This Dear Abby thing isn’t new to me. I wrote an advice column in my high school newspaper. In four years of high school, only one person wrote me for advice. (And I remember the letter vividly. It was from an anonymous kid who thought he might be gay. My friend Lory who is a counselor helped me write a response. I still think about that guy and hope he’s doing okay. If you’re out there, please tell me you’re okay.) Continue reading Playing Dear Abby in Dementialand (And My Overdue Apology to My Muscatine High School Peers)
Whatever life throws at you, may you keep your closet full but not cluttered. We can’t control everything about our lives, but we can control where we invest our time and effort. We can’t invest time and effort in everything. We may have less to invest than we’ve had in the past. Invest it in the right things for you. Don’t let how other people organize their closet make you feel like you’re organizing yours wrong. They aren’t you. They may have a bigger or smaller closet, and they may have different priorities. Continue reading Shrinking and Cluttered Closets in Dementialand
When someone with dementia shows changes in behavior, we need to stop saying that they are giving us a hard time. We need to understand that they are having a hard time.
And sometimes when they are having a hard time, it’s because they are experiencing pain. Continue reading Urinary Tract Infections in Dementialand
Dementia is a tragedy, a comedy, and a love story all at once. The comments and emails I get from people range from sad, to funny, to heartwarming. To those who have started off a message to me with “I shouldn’t find this funny but….,” it is okay that you find it funny. Continue reading Lessons Learned From Writing About Dementialand for Two Years
I wasn’t going to write a post this week. I’m on holiday break from the university, and I thought I’d take a holiday break from writing as well. Yet I’m awake late into this Sunday night and rather than watch more reality TV or spend more money on Amazon.com, here I am with my laptop sitting in bed. And I have a message for my … Continue reading Happy Holidays from Dementialand (aka I Wish You Survival With Some Moments of Joy Thrown In)
This is the fifth of a series of five posts about the senses in Dementialand. Today we focus on sight. An entire book could be written about how dementia changes how an individual sees the world. I want to stress that dementia itself does nothing to impair the eyes. Dementia, however, does make it more difficult for the brain to interpret what the eyes see. It … Continue reading What You See in Dementialand
This is the fourth in a five part series about dementia and the senses. Today we will focus on hearing. Like many spouses, my husband occasionally points out my weaknesses. Like many spouses, I often become defensive when my husband points out my weaknesses. However, he did once (and only once, obviously) note a weakness that I realize is valid. Here goes… I’m okay at explaining … Continue reading What You Hear in Dementialand
One of my favorite authors is Gretchen Rubin, who wrote The Happiness Project, a book that changed the way I look at habits and happiness. A quote from her book that stuck with me is: What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.
It’s a pretty simple concept, but it’s helped me to change my life in subtle but meaningful ways. I have to create a daily life that reflects my goals and values. For instance, I have to be kind to the people I come in contact with each day to be a kind person. I can’t just go on a mission trip to a third world country once a year and call it good. My priorities have to be shown in my actions each day, not just once in a while, or they really aren’t my priorities. Continue reading Mothers’ Day in Dementialand (aka What You Do Every Day Matters More Than What You Do Once in a While)
As a kid, I thought Christmas would never come. I’d want something–a toy, a musical instrument, a jersey (because that’s all I wore when I was a kid)–and my parents would tell me I could have it for Christmas. Yet Christmas was an eternity away. And by an eternity, I mean about four months. My birthday was the same way. I was five and wanted … Continue reading Toilet Paper in Dementialand (aka Why Christmas Comes Faster Each Year)
A wonderful former student of mine now works at a memory care community. A woman with Alzheimer’s, Angela, moved into the facility. To the rest of the world, Angela lost her husband to cancer about ten years ago. In Angela’s world, her husband had past away last week. As you might expect with someone who lost the love of her life last week, she spent a lot … Continue reading Friendship Inside (and Outside) Dementialand