A trip of a lifetime

 

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In Belfast, Northern Ireland

What an amazing trip. Ireland was everything I imagined it to be and more. The people were wonderful, the weather was surprisingly good (mainly dry with plenty of sun!) and the sights were breathtaking.

If you want to see all of my Ireland trip photos, I created a public Google Photos album.

I started in the southern part of the country in Blarney and Cork. Blarney Castle was fascinating to tour. I air kissed the stone (couldn’t quite lean back far enough due to my vertigo) but also enjoyed walking the beautiful grounds. Spent the next day in Cork, a charming city. Then I made my way to Westport, where I took a break from being a tourist and enjoyed a stay at a writer’s cabin at a retreat. There were country roads that offered picturesque, serene walks and I loved how the owner’s pets came to visit me during my stay.

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Blarney Castle

writer cabin montage

It was in Westport while I was at the grocery store that I happened to see the Alzheimer’s fundraiser. It truly is a global movement and I was happy to support it.

Dublin was a lively, bustling city full of history. Seeing The Long Room at Trinity College was one of the highlights of the trip for me.

I saved my father’s hometown of Belfast for my last stop. I had so much anticipation as the train neared town. Of course Dad would not recognize modern-day Belfast, but there were markers of the past everywhere.

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I’m not a big fan of group tours but I did take a walking tour on The Troubles in Belfast. The guide provided an excellent historic overview of the origins of division and unrest, how The Troubles unfolded in the 1970s and what the future may hold in store for Belfast. From taxi drivers to shop owners, everyone I talked to in Northern Ireland and the republic were concerned about the upcoming Brexit actions that could trigger increased violence along the border.

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The above mural was taken in the working class neighborhood near where my father’s family members lived. I was able to locate the street that was on my father’s birth certificate and the street where my grandparents lived until their deaths.

While Belfast is known for its politically-charged murals, a new crop of murals have also emerged, offering a fresh perspective and are quite artistic.

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I visited my aunt’s grave at a sprawling ceremony just outside of Belfast. She lived to age 95, and while she was plagued by physical ailments in her later years, her mind remained sharp as far as I know, while three of her siblings (including my father) ended up with dementia.  She was a resilient woman, raising three children on her own after her husband died while working overseas.

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Giant’s Causeway was one of my favorite destinations. What a breathtaking site.

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I ate really well while maintaining my gluten-free diet. The awareness of celiac disease and the gluten-free diet is quite high in Ireland, and I ate as well and in some ways even better there than I do here in the U.S. The highlight food-wise was gluten-free fish and chips in Dublin.

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The modified Irish breakfast that was gluten-free came a close second. (I had a few variations of it during my travels.)

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I am grateful I was finally able to complete this trip of a lifetime, and I can’t wait to return.

 

 

 

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Taking a blog break for a bucket list trip

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Blarney Castle

Soon I will be departing for a two-week trip to Ireland. This is a trip of a lifetime for me, as it will allow me to appreciate my father’s homeland in person. I only wish we could have made the trip together. I know he will be with me in spirit.

I will share an account of my adventures upon my return.

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4 Realistic Self-Care Strategies for Alzheimer’s Caregivers — The Diary of An Alzheimer’s Caregiver

It’s something we don’t talk enough about, but it is so important: self-care. I know that phrase has become a bit touchy in certain circles, because it can seem like you are dumping one more responsibility on an already overworked caregiver. The sad truth is that in most cases, no one is going to offer you a respite out of the blue. You have to know your limits as a caregiver, ask for help when needed and yes, take care and be kind to yourself.

Read these helpful self-care tips via the blog post below from The Diary of An Alzheimer’s Caregiver.

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! Caregiving is hard no matter what. Alzheimer’s caregivers, however, have an especially difficult job. Not only do people with Alzheimer’s…

via 4 Realistic Self-Care Strategies for Alzheimer’s Caregivers — The Diary of An Alzheimer’s Caregiver

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August 23, 2019 · 5:27 pm

A house built for dementia

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Courtesy: BRE Group

I found this dementia housing project designed by Loughborough University and BRE to be fascinating and helpful to caregivers trying to retrofit a home for a loved one with dementia.

The BBC recently took a video tour of the completed project.

The attention to detail of where items were placed, the color scheme and the importance of natural light to combat sundowning are all excellent ways to address common issues associated with dementia. Feeling safe and comfortable can also help reduce the risk of anxiety in those with dementia. Best of all, the model still felt like a home, with the safety featured nicely integrated.

Hopefully prototypes like these can be incorporated in the real world to help families care for a loved one with dementia at home instead of having to place them in a high-priced facility.

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Falls are Game Changers for Older Adults

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This is such important information for family caregivers. To put it bluntly, a fall for a frail loved one can signal the beginning of the end. Both my mother and father experienced falls as their health situations declined. Learn more and tips on preventing falls from Kay Bransford.

via Falls are Game Changers for Older Adults

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August 9, 2019 · 8:50 pm

Moving video on ‘Leaving Alzheimer’s Behind’

 

Those who have faced Alzheimer’s or other dementias in their families know that it can be a dreadful roller coaster ride, and while in the early stages there may be quite a few “good” days, they often seem overshadowed by the “bad” days.

One man in the UK who has early-onset Alzheimer’s is hoping to send a different, more hopeful message. He is using his beloved hobby of cycling to spread the message across the country.

Peter Berry was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at 50, after 3 long years of trying to obtain a diagnosis for his increasingly troubling symptoms. He sank into a deep depression for about a year, but when he emerged, he was determined to help others who find themselves in a similar situation. Through a video series and on social media, Berry shares his experience and what has worked for him, including a healthy diet, regular sleep and long bike rides.

While he’s under no illusion as to what Alzheimer’s ultimately holds in store, he stresses the importance of having a positive outlook: “People who suffer from the disease know the journey and path we’re taking. We all know the end product of this disease. But it’s all about what you do in between. It is not about what I can’t do, but what I can do.”

Watch his inspiring story, produced by Being Patient, and share with others.

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Protect elder loved ones from becoming phone scam victims

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The phone was my mother’s lifeline, but it also served as a source of strife in my role as a caregiver.

While most people have disdain for telemarketers, my mother welcomed the calls. This was especially true once my father was placed in a memory care center, and in the period after his death. My mother was lonely and a human voice on the other end of the line, even one trying to sell her something, was a source of comfort.

My mother never bought anything from the telemarketers, but there was one time in which I became livid because I felt she revealed too much personal information. She told the telemarketer about her lottery winnings. I wanted to reach through the phone and shake her (but gently as she had a broken shoulder from a fall.)

She could not understand why I was so upset, even after I tried to explain in multiple ways how revealing that you have a lump sum of money to a stranger who has your contact information is a bad idea. It was one of the few times I literally hung on up her out of frustration.

I wish my mother had the teleCalm service back then. It offers a host of senior-friendly options and features that are useful for caregivers. The Essentials service replaces the current home phone service of your elder loved one, replacing it with a monitored service that can filter out scam and telemarketer calls. An additional service provides caregivers with a smartphone app that includes monitoring features that can be accessed remotely.

For those with dementia and their caregivers, teleCalm could help ward off predators and scam artists who try to take advantage of those with impaired cognition. If you have used the service, I would love to hear your feedback.

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