CAREGIVER DIRECTIONS

NOTE BOOKS READY

January 13, 2017 – As a former caregiver serving five family members since 1973 I can trufully say “There aren’t any directions.” Having 40 years years experience I can assure you that every case is different Just as every patient is different so are the ways of caring for each individual.

Certainly there are the basics for giving care: especially to a close friend or a family member

  1. Be loving, kind, patient and treat them as you would like to be treated if you were the patient.
  2. Provide, if possible, some kind of activity even for a fading mind.
  3. Take care of yourself. If the caregiver becomes incapacitated who will do your job.
  4. Get help if possible. It’s tough to care for someone all alone.
  5. Live as normally as possible. Good for you as well as the patient..
  6. Provide nutritious meals and keep to a schedule Don’t forget liquids.
  7. Provide a clean-up time for showers and dressing This is a 2 person job.
  8. Watch for “pressure sores” and infections.
  9. See that the patient has regular checkups with his primary care doctor.
  10. Have a hospital bed delivered when needed.
  11. When you can take a break, get away from your duties. Time spent elsewhere allows you a better perspective.
  12. Get your sleep. You function better and adjust to emergencies when you are rested.
  13. And the list goes on and on, but these, of course are generalities in the caregiving world We all know them just by living in our world, especially if we’ve been a parnt.

TOOLS

There are tools out there to not only use as a caregiver, but as an individual just living life one day at a time. For example: on another email address I have I often get posts from Phil Bolsta who has written a book which he titled“Through God’s Eyes.” I haven’t read the whole book, but I have read a chapter and excerpts from it.

As a woman of faith I think another term for “Through God’s Eyes” might be seeing with eternal perspective and asking oneself, “How does my present situation as a caregiver relate to my beliefs about eternity and life after life? He uses “love” and “fear” as tools in helping solve earthly problems. Love being the positive approach and fear, of course, being a negative approach. For me through my beliefs and spiritual understanding I use Faith and fear. Our teachings tell us that you can’t remain fearful if you maintain faith. Think about that through God’s eyes. Trust that he loves you and has a plan for you. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for you to wonder and even ask what that plan could be. Perhaps it isn’t your plan, but thoughtful prayer may allow you to catch a vision of what our Creator’s plan is.

WHY

I believe we spend a lot of time asking that question when adversity enters into our life. “Why me?” Say to yourself, “Why not me?” I don’t know of anyone who has escaped adversity in their life. Illness, untimely death, unthinkable disease and unimagined accidents or happenings seem to be a constant with life. Then for some folks out there as soon as sone problem is solved, another appears out of nowhere and they begin all over with their struggle about whatever is appearing to bring them down and down, often asking, “Why me again?”

I still read one special blog written by Sherri Zshocher titled “Living in the Shadow of Alzheimer’s” or Living With Bob and Al. Bob is her husband and Al is Alzheimer’s. She too is a woman of faith and often includes appropriate scripture and a bit of good advice to end her daily post: “Pause, Praise and Pray.” Begin and end your day the same way. Communication with the Lord always helps.

 

RESOLUTIONS FROM LAST YEAR.

WHERE DID 1016 GO?

January 8, 2017– That was the lament from so many of my friends and family. One of them complained: “I blinked once and the year was gone.” That was my feeling as well.

2016 was going to be the year of my reinvention. After being alone for two years, but having my granddaughter Kristina live with me after Ken passed on, I am not the new me, but I suppose that’s all right. The goals of the last few decades remain unaltered: I still want to lose some unwanted weight gain. I’m still striving to redo my house, the inside of which hasn’t seen a paintbrush since 1996, and it’s beginning to show. I’m still working on three books lounging in my computer, and I’m not exercising the way my doctor would have me begin my day, listing “workout” as the top priority in my daily routine.

REMEMBER THE MOTTO

“When you fail, get up, dust yourself of and try again.” I recall reading accounts of dedicated AA members, who almost expect to fall off the wagon before they can get it right. So, this year 2017, I’m just going to post my “old” goals once again and aim higher.

LISTS

I’m going to start lists. Maybe that will help. I shall outline my day just as if I were back in high school. We usually had a different class every hour. At the end of the hour we were dismissed by a bell which encouraged us to hurry to the next class to learn/”to do” something different unless we had a two-hour class with intense instruction which was needed to not only read or be instructed about the next step, then it was the next step during the second hour. I can do that if I don’t donate those two hours for watching TV or reading about everyone on Facebook, which is an easy thing to do in the way of getting sidetracked.

Just think, two hours of P.E: walking and then doing the floor exercises. Still belonging to a gym I could go there. Not only to exercise, but to do the physical therapy for my ailing knees. I still have in an unopened box waiting to be opened: “Gym in a Box.” I could do that as well.

LISTS AND LONGER LISTS

So I’ll just read my own blog for a few days and I’ll have my list already started. Furthermore, my friends, while Alzheimer’s 24/7 will always be a part of my life, and on occasion I will post something of interest, particularly if it’s good news about a real treatment or a cure.” Other than that I’ll be moving on with my dedication and blog to becoming, maybe not a new me, but a different me. I’ll just hope it’s a better me.  So for 2017, get out there and see what life has to offer after AD, because readers used to tell me that there was life after Alzheimer’s. Perhaps I’ll find it this year.

 

FINDING THE NEW YEAR MAGIC

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WHAT TO SEARCH FOR?

Happy New Year Fireworks 2017

I found the New Year magic and realized it wasn’t fireworks.

From the time I was old enough to remember hearing adults shout “Happy New Year,” I believed there was something magical happening as the clock chimed 12:00 p.m.  Furthermore, I was missing it all because I was a child and had to be in bed early. Then one year my parents went out with friends on December 31, leaving my sister, Janet, and me in the care of our older sister, Polly, who was 16. At last, Janet and I knew we could stay up until the bewitching hour because Polly was caught up in her own reverie of sadness in not having a boyfriend at year’s end.

 

THERE HAD TO BE NOISE

The two of us knew there must be noise to welcome in The New Year so Janet fortified us with metal dishpans and wooden spoons. Polly didn’t care what we were doing, taking to her bed early. My favorite big sister planned we would march up and down the sidewalk in front of our building (the fourth floor flat being our home) banging our dish pans at the first sounds of celebration. At 12:00 we heard horns honking and whistles blowing in the distance, but that was all, so we high stepped our march and drummed our pans more vigorously. Still nothing. “Is that all?” I whined with great disappointment.

“Come with me,” ordered Janet. I followed her up the flights of stairs into the kitchen where she took one of Mama’s best cooking pots (the heaviest of her hammered aluminum cookware) and ran to the front of the flat overlooking the street. Throwing up the window and calling, “Look out below,” Janet tossed the pot into space watching it fall down and down until it hit the sidewalk. Still no magic. If San Francisco had no magic, where could it be found?

Janet tried three more times with the same result, “Thud, clunk, clunk, clunk.” We retrieved the pot (fortunate that it hadn’t taken out a drunk from the corner bar) put it back in the kitchen and we both went to bed still wondering where was the magic — the celebration — this miraculous thing that changed one year into another — where was the old bearded man carrying the sickle — and the stork delivering the Baby New Year?   Continue reading

BE THE ANSWER TO SOMEONE’S PRAYER

December 23, 2016 —  This is a reprint from Christmas 2010, and is so applicable today knowing that there are so many homeless and less fortunate than we are. I was joyful when, in spite of the problem of Alzheimer’s in our home, I could be of help to my fellow man.

Last year, a week or so before Christmas, I flipped through our church magazine stopping at an article titled, “Be The Answer To Someone’s Prayer.”  Captivated by the thought I read the article through. But how could I be the answer to someone’s prayers I wondered feeling totally inadequate to qualify for such a spiritual undertaking.

Please don’t misunderstand.  I believe in causes, dropping money into the Salvation Army’s kettle, helping others, and I loved all of the old TV angel programs often to the point of shedding a few tears at the happy endings.  I have also been known to hand money to a guy carrying a gas can who asks for help in getting his car filled and the family back home.  “It’s a scam, Mom,” I was repeatedly told by any one of my adult sons.  “That’s all right,” I have answered.  “If it is a scam, then he has the problem, but I did the right thing in helping.”  Is that an answer to someone’s prayer – again I’m not sure – or am I a sucker for a scam?

It was several days before Christmas. 2010 had not been a great year for  us. Ken’s Alzheimer’s had been relentless in rotting his brain as I continued to care for him as best I could. Furthermore, our car had been hit by a drunk driver in February leaving me close to death. With fabulous care, wonderful doctors, and the Lord’s blessings I recovered, doing my rehab, walks and exercise. Several months later I was near normal, and now here  it was Christmas time again.

As I was getting dinner, I heard the doorbell. Answering, there was a man asking if he could rake the leaves from my lawn for a donation?At first I just wanted him to be gone so I could get back to dinner before it burned or Ken got involved making a mess of everything. Then I recalled the article I had just read about being the answer to someone’s prayer. I rethought my former annoyance and said, “Go ahead, and put the leaves in the recycle can at the side of the house.

I went into my room and took two matching bills from my wallet putting each one into separate front pockets of my jeans. If he did a poor job I would give him one. If the lawn was clear from leaves I would give him both bills. A few minutes later the bell rang again. I looked at the lawn and it was free from leaves except for the few fluttering to the ground. “Here you are,” I said handing him the two bills, “and Thank you.” “Thank you,” he called and Merry Christmas.”  Was I the answer to his prayer. Again, I don’t know. Perhaps the amount of the two bills was all he needed. The one thing I know for sure is that I felt good. The best I had felt in a long while.

 

ANOTHER ACT OF KINGNESS

In a recent email I read the following account from a doctor who had been on his way home after a long, difficult day at the hospital. As he left his work he felt totally worn out and anxiously  journeyed toward home and comfort on the cold winter’s night. Suddenly, his car spluttered and chocked forcing him to take the next exit off the freeway. “This is all I need right now,” he grumbled pulling into the nearest gas station to see what the trouble might be. The car stalled near a very troubled woman who appeared to have fallen down next to a gas pump.  Asking if she needed help, the tearful, haggard woman said she didn’t want her children to see her cry.  Our Good Samaritan, as it turned out, noticed the older car filled with stuff and three kids in the back – one in a car seat.  Summing up the situation he took his credit card and sliced it through the machine nearest her gas pump saying, “I’m the answer to your prayer.”  She looked at him with surprise, and he followed with, “You were praying, weren’t you?”

As the car filled he went next door to a McDonald’s, then returned with two bags filled with burgers plus fries and for her a cup of coffee. The children tore into the food like  small hungry wolves.  “What are you,” the woman asked, “some kind of angel. “No,” he replied, “Angels are pretty busy this time of year, so in ;many cases  God has to use humans.”

She then shared her story about a worthless boyfriend, never to be seen again, who had left her with the three children. She was on her way to California where she would be reunited with her parents with whom she been estranged  for more than five years. They were willing to help their daughter and her children until she could get back on her feet, and were looking forward too meeting their grandchildren.

The doctor saw the woman on her way, and then returned to his car. Tomorrow he would take it in to his mechanic and find the problem. Getting into the car he had no trouble getting it started again, and he was certain that the mechanic would find nothing wrong either.

 

SILVER BELLS, AND CHRISTMAS TIME BEFORE ALZHEIMER’S

Dear Readers:  December 10, 2016 — It’s that time of year once again, one where we think of others and strive to be more charitable and generous with our fellow man. As I thought about this blog, I’ve decided to share one I wrote in 2009 Some of the season’s treasurers are made up of sight and sound. So I think again of the sound of silver bells ringing. Come with me to another time and place.

CHRISTMAS TIME LONG AGO –My friend, Kenny, (not to be confused with my son Kenney nor my husband, Ken) loves winter and everything about it: the cold outside and the warmth inside,the threatening storm clouds filled with buckets of rain  or snow, and a blustery north wind eventually pushes him home for a cup of steaming hot chocolate, but most of all he loves Christmas and all that it represents.  And one of his favorite Christmas songs is “Silver Bells.”  No doubt written long before he was born, he hums the melody and chants the words reminding me of another time and place when Ken and I were young and living in the “City.”  The city for us being San Francisco, California.

When we were first married, we lived in a one-bedroom flat just north of Twin Peaks  and three long, steep blocks up the hill from Market Street.   Then it was down the hill to catch any street car taking us downtown to shop. 

Unlike my friend, Kenny, I never did memorize all  of the words to “Silver Bells,” but bits and pieces spring to mind when I think of me and Ken shopping for our first Christmas in the city, which was long before we ever heard the word Alzheimer’s. Let’s see, what were some of the words? 

“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in Holiday style….” Then it spoke of “children laughing, people smiling….,”   and somewhere it told of shoppers hurrying home with their treasures —  and the bells —  “Ring-a-ling, hear them sing….soon it will be Christmas Day….”  It is such a joyful song and the lyrics tell it just the way it was — and possibly still is – somewhere.   

I remember the two of us being part of the happy crowds along Market Street, dodging raindrops as we wandered from one department store to another until we reached the Emporium which was our favorite.  The windows were a panorama of Christmas: elaborate winter scenes with colorful lights and delightfully animated characters.  Everywhere, it seemed,  you could see the Salvation Army bell-ringers next to a donation kettle and when you listened you heard “Ring-a-line.” Whether the writers of the song were thinking of the donation kettles, or sleigh bells, we never knew, but it didn’t – and doesn’t – matter. It was the bell ringers we always thought about when we heard the song – and to this day it is their image, the cheerful volunteers, for the Salvation Army that enters my mind when I hear Silver Bells.

Years later, about  a week and a half before Christmas when Ken and I walked through our neighborhood to see the lights. he remembered he hadn’t done any Christmas shopping, I promised him we would go the following week.  Of course, Alzheimer’s prevented his remembrance of his earlier remark, but we went shopping anyway.  My list had a few empty spots so we drove to the Mall three nights in a row; short trips so Ken didn’t get too tired. Going near the dinner hour is a good time to shop, and grab a quick bite to eat for ourselves.  Either people are at home for the evening meal or inside the Mall at any one of the restaurants.  Furthermore the stores are less crowded, the lines to the registers comparatively short and they moved quickly.

I like the Malls.  They are warm and dry and convenient, but this year, somehow, I missed getting wet dodging those raindrops, and I’m not sure if I noticed as many smiling faces and laughing children, but most of all I missed the bells. 

In front of the Post Office, there was a bell-ringer and a donation kettle, but I don’t believe I saw any others.  I doubt that San Francisco’s Market Street would be any different.  The Emporium has long since been absorbed by Macy’s, its glory days gone, the display windows dark  and forgotten.  I miss that almost innocent, joyful spirit  from long ago — you know — the way you feel when you watch “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and I wonder if the bell-ringers and the donation kettles are as few and far between in San Francisco as they were here in suburbia.   Not having them  …….”on every street corner”……… with their silver bells somehow diminishes the celebration of the Season by giving and sharing our abundance.

This year of 2009 is now a Christmas past.  The hustle-bustle is over and so is the cherished music of the season.  I doubt we’ll be hearing “Silver Bells” any time soon and the donation kettle in front of the post office is gone.   

Our Christmas with family went very well and Ken did as best as he was able.  However, his AD has advanced considerably since last Christmas, and I know that soon I will need help in caring for him. 

Opening gifts was meaningless to him even though I coached him through the process.  Our daughter-in-law, Sabina, and our granddaughter, Jessica, baked him some cookies.  He was impressed with that gift.  “These are mine,” he proclaimed.  I thought to myself, “A bit of enthusiasm, how nice.”  While each passing year comes with a little more melancholy, I still acknowledge that I have much for which to be grateful, and I periodically pause to express my thanks to the All Mighty for blessings and for the birth of his holy Son, Jesus Christ, and the real reason for this joyous season.

However, I think I’ll go to the Mall tomorrow and pick up some silver bells at one of the big “After Christmas Holiday Decoration Sales,” but, I won’t be packing them away.  Instead, I’ll keep them close by and ring them periodically to remind me to keep on counting my blessings and that in spite of AD, life is good. In fact, it’s been a wonderful life.

AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE

TODAY IS A GOOD TIME TO BEGIN

December 9, 2016 – Recently – less than a month ago – most of us sat down to a Thanksgiving dinner and proclaimed our gratitude for all the good things that come into our lives such as family, friends, food on the table, a warm bed and heat in the furnace. And we are grateful, I do believe that. Yet, many pushed their chairs away from the table to scurry down to the mall to purchase more of what we had just given thanks for: more of whatever. I realize that much which was purchased, at the expense of spending precious time with friends and family, was in preparation for the busy, hustle-bustle Christmas holiday. There must be presents for all. I suppose it’s just our materialistic nature and over-the-top advertising that drives us too spend, often more than we can afford, in an effort to show everyone that we do really love them. What’s the answer to this compulsive buying? I don’t have one, but we can begin with gratitude for what we have.

GROCERY SHOPPING

Today I needed to refill my pantry, cupboards, and that big white box in the kitchen with many stock items that were either very low or I was completely out. That included fresh produce. Getting into the car and halfway to the grocery, I wondered if I had placed all the reusable bags back behind the seat or were they still sitting on a kitchen chair waiting to be returned to their proper place for the next trip for food. In California, in certain counties, and I live in one of them, any store that sells food of any kind no longer asks, “Paper or plastic?” You either bring your own bags or juggle your purchase home any way you know how. So I said to myself out loud, “Darn, I forgot my bags.” No big deal. You can buy bags at the grocery, but that goes against my grain. I have more bags at home than I know what to do with, and I don’t need more.

That’s when I thought about gratitude. Quickly I put my forgotten bags from my mind and moved onto what was important. I am grateful that I have a fully stocked store close by where I can buy anything I need. So instead of grumbling to myself about the forgotten bags I switched to being grateful for the convenience of a nearby grocery.

IT’S AN ATTITUDE

A young acquaintance of mine recently published his book on Amazon. The title tells the story. “Flip The Gratitude Switch.” Good advice, and we all should do that every time we find ourselves grumbling about any annoying problem we might believe we are suffering. Most of us are not suffering. Most live in a comfortable home with comforts and luxuries never before imagined by any society in the world.

What’s more, they tell me that with the technology out there we haven’t seen anything yet. That brings just a little bit of fear to my heart, but when good things come, I’m going to be grateful and strive not to grumble about the inconveniences of life. After all, my children survived having to walk through nine feet of olive green shag carpeting to change the TV channel, and then nine feet back to their chair, but they were grateful they had a television.

NO GUILT WITH ALZHEIMER’S

December 3, 2016 – Just like other important things in our lives that disappear with Alzheimer’s, and other types of dementia-related diseases, decisions about right and wrong vanish as if they were lacy clouds on a windy afternoon.

Even though mom and dad taught their young ones it was wrong to take something that didn’t belong to you, the idea quickly becomes a concept least understood as the brain dismisses other learned values over years of any one of the mind diseases. There are times when an Alzheimer’s patient is about on the same level as a three-year-old who takes something because he/she either wants it or believes it is his. Not like a major theft which takes planning and preparation, but a spontaneous reaction to what might be done in his own home.

THE MAIL IS MINE

If the mailman came before I could get it from the box, Ken grabbed it and took it inside where he studied each envelope, contents and ad. He then folded what he believed to be important, and put it in his shirt pocket until he decided where to hide it from me.

ANOTHER PERSON’S MAIL

One day we were visiting friends who had just purchased a new home near the Delta area of San Francisco’s Bay. The four of us enjoyed a lovely dinner provided by our hostess, and then adjourned to the living room for further conversation. As we talked, mainly the three of us – them knowing and understanding Ken’s condition, he sat nearby looking at the newspaper. The pleasant evening ended when Ken became tired and I knew it was time to go home. We said goodbye to our friends and left. There was nothing unusual about the evening.

DAYLIGHT BRINGS A PROBLEM

The next morning I answered the phone to find our friend, Les, on the line. “Did Ken happen to take my coupon home by mistake when you left.” I knew it would be useless to ask Ken who would remember nothing about the previous day so I began looking on tables, nightstands and finally in the pocket of his shirt. “Guilty.” As I rummaged through what appeared just throw-away junk from the mail I found the coupon.

Sorry,” I apologized picking up the phone. “I’ll put it in the mail today. I am so embarrassed that he took it. I guess he thought it was his mail as he looked it over while we were talking.”

Les assured me that he understood about Ken’s illness, but that really didn’t make me feel better. I found myself wary about taking him to the homes of other friends. What else might “Light-fingers Louie” find that he may have thought was his, or even in a store. I know he wouldn’t serve time, and I’m certain that with the general knowledge of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, no one would call the police. Still, when we were shopping or visiting I watched him even more closely than before.

What a terrible disease.

THANKSGIVING 2016

THE SUPERBOWL OF GRATITUDE:THANKSGIVING

November 25, 2016 – I like to think of this national holiday as at least one day out of each year when families actually count their blessings. And what better day than this historical day of gratitude. So what do we get instead?

ANOTHER GRINCH STEALING TIME FROM FAMILIES

Such incredible greed from corporate America. It was all so subtle: Black Friday filled with enticing advertisements throughout Thursday’s paper. Instead of sitting by the cozy fire with family and friends, the feasters gather around the ads to see what’s a great buy, and making mental notes about how nice Aunt so and so would love this, and at such a bargain.

Hardly had their heads touched their pillows, a few years back, than the alarm sounded for the early. early wake-up call to throw on some clothes, leap into the car and drive off to the mall to be first in line for these never-to-be-offered- again items, the same items that will be on sale in a few weeks. Merchandisers are not going to give up their edge in getting the merriment or bah-humbug shoppers back into the stores to gobble up the bargains like that Thanksgiving bird eating his last meal.

FRIDAY WAS BAD ENOUGH

But now the merchants have made a big intrusion into the holiday itself. It’s no longer just Black Friday, but it now encroaches into Thursday afternoon. “Doors Open at 3:00. Be first to finish your Christmas shopping.” At 3:00 our house is still filled with family and friends just finishing up the last drumstick with hardly time to pick up the empty plates. Nevertheless, our family has only once been lured by the bargains to leap up from the table to scamper off to do Christmas shopping. That was way back when it was still  Black Friday. Today, even the auto industry has jumped on the Black Friday bandwagon. What better time than the day after Thanksgiving to get rid of last years models Nevertheless, our family hasn’t been lured away to buy the bargains, not even a good deal on a car. For that I am very grateful. I’m not going to protest by knocking down a pile of neatly-stacked socks. I’ve decided to do my shopping this year on line. The bonus: it’s delivered to my house. Too bad it isn’t gift wrapped.

PEACE REINS SUPREME

The cozy fire crackles on into the remaining day and evening. It has been a lovely time. Nothing is better than family. That’s the way it’s been with us for as long as I can remember. Hopefully, that’s how it will always be, at least at our house. I do hope your day was as good.

ALZHEIMER’S — ALL IN THE FAMILY

SOMETIMES YES, SOMETIMES NO.

November 18, 2016 – When a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle is diagnosed with one of the dementia diseases, there is a natural concern throughout the family wondering if he/she could be carrying the gene.

EARLY DECISIONS

Shortly after Eugene returned from Europe following the end of WWII, one of my husband’s cousins, we’ll call him Eugene became engaged to a lovely young woman, and I’ll call her Gloria. They had been completely honest with one another about how each felt about having a family.

Gloria was first to say that she did not want to bring children into the world because she had some relatives who appeared to have mental problems. Several of her mother’s siblings became terribly confused in their older years. So confused they could not function in any normal way, nor could they be left alone. Gloria saw the future with children as something she could control. She did not want to pass along what she considered a defect in her family to another generation.

Eugene, of course, was disappointed, but loved Gloria enough to accept her decision. Together they would enjoy the nieces and nephews or children of their friends and not become parents. Gloria was terrified that her children could be part of the same sad life that she was aware of within her own family.

They both became career people, each successful in their chosen professions, and became a favorite aunt and uncle to many, or simply carrying the honorary title for the children of close friends. Neither regretted their decision to remain childless.

A SURPRISE DISCOVERY

During the years that followed, the couple noticed that several of Eugene’s aunts and uncles developed the same state of confusion that Gloria had feared so adamantly. Possibly the children brought into their world just might inherit the strange disease from Eugene’s side of the family. Over the long haul their children could have a double whammy of the troublesome gene from both families.

Perhaps it is a good idea to be tested before marriage, if there is concern, to see if one or the other young person has the gene that would bring Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related diseases to future generations. Even if a couple decides to adopt a family, they still run the chance that an adopted baby may have the damaging gene.

NUMBERS ARE EXPLODING

Within the statistics of today’s world regarding dementia-related diseases, and increasing constantly, my uneducated, unprofessional guess would be that, even though AD has been around for more than one hundred years, I believe the cause will eventually be related to what is happening in the environment. Now remember this is opinion, not fact. But there are times when we must ask ourselves what are we messing up now?

HONORING A VETERAN WITH ALZHEIMER’S

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Honor Guard Veteran pin

Following Ken’s funeral, because he was a WWII Veteran, I received this logo coin from the Riders in honor and in memory of my husband Ken.

HONORING MY VETERAN TWO YEARS AGO

November 11, 2016 – When you’ve been married most of your adult life, it feels like forever. Yet when one spouse passes to the other side and the years continue, that time afterward also feels like forever. It’s been just two years since Ken passed on to the other side. The grief subsides, but the missing of your best friend and loving companion never goes away.

I was pleased with the day we all said our goodbyes to our veteran husband/friend/father. Our children shared remembrances of him as they recalled their fun-loving father and his endless stories. Ken loved his time in the Navy and the years before sailing on a sea-going tugboat with the Merchant Marines where the little craft towed portable dry docks from island to island in the South Pacific.

Our son Keith spoke of his years as Scout Master for our local church troop, pack nights, and the memories gleaned by other young men as he praised their accomplishments and earned badges.

THE PATRIOT GUARD RIDERS ESCORT

With the church services over we were escorted to the cemetery by the Patriot Guard Riders. Perhaps you have seen them on Facebook or other social media. Often when people notice all of the riders on motorcycles their first thought is a group of Hell’s Angels. Some of the riders may belong to that club or other clubs, but when you see them as part of a funeral procession, all carrying flags, they are Patriot Guard Riders. These men come from all walks of life: doctors, lawyers, accountants, tinkers, tailors, cowboys and maybe even some sailors. The commonality they share, however, is they are all veterans, many of whom were Vietnam Vets. If ever there was a group of honorable men and women who should have had the thanks and recognition of a grateful nation it was the veterans from that unpopular war,but it was not forthcoming from the American people. A returning Army nurse from a field unit mentioned that she had been spat upon by a citizen when she walked down the street in uniform. The vets began to organize vowing that every vet should and wuld be honored. If circumstances had been different with Ken, and Alzheimer’s had not been a part of his life, I truly believe that he would have been a part of the Patriot Guard Riders.

COUNCILMAN KEVIN AND SOMETIMES MAYOR OF OAKLEY, CA.

As a councilman for his small city in Contra Costa County, CA., Councilman Kevin , our oldest son,and his committee organized and brought about a Veterans’ Memorial section to their Town Square. To cover the cost. families were invited to purchase a brick which would be engraved with the veteran’s name and service. The bricks were laid as the flooring for the outdoor memorial. The Patriot Guard Riders were part of the dedication. It was  Kevin who asked if I wanted a flag escort to see Ken to his final resting place. I thought it would be something my husband would have treasured, so Kevin made the contact and the men on bikes with flags were there for the escort.

I’ve seen the Riders on social media as they escort human remains of military personnel from the airport to a final resting place throughout the U. S. , as well as a small-town veteran, the Riders once again giving their final salute to one of their veteran brothers.

If you happen to see them, give a thumbs up and a thank you sir, for your service. It’s never too late to show your gratitude.

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