‘Reach out for help’: Lifespan on caring for loved ones with dementia

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PENN YAN, N.Y. — It’s a murder investigation that has shaken the village of Penn Yan.

On Thursday, Penn Yan Police identified the couple as Jane and Ronald Salyer. Police told News10NBC the husband will likely be charged.

According to police, the husband is the only person of interest in the killing. They said he suffers from dementia, and is currently in the hospital, unable to communicate due to his medical condition.

The chief said the husband had injuries to his hands that were consistent with pulling on something to cause bruises.

Katy Allen is Division Leader for Caregiver Services at Lifespan. She said the story is tragic, and it’s not the first she’s heard in her career.

Allen said aggression is common in any stage of dementia, but violence is rare. She encourages caregivers to contact a medical professional immediately, if they notice things escalate.

“We’ve heard caregivers talk about being at home, and all of a sudden, the person who has lived in that home for 40 years is not recognizing their surroundings, is unfamiliar with the people around them,” she said. “That can be a really terrifying experience for someone. Often the reaction to that comes with fear.”

Allen encourages family members to contact the number for lifespan: (585) 244-8400.

Lifespan is also hosting a virtual four-week webinar for people to learn about Dementia and aggression. It’s called “Walking on Eggshells,” and will be taught by Dr. Marla Bruns, cognitive neurologist and co-director of Unity’s Memory Center.

Alzheimer’s Association in Rochester provided a 24/7 hotline for caregivers and loved ones if they need help. That number is (800) 272-3900.

Help on dealing with anger: Aggression & Anger | Alzheimer’s Association

More info on Walking on Eggshells: Classes & Events — Lifespan (lifespan-roch.org)

Here is a statement from the Alzheimer’s Association:

“The Rochester Finger Lakes Chapter offers care consultations, support groups and educational programs across a nine-county region including Chemung, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne and Yates counties, for individuals and caregivers who need them. Educational programs cover subjects such as Understanding and Responding to Dementia-Related Behaviors, 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s and Effective Communication Strategies. Upcoming programs are listed on the chapter website at alz.org/rochesterny/helping_you/education. Or people can call 800.272.3900 to see what programs are being offered in their area.”