When my parents first began to have memory problems, I was in denial. As a psychologist teaching university classes on aging, I had always emphasized the positive aspects of growing older. Alzheimer’s disease had never been on my radar. It is now. Continue reading
“To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart and to sing it to them when they have forgotten.” This was written by Arne Garborg, a Norwegian writer, and has been my inspiration for many years. Even though I have worked with people with dementia most of my adult life, it was not until my father was diagnosed that I actually experienced the significance and value of learning one’s song. Continue reading
I write about Alzheimer’s because my father’s experience with the disease turned me into an advocate, not just for those with Alzheimer’s, but for their caregivers as well.
My father lived with Alzheimer’s disease for about four years. In that time, my father went from fully independent to living in a memory care center. My mother went from healthy and active to stressed and exhausted, and I believe the prolonged period of stress contributed to her colon cancer diagnosis, just six months after my father died. Continue reading
Aren’t you curious to know more? Why do you find this boring? If you could peer into my brain, you might observe these questions bouncing around.
I remember being admonished as a child for acting “too inquisitive” or alternately, “too sensitive.” As an adult I’m sometimes told that, in conversations, I either give too many details or ask for too many details, depending on whether I’m telling the story or listening to one. Or worse, I confess to interrupting someone else’s story (my husband) to add more details when I don’t feel he’s imparting enough information. Okay, so I like details! Watching movies, it’s not uncommon for me to be so engrossed in the details of the room decor or the characters’ clothing in period piece dramas, that I forget to listen to the dialog. My husband might call a movie a “yawner,” while I found it completely captivating in its minutia. And yes, I can be a bit on the obsessive side when it comes to journaling, particularly when traveling. I’m driven to record the details of our travel days, which actually sometimes comes in handy when we’re trying to remember the name of a particular place or where we stayed in any given city. While other people seek entertainment on their iPad, I’m busily recording the day’s events.
I’ve long collected family memorabilia, particularly photographs. Some of these photos date back to the mid-1800s. I thoroughly enjoy studying the details in these old photos, imagining myself in that time period. My current work in progress is a fictional biography of my great-grandmother Maggie. For Continue reading
Last week I was reminded that answers or solutions aren’t necessarily what or even where they initially appear…
I opened the pedestrian door from our garage onto our patio to sounds of frantic fluttering and flapping, coming from our next-door neighbor’s yard. My first thought was “Oh, no, an injured bird.” As I walked closer to the fence dividing our yards, that’s indeed what it appeared. I saw a robin hopping about and frantically flapping his wings. However, when I looked more closely, I realized that wasn’t it at all. The robin was “imprisoned” inside a loop of chicken wire mesh.
In an attempt to keep his dog away from a section of our shared fence, my neighbor had installed a few feet of chicken wire. The wire had detached from one end and was partially curled over, forming an empty cylinder. Somehow the robin had skittered into this unintentional birdcage, and was now trying his utmost to batter the chicken wire into releasing him to freedom. It was easy to see the effort was causing the bird a great deal of stress and would ultimately exhaust him.
If only we could only redirect the bird to reverse direction and look behind him toward our shared fence, he’d see there was a wide opening in the chicken wire where he could easily hop out and escape his self-made prison. My husband retrieved a broom from the garage Continue reading
This week, I’d like to welcome guest blogger Jennifer Brush, M.A, CCC/SLP. She and Kerry Mills are the authors of I Care: A Handbook For Care Partners Of People With Dementia.
Jennifer, it’s great to have you back for your second appearance on my blog. First of all, I’d like you to know how much I enjoyed reading your handbook I Care. It’s a true little gem of a book. I certainly would have appreciated having such a wealth of practical information at my fingertips after my parents were both diagnosed with dementia back in 2004.
I’d like to start our interview with you sharing an overview of I Care, along with some of the topics covered in your handbook.
The goal of I Care is to help families have fulfilling, loving, and nurturing relationships and to minimize any depression and stress they might feel when caring for someone with dementia. Every chapter has many useful and practical suggestions to help families feel empowered, rather than defeated, while dealing with the daily trials of dementia.
I Care discusses how to prepare for the future while living in the present, how to make the most of your day, where to look for help when you need it, how to communicate effectively with someone with memory loss, and where to make changes in your home so it is safe. I Care clearly explains the essential information you need to be the best care partner you can be.
Can you explain what motivated you to the write this handbook?
I’ve been working with people living with dementia and their care partners for 25 years. Although there’s a lot of information now available on the Internet for people to read about dementia, family members still have a real need for practical advice to help them Continue reading
Although Mom passed away 8 years ago from complications of Alzheimer’s disease, a belated appreciation of her has slowly blossomed, especially in the past couple of years. At random moments, I’ve experienced an unmistakable yearning to hug her tenderly and voice my gratitude one more time. In earlier years, I sometimes seemed to lack the ability to show my appreciation in a way that she could relate.
She was born in a time of little. As a child, farm work was the only extra-curricular activity she experienced outside of school. On the other hand, while I was growing up as the only child still at home, it was quite the opposite. Mom did everything in her power to offer me as many experiences and opportunities as possible in our small town. At various times Continue reading
According to Albert Einstein, “Imagination … is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
It was late afternoon when my doorbell rang. I peeked carefully out the window and there stood a clean-cut young man. I thought, “Uh oh, a magazine salesman,” but something moved me to open the front door anyway.
“Hi, My name is Mikhail.” He turned slightly to point behind him at the sidewalk steps leading up onto the walkway to our front porch. “I’ve long admired those steps and I’m wondering if it would be all right to stand on them next Saturday when I propose to my girlfriend?”
“Whaat?” That wasn’t what I’d expected him to say. Far from it! “You want to propose on the steps leading up to our walkway?” Was I hearing correctly? This was a first!
It is my pleasure to welcome guest blogger, Nathanael Geman, Co-Founder & CEO of the new medical search engine for patients, MedNexus.
Exciting new developments are happening in Medicine every day but patients are flooded with information and cannot keep up with the latest evidence. Navigating the sea of information available online can be daunting at best, and dangerous at worst.
A close family member of mine has been suffering from Crohn’s Disease for over 15 years. He was struck in his mid twenties and had to undergo countless surgeries. His journey from doctor to doctor, hospital to hospital without any relief highlights the lack of consensus on courses of treatment and the heterogeneity of care. After years of looking for a long-term solution to help manage recurring infections, he came upon an online article highlighting a simple day-to-day approach that immediately provided relief. This was not a Continue reading
This post must begin with a confession…for a good part of my life I believed “older” people lived on a different emotional planet, an asexual planet devoid of romance, free from desire. It didn’t seem feasible to me that someone in midst of their golden years could actually experience all those tingly feelings that come from the infatuation of a new love. However, I also never deduced exactly when it was that this human characteristic was lost, but certainly by the 8th or 9th decades! Surely the feelings experienced when pheromones flooded our bloodstream were limited to those of us under a certain age. Surely.
I am elated to report, with the bold crash of a dozen cymbals, how gravely mistaken I was. It’s been with a sense of pure delight that I’ve been witness to my dear friend and neighbor falling in love. Oh, did I mention that she’s at the tail end of her 70’s and he’s in his mid-80’s? Even though they’re now further along life’s path, her description of the emotions experienced strike me as precisely the same feelings as anyone who’s ever fallen in love.
I’ve learned there’s even a scientific explanation for these feelings and it’s all about brain Continue reading