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Beyond The Balance Sheet Podcast

Dec 21, 2022

Today we are joined by OPG’s Director of Aging Services, Sam van Kalkeren. Sam discusses how to help a loved one faced with a dementia diagnosis. He gives excellent information on how to communicate with a loved one to ensure their voice is heard as they navigate this difficult path. Sam talks about the benefits of having a care partner and what type of support they can offer the family. It is vital to have a care partner if the ailing family member lives out of state. We touch on what happens when someone with a dementia diagnosis gets a psychiatric admission and give excellent tips on keeping the loved one safe. This episode contains great information to help your aging parent handle cognitive decline. 




  • [2:20] How does a child support a parent facing cognitive decline? 
  • [5:20] What are the benefits of having a care partner? 
  • [8:52] What is the best way to communicate with someone with  dementia? 
  • [10:40] What does Sam recommend to children when they first hear the diagnosis? 
  • [12:04] How do family members help someone struggling with dementia avoid being taken advantage of financially? 
  • [14:24] What happens when someone goes into the hospital with a psychiatric admission?
  • [20:25] How do you help a family member who doesn’t want to accept their diagnosis? 




  • Initiate the difficult conversation about how the ailing parent wants to live the rest of their life. Do they want a DNI (do not intubate) or DNR (do not resuscitate)? Know all medications and have everything laid out to help the parent.
  • Form a relationship with a care partner if you are out of state or need additional support.
  • Those with dementia need a lot of support. Some people can continue to live at home, work, and speak for themselves, but the proper support needs to be in place.
  • If your loved one goes into the psychiatric emergency department, they may get scared and become aggressive. If they are sedated due to that behavior, it can be difficult to go back to inpatient care. An impatient home may not want to take the patient back if they display aggressive behavior. It’s important to have a care partner to help avoid the loved one being put in a psychiatric department.  




Beyond the Balance Sheet Website




Sam van Kalkeren, MSN, RN, CDP, is OPG’s Director of Aging Services. He has been working as a psychiatric RN since 2012 and is a Certified Dementia Practitioner. Sam has worked with all age populations suffering from mental illness, from pediatrics to geriatrics. He has experience working with clients suffering from substance use and co-occurring disorders, complex mental health diagnoses, neurocognitive disorders, and personality disorders. Most of his nursing career has been in the inpatient psychiatric setting. Sam joined OPG from Tufts Medical Center in Boston. Before Tufts, he was the Patient Care Director for the geriatric and adult inpatient psychiatric units at Carney Hospital in Dorchester, Massachusetts.