WORLD ALZHEIMER’S MONTH

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http://www.alz.co.uk/world-alzheimers-month

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If this horrific condition has touched your family, you are all too familiar with the frustration associated with it.  When you so desperately want to FIX something for your loved one…  but you can’t.  To watch a person once so quick-witted and sharp become a person you no longer recognize is so difficult.  Alzheimer’s touched our family – and it touches many families around the world.  The symptoms usually show up in older people over 65 years of age.

The most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease are:

  • Memory Loss.  We’ve all walked into a room and stood there wondering why we went there.  Maybe I’m speaking for myself – I’ve done it.  Sometimes that’s just because your mind is fragmented in so many directions and you’re having difficulty keeping it all straight.  True memory loss is when sections of your day seem to be forgotten easily.  That’s why it’s so important for seniors to try to stay active and use their minds to solve puzzles or do research on a subject that interests you.  When you just sit in front of a TV set all day, that’s not really working much of your brain – unless you’re watching game shows like Jeopardy where you have to come up with answers to questions.
  •  Problems Performing Tasks.  As we age, it gets more difficult to accept change, but it can also be a challenge to learn new skills and retain the steps of how to do the task.  Sometimes an individual has done the same task for years without a problem but suddenly it seems daunting and confusing.  If someone you love seems overwhelmed with everyday tasks, it’s probably time to see a doctor.
  • Not Paying Monthly Bills.  As much as we’d like to forget to pay bills, it’s not good when they don’t get paid on time.  It’s not good to have the electric shut off in wintertime.
  • Visuoperceptual Difficulty.  When what we see and what we perceive in our brains seems to disconnect somewhere along the way.  This can result in illusions, misperceptions and misidentification.  It broke my heart when my mother looked at me and called me “Frankie” (her sister who passed away in the early 1970’s).  I never corrected her, but just smiled, knowing that she loved her sister so very much and was devastated when she lost her.
  • Loss of Motor Skills.  Confusion, memory loss and visual issues can all impact one’s fine motor skill set.
  • New Problems with Words in Speaking or Writing.  It goes a bit beyond just finding the right word to use.  It’s the inability to follow a conversation, or when writing, I refer to it as “the train of thought derailing.” 
  •  Misplacing Things / Losing the Ability to Retrace Steps.  When you find your car keys in the refrigerator but are unable to retrace your steps to figure out how they got there.
  • Questionable Judgment.  When you start giving large amounts of money to organizations, or start buying everything that is sold on TV.  When you start to ignore basic daily grooming.
  • Withdrawal From Social Activities.  Showing a lack of interest in hobbies, church or sports.  It could be too difficult to keep up, or it may be that other symptoms of the disease have taken a toll and made it a challenge to participate in activities that once held interest.
  • Moodiness or Change in Personality.  Imagine how frustrating it would be to deal with confusion, suspicion or depression with this disease.  It can make a person fearful or anxious I’m sure.  Sometimes they are easily upset with friends or family, but especially when they are out of their comfort zone.  This was true when my mother and I went to a funeral together.  She was not in her little world for a couple of hours, and began complaining about everything.  She was like a person I didn’t recognize and I had to be the adult, telling her it would be alright and that she’d be back home soon.

I love this!  They use poetry to connect with those living with Alzheimer’s Disease!  Check this out.  ❤

http://www.alzpoetry.com/

I am a caretaker for a 92-year-old veteran with Dementia.  I have been with her for 5 years and have witnessed the decline.  However, I’ve also witnessed some beautiful moments and had the opportunity to write and share her great wisdom.  She may not always make sense but when I listen to God translate for her I get the message.  I’ve written over 25 poems inspired by this sweet lady.  Sometimes her children don’t understand why she’s still here.  When she passes I hope to put a booklet together of the poems and comments made about them, and give to her family so they can see that even thorough her Dementia, God was still using her.  – Lucinda Berry Hill

Here are some poems and the statements and stories that made them come alive.

Today is tomorrow.  – Mrs. C

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She gets her problems and puts them into baskets.  – Mrs. C

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Nothing would ever hit you except your own mouth.  – Mrs. C

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I could never do it, unless I did.  – Mrs. C

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It’s a good time to have a good smile.  – Mrs. C (during prayer)

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Take Him to your friends.  – Mrs. C

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Maybe the sun is better than candy.  – Mrs. C

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Hang up your blessings.  – Mrs. C

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It’s good to have a son in the basement.  – Mrs. C

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If you’re hungry, wear your color.  – Mrs. C

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I gave Mrs. C some tea and she asked do I have some.  I told her I had coffee.  And she asked, ‘Do you like electricity in your coffee?’  Talk about being caught off guard!  I thought, ‘There’s a poem there somewhere.’  – Lucinda Berry Hill

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Mrs. C’s daughter was upset because nothing was going right for her one day.  Mrs. C put her arms around her and said she was a good person and she loved her.  – Lucinda Berry Hill

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Mrs. C, when praying to God, will state what she has, followed by, ‘And we thank You for that.’   One day she prayed, ‘It’s a day we can’t do by ourselves, and we thank You for that.’  My first thought was, ‘It sounds like a bad day, what’s to be thankful for?’  But then it all made sense.  – Lucinda Berry Hill

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Mrs. C was looking at her copy of ‘Coffee with Jesus.’  She looked at the title and said, ‘Coffee with Jesus,’ maybe He’ll wake up and take us!’  – Lucinda Berry Hill

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He’s a good kid.  – Mrs. C

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I don’t like eggs before me.  Only when I’m not eating them.”  – Mrs. C

eggsIt’s not easy to be the family member dealing with someone with Alzheimer’s.  Patience on the part of the caregiver is short sometimes, and you learn to cry in the rain, in the shower, at the gym…  there are creative outlets for emotions.  Once the journey is over and you look back, it’s good to be able to say, “I didn’t lose my temper and I did the very best I could to care for my loved one.”  🙂

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY (12)

CHOOSE HOPE

When it comes to family, we have a stubborn love – a love that will give anything and defend tirelessly.  You can say anything you want about me, but when you go messing with my family, watch out!  Know what I’m saying? 

Where does this protective (sometimes overly protective) instinct come from?  I’m fast to say it comes from God.  God is love, so it stands to reason that the love we experience with family comes from God.  This tenacity, this willingness to love no matter what – it’s a gift from God.  And when you think about it – isn’t it the same way God loves us?

On a wicker chair in a corner of my Cape Cod office is a profile I wrote about a former Phoenix Superior Court judge, who mentored me in the late ’70s in the art of court reporting.  As she rose through the judicial ranks, the judge instructed me to keep asking questions.  Persevere, she counseled me.  “Keep at it until you get the answers!”  Little did I know how this training would sustain me in times of great challenge.  Today, as I fight the demons of early onset Alzheimer’s disease, I still follow the sage advice of my mentor, Sandra Day O’Connor, who became the first woman justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.  Justice O’Connor, whose husband, John, died from Alzheimer’s after battling the disease for nearly two decades, has left me an indelible memory.  – Greg O’Brien

Greg O’Brien wrote a book entitled, “On Pluto:  Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s”.  It’s an excellent resource for family directly affected by the disease.

There are about 35 million people worldwide diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia.  Five million in the United States afflicted with Alzheimer’s and it’s predicted that 13.8 million Americans could be diagnosed with the disease by 2050.  It is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.

After reading the statistics it is likely that you will either be diagnosed or be a caretaker for one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

A few days ago I listened to a sweet conversation between a mother and daughter in my favorite restaurant.  They were sitting behind me, so I could not identify them if I had to, but this is what I heard:

The mother said that there were a lot of nice looking desserts on the menu.  She said, “You know, my very favorite is chocolate…”  Then there was a long pause.  She said, “Oh, what is that word?  You know, since that stroke I just can’t get the words out that I’m thinking.”  The daughter said, “Do you mean chocolate cream pie?”  “No”, the mom replied.  I could tell she was getting frustrated and was embarrassed that the word was not coming to mind.

The daughter continued trying to help.  “Chocolate cookies, is that your favorite, mom?”  By now the mother was losing patience with herself.  “I just don’t understand why I can’t say what it is I’m thinking!”  Her daughter kept a cool, even tone in her voice and calmly said, “Well, let’s talk about something else and eventually it will come to you, and you can tell me when it does.” 

I thought to myself, “This is not her first rodeo!”   I said a silent prayer for both.

The topic changed from chocolate to shoes rather quickly.  I was not as attentive when that happened.  The subject of chocolate always makes my ears perk up!

The daughter was talking about flip-flops, when out of the blue her mom yelled “BROWNIES!!!  I like brownies!”  I could hear a smile in her voice, as well as a feeling of great relief that finally the right word emerged from her mind – and out of her mouth!

I don’t write this to depress you, but to let you know how important family is when the difficulties come along.  This love of family – this love that comes from God – that is God – shines forth at times like this.  Alzheimer’s disease affected my family and maybe you have a friend or loved one battling it – or maybe you do.

There is not a cure for this disease, but if you have a loving family surrounding you and supporting you, consider yourself blessed indeed.

I’m reminded of the movie called “The Notebook”.  I think it’s one of James Garner’s best performances.  That is what family is all about.  That is what marriage is.  Remember when he tells their children he won’t leave the facility because “That’s my sweetheart in there” – ???  I cried the first time I watched that scene – okay – I cry every time I watch that scene!

Did you see Glen Campbell’s farewell tour?  There’s a documentary about it called “I’ll Be Me”.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glen_Campbell:_I’ll_Be_Me

Look at the love he is surrounded with.  His loving wife and daughter are so patient and just keep loving him.  I cry when I see love like that.  I believe the love that God puts inside us is the best kind of love.  It’s a love surrounded with hope.  🙂