Sweet potatoes were on the top ten list of favorite foods for my grandpa, I wish I had found this recipe while he was still around. I may have to try it this year for our family’s gathering anyway!
Each state has an agency that is responsible for investigating reports of abuse or neglect of seniors by care facilities and their staff. These findings are supposed to be available for the general public to help inform them of which facility may be the safest for their loved ones.
Recently the main newspaper of my neighboring state did an audit of actual complaints vs what is available on the agency’s website for public reference and they found a huge discrepancy. It makes me wonder if Oregon is unique in this or if a similar audit for other states will show the same results.
I work with seniors, most of them have some level of dementia. I care for their most personal needs. I help them eat. I help them with bathing and toileting. I wipe their hands and faces. I dress them and change their Depends. I put bibs on them.
For all of this, they tell me their stories – often and repeatedly. Every time I react as if I was hearing their story for the first time.
Why do I do that? Because it is what they have left of their dignity. It makes them feel important. It lets them remember with pride their younger life while they have to live with the humiliation of needing assistance with the most basic of daily activities.
It is important to them to have their stories heard, acknowledged by another human being.
They need to know their stories hold value.
They also have a disease that means they cannot remember telling me their stories.
So, each time they tell me their story it is, to them, the first time. This means that if I’m dismissive to their story because I’ve already heard it, to them I’m being dismissive to their pride, their humanity, their value as a person.
So, I listen to their stories with the same rapt attention each time. I rejoice in their achievements and successes. I laugh at their humorous anecdotes. I sympathize with them over their losses.
As I bathe them, I laugh at cute stories of their children.
As I clean them up after using the toilet, I smile as they tell me about their school day hi-jinks.
As I get them dressed, I cheer for their personal and professional successes.
I acknowledge their value as everything is being stripped away from them by a horrible disease, this is why I listen to the same stories over and over again responding as if it was the first telling. I am giving them something back.
Dignity. Honor. Pride. Humanity.
November is Alzheimer’s awareness month. Post your pictures of loved ones who have been stolen from us by this terrible disease!
If you’ve spent any time caring for someone with dementia you’ve had that time where you have the same conversation over and over and over again. You’ve listened to the same story, or answered the same question 500 times in the last hour.
There are ways to keep from feeling like you’d prefer to run head first into a brick wall.
- Play some favorite music or a TV show
- Ask them a question about something completely unrelated
- Ask for their help with a task
- Excuse yourself to take care of a task (or go to the bathroom)
Offer reminder assistance:
If your loved one constantly asks you what is going to happen today, or when a particular event will take place, or when was the last time they … (fill in the blank), here are some suggestions that may help.
- A basic month-at-a-glance calendar with all appointments and events written down.
- A white board hung in a prominent place (like the fridge) with either a day’s or full week’s worth of activities.
- A printed week’s calendar to keep near a favorite chair or posted in their room.
All in all it is important to remember that your loved one isn’t trying to drive you bonkers and take a deep breath.
There are many misconceptions about grieving and dealing with the loss of a loved one. The biggest is that it is a linear process and you will eventually “get over it”. Grief is individual, it is on-going and while we may get to a place of peace we never “get over it”.
Someone has been taken from your world, someone important to you, and you will feel the loss your whole life. I don’t say this to depress anyone because things can and will get better. The pain of loss will diminish, but even years later you will find yourself wishing you could have one more conversation or tell them one more time how much you love them.
I recently found an alternative way of looking at the grieving process and like it quite a bit. Here’s the diagram:
First of all it indicates more of the emotions and layers of feelings than the traditional “five-stages of grief” line would have us dwell on. I also like the shape they chose to illustrate. The shape reminds me a bit of a skateboarding half pipe. When you look at it and think of a skateboarder riding a half pipe you can imagine the skateboarder reaching one level and going back the other direction to another. They would be in a constant flux between all of the points of the half pipe.
The other thing to take in account with the skateboarder on a half pipe is the importance of remembering to keep moving. Whether back or forward a skateboarder is happiest when they’re moving, they don’t want to stop in the bottom of the half pipe. They pass through the bottom on their way but they want to keep moving.
So, the next time someone tells you that you need to “get over” your grief, just tell them you’re riding your skateboard on your half pipe and no one can dictate to you how your ride should go.