I Have This Terminal Disease,
It Moves So Slow It Is Killing Me!
One of 25 Best Alzheimer’s Blogs of 2012
Mike Donohue is a brave man. Courageous, direct, and bold, his blog energizes readers with a passion for action. Dementia Endured gives a hint in the title as to the nature of this talented writer: he will endure. And with a personality like Mike’s, it’s easy to believe that he shall overcome, as well!
His life experiences are opened to the reader, and his journey recovering from alcoholism to adjusting to Alzheimer’s holds its own fascination for visitors to his site. Mike’s strength and determination will remind readers that dementias are one area in which it’s best not to hold any punches.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
The Value Of Giving Is Equaled By Its Payback
The article describes students setting up a program called Memory Bridge. It is a program for troubled students meeting with seniors in a retirement home. The program not only helped the seniors it helped the students.
What a wonderful idea put into practice.
There are so many more social programs to be undertaken that can both help give and in which the giver can find fulfillment in the doing of it. Whether it is periodic visit or a program of help supporting seniors, it is so very important.
I have AD one of many conditions encountered while aging. Before I entered this debilitating process we call aging I had no clue of the difficulty I faced in doing so. Although there are many advantages that come with “Ripe Old Age” unexpected and unanticipated calamities keep popping up in the process of it and need to be dealt with.
People in the process of aging need all the help they can get. When the aging process includes AD in their menu they certainly need help.
For too many reasons AD tends to isolate the person afflicted. If that person is unable to get around freely, drive, take a bus, walk, be safe out on their own, they stay home. Many stay home because they are uncomfortable being in crowds, being out and about at random. They often isolate themselves needing to be home in their nest secure in their routine. Outside the nest particularly in situations new and different that are at random with no previous experience to know what is coming next they suffer anxiety and distress that is sometimes intolerable. I suffer from this a lot.
We become isolated from friends and loved ones. This is often by reason of a passive default. The friend or loved one faces these questions before making a visit. What do you say to a person with AD? What do you talk about? What do you do with them?
It is difficult because it is to the visitor this is new and different, not like it was. The rules have changed. Unless you are brimming with confidence and creativity dealing with the new circumstances is more than difficult. As a result procrastination on the decision sets in. This leads to forgetting to do it; which leads to embarrassment for having failed to do; followed by abandonment of the plan to do it altogether.
Additionally loved ones may withdraw from view; go MIA (missing in action). Denial that a parent might have the disease happens only too often. If Dad has it I could get it, maybe he really does not have it after all. A Parent is such a powerful figure in our estimation. The vulnerability of that person having AD is not something able to be comprehended much less accepted. The child’s inability to deal with it is often manifested by the absence of the child having contact with the parent.
A benign sense of payback can often play into this. If the parent paid little attention to the child, the child’s attention is returned in like kind.
In my case I had this experience. My Dad had a stroke, he was in a nursing home for 12 years paralyzed, unable to talk, cognitively limited. I was one of five boys, the middle one. I tried and failed to please him with my life. I was a troubled failure as he saw it. All he could give me was worry and anxiety for what would become of me.
As a result I felt left out by the family, having given them good enough cause to do leave me out.
After the stroke I could not stand to visit him at the nursing home, and did little when he was home for the weekend. I did not know why, just could not.
All of the reasons I have cited for doing so were the reasons I could see for my failure to visit my dad. Now, thirty five years later, twenty three since his death, I still have the deep regret and sense of shame for having not been more of a son, not a better person able to rise above it all.
Now I am in a similar position reversed. I need more attention from my children. They are all busy as I was during my 12 years of neglect of my dad. It almost seems “what goes around comes around” applies for me. In my case that appears to be part of my karmic geography.
In the broader picture, family aside, any break given the isolation inherent in this disease is so very important to us.
I participate in a program called the Gathering. It is conducted at the Oak Knoll Lutheran Church in Minnetonka MN. It is a program organized and funded by the Lyngblomsten Organization who describe themselves as: Healthcare, Housing, and Services for
Older Adults Since 1906. It is a Day Care Program managed and supported by volunteers from this Lutheran Congregation where it is conducted. They provide their services twice a month with a day of activities designed to occupy the ten or so AD folks who attend.
The people doing the work are sincerely dedicated tuned to meeting our interests and needs. They also have us participate with them in program planning. As a result of this the days have become full, interesting and something we all look forward to. The camaraderie from it is heart warming.
An example of this is at the last gathering, while we out on a field trip visiting the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis one of our group a sixty year old became quite distressed by anxiety afraid he might miss his ride home. Jerry, one of the other of our group also age 60, a big strapping fellow, undertakes to comfort him standing by him through the better part of the tour with his arm around this man’s shoulder. It was an absolutely endearing scene seeing the sensitivity of this big guy giving comfort and support to one of our fellows.
So much more of this kind of a service which allows for this kind of thing is needed for seniors, particularly AD afflicted, to help grease the skids getting through this final stage of life with dignity, understanding and a sense of being cherished for what and where we are. It is this kind of activity that truly enhances our quality of life.
Whether it be one on one, a visit, some time spent, a game of cards, playing checkers, listening to some music, going out in the park, going for a walk, going to a ball game. It is so meaningful to us to know that for someone time spent with us counts. The time is pleasant when spent together. To have someone interested in who we are, what we think, what we can say or show is important. It is so delightful for us to receive the interest of someone wanting to know this and willing to hear us tell about and show it.
Everyone wants to feel love. More than that everyone needs to give love. Loving is best given as received. It takes two people to make this exchange. Isolated, we do not get love, worse, we can’t give love.