Category: End-of-life

Grief and Dementia

Grief is not the most festive topic for this time of year, but ignoring it actually multiplies its impact. We in memory care world have learned more than one blog can capture. As the pandemic winds down, we are confronted by a disproportionate amount of loss and grief. Grief and dementia have long been a subject of research. Early comparison of grief from cancer caregivers and dementia caregivers found that post-death dementia caregivers experienced more relief than grief. Some have called the dementia journey a long good-bye. The counterparts are those who reference the long hello. This difference in approach…

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Where Have All the Flowers Gone. . . Long Time Passing

This song comes to mind as I scan my past memory café themes, and have flashes of shared moments of joy, of memory and of amazing souls who have transitioned out of life with dementia. Making strawberry jam at Park Station with my blue-eyed wonder Jane Prompting a sweet smile from Gail Receiving a wink from Jim and a laugh Bonding over MD crab memories with Dick Basking in the gentlemanly favor of Archie Enjoying the assistance of David, always willing, always agile Enjoying Tom’s flirtatious interpretations and observations Marveling at Sid’s pleasant and polite insistence Listening intently to David’s…

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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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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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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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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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The Only Game in Town

In-hospital deaths and low hospice utilization were more likely in rural and small town nursing homes.

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Death Dowry

This may be a mis-nomer—but it comes from the reality that there are things we relish and deny ourselves throughout life. Perhaps it’s legitimate to purchase, embrace, plan some of these things for our final days. This came to me while at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond. I relished the bathrobe provided in the room, I was so sad that it wasn’t until the second night that I realized it was for me to use. As I reached  to untie the sash, the texture was sooo rich. Like my mom’s meringue, only fluffier. I priced a carbon copy in the…

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Prevenient Grace

Her name was Catherine and she was full of grace.  She danced when no one else would.  She’d kiss your hand, and pat your cheek at every introduction.  You were a most welcome friend to her regardless of whether she remembered your name, the day of the week, or the occasion of your “visit.”  She lived the smell of roses.  Her southern hospitality was the welcome of a rose-lined path.  As time went on, the confusion worsened, each fall took its toll in memory loss.  She’d set her jaw in a look of confusion as she sat alone.  But as…

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Chicken Legs and Bud Light

Today was a final farewell to a beloved member of my eldercare community.  She came to us reluctantly from independent living with higher health needs then they could manage.  Happy hour was the daily norm for her.  Bud Light was her favorite.  But she adapted to Root Beer Float Socials and a personal happy hour .  Bingo was a second favorite, with a call of B11 resulting in her humorous exclamation of “Chicken Legs”.   These are the monikers that will come to mind for years to come for many of us. But what really will linger is her grace.  She…

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