held her hand last night's bright silver glow tide recedes
I am a broken, colorful
when I was alive, thriving
extracted from a beautiful
for who I am today
a relic, don’t pull me
for what I was
and what will be
of a memory
Caring for the elderly is not an easy job. The hardest part is the decline. Enjoying each day and making a memory is important for both of us. Saying “goodbye” always hurts.
Thank a hospice nurse today!
A ha so this is the last day of the April A to Z challenge.
How was it for you?
I looked back briefly on a few of my precious A to Z challenges:
One challenge I had planned on illustrating a month of my dragon stories. I broke my wrist one month before the challenge so my dominant hand was useless. I started drawing with my non-dominant hand . During April I slipped on ice (again) so all of my arms and legs were out of commission. So with Co-vid “Stay at Home” I could at least walk around and water my plants.
The picture below shows my dragon bowl that I drew with my non-dominant hand and then the other 2 were with my mouth.
When I saw the word Zest I thought of the saying A ZEST FOR LIFE. For whatever reason I always think of the elderly patients who I have cared for since I was a teen.
So my last encouragement as you care for and love an elderly family member be a little zestful. Encourage them to dream with you. Go somewhere you can both go – an imaginary somewhere. Maybe the land of Zenony!!!
I’ve enjoyed this month and meeting or reconnecting with people.
Each of you are gifted and delightful!!!
For those of you new to blogging i hope you are encouraged to blog more.
I’m not sure what my personal blog will look like but I am trying to develop a blog for Steve Slack. Steve is a friend who hopefully (if this Co-Vid thing gets tame) will have some of his work published and at least one script is lined up for a movie.
“Can you tell me?”
“What would you like to know?”
With Dementia we often will be asked the same questions every shift or 10 times every shift.
I find the more confused a client is the more they can loop around a similarity.
“When is my friend Felicia coming?”
“We called. She’s on her way?”
“You know I’d really appreciate if you would call Felicia to find out when she’s coming.”
“We just called her.”
“I would remember if we just called Felicia. Call her”
“Let’s wait a minute I think she’s on her way…”
For family members these loops can seem frustrating.
I try to redirect my client’s focus sometimes it works while other times it just makes a client more frustrated.
So for the explanations keep them simple. Sometimes those questions are asked as our family is trying to get a grip on the last edge of reality.
How do you deal with frustration during Co-Vid Days????
Image attribution: Pablo Picasso “The Woman with Mustard Pot” 1910
New Cago was not a very cultured metropolis before the epi & pan demic. Kids were shoving things up their noses or in their veins. It made sense that there was no room for something for the mind to synthesize.
Then the libraries were closed. So most people read their cereal box for entertainment. But Lily kept a lovely assortment of classical and tasteful books.
Her favorite subject was horticulture.
I could read it and be out like a light at the end of a shift.
But after she died, I started noticing her hand writing and circles in the margins.
Hard not to notice what she had been researching before the wild fire epidemic.
Lil, this is bizarre- the night after you died circles started to appear in red.
One of her notes, ” good if given early but a little too much and they won’t wake up – ever.”
Another had lines through it and question marks. “I know this should work but I’m not seeing the results…” and another comment “why is this only working on a few people????”
And another one that rose the hairs on my back it read more like a sci-fi. “Subject should have demonstrated signs of immunity. I inoculated myself at the same time. If my research is correct, he will start to exhibit…”
“Oh Lil. OH LIL!!!” I took my head and my hands wondering again if her research was the cause of her death.
“Death” some days it sounded so peaceful.
“Sam. Sam.” I heard a pounding on the steel grate of the door.
“Yeah coming. Hey Peely.” Here was the one good kid in the neighborhood.
“This is for you.”The errand boy that we were both so fond of handed me a box. Our eyes looked at each other then at the brown square.
I opened the box. It was that hat with rounded corners. “I’ve been looking at this for months.” The card underneath was in her handwriting.
“Peel, ya know what I hate most about this town?”
“Yeah Sam, I know. It’s so damned lonely.”
“and unpredictable.” My head felt like a pinball machine with the silver ball hitting every bumper and bell possible.
I looked in the envelope flap and saw the four names with the same prefix: R-A-T.
‘And that’s where we will start at cleaning up this mess Lil.’
Okay you caught me chasing a pandemic. I’m blogging about elderly issues, but sometimes I get sidetracked.
Reading is important for the elderly. One 90 year old (with Alzheimers) is reading one of his many favorites: a biography about Einstein. The only thing I can understand is the title and the pictures.
Keeping the mind engaged through reading and even the visuals in books is important. We can create new pathways even in an old brain.
How do you keep your mind active???
I’m revamping a Noir crime series I wrote in 2013. The story centered around crime in a metropolis called New Cago but the main antagonist was a deadly disease ( pandemic) lurking in dark corners. If you like Noir and you have time to read come back for more in the days to come. The stories do stand alone so they can be read in any order.
Its an odd pace
elderly and sound
Some need quiet
others quite loud
With aging comes the issue of hearing loss. It is not the case with every person, however.
I also notice that hard of hearing people can hear things when they really want to hear what you are saying.
“I know you are talking about me so no need to whisper,” one of my clients hollered recently.
“The shift went well. She seemed really tired today.” I whisper to the woman replacing me.
“What did you say?”
“We were just talking about how your day went.” I say much louder.
“Well you don’t need to be huffy about it,”
I make an effort to speak slowly and clearly without yelling at my clients or I will soon be deaf.
Most of my clients enjoy a quiet environment. It seems as we grow older we grow less tolerant to “noise.”
Scientists believe that elderly have a harder time “filtering out noises” than younger people do. Too many sounds in a room mingle into one distracting humm.
I remember my dad when we visited (with small children) would turn off his hearing aids. I knew he was on noise overload.
So rule of thumb if you are trying to give an elderly friend or family member instructions (or want to have a conversation) mute or better yet turn off the TV or music. For someone with Alzheimers or any memory deficit, we want them to feel as clear minded as possible.
Thanks to the hosts for another week of the A to Z challenge.
Do like a quiet or a loud environment?
There’s no place like home and at the moment that is where everyone is. From the village (Uganda) to the city (San Francisco) hut or palace people are in their domiciles to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The objective is to keep everyone healthy and for the sickness to curve downward and stop infecting people.
There are (as you have heard) additional considerations for keeping the elderly healthy especially now.
My client Henry has Alzheimers.
“Henry we can’t go to play bridge today; there is a virus that is making many people sick.”
“okay what will we do instead? When are we going to play bridge?”
The stay at home order is rough for everyone. Keeping the elderly safe is the first order of business so what little social life he/she had isn’t happening.
TV is good distraction for the elderly (in moderation). I spoke about some fun and low impact exercises. Gets those muscles moving and gets their minds off the routine that we spent months building.
Making crafts or cookies with a female client would be good. Even if my client cannot make the craft, she can be engaged in the activity.
Keeping the frustration level down, staying well hydrated and healthy is a tall order.
I’m pouring a tall class of cold tea – anyone want a glass?
How are you staying healthy at home?
“Good morning, Miss E it’s time to get up.”
“I think I’ll stay in bed.”
“Okay then we will have our bath in bed today.”
“Oh I dont want to do that. I better get up.”
“What if I let you stay in bed a little longer. I will give your your meds in bed.”
“That sounds like a very good idea. Thank you for understanding.”
By the time Ms E got up she was ready to seize the day. Slowly…
Exercise is important for the elderly. We have to understand even if these people were athletes that the movements are going to be slower or less vigorous. Don’t get me wrong there are some amazing people who do marathons at 80. They are the exception to the rule, however.
Exercise for Ms E is: getting up out of bed, transferring (a few steps) to a wheelchair, wheeling herself to her chair and with assistance getting up and into her chair. She gets up every two hours. We also do a series of small hand movements – to remind her Parkinson’s muscles what they do. She moisturizes her face and her arms each day. Everyday we do chair exercises. For now she is able to do those exercises but as she gets weaker I will do those exercises passively. The passive exercises may not use much energy but it prevents constriction – this is where the bone actually seems frozen in one position.
Exercise for Mr R is different. At 90 he is still walking 1 mile twice a day. We used to go for longer hikes; now we do several “turns” around the neighborhood. We also do 30 minutes of leg and arm exercises. I use bands that the PT gave him as well as a ball and a fabric frisbee. Mr R slowed down after having a stroke. It’s because of his athleticism, good diet,and great family support that he recovered so quickly.
Bands (which have different amounts of tension) are great for exercising arms and legs. I dont like using weights because of stability. If my patient drops a 3 pound weight on his foot he could break a toe or several bones in his foot.
Make it fun. Mr R was competitive so he loves when I make it a competition. We keep score of the number of time he kicks the soft ball into the goal. We measure the distance we can throw the frisbee. Though Mr R has Alzheimer’s, his body remembers the activities; once we start our exercises (in the same order each day) his body reminds his mind of the routine.
Most of my elderly women are reluctant to do exercise. My back strengthening exercises where we stand as straight as we can then is not a competition. We are princesses standing as tall as we can. We are ballerinas stretching our legs and arms gracefully.
Each patient is an individual. We need to keep him or her moving at her speed for as long as possible.
A trick I am learning with Parkinson’s is every motion counts no matter how small and how long it takes. No matter our condition using our muscles using energy. My theory is pent up energy creates frustration. More on this for the letter “P”
Happy Monday to each of you especially April A to Zers.
What are doing for exercise during this Co-Vid quarantine? Any exercises that have worked for you with elderly friends/family?
“Honey, I lost another one…”
“Okay, let me get my glasses on so I can find my shoes.”
“Why do you need shoes?”
“So I can help you find what you lost.”
“Are you okay? We don’t need shoes to find the word I lost just now.”
As I get older I cant tell you how many names and words seem to slip out of my brain when I need them. It’s easy to wonder: Do I have dementia? Am I at risk????
There are still soooo many things we don’t know about this condition. If anything it has broadened as a field of study.
It’s easy to get frustrated when mom, dad, auntie, uncle can’t remember me or cant remember how to put his or her clothes on. I want to fill in the blanks when they drop a word or when speech slows.
Diet ( a happy brain has healthy oils, low sugar, fiber) and activity play an important role as we age; this also being the case with dementia. Family members struggle because there is a new normal that isn’t their normal. It can be easier for an “outside” caregiver because we are not as familiar with the way that person was.
Beyond diet and activity it’s also important to engage. Not easy I promise but it is rewarding when you can “get in” to the world of an elderly person.
Dementia Case #1
What are we doing?
Well a man named Isaac Newton did it why cant we? I said as I started dropping a heavy item from one hand and a light item from my other hand.
“Look you better let me do it; you could get hurt.” He couldnt hide the chuckle.
“Okay Mr. D but first you have to predict if the feather or the rock will hit the floor first. ”
“What are these again?”
“They are finger puppets.”
Mr. C walked across the room making his finger puppet fly and made a bird call.
“This is strictly for scientific purposes you know.” He said as he looked over his shoulder.
“What do you wanna bet that my paper fighter plane can fly further than yours.”
“We will have to see after all this is science in the making. ” Mr C. said as he flung his paper airplane across the backyard.
We did a great job with my science curriculum the publisher will be pleased. No telling your family what we were doing.
Last summer as I was preparing lessons and activities for a Science curriculum ( we published for schools in E. Africa), I used Mr. D to help practice the science activities. We made bird puppets, demonstrated gravity with different objects, made and flew planes.
Welcome to Moondustwriter’s Blog. I am participating in the 2020 A to Z Challenge.
If you are participating how are you enjoying the challenge after the first “week’?
You may have an aging family member in your home.
How do you deal with your family member when they seem to be forgetting or losing a big part of who they used to be?
What are some of your challenges?
If you like dragons
You have a child at home who likes dragons
you are spending your day reading stuff and what the heck dragons are okay
“D” obviously for dragons – https://wp.me/pDORj-6fi
It’s part of a series of children’s stories that we were finalizing when we were invited to publish science curriculum for E. Africa.
“Millie came to visit…
The RAT never suspected. Never suspected a thing. Extra sugar can hide almost anything. The one thing my husband enjoyed was my home baked cookies.”
“Oh well. Thanks for your candor and for the cookie. I need to go now. Have a good day ma’am.”
I tried not to run off the unit as I spit into a hand-i-wipe what I could retrieve of the cookie.
“I was on a social call with your mother at the memory care unit.” I absently rubbed my hand through my cropped hair.
“How was mama today?”
“Uh, She was good. She gave me a cookie.”
“That’s nice. She changed her recipe; I stopped eating them.”
“Ahh well yes.” I felt my pulse and looked at my tongue in the mirror. ” Your mama mentioned Miss Millie. ”
“Aunt Millie… she and mama… were very close. They would always laugh about granmama’s favorite butcher knife. They said it was perfect for chickens. It hung in Millie’s kitchen.”
“Chickens??? Can you give me her contact information?”
“Millie’s? She’s in Raleigh.”
I sensed something stilted in her voice. Maybe she knew something.
“She’s in Mount Hope on Prospect… She’s been gone 7 years.”
I had started writing the address down. My eyes bugged out in surprise that my witness or suspect was dead. “How long?”
“When did her husband die?”
“6 years ago from a heart attack.”
“Was she married before?”
” Umm, yes, but I don’t remember him. He ran off; no one ever saw him after that.”
I ripped the page out of my notepad. I realized people can say and think some mighty far fetched things.
Case Closed / Accidental Death was stamped on my report of a dead husband/ caregiver
Here’s a link to the first part of this post
Today is day 2 of the A to Z challenge. The letter B
Most of my blogs will be info and anecdotes about the elderly.
I’d apply the letter B to elderly care this way:
Be there for your family member
Be honest when you need a break.
Are you participating in the challenge?
What is your theme?
Any writing goals this year?