Delivering Bad News in Dementialand (Or Do I Tell Mom Her Sister Died?)

What we want to avoid is inflicting pain unnecessarily. If a person will not be able to process and remember that a loved one has died, giving them this information causes them unnecessary pain. If you must tell them repeatedly because they are not able to store the information, you are causing pain with no purpose. It’s like poking someone with a needle but not giving a shot. Continue reading Delivering Bad News in Dementialand (Or Do I Tell Mom Her Sister Died?)

Playing Dear Abby in Dementialand (And My Overdue Apology to My Muscatine High School Peers)

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)

Shrinking and Cluttered Closets in Dementialand

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

Lessons Learned From Writing About Dementialand for Two Years

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

Happy Holidays from Dementialand (aka I Wish You Survival With Some Moments of Joy Thrown In)

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)

Living in the Moment and Planning Ahead in Dementialand

But they’re scared. They understand Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease. They’ve watched the Glen Campbell documentary. They’ve scoured the Alzheimer’s Association website. They want to know everything they can to be as prepared as possible for the journey ahead. In many ways, they are the type of family that I appreciate working with–they actively seek out information to assist their loved one now and in the future.
Yet, there’s a point at which people can become too fixated on the diagnosis. There’s a point where education and preparation morph into worry and anxiety.
“All I think about all day is my mom,” the woman tells me. “I think about what her future holds and when she’ll be in a wheelchair. When I close my eyes, I picture her in a smelly nursing home being taken care of by people who don’t even know her.” Continue reading Living in the Moment and Planning Ahead in Dementialand

What You Hear 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

Mole Checks and Mammograms in Dementialand

“I get all these cards for her,” an older guy in jeans and a Chicago Bears jersey tells me after a community presentation on dementia. “And I don’t know what to do about them.” At first I think he’s talking about greeting cards, but he’s not. He’s talking about reminder cards from various health care providers that are sent to prompt his wife, who now … Continue reading Mole Checks and Mammograms in Dementialand

Mothers’ Day in Dementialand (aka What You Do Every Day Matters More Than What You Do Once in a While)

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)