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Missing the Beauty

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Dementia: Prescription to Smile!

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Don't miss this wek's blog! Dementia and Relaxation

Dementia and Relaxation

Life can be a challenge.  Curve balls are thrown our way, and we are caught off guard.  Routines are interrupted, and we revolt.  Expectations are not met, and we feel disappointed.  STRESS! UGH!
I have experienced more than my share of stress in the last few weeks.  It has not been fun, and it has not been easy.  Much of it has caused me to stop.  I've had to stop and think and ponder and evaluate.  Then I had to stop and REST!
Stress eats at our body and mind and spirit.  It can destroy us, or it can be a motivator to initiate change.  I had an individual I highly respect advise that I needed to "find myself, again" and stop letting the stresses of life destroy me.  I've thought a lot about that, and I have decided this person was absolutely correct.
That's when I re-discovered the joy of relaxation.  I love to pile up on the sofa with my flannel blanket Momma made, my dachshund (that's her in the picture) stretched out beside me, and Netflix on the television.  If there is a mug of hot coffee on the side table, then life is even more pleasant.  I watch television until my eyes are heavy, and then I try to nap.  (Try - because you know the phone is going to ring or the dryer buzzes or the dog barks.)  Relaxation is a good thing.
Think about how stressful life is for our loved ones with dementia.  They realize, as my Grandma Carpenter who had Alzheimer's use to say, "Something just isn't right."  She did not know what that "something" was, but she knew life was off kilter.  So do our loved ones.  They know they have a problem, they want to fix the problem, and they are trying so hard to cover mistakes.  All this causes them to be tired.  Relaxation is very important.
Offer your loved one a time to relax.  Maybe they would enjoy a massage, or a meal out, or even a shopping excursion.  Maybe they want to help you cook or fold laundry like they did years ago.  Maybe they would like to sit down with you and color a beautiful picture in an adult coloring book (don't insult them with childish coloring books).  Maybe a game of cards will bring about much needed release from the struggles going on in their brain.  Maybe you need to sing to them.  Whatever brings your loved one release from stress, please offer it to them regularly.
Whatever form relaxation takes for you, make it a point to practice it.  As you can see from the picture, Zoe has it all figured out!
Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.
VALENTINE SNOWMAN TREE UPDATE - As you can see from the picture, the Valentine Snowman Tree is now celebrating St. Patty's Day.  My sister called Momma and asked what she was new in her world.  Momma said, "My man has turned green."  As a matter of explanation, Momma has a male friend in her community that she spends time with, so my sister assumed Momma was talking about him.  My sister said, "What is wrong with him?  Why did he turn green?"  Momma said, "He is the prettiest shade of green!"  My sister became quite concerned until she finally figured out Momma was talking about the snowman!!

Sometimes, You've Just Got To Laugh

Monday, February 15, 2016

Dementia and Snowmen??

Momma is my heart.  She loves me like only a mother can, and she makes me smile.  Well, most of the time.  Truth is, she makes me scratch my head many days, but we will talk about that another day.


Christmas this year was made extra special for Momma by the addition of her very own snowman in her living room.  He was decorated with a top hat, red scarf, and mittens.  When we began discussing removing the snowman with the other Christmas decorations, Momma wasn't so happy.  "But I like sitting here looking at him.  Don't take him down."  And you know the saying, "What Momma wants....Momma gets."  Thus began the thought process for making the snowman into something we could keep year round.

A trip to the dollar store, $20 bucks spent, and we had enough decorations to make a Mardi Gras Snowman, Valentine's Day Snowman, St. Patty's Day Snowman, and an Easter Snowman.  As you can see from the picture, our Valentine's Day Snowman turned out quite well.

What's the point in all this?  I have many goals in life.  The Westminster Catechism teaches us the chief purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.  That is always my primary goal.  After that, I believe we are called to take care of God's children.  Scripture further teaches us to take care of the widows and orphans.  The making of a snowman tree for Christmas, Mardi Gras, Valentine's Day, St. Patty's Day, and Easter are all part of making my Momma's world happier.  That brings to mind another saying.  "If Momma ain't happy.... ain't no body happy."  Do I hear an AMEN!
Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Peaking at the Past

"I will meditate on Thy precepts, and have respect unto Thy ways."  That scripture is from Psalm 119, and it was part of a recent Sunday sermon at my church.  The following statement was made by Reverend Dolores, "Peek at the past to learn.  Praise in the present.  Focus on the future." 
This statement got my attention.  Peeking at the past is part of the life of caregiving for a loved one with dementia.  We help our people peek at the past with hope we can spark a memory.  Sometimes the plan works.  Other times, the plan fails.  There are even times it is a huge disaster.  But wait... sometimes it brings smiles.
Alzheimer's type dementia steals the most recent memories first.   The memories are lostin the opposite order in which they were gained.  In other words, an individual might forget their grandchildren before they forget their children.  They might forget their children next, and then the memory of their wedding may leave them.  What they never forget is their parents.
The memories of our parents are all over our brain.  Our parents and grandparents, as well as our older siblings, all came before us.  Therefore, those memories are prevalent throughout the brain.  No matter how far in the disease the individual may progress, there will most likely always be memories of Momma.  This would explain why a person may continually ask to "go home to Momma."
When working with your loved one with dementia, no matter the stage, peek at their past.  If they were a firefighter, ask questions relevant to their work.  Did they work in a factory or mill?  Ask what products they produced.  If they were a homemaker or pastor or waitress, or whatever, ask questions relevant and spark a conversation.  If this peek into their past does not bring about results, ask about high school, the prom, or graduation.  Ask what work Daddy did when they were growing up.  What was their most favorite meal that Momma prepared?  Keep peeking further into their past until you hit upon a topic they remember.
Our loved ones cannot "Focus on the future," as my pastor stated in her sermon, but we can help to bring them joy by "peeking into the past."  Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.