If you can't say something nice...
... you must be a dementia family caregiver.
Like all mothers around the globe, Mom was very fond of scolding us with:
"If you can't say something nice don't say anything at all."
Lately I feel like I've been saying ALL the not nice things in my posts. Granted, with my caregiver burnout, Mother Nature taking her revenge, dementia trying to kill Mom, and COVID trying to kill us all, uh... yeah, the bad times have been on fire 'round here (literally). But dementia has never been all one thing in our household, we've always had smiles mixed in amongst the shrieks.
So, in honor of my former scoldings from my former mother I've gathered up all our latest dementia stuff and nonsense to force a grin from you sour pusses out there.
James Brown'ing Mom
I've added a new layer of ridiculousness to my caregiver skill set: James Brown'ing the crap out of Mom.
I stumbled upon this trick one morning when all my usual antics were not even coming close to coaxing Mom out of bed. Suddenly I was doing something I had never done before. And it worked! James Brown'ing to the rescue!
I have since employed it several times and find that it definitely commands her attention and often times makes her smile. That's a win in the caregiver column! Suck it, dementia.
Here's an example for those of you ready to add James Brown'ing to your caregiving repertoire. I'm quite sure your dementia loved one will be delighted by your performance! Or at the very least curiously perplexed wondering just how crazy you're prepared to get in service to this journey.
Dementia Solidarity - I stand with Mom!
Before the wildfires and smoky days put the damper on our Driveway Dementia visits, we were having a pretty good time rolling around Oregon pestering friends and family foolish enough to answer the door.
At my cousin's baby shower (pre the inferno), I managed to keep Mom's mask on her damn near the entire time! Except for this picture... Doh!
And on our jaunts around the state Mom, always ready to break the fashion mold, has taken to wearing her sunglasses in a cutting edge way...
It makes me giggle when she decides her glasses would be put to better use keeping her nose firmly on her face than shielding her eyes from the sun.
But at a stoplight, I spied the occupants of the car next to us also sharing a chuckle at her expense.
Well, sure she looks hilarious, but I won't stand for that!
So in solidarity, I too dropped my peepers, driving the rest of the afternoon in sunglass solidarity with my mother.
Our sunglasses, our choice.
Advocate this, suckers!
On the advocacy front, the fine folks at Open Caregiving allowed me to pontificate on the life of a dementia family caregiver, and then put it out to their readers! (I assume it went well as I haven't gotten any hate mail lately.)
Open Caregiving is a platform where caregivers share their personal experiences thus passing the knowledge they've accumulated to the uninitiated caregiver timidly stepping forth for the first time onto this rough road. How cool is that? We were honored to share our brand of heartbreak and humor on this dementia journey in pursuit of offering a newly minted dementia family hope that all is not lost.
I mean, sure, you'll prolly never see that TV remote again but ALL is not lost!
I also got a kick when the podcast When They Forget aired a Stumped Town Dementia original story in their latest episode (Alzheimer's + Technology = Chaos). Although I wished I had just submitted a written piece and let them read it instead of recording it myself. I talk too much. I need an editor. A very patient editor.
Annnndd... it brings a huge hug to my heart to have such generous readers, friends, and family in our corner; the post A Birthday Wish has raised a whopping $2,404.00 for the Alzheimer's Association. I am so impressed and grateful for you all!
Finally, I was blown away by an advocacy video that has nothing to do with dementia, but perfectly illustrates the acceptance, love, and support that comes when you champion awareness of those living life differently.
Jade O'Connell, a New Zealander who is living with Tourettes has taken to doing Tik Toks and YouTube awareness videos such as: Baking With Tourettes and My Family!
There is so much laughter and joy in this video (in spite of the very real danger everyone in the kitchen could walk out covered in egg!), that I felt tears of gratitude well-up through my mirth.
I strive for the same empowerment for our dementia folks, just without all the egg shells.
Two Dementia People Are Better Than One
As a working caregiver I don't get much time to listen to podcasts, but somewhere in the last month I stumbled upon This Dementia Life podcast. It's hosted by Chuck McClatchey who is living with Alzheimer's, and produced by Mike Belleville who is living with Lewy Body dementia, in conjunction with the Dementia Action Alliance. They record both video and audio to assist their dementia fans with understanding of the content.
Episode #24 really caught my ear with guest Theresa Montgomery who is living with early onset Alzheimer's. Theresa and Chuck's positivity and pride in their dementia lives shine bright throughout their conversation, bestowing on me a renewed belief in our shared humanity within my badly depleted soul.
One Dementia Person Is Better Than None
Once again, Daughterhood, The Podcast hits it out of the park when Rosanne Corcoran interviews Tommy Dunne who has been living with Early Onset Dementia. Tommy offers a wealth of insights into the dementia world making it a fantastic resource for us caregivers trying to figure out our own dementia folks.
That's all the good times I got for 'ya! Are you drowning in dementia pleasantries yet?
(Dangit, that "Can't say anything nice..." attitude sure sneaks up on a gal!)