I've been meaning to tell you...
Updated: Jan 20
A bunch of randos I've never gotten around to writing up.
Have you ever wished there was a group of folks who would come pick up your dementia person, take them on adventures with other dementia people, and then see them safely home? Holy crap, kids, there is! Urban Excursions offers door-to-door social adventures for seniors, accommodating varying levels of mobility and cognition. Excursions include museums, historic home tours, arts centers and more with single excursion and multi-excursion packages for purchase.
Urban Excursions is currently only available in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area. I reached out to owner and "Adventure Specialist" Polly Bangs, who began the company while caring for her dementia dad, to ask if she knew of any similar programs anywhere else in the wide-world. The answer was "Nuh-uh", but they are researching licensing options, so if any of you entrepreneurial caregivers out there are interested contact Ms. Bangs!
Travels with Tio is a (new-to-me) blog that I've found a lot of comfort in lately. In 2013 Tio lost his sight and his wife developed dementia - a situation which would promptly send me spiraling into a "Why me?" coma for the remainder of my days, but Tio responded by becoming a caregiver, published author, poet, and blogger instead. (Hmph! Over achiever.) His sense of humor about their journey lifts my spirits. His poetry alternately soothes my soul and breaks my heart.
Two quick tips (one I'm copping from Teepa Snow!):
Watching any Teepa Snow video energizes my caregiver brain and arms me with new caregiving strategies. However, her Bathing and Dementia video is the one most passed around amongst us caregivers. Prolly 'cause bathing a beast is the ultimate stress-inducing, soul-crushing, caregiver-destroying dementia dilemma in the whole journey. After struggling through a couple of months of horrible showers I watched the video and quickly put into place all of it's recommendations certain a glorious stress-free Mom-bathing experience would be my reward! Yeah, epic fail all around for us, except for the suggestion of making sure the bathroom is sauna-like sweltering before dragging your beast into it - portable electric heater for the win! THAT has consistently worked in making the bathing experience a little easier for our not-so-lambish lamb.
Pill taking, the 2nd most stress-inducing, soul-crushing, caregiver-destroying dementia dilemma, has been made a whole lot easier with raspberries! Mom has been struggling with pill taking for awhile now, and we have noticed a definite difference in their effectiveness when she can take them as directed vs. crushing (crushing being the loser). So, we started hiding her morning pills in the raspberries that we put in her oatmeal, and it's working pretty damn good! Mom doesn't chew raspberries but mushes their soft sweetness in her mouth before swallowing so as long as she doesn't feel the pill in her mouth it's a down the gullet goner! If she's having trouble with her evening meds I'll pop a pill in a raspberry with a little honey on it and toss it in her mouth. I guess the song is right - we get by with a little help from our fruits.
Nothing to see here, dementia lady,
just three deliciously innocent raspberries waiting for your oatmeal.
Well, this is embarrassing... I came across My Life Films back in July 2018, an amazing U.K. non-profit that creates Life Story films for dementia folks. I was beyond impressed with their mission, and immediately contacted them to find out more, but somehow getting the word out in a post got put off. Time to rectify the omission.
My Life Films is a collection of passionate filmmakers who believe in the power of one's own story to positively transform the well-being of folks living with dementia - reminiscence therapy at its finest! The process from start to finish is a wonderful way to involve family and friends in your dementia person's life and it's totally FREE!
The filmmaker helps the dementia person and their folks gather archival material from their lives - photos, announcements, medals/honors etc., learning about the "star's" life in the process. Once all archival material is collected the filmmaker interviews the "star" touching on the information already gathered. Onto the editing process where their favorite music is added and the film is edited at a gentle pace in consideration of the "star's" relaxed processing power.
Then comes the premiere! Sometimes a big, splashy affair, or a family gathering depending on the "star's" inclination. I would want to be invited to all of them - watching the faces of those watching their faces on film is priceless.
Based in the U.K., they are working on new services accessible beyond their geographic reach such as a mobile app featuring their format so anyone can make a short Life Story for their dementia folks.
I found several personal documentary companies in the states and beyond, all for-profit with for-profit pricing (still a great idea if you can afford it), but nothing else like My Life Films. Their mission to use film to improve the lives of people and their loved ones affected by dementia is brilliant. Beautifully, compassionately, brilliant.
And finally, a gal from the The SimpleDollar website, who is under the mistaken impression that I have influence in the dementia market, sent me this article in December: How to Pay for a Loved One's Memory Care and Manage Their Finances, and has proceeded to hound me to include it in a post ever since. (Give Ms. Tenacious a raise, please! She is a following-up expert!)
Even though she's a bit vexing, she's right, the article is a great resource to road map your memory care cost planning. Even if you don't intend your dementia journey to include memory care, it's a good to lay the financial ground work now when/if all dementia roads head in that direction.
Phew! That just cleared my to-do list!
If you utilize or know of a great dementia resource please feel free to post in the comments or drop me an email. What may seem like a bit of random info to you might be a life-line to someone else. It's the best we can do in dementia - give a leg up in any way possible to our fellow travelers sharing this path.