This is a story about caregiving. And it’s a story about my grandmother, Betty Catherine Terry Vickers Mohesky. She was a caregiver, and she rocked it. Let me acknowledge that loss is undeniably linked to caregiving. My grandpa had multiple chronic illnesses. He had cancer. He had diabetes. He eventually had his leg amputated. For […]
Mental energy. Why are we not talking more about mental energy in relation to dementia? A few days ago I listened to an insightful and unexpectedly funny panel of individuals living with dementia talk about their experiences. The entire conference was great, but no other speakers could really compete with the panelists. As they sat […]
If it wasn’t a big deal, why was she telling me about it? She said that having to cancel lunch with a friend because her husband (who was living with Alzheimer’s) was having awful anxiety was no big deal. She said that her friend could stop by later. That she wasn’t that thrilled with the […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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.
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).
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.”