Tag Archive | memory care facility

The Tough Part of Being Present With Dementia

thetoughpartofbeingpresentwithdementia

I’ve told you before that I have had loved ones with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.  If you’re a caregiver or relative of a loved one with the disease, you probably understand more than most people.  Because it’s hard when they get confused.  It’s unsettling when they live in the past.  It’s sad when they don’t remember.  It’s a gift you give to yourself and to them when you just stay present in their world, however it is, in that moment.  But the part that hurts the most is when they admit that they know that they’re confused.

To me, that’s the toughest part.  To witness their fear, their grief, their feeling of being lost when they blip into the present with that knowing.  I’ve written about it before here.  As many times as we’ve had these moments of realization that they vocalize, it’s still just as heartbreaking to me as it was the first time we talked about the disease.

I can fool myself into thinking that they are just in their own world, safe and sound, knowing that they are loved.  For the most part, that’s how they live.  But for the blessed few times that they are able to articulate that for this moment in time, they know that they are confused, that the words that they want to say are fleeting through their minds at rapid speeds and don’t always make it to be spoken, well, it just haunts me.

I visit a memory care facility often and have become friendly with many of the sweet residents.  We interact during every one of my visits and I have come to enjoy their company as well.  Each with her own distinct personality.  Each with her own level of understanding.  Each and every one simply wanting to be noticed, to enjoy human interaction and to be shown love.

Some are like the forgotten souls who simply exist and are cared for by strangers who love them.  Some of them don’t get many visitors which makes me sad.  Some have daily visitations from family who they don’t always remember.  Some have bonded with the other ‘golden girls’ with whom they share meals and others are simply existing separately.

The levels of understanding and interaction are as varied as the people themselves and with memory care illnesses, they are changeable at a moment’s notice.  One must continue to flow with the present state of mind and ability in order to connect with them.  Being a caregiver requires incredible patience and caring.  It’s an exhausting job, but one that is so gratifying.

I’m sorry I’ve gone off topic again. The words simply flow out of me when I write about the disease.  For it’s not just my loved ones who have it, but an increasing number of people in my life now.  There’s a bond among those who have loved ones with the disease.  We understand what we’re enduring and we share the ups and downs of the journey as it unfolds.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia keeps us on our toes with its ever changing fluidity.  One piece that remains constant is The Presents of Presence and the peace that comes with our choice to embrace this precious moment in time, every time.

Shine On!

xo

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Saying Goodbye Is Never Easy

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Being in a memory care facility, like the one that my family members were in Savannah, is like being with family.  Residents all sit at the meal tables with the same group and become, over time, a soul family.  A family of people who aren’t related by blood nor marriage, but are family all the same in the best sense – the sense of belonging together, sharing meals, supporting each other and caring with kindness that goes beyond, goes deeper than simple connections.

One might say that in a memory care facility, residents don’t always recognize other people nor interact, but we were truly blessed.  Not only did the residents bond with each other, sharing stories (sometimes repeatedly – it was always a joy to hear them), but the families of the residents bonded in ways that we couldn’t have foreseen.

What binds us together is a love connection – the innate understanding that we get it – we know how it feels to have a loved one living in a memory care facility and all that goes along with it and we’re grateful for the unexpected friendships that accompany our experiences.

So when I got the phone message that my friend’s Mama passed away the other morning, the tears burst out of my eyes and I began to cry while listening to her message.  My phone volume had been turned down and because it was in the bottom of my purse, I missed her call.  Immediately I called her back, but she didn’t pick up.  I tried not to weep too much, but I left her a message telling her how sad I was to hear the news.

You see, her Mama and my loved ones were best friends, having lived in the same home for two years.  Every meal, they ate together, shared stories and smiled.  They bonded in the most beautiful way.  I am getting weepy remembering how in the last few years of their lives, these strangers shared a bond, connected and loved one another as if they were family.  I could regale you with so many stories of special moments we shared together.  My friend and I took special care of each other’s loved ones when we were visiting them.  It was truly a blessing.  I pray that someday when I’m older, if I should go to a home, that I find such loving residents (and caregivers) to call my soul family.  That’s how strongly I feel and why I am so sad about her Mama’s passing for it is the end of a chapter in our lives.

Her Mama is at peace now for which we are all grateful.  But there’s that part of me, the one that wants one more hug, one more smile from Wilma and one more story.  I want to see her needlepoint again and hear her laugh.  I know for sure, that she is up there in Heaven, happy to be reunited with her family, her husband and my loved one again.  I know I now have another special angel looking out for me from Heaven and I am ever grateful that we connected so long ago.   Rest in Peace Miss Wilma.  God Bless.

Shine On!

xo

Music Is…

musicis

Music is the shorthand of emotion -Leo Tolstoy

Music heals.  Music evokes memories.  Music soothes.  Music allows us to reach inside and regain our power.  Music is a big part of my life.  I played piano for years.  I still have a piano which is now in my garage, unable to be used due to damage.  I miss singing and playing piano.

I find that there are songs which remind me of good times in my life, ones that remind me of people who have passed away and there are some songs which remind me of sad times.  Tears sometimes escape unbidden when I listen to certain songs.  There’s such an emotionality to music.  It touches the heart, the mind and the soul with each note, each lyric, each rhythm and beat.

Alzheimer’s Disease takes that part last I’ve been told.  Music, lyrics are the last to go which holds a special part of my heart’s hope.  Glen Campbell’s special I’ll Be Me  showed us that point.  Haven’t you ever heard a song and felt like you were transferred back in time, another decade, another era, another part of your life that now is so far gone that it almost feels like it never happened to you and then POOF you hear a familiar tune and VOILA, the memories return, flooding back, filling our minds with memories that we may have thought were lost.

So the next time you are listening to music, think about it!  We are all connected!

Shine On!

xo

 

Clap Along…Because I’m Happy

dance

Clap Along…Because I’m Happy!

In the memory care facility this week, they had dance time to the song, Happy by Pharrell Williams.  Many of the residents got up and were clapping a bit and dancing with the caretakers there.   The song is so upbeat and easy to learn that it was perfect.  Smiles were on everyone’s faces as they took a break from the day and just enjoyed their happiness!  What a gift, don’t you think?

That’s the way it is with all of our lives, not just those who are enduring Alzheimer’s and Dementia although they seem to have the secret.  It’s living in the moment for them (and for us).  It’s finding the simple joy in being alive, being able to move and connecting with others with love.  It’s the healing power of music.

I’m not saying it’s easy for sometimes it’s not.  But the joy when one lets go and just claps along as we get caught up in the moment, is a precious gift.  Certainly, it’s not one to be missed!  Take a moment today to watch Pharrell’s video below and just clap along and be happy.  Don’t you wish you were there, smiling, laughing, dancing and clapping along with them?  I certainly do!   I feel such gratitude for the special caretakers in our lives.

Shine On!

xo

Lyrics:

It might seem crazy what I’m ’bout to say
Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break
I’m a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air like I don’t care, baby, by the wayBecause I’m happy…
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you want to doHere comes bad news, talkin’ this and that
But give me all you’ve got, and don’t hold it back
Well, I should probably warn you, I’ll be just fine
No offense to you, don’t waste your time, here’s why…Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you want to doBring me down… can’t nothing…
Bring me down… my level’s too high…
Bring me down… can’t nothing…
Bring me down, I said (let me tell you now)
Bring me down… can’t nothing…
Bring me down… my level’s too high…
Bring me down… can’t nothing…
Bring me down, I said…

Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you want to do

Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you want to do

Bring me down… can’t nothing…
Bring me down… my level is too high…
Bring me down… can’t nothing…
Bring me down, I said (let me tell you now)

Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you want to do

Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you want to do