Category: Life Truths

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…

Continue Reading Grief and Dementia

The Artful Dodger & Dementia

The Artful Dodger and Dementia The Artful Dodger was the name given a street-wise boy who was a particularly good pick-pocket in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. Much like an individual with dementia, the Artful Dodger had to find ways to thrive with his limiting circumstances. Looking at arts-based interventions for individuals with dementia resonates with the artful dodger. Two literature reviews of art interventions and dementia validated that art interventions are useful in thriving with dementia. A review of music-based interventions done in 2020 found that music-based interventions improved depression and overall negative behaviors.1 Likewise a literature review of art…

Continue Reading The Artful Dodger & Dementia

Springtime Light

As Spring gets closer, we see changes in light. Whether it is Daylight Savings Time and springing forward or a subtle change in trees budding—our world is moving toward more light. As our care partner’s brain changes, we must change to give care. That change can bring up feelings of resentment, anger, guilt, shame, loneliness and depression. Even as the natural world gets brighter, our path may feel full of shadows. Spring light holds a lesson for caregivers.  A gardening resource explains that light comes in colors.1 In Spring, red light provides the energizing chlorophyll to make a plant green….

Continue Reading Springtime Light

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…

Continue Reading Not There Yet

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…

Continue Reading Listening Tree

Anticipation & Presence

Having just returned from a whirlwind trip to Tampa, we are now preparing for a week in MD followed by two weeks in Spain.  Each trip is full of family and memory making presence.  Looking back I remember the same anticipation as a young family with selective purchasing, wrapping, preparing.  Today we purchase plane tickets, we pack, we prepare in different ways.  But the common ground is anticipation.  Presents for the family are now translated into presence with the family.  This season  is a wonderful gathering point, regardless of what holiday you are celebrating.  It is a time of decreased…

Continue Reading Anticipation & Presence

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…

Continue Reading Creosote and Calico?


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…

Continue Reading Epiphany

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…

Continue Reading Margaret Thatcher & Dementia

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…

Continue Reading Choose Your Battles