Monday, October 29, 2012

Dementia and Being Old

Moses Was An Old Dude

Oct 29, 2012

Did you know Moses was 80 when God called him to talk to Pharoah about freeing the Israelites?   Moses was an old dude, for sure.  Then God decided to give Moses a break, and He arranged for Aaron to come along and help Moses.  Guess what?  Aaron was 83!  Now I’m not so sure I would consider an 83 year old man to be much of a helper, but we all know God has a sense of humor.

Our pastor used this passage of scripture in Exodus as the text for his sermon this week.  Being someone who works with senior citizens every day, and someone who writes about senior citizens in both blog and book format, this little tidbit of information on Moses and Aaron caught my attention.

I think it is one of the ways God reminds us to recognize the benefit senior citizens have in our lives.  We are often quick to disregard their stories or ideas.  We seem to forget they have knowledge beyond anything we have experienced.  We ignore their education, both formal and informal.

God decided to call on the wisdom Moses had gained in his 80 years on Earth, and He enhanced that wisdom with Aaron and his talents garnered through 83 years of being alive.  If God looks this way on the senior citizens, shouldn’t we?  Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Momma And Her Juggling Career

Exercising the brain is important for us at every stage of life.  This is true even when dementia becomes part of the picture. We have often heard instructions to work crossword puzzles, Soduku puzzles, and jigsaw puzzles. This is good advice IF doing these things is a challenge.  Then the brain is getting a good workout.  If doing these things come easily, the brain challenge is less, and, therefore, the benefit to the brain is decreased.

Knowing this, I recommended my Momma try juggling.  We had just finished a one-mile walk around the neighborhood carrying one pound balls.  We used these balls to do various exercises with our arms.  Then I suggested she try throwing one ball at a time in the air and catching it with her dominant hand.  She did very well.  I then suggested she try doing this same thing with her other hand.  For Momma, that was her left hand.  If you have ever tried writing with your left hand, when you normally use your right hand, you can begin to understand how this was a bit of a challenge for Momma.  In addition to this throwing and catching of the ball, Momma was walking around the neighborhood and talking to me.  This meant her brain was firing in many different locations.  One part of her brain was being used to allow her to talk, one part to allow her to toss the ball, another part to help the opposite hand reach for the ball, one part for her eyes to keep track of the sequence, and so on.

As a reminder, Momma has Alzheimer's.  So, this brain exercise was an excellent workout.  On top of the good brain workout she received, she worked her legs with the walking and her arms with the catching of the ball.  As an extra bonus, it was fun, and Momma laughed and giggled throughout the process.  (Which is also good for her brain.)

Now my challenge is to teach her how to truly juggle.  Then I'm gonna start a side show and charge admission. Or...maybe not.  Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Faith and Peace - Buy One Get One Free

I was recently asked to explain why I have peace in my life.  My first thought was, “How do you know I have peace?”  This person seemed to think I had a corner on the market of peace.  Maybe it was on special at the local department store.  “Buy one get one free --- today only --- stock up on peace.”

Of course, I am exaggerating, but the conversation has made me stop and think.  My peace, to whatever extent I have it, really did come as a “buy one get one free” deal.  Use see, peace is the by-product of faith.  When faith becomes real and strong in the everyday activities of life, peace is the naturally occurring result.

In my book, I Prayed For My Refrigerator…And Other Stories of Faith, (Click here to purchase), I tell many stories where faith was absolutely necessary to bring me through various life situations with a smile on my face.  My husband’s life-changing accident, my parent’s divorce, and my story of being bitten by a bat all relay instances where my faith was tested and God’s peace brought me through.

There are few minutes of my day that are not bathed with prayer.  I have often commented that my tendency towards accidents has helped push me into prayerful conversation many times a day.  (My friend, Leslie, calls me Kamikaze Carol.)  When I crank the car, when I walk up and down stairs, when I sit to write, no matter the situation, I consult with God for His direction and guidance.

Am I more peaceful than others in my world?  I don’t know.  I do know that the only true source of peace is through the Prince of Peace.  Come back next week and Listen To My Brain Rattle.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Whose Taking Care of Mom-Mom During The Wedding?

We are making final plans for the big wedding day, and there are a ton of details to consider.  What time does the bride need to be at the gardens?  Will the groom change into his tuxedo at the wedding site?  These seem like normal questions.

When dementia enters the picture, the questions may be different.  What arrangements have been made to allow NaNa and Mom-Mom to arrive in time but not too early?  Has anyone been asked to sit with them until such time as they are escorted down the aisle?  Who will make sure these same grandmothers have all their needs met while their family is busy with the events of the day?  Who will take them home early if they desire?  Did we remember a blanket for NaNa while she is sitting in her wheelchair?  Does Mom-Mom need someone to remind her not to eat fruit?

 (Brandie and Mom-Mom)

 (Brandie and NaNa)

Planning ahead, when a loved one has dementia, is the key to a successful event.  Do not expect them to be able to participate as everyone else might.  They have limitations.  Respect those limitations, adjust your expectations to match up with their abilities, and the event will be more enjoyable for everyone involved.

Me… well I have enlisted the help of anyone and everyone who is willing to be caregivers on the big wedding day.  The more help the better.  Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.

Monday, October 1, 2012

He Was A Minister-She Was A Lawyer

My choir participants have been especially talkative this week.  It seems they had stories that needed to be told, and I was happy to stop and listen.

We all like to tell stories when we have an audience that is engaged.  It is my pleasure to be that “engaged audience” for my senior citizen friends.  It amazes me the life these folks have led.  Even though I know better, I sometimes forget the person I see is not the person they were 20, 30, 40, or even 50 years ago.  These folks have life experiences, histories, and stories.

While talking with one man, I learned he was a Baptist minister and later a Methodist minister.  He also ministered to twelve troubled young men at a group home.  This is impressive, to say the least.

One lady, who presently enjoys humming and eating cookies all of her awake hours, surprised me with the news of her past career.  She was a successful lawyer in Louisiana.  I was amazed to realize the success this lady had achieved.

When you are blessed to be in the presence of senior citizens, take a few minutes to learn about their life.  Ask about their previous career, how many children they have, where they lived, and so on.  They may or may not remember.  If they do not remember, they will say so, or they will make up a story.  Either way, you have spent time with an individual who has a story to tell.

That, my friend, will give you Something To Ponder.