yourself by maintaining your physical, emotional, social, and spiritual health. Find activities or professionals that help you reduce stress. Taking each day as it comes is important to coping with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Download the Alzheimer’s Association’s brochure on younger-onset Alzheimer’s Disease here.

 

To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia and how specialized care can help, please call ComfortCare Home of Wichita at (316) 444-0532 or visit our website by clicking here.

Why I Walk – Robert Miller

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017 1:30:00 PM
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My maternal grandparents were like magical creatures. They were the amazement of Christmas. They showed up for all my choir events. They coddled and comforted me when I was down or not feeling well. They were present.

And through it all, my grandfather, Alfred Smart, was a rock. He was my hero. He was a positive male role model. And I was his “little buddy.”

I miss hearing him call me that.

I was fortunate to be an adult as he aged and to know him well. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s with dementia and he seemed to decline quickly. But through it all, I continued to be his little buddy. And I stood next to him to the last days of his life. Our entire family did.

He inspires me today. I walk for him.

Help  Robert by making a donation to the Comfort Crusaders Team – Click here to make a donation.

For more information about The Walk to End Alzheimer’s and how you can get involved, please visit our event page here. If you have any questions, feel free to call our office at 316-267-7333.

Caregiver Tips: Calming a Confused Senior with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease

Friday, August 18th, 2017 2:32:30 PM
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Ease stress and frustration through assisted living techniques

For seniors in the early stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss is common. While the rest of their cognitive abilities may still be strong, remembering names, places, and words become difficult. They may become frustrated at this new-found confusion, agitated that they are unable to recall familiar things. As their disease progresses seniors with dementia will have increased confusion, leading to agitation, panic, and even aggression.

As a family member or primary caregiver for a person with severe memory loss, these episodes of confusion can be alarming. Seeing a loved one frightened by newly unfamiliar surroundings is heartbreaking. If you find yourself wishing you could do more to calm and console your loved one, there are support and resources available. Assisted living professionals who interact with and care for residents with severe dementia and Alzheimer’s have advice for family members and loved ones of seniors with dementia.

What causes agitation in dementia and Alzheimer’s patients?

Dementia is a progressive disease and over time it causes brain cells to deteriorate. It is this deterioration that dementia symptoms including memory loss, confusion, agitation, restlessness, and fatigue. Because there is not yet a cure for dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, there is nothing that can be done to stop or reverse this deterioration.

However, environmental factors can exacerbate their symptoms. Being aware of your loved one’s surroundings, daily routine, preferences, and triggers can help you maintain a comforting environment for them. Change is a major cause of confusion and agitation in dementia patients. Their world is becoming increasingly unfamiliar to them and seemingly small changes can disrupt the comfort of their daily routine.

Common environmental changes that affect behavior include:

– Being suddenly admitted to a hospital or assisted living facility

– Changes in scheduled caregiving

– New visitors or too many people visiting at once

– Confrontation or perceived threats                     [Source]

Tips to Prevent Confusion

While you can try to monitor the daily situations and interactions your loved one faces, ultimately you cannot control the world around them. Accidents and emergencies happen. Being prepared to respond, console and care for a confused senior is the best way to support their well-being.

Assisted living professionals offer the following tips to family members seeking to prevent confusion and agitation:

Create a calm environment

Being overstimulated by loud talking, commotion, and unfamiliar faces causes stress for seniors with dementia. Having a quiet space that is comfortable can provide refuge to an overwhelmed loved one. Comfort objects such as blankets or clothing items can provide a distraction and added security.

Monitor personal comfort and any additional symptoms

Make sure your loved one has taken their medications properly. Ensuring that they have eaten, had enough water to drink, and received adequate sleep is also important. Being vigilant about personal care can help seniors with dementia be more comfortable.

Avoid surprises and sudden changes in routine when possible.

We have learned that change is a major cause of confusion and agitation for seniors with dementia. As your loved one’s illness progresses, there may come a time when they need professional care. Before moving your loved one into an assisted living facility, consider part-time care or adult day care options. If these options are introduced in the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, your loved one has the opportunity to familiarize themselves with caregivers and become comfortable in surroundings outside the home.

For more information about adult day can as a transition into full-time assisted living, read our “Why Adult Day Care is Important” article.

How to Respond to A Confused Senior

Even if you do everything within your power to provide a comfortable, safe environment for your loved one, the nature of the disease makes confusion and agitation inevitable. Know that you are not responsible and that help is available for you both.

Follow these 4 Steps to Responding to a Confused Senior with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease:

  1. Listen to frustrations – Validate their emotions and sympathize with their situation.
  2. Provide reassurance – Although you may not understand, provide comfort and reassurance. Trying to reason with a confused senior may not be affective because their brain simply doesn’t process information the way a healthy brain would. Make sure they know they are safe and that you support them.
  3. Modify the situation – If they seem agitated by loud sounds, try moving to a quiet area. In overwhelming situations filled with new faces or places, distraction can be helpful. Give your loved on a task to focus on, something simple like folding towels, buttoning a sweater, or completing a puzzle. Occupying their mind with something other than confusion can ease behavioral symptoms.
  4. Share your experience – Speaking with your loved one medical professional or assisted living care providers is essential. These specialists will be able to alter medications or therapy plans and provide advice on how to respond in the future. [Source]

Know Where to Find Help

As your loved one’s disease progresses, you may need additional support and help providing adequate memory care. Preparing for this reality in advance is beneficial to both you and your senior loved one. Trained assisted living professionals are able to meet the unique needs of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

To learn more about memory care and how specialized care can help, please call ComfortCare Home of Wichita at (316) 444-0532 or visit our website by clicking here.

Additional Resources

Anxiety and Agitation – Alz.org

Treatments for Behavior – Alz.org

Dementia Care Relaxation Techniques & Therapies

Why I Walk – Kasey Briedenthal

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017 12:20:08 PM
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I walk for many reasons. I walk for my maternal grandma, paternal grandpa and great grandparents who had dementia and Alzheimer’s.

I walk for my paternal grandma who is living with end stages of dementia and Parkinson’s disease. I walk for my mother-in-law who is battling early-onset dementia at the age of 65.

I walk for my family, friends, children and husband who I hope are never afflicted with the disease. I walk for the wonderful residents and families that I serve at ComfortCare Homes.

I have watched this terrible disease steal the memories, personality, and identity of many people close to me. Unfortunately, there will be many more in my lifetime.

I pray that with the donations raised at the Walk to END Alzheimer’s we will get one step closer to a cure or at minimum better treatments.

Help Kasey by making a donation to the Comfort Crusaders Team – Click here to make a donation.

For more information about The Walk to End Alzheimer’s and how you can get involved, please visit our event page here. If you have any questions, feel free to call our office at 316-267-7333.

Brain Games and Activities to Make Memory Care Fun

Thursday, August 10th, 2017 7:34:48 PM
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Professional memory care providers know how to keep seniors active and engaged

A major challenge faced by family caregivers of loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is the unpredictability. As dementia progresses, memory and word retrieval become more difficult. Behavioral changes and mood swings can be common as well as disinterest in favorite hobbies and a desire to be left alone. Providing adequate memory care can be challenging because you are not certain how your loved one will respond from one day to the next.

Facing the uncertainty and seemingly randomness of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can make interacting with a loved one difficult. You want to support their health and happiness without causing confusion or irritation. In coordination with other methods, professional memory care providers suggest brain games and activities as a fun way of engaging seniors.

Brain games, in a way, disguise dementia and Alzheimer’s care as a fun activity. While you and your loved one will definitely enjoy these activities, brain games do more than pass the time and offer a few laughs. Specific activities and games help the brain relearn how to recall specific words, exercise cognitive abilities, encourage focus, and increase alertness. Brain games don’t have to be high-tech or on your smart phone. Often times, the simplest of games are the most beneficial to seniors with dementia.

Memory Care Games for Seniors and Family Caregivers

Bingo – Bingo is an ideal game for seniors with dementia because it can be easily modified based on their personal abilities. It requires matching of letters and numbers or colors and shapes, which are both beneficial on a cognitive level. Bingo is enjoyed and understood by people of all ages, so the whole family can be involved. These social interactions can have a positive impact on your loved one’s mood. [Source]

Card  Matching – Like Bingo, card matching games can be easily adjusted for seniors of all levels of memory loss. For early stage dementia, try placing the cards in even rows and columns face up for 2 minutes, then flipping them so the back side shows. Try to find matching pairs by flipping over two cards at a time. If a match is found, remove the pair from the rows. Repeat until all matches have been found. For advanced dementia, leave all the cards face up and have your senior loved one point out pairs. Card matching games help seniors recognize familiar objects and utilize short term memory.

Puzzles – Completing puzzles can be a fun activity to do together and promotes cognitive and tactile abilities. While the main purpose of brain games is to have fun, seniors with dementia may become agitated or frustrated by tasks they are unable to complete. Keeping high-spirits through conversation and friendly assistance can help make puzzles an enjoyable activity.

Want more brain games and activities? Check out 101 Activities for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease.

Help is Available When You Need It

Mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise, especially for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Assistance from a professional memory care provider or facility can help your loved one stay mentally active on a regular basis. If you’re concerned about your loved one’s well-being while you’re away at work, adult day care services are available. Not only do professional care providers know how to keep your senior safe, other senior residents provide companionship and conversation.

Your senior loved one’s dementia or Alzheimer’s disease will continue to progress and their symptoms will change. As you find your family in need of long term care options, consider specialized care facilities. Adult day care can be a great way to ease your loved one into the idea of assisted living so the transition into full-time care is more comfortable.

If you are providing senior care for a loved one with dementia, know that you are not alone. Utilize local resources and expert assistance from ComfortCare Homes of Wichita.

To learn more about memory care and how specialized care can help, please call ComfortCare Home of Wichita at (316) 444-0532 or visit our website by clicking here.

Why I Walk – Dawn Taylor, House Call Medical Services

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017 8:03:30 PM
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I walk because I can.
I walk because I can find my way home.
I walk because I know the faces of those who love me.
I walk because I can speak my joy, my frustration and my sorrow every day.
I walk because I can defend myself.
I walk because I can share my own story.
I walk because those who cannot do these things still have a story worth telling.
I walk for them because I can.


 

Help Dawn by making a donation to the Comfort Crusaders Team – Click here to make a donation.

For more information about The Walk to End Alzheimer’s and how you can get involved, please visit our event page here. If you have any questions, feel free to call our office at 316-267-7333.

Differentiating Depression from Dementia: Assisted Living Wichita KS Specialists Can Help

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017 6:46:29 PM
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If you are the primary caregiver for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, you know how much the symptoms can vary. The type and severity of symptoms are may be different from one day to the next, even changing from morning to night.  With all that goes into providing dementia care, you may not even be aware that your loved one may be experiencing depression as well.

According to recent studies, up to 40% of people with Alzheimer’s or dementia also suffer from depression. Sudden changes in mood, disinterest in activities or hobbies, desire to be alone, and physical pain are a few symptoms that are common between depression and dementia. Assisted living Wichita KS professionals, specially trained in memory care, can help you determine whether your loved one’s dementia symptoms are actually signs of depression. [Alzheimer’s Association]

What does depression look like in seniors with dementia?

Depression in seniors with dementia is harder to identify because of the emotional and behavioral changes that dementia brings on its own. Symptoms of both can be very similar. However, assisted living Wichita KS professionals know that in seniors with dementia and depression, their depression symptoms may be less severe and intermittent than a person without dementia.

This means you may not be looking for the stereotypical signs of depression, but rather a sporadic display of symptoms.

How can I help my senior loved one?

Assisted living professionals who care for seniors with dementia full-time can provide better insights and observations because they interact with residents every day for the whole day. If you are spending one afternoon with a loved one who has dementia, the limited time you spend together may not indicate symptoms of depression. For this reason, assisted living Wichita KS  may become the best long term care option.

If you are concerned about your senior loved one having depression, consult with a medical professional right away. While there is not a singular test that verifies a depression diagnosis, a trained medical professional will be able to listen to your observation of symptoms and make a proper plan of care.

For a senior with dementia, a depression diagnosis does not have to be devastating. The overlapping of symptoms can actually make treatment easier! Therapy methods that are successful for patients with dementia can also be beneficial to those with depression. Both conditions can potentially be managed through the same medications, activities, and therapy techniques.

Where can I find help?

Dementia is a degenerative disease that unfortunately does not have a cure. This means that your senior mom or dad’s condition will continue to get worse as time goes on. However, they should not have to sacrifice their comfort and well-being as a result. There are memory-specific facilities and assisted living Wichita KS that are wonderful options for senior care. Many assisted living facilities offer varying levels of care, such as part-time adult day care, that can ease seniors with dementia into their new surroundings.

If you are providing senior care for a loved one with dementia, know that you are not alone. Utilize local resources and expert assistance from assisted living Wichita KS.

To learn more about dementia and depression and how assisted living can help, please call ComfortCare Home of Wichita at (316) 444-0532 or visit our website by clicking here.

Why I Walk – Deidra Jackson, Family Services Director

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017 7:56:05 PM
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“I walk for my “Aunt Too”. Not many people are close to their great great aunt but in my family, my “Aunt Too” was a huge influence on my life. She was unable to live on her own when I was very young and came to live with my grandparents.

Back when she began showing signs of dementia they didn’t have the diagnostic testing that they do today and she was labeled senile. It was particularly hard to watch her mind slip away because for her it was such a defining aspect of who she was. My Aunt Too was one of the first women to graduate from law school and practice law in Oklahoma.

Aunt Too had a long goodbye. I helped take care of her until she passed when I was a junior in high school. She was 98. It was so difficult watching such a vibrant trail blazing woman slip away so slowly. She begged for God to come get her. I held her hand many times and just sang to her because that was all I knew to do.

I learned so much about life through her journey. Much of who I am today is because of the stories she shared and the time I spent caring for her. Even now, not a day goes by that I don’t think about my Aunt Too.”

Help Deirdra by making a donation to the Comfort Crusaders Team – Click here to make a donation.

For more information about The Walk to End Alzheimer’s and how you can get involved, please visit our event page here. If you have any questions, feel free to call our office at 316-267-7333.

Testimonials

“The family gratefully acknowledges and thanks ComfortCare Homes in Wichita for the excellent care they gave Margaret the past two years.  They treated all of us with such love and respect.  Alzheimer’s Disease truly is the ‘long goodbye.’ “

- Barber Family, in the Wichita Eagle.

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