Posted EXACTLY 7 months before Christmas 2022
“I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line” (Isaiah 28:17)
Isn’t it interesting how critical being aligned is in 2022. We are so stacked with activities, with jobs, with shows to watch, and with everyday mundanity, we simply cannot afford to get off-kilter. If we do lean too far in one direction, we get out of this mythical place called Kilter and end out out of whack. OR, are we really just out of kilter? The term kilter doesn’t seem to have an origin. I want to tie it to a kilt…and that could make sense, but there really isn’t any supporting evidence that this is its origin. However, nobody wants a crooked kilt either. What of being in and/or out of whack? Some say this is somehow tied to Thwack, a onomatopoeia (sound) made by something in the wrong place at the wrong time. Similarly, one source explained the term thusly: “‘to strike sharply’. 1719, probably of imitative origin. The noun is from 1737. The word in out of whack (1885) is perhaps the slang meaning ‘share, just portion’ (1785), which may be from the notion of the blow that divides, or the rap of the auctioneer’s hammer.” Another source added:
“There are some other old figurative senses, including a bargain or agreement (which evolved out of the idea of a share), and an attempt at doing something (“I’ll take a whack at that job”). These are mostly American, and it was in the US that the sense you refer to first appeared, in the latter part of the nineteenth century. There seems to have been a phrase in fine whack during that century, meaning that something was in good condition or excellent fettle. (It appears in a letter by John Hay, President Lincoln’s amanuensis, dated August 1863, which describes the President: “The Tycoon is in fine whack. I have rarely seen him more serene and busy. He is managing this war, the draft, foreign relations, and planning a reconstruction of the Union, all at once”.) It doesn’t often turn up in writing, though, so there’s some doubt how widespread it was. To be out of whack would then have meant the opposite — that something wasn’t on top form or working well. It was first applied to people with ailments (“My back is out of whack”). In the early years of the twentieth century it started to refer to mechanisms. It might be that the sense was influenced by the idea that faulty mechanisms responded to a quick thwack.”https://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-out2.htm
Even our modern understanding is out of whack according to that definition…or is it in whack? This is indeed wacky and a little off-kilter…after all, this IS a DEMENTIA blog, isn’t it Blog Boy?!?! It is Plumb crazy to even talk about such when the topic at hand has nothing to do with it. However, as you who attend the blog often know, that has never stopped me before.
Back to alignment. We need to keep things aligned. In order. Straight. In whack/kilter. Anything less and things fall apart. Jesus, being vocationally a carpenter, mentioned this concept multiple times as did other Bible writers. First, you need a strong foundation. In order to have a strong building, you need a strong corner, undergirded by a strong Cornerstone (a name Christ game Himself…see Mark 12:10; Acts 4:11; Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:6). Then everything can be built strong enough to withstand anything.
When we are caring for our loved ones, we gravitate toward this alignment and our loved ones do too. It is a natural path of least resistance, which makes it perfect for someone with dementia! Routine is king, queen, and jack!! They need consistency so that they don’t have to do any extraneous thinking when it isn’t required, instead saving this brainpower for when they really need it. This window shrinks and shrinks the longer they live with the disease too.
So…how do we achieve this plumb line? This alignment? Stay in whack? In kilter???
- Know the situation– In order to build a nice, straight line environment for your loved one, know what is most important (where you hook your plumb line) and go to work. reflect on what brings him/her joy. If you are new to the dementiaverse, please study the topic too. The more you know, the more you will feel empowered to help. Visit alz.org and read. Google “Teepa Snow” and look over her free stuff. Grab a copy of The 36 Hour Day and other similar books. Subscribe to my blog, if not only for the links I share.
- Use your tools– Learning a lot doesn’t help unless you use what you learn. Develop a routine based on your new knowledge and lifelong experience. Enlist others to help with your tools as well. It takes a team and tools…build this structure.
- Measure twice, cut once– When you are cutting anything in life, it always is worth the effort to be sure. Measure it twice before cutting because you can’t go back. If you have some good time cognitively with your loved one, say what needs to be said. Apologize. Love. Forgive. Love. Share. Love. You only get one chance.
- Evaluate frequently…Once you are caregiving and th responsibilities start to mount, remember that a little turns into a lot quite quickly. If you see that a routine is causing more harm than good, reconsider it. If it looks like the trajectory is that you will not always be able to keep your loved one safe, start early investigating nursing and residential care options. The best ones have waiting lists…get on it. Bonus: Talk to an elder law lawyer about Medicaid options!!! There are ways to legally make that happen for most people.
- Grace. Things get out of whack. They fall out of plumb. Kilter may not be an option. Give yourself and your care team grace and get back to work. You matter.
Update: Had a good time with mom yesterday albeit too short. She was more awake than normal and traced my steps. She even tried to talk a bit although, of course, not in words. I acknowledged and agreed and loved. It was a pleasant and happy time. I head that way again shortly.
Runnin’ Til I’m Purple Update:
The training is going well although I need to cram in a bunch in the next couple of weeks! I got in an hour Monday and today, but I hope for more Friday and much, much more Saturday and Sunday.
My shirts are available to order and get drop shipped anywhere! I think they are very cute! Here is the link:
If you are in SW Missouri, I can meet you with them, or you can have them shipped through the site. 🙂
If you prefer to donate and have some coin, here is the link. I appreciate it very much and can assure you that the two non-profits 100% of the money goes to are amazing!
Thank you all! I hope today and the rest of the week goes great!