I discovered something shocking during the weeks that followed my novel’s release:
Alzheimer’s disease is still a secret.
I know; we’ve all certainly read about it, especially when a celebrity is diagnosed with the disease. Every once and awhile there might be an Alzheimer’s Association commercial on television…that is assuming we don’t fast forward through it or walk out of the room. Another reason we’re familiar with the disease is that it is happening to so many people with whom we are acquainted – whether intimately or tangentially.
But it’s still a secret. The very definition of the word speaks to its intent: adj. not known or seen or not meant to be known or seen by others; n. something not properly understood; a mystery. from the Concise Oxford English Dictionary
In many of my promotional posts and boasts for my novel Requiem for the status quo, I’ve indicated that my book tour would probably look more like a senior center tour than what is normally the route for authors: readings and signings in major and independent bookstores. That’s the tact I took, approaching numerous senior centers in Western Washington. 25% of those I approached booked my author event on their activity calendars. But when I approached a major senior housing community foundation to get on their speakers’ calendar, I was told the residents pushed back at the foundation’s previous efforts to enlighten and inform when they hosted those who spoke to the reality of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.
Writing a novel just for the hell of it isn’t what I did when, on December 29, 2012, I started to write REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO.
First and foremost, I sat down at my computer because I had something to say about how Alzheimer’s disease affected my father. Additionally, having graduated from the unofficial school of family caregiving, I figured someone just might benefit from the good – and the not-so-good – ways in which I managed my father’s illness.
Now thirteen years after my father’s initial Alzheimer’s diagnosis, my novel will hit the virtual and brick & mortar shelves of bookstores. It will also make its way in person to a number of senior centers and senior living communities in my area. As an event on their activity calendars, I will read passages from my novel that might just ring a bell in the minds and hearts of those gathered to listen to what this Baby Boomer has to say. Maybe what I share will inspire them to purchase REQUIEM which I will gladly sell to them at a highly-discounted price. And once they’ve read my novel, perhaps they will share it with someone else, and so on down the line.
Is REQUIEM about Irene Frances Olson and her father, Don Patrick Desonier? Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s another article from the past that draws lots of attention. Bringing it into the present today.
First of all – take a deep breath and shed the mantle of guilt you’re wearing. Now let’s address your dilemma.
When your father was on his deathbed you made a promise to take care of your mother in her old age. Now she is at the point of not being able to care for herself and you realize that you’re absolutely not cut out for – nor are you capable of – taking her under your roof to provide the care that she needs. What’s a dutiful son or daughter to do?
I’m not advocating that you break your promise to your father but I am suggesting that you consider redefining what that promise looks like. You promised your father that you would take care of your mother and that’s exactly what you’re going to do. Taking care of your mother is not solely defined as moving her into your home and taking care of all her basic needs until she dies. Very few people have the ability or the means to provide 24-hour care in their home. You made that promise with the best intentions and you can still honor your promise without dishonoring your father. Keep in mind that loving your mother doesn’t guarantee your success as her caregiver. Even adult children with a fabulous relationship with their parent struggle greatly in their efforts. And if your relationship with your mother is tenuous at best, try picturing the scenario of you as caregiver and her as recipient of that care. What effect will that have on her, you, and the remainder of your household?
Let’s clarify how best to care for your mother.
Why can’t caring for your mother mean that you’re honest enough to admit that you’re not the best caregiving option? Do your best to find the care alternative that will provide her an optimal quality of life, e.g. adult daycare, errand and housekeeping services, assisted living. Do the research and consult the experts to confidently fulfill your promise to your father by securing the best care solution for your mother. If that solution involves selecting an assisted living facility, there are many resources available to you that can make this move a successful one for everyone involved. As her son or daughter you will be able to lovingly help her transition into a residential location with like-minded older adults where she can receive the care that will fulfill the promise you made to your father.
Now imagine the NEW normal that your mother and your family can experience.
Your mother lives nearby in an assisted living residence. She has companions with whom she enjoys spending time. She receives three wholesome meals a day and when she, or you, feel like seeing each other, you’re just a short drive away! The time she spends at your house will be as a pampered visitor – not an inpatient (or impatient) relative. It’s probably difficult right now for you to see this as a viable option, but I think in time, you’ll find that everyone, including your father, will be pleased with the outcome.
I covet your input. What success, or challenges in achieving success, can you share with us? I look forward to hearing from you.
I’ve been authoring this blog, Baby Boomers and More, for five and a half years. Perhaps that’s a record for blog ownership, I’m not sure, but what I do know is that I thoroughly enjoy writing about matters of significance. I guess that’s why my blog has survived as long as it has: there are a heck of a lot of things going on in the world that fall into that category.
My website address remains the same: http://www.babyboomersandmore.com, but with a broader emphasis on life as it unfolds for all of us born within a certain year bracket:
- iGen (after 2000)
- Millennials (1980-2000)
- Gen X (1965-1979)
- Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and
- The Greatest Generation (before the end of WWII).
Yes, there are many differences between the generations but we have one major characteristic in common: although as individuals we are strong in many ways, we still need each other to get to the finish line.
With that change in overall focus comes a new, primary blog identification:
Living: the ultimate team sport
If we consider all the people with whom we come in contact as being members of the same team, we will do all we can to support them. We’ll bolster rather than compete; we’ll pick them up rather than step over them as a means to an end; we’ll exhibit respect for each other’s talents while nurturing our own; we’ll not take advantage of weaknesses in order to falsely boost our own strengths. In short, we’ll stand by our teammates and want only the very best for them.
Another goal of mine: write more succinctly, at least after this particular post. 🙂 I know you’re all busy and have better things to do than read my oftentimes lengthy magnum opuses. I’m newly committed to being as succinct as possible, somewhere along the lines of an article I wrote on December 27, 2016: Don’t go there. Let’s face it, as a writer, I should be able to use an economy of words to get my point across to those who’ve chosen to follow me.
And one last thing: the header images you’ll see at the top of my blog (which will cycle through randomly) are from photos I took during a few of my hikes around the Pacific Northwest. Hiking is my passion, so I’m pleased to provide snapshots of views I have been privileged to see.
With that, I’ll sign off for now, so very glad to be a member of your team.
Gay, straight or trans.
Rich, middle class or poor.
Religious, agnostic, or atheist.
Young or old…
We’re all the same, but different.
In the book A Different Perspective on Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias: Practical Tools with Spiritual Insights, author Megan Carnarius relayed a conversation she had with one of the employees she supervised in a long-term care facility who was moving out of state. Ms. Carnarius asked this young caregiver what she had learned from her job of four years. This is what she said,
Older people are no different from any of us. People with dementia are no different from us. They all, we all, have the same feelings and needs.
They want to laugh and be silly, they want to be listened to and be taken seriously, they want to be reassured and loved, they want to love and be helpful, make a contribution, just like everyone else.
I learned that here.
It is my hope that all of us learn that same lesson so that whomever is in our lives, so that all those with whom we come in contact, we’ll be able to recognize ourselves in them and perhaps treat them with the respect for which all of us yearn.
Dedicated to unappreciated care partners worldwide. Thank you for all you do. Dear random person who sees my care partner from time to time and feels the need to point out s/he has bruises all over her/his body that look frightening and s/he has really declined a lot since the last time you saw her/him and…
- Bring her a low-maintenance houseplant
- Take in his mail
- Do yard upkeep, whether raking leaves, mowing the lawn, shoveling snow
- When you’re heading out to buy groceries, ask him if you can pick some things up for him
- Take her kids or grandkids to the park or to a movie
- Stop by with a board game or a movie to watch – a perfect way to get his mind off things
- Visit her with a pet that has a sweet disposition
- Take his dog on a walk – maybe on a daily or weekly basis
- Do some light housework or repairs: dishes, vacuuming, dusting, ironing, smoke alarm battery and light bulb changing, fixing a leaky faucet
- Return her library books
- Volunteer to stay at home to wait for the cable technician, repairman, etc. while he attends to other more pressing needs
- Bring him a week’s worth of meals in freezable containers
- Send her a greeting card on an ongoing basis. Who doesn’t love to receive real postal mail?
- When visiting, let the person vent, without passing verbal judgment on what they may say
- Do an item or two on her To-Do list – I promise you, her list is extraordinarily long
- Offer to make a photo album with him, using photos that mean a lot to him and the rest of the family
- Give him a gift card to a restaurant he may enjoy, or better yet, take him out to dinner
- Help him decorate for the holidays
- Drop off or pick up a prescription
- Keep in touch with her, even after her loved one passes. Too often, the grieving one has more attention than she can handle immediately after someone dies, then when she could really use some TLC, no one can be found.