PLEASE NOTE: Even though this blog is now dormant there are many useful, insightful posts. Scroll back from the end or forward from the beginning. Also, check out my writer's blog. Periodically I will add posts here if they provide additional information about living well with Dementia / Alzheimer's Disease.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Meditation: Round 2: Practice 1

I have begun the next round of seven sessions of Yoga Nidra Mindful Meditation with Corinne Peterson.

It felt good to be back for the practice in what Corinne calls the "need to recharge." The session concentrated on the first 5 levels of the yoga practice (as pictured below) and lightly touched on the others.

My intention for the session was just to get back into the practice but also the word PEACE cropped up again.

My heartfelt desire is to be able to find a place where I can get away from yesterday, today, and tomorrow. To get away from myself, my responsibilities, my worries, my concerns. The ability to be in the NOW is so important and I want to be able to do that more often. The need to be at peace with myself and my life is so strong.

For at least one hour a week in Yoga Nidra, I can do just that, work on being able to do it more often on my own,  and as a bonus periodically get in touch with thoughts that I am not otherwise able hear because of all the noise in my head.

I revisited my Inner Resource, the place I have created in my mind where I feel secure, to which I can return at any time during the yoga practice or in my life when feeling over stressed, overwhelmed, or just in need of some peace and quiet.

I previously started out describing my Inner Resource as deep in a mature forest, with a clearing with dappled sunlight and flowers.

Then I added, just across a path, my tiny one room house just big enough for me to live, in my mind, comfortably and simply knowing how much is enough.

Next I added a rustic bench to the garden so I could sit and meditate and enjoy the flowers, the sunlight, and perhaps the mist dripping of the leaves during a rainstorm.

Later I added, about a block away at the edge of the forest, the ocean with waves that can be heard through the house's windows or while sitting in the garden.

Corinne suggested we give our internal resource a name so we can use it as a trigger to the inner peace and safety one feels there. I simply called it, "Peace."

This time while visiting my Inner Resource I added a few more things. First I decided that my RIP cats Mariah and Hoover and Broadway live there. When I visit I know they are asleep under the bed, or playing out in the forest, or whatever I want to imagine them doing.

Then I realized that my mother, the anniversary of her death coming up in less than a month, was there in the house with me. I decided that my "safe place" could also be a place where I could invite in and visit with family and friends who have died but whom I still hold in my heart.

It may feel a little strange to you, my looking forward to talking with the dead, but it makes me feel warm, and loved and will give me the ability to talk about things that I never had the chance to say while they were alive.

So I am well on my way to continued adventures with Yoga Nidra. I am also going to do a few sessions with Gregory which Corinne will tailor to his language abilities (if we can figure out where they lie) and see if he can benefit from just being in a quiet place with himself and no outside world expectations. As you can imagine, I will report back.

Finally I had to think about why I was posting my yoga experiences here on the Alzheimer's BLOG instead of my writer's BLOG. I guess Alzheimer's is such a large part of my life, as is Gregory such a large love of my life, that this was the best place for it.

Companion Report # 2 by B.P.

I started working with Greg about nine months ago. Since our companionship's beginning, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with Greg. We share similar dispositions and temperaments and a common taste in music and film. Perhaps greatest of all, we share an ability to sit quietly in one another's company, each of us occupied separately. Many others would find this uncomfortable or awkward, but I think we both find it one of the more enjoyable ways to share another's company. When I began visiting Greg, he seemed fairly stable, at a plateau in his degeneration. However, in nine months there have been deteriorations both significant and insignificant.

More often than not, I work with Greg during the middle part of the day, beginning in the later morning and leaving around the middle afternoon or early evening. For several months, Greg would often make himself a salad for lunch, and I would assemble a sandwich for myself. I would occasionally have to help him in some small capacity: he  might need help finding the forks or removing and reinserting the vegetable crisper/drawer from the refrigerator (cumbersome for anybody). It's been months since I've seen Greg make himself salad. Nowadays, he is content for me to make him an open-faced sandwich (very very simple fare). It's worth noting that his salads often included some small part of decoration. It was never anything elaborate, but slices of cheese or rolled up sandwich meat were placed with a certain amount of care and consideration. The "meals" I create contain no such consideration. But he seems satisfied. He still retains his ability to use a cutting knife, though I keep a close eye at all times.

Greg loves to take a walk when I visit. This shared activity forms the core of my time with Greg. It is difficult to judge any significant changes in his directional abilities as we take the same basic route as my very first day with him. While he is tired by the end of these walks, he always seems happy for having gone out, despite the elements. In all honesty, he seems a little more lucid after our walks. I still wonder if this has anything to do with his great affinity for water and our route's proximity to the lake.

On the note of water, another of Greg's preferred activities is swimming. We haven't gone swimming in a month or so, owing to the pool's closure while the heating is fixed. When we have swum, there has been a very similar effect to walking. Greg seemed far happier and again, a little more lucid after a good swim. He usually needed no real help showering, though I would have to start the shower and get out his soap. Once, he forgot to wash the soap out of his hair, but otherwise this process went without hiccups. When we were in the locker room, I would often have to help Greg change. Usually this simply involved pointed directions and occasionally me either offering him some article of clothing or gently tugging on the said clothing. He has thoroughly enjoyed our swims and has brought up his dismay at not being able to swim on multiple occasions.

When we are in the apartment after our walk or swim, my direct involvement in helping Greg with things is minimal. I might have to help him with his belt or tucking in his shirt on occasion, but that's about it. Every now and then, we'll watch a movie. This is throughly enjoyable for the both of us and involves little effort on either of our parts. Greg thoroughly enjoys simply sitting around listening to music or reading his newspaper while I work on whatever homework or projects I might have.

The most noticeable of Greg's deteriorations have manifested in his linguistic capabilities. He can still read. I can tell as much because he can select something from his menu when we go out to his favorite diner. Often though, Greg might forget what he chose, and I always have to help specify what sides he'll have and how he'd like his eggs. I have no way of telling how much he picks up from his daily newspaper as he never talks about it and can't really communicate anything when asked. What is most apparent is his steady decrease in speech and conversation. I remember the very first day that we spent together, Greg pointed out a building during our walk: "See it's French." I asked how he could tell, and he replied by pointing out the "rounds" on the windows. He has never since displayed such lucidity and clarity in perception and communication. A month or two later, when we were driving back from Wisconsin, he pointed out a building that I liked, and I asked what he liked about it. Greg could barely get his point across, and in the end mentioned something about the upper floor and that was that.

When Greg has a problem or needs help, I have to work a bit to figure out what exactly is wrong. Usually this means me being patient and offering a guess or two. I try not to guess, but it's difficult not to. When I do guess, the helpfulness seems arbitrarily dependent on the word choice. If he recognizes the word in question, Greg's eyes will light up and the problem is quickly confirmed. If not, we'll go several more rounds.

One final note: Greg's muscle memory still seems to be quite intact. He's still remarkably adept at opening the door which actively involves remembering what key to use and how to orient it to the door. Just like anything else, this is affected by his good days and bad days, but the process seems more resilient. Once he gets the key into the lock, you can almost see the engram click into place, and his hand turns in an easy practiced motion.

Many of Greg's abilities have declined, there has been significant and noticeable deterioration since our relationship began. I would not characterize it as severe. He retains many of his physical abilities. Given enough time and a relaxed situation Greg can usually figure things out. He is still relatively young to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's , and quite young to have had it for ten years now. But I have to say that in comparison, a great many things could be much worse. In all honesty, I would largely attribute this to his acceptance of the disease. My grandmother was also diagnosed with Alzheimer's and our family always had to be exceptionally careful about how her diagnosis was discussed. She was severely embarrassed about her illness and hated for it to be talked about. Greg is not so embarrassed. True, he does not often bring it up, and he is never happy about it, but there is a far greater acceptance of the situation. This makes many things easier: helping him with his coat/scarf/gloves/etc, gently telling him where to sit or what to do. In essence, when I first started working with Greg it seemed almost too good to be true: an easy job with someone whose company I enjoyed that paid well. Steadily though, it has become more apparent why I get paid to do this.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Detached Assistance

My horoscope below hits home and reminds me that I am Gregory's caregiver partner because of our love for each other: 1) Not because I need his admiration (or that of others ... but a thank you now and then and recognition by others of the task on my shoulders is nice,) 2) Not because I  need to be needed (although it does make me feel useful and gives me purpose,) 3) Not because I need to nourish my sense of self (although I do need to remind myself now and then that I am doing a good job.)

By helping Gregory, I get a sense of joy and know that he feels more comfortable and safe in his life. I act from my heart as we live each day, am guided by the spirt within, and have pure intentions. Now if I only could separate the EMOTIONAL from the INTELLECTUAL and shorten the reaction time of putting the emotions to rest while behaving in a gentle, respectful, loving way removed from anger, fear, and frustration.

February 25, 2013
Detached Assistance
Aries Daily Horoscope

Assisting others who require your help could make the things you do seem valuable today. It might be that your sense of self-worth is linked directly to the perception of others, particularly as it pertains to the things you do for them. While doing things for others can be positive, you might want to practice separating your feelings of self from the things you do. Should you receive thanks or praise from someone related to something you have completed today, you can take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are the same person you were before receiving the admiration of others. Keeping this in mind could help you detach from needing the approval of the people around you to nourish your sense of self and might make it easier to support others with honest intentions instead of hidden motives of self-gratification.

Learning to help others simply for the joy it brings makes our assistance pure and earnest. Needing to be needed can be a large part of our desire to help people for it makes us feel that without us someone else would have a difficult time getting by in life, which in turn bolsters our confidence in ourselves. When we act from our hearts and with the guidance of our spirits, however, we require nothing in return, since we are accessing the beauty of our souls and using that purity to help, which makes our assistance much more worthwhile. By helping without expecting anything today, you will serve others with the purest of intentions.

Taken from:


Saturday, February 23, 2013

We've Named Him: Mr. Stone

On a happier note, earlier this evening Gregory passed his 3mm Kidney Stone and did so without any pain. We were both pleased and surprised to see this black mini-meteor fall into the strainer with a "clink." We were both relieved.

The Truth of It

It is difficult for me to talk about all the things that Gregory and I go through. I had to think about what I wanted to say about tonight's experiences, felt a little embarrassed to be talking about them, but decided that in the hopes of sharing everything about our Journey with Alzheimer's I should not hold back.

Gregory forgot to wipe after his bowel movement earlier this evening so his underpants were a mess as was his behind. I started cleaning him up but decided to put him in the shower instead.

He fumbled with turning on the shower so I took over. Once he was in the shower, I pretended to use the toilet, so I could watch to see how much he remembered about taking a shower.

He shampooed his hair and then tried to use the rest of the shampoo on his hands to wash his arm pits, genitals, and behind.

He did not rinse his hair as he continued and got shampoo in his eyes. I told him to rinse. He did.

I asked him to put more soap on his hands to wash but he couldn't remember how to get the soap out of the pump dispenser.

Finally I took off my sleep clothes, got into the shower with him, and took over washing his "privates." I got out to dry myself while he rinsed.

He did not know how to turn of shower but instead turned it to the hottest setting. I intervened.

I gave him his nightly ration of chocolate and began my stretching exercises. I realized why I was angry at him, why I needed to tell him "at this rate diapers are next." Why I had to put into words the things he could not successfully do this evening. Why I had to be abrupt in my helping instead of kind and gentle.

The reasons, I realized, are that I do not want him to have to live  like this. I do not want to live like this. I do not want to accept that he will continue to get worse. I do not want to believe that I cannot make it all right, that I cannot make it all better. I do not want to think about not being able to guess what to do next or what he needs at any given moment.

I don't want any of this, but have no choice. I love this man, or at least who this man was once upon a time. I fear what this man will become. And who I will become.

Friday, February 22, 2013

As Alzheimer's rate soars, concern rises over costs

Janice Lloyd, USA TODAY6:33p.m. EST February 14, 2013

New reports that the number of Alzheimer's cases in the USA will likely triple to 13.8 million by 2050 are raising concerns about the nation's ability to afford care.
Care for patients with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia will increase 500% by 2050, reaching $1.1 trillion, according to the Alzheimer's Association. This is in 2012 dollars. About 70% of costs for Alzheimer's care are billed to Medicare and Medicaid.​​
Patients with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia will spend three times more on health care than patients with other types of illnesses, the association says. Medicare patients with Alzheimer's and other dementias spent $43,847 on health care and long-term care services, compared to $13,879 spent by patients without those illnesses, the association said in a 2012 report.
For government health care programs already facing economic strain, these estimates are daunting, researchers and advocates say.
"If you think you're going to solve our fiscal entitlement process without addressing one of the underlying causes (Alzheimer's costs) you're not getting to the heart of the problem,'' says Robert Egge, vice president of public affairs for the Alzheimer's Association.
Alzheimer's is an incurable, degenerative brain-wasting disease that robs a person of memory, eventually erasing personality and making even routine tasks such as dressing and bathing impossible. They also spend more time hospitalized than people without these illnesses.
"The bottom line is when you have a chronic condition and you add dementia, you have higher costs,'' says Julie Bynum, a physician and associate director of the Center for Health Policy at Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H., who gathered data for the Alzheimer's Association report.
"They can't self-manage their medications or monitor their diets and watch out for things like how much salt or sugar they're eating. If they also have diabetes or hypertension, two other conditions common in the older population, they need others to take care of them," she says.
A federally-funded report published last week in the medical journalNeurology said the number of people with Alzheimer's is expected to rise from 5 million to 13.8 million by 2050.
Many costs associated with Alzheimer's care are not reimbursed. Out-of-pocket costs for a family with a loved one who has dementia were $8,216 compared to $2,500 for patients with other types of conditions, according to a report last week in the journalAlzheimer's & Dementia.
Amy Steele, 34, of Oklahoma City had to quit her job and cash in her 401(k) in 2010 to help care for her mother, who is 60 and has early Alzheimer's. She recently moved her mother, who is divorced, from Dallas to an assisted-living facility near Oklahoma City. She also has been helping younger siblings with college expenses since her mother is no longer able to do so.
"I'm not going to be able to start saving again for a while,'' Steele says. "When my mother requires a higher level of care, I'll need to help supplement that and also help with her medical expenses. It's been really hard."
The research dollars for Alzheimer's are in their "infancy,'' says Jennifer Weuve, an assistant professor of medicine at Rush Institute for Healthy Living in Chicago.
The government last year set a goal of developing preventive treatment for Alzheimer's by 2025 and increased research funding through the National Institutes of Health to $606 million last year, exceeding $500 million for the first time. But it still lags behind funding for other diseases: $6 billion is spent on cancer research, $3 billion on research for HIV/AIDS.
"From polio to cancer and from heart disease to HIV/AIDS, we see that a commitment to research investment and targeted innovation on high-cost diseases is a proven deficit reduction strategy,'' says George Vradenburg, chairman of USAgainstAlzheimers, an advocacy group.
President Obama in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday highlighted the importance of Alzheimer's research, and asked Congress not to cut funding. "Our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer's," he said.
Several trials are getting underway that would use drugs to prevent the disease from occurring in people who are genetically predisposed to early-onset Alzheimer's. One high-profile name with the condition is University of Tennessee Hall of Fame basketball coach Pat Summitt, who stepped down from her job after disclosing her diagnosis in 2011.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Tragic Gap

I thought of you this am when I read the following:

To live in this world, we must learn how to stand in the tragic gap with faith and hope.  By the "tragic gap" I mean the gap between what is and what could and should, the gap between the reality of a given situation and an alternative reality we know to be possible because we have experienced it.
                ....Parker J. Palmer, Weavings, March/April 2009.

Boy, if that isn't a description of living with Alzheimer's I don't know what is.

Love and hugs to both of you,

A Visit to the Emergency Room

Gregory is OK but last night we were in the Emergency Room from 7:00pm until 4:00am. He was diagnosed with Kidney Stones and hopefully they will pass on their own in the next few days. 

The difficulty was his lack of language and/or associations to be able to explain what he was feeling and where. He was in a lot of pain and through he was going to die. 

Also he became delirious which added to his fears (and mine.) This is the second time Delirium hit so now that I understand it, I was prepared and not as frightened. When it happens he looses all the abilities and awareness that he still has.  He becomes totally irrational. For more information on Delirium click here: Delirium: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

With the help of a neighbor we got him to the car and I drove him to the hospital. I didn't want to use an ambulance with sirens screaming etc, to add to his confusion.

Once the pain subsided he did better and the ER experience, while with supportive staff, was just boring and long. On a kind note, the hospital keeps feel for family while they are waiting. I had a turkey & cheese on whole wheat sandwich, cranberry juice, and a package of Lorna Dune cookies. 

We slept in this morning and he is much more aware and feeling fine, just a little "beat up."

I'm keeping an eye on his urine, we have Vicodin in case he is in pain again as the stone moves out.

So all is well, but wanted you to know,

Love ya,

P.S. I couldn't help but think about my sister, brother-in-law, nieces, and nephews who spent many a rushed visit to ER with mom.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Difference Between Old Age and Alzhiemer's

There has been an old joke around: Do you know the difference between Old Age and Alzheimer's? People who are older forget where they put their glasses. People with Alzheimer's forget they wear glasses.

Not funny but to the point. Recently Gregory has been demonstrating the joke. At bedtime, he gets into bed to read and is confused because the words in the book are not clear. "Put on your glasses," I say automatically.

Other times he is in bed ready to read, puts on his reading glasses, looks around the room and says, "Why is the room so blurry?"

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Some Mornings

Some mornings he wakes up and nothing seems to work.

This morning he ran into problems with shaving. Shaver in hand, he called me into the bathroom trying to tell me something, but never was able to get to it. He pointed at the shaver, and then the mirror and said, "There is a little something."

That is as far as we got after his attempting to communicate several times. I waited patiently, guessed at a few things, and finally told him just to shave, which he did.

A little while later he called me again with the "light bulb" having gone on again, he struggled to tell me what he had realized, and failed again ... another dark communication. We have been up for 30 minutes.

He did OK beginning his shower, I was in the bedroom when I heard him shouting "Help! Help!" I came running to find that he was finished showering and had begun to turn the water off but only did so half way and was standing in the cold stream of water still coming out of the shower head.

I turned the water hot again so he could warm up and then we turned it off together. Actually he did so by himself without any help, just my standing there which made it a little more frustrating and confusing.

Next he struggled to put on his sweatshirt, arm through the head hole and out the sleeve. He kept mumbling, "No that's not right" and continued trying to figure out how to put it on. He sat down on the bed for a while seemingly trying to regroup. I held back and he finally did figure out how to put the shirt on.

We have been up for an hour.

While he was reading the newspaper, I set out the cutting board with his bread and honey and announced, "Your bead and honey are ready." He thanked me and came over to begin preparing his first of the morning food. I returned to the bedroom.

Some five or ten minutes later I went out to see how he was doing. He was standing by the toaster, looking back at the cutting board, and back and forth again and again.

He was unable to connect the toast needing to go into the toaster and the button needing to be pressed. We worked through the process together.

When the toaster was finished and his toast popped up, he asked, "Does that turn it off?"

I am grateful that he sought my help, that he was able to begin shaving and then to finish, that he was able to take a dump without my help, that he was able to shower for the most part, that he was finally able to figure out how to get dressed, that he kissed my head as he left the bedroom and said, "I love you," that he was able to read the newspaper, that he was able to eat his toast after putting on the honey, and that he was able to go back to his newspaper.

I am grateful that I was able to keep my patience, not jump in to help too quickly, that I didn't get emotionally involved, that I was able to move from one difficulty to the next without anger, and that he kissed me on the head and said, "I love you."

I am frightened that we are getting closer to my having to more closely supervise his shaving and showering, physically helping him get dressed, and not only making his breakfast but also toasting his first up before breakfast snack because when confused verbal instructions do not work.

We have been up for two hours.


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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Conundrum Continued

Yesterday morning, Gregory and I had a discussion (if you know can call it that) about the closet (if you know what that means,) selecting clothes (if you know the process,) getting dressed (if you are able,) and keeping the cats out of the closet (if you remember to do so,) etc.

The conversation lasted about 15 or 20 minutes (if one can measure time.) The whole time I knew I was using too many words and was not sure how much or what he understood. A brief summary of the event is:

Gregory: "I want to go back."
Michael: "You can't go back."

Gregory's morning sweats and slippers are laid out on the bench for him to use after cleaning up. I put them out the night before so they are waiting for him in the morning when he is ready. For a while he used to get them out of the drawer in the closet but I started doing it for him when most often he stood there naked, chilled, looking to me without words, saying "What do I do next?"

He struggled less this morning then he usually does with getting the sweatshirt on; correct arm in correct hole, shirt correctly oriented. Other times he stands there anyway wondering what to do next.

After his shirt was on, while I was sitting at my computer, he came over and went through the hemming and hawing and hesitating that begins our conversations. I stopped working, checked the expression on my face to make sure it looked pleasant, interested, and patient, and waited.

"I want to go back." That was the essence of what he wanted to say.

"I am not sure what you mean?" I asked. Eventually, because he was not able to tell me what he meant and because I could tell he was getting frustrated, I guessed, "Go back to picking your own clothes out of the closet?" The answer was "Yes."

I only wish you could have been here to see the confusion in him trying to express himself. Once I knew what he wanted, I also knew that we could not really discuss the issue because the associations and understandings do not exist. But I tried. I talked slowly and simply.

In as few words as possible, I talked about the problem with the cats chewing his shoe laces. I talked about his struggling with picking out clothes and then not knowing how to put them on. I talked about my not being able to go through this with him every morning. I talked about the "feel bad now or feel bad later" idea. I talked about the problem with Alzheimer's and how that has changed our life. I talked about not being able to go back. I talked to him about doing the best we can.

Eventually he, with great organizational difficulty, said, "You need ... to do ... what ... you must ... that is best for ... me." He cried and said, "I'm sorry."

I told him not to be sorry. At least not for me, that I am OK and I will do what I have to for him. "I am here for you. I will make good decisions for you."

But maybe we can go back a little bit, if we do it together. Instead of my picking out his clothes, I will go into the closet with him, my keeping the cats at bay, and my helping him decide what he wants to wear.

I'll make sure he has the pants, and the shirt, and the belt, and the sox, and the shoes. We will take everything out of the closet into the bedroom, put them on the bench and then I'll say, "Get dressed." The closet will be velcroed shut so he does not go back in looking for something already on the bench.

While I am sitting here at my computer, I'll make sure he keeps on his underwear while putting on his outerwear. I'll sit here and probably write again about my frustrations, fears, and anger. While he is getting dressed just in case he needs help, I'll surreptitiously monitor his behavior while I am typing.

The challenge of telling him (doesn't work,) showing him (doesn't work,) and doing it for him (which doesn't always work) will continue. Why do I have to be human when I want to be super-human and be the most patient person in the world?

Monday, February 4, 2013


conundrum |kəˈnəndrəm|noun ( pl. conundrums )a confusing and difficult problem or question: one of the most difficult conundrums for the experts.• a question asked for amusement, typically one with a pun in its answer; a riddle.ORIGIN late 16th cent.: of unknown origin, but first recorded in a work by Thomas Nashe, as a term of abuse for a crank or pedant, later coming to denote a whim or fancy, also a pun. Current senses date from the late 17th cent.While I chose this title to refer to the conundrum I found myself in today, it also fits into what I would call "The Riddle of Alzheimer's."After struggling with helping Gregory to select his clothes every morning for what has been at several months, I came to the conclusion that I should take over the responsibility. Because Gregory has such difficulties with word and item associations, my verbal explanations (although simple) and prompts were not helping. Even taking him into the closet and pointing at an item didn't help.For example this morning he had on undershirt and underpants and was holding his belt, knowing something was wrong. I prompted, "You need pants." He went into the closet, opened his drawer and began taking out a second pair of underpants. "How many pair of underpants do you need?" (Poorly asked question, slap my hand.) So he put back the second pair and began taking off the first pair.By the time I just took a pair of pants off the hanger and handed them to him, he was totally uncertain what he had to do next. "Put these on." That worked. Next, while he knew he needed the belt next, he fumbled with figuring out how to get it on. I had to thread it through the loops for him. I stopped "interfering" to see if he could pick up from here but with sox in hand, he pointed to his feet and said, "Something needs to go here." "Yes, sox." So he got up, went into the closet and got a second pair of sox. Before he could try putting on both pair, I took one and put it back in the drawer. He was able to select his shoes and put them on, today, and successfully after the sox were on. "Would it just be easier if I selected your clothes for you in the morning?" I asked gently. "You have been struggling with this for a long time and when I try to help, it doesn't seem to work."He thought for a short while and replied, "Yes. I think it would make it easier for me." He said this in a docile, earnest way. No anger, no frustration, no resentment, no loss. Obviously it was not the answer I wanted (although I knew it was the right answer) because I still want him to try to work through things. But his answer was much better then one of confusion, anger, frustration.It was the right answer because by now it was more than obvious that we were in a "loose/loose" situation. My help wasn't helping. If my "taking over" made him feel bad, it fit into the "Feel bad now or feel bad later" category. By my taking over, I will not get frustrated or short with him. I will easily be able to avoid snide or negative or resentful remarks (which I try keep to myself anyway but with which I do not always succeed.)The conundrum is that if I decide to "take over" at least there will be a predictability and a follow through for me but with him not having to work through getting dressed, he will loose the skill completely. Feel bad now or feel bad later?I will begin making the bed right when we get up so I can lay his clothes out in the right order without a rumpled bed to confuse him. I have velcroed the closet doors closed so he will not be tempted to dress himself, or get another pair of pants even thought I have put a pair on the bed for him. (Keeping everyone out of the closet but myself will also help with the recent problem of our new kitties chewing up our shoelaces.)As in the past, down the road I will ask Gregory if he would like to try taking the job of selecting his clothes back again. Sometimes he does and is successful. Other times he does and is NOT successful. Sometimes he just relinquishes the job calmly saying, "No thank you."The riddle is that maybe this new procedure will work, maybe not. Maybe it will work today but not tomorrow or maybe tomorrow but not the next. Just laying out his clothes every morning does not insure that he will be able to dress himself, remember to put everything on, and in the correct order. But as in the past, I will be ready to move on to the next conundrum, the next riddle, the next solution, or not.riddle 1 |ˈridl|nouna question or statement intentionally phrased so as to require ingenuity in ascertaining its answer or meaning, typically presented as a game.• a person, event, or fact that is difficult to understand or explain: the riddle of her death.
ORIGIN Old English rǣdels, rǣdelse opinion, conjecture, riddle; related toDutch raadsel,German Rätsel, also to read.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Meditation Class

If you read these blogs consistently, you will know that I took an eight week course in Yoga Nidra Meditation. It was quite beneficial for me and I thought it might be good to continue.

Corinne Peterson, my instructor, decided to have a small group continuation in her downtown Evanston office and I intend to take advantage of her offering.

She and I talked about including Gregory. This is an e-mail I wrote to her in response to her request for a little more information on what she might expect or what she might do differently when including Gregory in a session.

Visit Corinne's website at: (


I think it would be a good idea to do a test run with just Gregory and me to see if it works for him. Lets set up one or two times and since it will only be the three of us, you can let me know how much you might charge. 

Let me ramble a little...

I am not sure how much you need to do differently, although I'll discuss it below. He might get something out of the usual Yoga Nidra or he may need it to be simplified.

If he needs it simplified I imagine that it would not be good for the group situation (or for my needs either.) We can try to evaluate as we go along. 

Perhaps we should do one or two sessions with just the three of us. One "simplified" experience and one "regular" experience and see if we can tell how he does?

Some ideas for the first time with Gregory, simplified version: he may need some extra support from me in following directions to prepare (i.e. getting comfortable etc) I would advise you to keep the meditation as simple as possible. 

When giving directions, best to keep them simple and one at a time. So for example, instead of saying: Close your eyes and picture a forest where you are walking quietly along past a brook that is bubbling with fish swimming slowly back and forth; you might say: Close your eyes. (Pause 5 or 10 seconds) Picture a forest. (Pause) See the trees. (Pause) See the sun shining through the trees. (Pause) In other words, one image at a time with time to process? 

If you are interested, maybe we could work together to develop for your practice, a Yoga Nidra that is specialized for people with Alzheimer's or other dementias. Perhaps it would just be guided imagery of calm, beautiful, spiritual experiences WITHOUT asking much processing. It would be Yoga Nidra only in that it would help the person get to that meditative state in a comfortable, peaceful, frustration free place. 

For Gregory, language and communication barely exists while all the memories and abilities are still there. He just cannot access them easily or on demand (his or mine.) He cannot easily process or make associations. 

Isn't living life in most ways the ability to make associations between ALL of our experiences past and present in a way that helps us decide our actions? This no longer works for him.

I have gone through some wonderful growth with Yoga Nidra including new understandings, awarenesses, changes in behavior and thinking, etc. For Gregory perhaps just the ability to help him have an hour of peaceful meditation would be a great goal. 

If he is able to make those associations in a meditative state but not be able to do so in waking language or communication, that is good also.

What it boils down to is when you say, "Visualize a forest," I have no idea what may or may not go on in his mind today which might be different from the next time.

My blog, although there is a lot, might give you some insight on what I go through on a day to day basis being his support. http://mhorvichcares.blogspot

If you would like to talk more, let me know. Meanwhile when might we set up a just the three of us session?