Praying for the End in Dementialand

I was 23 when my grandpa passed away. He had a lot of chronic health conditions, including diabetes, and he’d recently had a leg amputated. The last time I saw him in person, he kept calling the guy I was dating at the time “Steve” (although his name was not Steve) and he was very grateful to “Steve” for helping him figure out the remote control … Continue reading Praying for the End in Dementialand

Why We Can’t Afford to Accept Dementialand (And What the General Public Hasn’t Yet Figured Out)

I think I’ve given someone the wrong impression about how I feel about Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Someone the other day said to me, “I think you’re right. We just need to accept that old people get dementia and lose their memories.” Hmmmm….. I took a deep breath. It’s not just about old people and it’s not just about memory loss. Also, I think a … Continue reading Why We Can’t Afford to Accept Dementialand (And What the General Public Hasn’t Yet Figured Out)

Before and After in Dementialand (Or Why I Watch TLC and HGTV)

I was talking to some friends a few weeks back, and the TV show My 600-Pound Life on TLC came up in conversation. It’s a reality show about super-obese individuals who get weight loss surgery and attempt to change their lives for the better. For some reason, I was hesitant to admit to my friends that I watch the show. I wanted to say I had … Continue reading Before and After in Dementialand (Or Why I Watch TLC and HGTV)

Stuffed Cats and Real Cats in Dementialand

I once got in a tense argument about whether a stuffed cat was a real cat. For the record, it was a stuffed cat but really it was a real cat. About ten years ago, I was visiting with a hospice patient on a weekly basis. Linda-not her real name-had vascular dementia (as well as multiple other health conditions) and lived at an assisted living. She was reserved … Continue reading Stuffed Cats and Real Cats in Dementialand

Candor in Dementialand (aka Notes on Whether My Hair is Scroungy like an Alley Cat)

I sometimes struggle with apathy when making decisions about the big things in life–like my hair. It used to be closer to chin length and now it’s shoulder length. I’ve asked a few friends if they like it better shorter or longer and no one gives me a straight answer. They say things like, “Oh, it looks good both ways.” They are being nice…I get … Continue reading Candor in Dementialand (aka Notes on Whether My Hair is Scroungy like an Alley Cat)

Missed Potential in Dementialand

We spend too much time thinking about what people can’t do rather than focusing on what they can do. And I am no exception. Sometimes I forget to look for the abilities and strengths of people with dementia. How blind can I be? Speaking of abilities…My friend Jen Eby is amazingly talented. She made me a beautiful quilt for Christmas. It matches the colors we … Continue reading Missed Potential in Dementialand

Pop Quizzes in Dementialand

I’ve just done a program and am leaving a memory care community. I’m just about the put in the “code” to exit the building (which I always mess up) when a woman gets my attention. “Hey!” she yells. “I’m a grandma!” She’s sitting on a couch with a pink blanket over her lap, and I decide to walk over and chat a few minutes. I’m … Continue reading Pop Quizzes in Dementialand

How Michelle Remold Helped Me Understand Reality in Dementialand

I’m a college professor, and I have favorite students. Maybe you think this is a horrible thing to say, but it’s unavoidable. I connect with some students more than others. And there are certain students for which I would go to the end of the earth. On the top of that list is Michelle Remold, who graduated a couple years ago. And maybe I haven’t … Continue reading How Michelle Remold Helped Me Understand Reality in Dementialand

I Don’t Live In Dementialand

What is it like to live with dementia? I have no idea. I have a string of analogies I use to explain to families and caregivers what it’s like to live in Dementialand, but the truth is that I don’t know what it’s like. I know someone who works in adult day services. She works with a woman who has younger-onset Alzheimer’s. I’ll call her … Continue reading I Don’t Live In Dementialand

Yogis in Dementialand

Come to hot yoga, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. And I can’t lie. It is fun–in a sort of brutal way that leaves me dripping wet with mascara running down my cheeks. Yoga isn’t foreign to me. I’m a certified fitness instructor, and I used to teach some yoga myself. But hot yoga just seems different…intimidating…and really, really hot. Scorching. The instructor preaches a … Continue reading Yogis in Dementialand