“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed. Exodus 23:12
(Sniff sniff…sniff sniff) What is that I smell??? Nope…not ox. Ooooohhhh, I recognize that delicious fragrance now!!! It is the weekend I smell. Woot. And a double woot because I am on vacay next weekend (as much as those in my position are on vacation, that it…but it is closer.). My articles next week, minus anything desperate, will be lighter than normal as I will be in a questionable internet area. But I will be having some well-needed R&R. 😉 I will write all about it when In return.
Today is kind of a potpourri day. I wasn’t as prepared today for my article as I usually am. (Behind the curtain look: I typically “write” the piece as I drive, then physically type it in really quick like when I arrive at the office. I can visualize nearly every word. ) Today I “wrote” the piece as I ran on the treadmill at Planet Fitness, my exercise location of choice. It is the second piece I have used Planet Fitness with, so I am hoping they don’t hate me or even, perhaps, they would comp me for the publicity for my millions of readers. 🙂 It is about Planet Fitness and Muskoxen, of course. 🙂
You can learn a lot about dementia from running on a treadmill for 2-3 hours while listening to audiobooks. Don’t believe me?
Another Steaming Pile o’ Things to Learn about Dementia from Planet Fitness (and Muskoxen)
- You simply must take breaks!– I run significant distances on the treadmill at Planet Fitness. Today, for instance, I went a tad loopy and ran the following three distances (plus a little since I was trying to run and take pictures, and not including my warmups…) :
The reason I have three pictures here instead of one is the sad fact that my treadmill apparently needs breaks every hour. You have to start over fresh hourly. Maybe it is like Y2K…its poor little numbers can’t handle said rollover (it actually, probably can just like Y2K was a non-event) I take the opportunity to swig some PowerAde or wife my sweaty mess of a noggin off and hop back on and keep Runnin’ Til I’m Purple. Say…that would be a good fundraiser name!!! Link Shameless, I know. 😉 (Oh…BTW…the match is still going a few more days. As I type this in on Friday afternoon, the next $180 will be matched! 🙂 ) Anywhoooo, back from the commercial break and on with the show. We all need breaks. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. If you think you never need a break, you are proving my point because the fact that you need a break is causing you to say you don’t. One of the things I love about SeniorAge and the Alzheimer’s Association is they both get this and do the best they can to fight for respite funds and help administer them when possible (or find organizations to do it). We simply cannot run on fumes too long or we run out of gas completely…and shut down. I do. You do. We all do. If you don’t take breaks, expect two things: You will get sick….and/or…it will impair your judgement and actually cause your caregiving to be harder and less effective. You need rest and stress relief to do your best. My treadmill needs a break, and so do you…and I. (BTW…even your ox need a break…more on them later)
- Starts and stops– Have you ever been running full blast (for me, about 5.2 MPH, as sad as that is, but I am still 240 pounds…) and suddenly the power goes out? Here is the cartoon version of what that looks like:
If you are new to the world of dementia, expect lots of starts and stops. Expect a roller coaster of events, of emotions, and of stress. You will learn things you didn’t want to learn and you will fail to learn things you will wish you would have learned. I wish I could tell you otherwise, but it is true.
- Eat!- Did you know when you run long distances…anything over an hour or so…you need to eat? Running a marathon? Yup…you need some sustenance. At the least you need calories. You burning thousands of calories in long runs and your body will wear out (called affectionately “bonk”) and perform badly if the calorie deficit goes too much. We are made by the Lord to eat at regular intervals and eat healthy stuff…and when we don’t we struggle. Eating and dementia are interwoven topics to the core. First, in dementia prevention, always remember this trite little phrase: “What is good for the heart is good for the brain”. Eat regularly and eat good stuff and your heart will love you for it…and so will your brain. Secondly, eating gets hard when you develop dementia and when you care for someone with the disease. The loved one will struggle in the physical act of eating (choking and aspirating food is common and can lead to serious problems up to and including death) and remembering what they like and how the whole eating thing works. My mom mixed her foods, a lot, as her dementia worsened. “Say, blog boy, everyone mixes foods!!!” you could rightly say. Mixing broccoli and cauliflower…I agree. But mom was adding milk and green beans to her coffee. This is common and, if they like it and it won’t hurt them, I say let them do what they want….and love them. Sadly, the final bookend I will list here (and articles can and have been written about eating) is the end. It is very common for your loved one to stop eating and drinking when it is the end. I would like to sugarcoat this, but, again, I can’t. We can only live so long without food or drink. Tragic. Bonus note here: Caregiver…eat enough. Take care of yourself and eat. You need the energy and they need you to have the energy. 🙂 Dig in and eat.
- Getting what you pay for is up to you– Planet Fitness is a bargain. Their base membership is $10/month. Cheap! I pay the Black Card membership which gives me access to tanning, massage machines, several advanced machines, and some more perks, all for a still-bargain $25ish/month. There are places in Springfield that are $50-100/month. They offer more personal attention, more and different machines, and more perks, perhaps. However, you are a HUGE variable in what you get for your money, whether you pay zero and work out at home or pay hundreds. I could get by with the $10 plan at Planet Fitness, but I do take advantage of the perks associated with my Black Card. Therefore it is worth it. In dementia, there is sort of a parallel as well (shoehorn extracted). Medicaid rooms at your base nursing homes versus non-Medicaid, pay-as-you-go, full-service, if you will, skilled nursing facilities. (Note: these are the two options, long-term care insurance not withstanding, in most people’s experience.) I believe wholeheartedly that a nice nursing home that takes Medicaid CAN be a great fit. I believe that there are stinkers that others pay $5-10,000+/month for. However, in general, the more you pay, the better served your loved one should be. There SHOULD be more activities folks, better food, a more favorable staff-patient ratio, etc…in one that gets paid $10,000/month times 100 residents than one that gets reimbursed less than half that from Medicaid. However……..you are the variable. More importantly, the added value, if you will, that you can bring if you visit often (Covid-19, notwithstanding). Before Covid-19, someone in our family visited every single day. Some days we visited multiple times. My stepdad visited every meal for most every day she was there and I was there 4-5 days a week too, sometimes twice a day and at different times to check in. I would visit at 5am on the way to work or at midnight on a evening out. You never really knew when you might find someone from the family visiting and loving mom. Church friends, neighbors, and others came too. My sister and I, due to our proximity, also played a very tangible role in her actual treatment, monitoring her food/medicine intake, evaluating her condition, asking for extra help. We were probably a pain in the butt sometimes although we have always been 100% nice in our demands even when we could have gotten ugly. Mom is in a Medicaid room and, in my opinion, for those first couple of years she was getting Club Med at Planet Fitness Black Card prices. Then Covid. 🙁 We still fight for her care. We still call hospice a lot. We participate in the video/window visits. We do what we can…but we are only getting her $10 PF value out of our effort. We considered moving her out, but she is comfortable and doing well for an end-stage patient, so, frankly, we were afraid to rock the boat, figuring that Covid would be gone soon. They are, in my opinion, dragging their feet now, but we are hoping to return to the old way soon. If I had it my way, we would have combined both and had her at a nice, self-pay skilled nursing facility, but she was adamant that she would be furious if we chose somewhere like that. She is prudent with money (imprudent time aside, which was one of the warning signs) and insisted that we, as her kids, did not upgrade to somewhere fancy….so we followed her plan, and, until Covid, made the most of it.
- Sometimes the showers are better than others– I love my Planet Fitness, but sometimes I get a 34 degree shower for my efforts. I don’t know why, but they have always been that way. You haven’t lived until you have jogged 2 hours on a treadmill, then taken a cold shower. Sigh… Showering in a nursing home or with help in a home care situation is a huge source of challenge. Let me speak through a previous article on this: LINK
- Muskoxen are our spirit animals– I run a lot. For hours. I get bored just looking at nature. I love nature, I really do, but I find that looking at it for enjoyment only works for me when I am casually walking around with my bride, breathing it in. Runnin’ Til I’m Purple hasn’t afforded me as much time as I would have liked to stop and smell the roses. What I have discovered, however, is the joy of audiobooks, most notably the free ones available through my library. I wrote earlier this week about Robin Williams after listening to a great biography about the funny man. Today I read a good hunk of Alex Trebek’s autobiography entitled “The Answer is….Reflections on My Life“. First off…GREAT book. I am loving it. He died far too early. I have always been a fan of Jeopardy and was almost on it once. Here is a past article I wrote with this in mind. Today I was listening to the book and Alex (via Ken Jennings‘ voice) taught me about the Muskox. The muskox weighs in at 600-800 pounds(!!), or just over what I weighed before my Weight Watchers plan helped me shed a bunch of my weight. They are huge and strong and not super fast. They have two main non-human predators: wolves and bears. Either of these two animals can, and do, kill young and sick muskoxen. However, when approached with danger, a muskox does something fascinating. They gather up quickly all of the strong, older male specimens (with horns) and form a circle around those weaker or younger with little or no horns….and they prepare for battle. The stay tight, shoulder-to-shoulder and they go to war against the predator! They gore, the snort, they ram, they do whatever it takes to protect those who are less safe, and they do it as long as it takes. Sometimes one gets out of the circle and is taken by the bear/wolf, however, more often than not, they wear down the sharp-toothed villains and protect those they love. Here is a video of such. Friends, can I speak to you one muskox to another? We have to protect our family. We have to protect the weak, the sick, the smaller-than-the-wolf/bear. Will you circle up and fight with me? Will you kick my furry rear if I stray away from the circle? I will for you. I love the muskox, and I love every one of you too. Thank you for enduring me for these years and for being in my circle. 🙂
Update: As I mentioned in previous articles this week, mom can’t get visitors because it is Nursing Home Week and they are too busy for visitors. From phone calls, though, she is about the same as she has been for several months. I don’t like that mom has been out of our circle through the pandemic, but she has been kept safe by their folks and we have done what we could.
More fun facts about the muskox:
The muskox’s soft brownish wool-like underhair, called “qiviut,” has been called the rarest fiber in the world and is highly valued. However, you will have to get by the circle (and me) first.
Some more fun links about this wonderful creature:
Last note: I appreciate that Planet Fitness is for the non-athlete like me. 🙂 Before I started working on my weight and got involved with the gym, the only fitness I worried about was how I was “fitness Double Whopper in my mouth?!?!”. I do recommend them as a gym. 🙂