Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dementia and Sleep

I’m sure we are all aware of the importance of sleep.  Without sleep we are grouchy, less productive, sluggish, and just not focused.  Why is this true?  The answer might help entice you to improve your lifestyle so as to improve the quality and amount of sleep you get each night.
The brain is the processing center for all we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste. It helps us know the difference between right and wrong as well as right and left.  It tells our heart to beat, our kidneys to filter, and our bladder to speak to us several times a day. 
The brain also takes new information and places that information in permanent storage facilities throughout the brain.  However, the brains ability to move that information is dependent upon good quality sleep.
Sleep is measured in five stages.  Each stage progresses toward a deeper sleep.  The deepest stage is referred to as REM sleep, or Rapid Eye Movement Sleep.   According to about.com, “On average, we enter the REM stage approximately 90 minutes after falling asleep. The first cycle of REM sleep might last only a short amount of time, but each cycle becomes longer. REM sleep can last up to an hour as sleep progresses.”
Why is REM sleep so important.  It is during REM sleep that new information gained throughout the day is moved from the hippocampus (which is a temporary filing facility for the brain) to a place in the brain where it will live permanently.  If REM sleep is not achieved, the brain will lose that information. 
Staying up all night to study, for example, is not as beneficial as studying and then taking a few hours to sleep.  During those few hours the brain can move the new information learned to a permanent location in the brain.  Later, when the new information is needed, it is available for recall.
We all will agree that sleep is a good thing.  Who knew it could be so productive?
Hope that gives you SOMETHING TO PONDER. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dementia: God Won't Put More On You Than You Can Handle

I have spent my life hearing the phrase, "God won't put more on you than you can handle", and I often wondered if the people who proclaimed this lived in the same universe in which I lived?  This week, I have been thinking about this very subject. 
As you probably know, Momma has Alzheimer's.  She is seven years beyond her diagnosis date, and she has some sort of "issue" most everyday of her life.  These issues are concerning, but they are usually manageable.  Even though they are manageable, they can be time consuming.  But, she is so dad-gone sweet that I don't mind! 
My mother-in-law has been a sick lady for about two years.  She has good days and bad days.  However, on Wednesday of last week she received a good health check-up from her doctor.  YEAH!!!  Wait… on Sunday she was taken by ambulance to the hospital.  On Monday we were told she most likely would not pull through.  On Tuesday we were advised to call in Hospice.  On Wednesday they changed her future to that of not needing Hospice but skilled nursing care.  On Thursday, the skilled nursing care requirement was dropped and the need for rehabilitation was the plan.  All of these changes in just a few days.   
My sister had what was suppose to be routine knee surgery two weeks ago.  During the surgery we discovered she had what the doctor called "an angry knee", and recovery is proving to be much more difficult than anyone ever imagined. 
Then today, a sweet girl said to me, "Remember, Mrs. Howell, God won't put more on you than you can handle."  I am pretty sure she wasn't prepared for my response.  "Oh Kayla, that's really not a Biblical concept.  God will definitely put more on us than we can handle.  He does so in order to make us turn to Him.  What comforts me is knowing God will not put more on us than HE can handle."   
I wish I could say I have turned everything over to God this week.  I am afraid I have been guilty of holding on to some things, and I have even been slack in my quiet time.  God's knocking on my door, and I need to open the door and listen.  His way is the best.  His plans are perfect.   
I hope that gives you Something To Ponder. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Dementia and Word Salad

It is not unusual to forget a word or call something by a wrong name.  When dementia becomes part of the picture, however, this happens more frequently.  It is often referred to as "word salad".    My sister and I recently experienced this with Momma.  
Before I tell you the story, it is important to note that Momma is doing great, and the disease has not taken over her life at this point.  However, we are noticing certain things happening that cause us concern.
After showering one day, Momma proceeded to put on a shirt that seemed to be giving her difficulty.  This shirt had a built-in undershirt, and the entire process of getting the layers in the right place was proving to be more than she could handle.  She said, "I had a tassel with that shirt."  I asked, "You mean you had a tussle?"  She responded, "Yes, that is what I meant." 
Just a few minutes later Momma retold the story and used the wrong word again.  This is concerning, as dementia has a way of stealing words.  Alzheimer's affects the left temporal lobe where language is stored.  Often times our loved ones will make up words to use for the word they cannot remember.  This excerpt from LET'S TALK DEMENTIA  explains it well.

"Hey, John.  I need a tromby." 

"Hi, Dad.  Did you say you need a tromby?" 

"Yes, get me a a tromby." 

"John replies, "Help me remember, Dad.  What do you do with a tromby?" 

Dad seemed a little confused, but he answered with, "You know.  You use a tromby to make your hair look good." 

"Oh yeah.  I remember." 

Ask questions.  Be kind.  Listen careful.  Watch body language.  You just might figure out what is trying to be said.  Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Dementia - It's Not As Easy As It Seems

This strange picture shows our bathroom mirror covered in strips of tape.  We did this as part of the plan to crack the mirror with a hammer and take it down in pieces.  In so doing, the mirror would not fall on us and cause a trip to the emergency room.
After finishing the taping project, I really wanted to give the mirror the needed whacks with the hammer.  However, my husband had the honors.  Strike one!  No crack.  I was surprised.  Ok, let’s try again.  Strike two!  Still, no crack.  This was strange.  He was using a regular hammer.  This was a glass mirror.  How could it be?  Strike three!.  Strike four!  Strike five.  Strike six!  Finally, the mirror cracked. 
I bet if I had accidentally hit the mirror with the hair dryer, that silly thing would have cracked, and I would have been purchasing a replacement.  However, six whacks with a hammer were required to accomplish the needed task of cracking the mirror.
Things are not always as easy as they seem.  When living with dementia, day-to-day tasks can become quite difficult.  Tying shoes and buttoning shirts can be quite a chore.  The manual dexterity needed to accomplish these tasks is no longer available.  The visual field is constantly changing.  The eye-hand coordination is altered.  What seems simple can become quite difficult.
Be patient.  Be helpful.   Be kind.  Our loved ones are doing the best than can.  Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dementia and IT'S MINE!

Let me introduce you to Zoe.  She is a pie-bald, soft wired-hair, miniature dachshund.  That is way to many adjectives for a seven pound dog.  She entered our lives in July of this year, and she has rocked our world.  This picture shows her resting comfortably on her "sofa".  She is lying on a pink blanket next to a bone that belongs to her. 
From looking at the picture, it would seem Zoe is saying, "These things are mine.  Leave them alone."  Of course, my husband and I had no desire to take these items from her.  The picture made me think....
I often see caregivers remove items from people with dementia and I wonder.  "Why couldn't they keep that item?"  One such experience occurred when a caregiver removed an apple from the hand of a man whose main job each day was to walk up and down the hall.  This man saw the apple, picked it up, and he proceeded to examine it quite intensely.  The caregiver did not want the man to eat the apple so close to lunch time, so the caregiver proceeded to remove the apple from his hand.
This man was much like Zoe.  Maybe he was thinking, "This is my apple.  You are not getting it."  However, and unfortunately, the caregiver was persistent.  The apple was removed from his hand, and the man became agitated. 
If the man had been left to examine the apple, and maybe even eat the apple, would his life had been changed in a negative way?  Would it have resulted in some tragedy that must be avoided?  I think not. 
Give serious consideration when making demands of your loved one with dementia.  This is especially true when they are living in the mid to late stages of their disease.  Ask yourself, "Is this necessary?  Does it really matter?  Would life be just as good or even better if I backed off?"   
Often it is easier and more productive to just leave well enough alone.  Hope that gives you something to ponder.