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

Improv and Dementialand (aka There Are No Scripts in Dementialand)

I have a friend named Drew Dotson. She lives in Atlanta and performs at an improv  comedy theater. Not only does she perform improv (and does so amazingly well), she teaches improv. If you’re not familiar with improv, think of Whose Line is it Anyway, only the Drew I’m talking about is more impressive than Drew Carey. Drew also has a family member with dementia. It … Continue reading Improv and Dementialand (aka There Are No Scripts in Dementialand)

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

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)

Knowing Better and Doing Better in Dementialand

I am driving a couple hours to southern Iowa to present at a community center. It’s a drive full of soybean fields, cornfields, and an occasional Casey’s Convenience Store. I’m listening to a Spotify playlist including (embarrassingly) artists such as Flo Rida, Salt-N-Pepa, Tracy Chapman, the Jayhawks, and the Jackson 5. There may or may not be one, and only one, Justin Bieber song. I’m not … Continue reading Knowing Better and Doing Better in Dementialand

Why You Shouldn’t Tell People in Dementialand to Calm Down (Oh, and Avoid Telling Other People to Calm Down, Too)

No one, in the history of the world, ever calmed down because someone else told them to calm down. Case in point. A few years ago, I was in the emergency room for kidney stones. As they were admitting me for pain control and eventual surgery, a nurse came in to put an IV in my arm. Needless to say, it wasn’t one of my … Continue reading Why You Shouldn’t Tell People in Dementialand to Calm Down (Oh, and Avoid Telling Other People to Calm Down, Too)

Jesus, Faith, and Coping in Dementialand

A woman explained to me that her mother, who has Lewy-Body dementia, had forgotten how much she loved Jesus. Ella, as I will call her, had always gone to a Baptist church. She wasn’t pushy or overbearing about religion, but it was important to her. She was well-respected at her church for her willingness to prepare food for funerals and help with gardening on the church … Continue reading Jesus, Faith, and Coping in Dementialand

The Critical Emails I Get in Dementialand (and How I Came to Be Okay With Them)

When I first started writing this blog about 16 months ago, the only feedback I received was positive. Overwhelmingly and sometimes ridiculously positive. I repeatedly heard that it was smart, insightful, funny, and poignant. At that point, my readership included only my mother, my husband, and about four friends. None of them had a negative word to say unless it was to point out a … Continue reading The Critical Emails I Get in Dementialand (and How I Came to Be Okay With Them)

Mean Girls in Dementialand

When I was in graduate school, the movie Mean Girls came out. If you haven’t seen it, I don’t recommend putting it on your priority list, but I have to say it was thought-provoking for me–at least as thought-provoking as an American teen comedy can be. Here’s the premise. The movie, which stars Lindsay Lohan (post-Parent Trap but pre-shoplifting), features a clique of 16-year-old girls called the Plastics, who is–go … Continue reading Mean Girls in Dementialand