Family

ALZHEIMER’S TIME TRAVEL – SOMEWHERE IN TIME

movie poster Somewhere In Time

A romantic time travel movie has this caregiver reminiscing the similarities with Alzheimer’s.

REMEMBERING AN OLD FAVORITE TIME TRAVEL MOVIE

 January 17, 2014 —  If you saw the movie I doubt you’ll ever forget the intensity of their love.   Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour together in a time travel romantic story that became a cult film classic.  No, neither of the characters had Alzheimer’s, but their experience is a mind-blowing concept.

There he was, handsome and suave, even without his Superman costume, but instead of being Clark Kent, Reeves’ protrayed a young man named Richard Collins who was celebrating his first writing effort at the college premier of his successful play.   Moving past his friends is an old woman who says simply, “Come back to me,” and at the same time gives him an old pocket watch which she had given him during another time and at another place. Continue reading

Originally posted 2014-01-19 04:31:24.

ALZHEIMER’S AND A MELTDOWN

baby possum

Even a tiny possum can cause a big meltdown.

The wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz had a meltdown.  One splash of water and she was gone like my grandmother’s spit on a hot iron. Now that’s what I call a meltdown.  No, I haven’t had anything like that and I don’t mean to poke fun at an extremely serious medical condition. Perhaps I’ve wanted to collapse a few times and let them take me away. If only there had been more time, and I needed the respite.  But the days are always lacking in enough hours to get the necessities done and over.  Having a meltdown is not nor has it ever been on my to-do list. Continue reading

Originally posted 2013-10-20 04:55:06.

EVEN 33 HOURS CAN BE A VACATION

My grand daughter Katie and her new husband Brian

My granddaughter Katie and her new husband Brian

July 20, 2012 — Alzheimer’s is a prison for the victim and often for the caregiver.  As caregivers, especially those of us who care for our loved one at home, we struggle against the confinement.  Keeping our head above water in the never-ending stream of responsibilities and duties we must fight diligently to give ourselves the needed breaks we not only deserve, but desperately need.  I periodically write about breaks” for caregivers and the different things we can do, places to go and the importance of friends not only to keep us as a viable part of society, but to keep us sane as well.  Undoubtedly, all of those suggestions seem to work for the day-to-day functions of our busy and often stressful lives. Continue reading

Originally posted 2012-07-20 21:21:59.

REMEMBERING MY FATHER

Edwin Weeks with horse

My father Edwin Weeks

June 15, 2012 — My father was a big burley man born at the beginning of the last century. With good looks, little education, and a work ethic that wouldn’t quit he managed to attract lovely Irene, artistic Irene and scholarly Irene. Having one semester of college she continued learning nearly all of her life. Their story is another of Alzheimer’s and love and caregiving.  In spite of his dirt-farmer background with no other experience, the couple moved from eastern Utah to San Francisco where he found sporadic work during the Great Depression. The dollars were scarce, but they managed, barely keeping their small family housed and fed.

THE WAR YEARS

“Give it a try,” Irene advised her hard-working, but reluctant, husband as he read the ad for workers at Vallejo, California’s Mare Island Shipyard, “all they can say is no.” Continue reading

Originally posted 2012-06-16 06:18:22.

AFTER ALZHEIMER’S — WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NOW?

Author Ann Romick

Alzheimer’s caregiver and blog author Ann Romick

June 1 2012 — Good question.  As a caregiver, you can wonder what will happen after Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lewy Body dementia, MS, cancer and a host of other awful diseases that are, in most cases, terminal.  Spouses, lovers and family members become caregivers, and often caregivers become shadows of their former selves.  Not to be dreary – that isn’t my intent.  It’s just that as caregivers we are duty bound and love bound to our patients, and responsibilities filling our every minute with something to do: constant busyness – an observation to be given considerable thought.

THE RAT RACE

It’s a rat race not only out there, but in here as well, and caregivers are the runners. As a spouse you soon become aware of how much the other spouse did in this partnership, and now you’re accountable for doing it all.  Coming, going, rushing in every which direction to get it done and still there is more to do.  Each day ends in exhaustion: physical, emotional – most of the time both — but before you can drop into bed you must make one more check to ensure your patient is all right: covered, comfortable and asleep. Continue reading

Originally posted 2012-06-02 02:59:27.

THE JOURNEY HOME

KEEPING VIGIL

dawn sun shining through clouds

Though death brings finality to Alzheimer's, caretaking survivors still grieve their loved ones.

May 25, 2012 — For the past few weeks the Alzheimer’s World and Community have been keeping vigil with Bob DeMarco as he waits by his mother’s side.  She is 95 years old. He knows death is near. Hospice is close by and ready when he needs help.  They are still at home: Dotty’s home, the same home where she kept vigil many years ago as her husband slipped away to the other side — to the light Bob explained.  Now, Dotty’s devoted son, after caring for his mother as she battled Alzheimer’s for the past eight years, waits for her inevitable exit into the light.  There were no options, no heroics; Dotty’s system has been shutting down, and Bob was told that it was just a matter of time. Continue reading

Originally posted 2012-05-26 07:02:01.

ALZHEIMER’S: ANOTHER WORLD AND COMMUNITY

Alice in Wonderland and Catepillar

Unusual happenings in the Alzheimer's World can be as strange as Alice's chat with the caterpillar.

May 18, 2012 — As stumbling humans we are either falling into a rabbit hole or squeezing through secret openings in the looking glass in much the same way as curious Alice in her Wonderland adventures.  Traveling along this road of experience called life I doubt we’ll meet up with a talking white rabbit worried about the time, or a grinning cat, but we can learn and be gifted with a multitude of different perspectives as we venture along the way.

A DIFFERENT VANTAGE POINT

From a Ferris wheel high in the sky we are left suspended in a swinging basket to survey our first upside-down world.  We may have been frightened, yet there is intrigue wondering what else is out there yet to be discovered.  Leaving the airport’s solid ground we glide upward into dandelion puffs of drifting clouds, floating on currents of air into another realm, viewing the earth below as a patchwork quilt.  Next? If we’re brave enough to put on a mask and air tank we can enter into the watery kingdom of fishes, other sea creatures and plant life living on, or near, the sandy beaches of the ocean’s floor; truly another world. And wasn’t Christopher Columbus, in his curiousity, led to a “New World?” Life is a revolving door pushing us into, in front of, behind and along the edge of the mystical looking glass whether we like it or not.  We are constantly moving through different worlds of learning, and while they might not be the fun and exciting places where Alice traveled, they are, nonetheless, for our experience and understanding. Continue reading

Originally posted 2012-05-19 05:35:16.

MOTHER’S DAY — FILLED WITH ALZHEIMER’S AND HATE

Angry mother tiger growls at baby tiger

Even in the animal kingdom, conflict exists between mothers and daughters. Photo courtsey of Tambako the Jaguar, http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070463@N03/6533105491/

CONFESSION

May 4, 2012 — Reading from the Alzheimer’s Reading Room another caregiver posed a problem to Bob DeMarco stating she was the main caregiver for her mother. Then, without hesitation, admitted she hated not only every minute of her caregiving duties, but her mother as well. She went on in her statement addressing all of the reasons for her emotions, expressing that she and mom had never gotten along, were never close, and now during this time of mom’s need the daughter was filled with resentment, anger and hatred.  “Ouch,” I thought. To further compound the dreary entry I read through a long list of comments stating mostly the same thing.  “Double ouch.” Continue reading

Originally posted 2012-05-05 03:59:46.

WHAT’S YOUR EXCUSE?

Decorated Christmas Tree
Even something as simple as putting up the Christmas tree could be a great help for Alzhiemer’s caregivers.

Continue reading

Originally posted 2011-12-10 05:37:08.

THE RUSTING YEARS

Like an old and abandoned truck, some seniors feel they are in their rusting years.

“The Golden Years my Aunt Tillie,” said Frances as we talked about these last few rungs on life’s ladder.  “They’re more like the rusting years.”  “Well put,” I had agreed as she was in the midst of recovering from a bad face-on-the-ground fall that knocked her into the next county breaking her jaw which had to be wired shut while it healed. Like a flash of lightning Frances could zap out words faster than Quick-draw McGraw could whip out his trusty six-shooters.  Her comments could be loving, kind, happy, knee-slapping funny, profound, glib, and, at times, a bit stinging. Did the wired jaw stop her conversations or even slow her quick wit?  Never.  As long as her tongue and mind worked in unison the tumbling words slid out between her teeth and lips with never a pause.

We had become good-enough friends that every so often I was allowed to say, “Oh Frances…….” when a remark might be a little too biting, too stinging or sarcastic, but most of the time I laughed.  She was very funny.

Frances was a widow, and had been for more than 15 years and even with Ken’s AD she invited us for dinner, and I, in turn, prepared dinners for her.  Ken had been Cub Master and she was a Den Mother when all of our boys were just boys.  The two hit it off famously and became the best of friends with my utmost approval.  Frances always puckered up and gave Ken a quick peck on the lips whenever they met.  Following their amicable kiss Frances would say, “How! Great White Father,” holding her hand up with an Indian greeting in reference to a long-ago Pack Night theme from a sweet, innocent time when we were all young.  Then one day we were no longer young and she was suddenly gone.  I miss my friend.

I’ve noticed that a lot lately; our friends keep dying, or they move away.  “Get some younger friends,” advised another dear friend Sofia who, with her husband Don, have moved away, but not too far, just inconveniently far.

Making “couple friends” is difficult though when your spouse has a debilitating terminal illness.  So I mostly hang out with women who have lost their husbands.  They are widows and I am sort of a widow, but I’m not.  Nevertheless, there is an inescapable loneliness in being the one left behind no matter what your title.  Unfortunately, that feeling of being alone can never be filled by friends or family, even though the need for friends and family remains paramount to the well being and happiness of the remaining individual.

I thought about this the other day when I visited Eva.  She and her husband were the entertainers from Hawaii who I have mentioned in other writings.  He’s been gone for more years than I remember, and now with her AD and circumstances dictating the remainder of her life she lives in a very nice full-care facility.  Walking through the halls I was aware of so many lonely souls sitting in their wheelchairs outside of their rooms, and I wonder who they are and about those who still share their lives.  Sofia’s husband Don has a phrase that I often think about when I visit people with full dependency on a nursing home:  “A mother can care for seven children, but seven children can’t seem to take care of one mother.”  It’s only a phrase, but following that first capital letter and the ending period, there’s a lot of truth in those few words.

I found Eva in front of her room matching the forlorn description of the others. Tiny little thing sitting there by herself, looking lost, lonely and pitiful, and I couldn’t help but feel a stab of melancholy as she scanned the area – searching – waiting.  “Let’s go for a ride,” I suggested, securing the foot rest, and then wheeling her through an open door.  It was pleasantly warm outside, so that’s where we went.  I parked her chair in the shade with ribbons of filtered sun teasing the shadowed greenery.  “Where……,” she stammered.  “What is it?” I coaxed.  “Where is my family?” she asked looking puzzled about her surroundings.  That’s the trouble with AD; the answer has been given, but the question keeps rising to the surface.  “All of your children except for Matthew live very far away,” I reminded her.  “They come when they can, but I know Matthew is here to see you almost every day.  I’m sure he’ll come later this afternoon.”  I think of Eva remembering how she was:  beautiful and vivacious in her brightly colored and fitted muumuus, and so filled with charm as she strummed her ukulele and sang melodies from the Islands and pop tunes of the day.   Now I feel overwhelmingly sad that the life she knew, her home and all that was familiar are gone.

Rather than making small talk I sing to Eva.  To those who know me really well my singing is a joke, but I’m not making conversation, nor do I, for one minute, think I’m the entertainment du jour.  I’m communicating with her spirit.  This I believe.  Eva relates to music so I softly sing some of her favorite hymns and songs I recall from her entertaining days.  She manages to join in with a few words and she smiles, and for that little while she appears to be content.

At 90 most of her friends are gone, others are not capable of travel, but I do believe there is a self-imposed detachment that happens with some friendships – and even some family members concerning these last years. I know with certainty that many people claim they don’t have the capability of coping with seeing their friend or loved one in a care facility, hospital, or even visiting the infirmed or elderly in their home; “Too depressing.  I just can’t deal with it.  It hurts me too much,” I’ve heard people say.  I understand because my father was that way.  Yet, I want to scold and remind them, “This isn’t about you.  It’s about Eva, Uncle John, Rose, grandpa, your sister, brother, your father, or Frances’ Aunt Tillie.” You need to strive to bring some joy and a little companionship into that person’s life.  Forget about yourself.  It’s called love and compassionate service, and the more you participate in reaching out to others, the more you grow as a person.  Pretty soon, you’ll even catch the spirit and you’ll be surprised at how good you will feel when bringing some brightness into another’s life.  I could say all this, but I won’t.  It isn’t my place, but if Frances were here, she would.  She might also tell them a few funny stories about the rusting years.

http://cdn.lqw.me/gather.html?t=13799573414eb9b391d20e65.80060532&m=&_adpk_datetime=2011-12-03%2008%3A02%3A10%20UTC&v=d67fc23&_adpk_src=&_adpk_subid=&h=annromick.wordpress.com

Originally posted 2011-12-03 01:59:36.

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