Mushroom or Grape?

Many of you know me as the sunny good time, put-a-spin-on-it dementia gal. But trust me, I can be as overwhelmed with the diagnosis, or vaguaries there of, as the next person. I benefit from showing up like the sun, even when I do not feel sunny. This journey is not for the weak. I will be addressing the “Dark Side of Dementia” this Weds, Oct 23 at Arden Courts of Seminole. This seminar will give you with real strategies that can help shine light on the fading of our husbands, our parents or our friends.As a Gerontologist, I am…

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Pets and Quality of Life

With so many forms of dementia—it is increasingly difficult for caregivers to provide quality of life as their loved ones enter the final stages of brain change. Strategies that once worked, no longer do. Research shows a consensus on what caregivers’ value for their loved one at end-of-life: family involvement living in the present  pragmatic expectations autonomy and individuality1 Yet family involvement often diminishes as the loved one declines; expectations are often not realistic, and autonomy limited due to physical and cognitive changes.  Several studies found that individuals in later stage dementia were positively affected by animal-assisted interventions.2 In a…

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Fall In Florida

A recent meme beautifully stated “trees are God’s way of showing us that good things can come from letting go.” Our Florida falls are less about surrender and more about preparation. Though I think the two work in synergy. Coming off of Dorian’s energies, I realized how little I had prepared for fall in Florida. We had just changed RV’s , trading engine for size. Meaning we would not be able to hit the road with our home. I was in MD. We had not provisioned. We had no evac plans though in an A zone for evacuation. Mike was…

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Not There Yet

This is a common refrain. A caregiver asks Dr. Cate for dementia guidance. I answer a specific question and then outline strategic plans they may want to consider. The response is always “We are not there yet.” The question to ask yourself is “where is there?” When your relationship is enough overwhelmed with brain change to ask for help—where are you? As a caregiver myself, I hear myself saying “not there yet”. This is an answer that comes from my desire to be anywhere but here—and my fear of there. It is my fear of financial struggle, and my fear…

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Objectivity & Perspective

This month has been a big month for me because I was challenged to practice what I preach. I needed objectivity for Mike, something I have none of, simply because I desire for him what may not always be in his best interest. A looming neurology apptmnt and my business coach’s reading of my last blog . . . . congealed into reaching out to a trusted professional whom Mike adores. The day of his apptmnt with his “au pair” as he calls her was both freeing for me and worrisome. I enjoyed my marketing calls without worry of rushing…

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Who?

As a business owner, a woman, an individual, a mother, a caregiver—sometimes I forget who I am. I have found the anecdote is daily time in nature, practicing mindfulness. The beauty of this is I am gentle enough with myself to allow this to not include a certain place, pose or structure. This morning’s church was at Lee’s Travel Park pool. By myself, with the company of a mockingbird. Back floating, water-bugging, floating and watching this fella belt out one tune after another. A repertoire fit for a king or queen. Perhaps he was waiting for a drink, or maybe…

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Independence without Direction

My trip to MD is always a highlight of my month, but this one was particularly interesting due to a phone collapse. Bricked is the tech term. It was evident first by the android image on its back with a belly flap open and legos showing through. Then Nidric from Google support confirmed, yep, brick. So my marketing efforts got interesting. Even visiting family got interesting. So much so that I thought it called for a blog. I grew up in MD, have lived in FL for 15 years but have been a frequent visitor because of family and now…

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Orchestrating Self-Care

When a caregiver first receives the news of their loved one’s diagnosis, there is already a history of compensating for behaviors and memory change.  As a caregiver, you have already been a one-man band working alone to orchestrate life as it once was. Your loved one’s cognitive changes have changed the overall harmony into discordant noise. Research shows that dementia puts caregivers at risk of overburdening. You understand this. In reality it probably was your own feeling of burden that precipitated seeking a diagnosis. Another statement that might resonate with you as a caregiver: “Caring for a relative or friend…

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Hospitalization and Dementia

If your loved one with dementia has to be hospitalized, whole new problems present themselves. The home-like environment they have known either with you or in a memory care community has no equal in the world of hospital care. Often the very problem your loved one is admitted for is magnified by the emergency itself. Whether you drive them, or they are transported the experience is not one they can process. From gurneys to men in uniform, to people in white coats—all of these things and images can be interpreted with a fight or flight response. Most of us have…

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Listening Tree

You may have noticed that I am very fond of trees. From childhood on, they have offered me refuge from fears and solace for racing thoughts and worries. Well this Tuesday I lost one of my favorite trees. We live in a small park sharing trees lot-to-lot. But there was one tree that I have been particularly attached to–my listening tree. This beautiful oak resided to the left of Lee’s pool and had done so for many years. Much like the Gulfport tree highlighted above. She would sprinkle the pool liberally with leaves, it is true. But that just made…

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