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Lisa Skinner – Knowing How to Help People with Dementia

 In Podcast
Lisa Skinner

Lisa Skinner is a published author and Behavior Specialist on Alzheimer’s and its corresponding dementias. She has served as a counselor in California for more than 20 years. Lisa was also the regional director of an assisted living company for many years. Her interest in dementia-related illness stems from her family, where seven different members are afflicted with the condition. 

In Lisa’s book Not All Who Wander Need Be Lost, she helps her readers cope with loved ones struggling with Alzheimer’s. The book helps explain behaviors caused by dementia, encourages those who feel burdened, and gives practical advice for how to respond.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Lisa Skinner talks about what drove her to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
  • What are the common signs of dementia?
  • Early treatment for dementia and its efficacy 
  • The story behind Lisa’s book and why she wrote it
  • How to work with and help people with dementia
  • Learning how to “join the reality” of loved ones with Alzheimer’s
  • Knowing the difference between the person and their symptoms

In this episode…

Losing any loved one to an illness is difficult, but helping someone with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can be particularly painful. The steady decline of short-term memory and unfamiliar behaviors can turn a family member into a stranger. Similar to hearing loss, the condition can easily isolate the person from their support network. 

As someone who has had seven family members diagnosed with dementia, Lisa Skinner has found her calling in helping others through the struggle. She has developed her insights over 25 years as a counselor, a regional director of assisted living facilities, and her own experience. She wrote her book, Not All Who Wander Need Be Lost, to be a guide for those who need support and understanding. 

On this episode of the ListenUp! Podcast, Dr. Mark Syms interviews Lisa Skinner, author and Alzheimer’s Behavior Specialist, to better understand how to treat those with dementia-related illnesses. She walks through the stages of Alzheimer’s and what treatments are available early on. Then, they dive into day-to-day life, including advice on “joining their reality,” managing their behaviors, and coping with loss. Tune in to learn more.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by the Arizona Hearing Center.

The Arizona Hearing Center is a cutting-edge hearing care facility providing comprehensive, family-focused care. Approximately 36 million Americans suffer from some sort of hearing loss, more than half of whom are younger than the age of 65. That’s why the team at the Arizona Hearing Center is focused on providing the highest-quality care using innovative technologies and inclusive treatment plans. 

As the Founder of the Arizona Hearing Center, Dr. Mark Syms is passionate about helping patients effectively treat their hearing loss so that they can stay connected with their family and friends and remain independent. He knows first-hand how hearing loss can impact social connection and effective communication. By relying on three core values—empathy, education, and excellence—Dr. Syms and his team of hearing loss experts are transforming the lives of patients. 

So what are you waiting for? Stop missing out on the conversation and start improving your quality of life today!  

To learn more about the Arizona Hearing Center, visit https://www.azhear.com/ or call us at 602-307-9919. We don’t sell hearing aids—we treat your hearing loss.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:04  

Welcome to the ListenUp! podcast where we explore hearing loss, communication, connections, and health.

Dr. Mark Syms  0:16  

Hi, Dr. Mark Syms here, I’m the host of the ListenUp! podcast where I feature top leaders in healthcare. This episode is brought to you by Arizona Hearing Center, I help patients to treat their hearing loss so that they can remain independent and connect better with their family and friends. The reason I’m so passionate about this is because I lost my brother Robbie twice to hearing loss or twice I lost the first to hearing loss from radiation to his brain tumor, and then again to the tumor itself. I’m also the the founder of Arizona Hearing Center where I am the E of ENT I only take care of yours. I’ve treated over 10,000 patients with surgery and treated many 1000s of patients with hearing loss. I’m the author, author of Listen Up: A Physician’s Guide to Effectively Treating your Hearing Loss. You can find more out about the book and purchase it at www.Listenuphearing.com and if you want to learn more about my clinical practice, you can go to www.azhear.com. today. I’m very excited. I have Lisa Skinner. She’s a behavioral expert in Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. She has been a community counselor, a regional director of senior assisted living facility, a trainer, a speaker and a private advisor helping 1000s of families negotiate dementia. She received her bachelor’s degree from California State University Sacramento. Not only is she a professional dealing with a counselor dealing with dementia, but she’s actually had personal experience she said eight family members who’ve had Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. All of this excellent experiences led her to write a two Times best selling book, which is Not All Who Wander Need Be Lost. It’s available on Amazon, which is offers guideline to those who must deal with patients who and family have Alzheimer’s and dementia. I’m really excited to have her on the show today. Lisa, welcome to my show. And welcome to the podcast. Thanks for coming on.

Lisa Skinner  2:05  

Well, thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Dr. Mark Syms  2:08  

So tell me a little about it. You know, what is your journey to where you are today? In other words, how did you become interested in this area in this field? I mean, I know you have personal experience, and I’m sorry for that, or glad for that because it makes you an expert. But tell me how you got to this place.

Lisa Skinner  2:24  

To be honest with you, it was kind of an accident. 

Dr. Mark Syms  2:27  

Usually is. 

Lisa Skinner  2:30  

But I think it was an accident on purpose. Because I believe that this is what I’m supposed to be doing. 

Dr. Mark Syms  2:38  

That’s great. 

Lisa Skinner  2:39  

My very first experience perience with an Alzheimer’s type disease that causes dementia was with my grandmother and I that was back in my teen years. And it was a pretty compelling experience. For me the way she was treated, it was back kind of in the day where you didn’t talk about it, it was very taboo. And it wasn’t even called Alzheimer’s disease. It was called senile dementia, right? Very close to my grandmother. So that experience really stuck in my, my heart and my memory throughout all these years. And then after I graduated from college with a degree in human behavior, which I was just absolutely fascinated by, I accidentally got a job in upstate rural upstate New York, I was living there for a short time as a community counselor at a memory care facility and assisted living facility. And that’s where I started counseling families on memory loss. And my experiences just grew from there. I was Regional Director for the largest assisted living company out there years ago, and one of my head, I managed five buildings. And I set up a memory care unit and I trained the staff on how that they’re very specialized skills on how to care for people with cognitive loss. It’s very different from caring for people with medical problems.

Dr. Mark Syms  4:21  

So what are those skills? So if somebody is looking for somebody like what I mean, I’m gonna say I totally believe it. What are they? What what things should somebody look for in the skills of those people.

Lisa Skinner  4:31  

People who have been strategically trained on signs to look for behaviors to look for, but most importantly, how one responds to those behaviors. When people have cognitive loss. They eventually lose their ability to reason to make sound judgments, and personalities change. They lose A lot of a lot of them lose their ability to not only communicate but also articulate their wants and their needs. 

Dr. Mark Syms  5:08  

Sure, yeah, that makes sense. 

Lisa Skinner  5:09  

Find alternative ways to tell a caregiver or a loved one, that there’s something wrong. There’s, there’s a dire want in a dire need, because they can’t express it, they can’t articulate it.

Dr. Mark Syms  5:23  

So if if I came to you and said, Hey, I think somebody My family has dementia, what type of questions would you ask? or What should I be looking out for?

Lisa Skinner  5:32  

Um, well, I’ve done 1000s of assessments, personally, so I know what questions to ask and what to look for. But if you came to me as a client, when I had my consulting business, I would ask you why you were suspicious? Sure. And listen to your answers and try to determine whether or not these red flags or maybe just signs of normal aging, or if there was really a bigger problem.

Dr. Mark Syms  6:07  

So what are some of the red flags that people would say? Well, these are experience.

Lisa Skinner  6:12  

This is kind of the rub. It’s very difficult for doctors to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease or other diseases, there’s over 70 brain diseases that cause dementia. 

Dr. Mark Syms  6:26  

Wow, that’s a lot. 

Lisa Skinner  6:27  

Yeah. And it’s very difficult for doctors to diagnose in the early stages.

Dr. Mark Syms  6:34  

Why do we say the family members are the experts, right? Because they’re with them all day?

Lisa Skinner  6:38  

Yeah. The, the signs in the symptomology is very subtle in the beginning, and might go unnoticed until it progresses. So there’s a fine line between wondering whether or not somebody just has normal forgetfulness, do your normal aging process, or if that person really is in the beginning stages of a more serious brain illness? So here are a couple examples. 

Dr. Mark Syms  7:10  

Okay, great. 

Lisa Skinner  7:11  

We’ve all misplaced our keys. Right? 

Dr. Mark Syms  7:14  

Right. Correct. Yes, yes, I have.

Lisa Skinner  7:17  

Or our glasses, where are they on? They’re on top here. Right, right. That’s perfectly normal, it happens to all of us. Um, one of the things that I’ve noticed about me lately is I’ll be trying to think of a name and then bush is just out of my head. parter, I tried to think of it that to me, but I know I don’t have dementia. So these are all things that are very common to all of us at one point or another. And one of the biggest differences between somebody that has dementia, and just normal aging is. So if you found your keys, you got all their like keys and then off, you run to the store with dementia might pick up a set of keys, and they’ll look at it. And they would have absolutely no clue what they’re supposed to do with this set of keys in their hand. They don’t remember the function of it.

Dr. Mark Syms  8:17  

So that’s a big difference, right, that misplacement versus actually forgetting fundamentally, what a key is for.

Lisa Skinner  8:23  

Right? People who have dimension these, this is, of course, in the mid to later stages, because most people aren’t actually even diagnosed until they’re already in their mid stages, they can live with the subtle signs and symptoms for years before it progresses to where it’s blatantly obvious. And then a lot of family members kind of reflect back and they-

Dr. Mark Syms  8:47  

It all fits together right now, and I say that makes sense. Right? 

Lisa Skinner  8:51  

Yeah. So one of the things that is very common, that really catches people’s attention is not being able to find the right words for things. Right, and actually confabulating and, and adding something into the conversation that they just make up as a placeholder because they can’t remember what’s supposed to be there. Whether it’s, you know, they’re talking about a restaurant, and they’re telling a story. So and repetitive behaviors are a huge sign of some new cognitive decline, because they don’t remember that they just asked you a question, or they just told you that story. So they repeated in the same conversation over and over.

Dr. Mark Syms  9:41  

As if it’s new again each time right?

Lisa Skinner  9:44  

As exactly as if it was they’re just telling it to you for the first time and you’re going oh my goodness. Did I just hear that 12 times. 

Dr. Mark Syms  9:53  

Do you have any advice like for people to try to catch it earlier, or what they should do, is there anything to do or is it just something you say, well, it’s okay if I catch it later than earlier.

Lisa Skinner  10:04  

You want to try to catch it earlier because there are medications available that doctors can prescribe. There’s a new one that just came out recently. It’s kind of controversial

Dr. Mark Syms  10:15  

About the approval, right?

Lisa Skinner  10:16  

It only works on people that are still in mild cognitive impairment and it has not progressed to the actual full timers disease or, though, but the medications that are available. The Aricept and then Namenda and the excellent patch, they only work for a given period of time, there is no cure, there. There is no getting better. But what these medications do is, is they just prolong the advancement of the illness. So I don’t know depends how people look at it, if they look at that as being a positive measure, or just prolonging the inevitable because-

Dr. Mark Syms  11:06  

Well you know, I mean, I’ll tell you my passion in the dementia space comes from I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but the Lancet did a big report on dementia in 2013. And they talked about what is modifiable. And so they talked about, you know, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol exercise, those all are about 2%, modifiable factors, hearing losses and 9% modifiable factor, meaning it’s almost a five fold impact. So where our worlds intersect is because people with untreated hearing loss have a higher incidence of memory problems with dementia. So that’s a huge thing.

Lisa Skinner  11:40  

Exactly. And what you’re saying is very true. People ask me all the time, what are my chances are, how do I know if I’m at risk of developing dementia? Just like you said, there are many, many risk factors that go into the equation, right? The number one risk factor is age. And we can’t do anything about that. Right?

Dr. Mark Syms  12:01  

Right. And that’s why I said modifiable. Age modifiable, as you know, you can’t, you can’t reverse that.

Lisa Skinner  12:07  

And then you have your manageable. Shin. So hearing loss is a manageable one, right? If you have hearing loss, and that puts your risk of developing dementia way up here. If you get hearing aids and manage that and can hear again, then you’ve just lowered that risk. You’ve negated that that condition.

Dr. Mark Syms  12:32  

You’re using less brain energy, right? Because your communications easier. And then you can use you can find those words and remember what keys are and all of those things.

Lisa Skinner  12:41  

So now correct me if I’m wrong, but what I read about the link between memory loss and hearing loss is when you when you can get here, in one or both years, it actually causes atrophying to the brain, the brain.

Dr. Mark Syms  13:02  

They’ve done brain scans that demonstrate that. So that’s the physical manifestation. And there are multiple theories, right? So one is, you know, cognitive load, right. And so if you, when people can hear, they don’t just say, I can’t communicate, they use speech, reading, looking at people’s mouth and lips, and they use context to kind of fill in the blanks, that takes a higher cognitive load. And so that persistent cognitive load, they believe one of the theories is that it leads to dementia because you’re shunting brain energy over. The other thing, which is clear is, is social connectivity, right? So if you’re socially withdrawn, and so that I believe is something you’ll touch on is how social connectivity is so important. And people who even have mild dementia, I believe we could correct me when they are more socially connected, they actually their symptoms are less, is that not correct?

Lisa Skinner  13:52  

Is 100% true? Yeah. And what you said is also my understanding that hearing loss, as we all know, that does lead to isolation, because you kind of feel left out, you can’t hear what people are saying,

Dr. Mark Syms  14:04  

And people don’t want to repeat either. 

Lisa Skinner  14:05  

And people don’t want to repeat. Yeah. 

Dr. Mark Syms  14:08  

So tell me about that. Like in terms of, you know, are there things in terms of like it people can do I mean, does Sudoku help doing brain activities help with this stuff? Or they don’t really know.

Lisa Skinner  14:21  

It absolutely does and there have been many, many studies that have kind of filled in that blank, lifestyle changes, brain exercises, staying active walking is one of the best things that you can do more along the lines of a Mediterranean style diet. So whole grains and-

Dr. Mark Syms  14:44  

Fish groups 

Lisa Skinner  14:46  

Less red meat.

Dr. Mark Syms  14:48  

Maybe not so much cheese.

Lisa Skinner  14:52  

Um, but when I when I explain because I do a segment on how a person can lower their risk of developing later on in life. If you’re listening to this, and you’re 20, something years old or 30, something years old, start these things now, right? Because you will lower your risk of developing dementia. After the age of 65.

Dr. Mark Syms  15:18  

The old ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Lisa Skinner  15:22  

So again, the there’s many risks that go into the equation, there are the ones that are modifiable and the ones that are manageable every risk that pertains to you that can be modified or managed. You want to pay attention to those because managing them will negate that from being a high risk factor. The more high risk factors you have the higher risk you have of developing dementia later on it doesn’t mean you will. Because right?

Dr. Mark Syms  15:58  

It’s like anything if you exercise, it doesn’t mean you won’t get a heart attack, but it lowers your risk of heart attack, right? That’s exactly right. So tell me about this is your book Not All Who Wander Need Be Lost? It’s great book, tell me about the origin like what led to you writing a book to dinner? Somebody has to say like, I gotta I have to write a book about that. But what was what was the drive to which to get you to to write it? 

Lisa Skinner  16:21  

Well, there’s a story to that 

Dr. Mark Syms  16:23  

I know, and I want to know it.

Lisa Skinner  16:26  

So I had a consulting business, right, not only gave advice and taught tools and tips for how to manage the day to day challenges and obstacles and behaviors of people living with dementia, but also for their family members, so they could have a better quality relationship. And I also helped place people.

Dr. Mark Syms  16:50  

In the fitness facilities, right? In facilities.

Lisa Skinner  16:52  

Yeah. Um, so I was called over to this client’s house one day, she was at her wit’s end, her name was Lisa two. And her father in law had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about two years earlier. And her husband’s mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease about that’s a lot dealing with it on both sides of the family. Sure. And they were very frustrated, because after the initial diagnosis of their parents, they were just-

Dr. Mark Syms  17:33  

You’re on your own, figure it out.

Lisa Skinner  17:35  

They didn’t know what to expect. They didn’t know what resources were available. They didn’t they were having a hard time finding information. So anyway, they called me over and they asked me questions for about two and a half hours, while he said to me one day, or she stopped me after about two and a half hours. And she said, you know, at least I just want to tell you that you have provided us with more information in the last two and a half hours on a day to day challenges that we have to deal with. And then we’ve been able to get from anywhere else in the last two years. And she says to me, she goes, you need to write a book. She said, you have to share this information with people because they just can’t find it. And they’re desperate for it.

Dr. Mark Syms  18:20  

Well, it’s more than the one on one, right? If you can, you’re if you don’t write the book, you can only do it one person to one person. 

Lisa Skinner  18:26  

Right, exactly. But the thing that’s interesting is I have been hearing this for decades, from various family members, they’re all telling me the same thing. And even though I was aware of it, and I thought about the book, The way she presented it, to me was my aha moment. And I left her I go, she’s right, I need to participate in raising awareness because this is such a heartbreaking disease for families. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. people with dementia can live very enrich fulfilled lives. But it’s like learning a new language 

Dr. Mark Syms  18:26  

And people with family members with dementia can too. Yes. And one of enjoy their relationship with a person with dementia if they are given the right tools. Right?

Lisa Skinner  19:19  

Well, that’s exactly right. Instead of feeling frustrated and guilty and angry and all the different emotions that kind of, you know, flare up. It’s a long process. Some people live with this disease for 20 years. 

Dr. Mark Syms  19:32  

Well it’s actually I’ll confess to you that you know, when I have patients and I talked to them, sometimes their family member will outwardly say they have dementia. Right. And it’s it always hits me as a point of uncomfortableness and it really shouldn’t wear like a spouse says about another spouse that they have dementia right it’s just a matter of fact thing but I go Oh, I can’t I mean I feel bad for the person has dementia, but I I assume they know it and acknowledge it like any other condition.

Lisa Skinner  19:59  

And you piggyback on something you said earlier, pertaining to hearing loss, you have to compensate for the loss. So you instead of just kind of not being able to communicate with people anymore, or them with you, because you, you can’t hear what they’re saying, you learn alternative ways to communicate.

Dr. Mark Syms  20:22  

Yeah, I think you mentioned speech reading, looking at people’s because you can tell the difference between wife and wife. And that’s why people say, when people turn away from me, I can hear them. It’s like, No, you can’t hear them, when you just can’t see their lips, and you can’t compensate.

Lisa Skinner  20:34  

And there’s also sign language, right? 

Dr. Mark Syms  20:39  

So people start developing-

Lisa Skinner  20:40  

A lot of different ways to communicate with people who have hearing impairment is exactly the same situation with cognitive impairment,

Dr. Mark Syms  20:51  

right? So just motor recall last longer than perhaps word recall. him saying like, do people know the signs longer than they do the word sometimes?

Lisa Skinner  21:02  

Well, it depends on what is causing the dementia. Makes sense. Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia, it’s the one that we’re most familiar with. Right? Oh, mark of Alzheimer’s disease is short term memory loss and confusion. But there is so much more to that disease than just memory loss and confusion. They’re the things that we mentioned or I mentioned earlier, you lose your ability to reason and to task sequence. So you know, we get up every day, every day, and we go in the bathroom and brush our teeth. And we know exactly which steps to sequence to make that activity happen. Take the toothbrush out of the holder and run it under the water. people with dementia lose the ability to-

Dr. Mark Syms  21:54  

Put the toothpaste on before they brush their teeth. 

Lisa Skinner  21:58  

Yeah, or getting dressed. Right. They forget how to use a coffeemaker where before it was just second nature, you get up in the morning, you practically do it in your sleep, right? is the ability to do all of these because of the damage being done to the brain and different parts of the brain. So it becomes a very complicated situation. And eventually people who suffer from dementia are going to need help and care with all activities of daily living.

Dr. Mark Syms  22:32  

So it’s a it’s a continuum, I guess, right? They’re independent to being unfortunately not independent. Right? It’s it’s kind of progressed through a continuum of the dimension.

Lisa Skinner  22:43  

Yes, depending on which model you follow, the Alzheimer’s Association uses a three stage model. Stage One, stage two, stage three, but I’ve seen seven stage models before I usually follow the Alzheimer’s Association.

Dr. Mark Syms  22:58  

What are those three stages I’m not familiar with this would be great to learn about.

Lisa Skinner  23:03  

Actually, once it’s developed into dementia, you have stage one. And then they they there’s a list of symptoms and things dumbs and signs. And then there’s the midstate stage. And then there’s the last stage. Okay, great. But before that, you probably have heard this term before mild cognitive impairment.

Dr. Mark Syms  23:30  

Correct. Seems like a large basket.

Lisa Skinner  23:33  

It is before they actually kind of-

Dr. Mark Syms  23:38  

Give that formal diagnosis, right? 

Lisa Skinner  23:40  

Because all things a lot of things can change. Once you have that diagnosis, like what type of facility you can go into and things like that. So mild cognitive impairment, people can are still pretty independent and can do a lot of things for themselves. But there are noticeable signs of something going on. Right? cognitive impairment doesn’t always progress into Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Mark Syms  24:07  

So it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a degenerative disease, you just might, because you could have had, infarct, right, you could have blood loss from scarring and your vessels in your brain and that doesn’t progress.

Lisa Skinner  24:17  

That is the cause of vascular dementia. 

Dr. Mark Syms  24:20  

Right, right. Yeah. So um, but if you stabilize it, like if it’s associated with high blood pressure, for instance, and then your blood pressure gets treated.

Lisa Skinner  24:28  

Then you press one of those modifiable conditions or manageable conditions. You’re not this, this really surprises people. You can show the signs and symptoms of cognitive impairment with a urinary tract infection and both men and women.

Dr. Mark Syms  24:44  

Yeah, they kind of fall off the edge if their capacity I mean, I think people don’t understand the burden of having bacteria in your body and all of the chemicals and the stress it is well actually I think they do now, right like COVID is an example how stressful a flu are an actor, a virus and COVID skates are bacteria in a urinary tract infection can be on your whole body. Right? 

Lisa Skinner  25:07  

And so that’s one example where mild cognitive impairment can be reversed. Right? Right. antibiotics, once it gets into the bloodstream, it takes probably a couple of weeks after you take the full cycle of the antibiotics to get all the yuck out of your system. And then you go go back to normal. And this is the biggest difference, because I’ve had people come to me and tell me, I think my mom has Alzheimer’s disease, because just out of the blue, she just couldn’t remember anything. She’s really confused. It doesn’t happen like that. It doesn’t happen in a 24 hour.

Dr. Mark Syms  25:44  

That’s usually some sort of underlying stressor. That is-

Lisa Skinner  25:48  

Exactly. I said, Take your your mother to the doctor and have a urinary tract.

Dr. Mark Syms  25:55  

Make sure they’re healthy overall, right? Yeah. So like, what are like a couple of nuggets like for family? I mean, are there a couple of things like pieces of gold that you’d say you’re a couple of things you might need to think about, you have a family member with dementia.

Lisa Skinner  26:11  

One very common behavior that we see with dementia is a person having false beliefs, and paranoia, and some have hallucinations, some have delusions, my grandmother ran the gamut. She showed all of these behaviors, and our gut, our instinctive reaction is to correct that person, right? We want to bring them back to our reality, right? They’re believing at that time. And I’m going to use a lightbulb as an analogy. It’s because the short term memory for that period of time, whether it’s a minute, two hours, three days, it just got whipped off. Right, the short term memory eventually diminishes completely. And but then our long term memory stays intact. So once we stop having our short term memory to pull from we pull from our long term memory. So if this is common for somebody to think their their spouse who passed away, let’s say years ago, beliefs, they’re still alive. And our instinctive reaction would would be to correct them and say, Oh, no, Mom, don’t you remember, dad passed away five years ago? What are you talking about? Right? In her mind’s eye? A lot, right? Because she’s pulling from her long term memory, because the short term memory just got short circuited, even though temporary. 

Dr. Mark Syms  27:46  

That makes sense. Yeah. 

Lisa Skinner  27:48  

So a nugget that I think is probably one of the most important things family members or caregivers can do, is what we call join their reality. You have to go along with their belief, because I trust me, there is nothing anybody can say or do to change that person’s belief until their short term memory flips back on their back in our reality.

Dr. Mark Syms  28:17  

So remediations not going to work. Don’t bother, or don’t try. 

Lisa Skinner  28:21  

No, don’t just exacerbate the situation just to get more agitated or agitated, more frustrated than or angry, angry.

Dr. Mark Syms  28:32  

You’re telling that person their spouse is dead. And they’re saying No, he’s not. 

Lisa Skinner  28:35  

That’s right. It could be like they’re hearing it for the first time. 

Dr. Mark Syms  28:38  

And yeah, that’s interesting. That’s great advice. That’s awesome.

Lisa Skinner  28:43  

Joining their reality. And one of the ways that, you know, if it’s happening is listen for the cues of what they’re talking about. Sure, talking about going out and playing tennis with the, you know, the 2/8 graders. And you know, you’re sitting there looking at an 85 year old woman, What is she talking about? You know, that she’s pulling from her long term memory? Because her short term memory just went to put?

Dr. Mark Syms  29:13  

Sure, sure, yeah. That’s great advice. That’s a great, I mean, I think that that is gold, right? Because that really can eliminate a lot of the frustration that the family and care providers have, right, rather than trying to correct all the time, because that’s a lot of work to it is yes, that’s awesome. Thank you so much. Is there anything else you think the listeners should know?

Lisa Skinner  29:35  

Um, another thing that I think is really important to make aware of is there’s a lot of behaviors that surface as a result of dementia shouldn’t several of them and what I think is very important for family members and caregivers to do is learn to recognize the behaviors. That the behaviors are part of the disease, right? Not somebody trying to be difficult, or antagonistic or anything. They are trying to communicate something to you. And the way the only way that they are capable of doing that is through these behaviors. So if you recognize the behaviors as part of the disease, know that they’re trying to tell you something, and they’re not, they’re not just trying to be difficult, right? Then you really kind of have to decode what the behavior means that it takes a lot of time and a lot of patience.

Dr. Mark Syms  30:40  

But it also takes away maybe some projected ill intent of some of the behaviors, right? Because sometimes people think they’re doing it because they’re, they want to be mean or something. But they’re not. They’ve got some other motivation that you need to sign that’ll actually make you much happier as a family member. Right? When you figure out why they’re really doing it, right.

Lisa Skinner  30:58  

Usually, they’re trying to communicate something to you. Family members over the years, tell me how hurt they are. Because they’re they went to visit their mother, and their mother called him a different name and didn’t recognize them.

Dr. Mark Syms  31:12  

Again, that’s the disease speaking not their mother. 

Lisa Skinner  31:15  

Exactly. That’s great. 

Dr. Mark Syms  31:17  

That’s great stuff. So they say, you know, I love asking people this, you know, as you’ve moved along, in your career in your life, who do you think is the people who were, you know, influenced you?

Lisa Skinner  31:34  

I would say, as I’m journeying down this path for the last 25 plus years, my strength. And my reinforcement came from the people that I helped like the gal that said,

Dr. Mark Syms  31:52  

You need to write us write a book. Yeah.

Lisa Skinner  31:55  

Because it really just made me realize that I could make a difference in people’s lives as they’re going through this very difficult disease. The other aspect of it is really very similar to what you described, you went through with your brother, you had to lose twice, right? You do the same thing with dementia first, lose the person that you knew.

Dr. Mark Syms  32:19  

Right? And then you lose the new person.

Lisa Skinner  32:22  

And then they pass away, right? So it’s a double whammy, you have to mourn that loss twice. And so I came to realize this really was a gift that was given to me. And it was based on experiences watching my own family members. And also the the many, many, many families that I helped understand this disease while I was counseling them on, you know, should they leave their parents at home? Should they place them all these things came up the family dynamics were unbelievable. Everybody kind of had their own camps that they were in and it’s it’s really it tears families apart? Yeah. So I thank the people that reinforced to me that I was really helping them out of a very tenuous situation.

Dr. Mark Syms  33:14  

That’s great. That’s great work. That’s really fulfilling. That’s great stuff. So I also like to ask everybody, what’s your favorite sound? We are hearing loss? podcast. So I’m always intrigued what what sound is the thing you like to hear the most? 

Lisa Skinner  33:30  

A heart? 

Dr. Mark Syms  33:32  

Oh, that’s a beautiful instrument. That’s a good. That’s a good one. I haven’t really said what’s what can you tell the listeners about your book, what his name is, and where they can find it, where they can find you.

Lisa Skinner  33:43  

The name of the book is called Not All Who Wander Need Be Lost. And it’s available on Amazon. Right? And I also have a blog under the same name. And I invite people to come-

Dr. Mark Syms  33:58  

Is that a website, or do they just Google not only Facebook, Facebook is-

Lisa Skinner  34:03  

On Facebook. So you’re on Facebook, and you search Not All Who Wander Need Be Lost. And I’ll take you right to my blog. Okay. And hopefully, that’ll be an additional resource for people because I share a lot of these tools and tips and updated information and things that I feel are important for me for people to know. So you can go on there and hopefully, useful information.

Dr. Mark Syms  34:33  

This has been greatly so you’ve really shared some great information insights. I really appreciate you coming on to the podcast. Everybody. This is Lisa Skinner has been on there. Thanks so much for coming on to ListenUp!. It’s been great having you as a guest. 

Lisa Skinner  34:44  

Thanks for having me.

Dr. Mark Syms  34:46  

This has been great. Thanks again.

Outro  34:50 
Thanks for tuning in to the ListenUp! podcast. We’ll see you again next time and be sure to click subscribe to get updates on future episodes.

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