Tribute to a Loving Mother - The End of Alzheimer's Disease
I want to share Mum's last days with you.
I never thought that anyone dear to me would have a medical problem so severe that there would be no cure, not even a chance that the problem would stabilize or become less severe. But, that is exactly what has happened.
There has been much written about Alzheimer's in the past few years but I want to share with you mum's life. She experienced love and laughter until the curtain came down.
If someone you love has been diagnosed as having Alzheimer's disease, perhaps I can help you, through this lens, to find a way to deal with the sadness and pain and make the best out of a very bad situation.
Awarded the Purple Star
Thank you for the honor.
Alzheimers With Laughter
According to the Purple Star Program,
purple stars are awarded to Lenses that are:
* Masterpiece lenses.
* Lenses making a name for themselves.
* Lenses trying new things.
What an honor! Thank you!
A heartbreaking song. - Of course this is how you feel.
Beginning symptoms of Alzheimer's disease
At first you think you are imagining it.
If you notice a serious change in the mental health of a loved one please do not delay, have a look at the 10 signs of Alzheimers Disease at Alzheimer's Association.
Some of these symptoms were exhibited by mum as early as April, 2010.
Our small family tried to look after mum in her home. It was a 24/7 job and by the end of August we were exhausted and needed help and a facility was able to care for her.
We were very surprised when mum didn't put up a struggle. She had often told us that she wouldn't leave her home unless it was "feet first." It is sad, but mum thought that she was going into a hotel to stay for a while. "We'll be back tomorrow to visit with you," we said, as we gave her a kiss and left. She waved to us from the outdoor patio.
I knew that we would be visiting her every day but walking away and leaving her there is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.
AD at first may be hard to detect. - It is elusive.
Although one in ten Americans over 65 has Alzheimer's, it remains one of the most hidden, misunderstood diseases the world has ever known.
Because patients often appear so normal, at first, no one believes anything is wrong with them. Even cognitive tests can't show the full extent of its devastation on the patient and the family. Although the stigma is lessening, Alzheimer's continues to be elusive, embarrassing and difficult to deal with.
When AD sneaks into a family, few know where to turn: What caused it? Will I get it? She keeps falling. He's violent! Why isn't there a cure? The doctor doesn't understand. What's an MRI? MMSE? How can the caregiver survive? "I feel so guilty." These are some of the thoughts and feelings that assailed us.
Not every anguished question has an answer as yet, but many of them do. Everyone involved in this overwhelming, confusing disease, although not completely understanding the disease, can learn how to deal with much of it.
When they forget. - We remember for them.
Each one's ability to reach out in a familiar way certainly diminishes when a loved one gets Alzheimer's, yet he or she is always able to experience the deep benefits that come from being in a vital relationship with others. I'd like to share with you the wisdom, humor and life's teachings that led mum and me to connect with one another dispite, or in spite of, this disease:
~ Free yourself of judgment.
~ Love without condition.
~ Be open to receive love.
~ Be thankful that she is still alive.
Internalizing these principles has empowered hundreds of family, friends, and professionals to create moments of connection with persons, regardless of how advanced the disease.
Two videos that helped me to have a positive perception.
"They want to feel alive and loved."
"They look for what home feels like." - Warm, comfortable and safe with love in abundance.
I couldn't have put it better myself.
A different perspective.
Have the two previous videos given you a little different perspective on how to treat AD patients?
Dance - Make a connection.
I tried to make mum feel comfortable as I helped her to continue participating in life as fully as possible.
Mum loved dancing:
I don't know how many times mum told me the story about doing the dishes as a youngster. As she was drying the dishes, she would dance from the sink to the cupboard and back again .. driving her sister crazy!
So what is the next best thing to dancing on two strong legs. We had wheelchair dancing, I put on some toe-tapping music and I danced around pushing her wheelchair while mum sat back and enjoyed the dance. It was a little tiring for me, but it was worth it to see the big smile on mum's face.
Wheelchair Dancing - Amazing!
After watching these people dance, I thought, "I am seriously going to have to perfect some of my moves."
We Lived in an Irish Sitcom - Laugh--really, it's OK--sometimes things are just so darn funny.
From Mum's Diary
Humor with respect and empathy, is undeniably healing and therapeutic. Even those who have limited cognition may enjoy gentle humor. Special communication skills are necessary when working with those with dementia. Here are a few bits of our conversations that may make you smile.
One day a nurse told me that she saw mum busily wheeling in and out of a number of rooms along the hallway where the bedrooms are. She asked mum what she was doing. Mum said, I'm putting out the lights everyone has left on. "It costs money you know." This became a regular job that Mum took upon herself to do. She also thought that she owned Noric House and talked about selling it as it was too much work for her to keep up.
Another day when we were visiting mum in her room another resident stopped at mum's door and announced in a loud voice; "The company has gone broke. (Meaning Noric House) and then she added, "They're not getting my money!" When we told this to one of the nurses she told us that since Mum now owned Noric house the staff liked it better than when the last one owned it. She said that mum was nicer and didn't keep firing them.
On one visit mum really wanted out of her seat restraint. (She was strapped into the wheelchair so that she wouldn't get up and fall.) She asked my husband, "Will, can you get me out of here?" Will made reference to it being a "seat" belt. Mum said .. "It's more than holding my seat in place .. it's holding my whole body! If I had a pair of scissors we could just cut this off." She sure didn't like that seat belt!
Mum had many stories to tell me when I visited. One day she told me that she had been staying at a neighbor's home while dad was away. (Dad had been dead for several years.) She said that lots of people were staying at her place but now that dad was home she was going to move there that evening. I just said, "Oh, that's good." That satisfied her and she never mentioned it again.
Mum kept losing her glasses. One day I was wondering if it was beneficial for her to have them on or was it just a bother. I crouched down so that I was looking into her eyes and asked if she could see me. She said, "Yes, and you have a smile in your eyes." I told her that it was 100% for her." She said, "What about Will? There's nothing left for him." I told her that my smile was a 200% one, 100% for her and the other 100% for Will. She laughed at that.
I left the best for the last.
One day when I was visiting mum, the nurse called me aside and, smiling, said that she had something to tell me. She told me that mum's Doctor had called in for a visit the day before and when he saw mum he told her that she was looking good. "Is there anything that I can do for you?" he asked mum. "Well," mum said in all seriousness, "If you have a spare button you can sew it onto my sleeve." It took the Doctor so by surprise that he just roared with laughter. Mum said the funniest things.
Mum loved bowling! - This is a ball she launched. ... STRIKE!!!
I took mum bowling. Well, not really bowling but she thought that she was bowling.
The care facility, "home," put on bowling contests every Tuesday and Thursday.
The lane was set up in the middle of a circle of "enthusiastic" participants with the pins at one end of the room and the bowler down at the other end. On the bowler's knees was set the lane, a light wooden trough-like structure that angled down to the floor and along a little way. One of the helpers sat a bowling ball on the lane, with instructions for the bowler to hang on to it until she centered it. The resident was then encouraged to release the ball letting it roll down the lane and, of course, it gained momentum .. hit the pins knocking down 1, 2 or all 5 of them.
Mum had a sidekick there who was one year older than her and they had a great time cheering each other on. Someone kept score, everyone got to play and they got small, appropriate prizes when they scored high. (Really, I think everyone won as they all got a prize.)
The last time I was with her at bowling mum whispered to me, "I think this game is fixed, don't you?" :)
Mum's Bowling Certificate - Everybody wins.
Look what Mum won! - Do you believe it!
One day mum was presented with this nice little trophy. She was thrilled!! It was hers to keep until the next tournament started.
The trophy had a special place on her cupboard next to her bed and we referred to it often. It seemed to be one of the things that she did remember receiving. She couldn't believe that she won it but she smiled when I told her that she was a terrific bowler and much better than me, as my bowling balls always end up in the gutter.
We called her, "The Champ," and she loved it!
Games mum enjoyed.
One day we were playing a game called "Brain Teezers."
"Another word for pants? I asked.
Me: Another word for pastry?
We did a few more and then she looked around the room and then asked me.
Mum: Another word for bedspread?
Mum: Another name for window?
The fact that she was now asking the questions seemed to make her happy.
Here is another game that we played with mum. She did surprisingly well at it.
We provided lots of familiar sentences to complete with a phrase, word or even a syllable, such as these:
~ An apple a day keeps the doctor _________
~ I left my heart in San Fran_________
~ Happy birthday to ________
~ The first president was George Wash_______
Other games that she enjoyed included taking turns naming animals, words that started with a certain letter or things that a person eats. We chose different categories that were particularly important to mum, such as the names of flowers. She had traveled quite a bit so we also chose the name of places she had been to.. If mum had difficulty retrieving a word, we just jogged her memory by starting the phrase, such as "The Morning Glor__."
The Best Friend's Book of Alzheimer's Activities - This is the best book!!!
"Best Friends" give us a total of 140 easy to do activities to bring out the best in a dementia (AD) patient.
Learn to turn almost any event into a satisfying experience for your loved one and help them retain their self respect.
Speaking about best friends ....
Lance is a best friend.
Sir Lancelot - Noric House Residents' Best Friend
Hi, my name is Sir Lancelot, "Lance" to my friends. I am also known as the Noric House residents' best friend. I am relaxed and I stand with my head held not too high or low. My wagging tail is a friendly sign. I welcome the residents to make friends with me. I like being talked to, patted and hugged.
This makes me valuable, according to a doctor of veterinary medicine.
- "The greatest problems confronting the elderly aren't physical ailments, but the loneliness and rejection they experience. By providing love and companionship, animal pets (including dogs) give purpose and meaning at a time when the elderly often are alienated from society."
A recent Better Homes and Gardens magazine said: "Pets help treat the emotionally disturbed; motivate the physically ill, the handicapped, and the disabled; and revitalize the lonely and elderly."
By means of the curative effects that my companionship brings, I am indeed leaving my mark at the Noric House.
I am so happy that I can give the residents' life an added dimension - a devoted life in their midst to care for.
Your devoted friend,
Lance ~ aka ~ Sir Lancelot
Lance's Photo Gallery - Aren't I the cutest!Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mum has always loved flowers. - Flowers were her passion.
Mum has always loved flowers. I was worried that mum would miss the flowers that she had so tenderly cared for when she lived in her own home. A bouquet of the latest bloom was the first thing you saw when you entered her kitchen. The blossoms at each season decorated her table.
Spring .. small bouquets of sweet smelling violets and snow-white lily of the valley, with larger bouquets of lilacs, daffodils, tulips and branches of fruit blossoms later on.
Summer .. wild sweet peas and grasses from the fields round about. Mum made bouquets out of wild roses that grow in abundance here. Mum also had one third of her vegetable garden planted in iris, day lilies, peonies and other plants I have no name for. She had blooming shrubs of bridals wreath, japonica and spirea. In the small rose bed that graced her front lawn were 5 rose bushes of a very old variety that scented the air with their fragrant blooms.
Autumn .. brought on the marigolds, crysanthimums and wonderfully colored geraniums. Mum also got very inventive with the colored leaves that fell from the maple, nut and fruit trees in the autumn.
Winter .. nothing much grows in the snow, but mum always saved lavender and a bouquet of corn-stock-leaves .. a very pretty decoration as they dry.
Providing the feeling of well-being. - Fresh air among flowers was heaven to mum.
This past summer we spent many hours making our way over a path of dappled sunlight filtering through the branches of the deciduous trees. It was lovely.
Because of mum's love of flowers, when I wheeled her down the paths of her new home she was in the happiest of places.There was a spicy scent of the "Double Delight" rose and the warm, musky scent of the "Midas Touch" shining with golden-yellow 4-inch blossoms adding to the sweet summer breeze. If I close my eyes, I can remember it still, though winter covers the area we traversed and I will walk there no more.
We usually had a picnic sitting in the shade of what mum called, "My May tree."
Mum would not remember this the next day, or perhaps even by the same evening, but for the moment she enjoyed herself.
This is what I could give to her ... enjoyment for the moment. It makes me happy that I could do this for her and at the same time build memories to tuck away for myself; to be pulled out when I need them.
When it was time for me to go home, we ended the day with a lot of hand holding and hugs. I kept on my "happy" face and said, "I'll see you tomorrow. I love you mum." She answered, "Thank you for coming, I love you too."
Alzheimer's symptoms - At a young age.
We have just heard of a cousin who has had dementia for some years and is now in a home. She is in her 50's. It is so sad! I do hope that she is in a well-run facility where there are a lot of activities to stimulate her thinking ability and keep her happy.
Do you know someone who displays these symptoms?
The decorations change with the season - Introducing Noric HouseClick thumbnail to view full-size
Books that helped me to help mum .. - Residents with A.D. or dementia
These books provide a sensitive and in-depth examination of Alzheimer's, show how to make the care you give more rewarding and effective and how to help someone caught in the grip of Alzheimer's Disease or dementia to continue to feel loved, respected and useful.
Your help in filling it was greatly appreciated!
This was mum's memory box - All it had in it at first was an empty photo album.
I filled the memory box with a number of the items you suggested. Thank you, your suggestions were very helpful.
Your help is appreciated.
Were you able to add something to the list above?
Keepsake Boxes - If you need a box maybe one of these would work.
Give me your opinion please
Remember, the box has to be big enough to hold all of the memories.
Which of the above boxes would you choose?
Happy-Hour with Mum and her granddaughter - Introducing Mum (Helen)
We had just finished listening to a cowboy sing many old country songs. Mum had a wonderful time singing along and clapping her hands in time with the beat.
I know that it is hard but ..
Have you learned a new way of dealing with Alzheimer's
NewTreatment on the Horizon - From the Alzheimer's Association Research Center
It doesn't hurt to learn all you can about new treatments. A worldwide quest is under way to find new treatments to stop, slow or even prevent Alzheimer's. Because new drugs take years to produce from concept to market - and because drugs that seem promising in early-stage studies may not work as hoped in large-scale trials, it is critical that Alzheimer's research continue to accelerate. To ensure that the effort to find better treatments receives the focus it deserves, the Alzheimer's Association funds researchers are looking at new treatment strategies and advocates for more federal funding of Alzheimer's research.
You will learn more about the current research work going on by reading what the Alzheimer's Association Research Center has reported here. Alzheimer's Association Research Center
Alzheimer's Dubbed Type 3 Diabetes
A theory that Alzheimer's disease and diabetes are linked has been an ongoing scientific study since the year 2005 and it is now known to have some validity. In fact, just recently, Alzheimer's disease has been dubbed Type 3 diabetes.
Diabetes hinders the body's ability to convert sugar to energy, sugar lingers in the bloodstream, eventually harming organs like the brain.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) causes a slight but noticeable and measurable decline in cognitive abilities, including memory and thinking skills, and people with MCI are at increased risk of developing Alzheimer's or another dementia.
According to a recent article in The New York Times an astonishing estimate of 115 million new cases of Alzheimer's are projected worldwide in the next 40 years.
The cover story in the September 1 issue of the British publication New Scientist offered a detailed clinical account of the topic.
According to Diabetes.co.uk, those with insulin resistance increase their risk of Alzheimer's by about 50 to 65 percent.
Researchers continue their quest to understanding the link between diabetes, insulin resistance and Alzheimer's disease.Photo Credit Public Domain
Is sugar the bad guy?
How much is OK?
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends most women get no more than 24 grams of added sugar per day. That's about 6 teaspoons, or 100 calories-a little less than the amount in one can of soda. Thing is, the average American woman eats about 18 daily teaspoons.
Read more: Is Sugar Really That Bad For You?
Mum passed away, October 30, 2012 Age 92
I am writing to tell you some very sad news. Mum passed away, Oct. 30th. As you probably know, she was in a rest home (2 years) and suffered from Alzheimer's disease. I had been going to visit with her every day for a long time to help with her meals. I feel privileged to have been able to do that for mum.
The Memorial took place on Saturday, November 10th.
We had a lot of family and friends come from quite a distance for the memorial so we had open house on Saturday evening.
A graveside ceremony was held for the family only at the cemetery on Sunday at 11:00 am.
This is one of my favorite pictures of mum
Photos: Will Borden Inspiring Photography & Digital Designs
If you'd like to make a lens ..
Try it! You'll enjoy it!!
If you are interested in publishing a page like this, it is really quite easy. Just Click Here to begin...open a free account and start your own "lens" here on squidoo .. on a topic of your choice.
Mum had a little white guestbook that she got visitors to write in when they came to see her. Now I have a similar one. I will be pleased if you will take time to write a few words in it to let me know how you enjoyed your visit with mum and if you appreciated this lens.