Excerpt from Stone Benches: Understanding the Invisible Footprints of Dementia
This beloved pet would be the reason Dad spent an entire weekend of his life building an elaborate chicken coop. She would be the cause for my mom to carefully glue egg shells back together, then number them. This was done, I suppose, in case we ever became curious as to just how many eggs D.D. laid in her lifetime and were inclined to dig through boxes in the attic for absolute proof. I am quite certain this was my clever idea.
As posted on DrLaura.com and ShareCare.com
Our loved ones seek to be understood as we accompany them on this journey. They have been inexplicably changed forever, resulting in tremendous challenges to be faced. Despite the heartbreaking realities, there is much to learn from those who are forced to live in the moment.
Be present in each day. Those with Alzheimer’s cannot live in the past; these memories are being swept away. It is also impossible to worry about the future; skills involved in planning are lost. However, enjoyment can be found in the present as each precious moment is experienced.
Forgive quickly. There is no denying the frustration of this disease. Often we, as caregivers, are the unfortunate recipients of angry outbursts. Fortunately, with a little redirection, these fleeting moments will soon be forgotten. These are, without question, the most forgiving folks.
My parents would be celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary today, had this disease not stolen my mother from us over seven years ago, after her ten year battle with Alzheimer's. Within months of Mom's diagnosis, we were faced with the same unimaginable diagnosis for my dad.
This is easier said than done. Joining the realities of those affected is essential. Today one of the gentlemen at memory care was desperate to find his car keys. He believed his car was parked outside and an important trip was imperative. We can all relate to how frustrating this would be, once we embrace his reality.
Leaving our expectations at the door is a challenging proposition. Reality, as we know it, is now of secondary importance. When we enter their world, the stage is set and we are no longer writing the script. This would explain how I unwittingly sold my purse during lunch today.
Dad has renewed energy and the wheelchair has been traded in for his "Cadillac". This mode of transportation (the walker) is popular among many of the residents, giving them just enough balance and stability to safely maneuver around. I'm so thankful for another day of my 6'2" daddy back on his feet.
We were both there to take care of issues which had arisen overnight with our dads. It seems Rex's frames had snapped in half. My dad had been wearing his backup pair of glasses for weeks before an aide miraculously found the missing lens in Dad's chair. The clerk at the shop was, thankfully, able to bend Dad's frames back into shape and snap the lens in place. Follow me closely here, because this is where it gets tricky! You have to stay on your toes to keep up with these guys.
Somebody had a birthday today! Around Memory Care birthdays are a pretty big deal. Family members bring in cakes and cookies and everyone makes sure residents are celebrated on a grand scale.
Yes, one of these guys even whistled a lovely rendition of Happy Birthday right on key. When the final note was performed, he looked at the gentleman who added another year to his age today and grinned ear to ear.
My dad's birthday is in July.
My motivation for writing Stone Benches: Understanding the Invisible Footprints of Dementia was the hope that one person might be encouraged to carry on - one family would gain a little insight and find the strength to make decisions they face. As books begin to arrive in readers’ hands, I am hopeful this is beginning to occur. I have had the privilege of witnessing my publisher as she found the courage to take the first steps of this disease with her own mother.
This morning, however, I woke up with an overwhelming realization. Perhaps today one of the forty-four million victims of #Alzheimer’s disease in the world would have a better day because of this book. Perhaps they would be responded to a little differently, understood a little more. Possibly they would experience frustration a little less because of some insight gleaned from this writing.
It is my hope someone would be enjoyed and valued a bit more today.
However, I cannot talk to them - they are not my audience. I cannot tell them they are right and you are the one who must change. They will never hear me say the essence of who they are and the value they possess is acknowledged. The only way I can get this message across to those affected with this disease is through you.