In early October I went alone on a bus trip with 42 other folks my age, destined for the New England States. I hadn't been on a trip by myself since my husband passed away four years earlier. I sat alone, wondering if I would fit in. I could hear murmuring among some of the travelers, but mostly silence as the bus pulled away from the motel.
The guide stood up, told us her name and welcomed everyone. Much to my surprise, she announced that there was a passenger on board who was a writer who had just had her book published. It was then that my name became a household name among the passengers. The guide then announced the name of my book The Dementia Dance.
Whether I am at book signings, at a church function, the 'Y' doing exercises or a community meeting, I will eventually let folks know about The Dementia Dance. Why? Because the disease touches nearly everyone in one way or another. They don't always buy my book--and that's okay because I just want them to know there is one out there for caregivers who are struggling to help loved ones--but they usually ask for my card 'just in case'. At a small new bible study class this week, a member heard about my book and approached me with, "Can we get together some time soon and talk about dementia? My grandfather has it."
Since my book's inception in 2013, hundreds of folks have attended my book signings, took my cards and told me their story about dementia. These people have a need to talk about it. If they talk to you about it, listen up!!! They are hurting and need an outlet.
There is no cure yet for dementia; therefore, we caregivers muddle along as best we can. My book The Dementia Dance can offer ways to minimize the pain, help with ways to deal with those pesky day-to-day challenges and give some insight on what to expect along each stage. Many of my readers thank me for taking the time to write the book. I can assure them it was my pleasure. Until next time.....................
About 4-5 million people in the United States have some degree of dementia, and that number will increase over the next few decades with the aging population.
Please keep in mind these facts about dementia as you continue to research it:
If more information is needed on dementia, head to the internet. A wealth of information sets there. Until next time...................
If your mom or dad call you 'Bill' and your name is 'John', stop right there! Your loved one is doing his/her best. It does no good to say things like, "Now mom, you KNOW my name is John"--a reprimand. Instead: stifle yourself and change the subject. Many folks in my over 300 book signings have related this issue to me and others in their presence. The truth is, your loved one has become someone else since getting dementia, and therefore YOU have to become someone else. It takes more thought now about how to deal with your loved one on a day-to-day basis. It is frustrating to you, the caregiver, and takes dedication to make this necessary change. And, yes, it hurts. But, you have no choice. Try to schedule a few events (like a short walk, a drive for some ice cream, a look at some photos, to name a few) to give you a feeling of empowerment over your situation. Keep it simple and keep it short are a couple of recommendations. I cared for my 85 year old mother for two years and found that planning each week out made me feel as if I were in charge. I'm not saying you, as my readers, should follow suit, but just give it a try.
How do you, as a caregiver, find a new beginning when you are in the midst of fear, helplessness, and overwhelming day-to-day challenges? One way is to remember that you are vital to your loved one with dementia, but you are also vital to yourself and others. Your loved one does not need your attention every day. Let the staff members assume their duties; let your loved one mingle among the other residents. You also have a responsibility to other members of your family, even pets. And, most of all, to yourself. For relief, go to a shoppe (I used to visit Straders to wallow in the sights and smells of their merchandise.), schedule a massage, slip into a movie, buy some colorful fingernail polish! And, try not to feel guilty about taking time for yourself. That is a tough one, right? A new beginning for the new year is: take care of yourself. As Nike says 'Just do it'. Hugs from someone who has been there, done that.
No need to fuss over the holiday. While you as caregiver for your loved one tries valiantly to make the holidays bright and full of good cheer, it may backfire. I remember trekking to mom's assisted living and bringing her to my house for Christmas day with 20 other family members. I tried to include her in the activities and dinner as best I could. When I took her home afterwards, I asked her, "Did you enjoy yourself?" She responded, "No. Too much confusion." I learned a lesson right then and there. Our needs are not theirs. From then on I spent time with her alone and had family members visit her at their leisure. It's one of those 'keep it simple, stupid (K.I.S.S.) mantras. Happy Holidays. By the way, The Dementia Dance is a terrific book as a gift to a friend who is facing dementia.
Keep it simple when you spend time with your loved ones. No need for expensive restaurants, elaborate clothes or pricey entertainment. Unless, of course, YOU want to do those things and include your loved ones. With my mom I figured that she would be happy with Bob Evans' fine chicken and noodles or a cobb salad--comfort food instead of a higher priced venue. Also, simply taking a drive in the car and going to the drug store to look at birthday cards will sometimes do the trick. Mom would spend hours looking at anniversary and birthday cards remembering who has a birthday when. She didn't seem interested in buying any of the cards, just roaming up and down the aisles to check them out. A cup of coffee with a sweet roll or piece of cake worked for mom, too. Loved her hot coffee. I made sure it was the temperature she liked. I even made the cutting of her toenails an event. After I pampered her with that job, we ate fresh donuts and piping hot coffee. She was a happy camper.
On April 2, 2018, The Columbus Dispatch ran an article in the Letters to the Editor section, which declared Alzheimer's as a worldwide epidemic and the effect it has on caregivers. Anyone who has been a caregiver for dementia patients (Alzheimer's is merely one form of dementia), knows of the physical and emotional effects of the disease on the caregiver. Depression can set in, stress and high blood pressure can develop (it did for me: 220/110). A complete sense of hopelessness can result. These issues and more are described in my book The Dementia Dance. Because I spent two years as caregiver for my mom, I discovered ways to effectively deal with day-to-day challenges in order to maintain my sanity. Joe Blundo, columnist for The Columbus Dispatch, promoted my book, calling it 'a roadmap for caregivers'. Many of my reviewers call The Dementia Dance a 'must read.' The Dementia Dance can be purchased by clicking on the 'buy now' button at the bottom of the Home, About the Author, Book Signings or Book Reviews pages.
It is no doubt a shocker when you first find out your loved one has dementia. My siblings and I were dumbfounded when we found out our mother had it--and had for two years previously also! We eventually figured out what to do, how to do it and when to do it. Always keeping in mind her SAFETY. Would an assisted living facility be best or some other alternative? Look at finances, how far away your loved one would be from you, what others have to say about the various assisted living facilities. You will eventually make the necessary choice and move forward in your care of this person. I did. And, I documented what I saw, heard, and experienced. My book The Dementia Dance covers it all. My reviewers say The Dementia Dance is a 'must read'. It has helped countless folks who are struggling with that dreaded disease of dementia.
November 21, 2017
Do you know that there are 47 million people worldwide living with some type of dementia? That means that 47 million caregivers are needed. Caregivers without a clue as what to do and how to do it when relating to their loved one with dementia. As a daughter who has been there, done that (my mom had the disease for four years and I was the primary caregiver) I have written The Dementia Dance to help you maneuver through the process without losing your sanity. It can be done. Read my book and find out how I did it. You'll be glad you did.
THREE HELPFUL HINTS FOR CAREGIVERS WANT TO COMMUNICATE WITH A LOVED ONE WITH DEMENTIA:
1. Go to where your loved ones are in their minds. If they call you by a wrong name or get their facts wrong, go with it. They are not trying to be difficult, that is their new world. It does no good to correct them. Simply move on to another topic.
2. Ask for help along the way from friends, pastors, neighbors; sometimes family members. However, some family members complicate the situation and make things worse. I know--I have heard many stories about this in my 200 book signings with caregivers.
3. Concentrate on what you CAN DO with your loved one instead of what you can't do. My mom and I could still take walks around the parking lot of her assisted living facility, could still ride together in my car to the drugstore or Dairy Queen; but could not connect on what she had for lunch or where she went earlier in the day. Her short-term memory loss precluded that.