alzheimer's didease, alzheimers disease, dementia, mental illness

Anna Rosemary and Alzheimer’s Disease

hands

image from my cell phone camera

I work with dementia patients for my job. I would like to share this touching story with you that happened last year.
I have an old woman with dementia in the unit that has severe disorientation of time and place. I will refer to her here as Anna Rosemary.

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Anna Rosemary is a sweet lady. She cannot put her words together to make any sentences that make sense. She expresses emotion clearly through facial expression, gestures and the volume and tone of her voice.

If she is sad then she cries. If something amuses her, she laughs. When she sees me she always smiles.

Sometimes when i get to work she looks at me and says “thank God.” which means I have not seen you around, I am glad to see you back.

I stopped to talk with her one night. She likes to talk back and forth. She listens and she responds but her words do not come out the way she wants.

She says to me “I feel like I am cuckoo.” I was surprised at this because it had not occurred to me that she was aware that there was something wrong with her brain.

I repeated it back to her to make sure I had understood her. I said “Anna Rosemary. do you feel like you are cuckoo?”

She said “Yes. I am trying to figure myself out.” I was amazed at the clarity of this sentence. I must have taken a huge amount of effort for her to force her brain to put that sentence together. That shows how important it is for people to communicate their feelings to another person.

I gave her a hug and told her that her brain was being a bit cuckoo and I did not know why. I told her that I still knew her and loved her. I could still understand how she was feeling.

I told her that I feel a bit cuckoo sometimes too. Something happens with our brain sometimes. But that she was still Anna Rosemary.

She hugged me and said “it is hard” I asked her if she felt it was hard to put her words together. She hugged me tighter.

I said to her, “you still know love. You still have a beautiful heart and know what love is.”

“You don’t have to keep trying so hard right now to put the words together. You are full of love and I love you.

She and I stood there and I held her and kissed the top of her head.

Anna Rosemary hugged me back, and felt comforted, as did I.

She stopped worrying about putting her words together for a while and took my hand to walk with her into the living room area. We just walked together , holding hands for a while in silence.

Sometimes there is more love in silence than with a lot of talking. If she can still love people and needs to be loved then love itself must transcend the basic functions of the brain.
Love and the need to be loved is more powerful than the rational, cognitive parts of the brain.

Even when most of the brain is not functioning properly, love is still alive and thriving.

The brain is the ruling organ of the body. It controls every function in the body, including language processing and speech.

But even with all of those functions damaged, the capacity for love is in tact. There is something very special about our ability to love.

chronic pain, Chronic pain and depression, Chronic pain and mental illness, Degenerative bone disease, life, mental health, mental illness

Chronic Pain, Depression, Isolation and Anxiety Disorder

Today I had a flare up of my chronic pain. Flare up days are not all the same. The pain is not always in the same location or in the same body part.

Most people with chronic pain have several locations where pain occurs.They live with moderate to high levels of pain on a daily basis, even when trying to sleep or trying to get out of bed in the morning.

Living with moderate to severe pain on a daily basis for years and years is truly exhausting. When we say we have to sit or lie down to rest, we really have to. There has to be a break in the level of the pain or we simply cannot go on.

My particular distress today was in the herniated disc in my cervical spine. I have gone to doctors, orthopedic specialists, pain management specialists and physical therapy for this herniated disc.

There are also a couple of other discs in the same area that are “bulging” discs, which is supposed to be one step lower or less bad than a ” slipped” or “herniated” disc.

When the discs slide into certain places they press directly onto nerves, sending pain throughout the neck which radiates up into my jaw and then my head. A moderate to severe headache ensues.

Today I felt pain in my jaw. I also have what they call TMJ in that particular place…left side..right at the place where the bone that hold the upper teeth and the bone that holds the lower teeth meet.

The TMJ usually does not bother my much unless I open my mouth too wide and then it makes a loud popping sound and hurts some. But when the herniated disc acts up and pinches the nerves then the pain radiates upwards and inflames that place where the TMJ is.

Chronic pain can cause depression, grief and anxiety in people. It is often very difficult to keep up with other people and they do not understand or do not believe you that the pain could be that bad. They just say . oh we all have aches and pains. I have to deal with mine so you should just deal with yours”

People do not understand about chronic pain conditions. On a good day for us we have pain that is more than other people’s worst day of aches and pains.

On a bad day the pain can become excrutiating and we feel like we are in a battle with our own bodies that we did not start.

It feels like our own body is destroying our quality of life. We become like aliens trying to survive in a world of humans who are not sympathetic to our pain. They cannot empathize because they have no way to relate to it.

People think that we are lazy, disagreeable and being babies with a low tolerance for pain.

Now, here is thing. Most people with chronic pain did not always have it. We have developed conditions inside of the body that really cause pain that is so bad we cannot function the way we used to.

We remember what it is like to have regular ” aches and pains” like regular people have. We know what they are referring to when people say ” we all have aches and pains so just deal with it and keep up with us”.

We remember just having ” regular” aches and pains and that is not what this is.

Chronic pain rules your daily life. It can be so severe that climbing steps, even with my cane causes extreme pain in my knees….not just a little pain. Going up and down steps is torturous to me because of the arthritic degeneration in the bones and disintigration of the cartilage that is supposed to cushion between the bones grinding togethet on the nerves.

People with chronic pain often become isolated. Friends and family tire of you telling them that you cannot go with them to do certain kinds of activities that you once used to be able to do with them. They get tired of the ups and downs;  good and bad days.

They begin to feel that you are using your supposed ” pain disorder” to get your way and to control what activities you do.

Let me tell you this…People with chronic pain wish we could still do those activities. We wish we could walk around the mall, go to carnivals and yard sales and be able to walk around for two hours. But our bodies won’t allow us too.

We are not wanting to never be able to do anything fun. That does not make any sense.

We are not happy to “get out of”  doing work. We really wish that we could still do those things.

We have trouble cleaning our house. We have trouble getting around in the grocery store and more trouble bringing those groceries inside from the car. It takes me a good 45 minutes to carry 2 bags at a time up two flights of steps to my apartment, as I take two or three steps at a time and have to stop in places on the way up.

Who would want to lose their ability to climb stairs, to tolerate driving for very long even as a passenger, to have trouble exercising and to have to say “no”to social invitations?

We hate having our pain disorder. It may be invisible but it is very real to us.

So this is how people with chronic pain often develop mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. We lose friends and have trouble going out to meet new people.

Family members write us off because they do not want to be around someone who complains about pain. They have no way to know what level of pain we have.

Isolation often comes as a result of the difficulty in going out, driving, sitting for too long, standing, and a variety of other physical actions that are required to have a “normal” day, like other people do.

It is frustrating, depressing, anxiety provoking, sad, exhausting, and causes feelings of hopelessness as well as worthlessness. Sometimes we think “what good are we to anyone?”

So please be kind to any loved one that has a chronic pain condition. They need your support and validation that they are still someone that is worth spending time with.

They are worth a little extra effort on your part to come to visit them, rather than insisting they come to visit you. They are worth minor adjustments in your plans.

No one intentionally stops doing all the activities that they once loved to do. No one intentionally cuts their quality of life in half. We don’t want to have to stay in bed all day on really bad days. We really wish we could go out like other people do and participate in the world and its’  activities.

We grieve for our bodies, our lost abilities, our lost social interactions and our lost dreams of doing these we know we will never be able to.

We are just people like everyone else. We are not trying to make anyone’s life more difficult.

Isolation can have a deteriorating effect on cognitive skills and increase the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.

My thoughts and prayers are with the readers that suffer from chronic pain conditions. More awareness is needed and more empathy is needed.

life, mental disorders, mental illness

Music and Art Activities for Alzheimer’s and Dementia

I had a resident in the dementia unit at work. She never spoke more that one word at a time. She rarely spoke at all. She was sweet and used to like to come along with me, as I did laundry and other tasks. She would hold my hand and come along, wherever I went.

I used to sing to her and sometimes she would sing along with me. If I got lucky and found a sing she knew, then she would sing all of the words with me.

This made her very happy and I could see her self esteem go up, because she was able to do something well, and she was able to communicate with me through the music, in a way that she could not do with her words.

One day after we sang a song, she looked at me and said “Well what shall we do next?”

It was amazing. It was like the music stimulated something in her brain and made the circuits connect. After this, I sang with her as often as I was able to.

Sometimes she would sing and then not talk. Other times, she would say entire sentences to me, but only right after she had sung a song. I strongly believe that there is a connection between the singing and the ability to connect words together into a sentence.

Being as that I have lost my job, due to an error with the licensing department, I have decided it is time to start my own business. I have wanted to do this for a while now. My degenerative bone disease has been getting increasingly worse, and I can barely get through the shift at work anyway.

I have a few different ideas for businesses which I can do. I am an eclectic person and would be happy doing more than one type of service for my business.

I am going to post some of my ideas as I work on them and see what you guys think, so that you can brainstorm with me.

I love working with dementia and Alzheimer’s sufferers. I have developed some activities using  music, art and cognitive stimulating games. I may try to make some videos showing what I do. I have done some of these activities with the dementia residents at the assisted living and also at the nursing home i used to work at.

I had really excellent results from the activities that I designed and I felt that I was able to get people to connect socially and cognitively, in ways that were special and meaningful. I have a great passion for this work.

I did not have a lot of time to work with the residents when I worked at these jobs. Only small sections of time. I feel that if I could work one on one with people, for a half hour or an hour at a time, once or twice a week, that the results would be even better.

I could work well in people’s homes or as a one on one companion at nursing homes, as hired by the individual family.

I also could teach my techniques to family, or healthcare workers, who were interested in maintaining the highest quality of life for their loved ones and patients. Maybe I could make some youtube videos and then offer a course that could be downloaded.

The pain in my neck where the herniated discs are, makes it very painful to lift people in and out of wheelchairs and showers.

My foot has gotten very bad and I am now using a cane to walk on uneven ground, like the parking lot at the grocery store. I have PTTD which is posterior tibial tendon dysfunction. It causes severe bone changes, flat foot, and a collapsing arch. which causes pain when walking for long hours and also trouble balancing.

So, as my time working on me feet for 8 hours is about over, I am excited to get into what I have dreamed of doing for some time now. My skills and ideas would be more valuable for one on one clients. At the nursing home, I am mostly doing basic daily activities like dressing, toileting , bathing etc.

I will keep working on these ideas and show you what I come up with. You never know what kind of ideas you might have, as you see mine. It could be helpful to get some feedback. Thank you all for always being supportive. I look forward to your thoughts, as I develop my ideas for dementia activities.

Blessings,

Annie

This is the link to my Go Fund me Account.

http://www.gofundme.com/anniemichele

alzheimers disease, anxiety, blogging, funny blog, health, health and wellness, life, mental health, mental illness, parenting, top 10 list, top 10 list funny, top ten list, top ten list funny

Is There Still Magic in Your WorldI

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I need magic! I love magical moments and magical ideas. To me life is very boring without some kind of magical sparks here and there to spice it up. Here are some things that I consider magical.

1. Balloons I love balloons! I love the way they float in the air. I love the way they have a mind of their own and they will go whichever direction they feel like going, in spite of where you tell them to go!

I love the way the alzheimer’s patients eyes light up when I get the balloon out. They all smile and have so much fun just playing and batting the balloon back and forth in the air, with me. It is one of my favorite things to do at work.

In fact I am the one that usually stops at CVS pharmacy  to get balloons when we run out. No matter how bad my anxiety may be before I get to work, the magical powers of the balloon can make it better. I can almost feel my blood pressure lowering, from the first time one of the residents smiles and holds out their hands to catch it.

I love the way little children are entranced by the balloon and how it floats and flies in the air. They love the way it feels when they touch it. To really amaze my little niece,  I can rub in against my hair and make it stick to the wall.

2. Creative CollaborationCollaborating on a creative, inspiring project can have a magic all it’s own. I have a very good friend that like to collaborate with me on business projects like redesigning his web site or coming up with new slogans.

The two of us work together in a perfect harmony and once the inspiration begins, we bounce ideas back and forth off of each other. It is .almost like a dance, where one of us takes the lead and then the other one steps together and the two creative minds do things that neither one of us could do alone. That is magical and fun.

3. Random Dancing –  My friend Hanorah, is a very old woman that lives in the assisted living where I work. When she sees me in the hallway, she always puts her hands out and says “Time to Dance!” It does not matter who is around or what part of the building we are in.

Once we even danced in the elevator, on the way up to her floor. She just takes my hands and begins to dance to the music in her head. Then I will sing something for her, like “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue” and she sings along with me. She always loves to see me, because I will dance with her, just because.

4. BunnyMy bunny is magical, as most bunnies are! He hops and plays. He even hops into the air and makes a turn right in the air, to change direction and to be silly. He kisses me on the lips and he dances a special love dance around my feet, which is like a figure eight, going around one foot and then the other.

When he wants my attention, he will get it. If I am typing on this laptop, for my blog and he feels left out, he will jump right up and land his bunny butt right on this keyboard that I am typing on now. He just sits there, with his fuzzy butt in my face, and won’t move. So funny!

Once he took my cell phone away from me. I was talking on the phone, to my boyfriend and the bunny hopped over, took the cell phone with his teeth, and pulled it right out of my hand. He tossed it on the bed and then hopped away. So funny! Bunny is magical because he can make me smile no matter what my mental state it. He can always get a little smile from me, because he is so animated like a cartoon.

5. Bubbles Bubbles are magnificent as they are blown in the sunlight outside. They float way up in the air and catch all the colors of a rainbow as the sun reflects off of them. Bubble are fun indoors too. I have a bubble necklace (you can get them around valentines day ) that I can wear and when the alzheimer’s residents are least expecting it, I blow some bubbles into the air and they love it !

I also just like sitting outside and blowing the bubbles to see how they float. It is relaxing and magical.

6. Spending the entire day on the phone with a very special friend –  which is what happened today. My best friend, who is usually too busy working to be on the phone with me for more than 30 minutes at time, during the daytime, was off today! He stayed home sick in bed and I am sorry about him being sick. But he has been getting better throughout the day, as we have been on the phone.

He kept me on the phone for company all day, from 11 am this morning and he is still with me, but I hear him sleeping now. It is 10pm. He fell asleep a few times on and off and I just kept doing what I was doing and stayed with him, so that I would be there when he woke up, for comfort.

I went out to the store and back, and did some other errands, but we stayed on the phone together anyway. I just brought him with me. It was nice to be needed for comfort and I loves having the company all day. Too bad he only does that when he is sick. But I am thankful for the wonderful day together.

7. Blogging Blogging is magical in many ways but there is one that is most significant to me. You get to meet and connect with people in a deep and meaningful way. These are people that you would otherwise never have met, because they live so far away from you.

8. The Floating Lanterns in The Picture on the Top of This Post These lantern are beautiful and they look like they should have some magical element to them, to me.

9. The Laughter of Children – The sound of children laughing naturally, because they are children! It is a wonderful sound.

10. Dr. Seuss Dr. Seuss stories and all the creative nonsensical characters are magical. I love their funny hair and the funny creatures. His stories like The Cat in the Hat. Green Eggs and Ham, Horton Hears a Who and The Lorax are very special and I have never gotten to old for them. (but on the other hand…you are taking advice from someone who still plays with balloons and bubbles LOL )

Let’s have some fun, since I feel in a good mood today, because I felt supported all day, by my friend. You all can put the things that are magical to you, in the comments below and that way we can all learn about each other.

I did leave out my favorite magical thing in the world to do…but I was trying to keep this a post G rated!  LOL!

Ok, so what are Your Magical items, Activities, and Magical Moments? You can think back into your past, if you want to. I did that for this post also.

Blessings,

Annie

elder care, life, loss, poem, poetry

To My Nurses …..( from the point of view of a very old person)

** this poem is written from the point of view of a nursing home resident as I have observed that they feel from my many years of working and volunteering  in nursing homes””

TO MY NURSES…

Just because I am old

Does not mean I should be discarded

I was young like you once

Full of life and very big hearted

I raises my babies , just like you are

I loved my husband and drove a car

I had a beautiful house 

that I took care of with love

I baked Christmas cookies

and knitted my grandchildren gloves

I bet you don’t know but I worked really hard

I struggled and fought for my family

I felt things very deeply and cared very much

I had family and friends whose lives that I touched

I once was important and had a real life

Just like you do and you never think 

That your life will pass away just like mine did

You’ll end up with nothing you worked for, in the end

You’ll lose your driver’s license 

and your favorite car too

You’ll lose your independence

and people’s respect 

You’ll watch your spouse die and miss him forever

You’ll dread the phone ringing

because more and more family dies

But you might keep going, on with your life

Even thought there is nothing left that matters

You will not understand why God makes you stay

and does not take you home 

to heaven 

to be with your loved ones

The only people you will have to talk to at all

will be the nurses in the nursing home 

and the patients that do not remember your name

So, please have compassion for me and be patient

Because someday it could be you in my place

All the power you feel now 

and the things that you love

and the ability to make choices about your day

Could be taken away , never to be seen again

and the life that you once thought was yours…

will become a sad memory that no one wants to listen to

Including the nurses that will take care of you

adult children of alcoholics, alzheimers disease, mental abuse, mental health, mental illness

Lack of Compassion for Depressed Nursing Home Residents

Something happened at work that really offended and upset me. It is so disgusting that nurses, doctors and other people in the health field are so insensitive and uneducated about mental illness. Health care should be about the whole person and not just their physical body.

We have a resident that lives in this particular facility who suffers from moderate to severe depression , that fluctuates from time to time. Sometimes she is very depressed. When she is in  that downward spiral , she tends to stay in bed. She will still eat if food is brought to her room, but  she does not want to go out to the big dining room and interact with people.

Being an introverted person myself, I can attest to the fact that it is very traumatic, triggering, and extremely anxiety provoking to have to be in a room full of people when you are is a state of depression. You simply cannot do it.

Forcing yourself to go out amongst people who will not understand your mood, is not a good thing to do to your brain. All those people having small talk and asking you “how are you” is like a torture chamber.

So, this sweet little old lady was in a very depressed state today. We will call her Nora. So, i went in to visit Nora at 4pm, when I began my shift.   I could see that she still had her pajamas on and had not been out of bed all day. This is a clear sign that she had spiraled down into a depression state.

She said that she did not feel well and that she did not feel up to coming out to the big room for dinner. I went over the dinner menu with her and together we decided that she would eat scrambled eggs and toast in her room. I then left the room to place her order with the kitchen and requested a tray be brought to her room. The kitchen was no problem.

Then I went back to Nora’s room to let her know that the tray had been ordered. As I opened the door to the room, I saw that my supervisor (the charge nurse) was in the room, speaking with Nora. The supervisor said to me that Nora would have to have a “Sick Tray”.

I learned today that  Sick Tray is a tray that they give to people who have a stomach virus and are too sick to eat a real meal. It is to keep them from vomiting up all of their dinner. You know when you have a tummy sickness, you don’t want to eat .

The Sick Tray consists of hot tea, gingerale  jello, and toast . It is not something that you are supposed to force on someone. It is mainly to make sure that they have something offered to them, even if they say they do not want to eat at all. What it is not , is something to be used to withhold food from someone.

Yes, that is what I said. Withhold food! So sick, isn’t  it ??

This nurse said to me the following, “Nora is not sick. She does this all the time. She is JUST depressed. She is saying she is sick but she is not.  If she is going to stay in bed sick then she gets a Sick Tray.”

I asked her if there was any physical reason Nora could not have the scrambled eggs and toast that she wanted.

The nurse said “NO. But she does this all the time that she refuses to get out of bed. If she is going to fake being sick just because she does not feel like coming out, then she can just have a Sick Tray”

This is punishment. This is a clear punishment of someone because they have a mental health issue. This punishment is unfair and will cause the depression to get worse. Poor Nora was hungry and did want to to eat. She asked for the eggs and there was absolutely no reason she could not have them.

The supervisor was so disgusted by Nora’s continued pattern of depression ans self isolation that she decided to punish her by actually making her go hungry.

I was so upset and angry but there was nothing I could do. i did go back in to the room late in the shift. I won’t say weather ot not I snuck her in a snack. What is your guess? (wink, wink )

But what if I had not been there? This will happen again and again. To make her go hungry and to treat her with such disrespect, is detrimental to her mental health. It further isolates her.

She was willing to have me visit her in the room. The right thing to do would have been to bring her whatever she wanted from te kitchen and for me to sit with her while she ate. Then I could spend some time to talk with her about how she was feeling and she would have at least had a dinner she enjoyed.

What else can I say? I have hundreds of stories like this. I have collected them for 5 years. There is little or o compassion for people with mental illness in these facilities.

There are a lot of elderly people in nursing homes that have severe depression due to the many losses they have experienced. They have lost their home, their spouse, their car, their drivers license, their pets and many of their friends and family have passed away.

it is a very hard time of life and many people end up depressed and isolated, when they become old This is a horrible failure of the health care system and a lack of compassion from health care workers.

More awareness and re-training of the nurses is needed, if people are going to have lives worth living in the long term care facilities.

Blessings,

Annie

adult children of alcoholics, holiday ideas, holiday stress, holidays, life

Empathy and Compassion

I watched a short  video today by  by Brene Brown. It is a cartoonized portrayal of characters showing empathy. I felt inspired by this video to post my own thoughts about empathy and compassion.

.. The ideas in this video are powerful and it is well explained in the video.. In order to really listen to someone in a way that helps them, we have to find something in ourselves that helps up to relate to their situation.

It could be that someone has a problem that we have not experienced. But there is a good chance that the emotions they are feeling are things we have felt before.

I am going to give my own feelings and experiences and then I will put a link to the video that inspired me to post this.

I have never had Alzheimer’s disease yet I am able to empathize and connect with my clients in a meaningful way. If one of them is feeling scared because she does not know where she is , I can relate that feeling.

I once was  very lost in Baltimore City in a downtown neighborhood, I did not belong in. I was driving all by myself and I became very disoriented and could not understand the map.

I did not feel safe stopping to ask for help. I was afraid something bad would happen to me.

I could run out of gas or become so upset that I would have to pull over. The neighborhood was full of gangs and had a high crime rate.  Being lost there felt very dangerous and I was in extreme panic..

This is how it feels sometimes  to someone with Alzheimer’s disease or any kind of dementia.

They come out of their room and have no idea where they are. They do not recognize the people from yesterday. Everything is strange and frightening. They do not know who is safe or who they can ask for help.They are afraid of what bad things could happen to them, because they are alone and lost in a strange place.

So, in this way, I can draw from an experience in my memory, to put myself in their place.

If you begin by feeling this vulnerability in yourself then you can connect with the person.

Once I see what they are feeling and connect with that feeling inside of myself, I can begin to say and do the things that will help them.

I will say to them ,”I know you feel scared. You don’t know where you are. This is a safe place for you to be.”

I explain to them,  “The people here are nice and we are here to take care of you and make sure your needs are met. I will walk with you and show you your room and the dining room where we will eat. See, there are your things and your bed. You have a nice room here that you can sleep in tonight. You are safe. You are safe.”

It feels good when someone realizes that you really do understand. It is the best way to help someone else. You validate their emotions of  fears, sadness, depression or anxiety. Let them know that you have felt that way before also.

“I have been afraid before also. If I was here and did not know where I was , I would be afraid too. But you are safe and everything will be ok tonight for you. I will be here to help you find your way.”

We all need someone to help us find our way sometimes. The compassion of one person to another is true humanity.

See the link for the video below. It is very short, only about 2 minutes.

Namaste,

Annie

abnormal psychology, alzheimers disease, anxiety, anxiety attack, dementia, depression, health, mental health, mental health disorders, mental illness, neurology, panic attack, self-help, short story, women's health

My Patient with Alzheimer’s disease / dementia is Afraid I will not Find my way Back to Her Again

My sweet lady, I will call her Rosalie, always cries when I leave work for the night. She also gets upset when I leave to go for my dinner break.

I always have known that she likes me there and that she is sad when I leave. But it was not until tonight that I finally realized just why it is so traumatizing for her. Now that I realize it, I can make it better for her.

A visiting nurse came to see Rosalie today. Rosalie took an instant shine to her and  felt very safe with her. The time came for the nurse to leave and poor Rosalie was holding her by her jacket and not letting go. She was crying and begging her to stay.

The nurse and I both tried to reassure Rosalie that she would come back to see her tomorrow. Rosalie said “no she won’t. She has to stay here.”

After the nurse left , I told Rosalie that she would be back tomorrow. Rosalie then said something that has never occurred to me before. She said “No she won’t. How will she find me again? How will she find her way back?”

That is when the realization came over me. Rosalie does not know where she is. She used to have a home and now she does not know how to get back. She does not know where that home is. She could not find it, even if we gave her the car keys and let her go.

She is so lost in time and space that she assumes that everyone else is too. The fact that the nurse happened to find Rosalie today, does not necessarily mean that the nurse can find her tomorrow.

Poor Rosalie feels so lost that she does not think anyone else knows where she is either. She does not understand that other people can find their way home and then back again to find her.

It was a great moment of realization to me. In her world, she is lost. She has no idea how she got to this place where she lives now. As far as she can tell , it is a lost place that no one can find.

Her family does not come to see her, so she must think they are lost and cannot find her too.

So. when she is crying at the end of my shift when I leave, she is truly afraid that I will not be able to find my way back to see her again.

So then, I explained to Rosalie that the nurse and I were good with finding our way home and back to her again. I told her that the nurse had found her way here today on purpose and could find her way home.

I explained to her that I had found my way to see her many times. It was not an accident that I ended up here. I assured her that I know how to get to where she is and that I would never lose my way to her.

This seemed to help.  From now on, I will remind her that I know how to get to where she is.

I will not lose her. I love her very much and will find my way back to her every time.

It reminds me that we all live in different realities. Our experiences form our perceptions and our feelings.

When we try to understand people by looking at their situation from our reality, we cannot truly have full compassion for them.

In order to understand, we have to listen and see that their world is different from ours. That includes the world they perceive in their mind. It is the only reality they know.

People who have been abused, people with PTSD, people with mental disabilities and people who are very poor have a very different reality than others.

It is true for many situations including people who have sick children, people who live with chronic pain, eating disorders, alcoholism and addiction.

In order to have true compassion we have to know that others see and feel things differently than we do.

Namaste,

Annie

health, mental health, mental illness, neurology

How Stella and Bob Still Stayed Close During Bob’s Late Stage Dementia – Alzheimer’s Disease / A True story of How Love Endures

Stella and Bob had been married for 63 years when I met them. I was the home health aide for Bob.

His care had become too much for Stella to do alone. It was too difficult physically, mentally and emotionally for her.

Bob had late stage Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia, and he could no longer walk, use the bathroom, feed himself, or communicate well.

Stella felt depressed a lot of the time. Their relationship was no longer the same. He could not communicate with her like he used to. He could not comfort her or help her anymore.

She missed him, the way he used to be. He was still there in body, but part of him was gone and still continuing to get worse. She was losing him bit by bit every day.

Bob himself was depressed and angry a lot of the time. His anger was mostly directed toward the home health aides but sometimes spilled over onto Stella.

Bob had late stage dementia and he could no longer walk, use the bathroom, feed himself, or communicate well.

Stella loved Bob very much. She wanted to understand him even when he could not say what he needed or wanted. She would lean over him in the bed, and ask him what he needed. She would hold his hands and stroke his head to calm him.

He would get so frustrated that he could not put his words together but she spoke to him with kindness, in a calm tone of voice.

In the evenings, I would help her clean him and out him in his pajamas. They had 2 twin beds because he had to be in a hospital bed.

The beds were apart during the day, in order for the aides to have access to Bob, to perform care that was required.

At bedtime, Stella would help me to push the two beds together. She asked me to push them as close together as I could, so that they were touching.

She said, “He is my husband. I want him next to me in the bed. I want to be able to reach over and touch him. ”

She explained to me that during the nights, he would wake up and call out because he was afraid. He was disoriented and did not understand where he was or what was going to happen to him.

“I always hear him when he awakens, and I reach over and touch him to comfort him. I want to be close enough to him at night to be able to do that.”

So, every night , I pushed the beds together.

There is more to health care than just caring for the physical needs of the patient. There are emotional and mental needs of the patient and the family that are equally important.

*Note The facts in this story are true. The names were changed to protect the privacy of Stella and Bob. Stella was 88 at the time of my association with her. Bob was 92.*

abnormal psychology, adult children of alcoholics, alcoholism, anxiety, buddhism, domestic abuse, domestic violence, health, psychology

The Right to Change Your Mind / Don’t Stay “no matter what” .

It is easy to develop bad behavioral patterns. We become co-dependent or addicted to certain behaviors that are not healthy for us.

We are used to doing things a certain way. We make choices and stick to them “no matter what” Sometimes we have to make a U Turn.

Well, I am back now in one piece. I did not realize that the snow storm was in full force. I made the choice to go to visit at work while I was in the nice warm house.

I really wanted to introduce my daughter to my friends at work and I wanted to visit my patients.

I did not check the weather report or ask anyone in the house how the roads were. I just took my teenager and got in the car. We slid it out of the of driveway. I decided to drive a bit and see how the roads were.

It became apparent quickly that the snow was going to continue and that the plows were struggling to keep up. I got all the way to the sign for my job.

I looked up the big hill and saw it was covered with snow. I went about 3 feet up the hill and the car was sliding down. I realized that even if I made it up the hill, it was going to be treacherous getting down later.

I told my daughter that this was a life lesson for her. In the past I would have kept going just because I had made the decision to go to the building and I had come all that way.

Sometimes in life, we make a choice to begin on a path. Sometimes it is a relationship. It could be a career or a job. It could be behavioral patterns that we establish or a habit of some sort.

We have decided to go along on this path. We do a lot of work along the way. We stick in there when it seems that there might be something wrong. We should probably have changed our minds sooner, when the evidence presented itself that it was not a healthy or safe path for us.

But looking up that slippery hill and feeling the car begin to slide made me stop right there and think.

Just because we got all dressed in our coats and scarves. Just because we drove all that way. Just because I really thought it was a good idea at the time.

Even the fact that I texted my friend at work to tell he we were coming and she was excited to meet my daughter, is not enough reason to continue into a situation full with peril. You have to be able to see ahead enough to think about what is likely to happen.

Where is this path leading you? If you follow it , even against your intuition telling you that it is bad, even if your rational brain tells you there is danger, then you are going to be hurt.

I am an adult child of an alcoholic. For some reason we have a compulsion to continue with any commitment and any choice that we make. It makes us feel inadequate when we give up.

But the other day I was thinking about this very thing. Why did I stay in abusive relationships, even when I could see a path to get out. it was only because I said I would. I told them I would stay with them and I felt that I had to stay no matter what.

It is the “no matter what” thinking that can get you into trouble. Once you notice that it was either a bad choice to begin with or that something has changed to make the situation different than you originally signed up for, then Change Your Mind. Run, Turn around, Go back, Go sideways, GET OUT.

Follow your instinct. Listen to your rational brain. Trust your feelings. Don’t let anyone even yourself, make you feel bad for changing your mind.

Many women (and men and unborn babies) die every year from being in harms way from domestic abuse. The women feel obligated to stay no matter what, because they said they would. They made a promise to stand by his side.

But what about her feelings? What about her safety? What about her self-esteem?

Other consequences of staying on a path “no matter what” is staying in a thankless job when you have chances to go do something that is more suited to you and would be better for your self-esteem.

WE stay with what is familiar and what we are used to. We stick to the promises we made, even when the person does not deserve it and is not honoring their end of the deal.

If it helps you, you could think of it this way – The other person has broken the contract by not honoring their end of the bargain. They broke it , not you. You are free to walk away without feeling like a quitter.

So I told my daughter, we were going to back down the hill. I was changing the original choice to go up there. It had become apparent that the situation was very unsafe. The likelihood of damage to the car and to ourselves was too high of a risk.

Assess your risks. Not just at the beginning because new information comes all the time. If new information tells you that something is wrong, that is the time to assess the risks again.

If it is not worth the potential hurt to you, then don’t continue. There are other paths that are full of possibilities. There are adventures awaiting you and very interesting people to meet.

Change the path. It is ok. Think of all the possibilities that are waiting to meet you on another path.

There is always another choice, another path, another job, another lover, another lifestyle. There is no point of no return as long as you are open to possibilities.

It is your life. You are the one that has to live with the consequences of your choices in the end.

You have the right to be safe, happy and productive. You have the right to pursue the paths that look good to you and change to a different path if you want to.

Enjoy your paths and your choices. God Bless all of You
Thank you for Hearing my voice

Namaste,
Annie