Quality of Life
One of my fellow Bloggers wrote a great article (above) to bring an explosively humorous end to my work week. Thank you for sharing your humiliation with the rest of us. Been there – done that myself – far too many times.
Speaking of which … my husband and I were in Home Depot last Sunday; me walking ahead of him as he pushed the shopping cart. A 30-something couple walked towards me, and then past me towards my husband, and oh my goodness … one of them must have not been able to hold in the flatulence one second longer. I wilted amongst the fumes – turned around to look at my husband and his face was twisted in a disgusted-looking, painful way, and he quickly slapped his hand over his nose. I said to him, “I know, right? Must have left a pile somewhere in this aisle!” then I continued walking onward only to discover that the fumes filled the length of that aisle. I started running in a vain attempt to escape the blanket of stinkyness, and soon thereafter, my husband could be seen running with his heavily loaded-down shopping cart making the same attempt at escape. (I know – we’re both quite juvenile.)
When we left the store, my husband was certain that someone must have been videotaping us and no doubt, we are now You Tube stars, gaining lots of followers around the world.
In my post, President Obama says the “A” word: Alzheimer’s, I provided some Alzheimer’s statistics that focus on those who are predicted to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other dementia in the years to come. I also talked about caregiver statistics.
One statistic that really resonates with me is the following: a new caregiver is set into action every 33 seconds because someone will develop Alzheimer’s every 33 seconds. In actuality, the stats are far greater than that. Caregivers are “created” every second of the day because there are countless diseases requiring the assistance of someone just like you and me – an unpaid caregiver for a loved one. I use the distinction of “unpaid” so as not to be confused with those who work as caregivers in the health care industry.
The following statement is attributed to former First Lady of the United States, Rosalynn Carter:
There are only four kinds of people in the world – those who have been caregivers,
those who are currently caregivers,
those who will be caregivers, and
those who will need caregivers.
I really don’t think there’s any way around it. How about you? Have you dodged the caregiver or being-cared-for bullet yet?
Lest you think that Alzheimer’s has nothing to do with you, look at the following statistics provided by the Alzheimer’s Association:
- By the year 2050, nearly one million new cases will be diagnosed each year – that’s one American developing Alzheimer’s every 33 seconds. Taken further, that most likely equates to nearly one and a half million new family caregivers each year – considering that at least one family member will be involved in managing a loved one’s care;
- Ten million Baby Boomers will get Alzheimer’s;
- On average, 40% of a person’s years with Alzheimer’s are spent in the most severe stage of the disease;
- The number of Americans that die each year from Alzheimer’s disease has risen 66% since the year 2000;
- Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States;
- Today, there are no Alzheimer’s survivors – none.
Please take time to read the article I’ve attached above and consider the following: We are going to pay for Alzheimer’s one way or the other – now, or later.
This is a disease that will affect you, your children, your grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and beyond. Burying our heads in the sand won’t solve anything. Please consider donating to the Alzheimer’s Association as well as contacting your state’s congressional leaders asking for greater federal funding for Alzheimer’s research. Why? Because of this staggering statistic:
According to the National Institute of Health, the federal government currently spends much less money on Alzheimer’s research, prevention, and cure than on other conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and HIV.
- $6 billion for cancer;
- $4 billion for heart disease;
- $3 billion for HIV/AIDS; but just
- $480 million for Alzheimer’s disease.
I’m not comfortable with those numbers – are you?
The above article recounts the personal feelings of a blogger who experienced his first Valentine’s Day without his wife who died on July 4, 2012. For those of us not experiencing such a loss, we may too readily try to point out that this “holiday” is just a Hallmark greeting card day, or florists and chocolate manufactures making lots of money day. It’s more than that – especially when so many memories are tied to the event. Whenever a “first time without” comes around on the calendar, the dread leading up to that date can be very troublesome, as it was for this blogger.
I recently watched a show in which interior designer, Nate Berkus, said the following about the things we have in our lives:
The truth is – that things matter. They have to because they’re what we live with and touch each and every day.
They represent what we’ve seen, who we’ve loved, and where we hope to go next.
They remind us of the good times and the rough patches and everything in between that’s made us who we are.
Events, celebrations, and the like provide the same type of life-shaping experiences. That’s why today is far more than a commercial and financial windfall for the greeting card, floral, and chocolate industries. Without someone with whom to celebrate the focus of this day, it becomes a non-day from which you can not escape. Thank God for the memories, the photos, even the many things around the house that represent the touch and essence of our Valentine.
When was the last time you just soaked it all in? I’m not talking about soaking in the sun’s rays – hard to find in most places at this time of year anyway. And I’m not referring to settling your weary body down into a relaxing hot bath.
How about today, you decide to soak in all the good that is in your life?
But you say, “I have no time for that because the bad in my life far outweighs the good.” My response to that? Perhaps you need to even out the scales.
Right now, make a concerted effort to write down three things for which you can be grateful; things that encourage a smile on your face; things that make you forget – even for a second – all that weighs you down.
Now celebrate those three things by soaking in the feather light feeling they create. If that sensation is something you’d like to feel again, well – you’re in charge. Set aside time each day to allow the good to displace some of the bad.
If you celebrate even the smallest of good aspects of your life, you may discover that countless mini-parties await you. What have you got to lose?
In a recent NY Times post, Catherine Rampell writes about how the economy is affecting Baby Boomers; more specifically that it’s not just a matter of postponing retirement, it’s the need to hold down more than one job to meet the daily – and future – essentials of their lives. Ms. Rampell is quick to point out, however, “(I)n the current listless economy, every generation has a claim to have been most injured.” Certainly that seems to be the case as I have heard that Generation X and the Millennials have complained that Baby Boomers are to blame for the state of the economy – present and future.
Of this I am certain – each generation before us, and every generation after us, will contribute positively and negatively to the world as we know it. I have to believe that every generation has pointed their fingers at generations other than theirs, and talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly that permeates their times. Let’s look at those generations as posted on CNN, American Generations Through the Years: (figures and personalities provided by the Pew Research Center and CNN)
G.I./Greatest Generation: Pre-1928; Kate Hepburn and George H. W. Bush
Silent Generation: 1925 – 1945; Martin Luther King, Jr. and Tina Turner
Baby Boomers: 1946 – 1964; Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan
Generation X: 1965-1980; Jay-Z and Tiger Woods
Millennials: Post 1980; Christina Aguilera and Mark Zuckerberg
We’re all struggling in some way, and we’ll continue to struggle as we mimic the overall consensus felt through all generations. There are carefree times, and then there are all the rest of our days, and we get through them, because we must. We’re better for it, but it doesn’t feel like that while we’re going through it. I have to look to Brendan Marrocco, a twenty-six year old Iraq war veteran who lost all his limbs because of a roadside bomb in 2009. In an Associated Press story, in the Seattle Times, Brendan said he could get by without his legs, but he didn’t like living without arms. “Not having arms takes so much away from you. Even your personality … You talk with your hands. You do everything with your hands, and when you don’t have that, you’re kind of lost for a while.”
The end of January 2013, six weeks after getting a double arm transplant, Brendan said the following at a coming-out press conference about how he’s made it thus far:
Just not to give up hope. You know, life always gets better, and you’re still alive. And be stubborn. There’s a lot of people who will say you can’t do something. Just be stubborn and do it anyway.
Sobering words, and ones that force us to reassess our current situations. I’m not trying to minimize what you might be going through, nor of what’s going on in my life. It’s just that I personally can’t help but focus on Brendan’s plight and then consciously turn my eyes away from my me-ness, and towards other-people-ness. Is Brendan worse off as a Millennial who lost so much but gained a huge dose of intestinal fortitude, defined as strength of character; perseverance? If it were me, I would be wallowing in a very deep pit of self-pity. That doesn’t seem to be Brendan’s current location.
I think you’ll all agree that humor can be found in almost every situation in which we find ourselves. Even the distressing disease of dementia has its lighter moments. The article above, by fellow blogger Don Desonier, provides a moment he had with his wonderful wife Nancy. I think many of you will be able to visualize the scenario that this writer so adeptly describes.
Here’s a humorous story from my caregiving time with my father who died from Alzheimer’s complications in October 2007. On one of my visits to his assisted living facility in Oregon, he asked me to help him change his hearing aid batteries. So happy to have something to do that would benefit my father, I jumped at the opportunity to help him hear better – thereby greatly enhancing our conversational abilities.
He pulled out his hearing aids and I pulled the dead batteries out and placed them on the coffee table. I turned my back for a couple seconds and upon refocusing my attention, I saw that my father had put a dozen other batteries on the coffee table – MIXED IN with the two that no longer worked. Had my father not put all the batteries in a pile I might have been able to readily discern the two recently removed batteries. As it was, it took us forty-five minutes to test the batteries and as luck would have it, the used-up batteries were the last two we tested.
At least I got a laugh out of it – after the initial frustration – and dad seemed to get a kick out of the fact that I was giggling about the process. And now more than five years later – I can still reflect on that experience with a smile on my face.