Wishing you a safe Fourth of July

sparkler-801902_640

Pixabay

Hope you and your loved ones have a safe holiday weekend.

In addition to Fourth of July, Monday is my mother’s birthday. She would have been 83 years old. Mom served briefly in the Navy, but the lessons she learned helped shape the rest of her life. She valued her time in the Navy and supported those who served. I’m grateful that Mom saved all of her Navy memorabilia, so I have everything from photos to newspaper clippings to her class notebooks.

I’ll be thinking about Mom this weekend and all of those who have served their country, whether in the military or through volunteer work as civilians.

navy newspaper clippings

Leave a comment

Filed under Memories

Keep your elder loved ones safe this summer

summer sun

xusenru/Pixabay

Summer is here, and while outdoor activities remain in flux due to the coronavirus pandemic, now is a good time to make sure you have your summer safety plan in place.

Every year, several hundred people die from extreme heat, according to the CDC, and the majority of victims are older. Increased heat sensitivity and risks associated with chronic health conditions and prescription medications make older adults more prone to heat-related issues.

Another issue is the lack of air conditioning. My parents’ condo did not have air conditioning, and while summers in their mountain community were generally mild, there were heat waves that would send temperatures soaring into the high 80s and low 90s. After they had passed, I spent a week or so there during one of those heat waves and even with a new fan that I bought, it was very uncomfortable. But what may be uncomfortable for someone younger can be dangerous or even deadly for those over 65 or in poor health.

Even more heartbreaking, some older people on a fixed budget fear the high utility bills associated with running an air conditioner, so even though they have one, they don’t use it.

Here are some things to consider as a caregiver when preparing your elder loved ones for the summer heat:

  • What are their cooling options at home? Are they adequate? Keep in mind that with coronavirus restrictions, cooling stations that some depend upon in their community may be closed. Have an alternative plan if it becomes too hot for your loved one to stay in their home.
  • Exercise is still important. Try to arrange walks or other outdoor activities in the early morning or evening hours, when it’s not quite as hot. Keep outdoor activities brief and make sure to bring water so your loved one stays hydrated. Focus on indoor activities like yoga or dancing to keep older adults active.
  • Provide shade: If possible, provide a shady spot for your loved one to spend time outdoors at home. Make sure elders wear breathable, light-colored clothing and wear a hat when outdoors.
  • Hydration is key: I found it was tough to get my parents to drink water. It is crucial that older people drink enough water, especially during the summer. Dehydration can occur more quickly than you think and have serious health consequences. Consider adding a lime or lemon slice to sparkling or still water to make it more interesting, or make a pitcher of unsweetened herbal iced tea to encourage extra fluid consumption.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Awareness & Activism

Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month book sale

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and to decrease the stigma and silence that too often accompanies an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

To mark this important campaign, AlzAuthors hosts a book sale and giveaway each June. AlzAuthors is a global community of authors writing about Alzheimer’s and dementia from personal experience, whether as a caregiver or as a person living with these conditions.

I’m proud to be a part of this organization, and I’m excited my book, The Reluctant Caregiver, is a part of this sale. From June 15th through June 22nd you can get my book for half off and find great deals in a variety of genres, including fiction, memoir, non-fiction, and children’s and teen literature. Most are available in Kindle and e-book formats, and many are available in paperback and audio. AlzAuthors is proud to share its library of carefully vetted books to help guide you on your own dementia journey.

SHOP NOW: Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month book sale and giveaway sponsored by AlzAuthors

Leave a comment

Filed under Awareness & Activism

Why Dementia Means Letting Go (and Why My 2020 Theme is “Let Go”) — When Dementia Knocks

This blog post written by Elaine M. Eshbaugh, PhD, has such a good message for all of us right now, especially caregivers. It is so true that you must learn to “let go” when dealing with dementia. Those of us who have been dementia caregivers have navigated our ways through “new normals” before. Stay safe and don’t be too hard on yourself.

So what’s your personal 2020 theme? (Can you answer this question without using a four-letter word that would’ve gotten you in trouble at recess?) You’ve got your personal and family challenges, which likely include dementia since you are reading my blog. You’ve got whatever chaos is happening in your community. Maybe people are arguing about […]

via Why Dementia Means Letting Go (and Why My 2020 Theme is “Let Go”) — When Dementia Knocks

Leave a comment

June 12, 2020 · 9:57 pm

Honoring caregivers during difficult times

hands-people-friends-communication-45842

I’d like to take this moment to express my gratitude to all of the caregivers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to care for their clients during the coronavirus pandemic. If there is anything positive to come out of this difficult period in our history, it is that the duties of care workers are absolutely essential and have been undervalued by society.

As Ai-Jen Poo writes in the article, Bringing Dignity Back to Essential Work, “I think we have a moment where we’re all taking a step back and seeing just how many people are powering our economy that we just never saw before, that we never valued appropriately, and who keep us safe but we haven’t kept them safe.” Think about the essential workers who have made our lives easier during lockdown, including caregivers, grocery store workers, and delivery drivers. These are roles many have taken for granted, but no more. “Once you see the value of what somebody brings to your life, your safety, your community, your economy, it’s hard to unsee that,” Poo writes. I couldn’t agree more.

Immigrants, women and people of color make up a large part of the caregiver workforce, including those who provided care to my parents. As we take stock during these challenging times, we have the opportunity to address past mistakes, such as underpaying care workers and not providing them with the benefits and the community support they need and deserve. This is not an idealistic, but realistic endeavor. As Poo points out, care workers allow the rest of us to go do our jobs, increasing productivity across the board.

I’m donating to Caring Across Generations to support their work in elevating the dignity and rights of caregivers. I encourage you to support your local caregivers in whatever way you can.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Awareness & Activism

Are There Do’s and Don’ts When it Comes to Dementia? — We Are Dementia Strong

This is a great list from We Are Dementia Strong. Basically it boils down to treating your loved one with dementia like the person you’ve known, not solely by their dementia. This disease tries to strip people of their humanity and its caregivers’ duty to try and maintain dignity whenever possible.

Some other friends just may find it too hard to see me like I am. I didn’t like seeing my Grandfather or my Mother while they were on their Alzheimer’s Journey so, I understand.

via Are There Do’s and Don’ts When it Comes to Dementia? — We Are Dementia Strong

1 Comment

May 30, 2020 · 5:31 pm

A somber anniversary

IMG_1757

Photo and urn by Blocks from the Heart

Five years ago today my mother died. It’s hard to believe that much time has passed. Following on the heels of saying goodbye to my dear cat last week, it’s a double dose of grief.

When I think about my mother, the visceral pain has dampened with the passage of time, but such a profound loss changes the landscape of one’s heart forever. As those who have followed this blog or have read The Reluctant Caregiver know, my mother and I had our relationship challenges, because we were opposites personality-wise. But a mother is an irreplaceable figure in one’s life.

There are so many people experiencing loss right now. Having experienced a variety of losses over the last decade, I can say that grief does transform over time. Grief is an individual process, and while the established stages of grief may offer some insight, be prepared to slide in and out of stages over time. One thing I have found helpful is to give meaning to the loss, to honor the significance that person or animal had in your life. This could mean designing an urn, writing a poem, planting a tree, etc. One meaningful way I’ve honored both of my parents is to engage in caregiver advocacy work, to support those who cared for my parents during their times of need.

For those who are grieving right now, I hope you are able to find a path that will lead you to some form of inner peace.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Memories

Saying farewell to a sweet, loving soul

nod urn old soul

This week, I had to say goodbye to Nod, my 15-year-old cat. He was such a sweet and affectionate cat, a total lap magnet. He also was one of those old soul creatures who carried an air of wisdom and deep understanding. We had an amazing bond and his absence is being painfully felt everywhere I turn.

Still, he had as good of a death as one can have. When he stopped eating over the weekend, he let me know that it was time to leave.  (He’d had a chronic GI issue over the last couple of years and fought to live as long as he could.) I made sure to spend as much quality time with him as possible until the mobile veterinarian came to the home to perform the euthanasia. Nod always ran from the doctor, who has been paying visits a lot lately to treat my dog’s ear infection. But this time, he stayed in his pet bed and locked eyes with the veterinarian as she stepped into the living room. He knew she was there for him and he didn’t flinch. He was at peace, and that did offer me some comfort.

My other cat, Rosalie, was not particularly close to Nod. They had more of a sibling rivalry relationship. She initially left the room as the veterinarian set up her equipment, but then she came back in and intently observed the procedure from a safe spot. As soon as the veterinarian checked his vitals and nodded to me that he was gone, Rosalie got up, stretched and left the room. She knew that Nod was no longer with us.

I’m always floored by just how much animals understand. We don’t give them nearly enough credit. And we could learn something from them about how they approach death.

Farewell to my sweet friend Nod, who I know will be waiting for me at the Rainbow Bridge.

5 Comments

Filed under Memories

Send love, share memories this Mother’s Day

gypsophila-1716747_640

pixel2013/pixabay

Many people are wondering how to handle Mother’s Day during a pandemic. If you are fortunate enough to have a good relationship with your mother, but are intent on keeping her healthy, you may decide not to meet in person. But there are many ways you can show her love this weekend from afar. And with so many lives lost this year, reach out to your loved ones and make sure they know how much you care.

A simple phone call would mean a lot to mothers who may feel isolated right now. Bonus points if the two of you can figure out how to video chat! Sending flowers is a simple, thoughtful gift that will brighten someone’s day. Mobile dining apps means you could have brunch delivered safely to her home. If you sent your mother a card, good for you. If you forgot, you could still send an e-card or a gift card electronically, if  she has email access.

Mom me portrait

I’ve been reading about a lot of celebrations taking place in creative fashion, like a drive-by parade or holding messages up to the window. If possible, get the grandchildren involved and make it a family activity to brighten the spirits that may be strained during the stay-at-home period.

This Mother’s Day may look different than it does in a typical year, but you can still express your love and gratitude. And for those of us who no longer have our mothers, take time this weekend to reflect on happier times and cherished family memories.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Mother’s Day.

2 Comments

Filed under Memories

How to know it’s time to consider Memory Care? — The Diary of An Alzheimer’s Caregiver

With extra time spent at home in the midst of a pandemic, you may be in touch with your elder relatives more than ever. This is a great time to review the health status of your older relatives. When people are thrown off their routine, symptoms of dementia may become more apparent. This post from The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver offers excellent tips on when to consider memory care.

Sign up to get these posts and a whole lot more delivered right to your inbox! The Diary of An Alzheimer’s Caregiver – Appreciate the good, laugh at the crazy, and deal with the rest! Brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, Dementia, etc. are progressive conditions. In these diseases, the patient’s health tends to deteriorate with time.…

via How to know it’s time to consider Memory Care? — The Diary of An Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Leave a comment

Filed under Awareness & Activism