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Take A Lesson From Alzheimer’s And Dementia

takealesson

I’m a big proponent of passing along what I’ve learned through my various experiences.  Not to preach, but to connect with others who are enduring similar situations.  My blog is called The Presents of Presence which is all about being in the moment.  But as we all can attest, not every moment feels like a gift.  Sometimes we feel like we’ve been kicked instead.

With Alzheimer’s and Dementia, the lesson for me is clearly meant for my blog.  It’s in being in the present and finding the good in the now.  Finding the gift in connecting with others, no matter how brief it is, no matter how small it feels.

In my experience with my loved ones, I’ve learned that we can relax and just be and that this is, for the most part, how they now live their lives.  There’s almost like an amnesia from the dark past experiences that evaporates.  It is almost with childish simplicity that they live with the disease.  There’s not a lot of wondering what’s next or what happened before this very moment, except when sundowners hits.  It’s a focus on what’s right here that counts.  They live most fully in the now without reservation.

Think about that for a moment.  Can you wrap your mind around that?

What that means is no holding onto grudges, no revisiting conversations, no worrying about the future, no obsessing over the past, no self-criticism, no blaming someone else, I could go on and on.

It’s about, acceptance for the here and now in whatever form it takes.

I admire the people I know who have the disease for the courage to accept and be with the present at all times as I think that would be a hardship for many of us.  Yet, by their freedom, they are role models for us all.  Yes, I understand that they didn’t choose this disease.  Yes, I understand how heartbreaking it is when our loved ones have it.  But there’s a choice to mourn the loss by the disease or to find the positive in accepting what we deem unacceptable with the disease.

For me, I’ve got to find the positive and if that means, I have to change my way of thinking to expand it to gratitude for learning how to really find The Presents of Presence in every part of life’s journey and not just give it lip service, then so be it.

Shine On!

xo

 

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Rest in Peace – Molly’s Movement

restinpeacemollysmovement

My heartfelt sadness goes out to Joey Daley as his mom Molly passed away recently.  If you are a caregiver or have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or Dementia, please take a few moments to watch the video below and listen to Joey.  Molly had Lewy Body Dementia for ten years and through Joey’s chronicles, he has shown us Molly’s true courage and his as well.

There are so many inspiring people in our world.  Thank you Joey and Molly for being you!  A mother’s love and support never die and they stay with us forever.

Shine On!

xo

When Our Parents Get Older

whenourparentsgetolder

I guess I’m on a theme considering yesterday’s post.  But as I told my friends, when you have chances to visit with your elderly parents and loved ones, stop and take photos and videos of them.  Having my father pass away years ago and not having a lot of videos of him nor voice recordings, it’s one of my regrets.  Sure, I have photos, but not many as we were all in the moment most of the time and didn’t take pictures.  Having learned this lesson the hard way, I now take more photos and videos and with the cell phones, it’s so easy to do!  I just thought I’d suggest this to you.  Honestly, this goes for all family members though as we have no guarantees for tomorrow!

Calling more often is a great way to stay in touch and to know that they are ok.  If you haven’t started this already, I suggest you begin slowly to make your calls more frequently so as not to surprise them with vigilant calling (unless it’s necessary).  You don’t want to make them think you are hounding them!  LOL  But it’s nice to reach out more often to your parents and other elderly relatives, isn’t it?  Getting older can be a lonely time for them.  Put some silly stories or anecdotes on a card by the phone so that when you call, you can keep the conversation flowing if you find that it gets quiet.

Sometimes parents or elderly loved ones don’t want to be a burden to their children/next generation so they hide the ugly parts so as not to worry you.  Be aware of the whole scenario at home.  Notice the relationship between your parents as frustration levels can surge as they get older.  Check the refrigerator to make sure that they are eating properly and look around to see if bills are piling up, if the place is clean, the heat is on, the water working etc.  Be attentive and be kind.  Old age ain’t for sissies and it’s hard to get older and begin to decline.  Nobody looks forward to this stage so please, be patient, be understanding and be careful with your words/actions.  Don’t criticize.  Help them if needed.

Not losing our patience with loved ones, especially our parents can be challenging, especially if they are living with us.  But that’s a subject for a different post.

Whatever you do, shine your heartlight and be aware of the love you give out and receive.  It’s there.  Sometimes you just have to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to experience it.

Shine On!

xo

As Our Loved Ones Age

asourlovedonesage

Maybe it begins when you realize they are forgetting silly things that you know they well-know.  Maybe you notice when they aren’t as spry as they once were.  Maybe you sense that they aren’t following the conversations or involved in them as they once were.  Maybe you notice that the rituals (daily bed making for example) aren’t completed.  As time goes on, you realize that there’s a little hitch in your loved one’s routine, conversation,  eating habits, sleeping habits and such.

Many times we brush those moments off with the thought that hey, they are getting older.  But how many signs does one need in order to shake up our thinking and begin the growing alarm that our loved ones may need more help?

That is a personal issue for many people as we can easily explain away when we aren’t ready to deal with the issue at hand which is:  our loved ones are aging and need our help.  For some people, it’s a mind-blowing thought (especially if we are their children) when our loved ones have been people we looked up to, respected, revered and who took care of us.  To see them slide even a little can cause us to feel that tinge of panic or to altogether dismiss it because we can’t even begin to go there in our minds.

But let’s been honest – aging happens to us all, so we need to help when we can!  Because someday, it will be our turn.  So what do we do when we begin to notice more frequently, aging signs in our loved ones?

Tread lightly is my advice.  Know your loved one and approach the subject accordingly.  Some people welcome a little help.  Others vehemently oppose it.  Nobody likes someone else to point out that we are functioning at less than our normal ability so be kind as you broach the subject.  Be respectful.  Offer help in a non-judgemental way and allow the conversation to flow in a peaceful way.

Caveat:  unless you see imminent danger, then be proactive and respectful.

It’s not easy for your loved ones to admit that they are weakening or finding their normal routines more difficult.  Getting confused, losing objects and forgetting to eat are tell-tale signs that you need to step up your communication with them.  But do it in a non-threatening way.  Take more time with them when possible.  Encourage them to share with you how they are feeling and what they are noticing if anything.  Do it the way you would like ti done for you.

I have some friends who are noticing their loved ones showing signs of aging that are concerning to the well-being of their loved ones.  It’s not an easy task to flow into the parenting role of a loved one who is older than you.  It’s not always met with gratitude, but instead sometimes it is met with distrust.  It’s scary for your aging loved one to feel that they are not as strong as they once were.  Some fight it and others simply allow the aging process to flow easily.

My advice is to keep your eyes and ears open and to broach the subject with compassion.  Listen to your intuition too as many times we know, we just don’t want to see because it’s hard to think of our loved ones in that way.

I wish you well on this next chapter of your journey.  I’m here if you need a hand to hold as we’ve experienced this as well.  You are not alone.

Shine On!

xo

Leave The Past Behind

leavethepastbehind

Sweet friends, it’s challenging when our parents get older and we begin to take care of them.  Sometimes the past relationships get in the way of our thinking and it gets harder to be patient and kind.  Few grown children don’t carry some reminders of injustice or hurts that they sometimes unwittingly carry into adulthood and that can spill over into the present day relationships with our parents.

I understand.

But dear friends, it’s time to let go of the past and focus on the present.  This can be a hard task to accomplish, but I have faith in you and I am willing to hold your hand while you walk this path.

Guilt, shame and frustrations build when we are tasked with parenting when we are still holding on to hurts from the past.  Also, parents can do the same so that the relationship can be hard to navigate, especially when you, their child, is now in charge.

Why can’t he/she be nice?  Can’t they see I’m trying to help?  Why do they act that way?  I’m tired of this!  This is not my responsibility because they did x, y or z to me when I was little, a teenager, an adult….this list of complaints can go on and on.

And yes, I agree that this is hard for you (and for them).  My heart goes out to you all as I’ve been there and I have felt similarly to some degree.  I get it.  So you may be asking, How the heck did I get into this place of peace?

I let go baby!  I rose above the hurts to a place of peace in my heart.  I did it for them and I did it for me.  I love them innately and I see them as human beings doing their best, just as I am.  I love from a place of understanding, of forgiveness and with peace in my heart.  I go into the day with prayer for patience to help me throughout the day and to help them.  I get out of my own head and try to see things from their perspective and then it dawns on me, how they’re feeling.  I come from a place of healing hearts and simply trying to make all of our lives happier.  Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t.  So then, I ask for forgiveness, to myself and to them and to God and I just begin again.

When you don’t feel like you’ve succeeded or when it’s been a really hard day, let go of the bad and just hang onto the good.  Let the hard times fall away from your thinking and hold onto that kernel of goodness.  There is some goodness every day.  Sometimes you just have to search a bit to find the blessing, but it’s always there.

Allow the past to have no power over you.  Live solidly in the present and allow the future to take care of itself.  Be present with loved ones and find the joy in connecting with them.  Role model love, kindness, caring and joy.  Innately you are a healer so use your gifts wisely.  And if you need to throw up your hands in frustration, by all means, do it in privacy.  Give yourself a time out to recoup before exploding with negativity.

Remember, your parents/elderly loved ones aren’t necessarily trying to make it harder on you.  They are simply doing what they can at this time.  And even if you don’t believe that or you think I’m full of Pollyanna hooey, give them the benefit of the doubt and give it to yourself when it comes to doing your best.

We are all on this journey called Life.  Lessons come to us in many forms to deepen our understanding of love.  Because let’s face it, love is what this life is all about and sometimes love and forgiveness walk hand in hand.  It take a lot of love to be someone else’s lesson.  Perhaps that thought will give you peace in your heart.  Your parent loves you enough to teach you a life lesson, whatever the lesson my be.  Be grateful for their love and for the lesson.  Hold them closely.  Forgive and forget.  Heal yourself and others.  You are more than capable to choose the high road and now’s the time.

Don’t do it simply because I suggested it.  Do it for yourself.  Raising the love vibrations in this world helps us all.  And it starts with you, dear friend.  Shine your heartlight.  I believe in you.

Shine On!

xo

 

 

 

When You Find Yourself Parenting Your Parents

whenyoufindyourselfparentingyourparents

I have a few friends who are now entering a new phase of adulthood which is when you are now charged with parenting your own parents or elderly family members.  It happens to many of us as we reach middle age.  My friends are just at the beginnings of that journey and I am glad to be here to help them and to help anyone else who needs it.  Because, I know how hard it is to watch the changes that occur as our parents get older.  Sometimes it starts sneakily and at others, it feels as if the drastic changes happen overnight.  But not matter how it happens, it’s hard for all involved.

The reversal of roles from child to parenting our parents can be a rocky road to navigate.  Some parents have a tough time relinquishing control to their children and fight the aging process with acute belligerence.  I can imagine how hard it is to realize even a little bit that we aren’t as ‘with it’ as we once were, that we get confused at times and that our children are telling us what to do when that was our job.  It’s a slippery slope to navigate as a child who now needs to parent our own parents.  We must be patient as the changes occur and be kind, even when our best intended and even wise suggestions are met with disapproval.

It’s hard to realize that our parents aren’t as healthy, mentally and physically as they once were and that we cannot rely upon them as children anymore.  It’s a tough realization, but very necessary.  There’s a mourning that comes with that realization for ourselves and our parents if they can realize it.  Bumps in the road are certain as this next phase begins.

Perhaps you’re realizing that your parents are weakening mentally and physically.  They aren’t as spry as they used to be and need help walking or doing their normal routines.  Perhaps you’re noticing that they are getting a bit confused at times or forgetting what they once readily knew.  Or perhaps they are slurring their words a bit or not able to remember to pay the bills on time or to take out the garbage or to eat routinely.

Please, come from a place of love and kindness as you navigate this new phase.  Be helpful and try to keep your frustrations outwardly to a minimum.  Hold your parents closer than you may have in the past and give them love.  Let them know you are there to be helpful and not to take over entirely (unless it’s now truly needed).  Find ways in which to help them as these beginning stages unfold.  Keep a keen eye on things as it progresses and be aware that subtle changes can grow quickly into full on tragedy if not monitored.

I am not trying to scare you, but I need to warn you.  I have seen it happen.  Trauma can exacerbate the the changes more quickly and speed up the need to get more help for your parents.

You may even see personality changes occur as they decline mentally and physically.  Agitation is common as their frustration levels increase (and yours do too).  It’s normal, so please take care of yourself and them with kindness and patience in your heart, mind and actions.

I’m here if you need a friend.  I’ve been on this path for quite a long time with several family members.  It’s not easy, but when you understand that you are not alone on this journey, it helps to ease the pain.  Being supported by someone who’s been there helps and I would like to give back in honor of those who helped me through the journey, so I’m here for you.

Shine On!

xo

 

Sandwich Generation

sandwichgeneration

Have you ever heard of the sandwich generation?  It’s when you are a parent who takes care of your own children and your own parents at the same time.  Sandwiched in between the generations and responsible for them all at the same time.  At least, that’s my attempt at its definition.

I should know…I’ve been doing it for awhile now.

I have friends who are beginning the journey of helping their elderly parents and it’s hard.  Hard for the parents to let go and to allow their children to help them and hard for all to realize that life is imminently shorter than we plan for when we are young.  The changes that occur as our parents get older are sometimes unimaginable and hard for them and for us to fathom and navigate.  I mean, what parent ever wants to give up control to their children?  We are the parents after all. (said in the parental authoritative voice!)

But it happens.  If we’re lucky to still have our parents and our children be able to have a relationship (and if we still have a good relationship with our parents as well), please remember to feel blessed.  Because sometimes as the years go on, family difficulties interfere and our relationships deteriorate.

But in a perfect world, we may be blessed to take care of our parents as they took care of us.  This goes for anyone really in the older generations, the aunts and uncles, the older cousins, etc.

So can I give you a little advice especially now that Thanksgiving and the holiday season are arriving?

  1. Do your best to include them.  Make the effort to go get them to bring them to the family get togethers if they are close enough.
  2. Make them feel important.
  3. Watch to see how they are doing physically, mentally and emotionally.
  4. You are now the caretaker so be aware of subtle changes and if you see some, gently approach the subject.
  5. Get Mom’s favorite recipes now while she remembers them.
  6. Take pictures!  I can’t stress this enough!  Get photos of the family together.
  7. Video tape them telling stories or singing or whatever memory you want to keep.  Someday you may wish you could hear their voices again or remember how they sang their favorite song or danced the watusi!
  8. Be patient.  Getting older is not for sissies and they are doing the best they can.
  9. Role model kindness because your children they will remember how you treated your family.
  10. Be affectionate with them if that’s your family style.  There’s nothing better than taking that extra moment to hug a parent or family member.  They will appreciate it as will you.
  11. Tell them how much you care and love them.  During Thanksgiving you can give thanks to them for all that they did for you.
  12. Include them in favorite memories that showcase their love.
  13. Be aware that as we get older, it gets harder to remember, to move and to hear other people.
  14. Take the precious time to talk with them and to ask and to listen attentively to whatever they have to say.
  15. Try not to put them in the corner and out of the way if they don’t want that because keeping them actively involved helps them immensely.
  16. Be kinder as you won’t ever regret it later.
  17. Take it all in stride and be patient with yourself as well.
  18. Smile and know in your heart you are doing a great job.
  19. Count your blessings that they are still here to spend time with you.
  20. Enjoy each and every moment for life goes by in a flash!

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season!  I am thankful for my Mom and for those in the older generations of our family.  Having loved ones pass away in the last few years has been hard and I pray that you will keep in mind that every moment spent together is precious.

Shine On!

xo