I think all would agree: It’s important to make clear plans when setting out to accomplish something big. We all have our to-do lists, our outlines, our timelines. As with any long journey, there are times when we may wander away from the agreed-upon path or temporarily lose our sense of purpose, unable to see our point of origin, but not yet in sight of our final destination. It is during these times that we must find tools to help guide the way.

Our Board of Directors is like Friendship Center’s compass, keeping us pointed in the right direction as we stride, trudge or frolic (depending on the day) along. Contributions from our supporters provide the supplies to keep our expedition well-stocked. And the contented smiles on the faces of our members and family caregivers are reminders to stay focused.

It can be challenging to stay on course even with a well-staffed and well-run organization. Imagine how it is for family caregivers who are on the frontlines of caring for a loved one with dementia; particularly during the holidays. For many caregivers, the holiday season gives rise to stress, resentment and irritation instead of peace and goodwill.

A common scenario during the holidays is when an adult child visits their parents and finds that there has been appearance or advancement of dementia, leading to neglect of household chores or personal hygiene.

Things to watch for include:

» No longer able to handle meal preparation, house cleaning, laundry or bathing, or old, spoiled food items in the refrigerator

» Isolation/depression — spending more time alone, watching TV, canceling social plans

» Confusion — unable to track conversations, becoming disoriented, confusion in taking medication

» Falling frequently — look for loose rugs or other items in the house that may be tripping hazards

» Unpaid bills, challenges in executive functioning, problem solving

» Appearing undernourished, dehydrated, under-medicated, or is not getting care for problems with eyesight, hearing, dental problems, continence, etc.

Please join Friendship Center in the journey of informing everyone in need of our services and offering a clear roadmap to our door.

“Since 1976, Friendship Center has been sharing the care for aging and dependent adults and much needed respite for their caregivers,” Executive Director Heidi Holly said. “The holidays are a good time to use your ‘support network’; to ask for help from your family, friends and public service providers in order to ease some of the worries related to caregiving.”

For help with an elder loved one or to find out more about Friendship Center’s services, call Family Services Director Kristen (Kai) Hoye, MSW, at 805.969.0859, or for Goleta’s programs, contact Tracy Cohn at 805.845.7454 or visit www.friendshipcentersb.org.

Happy and safe holidays to all!

— Justine Sutton is a grants and development coordinator for Friendship Center.