Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dementia and a Blank Mind

Have you ever had one of those moments (or one of those days) when your mind just seemed  blank.  You tried to focus.  You tried to gather your thoughts.  You concentrated.  You pondered.  Yet, nothing good came from all the effort and energy expended.
Our loved ones suffering from dementia experience this frequently.  A thought will come to mind, but only part of the thought or memory is there.  They may try with diligence, but the memory will not surface.  Why does that happen?
The brain holds memories in different regions of the brain.  Language and music are on opposites sides of the brain.  Recent memories and memories from fifty years ago are stored in different areas.  Memories with emotion and memories without emotions are processed differently.  All of these factors come together to make memory recall a process that requires the various parts of the brain to work together to make a memory appear in full.
When Alzheimer’s invades the brain, all areas of the brain are damaged.  Thus, memory recall becomes a complicated and difficult task.  The question becomes, “how do we handle these situations?”. 
Simply put, be patient.  Be patient with yourself if you are the one experiencing the  confusion.  Be patient with your loved one if they are experiencing the frustration.  Realize we are only capable of what we are capable of .  That sounds simplistic, but it is also true.  Expecting someone with dementia to remember certain bits of information is unrealistic.  Understanding why they do not remember, accepting them for their capabilities, and loving them through the process results in a good outcome for everyone.
Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dementia and Talking Crazy

OK, you need to know something at the git-go.  Dementia causes ME – the caregiver – to say crazy things.  There are times when I wonder who has Alzheimer’s.  Is it Momma, or is it me?  Let me tell you why.
I have a very clear understanding of the fact my mother has Alzheimer’s.  I can tell you the details of the day she was diagnosed, chapter and verse.  I can explain what is happening inside her brain, and I can even anticipate SOME of what the future may hold for her and our family.  However, I say with a sigh, I still start sentences with, “Hey Momma, do you remember ….”  Then is when I want to get my brain scanned.
Fortunately, Momma has a sense of humor, and she usually has a comeback like, “Have YOU forgotten I have dementia?  Because I have not forgotten that little fact.” 
Caregiving is a challenge.  Sometimes I say things that make me question my own sanity, but one thing is always certain.  I love that woman like there is no tomorrow.  I’m also very glad she is patient with me while I figure out this business of being the kind of daughter that makes her Momma happy – despite the Alzheimer’s.  Hope that gives you Something To Ponder. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dementia and Sleeping Late

Raise your hand if a nap would make you happy?  Raise your hand if you had to get up early?  Raise your hand if you can’t wait for Saturday to roll around so you can sleep late.
Most of us spend our lives getting up early, working all day, taking care of household chores after work, and going to bed pooped (that’s a Southern word for exhausted).  Then, as the saying goes, “Second verse, same as the first”.  In other words, we get up the next day and repeat the process.
It seems when senior citizens move to an assisted living facility, everyone thinks they need to maintain this schedule of getting up early.  We are told breakfast is served at eight o’clock, so EVERYONE needs to get up.  I have a different view point. 
My Momma gets up when Momma wants to get up.  If you want to see a grouchy Momma, tell her to get up every morning and trot herself down to breakfast.  You might want to be prepared for her response.  She wants to get up slowly, gently, and eat her vegan cookie while she sits in her recliner.  In my opinion, there ain’t nothing wrong with that!  (Yes, I said “ain’t”.  It just makes my point a bit more clearly.) 
Just because someone thinks your loved SHOULD do something does not mean they are correct.  Look at the situation.  Does it really matter?  Will it improve their life?  Is there an alternative?  Be flexible, folks.  Everyone will be happier!  Hope that gives you Something To Ponder!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Dementia: Don't Worry ... Just Put Down The Glass

SOMETHING TO PONDER is pleased to welcome guest blogger, Denise Kennedy of Naturally Nourishing.  Caregiving can be difficult work, but Denise shares a wonderful perspective that might make the days easier.  
A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: ”How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”

It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down!
Denise Kennedy is a Nutritionist and Certified Natural Chef who understands a healthy mindset is just as important as a healthy diet.  She also believes prayer is just as important as exercise.  Because balance is imperative for true whole health, Denise has learned, from personal experience, it’s not only what we put in our bodies that matters,  but what we remove that helps us heal.    
Passionate about helping people reach their best level of health, Denise gives inspiring and engaging presentations.  As an educator and public speaker, she has enthralled audiences in many venues across the country.
As a Nutritionist, Denise offers one on one Nutritional Counseling by phone or in person.  See her blog at www.naturallynourishing.com  

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Dementia and Eating Out

I was born and raised in the South.  Of the two Carolinas, I live in SOUTH Carolina.  One of the things Southerners are known for is the pleasure found in food.  We love to get a group of people together and EAT. 
Momma has always enjoyed having her family together.  She use to cook large meals for everyone, and she often invited neighbors and church members to join us for Sunday lunch.  Momma was one of those cooks who didn’t follow a recipe, but all her food was marvelous!
Dementia has changed that picture quite drastically.  Momma no longer cooks (a fact with which she is quite thrilled), but the latest change is a little harder to handle for her daughters.  We have recently discovered how distressing the crowds in restaurants have become for Momma.  When we take her out to eat, the noise, the people, the decisions, the options, all come together to cause her stress.  This stress leads to a meal that does not settle on her tummy, and it, quite honestly, is not enjoyable for her family.
Now we bring food to Momma.  She totally enjoys anything and everything we bring her, she relaxes while eating, and we all have a great meal together.  We are learning, daily, to adjust to the changes dementia is bringing to our lives.  We don’t mind making the changes.  We are thrilled to have her in our lives.  Eating at a restaurant or eating at home, it just doesn’t matter. 
Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.