Someone I met recently had a stroke years ago, and doctors are now telling her she has dementia. She lives on her own, and within the walls of her apartment, she feels quite capable. She can cook. She can clean. She takes care of her cat. She can even work her own DVR. But things take her a bit longer. She says she messes up … Continue reading Dementia, Big Stick People, and Little Stick People
Anticipatory grief. I first learned the term when I was in graduate school. I threw it around a lot when I was volunteering for hospice. Now that I work with families impacted with dementia I apply the term frequently. It could be described as the emotional response to the pending death of a loved one–but I know people who have a loved one with dementia … Continue reading Anticipatory Grief and Dementia
This blog post was a struggle to write. It usually takes me about 45 minutes to complete a post. Today I’ve been sitting here for well over two hours. And I am on the second paragraph. You see, it’s the week of finals at the university where I work. It’s stressful for college students, of course. It’s also stressful for professors. My brain is tired. … Continue reading Dementia and the Tired Brain
Then…one day about four months after Ann passed away…without meaning to…Art met someone.
It was the sister of an old friend. Her name was Juanita. He didn’t intend to start dating her. In fact, he never saw himself in a relationship after Ann’s death. But he liked Juanita. Continue reading Loving Two Women in Dementialand
A guy once told me he never knew how much his wife accomplished in a day until she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and was unable to do what she had done for the previous thirty years. He told me that picking up the slack was a big challenge for him.
“Dementia doubled my chores,” one woman told me.
Stop. Take a second right now. Pat yourself on the back for the added responsibilities that you’ve mastered. Continue reading Love and Renovations in Dementialand (aka This One is For the Dementia Spouses)
You do not have to buy a present for every single person you’ve called a friend since middle school. If you don’t have the time or energy to send out holiday cards, then don’t do it. Maybe Midnight mass just isn’t in the cards this year. No one ever died from only having one choice of pie at a holiday dinner (unless it’s pumpkin pie, which is disgusting since pumpkin is a decorative item and not a real food–just an opinion). Continue reading Saying No and Leaving Early in Dementialand (aka I Wish You the Best Possible Holidays)
I get a lot of gifts from people with dementia. And I’m not talking about abstract and intangible gifts. I’m talking about actual stuff.
Sometimes they are gifts “stolen” from another resident at a memory care community. Sometimes they are pulled directly from a dirty clothes hamper. Sometimes they are things that aren’t really useful to me–like a used lipstick.
I have been given family heirlooms only to return them to family members at a later date. People have insisted I accept horse figurines, gently used toothbrushes, expensive and inexpensive jewelry, cat beds, and rocks. People color me pictures. Once someone gave me a photo of their grandbaby so I “wouldn’t forget what babies look like since no one has them nowadays.” Continue reading Dementia and the Gift
If you’re a caregiver, I hope that your mistakes are small and fixable (and maybe that your loved one with dementia forgets about them). And I hope that you move on quickly because guilt and self-blame are a waste of time. Continue reading So You Messed Up in Dementialand
At the end of a recent presentation, a guy asked me a question. It was a great question–kind of like a huge softball making its way to the plate so I could hit it out out of the park. (Not that I have any idea what it feel like to hit a softball out of a park. When I play slow pitch I’m just lucky … Continue reading Why We Should Keep Talking About Dementia Even if Things Get Weird
Melissa would later tell me that she had an anxiety disorder, and she knew how awful her anxiety made her feel. If Edie felt an ounce of that, she told me, then the family needed to stop the weekly salon visits immediately. I have no doubt that Melissa was acting out of genuine concern. Continue reading Being Right, Being Wrong, and Doing Your Best in Dementialand
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