Back in business.
Updated: Dec 9, 2020
No, we didn't have a fire sale in May and close our Stumped Town Dementia doors. (I suspect no matter how big the mark-down, we probably couldn't move our one piece of inventory - Mom - without taking a big, BIG loss.) We've just been slammed, bammed, and thank you mammed the entire month of June.
Both MotherMinder and myself took time off at the end of May, which resulted in me scratching and clawing my way out of a crater of financial, work, and household to-do's that left no time to-done a post or two. Was my 5-day respite vacation worth it? Hellz yeah! I came home rested and rejuvenated without having to touch my emergency bail-money fund (although, gawd knows we tried).
FYI... Don't drink and park at the beach, unless it happens to be
the last day of your respite vacation and getting arrested with your girlfriends for being
too sexay (read: smashed) don't sound like that bad of an alternative to going home!
But June wasn't all bill paying and car fixing and doctor going, it had it's share of dementia triumphs and trials too.
While a vintage car show in the morning produced glares of "Girl, I have never liked you" from Mom, the Pride Community Potluck that we attended later at Creator Lutheran Church coaxed a couple of smiles out of her! Everyone was so welcoming and amiable. It was by far the nicest anyone was to me all day, and Mom responded to the ease of the room by being relaxed and agitation-free for an entire hour (although plying her with brownies didn't hurt either). I was grateful for the 60-minutes of serenity Mom received, and thankful to spend an hour myself immersed in the warmth of strangers (who also gave me a schooling on the countless varieties of coleslaw). If I believed in old men in the sky, I'd certainly hang out with Pastor Ray and his flock on Sunday mornings, but I don't, so I won't.
The uber-cool reclining seats at our local cinema have been instrumental in taking Mom to, and keeping her at, quite a few movies lately. I doubt other theatre-going patrons gaze at these personal islands of recumbent relaxation and immediately begin calculating the elder abuse potential, but the crafty caregiver knows an opportunity when she sees one!
Those luxury loungers are impossible for Mom to get out of without assistance. And if the assistant (i.e. daughter) can't hear her frustrated huffs over the swelling movie score, nor be in range of her impatient pokes due to conveniently leaning away at that moment to pop more M&Ms in her face, well then the show just goes on! And everyone remains seated, whether they like it or not.
But mostly she rather enjoys going movie watching as of late, at least for the first hour. As far as the second hour goes... well... thank gawd for those comfortable contraptions! Otherwise we'd be one-act movie-going wonders, and we got enough problems as it is.
I was a one-speech wonder at the Alzheimer's Foundation of America's 2019 Educating America Tour, and very much enjoyed the experience, and the free day long conference (sandwich included!). I was asked to speak about intergenerational day respite care from a dementia family's point-of-view, uh... for 15 minutes! I didn't have a whole lot to say about intergenerational respite care except, "Yeah! It's genius! Do it!" so I combined my praise of generation-mixing daycare with my biggest piece of advice for newly minted caregivers and recently diagnosed dementia folk: Build. Your. Village.
Scanning the crowd before I took the podium I thought my often humor-skewed perspective on cognitive decline was going to go over like a lead balloon, but it turns out dementia cannibalism jokes are universally funny. Who knew?
The 2019 Educating America Tour continues at various cities throughout the U.S. I highly recommend attending. It was incredibly informative - providing info regarding different dementias, brain health, and caregiving (and don't forget, free sandwiches!).
At the end of June we said goodbye to the Opening Minds through Art program with a final, wonderful, art show. While OMA will continue to be offered at Rose Villa, Mom has lost her desire to participate; this last 7-week class session became an exercise in dementia torture versus creative pleasure.
But for 2+ years Mom enjoyed this incredible program that builds "friendships between people with dementia and volunteers as they engage in art-making." Their website doesn't lie; we can attest to the joy Mom experienced through creative self-expression while hanging out weekly with her volunteer/friend Jan. That joyous contagion spread to Mom's relatives and friends who attended the OMA art shows, bid against each other for a Mom original, felt their hearts soar, as did ours, when Mom glowed with pride at her own art. OMA gladdened all of our hearts.
So, we celebrated our late-in-life artist one last time - while facing a bittersweet reminder that life never ceases its forward march; everything changes, and not always for the best.
To enroll in the Opening Minds through Art program in the Portland metro area, contact Marianna Jones at Rose Villa. To find an OMA class in your area (offered throughout Canada and the U.S.), check out their Site Listing page.
And finally, I was honored to be accepted as July's featured blogger on Alzauthors.com. This site is a one-stop-shopping haven for caregiver books. Need inspiration? Practical solutions? Or just want to relate to someone who's been through it too? These authors and bloggers let you know you are not alone.
My submitted essay took a turn I wasn't expecting; I learned a little something about myself by the time I finished.
And that's why I write. Not having time to do so is one of the reason June was such a caregiver slog for me; I didn't realize, until I went weeks without being able to bash out a post, how much this creative outlet has become my therapeutic lifeline. Without it I have no process to examine my behaviors, responses, horrid and/or happy thoughts on dementia, and as I've been a caregiver ineffectively flailing about most of this year, to lose this weekly walk through my brain had been injurious to the extremely tentative hold I have on providing good care.
But now that Stumped Town Dementia's back in business I'll save that for another post.