Real Neat Blog Award

real-neat-blogger-awardI have been fortunate to have met so many wonderful fellow bloggers in the last 30 days. I’ve enjoyed reading so many blogs from travel to humor to learning about food allergies and those who are looking forward to just “going home”.

A fellow blogger, hugsnblessings.com has graciously nominated me for the Real Neat Blog Award and I’m more than honored to have been on the list for this nomination. Thank you Dawn Marie for seeing something in my blogging and continuing to be encouraging!

The 5 random questions you asked to be answered are:

1. What makes you smile? Having my grandchildren get excited to see me.

2. Movies or Theatre? Movies

3. What do you want people to remember most about you after meeting you for the first time? My genuiness, kindness and warm smile.

4. What do you like most about yourself? My ability to connect with others.

5. What song makes you sing along out loud and/or break into dance? “What A Feeling” from Flashdance.

When receiving an Award in cyber-world you are asked to do several things:

*Once you are nominated, make a post thanking and linking the person(s) who nominated you!
*Include the Award sticker in the post too and be sure to answer the questions from your nominator(s)!
*Nominate 5 -10 other bloggers who you feel are worthy of this award!
*Lastly, COPY these rules in the post.

My nominees are: travel187.wordpress.com, diane507.wordpress.com, writerblocksblog.wordpress.com, enkalya.wordpress.com, stretchingyourfaith.net

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Gratitude

This is the season most known for being thankful yet I think it’s also a season for showing gratitude.

The definition of gratitude. . .

The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness

“To return kindness”, that’s exactly what we all need to do more of, not only during the holiday season but all year long.

You probably know someone right now that could use a helping hand. What about your friend or family member that’s in the role of a caregiver? What better gift to give than that of helping someone else?

10 ways to help a family member or friend living with Alzheimer’s or dementia:

  • Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s disease. Learn about its effects and how to respond.
  • Stay in touch. A card, a call or visit means a lot and shows you care.
  • Be patient. Adjusting to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is an ongoing process and each person reacts differently.
  • Offer a shoulder to lean on. The disease can create stress for the entire family. Simply offering your support and friendship is helpful.
  • Engage the person with dementia in conversation. It’s important to involve the person in conversation even when his or her ability to to participate becomes more limited.
  • Offer to help a family member with their to-do list. Prepare a meal, run an errand or provide a ride.
  • Engage family members in activities. Invite them to go on a walk or participate in other activities.
  • Offer family members a reprieve. Spend time with the person with dementia so family members can go out alone or visit with friends.
  • Be flexible. Don’t get frustrated if your offer for support is not accepted immediately. The family may need time to assess its needs.
  • Get involved. Show your support by becoming an advocate or participating in events like the Walk to End Alzheimer’s® or The Longest Day® event.

Provided by Alzheimer’s Association®, www.alz.org/care

Many of these suggestions can be used to help all kinds of caregivers not just caregivers dealing with dementia.

You may have another idea of showing kindness to a caregiver. Whatever that is, take the initiative to reach out.

Holidays can be stressful even if you aren’t a caregiver; adding the role of caregiving into the mix can be devastating.

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 H A P P Y  T H A N K S G I V I N G

 

You Are Not Alone

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How many times have we felt like we were all alone in the role as a caregiver? I know in the beginning I felt alone.

The good news is: YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

When you have thoughts about not being educated enough on whatever kind of caregiving you’re providing, you have opportunities to turn to those who do.

Put away that pride and reach out to someone who has experience or is wanting to partner up with someone just like them.

It’s been my experience that people are afraid to speak up and ask for help. Why is that? It could be pride, but I think it’s more of an embarrassment thinking they should know what to do. After all, they are the Caregiver.

Just like becoming a parent there were no instructions that came with having children. The same thing applies to being a caregiver. It would be a lot easier if it did.

Asking for guidance and learning as you go is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it shows you are totally invested in doing the best you can as the caregiver of your loved one.

If you don’t feel comfortable in a group setting you can always find at least one person who is easy to talk to and is a good listener. Maybe you just need someone to listen and not give advice.

Whatever the situation is just remember, you are not alone.

 

 

The Infinity Dreams Award

https://smilingawayfoodallergies.wordpress.com has nominated me for The Infinity Dreams Award. Thank you for thinking of me and encouraging me to continue on in the world of blogging. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the above link, please take some time to read and become acquainted with ways you can avoid food allergies and remain healthy in the process. This blog is inspiring as much as it is informative.

AWARD IN

The Award Rules:

  1. Thank and follow the blog that nominated you.
  2.  Tell us 11 facts about yourself.
  3.  Answer the questions that were set for you to answer.
  4. Nominate 11 bloggers and set questions for them.

11 Facts About Myself

  1. I love to dance. I began dance lessons at age 3 and have continued to dance doing country/western competition, now just social dancing.
  2. I am an outdoor person; hiking, camping, fishing, target shooting, pretty much anything that is outside.
  3. I am a Mom with three amazing daughters and 10 grandchildren.
  4. I played piano as a young person.
  5. I enjoy all music with the exception of Rap.
  6. I met George Strait before he became famous.
  7. I met I.M. Pei when I was nineteen years old.
  8. I had a job interview with Micky Mantle when I was 21 years old.
  9. I was in the Beauties of America pageant at 41.
  10. I worked in a world renowned spa in western North Carolina
  11. I took my dream trip to Italy in 2013.

My Nominees

https://sarahsatticoftreasures.wordpress.com

https://callmesonja.wordpress.com

https://pfundmemories.wordpress.com

https://sharmonyrose.wordpress.com

https://stretchingyourfaith.worpress.com

https://theculturedtraveler.org

https://enkalya.wordpress.com

https://jayleeward.wordpress.com

https://shinepositivepower.wordpress.com

https://fillyourownglass.wordpress.com

https://hugsnblessings.com

The Questions I Was Asked With My Responses:

  1. What is your view/knowledge on food allergies? I’m a firm believer in knowing about food allergies, it’s important in my line of work.
  2. What is the one food you could not live without? Mexican food
  3. If you could have dinner with anyone, who would you pick and why? My late brother. I miss him.
  4. What is the earliest memory you have that made you smile?  When I was about 7, for Christmas I got my dream doll.
  5. You have to get up and sing a karaoke song in one hour. What song are you singing? What A Feeling” from Flashdance.
  6. If you could go back and give your 12 yr old self one piece of advice, what would that be? Try harder in math.
  7. Who is the biggest inspiration in your life? My dad
  8. What is the best advice you’ve ever been given? This too shall pass.
  9. What is your greatest achievement, or the one you’re most proud of?  Having children and now grandchildren
  10. What makes you smile on most? Having my grandchildren get excited to see me and give me huge hugs.
  11. Why do you write? It gives me an outlet to express myself in ways I would’t normally do.

Here are my questions for those I nominated:

  1. What is your favorite color?
  2. What brings joy into your life?
  3. What’s your all-time favorite movie?
  4. If you could meet a famous country leader who would that be and why?
  5. What is something you’ve always wanted to do or try but never have?
  6. Have you ever traveled abroad? Where?
  7. If you had the chance to travel back in time what era would you like to visit? Why?
  8. Do you believe in angels?
  9. Could you live without your cell phone for a day?
  10. As a child, what was your favorite/fun thing to do?
  11. If you could pick an exotic animal to emulate, what would that be?

Thank you again, smilingawayfoodallergies for this nomination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Can We Be Joyful When We’re Really Sad?

Earth Below, Heaven Above by Norby, via Flickr:

I had that very thought many times during my years as a caregiver. I’m sure I’m not the only one with those thoughts.

During my devotional time the other morning I was reading in the Book of Psalms. I love the Psalms because there’s joy, sadness, anguish, loneliness and passion. There’s more, but for now l want to focus on joy and what I read about it.

Happiness is an emotional state typically dependent upon external circumstances. The Biblical concept of joy involves a deeper reality. Joy includes a condition of genuine well-being, marked by confidence, hope and trust that extends far beyond our own finite perceptions.

Happiness is often temporary; joy is more of a process, often developed most profoundly during periods of chaos and suffering.

What I found to be true is in that last sentence. Any joy I had during my journey as a caregiver came during those exact times; chaos and suffering.

There were many times I didn’t feel joy or happiness due to the circumstances at the time. So many days would be challenging and just plain hard to deal with. Then out of the clear blue, I would get a smile or even a laugh out of my mother. That brought me joy.

In the beginning stages of my mother’s Alzheimer’s and dementia, there was a lot of anger and frustration on her part and eventually on my part. There was never any joy, only sadness and disbelief. Over the years learning, researching, talking to other caregivers and medical staff, I understood that you need to focus on the good days because there is always going to be challenging days. What good does it do to focus on the sadness? That’s not to say you should suppress your sad feelings, just the opposite. I dealt with my sadness mostly by journaling. I had wonderful people to aire my feelings if I needed or wanted to. I chose to focus on the good moments with my mother, the ones that brought a smile to my face and reminded me that inside of her was still the mother I’d always known.

Joyful moments for me would be walking into a room where she was sitting and she looked up and saw me; her eyes would light up. Then there were the times the music was playing and she was up dancing by herself, so uninhibited; just feeling the music and going with it. That’s pure joy.

Did I ever get sad after a joyful moment? You bet I did. Why? Because those “joyful” moments didn’t always last for long. That’s the hardest part in caregiving; seeing the one you love enjoying a moment and then before you know it, it’s gone. That’s not to say she never had a good full day, she did. As the years went by those days were fewer and farther between.

I would say, for me, happiness was more prevalent than joyfulness considering the above definition of the two. I was happy she was living in a good assisted living facility. Happy she had good care where the staff genuinely showed their love for the elderly. Happy she was still included in social activities. However, all of these are external circumstances.

Joy was simply the purest gift for me, like the biblical reference above, it involved a deeper reality.

Wherever you are as a caregiver right now, search out the good in your situation, no matter how small it might be, then give thanks for that good. You just might be surprised to find joy waiting inside that good!

Your Inner Light

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.” ― Anne Frank:

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”

― Anne Frank

Today I was thinking about Maya Angelou’s quote ~

“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”

Whether you’re in a place in life where you feel isolated and alone, climbing the corporate ladder, aiming for that particular goal in life or just trying to figure out life and hoping and praying for the best outcome.

Maya Angelou hit the nail on the head with her quote!

Having that “light” inside of us isn’t an accident; it’s our inspiration, our inner guide, which I believe is The Holy Spirit, it might mean something else to you. Whatever your definition is, it is a light that gives hope and with hope comes faith.

Hope and faith are two important attributes when dealing with a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s. You hope you’re doing the right thing and you have faith that you will continue to survive each and every day, month and year. Yes, that light might seem like it’s on a dimmer switch but believe me when I say it will brighten off and on throughout the journey.

Case in point was when I had to move my mother for the very first time from her home into a retirement community. Was I giving her the right advice about selling her home even though I knew she couldn’t live alone any longer? Was the retirement community the proper environment for her? I had hoped it was. She was still high functioning, driving, volunteering and taking woodcarving lessons. I hoped I was making wise and sound decisions to help her. I didn’t really know if I was or not. I was so new to all this Alzheimer’s information. My light was very dim; I felt it was going to be extinguished at any moment.

I kept thinking, “What do I do now? Where do I go? Who do I turn to for help?” My hope was going to be in answering all of these questions. Eventually my faith would carry me through. My little light from within was still flickering.

After several moves in one year, my hope was fulfilled by finding just the right place for my mother to live. She was happy, or as happy as could be expected, and I was relieved. My inner light was getting a little brighter now.

In the beginning I had no idea how challenging life was going to get. So many times I thought I couldn’t make it only to be strengthened by a scripture verse. I would open my Bible and there it was, the perfect scripture for what I was dealing with at the time. God is so good!

We’re never truly alone. Faith is proof.

The next time you feel like the light is dimming inside of you just remember the little song, “This Little Light of Mine”.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCN893hzueQ

Approaching A Person With Dementia

Communicating with a person with Alzheimer's: elderly, senior, daughter, speak, help, visit, old:

Approaching someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s may not seem like a big deal. Believe me, it is a big deal.

Those most uncomfortable visiting someone with dementia are typically friends or family members who don’t get to visit their loved one on a regular basis.They are a little apprehensive as to what they should say and how they’re supposed to act with this person.

  • First make eye contact with them so they can actually see you face-to-face.
  • Get on their eye level. If they’re sitting down you either kneel or squat down directly in front of them.
  • If you want to hug them or shake their hand, tell them you would like to do so. They don’t like surprises.
  • Speak slowly. It gives them time to catch up with your words. They don’t process words like they did in the past.
  • Ask one question at a time but only who, what, when and where. Why is complicated and they can become frustrated.
  • Never say “remember” because they don’t remember. It’s a form of disrespect as well.
  • Don’t talk to them as if they are a child; they are adults and should be treated as such and with respect.
  • Validate their feelings. It lets them know they are not alone.
  • Interact with them by bringing old family pictures, cds with music they used to enjoy, or stuffed animals.
  • Don’t argue with them. You will never win and it causes frustration and agitation.
  • Don’t bring up topics that could upset them, it can lead to an argument.

This was valuable information I learned while caring for my mother.

Some of the most important information I learned was from the dementia expert, Teepa Snow. I can’t say enough about Teepa and the wisdom she brings to caregivers. If you are in a situation of not knowing how to cope with someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s I highly recommend visiting her website http://teepasnow.com.

The “Art” of Caregiving

To be clear, there is no art to being a Caregiver. In other words, there is no written rule on how you should be a caregiver.

Being a caregiver, to me, is the innate ability to have compassion, empathy and love. Along with that you need an enormous amount of patience. If you’ve ever raised children you know what I’m talking about.

Caring for an individual with any kind of dementia, at some point, is very much like caring for a child. The roles are reversed and now you are their parent. This is not only difficult for the caregiver but for the whole family. We think of our parents or grandparents the way they used to be; full of life, wisdom and interesting stories.

Accepting the fact that they are still that same person only they don’t have the same abilities anymore is never easy. But as caregivers and family members those loved ones still deserve respect and admiration. Somewhere inside of them there is still a small portion of who they have always been.

Take music for example. It has been proven that music evokes a part of the brain that stimulates the memory of a particular song that person may have listened to in previous years. People who are non-verbal have begun to sing along with a song once they start listening to the music. It’s the most incredible and moving experience to see this happen.

My mother enjoyed dancing her entire life. She and my dad grew up during WWII days and back in the 1940’s big band music and dancing was the “thing”. Even later on in their lives they belonged to a dance club and continued doing what they loved.

That love of dance never stopped with my mother as she progressed in her Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Once there was music playing she was up and dancing all by herself! So uninhibited because that music brought back memories of a time in her life that brought her joy.

What I’m trying to convey is, there is still a “real” part of your loved one inside. As a caregiver you will experience those lucid moments with your loved one so take advantage of those moments. Bring out all you can during that short amount of time because it will be gone in the blink of an eye.

Something I always found to be of use was using humor with my mother. Even if I had to make up or embellish a little on something I was telling her, as long as it made her smile or laugh it was worth it.

It certainly isn’t an easy role to take on, but if you play the Eeyore as a caregiver you will only make it harder on yourself. You can decide to be negative and feel sorry for yourself as a caregiver or you can view this as a blessing. I found it to be a blessing in so many ways.

Who I Am and Why I Am Blogging

I am beginning a new phase in my life in an area that’s fairly new to me. Writing.

I have journaled most of my life and dabbled a little with writing poetry. Now I’ve written a memoir and blogging is a way to reach people interested in this genre.

The topic of my memoir is about caregiving, specifically caregiving for my mother who had Alzheimer’s and two other kinds dementia.

Taking on the role as a caregiver is daunting for most not knowing what or how to even begin. My goal is to reach out to caregivers everywhere to let them know they are not alone in their role.