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Sundowners and Alzheimer’s Disease

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One of the challenges with having a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease is sundowners.  Sundowners is a symptom of Alzheimer’s and Dementia whereby your loved one becomes more confused mentally towards the end of the day (hence the name).  There are wide variations of sundowners including utter confusion, wandering, aggression, shadowing (meaning they follow you around), repeatedly asking questions that they do not remember that they’ve asked and rapid mood changes which can range from crying (depression) to fear to stubbornness to restlessness and even to rocking back and forth in an effort to self-soothe.  Not all of the symptoms of sundowners occur every night, nor are they the same for every person.  I’ve written about it before here in case you are interested.

My Aunt suffered from sundowners which was hard on her and on her caregivers.  It always seemed to increase in intensity when the moon was full, when we changed to/from daylight savings time and when the seasons changed.  I think there’s more to outside forces than we may think!

My Mom has occasional bouts of sundowners as well, but confusion is her main symptom.  We were having a conversation recently after 6pm which was lovely when suddenly, her knowledge base fell completely out of her head.  We had been discussing my children, her grandchildren, whom she knew by name, by age and was interactively talking about them when suddenly she interrupted me,

I have to ask you.  Do you have children?

Yes, Mom.  I have children.  You have grandchildren!

Oh my, I didn’t know you were old enough to have children.  How many do you have?  Do they live with you?

I have to say that years ago, I would have been utterly distraught to hear her ask me that question right in the middle of talking about my children when she was fully cognizant of their presence, knowing who they are and having seen them recently.  But I have learned that Alzheimer’s is sneaky and can interrupt a loved one’s knowledge base in a split second, rendering them unaware.  So I simply continued the conversation with her, telling her about my children and reminding her gently of their names.

Suddenly, it was like she was back in her mind and she began reminiscing about them with memories of their childhood that she knew.  We laughed together and enjoyed the connection.  This went on for a bit when suddenly the blip happened again and we had to begin all over.  Then at one point, she was thinking that I was her sister and was asking me if I remembered certain things about her childhood.  But all along the conversation, one part was perfectly clear – my Mom loves me, trusts me and knows my name for which I am ever grateful!  That is the piece of peace that stays with me long after confusing conversations and even throughout them.  My Mom loves me and knows how much I love her – what more can you ask for?

I have to remind myself that it’s just part of the disease.  As I’ve written before, when we stay calm, we can flow with whatever comes up.  It’s taken me a long time to get to this place of peace and acceptance.  I had to get the belief that this isn’t how it should be out of my head and simply accept and be with what is.

I keep her sense of calm foremost in my head.  I keep conversations light and happy.  I do answer her questions with truth when she asks, if I think that they will not hurt her.  But as you have seen, Swinging With Mom sometimes we have to repeat the truth which is hard.  It takes patience, love and a sense of humor to love everyone and Mom is here to remind me to strengthen the bonds of love and acceptance for all who are in my life.  Thank you Mommy!

Shine On!

xo

 

On My Knees

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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

 

 

Sundowning and Alzheimer’s Disease

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Confusion, extreme confusion, often comes during late afternoon or at night for those with Alzheimer’s and so that’s why it’s called sundowning.  Lately, we’ve seen it come and go at all times of day, with no predictable time frame.

Watching a loved one fret and worry is exhausting for the loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia and for those of us who care for them.  As the mind whirls into a vortex of unpredictability, thoughts firing at random, words tumbling out nonsensically, a helplessness sinks in and an urgency to help in any way possible to allow for peace and tranquility.

When sleep can be encouraged, it seems to dilute the chaos in their minds, allowing our loved one a little peace.  Changing the subject to one of love and beauty helps as well, but sometimes that button cannot be unpushed, the channel cannot be changed and we all whirl in the frenzy for a bit.

Have you ever experienced this as a caregiver of a loved one?

It’s not easy to remain untouched by the emotionality of the situation, let alone what is unknowingly coming out of their mouth.  Thoughts flicker, reality surges and fades and my heart breaks wide open with sadness for I cannot even begin to fathom how hard this is for her, let alone for me.

This disease is just so hard and old age, as the adage goes, ‘ain’t for sissies.’

Shine On!

xo

 

 

 

The Present Moment

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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

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day

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To all of the Moms out there who mother, cuddle, protect and love,

To all of the children out there who are mothered, cuddled, protected and loved,

To all those who through friendship, mother their friends,

I am grateful for you.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written on my blog.  But today, I am reaching out with my heartlight to connect with each and every one of you, to let you know that I am thinking of you.  To all of you who are mothers, and to all of you who have been mothered and to all of the women who mother others, I send you peace, love and nurturing.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Shine On!

xo

How to Love the Super Bowl XLVIII

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Being the only female (besides the cat) in the house on Super Bowl Sunday requires patience, perseverance, a stocked kitchen and perhaps a little ‘copa of pinot’ (read healthy glass of wine!) for you see, I’m not into the Super Bowl at all.  Sure, I’ll watch the half time show and I’m there for the commercials, but honestly, I couldn’t care less who wins.  In fact, if it weren’t for the news blasting the countdown for the last 7 days, I’d probably stay clueless as to who was playing!

But as a good Mommy/wife, I’ve got everyone’s favorite snacks at the ready having already taken orders.  I’ve got cute napkins with footballs on them that nobody will appreciate but me ~ but then, my hubby says it’s all about me all the time anyway!  *Big smile ~ that’s a slight exaggeration!

Of course, there is the pre-game line up which for the past 10 years, I’ve been watching (and been allowed to watch) which is the Puppy Bowl with the Kitty Halftime show that Hallmark puts on!  Ahh…now this is what I enjoy watching ~ cute furry animals romping around for a few minutes looking all snuggily and mischievous!   The 3 men in the house will kindly watch with me for a few minutes as they are fans of those playful furkids as well.  But then it’s back to doing whatever they want until the big game starts!

So why do I do these things?  Why do I not just go up to my bedroom and put on a chick flick that I’d rather watch?  Why do I put up with the yelling at the screen that may occur and the hopping up and down enthusiastically when there’s a goal or a foul?  Because it’s a family tradition.  We watch the Super Bowl in our home and that’s it.  I love my sons and hubby.  So I do what they want ~ with a happy heart ~ even when I’m not into it.

Of course, I can stray from the television on the excuse that I’ve got something in the oven.  That buys me a bit of peace as I fill up my glass and watch them from afar!  It’s a bonding experience for them as well.  They laugh, they make silly bets between themselves and all around, they just enjoy the game.  For me, it’s fun to watch them for our boys have grown and soon they’ll be on their way.  So it’s these little moments of family which keep me in the family room at game time and not swaddled in front of a movie that I can watch on my own time.

This is our time.  These are the precious moments that I can’t get back once they’re gone.  I’ve learned that teenagers only are teenagers for a few years before they fly the nest, off to college.  So this is why I’m in the midst of the ruckus at game time!  They will teach me when I blurt out something silly and girly and not quite right about the game.  Like, nice catch even though this is what I’m imagining ~ you know Valentine’s Day is coming up!44092651_They will laugh at my nonsensical football jargon and tease me for the rest of the week.  Now if they only knew that the silliness which I blurt out is just so that I can get a rise out of them!  It makes for great banter and I think they’ve now caught on that I only do it to make them laugh!  I am a really smart girl you know!

So if you’re in the same position as me, don’t fret and look at the day as if it was planned out like this ~ an unrecognizable tic tack toe board!  Giggle Giggle4541_Just get a few snacks, cuddle on the couch and watch the antics of your loved ones.  It’s worth it to know that they are safe, healthy and happy in your home!  After the Star Spangled Banner, when the ref says, “play ball!”  I’ll silently say, “Cheers” to all of you who are with me in spirit!

Shine On!

xo

P.S.  Here are few others who are in the same bowl!

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