“When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”Deut 20:1-4
***Are you a neurologist/neurosurgeon/brain person? Me either. Heck, if my IQ was the temperature outside, you might just need a cozy Sherpa coat or perhaps a Member’s Only Jacket when you enter my atmosphere. So, what on Earth can someone like I do to help bring an end to this stupid disease? We can be a drummer or a standard bearer in the battle.
(LINK to Barry Lyndon movie clip)
There just aren’t enough big brain guns to go around. Not all of us were willing and able to go to college for over a decade to learn the unlearnable: brain mechanics. So how can we contribute to this battle? Here are some ways anyone can help:
- Grab a drum and start pounding. The drums in the battle line kept everyone marching in step and it gives the true impression that they are all acting as one. Dementia is bi-partisan as it gets. We are all acting as one, regardless where we all stand on other topics. AIM is the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement. This is a “special interest”, except instead of being shadowy figures pulling puppet strings, we share a whole lot of information about the Dementia Umbrella of conditions with our Legislators, both state/local and federal. This one is particularly timely because we will be traveling to Jefferson City (or your own state legislature for my non-Missouri peeps) en mass to wear special purple sashes and share legislative initiatives. There are, as always, a lot of new legislators when a new session begins after an election. We bang or drum, gently, as we share not only these initiatives that the Alzheimer’s Association has drafted, but our personal stories…and most importantly how these both mesh. Putting a face on the bill, if you will, adds Impact…and that is our middle name. 🙂
- Flutist? Flautist? Fluter? I like fluter….hmmm, we’ll go with that….and anything is better than a piccoloist. OK…I know technically the band played a fife, but Barney has forever type-cast that word for me and I can’t ask you to be a Barney. I digress….. (Clearing throat, pulling back shoulders) Can you play beautiful music, even in the midst of a challenge? We need you too, and badly. Serve. Help. Volunteer. We need your right brain hemispheres…and the rest of you as well. You are the creative ones. You can share your unique talents that break barriers to explain things in ways the nerdy types like me struggle with sometimes. Join your Walk to End Alzheimer’s committee locally. If you live in SW Missouri, call me or reply below. I will get you connected with our team. There is something about music and art that empowers, for better or worse. These arts strengthen. They seem to be very helpful in neuroplasticity (facet of your brain that keeps it functioning when it has challenges like disease, TBI, stroke, etc…kind of rewires itself). We need music and art! Schools, rather than cutting this funding, expand it. Fight the temptation to throw money at other fads… If nothing else, talk to your nursing home and/or assisted living center about performing small concerts for them. The seniors LOVE music, for the most part. Play the old hymns and/or Big Band music and you will have them throwing roses. 🙂
- Are you a flag/standard bearer? By that, I mean, can you see the big picture? The flags in the line (along with the uniforms) let everyone know whose side you were on. In our little world, I consider the flag-bearers two groups of wonderful people: general volunteers/Swiss-Army Knife types for the Alzheimer’s Association, like me I suppose…and those who help seniors as a whole (The Area Agency on Aging is by far the best example of that, and I fall in this team as well, with SeniorAge.) Neither of these groups would exist in any meaningful manner without volunteers. They just wouldn’t. Volunteers, carrying the flag of advocacy, do much of the work so that more can be funneled to research and care projects.
- Ok…the band analogy gets a little out of whack here, but use your imagination. 😉 Think non-shooter or general position… Shield-bearer. The Revolutionary war band didn’t have shields, but the medieval soldiers did. Carry a shield for those in danger. Then the band can keep playing and the soldiers can do their thing… What does that look like? To me it is one of two volunteer opportunities: 1. Being a elder care ombudsman. In Missouri, here is a link to that group: LINK. In the Springfield, Missouri area, the Council of Churches facilitates this group. I served as an Ombudsman for a year or so and really enjoyed it. I was trained well and supported well. I would still be doing it, but I ran out of time to do it right, but I will resume it someday 🙂 2. Another new and extremely cool program is local to the SeniorAge coverage area of Southern Missouri although it is so cool that surely other communities have similar or will soon: We call it The Patient Companion Program. It is new and our website is being replaced soon, but this link gives you the basic deets and contact info. We will help arrange transportation to a senior’s doctors appointment and be sure all details are written out not only for the senior’s benefit, but for the caregiver/Medical POA as well. I can tell you that I am SURE my mom went to appointments that we needed an advocate in. We found out the status of the progression of her disease far later than we should have. Far. 🙁 This is a great program. 417-862-0762 and ask for Patient Companion Program. 🙂
- Another way to help is to give. 🙂 We are in tax refund season…or will be soon. If you can, give to my 4C4 fundraiser. It is actually taking place in June as part of The Longest Day, the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2nd biggest fundraiser. 4C4 is my attempt to do stairs for 9 hours a day, four days in a row, at the four corners of the state (4 Corners 4 a cure), at the Summer Solstice week from June 20 through the 23rd. I will likely do some sort of event at Jeff City as well, perhaps on day 5? Here is the nice, fresh link for this shark jumpin’, rootin’ tootin’ event: LINK The other benefactor of my event will be SeniorAge. I soon will have a specific donation link header that shows it, but for now click this LINK and choose Donate Now (in yellow). In the little drop down box, choose “Discretionary Funding for SeniorAge.” although soon there will be a Runnin’ Til I’m Purple/4C4 option there. SeniorAge does sooooooo much for seniors, many of whom have dementia. While I do work for this agency, the fundraiser is of my own choosin’ because of just how much they do for folks in our little world here. They are worthy of hard-earned donations as well. 🙂
Friends, we do what we can do. If you are a brain scientist, we are here for you. If you are a caregiver, we are here for you. If you suffer with the disease, we are here for you. We are all one big battalion, fighting a common enemy, and hoping and praying to some sweet day #EndALZ
Update: Millions of folks are struggling with the disease and millions and millions more caring for them. My mom is still fighting. She survived another bout of Pneumonia last week. She is a soldier. Here is a funny-ish piece about that… LINK Yesterday we had some nice time. She is softening her grip more and more lately. She has parkinsonism, meaning bodily rigidity in the end stage. I usually have to hold her hand over her hand…but her grip is getting looser. I am not sure if that is a good thing (less stress/pain/etc.) or a bad thing (weakness), but I expect the latter. Pray daily, with me, for her…please and thank you. 🙂
(***Note…if you are a brainy type like a neuroscientist, I would love to talk to you…call me sometime at 417-955-2513 when/if you have time).
I apologize to Mrs. W., Mrs. S., and every other former teacher that groaned when I called the flautist a fluter in the title and elsewhere. I just love the sound of it and it is my personal blog. 😉
One more thing: PLEASE join me in serving in clinical trials and studies. This is where the rubber meets the road. The brainy folks need us. There is a very small measure of being in the front row with the band but without a gun that gives pause. However, they explain everything extremely well in ADRC studies. Interested? Here is the place to get started: LINK