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Lying and Alzheimers Disease

LYINGANDALZHEIMERSDISEASE

If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia, you’ve probably told a fib or two, or perhaps better said, you’ve stretched the truth in order to spare them pain.  I know I have.  I was recently talking with a friend whose Momma is dear to my heart and we were discussing how we’ve stretched the truth at times in order to keep our loved ones’ minds at peace.  My friend was sharing how she worries about the tall tales we have used to cover up the truth when faced with uneasy questions.  The subject of the Good Book and Judgement Day came up.

Do you think we’d be forgiven for the lies, even though they were said with a loving heart and in the hopes of calming the confused minds of our loved ones?

What do you think?

Please don’t misunderstand my intentions.  I’m not advocating lying.  I’m simply putting it out there for discussion among those who are in the Alzheimer’s and Dementia community.  I want to know if you have fibbed and what you think about it.  Let me clarify, I didn’t just decide to fib on a whim.  My intentions were to soothe their confused minds and to give them peace and let them be happy in the present moment.  They have grieved enough in this lifetime.

For me, I have fibbed when I felt it necessary to not cause my loved ones repeated emotional pain.  I have measured and taken my cues from my loved ones’ emotional status when they’ve asked me hard questions repeatedly about someone – for example, “Where is he/she?”  Instead of telling the truth outright, “They passed away,” (and you’ve known that, but you can’t remember it), I’ve learned to ask them, “Where do you think he/she is?”  Many times, I have gone along with whatever they are thinking which has brought them peace.  I’ve also been known to answer in vague terms, such as, “I know if she/he could be here, they would be.  They are looking out for you still.  Yes, they are at home,” (but I’m meaning their spiritual home and the confused mind is thinking the physical home).

I’ve found that being in the moment with loved ones with memory problems is hard when we know the reality, but easier, when we put their hearts first.  There are times when they know their loved ones have passed away and the tears of sadness that ensue are heart-wrenching for us all.  They remember that they died and the sadness is all-encompassing even though they had forgotten that they knew.  There are times when they ask for validation and I am careful to make sure I check to see what they are remembering before I answer.  For if they remember that so and so passed away, it is nothing but an insult to lie at that point.  Truth given with love soothes the confused mind many times.  And yet, at others, there is no soothing truth.  It is simply a moment filled with anguish and peace is nowhere to be found.

I have learned that changing the subject often helps in some situations.  Repeatedly going down that sad path of loss can be detoured when we change the subject drastically.  Heaven knows, I’ve interrupted that path often with the offer of a cookie or a Hershey’s kiss or just by telling them, “I love you so much!” and following up with a hug.  Sometimes it works…and sometimes it doesn’t.  But it’s worth a try.

I know there are different degrees of memory loss as it is a progressive disease.  Even moment to moment, I have seen clarity, then confusion, changing in a few minutes span of time.  It’s a roller coaster ride sometimes and hard to manage for all of us.  I can’t even begin to imagine how it is for them when thoughts can be fleeting, words elusive and memory blurred or simply out of reach.

So, what are your thoughts?  Do you fib sometimes?  Do you have any tips for redirecting conversations?  What works for you and your loved ones?  What doesn’t work?  Please share!

Shine On!

xo

On My Knees

onmyknees

As you’ve seen in my last few posts, life has been hard these days.  For me, writing is my outlet, sharing what I think might help someone else who is a caregiver of someone whom they love who has Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.  I write in order to connect with others who are walking this path because we understand how emotional it can be and you just need support from others who get it.

There is no cure for this disease.  It is fatal.  As the mind shuts down, the body begins its journey as well.  It’s genetic as well, which means that those of us with relatives with the disease, can be subject to it in the future.

Think about that for a moment…what you may be witnessing as a child of a parent with Alzheimer’s, may be you one day.  It puts a terrible spin on the whole experience, don’t you think?  For then, with that knowledge, we wonder if we have it and every tidbit of forgetfulness becomes a full blown worry if it’s early onset of the disease.

Just because a parent has the disease, doesn’t necessarily mean that the offspring will develop it though, which is good news.  For it’s hard enough to watch a loved one struggle to hold onto information, recognize people and remember that loved ones have passed away.  The incessant questioning and cycles of repetition can make it hard to be patient, especially when we are hurting as well.  In truth, I’ve cried a boatload of tears lately in frustration and sadness in feeling so helpless.

The power of prayer and faith helps.  When I can’t stop trying to fix the situation or at least better it, I find that getting on my knees to pray helps quiet my mind.  Simply handing it over to God for the night, once I finally let go, let Him in and let God take it from here that is.  I’m a tough cookie.  I like to keep a handle on things so it’s harder for me to allow the Universe and God to hold onto everything while I sleep. But it helps so much.

Do you ever find yourself on your knees praying when all else fails?

Shine On!

xo

 

 

The Present Moment

pinkflower

With the uncertainty of life, we let go when we have exhausted all means of control.  Sometimes it takes us longer to finally come to the conclusion that there are simply parts of life that we must allow for we cannot stop them.  For a planner like me, it’s always felt unacceptable.  Searching my brain, I would try to come up with endless ways to make whatever situation better for me, my family, my friends ~ relentlessly trying to improve a situation that I found unacceptable because it was causing someone else or me pain.

But there are times now, after sleepless nights of fret, worry and planning, that I am learning, albeit slowly, to let go and to allow God and the Universe to proceed.  What I’ve learned in the wee hours of the morning is to go with the flow, release, let the river take its course and have faith that as long as I can put my head on the pillow in peace, knowing I have done all with a loving heart, there is nothing more I can do.

However, it’s hard ~ this letting go.  So I am learning to let go and let God ~ and let Him in.

I think it’s human nature to believe we’ve got this, we can figure it out and make it work.  But we forget that there is God, the Universe and the Laws of Attraction who also carry us when we allow them to work their ‘magic’ as well.

Being in the present moment is a life lesson worth learning for me.  I am watching my Mom struggle with Alzheimer’s and being in the present moment with her.  Sometimes her present moment isn’t ‘reality’ but wherever her brain is at the time.  So to honor her, we gather in her present moment and support her, enjoying whatever gifts we can.

It’s a shift of thinking that has taken me a long time to accept and to process in my own brain.  However, love is accepting and above all, I love my Mom.  So I accept where she is at any given moment.  I’ve come a long way baby, but I still have much to learn.

Isn’t that the way life school is anyway?  Learn, practice and love?

Shine On!

xo

Alzheimer’s Disease and Telling a Loved One About a Death

alzheimersflowerMy Mom recently lost her sister with whom she lived in a memory care facility.  It broke my heart to deliver the news to her, so I remained mum for a while and didn’t tell her.  She believed our Aunt was still alive in the hospital for longer than she was, as we contemplated how to tell her the sad news.

But God and the Universe had different plans.  For you see, her resident friends who knew Aunt Mable were also concerned about Aunt Mable and wondered when she would return home.  Mom was told that she was still in the hospital getting treatment, but in truth, she had passed away.  Little could any of us know that one little lady, who is wheelchair bound, blind and has hallucinations along with memory issues would be able to succeed in calling the hospital in hopes that Mom could talk with Aunt Mable and get more information.  A miracle unto itself that she accomplished this with her cell phone.  Sadly, she got the news that Mable had passed away and in a loving manner told Mom.  I know she thought she was helping, but her announcement wasn’t what we had planned.  We were trying to get to Mom to tell her ourselves in person.

Looking through the eyes of an observer, this little lady’s heart was in the right place.  She saw our Mom upset and wanted to help and when I see the situation with a loving heart, I am grateful.  But in that moment when Mom reached out to me, sobbing that she had heard that her sister had passed away and was frantic, I felt powerless.  I had wanted so much to shield Mom from the pain and be there when she found out in order to help her through her grief.  In the end though, life unfolded as it was meant to be.

It is hard for anyone with memory issues to remember, let alone to keep the information that a loved one has passed away, for their ability to remember fades and rallies, moment to moment.  The acceptance of what feels unacceptable (a death of a sister) is too much for the mind to handle and it fades, only to return after a bit and the grief begins again.  It’s a roller coaster for all involved as we try so desperately to soothe a broken heart as the knowledge comes and goes, along with the grief.

There’s no easy way and from my experiences, the only rule is to keep a loving heart, flow with the moment’s understanding and continue to offer love and support to Mom.  That’s all we can do in every situation quite honestly.  Be open, be kind and love.

May you find your Sunday to be filled with peace and love, this is my wish always.

Shine On!

xo

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye To A Loved One

sayinggoodbyetoalovedone

As I climbed into bed last night, laid my weary head and heart on the soft down pillow, I sighed deeply.  Such a day full of emotion and perseverance that frankly, I was exhausted.  I closed my eyes and began to pray for peace as I often do.  In that quiet moment of reverie, I surrendered.  I had done all that I could, pushed through the limits and swallowed and alternatively let go of many tears.  But as I prayed, it was in gratitude for all of the angels who attended this day.

When a loved one passes, it is never easy for those left behind.  After the initial shock, because even when we know they are sick, it is still a shock to know that they have passed, there was work to be done, papers to be signed, a funeral home to be called, family and friends to be notified and a personal life of responsibility to continue living, all at the same time.  It’s a day of moving through the grief in order to process the necessities that need to be done, all the while, alternatively stifling and letting out the grief of losing a loved one.  Tears poured from my eyes at times and quiet sobs escaped (probably not so quietly) as the reality hit me in waves.

Last night the epiphany which I knew already, hit me.  Why do we grieve when our loved one passes?  Some of us believe that their departed souls return home to God and I have to ask myself,  why aren’t I rejoicing that she is no longer in earthy life school, no longer suffering with a body which had grown old and desperately needed repair?  My answer was selfish – I wanted to be with her when she passed and hold her hand as she departed peacefully from this earth, onward and upward back home.  I wanted her to hear my voice telling her how much we loved her and although I tried to move mountains in plane travel plans, I was unable to get to her in time.  What brings my sad heart peace is that I know in my heart that she knew I loved her and she was not alone when she passed.  She had her pastor there, who by the grace of God, arrived only moments beforehand.  She had been visited by a dear friend of ours who had kissed her on the forehead and told her how much we all loved her.  At 88, she had lived a long life, on her own terms with lots of love in her heart and a dash of stubbornness which served her well.  She had brought much joy to the world by being a teacher who made a difference and who had received the joy and was gifted back by her students (especially Lisa).

This morning I awoke thinking of Aunt Mable and as tears poured down my face in the early dawn, house quiet, alone with my thoughts, I realized again, how short this life can be even when it lasts 88 years and how important making connections with others truly is.  Although I often write about connecting with others, I’m reminded yet again, how our legacy is in our connections and not in our earthly possessions.  I think it bears repeating.  Hearts connecting means more than material possessions as we flow to our next chapter.  The legacy of making a difference, accepting, helping, inspiring, encouraging and loving are pricelessly worth millions in spiritual wealth.

So this morning, I bow my head in honor of a life well-lived, an Aunt whom I loved and who loved me.  I know she is home again in Heaven, with her family and loved ones and she is remembered here by the loved ones and family she left behind.  Surely, her soul is leaping with joy to be pain-free, her brain free of the confines of dementia, and free of the bonds of life school.  Rest in peace, Aunt Mable.

Thank you dearest friends for allowing me to share this morning.  I needed to write.  May you have a lovely Saturday, making connections with all whom you meet and even if a simple smile passes between you and a stranger, let the love of humankind flow freely.

Shine On!

xo

A Visit From Someone Who Has Passed?

avisitfromsomeonewhohaspassed

Two years ago, my Aunt AAngel passed away.  She was very special to us and was a part of our family’s life for more than 60 years.  AAngel wasn’t a biological aunt, but instead, a part of our family by love.  I am not sure if anyone remembers that she passed away two years ago, but her loved ones who have memory issues, were talking about her suddenly and I found it interesting.

I have a theory that our loved ones who have passed, visit us.  Has this ever happened to you?  With memory issues, my aunt who was most impacted by her passing, forgets that AAngel has passed away and believes instead, she is visiting her own family.  But the other night, suddenly my aunt wanted to talk on the phone with me to tell me how she had been talking with AAngel.  What I found as a precious coincidence is that the very same day marked the two year anniversary of her passing.

When a loved one passes, I think they often check in on those of us who are here on Earth, still in human form.  They hover around, comforting us when we are grieving if we would only open our hearts and minds to see the signs.  We’ve all heard of feathers, pennies from Heaven, songs being played on the radio, etc. as signs that our angels are nearby.  Has this ever happened to you?  I know I’ve been visited in dreams by loved ones who have passed away and I always take it as a confirmation that they are sending a little bit of love and connecting with me.  I don’t think love ever really dies, it simply changes form.  It may get harder to see those whom we loved who have passed, but their loving essence only fades in human form.  The loving bond we share, remains eternal.

For what’s the legacy we leave behind after we’ve passed except for the remembrance in the hearts of those still here on Earth?  Sure, we can leave material goods and be remembered, but to be remembered in the hearts and minds of those who truly loved us, is a precious legacy.

So today, let’s take a moment to remember those precious souls who have passed and left a precious legacy in our hearts.  Feel the gratitude in knowing them.  Then, as we go about our day, let’s keep that reminder and do for others so that one day, we may be remembered in a special way.

Have you ever been visited by a loved one who has passed away?  What signs have you received?  Please share!

Shine On!

xo

Loving Someone With Alzheimer’s

 

alzheimersI have two close family members with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.  Although we have been walking this path for over two years, the decline is beginning to show the ravages of the disease.  It’s a normal process I’m told that there are declines, progression of the disease and plateaus.  As with many diseases, its course is unpredictable and unfortunately, non-reversible.

I have made many friends through this journey.  Today I was speaking with another daughter of a Mom with Alzheimer’s.  Commiserating about our loved ones’ situations, we found solace in sharing our feelings about the disease without a cure.  A disease which is documented to be exponentially growing in the coming years, with the ability to even touch our own lives since many times, it is genetically carried.

How mind-blowing is that?  Yes, pun intended.

I read other bloggers who are touched by these diseases.  Caretakers, patients as well as doctors who are dedicated to finding a cure and making life better for those afflicted by this disease and their loved ones who wrestle heart-breakingly with the changes that come as the diseases progress.

Of course, I have much empathy and compassion for those who endure this disease, including my loved ones.  How could I not when I see as they move along this path?  I’m not saying it isn’t confusing or frustrating for those who have the diseases because I know that it is and frankly, I fear that it may strike me one day as well.  So I find myself always trying to go with the flow, to assure my loved ones that they are safe, all is well and to make sure that their lives are as lovely as I can make them.  And that sometimes, in itself, is a full time job.

But every once in awhile, there comes a time when it feels unbearable.  To watch a loved one’s mind slip away is heart-wrenching and I feel so incompetent and powerless to make things better for them.  When there come personality changes which may or may not last for long, but still sting because my loved ones perseverate over something or get angry because of something they believe (which may or may not be true), it’s hard to handle.  It’s difficult to manage and to let go of what is being said because in my heart, I know she doesn’t really mean what she is saying as she just doesn’t know because she has this disease.  But the words and the feelings, sting and pierce my heart anyway.  Probably because I still want her to be who I remember fondly and not the grouchy person who is so angry.

It has been said that when the full moon comes, our minds often are affected and surely, with this disease, I have found that theory to be true.  The coming full moon and eclipse may even be a double whammy in memory care facilities world-wide.  Who knows?

In any case, thank you for reading as the road through aging, isn’t for sissies, no matter how old you are!

Shine On!

xo