“For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?” –Luke 9:25
I know I am a bit of an odd duck. I get it. One of the reasons I am comfortable with this fact is that I can step back and see my own idiosyncrasies. It is one measure of someone with acute mental illness that they may not be able to see it…and I can see it in myself…so we’re all good. 🙂 As I drove in today, as I am wont to do, I pre-wrote today’s piece in my mind. Sherlock Holmes has his Mind Palace…I have something of a mind double-wide. I was thinking about the day 9/25 and it reminded me that we are merely 3 months from Christmas. It also reminded me that I need to get the Christmas light clips out and install them in the gutter so that I can install my lights at the first available Saturday going forward. Yes, we are those people…the ones who like Christmas so much that we set things up early. So, allow me this on this blog of mine/ours…a piece on Christmas and dementia…and 2020…and COVID. I am ready, are you?
Help is on the way!–April 14th of 2019 I wrote this piece reminding us to hold fast…help is on the way. I found the topic helpful and I hope you will too. Remember that 2020 isn’t sinister. It isn’t causing things to be bad…like COVID, rioting, etc…it is just a numerical representation of how often the Earth revolves around the sun. It is 3/4 over and then 2021 will have a new set of joys, sadnesses, and the like. Instead of dwelling on the day, and spending your day Doomscrolling, find a way to enjoy every day you have with your loved ones whether with or without dementia. As Teepa Snow wisely revolves her philosophy around, focus on what is left, not on what HAS left. Remember too…help is on the way. Treatments and possible cures are being dreamed and tested as we speak…AND…more importantly, we (mom, me, I hope you), as Christians, have eternity to look forward to as well. An eternity with no sadness, tears, and disease or death! Starting with the zinger is not my norm, but it fits here.
Oh what a night…uhhh…errr…year. When is the right time to reflect back on the good ole days? May I suggest to you….every day! Whether you are still at home or in a nursing home, please break out the pictures with your loved one, but with one tweak to the ordinary, pre-dementia routine: Exclaim, don’t inquire. Instead of “Hey Mom…remember back when we used to string popcorn and hang it on the tree? Those were great times”, replace it with “Hey Mom, I just wanted to tell you how much fun I used to have stringing popcorn and hanging it at Christmas. By the way…you are a great mom!”. You are giving her permission to not remember (perfectly or at all) while still loading the dialog with love and appreciation. Oh, and if she chimes in with a wrong fact, lovingly go along with it. It is never helpful and can be hurtful to correct her memories. Just roll with it.
Help where you can. Please allow me to point you to a spot on the Alzheimer’s Association page that I get asked about all of the time: What can I do to help??? Here is their answer: Link. There are opportunities everywhere to further the mission…the goal…of a world with no Alzheimer’s. We just finished the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in our area, but they are going on everywhere. There are advocacy efforts, other fundraisers, clinical trials (!), events, education opportunities everywhere. Hit that link and see what fits you. Nobody has to do everything, but of everyone did something, we would knock this thing out like a Christmas morning pre-presents cocoa.
Only you… Smokey Bear (Note…not Smokey THE Bear…it is accurately Smokey Bear) was born in August 1944, just like Mom. His famous ad campaign is still widely known today: “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires” (or wildfires as is more often quoted today). Did you know that pine trees both make great Christmas trees and tend to survive forest fires better? You likely knew the former, but the later may be a surprise. They have very thick trucks and bark and often return even after being burned on the surface. Can I ask you to remember one thing here regarding dementia? Please remember this. Please. It is the disease that is causing these hard times, not you or your loved one. When they say they hate you or accuse you from stealing or whip out a strand of curse words that would make George Carlin blush even after being a pastor for 50 years…remember, it is the disease. We have to thicken our skin and be prepared for the worst…because it may be coming. We have to firm up our trunks, if you will, but strengthening our foundation in what we believe in. Spend time in the Bible…perhaps Psalms? We need to be “prayed up”, if you will. The fires are coming…we have to prepare. Oh, and one more note about “Only You”…only you know your loved one like you do. You are to be their advocate should nursing care be needed. You have watched them, cared for them, loved them…you know their idiosyncrasies…you can be a very valuable team member. Don’t give up on visiting them…uhhh…errr…doing video calls while we wait out this COVID fiasco…and be active in their care. Will it be hard? You bet your hoot owl. But it will be worth it. Only you can do it…now get to work. 🙂 Oh…and one more things on the topic…even though “only you” can be their best advocate…you are not alone and you will need the help of a fleet of helpers. Accept help and help the help help you help. 🙂
Have you had your memory checked? Is it time? Shifting gears a tad (shocker…), are you, yourself, struggling a little in daily things? I don’t mean the somewhat pejorative/rude term “Having a senior moment”…I forget things frequently. Example: when we unload the Christmas tree in the fall every year (OK…I am sorry), as I start helping look through ornaments, I draw a blank on some of their origins. But I do eventually remember or at least it is back therein the storage building behind my Mind Double-Wide somewhere… I mean, is your memory causing day to day life to be harder than it used to be…much harder? Please, please, please heed this advice: Talk to your doctor. Please. Here is a piece I did that offers some thoughts on the topic: Link. The doc can do at the least 2 wonderful things: 1. Eliminate a host of other conditions that mimic dementia. 2. If you have dementia, he or she can prescribe a class of meds that slows the early (somewhat easier) stages. It is worth the discussion. Please do it. 🙂
Oh I can’t wait until Christmas…and, more importantly, for a cure!
Well, there ya go. Some Christmas, some Christian faith, some Sherlock, some history, some wisdom (from others) and some hope. It has been a full article to enter the weekend with, if I do say so myself. Have a wonderful one and keep your head up. Christmas, and the Christ of Christmas will be here before you know it. It is time to get ready. 🙂
Update: Mom is still COVID-19 positive, but so far her only visible symptom is a mild cough, as far as we can determine. There is even talk that she will be able to rejoin her regular room soon…probably because the residents who are more symptomatic need the beds in the COVID ward more than mom. However, it is encouraging news to say the least. 🙂
Last request- If you are so inclined, I would warmly appreciate your prayer for my stinkin’ molar tooth that needs a root canal redo. I have had a bad couple days with tooth pain. Thank you very much in advance. And, ironically and in the dad joke format, 2 days ago I left work early…you guessed it…at 2:30. (Say the time out loud if you don’t get the embedded dad joke)
Thank you all! 🙂