FOR GREGORY. He was not a VICTIM of ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE, he was a HERO!
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.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Thursday, April 25, 2013
When Ben first came on board, I had just begun playing with the idea of getting someone to spend time with Gregory, partly to give me a break and partly to give Gregory a break from me. Ben came to us via our good friends Chuck and John, Ben is their nephew.
The whole idea of having someone pick up the responsibility of making sure Gregory was well taken care of while I was away was scary to me but a necessary move. Knowing Ben since he was a little boy at Chuck and John's July 4th parties made the risk seem less.
It began as another one of our "Nobel Experiments" and the idea of having a Companion proved very successful, and a life saver.
We are grateful to Ben. Below is a photo he took of Gregory on their walk to the lake today (after going swimming at the health club.)
P.S. Ken, Gregory's other companion will be with us until sometime in June. Read about Ken's moving in with us until June.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
We have been to individual shows at Mercury Theater (1,) Writer's Theater (2,) Northwestern Interpretation Center (2,) and a few others. We have seen musicals, opera, serious drama, concerts, and master classes.
Why has there been this dramatic increase in our attendance in the theater world? So far we have seen "Sweet Charity" erroneously find and loose love, witnessed a strike for a 7.5 cents raise in "Pajama Game," saw "Cesar" killed on the Ides of March, followed a dysfunctional family as they worked out their problems in "Other Desert Cities," joined a fight for gay rights in "Teddy Farrara," spent "Sunday in the Park with George," learned to tell the truth at the "School for Lies," lived happily ever after in "Camelot," dreamt the impossible dream with the "Man from LaMancha," asked for more sir with "Oliver," followed the bread crumb path laid by "Hansel and Gretel," danced Musetta's waltz in "La Bohem," JUST TO NAME FEW.
Pretty quickly I realized why this increase. For both Gregory and me, it has been important to get out and enjoy ourselves. We usually go out to a nice place for dinner then the theater. More importantly I think it has helped our world continue to be larger as Gregory's abilities, language, communication skills, and experiences etc continue to grow smaller. The nature of dealing with Alzheimer's Disease is that the person afflicted can do less and less and the interaction with life becomes more narrowly focused.
Experiencing the magic of theater has, as the song goes in "Chorus Line," allowed things in our life to continue to be beautiful.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Sometimes it is so easy to accentuate the negative instead of the positive. How many times have you retold your sad story to friends or family members. I believe that while we cannot control what happens to us as we journey through life, how we view the things that happen is our choice.
If you let go of having the need to figure out a problem, the answer will come. Wanting to understand or figure out why, or from where, problems arise; can be a major obstacle to healing. We unknowingly hold on to and exacerbate our problems by trying to figure them out. What you focus on enlarges. As we seek a cure for what ails us, we actually make it harder for ourselves to heal.
1 - I suffer therefore I am. We identify with our problems; it is as though we justify our existence by having obstacles to overcome and suffering as much as we can bear. We become so versed in being the person with a particular problem that we fear we won’t know who we are without it. When we take a moment to reflect on our problems, we may even discover that we’ve grown so attached to these patterns of thought and behaviors that it’s hard to imagine ourselves without them. Rather than being open to the uncertainty that comes from letting go, we cling to the artificial sense of security that comes from knowing what to expect, even if that expectation is not beneficial to us. Change is frightening, and we often stay stuck because of fear.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Think of a problem that you believe belongs to you and ask yourself: Would I rather have the false sense of security that comes from knowing all about this problem, or would I rather be free? If you’d rather be free, you’ll spontaneously let go of your attachment to the problem and you’ll begin discovering natural solutions to it.
2 -But what will I talk about? Most of us base a significant amount of our interpersonal communications on seeking sympathy for our problems by commiserating with others about them. Often we become such experts at describing our problems to others that we don’t want to stop. Sharing our problems is not detrimental; but when we constantly recycle our problems to friends and family we prohibit our self from letting go of the problem at hand.
So do you want to be stuck telling the same problem over and over again, in an endless loop. Ask yourself, are you sharing your grief with friends, or are you seeking approval for your problem? Do you want approval for the old problem or freedom?
3 - It’s mine, that’s why. Pride is a shifty emotion. Just like we feel proud of our accomplishments, we also get hooked into being unconsciously proud of our problems. We feel special for having our problems. This pitfall on the path to freedom may take the form of feeling proud of having prevailed even with the problem, proud of being able to bear up under it for so long, or proud of having a problem that is unique to us.
If you feel that your problems make you “special,” if you find any pride in owning them, let go of the pride and you will find yourself free to let go of the problem too.
4 - But why, where did this problem come from? We want to understand, or figure out why, or from where problems arise which can also be a major obstacle to letting them go. We feel we must hold on to our problems in order to figure them out. We only truly need to understand a problem if we are planning in some way to maintain it.
Would you rather understand your problems or be free of them? If you would rather be free, let go of wanting to figure them out. Live in the now. If we dwell on the past in an effort to analyze a problem, to find our why or from where, we must leave the present moment—the only place where we can truly solve anything.
Friday, April 19, 2013
TED TALKS: Andres Lozano: Parkinson's, depression, motor functions, Alzheimer's and the switch that might turn them off
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Some how it felt especially good to offer the Practice to something greater than just myself. The beginning of this practice felt like what prayer should be ... and it felt good. Most prayer to me feels like a form of begging or negotiating with some old, wise man sitting in judgement, who exists outside of myself, and who controls what happens to me. I feel the most successful prayer, if I need to use that word, has to do with going inside myself having faith in knowing that the answers exist within. Today, I reached a new level of understanding about how I want to define prayer for myself.
In the part of the Practice where one deals with Emotions, Corinne suggested that instead avoiding letting the emotion distract from the meditation, we work with it.We should picture ourselves in front of a door with the emotion on the other side. When the door is opened, what form does the emotion take: a person, a feeling, a word, a place? Talk with the emotion. Spend some time with the emotion. What is it trying to say to you? What does it want to show you or have you learn? What do you want to say to the emotion?
For a lot of people, spending time with emotion is difficult. Confronting it, dealing with it, embracing it, is hard to do. For me, this time, much to my amazement my mother was on the other side of the door. She extended her arms and took me into her bosom. She told me that she knows how much sadness I hold in my heart and what a huge responsibility I have on my shoulders supporting Gregory through his difficulties with Alzheimer's Disease. She asked me to let her help me carry my load and to support me. The experience was quite beautiful and reassuring.
This was the last Practice in this series of meetings. I have decided to take a month off and then look at joining the next session. I will miss the weekly "escapes" but can listen the recorded MP3's that Corinne sends us of each Practice if and when I need to. I owe her so much for the calm, tranquility, and lessons she has helped me work through using Yoga Nidra.
Why? On one hand don't question or analyze the feelings just enjoy them. On the other hand look, learn, and grow.
Maybe things feel good because of how well our "Nobel Experiment" is working with Ken, Gregory's companion, living with us and while not needed all the time, being available 24/7.
Maybe Gregory is at a new plateau and we have learned how to deal with and accept the new challenges.
Maybe I have grown and continue to do so with the progress of my meditation and yoga classes with Corinne.
Maybe it is SPRING and the warmer weather and smell of tulips and hyacinths in the flower market air.
Maybe it is because of the renewed flow of creativity with my new endeavor at The Galleria, belonging to an artist collective, having a space in which to sell the results of my creativity, having fun with marketing and signage and display.
Whatever the reason, it feels good.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Corinne and I began an e-mail dialogue on what a Practice (yoga session) might look like for someone with Alzheimer's. We needed to take into consideration language and communication difficulties, Gregory's inability to focus on complicated directions, and other Alzheimer's issues. We were concerned that he would not be able to give us feedback on the process.
Following are some of the thoughts Corinne and I shared:
Hands - OK. Fingers - OK but leave out left and right. Leave out thumb, pinkie, ring finger, etc. Allow enough space for him to process the suggestions made. We will have to play this one by ear, maybe his face will cue us?
Corinne shared an e-mail that Richard Miller sent in answer to someone's query about Yoga Nidra and people with dementia. He is the guru of Yoga Nidra and her teacher. It was interesting to see how what he had to say overlapped Corinne and my discussions.
iRest (Yoga Nidra) for this particular group is a wonderful offering, especially when delivering certain aspects of the practice that are sensate oriented, such as body sensing and breath awareness.
These practices are focused in the here and now, and can help this population feel at ease and calm. Also imagery can be a useful aspect by bringing in images that the individuals give you and speaking them back, like you are taking them on a beautiful and present focused journey.
I also think any way to interweave joy through things like chocolate meditations, smelling flowers, holding hands in the heart to evoke feelings of love, etc., can be wonderful elements to weave into a practice.
Using hands on materials like we do with kids, i.e., cloth or textures to touch, things to smell (floors) or hear (bells) or see (die settling into a water vase.)
The sky is the limit. Just our imagination as teachers as to what we can bring to enliven the senses, nourish the felt sense of being and being in the hare an now, etc.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
He tried to run his shaver without plugging it in. I did not help but explained matter of factly, "You need to use the cord."
He struggled figuring out how to get the plug prongs correctly oriented into the outlet on the wall as well as into the back of the shaver. "What's wrong with this?" he asked. I did not help but just said matter of factly, "You know how to do that." And he did.
While shaving he was cold and mumbled about this and that. I did not help but just said matter of factly, "You know how to turn on the heater." And he did.
The cat arrived on the sink, as she often does, seeking water. Gregory waved his hands at the faucet. I did not help but just said matter of factly, "You know how to do that." And he did.
After he finished shaving he opened the bathroom door with the "What's next?" look on his face. The what's next is getting dressed, his clothes neatly piled on the bench just outside the bathroom door. "You know what's next." And he did.
He called me into the living room saying, "It's all fuzzy" waving his hands around the room. He pointed to the window shade that was half way up (the way he likes it while sitting at his table over the newspaper.) "That's not right."
I explained that the living room was dark because it was raining out. He wanted the shade up anyway so I opened it fully. "No, it needs to be here," he pointed half way. So I lowered the shade and explained the darkness again.
Sometimes he doesn't.
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Tonight after dinner I announced, "It's only fair ... since I made dinner ... that Ken and Gregory should ..." And they both chimed in, "Wash the dishes." We laughed.
I left the room, did some writing at my computer desk, and enjoyed every moment of overhearing them discuss the process of washing, drying, and putting away the dishes.
The camaraderie between Gregory and Ken is beautiful to watch. And I enjoy having someone to talk to. I only hope I'm not talking his ear off!
Saturday, April 6, 2013
This caused my "opportunity light" to go on. I thought about the possibility of his moving in with us, discussed my idea with Gregory, and a few days later we presented our proposition to Ken. In exchange for a very little rent from him and more time available to be with Gregory, he could have our guest room and the guest bath as his own. We could also share meals when he was home and when I cooked.
The offer was made at two levels. One was altruistic because Ken was in need of something we could provide and we have come to like him a lot over the year that he has been Gregory's companion. Secondly it would provide me with what I have been calling, "The Nobel Experiment." How do I continue to provide for Gregory's needs as the demand increases and yet still maintain my sanity?
The idea of having someone live with us 24/7, the fact that the condo while comfortable is not huge, and with Gregory and I having to give up our guest/TV room, we had some hesitancies and concerns. Even with Ken's being excited about the idea and his accepting our offer, I am sure he had concerns as well.
The idea was to see what having "live in help" would be like. Most likely this is the future if I want Gregory to be able to stay at home for as long as possible. As his medical and personal needs increase the person will have to be more health care oriented but that is not necessary at this point. Also, I am healthy and able to take care of Gregory's needs and while I expect to stay healthy, it is always good to plan for all possibilities.
The transition has been very smooth and most of our worries unfounded, Ken is comfortably ensconced in the guest room and besides his being supportive as a companion to Gregory and providing me a friend I can actually communicate with, he has been an excellent, respectful long term "guest.
It has been nice having someone around to let me get out to play, to run errands, have a life of my own so I can be in a better place and more emotionally available to Gregory. Most of the time Gregory and I are together but Ken's being around has given me more opportunities for myself. He has also given Gregory company when I am at my computer running the household or writing or taking a nap.
Ken has provided me with a companion in many ways as I have someone to talk to and share complex ideas which Gregory is no longer able to do. Ken can give me feedback and helps make me feel less alone.
Another thing Ken has provided is putting me in a place of "wiser adult" and almost a parent figure as he asks for my advice, as I sometimes offer it on my own, and he seems to value what I have to offer. I know Gregory needs me, but the interaction and communication with Ken meets those needs on a different level.
Also, Ken has on his own taken over house hold responsibilities like emptying the dish washer, taking out the garbage, picking up groceries, helping me with condo maintenance. He has begun to give Gregory his breakfast and goes swimming with him.
So the only problem with this "Nobel Experiment" is that both Gregory and I are enjoying it very much but it will end in June. Will enjoy it now ... and worry about loosing Ken when that comes.