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Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Key to Survival Sunday, 1/27/13

The huge Arizona sky is universally grey and has been so for two days, interrupting its raincloud bursts only to permit a magnificent sunset last evening which never ceases to amaze me. I am also astounded by the attendance Thursday night at a book reading and this morning at a lecture of  so many people where the topic  was the Holocaust.

The author of a book Two of the Righteous Few is pulling in audiences of 50 and more at four venues this week and 150 tried to attend a Holocaust survivor’s lecture at the library. I didn’t get in.
I feel gratified that folks want to remember the atrocities of the Holocaust; the author asked many World War II history questions to which only the elders of the audience knew the answers, but there were people of all ages present at the church. The library was full of adolescents who had been given a school assignment to be present.
The key to survival is of basic interest which was revealed by the questions asked of the audience. Indeed this is a question we ponder in our lives daily. How do we cope with never knowing how long or how well we each will live? What motivates us to persevere through losses of loved ones, through disappointments in ourselves or in others? Do these folks have an answer to these universal questions?
Basically we all survive serious catastrophe with luck, being in the right place at the right time and with the loving assistance of a few righteous people who risk their lives to help rescue the unloved, vilified, even feared victims of discrimination and abuse. The sign in the New York Subways says “If you see something, say something.” These folks who helped Holocaust victims survive didn’t merely say something, they did something. They protected people from harm by caring deeply for others.
If you see someone being bullied or abused or taunted, especially someone who does not belong to your community, would you step in to the rescue?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

100 Words for Sunday, January 20, 2013

We walked to the corner, crossed and meandered all the way to Main Street, utilizing ALL the 24 seconds allotted to traverse that intersection with Bob complaining every half-step we were getting “too far” from home. When we arrived at the Dollar Store, he surprised me by exclaiming, “It was worth it!” He tried on a navy blue hoodie but has forgotten how to reach his arm back to engage the second sleeve. When I chose kitchen gadgets to show him, he said, “I’ve had enough, let’s get out of here.” His interests are limited mainly to food—and me.
On Friday we had walked up to the corner of Main Street, but Bob wanted to go back home, so I know he is capable of walking to the strip mall. I understand his Alzheimer's disease makes him feel uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings and I know almost everywhere is unfamiliar these days. He no longer enjoys Home Depot or Wal-Mart as they are overwhelming for him now, but walking to a store seems do-able.We hold hands, I talk about what we see and the exercise is good since the weather is back to 70 degree Arizona sunshine.
As his caregiver, although he lives in a memory care facility, I feel good when I can provide pleasant experiences for my husband most days. I visit generally during the hour and a half before dinner as this seems to be Bob's most agitated time of day; the staff shift is changing, people are coming and going and he wants to leave with them. He often voices to me that he feels trapped; he is not satisfied with the limited walking path provided in the walled-in back yard where he cannot see what he calls "civilization."
I understand and we were going for car rides to the park to feed the ducks or to watch the children on the slides and swings, but Bob is hesitant to enter the car most days unless my son Steve is already in the back seat welcoming him. Our next outing tomorrow will be to the dentist and then perhaps for a Happy Meal at McDonald's for a treat.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Comfort January 17, 2013

I've been thinking a lot about what it takes to make me feel comfortable and how to organize my life to accomplish my goal.
I always like to know what I will eat or prepare for dinner, including what dessert I want to "budget" into my food plan for the day.
I like to have my clothes that match ready to wear, easy to wear and clean when I want them, clothes for the gym, clothes to wear everyday and special outfits.
I like to get into a bed that is fresh and straightened at nighttime; lately I have my tablet so I can read before I fall sleep, so I needed to replace the bulb in my night table lamp.
So I am organizing my closet and my bureau so that all of my gym clothes are in the same place, my clothing is hung up by outfits and my shoes are where I can find them!
My friend even tried reading all the food store flyers that get delivered every week and writing a list to take to the store that sells you everything at everyone else's prices. I did it once, but for me it was not a good idea as I get gas credit when I shop at only one store, but I did know every day what my meals would be.
What do you need to feel comfortable, starting with the basics?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Comfort in Memories 100 words Sunday, 1/ 13,2013

I am so comfy as I wake, the picture of Bob and me on our first West coast vacation obscuring the clock radio. The pillows are just right, nothing pinches or twinges. Reluctantly, I perform my morning ablutions; throw on turtleneck polo, velour pants and my Montauk sweatshirt, which predates the photo, reminiscent of our first weekend together. Without closing the bed, I reach for my sunglasses and my phone, grab my bag and drive to the store to capture the Sunday Times. Now 8:15, my coffee is brewing and the morning I look forward to all week can begin.
By surrounding myself with photos and mementos of our history together, I fill myself with comforting thoughts which somehow make our visits together warmer and more comforting to me. My new feeling seems to be working as Bob has been more lucid and expressive lately.
Yesterday, when I arrived the stasff informed me the temple on Bob's glasses was wearing thin( read cracked) so I bundled him into the car to drive to the glassses repair shop, which was closed. We then drove to Sport Clips, the guys' favorite bsrber shop, where they can see the game and have pretty girls cut and shampoo their hair. There was a wait and Bob said he was hungry. So we left our name on the list and went to MacD's for a Happy meal. Bob was happy, able to then wait his turn and enjoy the experience

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Predicitions? January 10, 2013

Along with resolutions, a new year is ripe for predictions for the next 12 months.Here's my example of why the predictions, and even mundane plans  for the immediate future don't always work the way we hope or expect them.
I looked through my guest linen closet before the arrival of winter visitors and I found a group of towels that were not wearing well; they were frayed at the edges. I decided to return them to the department store where they were purchased as they were the name brand of the store. I received a credit. Nice. While I was in the store already, I shopped in the t-shirt aisle, eventually trying on several shirts in the dressing room. I found a neat red t-shirt for $3.60. Great.
When I arrived home, I removed my good earings and discovered a back of one of them was missing. I could have lost the whole earring, so I was grateful, but when I travelled to the jewelry store, the replacements cost me $50.00 (the price of gold has soared) way more than the return on the towels!
I decided to return to the department store. Perhaps someone has found my earring back and turned it in. No such luck, so I checked the dressing room stall myself. Nothing.
 I spy a carpet sweeper in the corner. I find an employee ( almost as hard as finding an earring back) and get permission to empty the carpet sweeper. Donning plastic gloves, I open the doors on the bottom of the sweeper. I see something shining, in the silver color of white gold. Excitedly, I fish it out of the dust accumulated from the day's gleanings. It is one-half of a snap, not my earring back at all.
Even though I can't predict the outcome of my projects, I feel it is important not to give up. Others said the store would not take back the towels; some bemoaned my loss of dollars in the transaction. Some felt the whole thing was a waste of my time and effort. What do you think?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

What next? 100 Words for Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sundown Saturday and I’m home alone after a satisfying day: gym, shopping, visiting my husband. I decided to make myself a pizza and read. However, when leaving the memory care facility I encountered Lenny whose life story, unfolded in five minutes, shattered my peaceful evening. I began, “Your Dad asked for coffee, clearly.”
“It’s a good day, then, I hope. But I hope he doesn’t ask about Mom who passed away last year and Dad doesn’t know.” He begins to cry. “I have no reason to go home, I’m single, so I come here every night to feed my Dad.”

What’s next? We have several “graduates” in our support group, members whose loved one has died during this past year. Not all the bereaved continue to attend the group, just as some who start with us, obtain the information and the support they need and do not return. But Lenny’s story is a compelling one. We have all spent the past several years caring lovingly for someone we have been very close to. Their current state of mind changes nothing, as we have the past years of our lives that we caregivers remember fondly and which maintain the bond.
When our loved ones suffer, either physically or due to agitation or paranoia, we caregivers sometimes bemoan our lot and we imagine the day when all of our suffering and theirs will end. Some of us feel genuine relief when our loved ones’ suffering ends. But others, having suspended all of their individual goals and activities to care for parents or spouses are bereft; they have no life interests to which to return. In addition, some spouses are lacking in money to do more than just pay the bills after the cared for person dies.

So in this first month of the New Year when we all make resolutions to do something different this year, please think of what will come next, how will your life be, what can you do now to prepare and how can you access help to relieve you of some of your caregiving tasks so you can develop new goals, activities, work skills or hobbies that will sustain you now and later.
Respite care is available at all income levels. Please contact your local Area Agency on Aging as well as the volunteer committees of your church or synagogue for caregiving assistance, for social activities in which you could join, job training programs, art or craft activities, yoga or gym classes. It is important to join an Alzheimer's support group but it is also important to meet people who are concerned with activities that interest us, activities which are looking forward to the time when our lives are no longer dominated by caregiving.