Loving One Another

Posts tagged ‘dementia’

Throwback Thursday


Yesterday I posted a picture of my sister, Sally, and her husband, Dave, with Bob & me. Only 3 people have clicked “like” on that post which was titled “Speaking to Dementia.” I think it was a post that deserves a lot more views and “likes”than that. In it I posted some tips on how I was able to get a few words and a smile out of my sister while we were on a ZOOM meeting.

Also, I resposted some tips from our niece, Tammy, who is a nurse, about some do’s and don’ts when communicating with people who have dementia or Alzheimer’s.

I am not going to create a new post today… but instead, in a “Throwback Thursday,” I am asking you to click on “Speaking to Dementia” over on the right margin… and take a few minutes to review this crucial subject. You just never know when you might be the one who needs this information next!

Love,
JanBeek

Speaking to Dementia


Communicating with Loved Ones

How do you speak – especially during social distancing – with a loved one who has dementia?

My sister, Sally, has dementia. She lives in a Masonic Home less than five minutes from her daughter, Jodie. It’s in Pennsylvania – a loooong ways from me in Montana! But, even though they are close, in today’s pandemic world, Jodie can’t go to visit her. Sally is on the second floor of the care facility and when Jodie drives to see her, she is not even allowed out of her car. They just have to wave to one another out their windows.

I am sure that is a very smart safety precaution on the part of the Masonic Home. Jodie just tested positive for the virus last week! Now she is in quarantine for two weeks.

Finding Assistance

On Sunday I had my first ZOOM meeting with my sis. Rochelle, the Activities Director facilitated the meeting. Sally was basically non-responsive, so it was hard to know what to say. Rochelle repeated my comments to be sure Sally heard, but even then I barely got a nod most of the time. Still, it was good to see her.

Do You Relate?

Do you have a parent or sibling, a neighbor or friend with dementia? If so, you know what I mean. You’ve been in my shoes, and you long to be up close and personal with your loved one so you can look into each other’s eyes and make real connections.

Here are Bob and me with my sis, Sally, and her husband, Dave, waaaay back in the days of flat-tops, skinny ties and thighs, and 3″ heels! It must have been Easter … we’re all decked out. I will send her this photo. Dave died of a massive heart-attack more than 20 years ago. Pictures are an important way to tap into memories.

Using Technology to Tap Memories

I took my laptop out on the porch and showed Sally our scene of the mountains. I reminded her of the Thanksgivings we have spent together here sitting on the porch (or looking out this window), enjoying that view. Still, no change of facial expression and no words. Maybe it’s because the ground and mountains are often snow-covered in November!

Our view from the deck
View from back porch

Don’t Give Up – Keep Trying!

I talked about our times together at various Thanksgivings around the dining room table and showed her that scene. She has visited us in November at least ten years in a row before she needed to go to assisted living and wisely chose to be near her daughter and grandson.

I reminded her of Gloria, our friend who joined us one Thanksgiving.
She nodded as if she remembered Gloria.
I reminded her of other meal times the two of us have had together.
No response… but a picture is worth a thousand words.
I will send this one to her.

Reach Way Back

Reaching back into the cobwebs of my brain, I remembered us as young girls sitting on our grandmother’s porch, reaching out into the “weeds” and finding stalks of sweet anise, breaking them off, and munching on them like you might snack on a stalk of celery.

Actually, I still love to munch on sweet anise. I remembered I have some in the refrigerator. So, I went with my laptop over to the kitchen. I opened the fridge and asked Sally if she remembered sitting on Grandma’s porch, nibbling on this while we waited for mom to come and get us after school.

When I showed her the sweet anise (commonly known today as fennel), I got my first real smile from her. She nodded. Ah, folks, smells and food are great memory triggers!!

Do you know this bulb?
Fennel or sweet anise tastes like
celery flavored with black licorice.

The greatest trigger for memory when you are visiting with a loved one who has dementia is music. Find an old tune. Dig out that old pair of shoes that might bring back memories and play the sweet old songs that mom used to sing to us.

Study and Seek advice

Today on Facebook, my niece Tammy, who is a registered nurse and works with many Alzheimer’s patients, posted this helpful reminder:

Apply What You Learn – Reach Out

I have a friend in our nursing home here in Ennis who has dementia. During this COVID-19 pandemic, the residents have been on lock-down. No visitors. No outings. But recently, the nursing home constructed a “Visiting Booth.” It’s a little 8′ x8′ structure with a roof, two side walls (north and south), an opening to the east. It has a plexiglass partition to the west.

On a sunny day this week I called the nursing home and scheduled a visit with my friend. The nursing home arranges half hour visitations. At the appointed time, the CNA, Bonney, wheeled the resident (my friend) out into the fresh air and into the booth. I sat on the outside of the plexiglass on a park bench. It was hard to hear, but Bonney did what Rochelle had done for my sister and me. She repeated to my friend whatever I said.

I brought my laptop and my cell phone. Used the cell phone “hot spot” to connect to the internet. Logged on to a five year old video of my friend’s daughter singing and playing the SAW in a church service. Bonney brought the laptop into the booth and held it close to my friend. Of course, she thoroughly enjoyed seeing her daughter, hearing that beautiful, inspiring song, and visiting with me about things we had done together in years past.

I left with a song in my heart at the end of our visiting time. I couldn’t figure out how to get the video of Peggy and her saw from my FB page to this post. But, I found Peggy with her violin singing and playing “How Great is Our God” with Jordy Christo, on You.Tube, so I’ll post that here.

If you go to http://www.facebook.com/janbeekman you can find the “Amazing Grace” video with Peggy and her saw. It’s worth the click and your time. This is what it’ll look like when you get there:

I pray that you are inspired
to reach out to someone today
who needs to hear from you.

We may be limited by this pandemic,
but we are not frozen.
Do what you can
to brighten someone’s day!

This was always true of Sally.
She’s 14 months older than I am…
Always responsible and well-behaved!
Cheers from the irresponsible little sister!!

See ya tomorrow.
Have a Wonderful Wednesday.
Love and Hugs…
Stay Well!!
JanBeek

My Heart Aches


photo of clipped heart shaped red paper

Photo by Plush Design Studio on Pexels.com

My Heart Aches
and
I’m hanging it out to dry
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As the snow falls outside and rests

Heavy on the evergreen branches,

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I rest, too, heavy and troubled in
The warmth of my peaceful indoors.

adult beverage breakfast celebration

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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My sister’s diagnosis of
Severe dementia and apathy syndrome

midsection of man

Photo by Hichem Deghmoum on Pexels.com

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Plucks sadly at my heartstrings

And plays a mournful tune.

close up of piano

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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My heart aches to soar

Above the clouds of sadness.

silhouette photo of man throw paper plane

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Pexels.com

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My feet long to trek

Green paths of creation’s gladness.

daylight dirt road ecology environment

Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. on Pexels.com

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My Heart Aches
and
I’m hanging it out to dry
.
.

photo of clipped heart shaped red paper

 

 

Keep the Light On


For the past two weeks

I’ve spent most of my days

Entertaining an elderly friend

Who’s light’s a dull haze.

 

She doesn’t know her daughter;

Doesn’t know where she lives;

Can‘t tell you her birthday;

Takes back the things she gives.

 

 

She thinks she sees her husband,

But he’s been gone three years.

She searches for her lost things;

Frustration turns to tears.

 

While I still have my marbles,

And awareness still is keen,

Please keep the light on, God.

Dementia is soooo mean!

analysis blackboard board bubble

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Here’s the Ear to Hear


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The ear to hear
Does not always work
It can change its tune
Take a break and shirk

I took its job for granted
Until one day I found
Sounds came to me distorted
Like vibrations from underground

I couldn’t hear my footsteps
Voices seemed far off
It all began last month
With a cold and nagging cough

I didn’t have the symptoms
Of others with the flu
I had no fever or body ache
Just couldn’t quite hear you

Unless I watched your mouth
Or you spoke up loud and clear,
Your voice seemed all muffled
Especially in my left ear

I kept expecting it to pop
And open up one day
Like it does when you go flying
Then land and yawn and say “Hooray!”

But it has been a month now
And the situation’s worse
The hearing test affirmed the fact
I’m blessed with a hearing curse

Last month my sister stayed with us
She has a hearing problem, too
I let the need to repeat myself
Annoy me more than a time or two

So now I think the Lord above
Is teaching me a lesson
See how it feels in a soundless tunnel
Compassion’s growing, I’m a-guessin’

A hearing aid may be the next
Tool that helps my plight
Just as my seamless bifocals
Improved my failing sight

The audiologist instructed me
To set aside my fears
And open my mind to admit
Aids can help as we add on years

I learned that ignoring it
And thinking I’ll make do
Is not a good alternative
Cuz loss of sound will damage you

It’s not just that it’s annoying
It actually hurts the brain
When sounds decrease and we
Receive the signal with too much strain

Brain cells actually stop working
They shrivel up and die
When they stop getting the stimuli
And scientists know why

They’ve studied this phenomena
There’s evidence to prove
Unused syntax disappear when they don’t
Get the sounds that make them move.

Isolation and depression are
Effects that can set in
And so might dementia start
These facts made my head spin

So here’s my ear that used to hear
I’m ready for it to work again
But just in case it doesn’t mind
I won’t delay; I’ll sport a grin

And listen to my ENT who says
A hearing aid is right for me
I’ll wear the damn thing faithfully
To keep my brains cells working actively.

Jan Beekman
1/24/18

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