Dear Heroes - Our first class of the 4-part series with MALT was great. We had 4 attendees and our speaker of the evening, Ms. Elissa Lewin of Nancy's House Respite Care Program, was phenomenal. We spent time exchanging information about our own particular cargiver experiences and found there were a number of similarities....the most outstanding being the fact that as Baby Boomers, those of us who are actualy doing the cargiving is not necessarily by choice, but by the fact that we are the ones who initially stepped up and find ourselves alone as everyone else feels "we have it covered". Wrong!!!! We do need help from our family members and the only way to get it is to speak up about, loud and clear. Communicating clearly to our family members is the only way to get the message across.
One member is taking a proactive stance by attending this series as her mother begins to show signs of dementia and she wanted to make sure she's properly prepared for what may be coming. She is residing with her mom and her sibling is on the fringe of things. She's made it clear to her sibling that help is needed and there's no way she can do this alone. Well done!! Another member's mother is 99 y.o. living on her own at the shore, seemingly pretty self-reliant with some difficulties moving around on her own. She sounds like a wonderful woman who, having been an orphan, has made it quite clear that she would not tolerate being institutionalized again in her lifetime, so she's in her own home, with some family checking in with her daily and our Hero going to her on the weekends doing laundry, cleaning and preparing meals for the week while she's a teachers at a Catholic school that just learned that they will be closing. Just a little stress there.
The Suttons, related a story about when Kathy's mom and Chucky's dad were both cancer-ridden at the same time. When it came time for their home-going they passed about a week apart. It took the family's friends and neighbors to ensure all was coveredf at each household so that the family's could properly say farewell to their loved ones. This was an exceedingly hard time for them, yet they handled it with grace as they've been blessed with caring friends and neighbors to help.
In conclusion, Elissa helped clarify some information for us. She gave us a clear explanation as to why we get "set in our ways" as compared to a salt crystal, where we become less able to be flexible in accepting change. With the dementia patients this crytalization is evidenced through paranoia, thinking that someone is stealing their personal goods, when it's they who have hidden it from themselves and forgot about it. With Alzheimers' it a loss of the short term memory and an inability to connect with the present that presents a major problem for them. Once they are focused on a subject, no matter how unreal it sounds and feels to us, it's real to them, so we have to be flexible in recognizing that whatever they may be stuck on, they cannot do anything to change it right then. We can only hope that with some rest, they will not continue on that same subject, we can only hope.
I am very pleased with the outcome of this meeting and invited the members to return next week with a guest to keep it interesting.