Sorting Shells

As I sat in the plane flying back to our boat, I thought back on the last five days.  Five days spent at the Homestead with my youngest daughter and son-in-law prepping for my first grandchild.  It had been a great visit, as they always are.  I reviewed the time, much like a shell collector, sorting the best, turning them to see each facet and marvel at their beauty, rejecting the damaged or incomplete.  Classifying memories. It occurred to me how universal this process is.  Probably each individual on the plane was going through the same process in some manner. …

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De Nada

Responses to thank you. We say, if we are being polite, ‘You are welcome.” Here in Puerto Rico, they say “De Nada”. It’s nothing. That is somehow heartwarming to hear. It’s not a big deal. You can ask for more, I will do it, all those things seem to be said with “De nada”. As I have journeyed, so has the Alzheimer’s community. Today I see a much more positive side of Alzheimer’s being presented. Sites like Living with Jim and Mom with Alzheimer’s focus on what is happening in the midst of the disease. There is much more of…

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Sea-batical

  Dr. Cate, Dementia Coach has been on a bit of a sabbatical, in the Caribbean. It has been life-changing in many ways. The deficit of internet, the influx of foreign culture, new languages, and the rigors of some tough sailing days have taken precedence. It has, in many ways, been an out-of-my-world experience with a total immersion in living moment by moment. After six years in the academic environment coupled with four years in a fast-based memory care admissions role, I have been thrust into a very physical and survival-based present. One that has been far from any idea…

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Deal or Deal Breaker?

Dandelions, daffodils and dreary days.  Each of these images recalls a sensory experience recorded in my primal memory.  Each impacted my life in a particular way from early childhood.  As a child growing up in the suburbs of Baltimore, dandelions were summer flowers that played at my feet as I swung high in the sky on my rope and board swing.  I picked them for my mother, and made them into chains.   They remind me of good simple warm times . . . even when my mind is not really at work.  It’s a primal sensory memory. Likewise daffodils are…

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Creosote and Calico?

Sensory pleasures are individual and based in our history and heritage.  It is sensory pleasures that enrich our offices, homes, sick rooms.  As we encounter illness, it is often the sensory pleasures that define “comfort”.  In the continuing exploration of the power of the senses, C is for comfort.  For me personally, sensory comforts come in the taste and smell of corned beef and cabbage; the smells of coffee and creosote; the beauty of cruising and calico.  Quite an eclectic list, right?  Taking it one comfort at a time:  Corned beef and cabbage plays a key role in my adult…

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B is for . . .

“You are not going to do all 26 letters of the alphabet are you?”  my husband asks as I write this post.  I was annoyed, here is Mr. Metric nay saying a rational outline to explore sensory preferences.  I considered dropping him from my email list . . . but of course, I am going to continue to use the alphabet as my foundation for exploring the value of knowing one another’s sensory preferences.  “Why,” you and he might ask?  In the words of Sherlock Holmes, “It’s elementary, my dear Watson”.  When things are going poorly, whether it be in…

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The ABC’s of Sensory Preferences

Each of us has our own unique fingerprint as well as our own unique sensory preferences.  With our fingerprint, we can be universally identified often for less than positive reasons.  With our unique sensory preferences we can be universally pleased with an experience or universally displeased.  The range of response is based on our ability to communicate due to illness, dementia.  Regardless of health, our sensory preferences remain. If it is an unpleasant sensory stimulant, we will “communicate” our distaste by some type of negative behavior.   Those closest to us are more likely to know what sensory stimulant triggers…

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Engaging the Senses

No matter your cognitive status, you experience the world through your senses.  As cognitively alert individuals we choose the sensory stimulation with which we surround ourselves.  As  graduate students, we were assigned cubicles for our in-house studies.  As a student who had years in the workplace, I had experienced much more pleasant office assignments.  This was my first cubicle and my least favorite environment for productivity.  I adapted by using earphones with calming music, situating my desk in my favored spot, and decorating my padded walls with encouraging art. I also found that a spicy potpourri made it more pleasant…

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Epiphany

A smallish powerboat came into the harbor right before sunset.  I watched as they anchored.  The older man immediately put on his snorkel and flippers to dive the anchor, a fairly common practice in Bahamian anchorages.  What caught my eye was that he proceeded to lap the harbor with strong overhand swim strokes.  He went quite a distance before turning back.  The whole time his wife stood at the bow watching him.  His powerful swimming and commitment reminded me of my father.  When we went to the beach my father would go in way past the breakers and swim just…

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Gerontological Withdrawal

Or where are all the old people? One thing I noticed in my time in the Abacos, Bahamas was the dearth of older people.  I saw more folks over the age of 65 on boats than on land.  Had I done my homework, I would have added Freeport or Nassau to our travel itinerary, where there are significantly more individuals aged 65+.  But cay to cay I kept looking with the certainty that a visit to church would have clarified much more than meandering through “town”.  We found several (2-3) older folks at Guana Cay who congregated in the shade…

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