Kindness Fridays

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The other day, I discovered something about myself and about the way of kindness.

It’s really easy to be kind when life is going grand.

Clarification. The kindness gene resides within me, just as it does in you if you feed it and let it flourish. I feel absolutely honest saying that my pattern of thinking reflects the best of kindness one can imagine. At the very least, my intentions are pure.

With that said, however, when I’m feeling less than 100% – say, 25% – I have to work hard at not letting others be on the receiving end of that less than whole person that I’ve become. I’ve had a lousy night of sleep while also fighting seriously inflamed sinuses? Ugh, I must rein in my struggles and not take it out on the receptionist at the doctor’s office, or the supermarket employee. I sincerely don’t want to be responsible for ruining someone else’s perfect, gloriously, healthy, well-slept day. (Gawd, I’m envious of those who have been given the gift of sleep.)

All it takes is one look, one word – or the omission of a word – to spew miserableness onto someone else.

Kindness is a way of life for me but sometimes it threatens to take a break from the norm and that’s when it’s needed the most in the world. You see, I’m not the only person who has less than stellar days. I’d be self-centered to think I’m the only person the world takes a dump on now and again. Everyone in this world is vulnerable – everyone – and far too many are on the brink of giving up. We are all in this together, in good times and in bad.

I vow to not contribute to the latter.

 

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Long-term care: squeaky wheels and raging forest fires

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Although now retired, over a twelve-year period I worked in long-term care (LTC) wearing three different hats:

  • My first job in this industry was in the corporate office of a very fine assisted living and memory care company. In time, I decided to work in one of the company’s facilities so I could spend more time with the residents and families who chose our company for their LTC needs;
  • When I left the company, I took several years off to care for my father who had Alzheimer’s disease. A few years after his death, I became a certified long-term care ombudsman for the State of Washington – an advocate for vulnerable adults living in LTC settings;
  • Concurrent with my ombudsman work I became a trained Alzheimer’s Association caregiver support group facilitator, providing a listening ear to those on the caregiving path.

Given all that experience, I’ve seen and heard of many unfortunate and nasty occurrences where residents and patients were denied the basic rights each living person should expect to receive, especially those dependent on others for their well-being and quality of life.

I’m sorry to say that some nursing homes, assisted living/memory care communities, and adult group homes do not employ sufficient staffing to meet the needs of their residents. I can confidently say that the government agencies that oversee the LTC industry are also understaffed. When complaints are called in, those government employees have to apply grease to the squeakiest wheels and must turn their fire hoses on the most out of control fires in their case files.

That’s where you and I come in.

We must be the squeakiest darn wheels we can be so our complaint(s) are attended to.

We also need to be the hottest, most devastating fire imaginable so that our vulnerable loved one’s rights are respected.

One grievous example. This is just one example of common issues that arise in LTC settings. The complaint process I mention later in this post provides a good starting point when issues arise.

Nursing home call lights are being ignored so that residents/patients are left to defecate and urinate in their adult sanitary garments on a routine basis. Not only is such an act demeaning to the poor soul with no option but to let go of his/her bodily wastes, but said wastes are sure to cause skin breakdown and a urinary tract infection that is not only extraordinarily painful but can also be life-threatening.

What does the family member/good friend do about this indignity? They need to complain vehemently to the administrator of said facility and when she/he does nothing or very little, family and friends contact the local area’s LTC ombudsman program. This website will direct you to ombudsman resources right where you live: National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center.

Your local ombudsman program will investigate, work with the facility’s staff, and if need be, get the full force of the law to come to the defense of those in need. State ombudsman programs are staffed by paid and volunteer employees, therefore their staffing levels are usually higher than many government agencies. These ombudsmen all receive the same extensive training required for such a vital role. Once you’ve reached a dead end at the facility, ombudsmen are your most active line of defense. They are passionate about what they do and they will ceaselessly advocate for you and your loved ones. Their proximity to appropriate resources and their intimate knowledge of residents’ rights laws makes them an approachable and viable alternative for the common man’s (yours and my) needs. Caveat: if you suspect criminal activities such as physical or sexual assault law enforcement needs to be immediately involved in the matter. Additionally, severe lack of care that endangers the lives and well-being of adults more likely than not will also require law enforcement involvement.

Adults in long-term care settings are a reflection of you and me. By that I mean they were once active and self-reliant adults, just like many of you reading this piece, but they now find themselves unable to fend for themselves and need you and me to step in for them. Imagine, if you will, being in their shoes, unable to speak up for yourself. If you or I ever find ourselves in a similarly vulnerable situation, wouldn’t you want an advocate to step in on your behalf?

Advocacy for vulnerable adults falls on all of our shoulders. You can make a difference in the life of your loved one. Won’t you please step up to become their most important advocate?

Lighten up Mondays

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New Years’ Resolutions usually include much talk about dieting, therefore, here are some real Tweets spotlighting this practice. (I won’t post the names of the Tweeters.)

  • My snack got lost in my purse so I guess I’m on a diet now
  • I’m not interested in any diet that doesn’t allow rollover calories
  • Being on a diet isn’t so bad if you don’t follow it
  • They accidentally put lettuce on my Five Guys burger so I guess I’m officially dieting now
  • If we lose weight when we stop drinking diet cola, just think how much we’d lose if we stopped dieting
  • Apparently, my normal daily diet is something athletic people call “carbo-loading”
  • Those of you on Facebook who are going on a cleanse diet, let me save you some time and tell you what happens: 1) you will be hungry; 2) you will poop your pants during your commute to work

 

An author’s gratitude

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Happy New Year, and thank you for reading my novel, Requiem for the status quo. By doing so, you have honored my father, Don Patrick Desonier, to whom my novel was dedicated. My family’s story was one that simply needed to be told, and although it was published as fiction, Requiem certainly reflects some of the personal experiences that stood out most during my father’s disease journey.

I waited until five years after my father’s passing to start writing my novel because quite frankly, I needed to lock away – both figuratively and literally – the many journals into which I jotted down notes and difficult sentiments. The mourning period wouldn’t have been complete, however, without sharing the ins and outs of my father’s illness. You don’t go through a family caregiving journey without learning some lessons – both about yourself and the disease that robbed a loved one of a sound mind and body in his later years.

For more titles on this subject matter, go to http://www.alzauthors.com

To be sure, I felt that if others could benefit from the mistakes I made and the lessons I learned then by Gawd, I needed to sit down and learn how to become a writer. And that’s what I did. The first version of my novel was 140,000 words which equates to approximately 525 pages in length. Now I knew I was no James Michener, Ken Follett, or Stephen King so over a four year period I sliced and diced it down to 68,000 words – a palatable 206 pages in length.

It was those 206 pages that eventually got published by Black Rose Writing and elicited countless five-star reviews. Reviews are the bread and butter of those who make products, whether that product is the latest electronic gadget or the heartfelt novel of a debut author like me. If you have yet to write a review, I covet a few minutes of your time to do so before another minute goes by. I’ll even make it extraordinarily easy for you. Simply click right here to be immediately taken to the Amazon page where my novel appears.

You don’t have to be super creative in your review, just write how you felt about the characters I chose to include in an attempt to further people’s general knowledge of how dementia affects the patient and their loved ones. You didn’t even have to fall in love with my writing style – I know I’m not an experienced writer with dozens of published books to my name. But if you benefited at all from what Requiem had to offer, I sure would love to hear from you via your review on Amazon.com.

I hope 2018 treats you well. My wish for you is that you be clothed in health, wholeness, and happiness and that you spread the same to others you encounter.

Kindness Fridays

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2017 was a year of conflicting emotions for me. There were many good times. These two stood out: our grandson was born and my novel, Requiem for the status quo, was published. But there were also times I’d like to forget, and once my hip gets better after this past October’s bionic replacement, that will become one of the most forgettable events of the year.

Kindness, however, wins out and drowns out the not-so-pleasant occurrences that can cause stumbling blocks to our gentle psyche. So on this last Kindness Friday of 2017, I’m posting links to a few of my favorites in the hopes that while I’m encouraged by past Kindnesses, you can be as well.

June 30th, 2017: walk away from cruelty

April 14th, 2017: kindness trumps all

March 17th, 2017: courtesy on the road

March 10th, 2017: my husband’s perfect eyesight

January 6th, 2017: 1st Kindness Fridays – Mall kindness

 

Kindness Fridays

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Our grandson is seven-plus months old. He has experienced much kindness in his young life, kindness that exudes from each of us family members who love him so very much.

Lucas has several grandparents and even some great-grandparents who dote on him to no end. Aunties, Uncles, Great Aunties and Great Uncles, so many loving family members so that he will never want for love. We all go out of our way to assure his happiness and well-being, especially now while he is so dependent on us for each day of his life.

All three of our daughters had active grandparents in their lives. These weren’t just long-distance relatives who sent them cards now and then; they were tactile, involved family members who added greatly to their day-to-day lives.

I didn’t have grandparents, well, that’s not true, I had two grandmothers and one grandfather but only saw them for a total of maybe six times in my entire life. My dad’s father died before my mother and father were even married so there was no chance of me ever making his acquaintance. Grandpa Desaulniers died in a hospital when a doctor administered the wrong medicine to him, a medicine that killed him even though Grandpa’s reason for being admitted to the hospital was an extremely minor one. I never had the privilege of experiencing his kindness but I am certain Grandpa D’s character was also reflected in the way my father treated me, my brother and sister, and my mother.

But our grandson? He is on the receiving end of individual and joint kindnesses that will assure him great memories and an even greater life.

And his addition to all of our lives? A kindness that nurtures us adults and provides us with yet another reason to be glad that we’re alive in this world – a world that doesn’t always reward us so kindly.

Lighten up Mondays

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Just had to provide humor for those who are writers, and those who want to be writers.

  • From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.– Winston Churchill
  • I wrote a few children’s books. Not on purpose. – Steven Wright
  • I get a lot of letters from people. They say: “I want to be a writer. What should I do?” I tell them to stop writing to me and get on with it. – Ruth Rendell
  • If writers were good businessmen, they’d have too much sense to be writers. – Irvin S. Cobb
  • If Moses were alive today he’d come down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments and spend the next five years trying to get them published.– Anonymous
  • The road to hell is paved with adverbs.– Stephen King
  • If the English language made any sense, lackadaisical would have something to do with a shortage of flowers. – Doug Larson
  • Learn to write. Never mind the damn statistics. If you like statistics, become a CPA.– Jim Murray
  • The dubious privilege of a freelance writer is he’s given the freedom to starve anywhere. – S.J. Perelman
  • An autobiography usually reveals nothing bad about its writer except his memory.– Franklin P. Jones
  • Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.– Christopher Hampton
  • It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous. – Robert Benchley
  • How many writers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
    Six:
    One to screw it in,
    One to sharpen all the pencils in the house,
    One to make more coffee,
    One to call a friend to chat,
    And one to complain that there’s never time to do any writing.
    Wait, that’s only five — that’s why they need editors.