Keep Calm and Carry On
Updated: Apr 14
Or, you know, panic... with Jello!
Dementia has continually upended my world since the first day I was thrown in the ring. Now it appears to be doing double time to its obvious conclusion, not just turning my whole reality inside out but overwhelming me with dread; a paralyzing fear that my courage will abandon me, that I will fail Mom, that I will not survive what's already here.
It's bizarre to have the whole world join me in this terror. Even though we are cowering from separate diseases, it is weirdly consoling (while wildly inappropriate) to have the entire planet experiencing the same devastating emotions as I am.
As we all seek some foothold on normalcy and crave comfort I am sharing a few odds and ends I've come across in the last couple of weeks that might go a little way to easing our biggest fears.
In the normalcy department - are you missing your weekly or monthly support group get-togethers? I've posted previously about my favorite online support options, but I've come across a few new virtual meet-ups that may be of interest to you...
In-person memory cafes have been suspended in most areas, but Virtual Memory Cafes have got your back! From Monday through Thursday there are several options to hook up virtually with other caregivers and their dementia folks for conversation, support, laughter, and activities. It looks like most of them are using Zoom to connect, a platform I find much easier to use then Skype, and all but one of the current memory cafes listed is free.
HopeHealth, a provider of hospice, palliative, home care, dementia, and grief support services has also moved their weekly dementia caregiver support group online and it is open to the public on Fridays from 10:00 am - 11:30 am ET. There's not much detailed info on the site, just a welcoming Zoom link to join the meeting.
Caregiving.com has been providing daily online, one-hour chat rooms for quite some time now - a great way to feed your support habit during this shelter-in-place dry spell. They also do a weekly #carechat on Twitter every Tuesday afternoon with different topics of discussion for each session.
And lastly, I can't recommend enough making a virtual date with those people you dig the most. Virtual wine nights with girlfriends has been a life saver for me over the past three weeks, allowing me to vent, laugh, and release the tension that builds up during my exile from the rest of the world.
And as for comfort...
If you've been reading Stumped Town Dementia for awhile, you've probably caught on to the fact that Cheez-Its fly into my face on a regular basis. It's my version of self-care (supplemented with a multitude of wine chasers). I've been quite bemused to find out that I am not alone in my love of this little square of cheesy comfort - the Cheez-It shelf at the grocery store has been consistently empty. (I snagged the last two boxes at Safeway today, feeling like a fun-loving criminal in my mask and plastic gloves!) And like me, my fellow Americans are going for the original recipe; Toasted, Four Cheese, and White Cheddar Cheez-Its can suck it!
I've also noticed that Ruffles, Cheetos, and Doritos are rarely available. It has me conjuring up images of others in my community crouched behind a wall of toilet paper while maniacally shoving snack foods down their gullets.
And if you haven't yet turned to Jello for a maximum jiggle of comfort food experience, I highly recommend it.
When the whole household here was coughing and snuffling and whining and complaining I dragged out a box of Jello I found stuck in the back of a cupboard to cram down their throats so I could get a moment's peace.
I believe Mom bought it sometime around the turn of the century, I couldn't even find an expiration date on the package. No bother, I made it anyway.
I envisioned it as tasty and soothing for Mom while she battled her way through COVID-19. I did not envision MotherMinder and I rediscovering our 6-year old selves and becoming rabid over the consumption of Jello. Orange Jello, strawberry Jello, Jello with fruit in it, Jello purist batches sans fruit, Jello made with 7-UP. A couple of nights ago, MM and I confessed to each other our secret relief that Mom didn't much care for Jello, that meant more for us! Seriously, we've lost our minds over Jello.
As the outcome of our days becomes even more uncertain here at Stumped Town Dementia, I hope for us all that the changes wrought upon our lives at this time will result in kinder, wiser, (and in my case a much fatter) future selves. And if not, well, you'll find me holed up in the basement panicking face first in a bowl full of Jello.