Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dementia and Follow The Leader

Momma has mid-stage Alzheimer’s.  In her younger years, she was an expert saleslady.  She owned and operated a La-Z-Boy Showcase Shoppe in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and she later became the leading saleslady for Allison Love’s Fine Jewelry in Rock Hill, South Carolina.  Momma sold a lot of jewelry, and Momma bought a lot of jewelry.  I kid her that my inheritance might be exciting if she had not made so many jewelry purchases!
Momma was a leader in her field.  She could entice you to listen to her sales speech, and you would then pull out your credit card so she could close the sale.  You were either walking away with a sofa and matching recliner or earrings and a necklace.  Either way, Momma was good at her job!

Now that Alzheimer’s is changing her life, Momma is more of a follower.  She doesn’t like making decisions.  She doesn’t want to be in charge.  She is happy to allow others to “think for her”, so to speak.  Realizing her inability to process thought, I am happy to accommodate her needs.  She relies on me and my sisters to help with the day-to-day activities that affect her life.  It is always our goal to help Momma feel safe and loved.

Whether leading or following, we all have important roles in life’s picture.  Hope that gives you Something to Ponder.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Dementia and The Little Things

I love surprise gifts.  Christmas gifts and birthday gifts are fantastic.  But a gift in the middle of the cold winter months when I am least expecting one is fantastic.  During Christmas 2013, I decided to surprise my husband with a small gift each day for about a week.  These gifts were placed in a super cute mailbox.   If the flag went up, he knew it was time to “check the mail”.   He received a bookmark, cookies, a gift certificate to purchase ice tea at his favorite lunch spot, and even a book.  It was fun.
If you are caregiving for someone with dementia, don’t forget to offer little surprises. My mother, who has mid-stage Alzheimer’s, loves to be greeted by someone offering a small little gift.  Momma needs NOTHING.  Needing something is not the point. Momma just enjoys the fun of receiving an unexpected expression of kindness. Maybe it is vegan cookies from our local health food store, a pretty pen to work her word search puzzles, a single rose for her vase, or any of a hundred different ideas. Momma just likes being thought of.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dementia and WHY?

I went boot shopping.  It was not a pleasant experience.  My husband felt I should own a pair of boots for the winter, and he suggested I find a nice pair.  While shopping I came upon these boots.  Are they not the craziest things?  Who would wear them?  I don’t know who WOULD wear them, but I know who would NOT wear them.

Many things in life cause me to stop and ask WHY?  Why does my house get dirty before I finish cleaning?  Why does the dirty clothes hamper fill up much more quickly than it is emptied?  Why does my head hurt right when I need it to feel good so I can be productive?  Why does Momma have Alzheimer’s?

I have no answer to any of these questions.  I do, however, have a presence of peace.  I rest in the comfort of knowing God has a plan for my house cleaning, the laundry chores, my headaches, and my Momma.  He is not surprised by anything that happens in my day.  His ways are better than my ways, and Jeremiah 29:11 tells me He has a plan for me that will cause me to prosper and have a future and a hope.

Works for me!  I hope you have that same presence of peace.  If you DO NOT drop me a note, and we will talk!  carol@seniorlifejourneys.com   If you DO have that same presence of peace, drop me a note and share your story. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Dementia and Heat

While growing up, my family would visit my Great Grandma Ollis in the mountains of North Carolina.  I don’t remember a great deal of details about these visits.  I do remember, though, how Grandma Ollis was old, her house was small, and the heat coming from her wood stove in the middle of the summer would take your breath away.  It was much like walking into an oven.
Fast forward some forty-five years, and let’s walk into Momma’s assisted living apartment.  While it is not as hot as Grandma Ollis’ small mountain home, it is hot enough to cause this menopausal woman to melt.  Go around the corner to Pop’s apartment, and you will find the thermostat set on 90.Yes, 90!
Why do we get so cold as we age?  The answer has a lot to do with fat.  Fat is a subject I don’t enjoy discussing.  I have fought the battle of the bulge my entire life, and fat is not my friend.  However, a vibrant and healthy young or middle-aged individual has fat pads beneath the skin.  These fat pads provide protection to the bones, and they help hold in heat.  As we age, these fat pads decrease and, eventually, they go away.  The absence of fat pads increases the likelihood of bruising and broken bones and decreases the body’s ability to stay warm.
When I visit Momma, and the heat starts to be too much, I find myself standing in the hall to cool off.  I don’ want to make her uncomfortable or self-conscious, but I don’t want to faint, either.  To top it all off, Momma is often lying in her bed with a flannel quilt on top and a heated mattress pad underneath her.  I am relatively sure I would melt like Frosty The Snowman if I crawled in bed with her.
While caregiving with someone with dementia, become aware of the "why " for the situation.  The answer will make you a better caregiver.  Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.