The Only Game in Town

As I pass through small but remarkable towns, I am pleased to see a long-term care community in their midst.  With the over 65 segment of the population being our largest, it is important that every town have an option for rehabilitation and long term care.  The one option may be a skilled nursing facility or an assisted living with sometimes even memory care.  I hesitate to investigate.  My hesitation comes from both national research and personal experience. When looking for care for a loved one, be aware of the phenomenon called the “only game in town”.  Regardless of the…

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Margaret Thatcher & Dementia

Stigma is a term used to describe a societal mark of shame or discredit.   As individuals with dementia speak out they are relating the difficulties of living with their diagnoses in a society that sees it as a discredit or a mark of shame.  One commentator said that Alzheimer’s is the new Cancer—not to be discussed, shared, to be hidden.  As Margaret Thatcher’s death is reported the term dementia is used.  The reports speak of Baroness Thatcher having had multiple strokes.  Knowing that dementia is a symptom, not a diagnosis—is it possible that even the news media is feeding the…

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Memory Companion Training

Thirty six hours of interactive training on optimal therapeutic recreation for individuals with dementia—compiling years of experience and training into 36 hours.  It is so fulfilling to finally get to share my passion.  Better still–to be able to share it with individuals equally passionate for care. Years ago my ex and I took a cult-like course.  Not one of our best decisions except for one take-home message . . . significant decisions or events in your life will be remembered in great detail. How true that is.  As I review best practice in providing recreation, stories come to mind.  The…

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Sentimental Journey

I recently made a trip to my home state where I was able to spend time with my daughter and my sister both together and separately.  It was a great time.  One day we visited an area of Baltimore which was where both my sister and I remember going to pick Dad up on the days Mom needed to use the one car.  My sister is 10 years older which often makes quite a bit of difference in the memories.  Dad worked for the B & O Railroad, so we were at Henderson’s Wharf in Fells Point.  Now the train…

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Transitions

Working with  fully operational cognition, I am struck with the difficulties of transitioning from one job to another.  The last month between jobs at age 24 felt the same as this last month at 54.  There’s the anticipation of life changes as a result. There’s the fear of the sanity of the decision.  There’s the sadness at leaving dear clients and co-workers.  And there’s the “it’s almost here” that reaches way back to the pre-Christmas days of childhood. Each day holds a level of emotion that did not exist pre-decision. In Alzheimer’s care we  protect the cognitively challenged from transitions…

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Choose Your Battles

This is one of my favorite sayings.  I credit it to Manfred Smith, an amazing teacher and leader of the International Learning Community.  When homeschooling alongside some fairly rigid and structured family members and friends, I was often torn between becoming “Attila the Hun” or “Janis Joplin”.  Two extremes, neither guaranteeing success.  Manfred lived this in an unforgettable way when staying for dinner after a home visit.  I suspected he was a vegetarian and apologized that our meal was not accommodating.  Please forgive me organic vegan readers.  Our choice to homeschool limited our income and even car usage, so there…

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My Father’s Hands

Yesterday after work I sat absentmindedly at a stoplight. My mind was suddenly distracted by the present. But not before I found myself thinking about my father “just out of the blue”. One sturdy hand outside the truck window caught my eye. I consciously realized my father thoughts were based on this stranger’s hand. It was like my father’s. It moved like my father’s in a steady random movement of the fingertips. Like his hands moved prior to his illness. I looked at the features, a truck, a roofing company logo, longer but just as sturdy fingers. Yes, it was…

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For the Small Voice

Fathers are such powerful people in our lives. Some of us were “daddy’s little girls”. Some of us were always a bit afraid of disappointing Dad. Some of us are adults bound with grudge and resentment towards our dad. Regardless of where you are on the spectrum, the role of father holds great power in your psyche. I was the Manager on Duty this weekend and was pleased to talk with daughters calling their fathers or mothers. In memory care we spend a lot of time in the world of family bereavement and loss. We see an amazing individual in…

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Confusion–Whose Reality?

The average individual entering memory care has a standard Living Will that does not delineate any range of choice as their cognitive and physical health changes. The standard Living Will covers extreme situations but not any interim changes that often happen as the individual’s dementia advances. This leaves a vast territory of decision that only the adult children, in particular the Healthcare Surrogate, must navigate. It is in this vast territory that all the foibles and dysfunctions of the family or the healthcare surrogate raise their ugly heads. Time and time again family members choose dramatic surgery to “help Daddy…

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Memorial Day

Holiday. Today is a day to remember those who gave and lost for their country. For some of us that is a distant thought—those too young to have heard the stories of Pearl Harbor. Those who have not had a veteran in their lineage for generations. For them, we use sensory cues to help them remember, help them glimpse what sacrifice was made. The cues are flags, the colors of red, white & blue, patriotic music, historic programming, and parades. All sensory cues that bring the individual to a memory and a memorial. For myself, I carry the stories of…

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