I'm trusting that everyone had a pleasant Thanksgiving. I know we did. My dear Grandmother ate like there was no tomorrow. She even fixed her a plate to take home with her next door. It was a joy to see her enjoying herself so much. We made it a very simple meal with few guests so she didn't get agitated. I'm in hopes that Christmas will go just as well.
Speaking of Christmas, I hope everyone is taking it slow and easy as not to get totally stressed out. I got smart this year and started buying and wrapping in October so I am basically done. I am still picking up some stocking stuffers as I see them though. It is leaving me with some free time to spend with my grandmother since this is the first holiday season she is having to go through without my grandfather. I am thankful that I remembered to get started so early this year.
We Could All Learn A Thing From This 10-Year-Old
Dear Mrs. Stephens,
My grandfather has Alzheimer's and our local nursing home gave a class on how we can help him to be happier. My grandmother thought you might want to give these tips to other people.
--Melissa M., Smyrna, TN
From Grandparent's Corner by Barbara Stephens in the Nov.18,2000 of The Tennessean.
Child Shows The Way
"I'm here, Granny" Ricky announced. Mandy watched the small boy touch the old lady's hand and smile at her. Mom Perkins looked blankly at him and said nothing. Ricky didn't seem to care. He kept chattering away.
"Can we take Granny for a ride to see the lights, Mama?", he asked. Mandy wondered what was the use. Her mother wouldn't know whether there were Christmas lights or not. She didn't realize it was Christmas any more, the season she always enjoyed.
They wheeled Mom Perkins to the activity room. There the nursing home's Christmas tree shone with twinkling lights, and carols peeled forth from a CD player. "See the lights Granny," said Ricky, pointing to the colored lights. "And here's a Christmas ball. It has a picture of baby Jesus in the manger."
Mom Perkins didn't respond, but Ricky kept talking. She doesn't understand, Mandy felt like shouting to her son. She's not the person I remember. Mandy recalled Christmas celebrations of her childhood when her mother played such a prominent role. Then Ricky tugged at her arm.
"Granny smiled at me, Mama," he said with a grin. "She likes the lights." Oh, yeah, thought Mandy.
Ricky continued, "See, she's moving her hand to the music." Yes, Mom Perkins was patting the arm of the wheelchair almost as though she heard the music.
"She always liked Christmas carols," Mandy explained to Ricky. "She liked to take us to church on Christmas when we sang carols."
"She still likes them, Mama," said Ricky. Then he began patting the arm of the chair along with his grandmother. This is what Christmas is all about, thought Mandy, beginning to feel more at peace. A smile came to her face as she watched her son and his grandmother. Ricky has shown me how to enjoy someone even when they can't respond or be the person we remember. I have to accept Mom where she's at.
Mandy realized, too, that her mother could still enjoy Christmas but at a different level now. It took a little boy to show me, she thought.
"Let's take her to see more Christmas decorations, Mama," said Ricky. Mandy helped Ricky push Mom Perkins down the hall to see a Christmas wreath with a bright red and silver bow.
Before they left the nursing home, Ricky placed an ornament he'd made on the nightstand beside the bed...a gift for his Granny. But his greater gift is accepting her where she's at, thought Mandy, and teaching me to do the same.
(c)2000 Mary Emma Allen
There is a wonderful article here entitled "Coping with Holidays as a Caregiver" by Brenda Race. I just found it and requested permission to reprint but I wanted you all to be able to read it now. I didn't give Brenda Sibley a chance to reply. I thought it was useful for right now as it wouldn't do much good to reprint it in our Christmas issue. :)
With the Three Stages of
As I learned to cope with my mom's Alzheimer's and help her with this phase of her life, I realized it's a devastating disease, but doesn't have to devastate us nor our family members. At this point in time we can't change the situation; some medications may appear to help slow Alzheimer's down, but we can't cure it yet.
So how do we cope?
I found that learning all I could about the disease helped me understand Mother better and enabled me to assist her through this ordeal. Knowing what to expect doesn't lessen our emotional turmoil nor sadness that this is happening, but it usually prepares us better to cope and help our loved one.
What is Alzheimer's Disease?
Alzheimer's affects the brain, how one thinks and acts, how one remembers and copes with situations. This illness of the brain results in this organ losing nerve cells which causes problems with the thinking process, with memory, and with everyday living.
Although scientists don't know the exact cause of Alzheimer's, they are continuing their research. There isn't any known cure at this time although the symptoms can be treated, and learning all we can about the disease aids us and our family members to come to terms with it.
Three Stages of Alzheimer's
Generally speaking, there are three stages of Alzheimer's.
There is no way of knowing how long each stage will last in each person; some symptoms are more pronounced in one person than another. Some will react differently to the events Alzheimer's brings into their lives. However, in general, Alzheimer's falls into these three categories.
Mild Alzheimer's Disease
The first symptom generally is memory loss. However, since memory loss or decrease can be caused by a variety of aging ailments, it doesn't necessarily indicate that a person will develop Alzheimer's. But if memory loss continues, look for other symptoms:
Moderate Alzheimer's Disease
The above symptoms will become more pronounced at the moderate stage. Other symptoms will appear.
At this stage the person with Alzheimer's can't care for themselves at all.
Finding More Information
I've only touched briefly upon the various stages of Alzheimer's as I discovered them in my mother and my aunt. There are books to read and experienced people you can talk with at assisted living homes and nursing homes, at Alzheimer's support groups, the Alzheimer's Association, and other organizations on Alzheimer's and aging.
(c)1999 Mary Emma Allen
(Author Mary Emma Allen is the daughter of an Alzheimer's patient
and has been responsible for her mother's care for many years.
She shares with others on how to cope through talks and her book,
"When We Become the Parent to Our Parents."
I moved Elsie to Golden Valley Hacienda in Alejuela Costa Rica. It's summer here and nice and warm and breezy. Golden Valley is set up to cater to North American residents with Alzheimer's. They have excellent hospitals and doctors for the dementia.
If possible I would like to share with the Ribbon's subscribers, the care services offered here. Just prior to coming here, Elsie was back in a psychiatric Hospital for behavioral problems that the nursing home could not handle. I decided to make the move because I foresaw a revolving door syndrome between the Psych hospital and the nursing home. Each time the med balancing act becomes less effective, and because Elsie is so young to she is very strong, which makes handling more difficult. Here in Costa Rica the caregivers are much more tolerant, and provide one to three on one service. It will take awhile for Elsie to adjust to the new environment, and get the meds fine tuned.
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and Golden Valley Hacienda's web site is costaricanursing.com. I'm also working on an Article about Costa Rica care for Alzheimer's: An Alternative Long Term Care Strategy
If ever I needed the 'thorn' lesson it was now. My husband has been in a nursing home since last April. He went in completely helpless due to a stroke. He has recovered due to the excellent care given him. He is now able to walk and seems to be normal with the exception of terrible temper tantrums. The nursing home has kicked him out since he was a threat to the other patients. His doctor is giving him Alzheimer's medication. As far as I can tell it is not helping. He rolled an helpless old man outside in his wheelchair and left him. Fortunately the staff saw it take place. His temper is violent and I have no choice but to bring him home. I read all the Ribbons faithful. I just wonder if anyone else has had these kind of problems with their loved ones.
Bless you and Happy Thanksgiving, Lorraine Tucker
Editor's note: I know that many of you have experienced these types of behavior problems. Please be kind enough to speed an email to Lorraine to give her some helpful advice. If you would, please send a copy to KMenges581 to be included in the next issue.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Karen. I received The Ribbon this time and enjoyed it very much. Don't know if I mentioned that Brenda Avadian contacted me, asking to use in her upcoming book one of the articles that appeared in The Ribbon. I'm thrilled. All because you used it in The Ribbon.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Just in case you are wondering, the last few issues have been shortened a bit. This is due to the hustle and bustle of the holidays. It is easier for us to get out and for you to read.
If you have any articles, poems, stories of past Christmases, or anything you'd like to contribute to our Christmas issue we would love to have them. We want to make it a special issue.
Memories make good reading and help heal wounded hearts when we write them. If you would just like to take a moment to tell someone you love them we would like to have those also.