I don't think I was the only one with tears running down my cheeks when Tim McGraw sang Glen Campbell's Oscar-nominated song, "I'm Not Gonna Miss You," at the Oscars. The song deals with Campbell's struggle with Alzheimer's disease. He was diagnosed with the disease in 2011. Rather than hiding it, Campbell and his family chose to give the world an inside look at his battle with the disease as they embarked on an emotional and triumphant nationwide tour. The documentary movie, "I'll Be Me," chronicles the diagnosis and what they thought would be a five-week tour.
What a change since I wrote last month's article. Last month, I was anticipating the holidays, having family together, hoping to keep the rollercoaster of emotions in check as the list of things that "must" be done grew larger and focusing on not letting my gas tank run too low. As I write this article, my family just left after a week packed with fun and memories. The house is very quiet and empty, presents are unwrapped, and frankly, the Christmas music just had to be shut off. Yes, and my gas tank is very low. As much as the quiet is welcome, it's also difficult.
Heading to Grandma's house has a whole new meaning for me this year. Anticipating the holidays with family and friends is a great time of excitement, a time when memories come back so easily and all is meant to be joyful. My 6-month-old granddaughter will be squealing with delight and saying, "Gramamamama," when she rolls in the door. After all, she is brilliant!
"Well, there will be 47 people here. The menu will be the same, of course. Karen is bringing apple salad, Marlene the pies. Of course, I'll be making the turkey, potatoes and lefsa." Sound familiar? That's an exact quote from my Grandma Dude every year before Thanksgiving. I hope I never forget it. My mind starts focusing more on memories this time of year. It probably started with celebrating All Saints Day at church and the smile that comes to my face as I recall past memories of loved ones. Many memories that involve the holidays and traditions come back easily.
I was lucky enough to visit my parents this weekend. As I walked into the house, my mom greeted me and immediately took me to her pills setup system. "It's 12 p.m. and I just took this one, is that right?" she asked. It's a constant concern for her when Dad's not home. Did I remember to take my medication? I wish I could do something to make it easier for her and allow her the freedom of not having her medications on her mind all day. Did you know that half of older adults take five or more medications each day? About 25 percent of them take 10-19 pills each day.
How to not feel helpless Sometimes you just feel so helpless. Mom's memory is getting worse. Dad is a wonderful, dedicated caregiver, but at times runs out of patience. She is so dependent on him and it's wearing. He thinks no one else can care for her as well as he can. She's not comfortable without him in the house. It's a story I hear over and over again. Alzheimer's. Dementia. Other memory loss diseases. Families searching for answers. Families may be overwhelmed with the amount of information and education available, or they may be at a loss in knowing what to do.
Please forgive me, but today this article is going to be a bit about me. My hope is that my experiences can actually help others to see what they may have been ignoring, or procrastinating, or trying to not see.
I ACT on Alzheimer’s because I’m a daughter. There are lots of you daughters out there and sons and spouses and grandchildren and co-workers and long-time friends. I wasn’t shocked, but the reality of the hands going up was devastating. The question “Do you know a person or a family that has been affected by Alzheimer’s?” There are few people who haven’t felt the affects of this devastating illness.
Who came up with the fact that we need to know what we’re eating three times a day? What an annoyance! It seems every time you turn around, you need to think about food. Grab some breakfast on the way out the door. Should I pack my lunch or buy something? What will we have for dinner tonight? Are there groceries? Kids will be home for the weekend, stock up! Wow, I should really clean out the fridge. So many things and I haven’t even mentioned the dishes and who cleans the pans? Ugg! No wonder seniors just decide it’s easier to give up. I’m with them!
By DEB CRANNY I just love the new year. It’s such a great time to start over, get a clean slate. You can forget those things you wish you would have done better, and just plain try again. I love it.