FOR GREGORY

Periodically I will add posts here if the sources provide additioanl informaiton on how to think about and deal with Dementia/ Alzheimer's Disease.

PLEASE NOTE:


SCROLL DOWN FOR TEXT and BIBLIOGRAPHY from DAI WEBINAR 2/22-23/2017. You can also find this information on my website: www.horvich.com


Even though this blog is now dormant (see info below) there are many useful, insightful posts. Scroll back from the end or forward from the beginning. My guess is that you could spend a lot of time here and maybe learn or experience a thing or two about living with and loving someone with Dementia/Alzheimer's or maybe come away with the feeling that "you are not alone" in YOUR work with the same!


• • • • •


THIS WAS THE FINAL POST TO THIS SITE BEFORE IT WENT DORMANT.


Happy New Year 2016. With a new year comes new beginnings and sometimes endings. If I am personally progressing and if I am doing a good job in my grieving Gregory's death; if I have been able to learn my lessons in living and loving someone diagnosed with Dementia/ Alzheimer's; if I am to get on with my life ... I need to bring this Alzheimer's blog to an end since my writing has been dealing less with Dementia/ Alzheimer's and more with life after Dementia/ Alzheimer's.


Of course, I will always continue to work for and support fair treatment on behalf of people with Dementia/ Alzheimer's and may post here from time to time. Also, there are many wonderful posts here through which you may browse.


With this change, I will continue and reinvigorate my "michael a. horvich writes" blog which deals with grieving Gregory's death, life lessons, personal experiences, observations, memoirs, dreams, and humor in essay and poetry, as well as an attempt now and then at sharing a piece of fiction.


Please follow me there by clicking http://mhorvich.blogspot.com or click the link located on the right side of this page.


Finally, COMMENTS are always important to me and you can still comment on the posts on this blog! CLICK "Comments" and sign in or use "Anonymous." Leave your name or initials if you wish so I'll know it's you? Check the "Notify Me" box to see my reply to you.



Friday, May 30, 2014

Panchamaya Kosha Session Four

I am including this "michael a horvich writes" post on the "michael a horvich cares about alzheimer's" BLOG. While I have decided to separate my personal writing from my Alzheimer's writing, this post really related to both as it discusses what I have termed "Acceptable Grief." Read on:

Interesting Yoga session today if only because earlier in the day my psychologist and I did a hypnosis session which was very much like a Yoga Nidra Mindful Meditation Session.

Then this evening, in quick summary, we breathed, stretched, focused, and meditated. A lot of attention to self and growth today!

In quick review, as the sessions have taken place we have moved from:
1) The Physical Body (using yoga movements) to
2) The Energy Body (using breath work) to
3) The Mental-Emotional Body (using the tool of sound/chant)  and this evening
4) The Wisdom Body (using the tool of meditation.)

This level of the Panchamaya Kosha deals with personality, character, and our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. We alternated breath work with stretching work with meditation and cycled through these several times before doing the final Yoga Nidra rest.

During the Yoga Nidra meditation, when dealing with beliefs, my "voices" gave me the concept of "Acceptable Grief."

When in deep meditation, most times my mind quiets enough for me to be able to get in touch with deeper thoughts and ideas.

They present themselves in "understandings" or "images" rather than words or text. I refer to these as "my voices."

Then in these BLOG posts, I have to try to interpret what I "felt" into what I "thought."

Acceptable Grief.

grief |grēfnoundeep sorrow, esp. that caused by someone's death: she was overcome with grief. To this definition, I would add a great sense of loss. 

Obviously my concept of Acceptable Grief applies to the path that Gregory has been traveling with Alzheimer's Disease and on which I have chosen to accompany him. We both have been through so much over the last ten years and such quick change over the last four and a half months.

I find that while I still grieve for the loss of my lover, best friend, soul mate, and life companion, I am at peace with our current situation. He is being well taken care of at Lieberman, I am continuing to revitalize my life, and we both are doing well. 

When I am with Gregory I am able to be in the "Here and Now" as he is. Mine by choice, his by circumstances. I try not to think about our past or our future when I am with him.

When I am home I try to be in the "Here and Now" as well and I try not to think about  our past or Gregory in is situation.

For the most part, Gregory is comfortable, content, and happy. For the most part, I am filled with joy, happiness, and contentment.

But the Grief is always with me and now and then surfaces. When it does I pay it attention, cry if I need to, and in some ways embrace it. The concept of Grief not only includes the sorrow but also the joy in Gregory's and my situation. We are both in a good place. I would not have chosen it this way, but none-the-less, we are both in a good place. And that is acceptable. Thus, Acceptable Grief.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Overheard at Lieberman

In "A" wing while the residents were watching TV. One resident to another resident who was a little upset. "They are beautiful here. You have no worries. They will attend to you."

Sunday, May 25, 2014

michael a. horvich writes

Just a reminder. You might want to follow Michael's writing that is not Alzheimer's based: http://mhorvich.blogspot.com

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Monday, May 19, 2014

Frank Sinatra's Young At Heart

I am visiting Gregory at The Lieberman on Monday which is also music day at 3:00.


A volunteer comes in each Monday and Thursday and sings American Songbook type songs, accompanied by his guitar, from 3:00-4:00.


All of the residents are "parked" in the "A Wing " living room in their wheel chairs, or on a chair or sofa if able, listening to the music, or sleeping, or staring into the distance. 

Some very few (maybe three) sing along in their cracked, out of tune older voices and some clap (maybe another three) in their out of rhythm weak sounding way.

Today during music time, I sat next to Gregory and studied each unique, wrinkled face decorated by time and troubles as well as by time and joys.

I wondered at each life, now basically over. I wondered at each mind, where is it and what is it thinking. 

For the most part, the 38 some residents were in the same (only different) "here and now" in which Gregory resides. 

But I wondered, and studied each face, and periodically wiped away the tears as I listened to the lyrics. 

These lyrics, which in the past I would have taken for granted, were today ERRONEOUS and OUT OF TUNE and PAINFUL for me to hear. 

Fairy tales CAN come true but they also fade and die ... as do we all!


FRANK SINATRA LYRICS

"Young At Heart"



Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you
If you're young at heart.
For it's hard, you will find, to be narrow of mind
If you're young at heart.

You can go to extremes with impossible schemes.
You can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams.
And life gets more exciting with each passing day.
And love is either in your heart, or on it's way.

Don't you know that it's worth every treasure on earth
To be young at heart.
For as rich as you are, it's much better by far
To be young at heart.

And if you should survive to 105,
Look at all you'll derive out of being alive!
And here is the best part, you have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart.

And if you should survive to 105,
Look at all you'll derive out of being alive!
And here is the best part, you have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart.

Guilt vs Remorse

While I feel pretty guilt free, I do relive moments in the past when I was not as kind to Gregory as I could have been. I know that I am "only human" but that was still no excuse, in my opinion, for my behavior to be controlled by anger, fear, frustration, confusion, etc that is Alzheimer's Disease. Not Greogry L. Maire ... but Alzheimer's Disease! It was wrong, bad, a failure!

I know that I cannot go back and "fix" the behavior and I do know it caused me to try harder to be better. Last night as I was thinking about this, I told myself, "Now you are able to repay and are repaying Gregory for those times you were mean. It has been four months since he has been at Lieberman and you have been only loving, kind, supportive, caring. Not once have you gotten angry, frightened, confused, and/or frustrated.

Then this morning I came across this article in Tricycle. In the Buddhist way, what I have interpreted as "bad" and "guilt" was turned around in a way that convinced me "I am only human." When GUILT is looked at as REMORSE, with the resulting change in understanding and behavior, it is not as painful. It is even part of the human experience with its nudge towards continued learning and improvement. 

I used to tell my students that making mistakes is part of the game. If you are not making mistakes you are not stretching yourself beyond what you already know. If you are not making mistakes it is because you already know the content and are learning nothing new.

If anything, both Alzheimer's and Buddhism have helped me to continue to stretch, and learn, and grow ... and to not feel guilty or "bad" about it or me!

Remorse
By Ezra Bayda

One particular difficulty, which is one of the most effective catalysts to awakening the heart, is experiencing the pain of remorse. Sometimes we get a glimpse of the fact that we're living from vanity or unkindness or pettiness, and we feel a cringe of conscience. This is the experience of remorse, which arises when we become acutely aware that we are going against our true nature ― against the heart that seeks to awaken. We can feel the pain we cause others, as well as ourselves; and this experience is almost always sobering. In fact, perhaps as much as anything, the pain of remorse can motivate a profound desire within us to live more awake and more genuinely. From the pain of deep humiliation ― from seeing how we go against our true nature ― real humility can awaken...

From Tricycle, Summer 2014, P.18.

Coming, Going

By Kozan Ichikyo

Empty-handed I entered the world
Barefoot I leave it.
My coming, my going ―
Two simple happenings
That got entangled.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Betty

Almost every day, Vera brought Marvin to Lieberman to visit Betty. Marvin is blind, walks with a white cane, and presents a sophisticated, educated, friendly air. He always recognized my, "Hi Marvin," even though he could not see me clearly.

He would comment on how young Gregory was and how good looking. He wondered if I was his father but didn't flinch when I told him I has Gregory's life partner. "How wonderful!" he said at finding out we just celebrated our 39th anniversary. "Babies," he said, "Ours is 75."

Sometimes Betty was in a good mood and the six of us would chat. (Marvin, Betty, Vera, Gregory, Manny, and me.) Other times she was unhappy, complaining, and argumentative with Marvin. But Marvin loved her and would always answer "Pretty well!" when I asked how he was doing.

Vera was Betty's helper but also helped Marvin. She would pick him up at home, bring him to Lieberman, take him back home after his visit, and return to be with Betty, then get back to help Marvin by evening.

The difficult part is that one comes to love these people, this community of Alzheimer's design. One comes to look forward to seeing them every day, to having the same narrow conversation, to feel part of the community.

Then one day a laminated blue Dove is flying on an 81/2 x 11 piece of white cardboard hung on the door of their room. Sometimes you don't get even that much warning. You commiserate, you hold back your emotions, you are supportive. You offer your wishes for the best.

This is the unspoken way of dealing with an imminent death. In a few days the room is empty and the partner no longer comes to Lieberman. The helper is no longer there to smile at. You do not get the chance to say you are sorry, or goodbye, or even it's been nice.

You move on but the emotions follow for a few days until the next person occupies that room. And the cycle begins again. For a week, or a month or maybe for years the cycle repeats. But it circles and you continue until your own loved one's room flies its Dove.

Safe travels Betty. In your small way, I'll miss you. Thank you for the reminder that there are happy endings.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Last Night

Last night David and Danny visited Gregory. You should have seen his face light up when the "boys" came into his room. These pictures show how wonderful the experience was for Gregory and for those visiting!



An E-Mail

Thanks for asking about Gregory, R. Gregory has evened out again, even if at a much lower level of functioning but he is happy and content. My experience with Lieberman continues to prove itself to be loving, supportive, and provision of excellent care. 

While I still grieve and will probably do so for the rest of my life, but I face each day with renewed strength and excitement. As you saw, I just published my second book of poetry, am working on the possibility of creating a second Michael's Museum which will be known as MCM or Michael's Closet Museum: A Large Collection Of Tiny Treasures in a Tiny Space. 

Am repainting the condo, making it my "single pad," and while do not want to be away from Gregory for great lengths of time am planning a future trip to Amsterdam and will embark on a few three or four day adventures, the first on probably to Quebec City. 

I hired a private care person to be with Gregory seven days a week from 11:30 to 5:30. That covers lunch and dinner and the time between. It helps keep Gregory active. While the aides there take good care of Gregory, it is not a social, interactive experience. 

With Manny, he gets extra exercise, companionship and help eating at meals, the ability to go to functions at Lieberman, ability to go down to the library and out to the gardens, watch movies (usually musicals) in his room, have snacks and his beloved chocolates, do music sessions with his iPod and earphones (as set up by Manny,) have massage, read aloud. None of which Gregory could do for himself but with Manny's help is easy. 

Also because Gregory is a "fall-risk" and because cognitively his brain has great trouble controling his legs and muscles, he is confined to a wheel chair. Normally he would have to always be with the "crowd" of other residents but with Manny his time can be more individualized. 

I visit almost every day and take one off now and then when I feel the need. Gregory's condition is much worse but his situation is much improved. My heart is light.

Love to you and N.

Michael

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Accomplishemnts

Pleased to announce that as of today, this BLOG has received 30,000 hits! Actually 30, 036.

As Gregory and my journey with Alzheimer's continues I am pleased that you sign in now and then (or a lot) and are riding along.

I hope that I have been able to keep you up to date on our journey as well as to support you in similar journeys of your own.

While most are invisible to the eye, we all do have our journeys, don't we?

For me, writing has been such a support in helping me cope with difficult times, processing my emotions, feeling that I am not alone, and has helped give me the strength to carry on.

Love does the same and so many of you have sent so much love Gregory and my way, I am grateful!

I am excited about the release of a second book of poetry, much of it driven by this Alzheimer's Journey. It will be carried by lulu.com, amazon.com, and barnesandnobel.com. I will let you know when it is available.

Monday, May 12, 2014

An E-Mail Reply

From niece MB (daughter of Al, Greg's oldest brother:) 
I have been concerned about you since Gregory has moved into his new home. I know they are taking care of him. That will give you time to make adjustments to your life.

Thanks for the kind words. I am doing well. We have been struggling with this for over ten years and the major difference, now that Gregory is in the advanced stages of the disease, is that the concerns, needs, and ability to define new normalcies have been narrowed. 

For the most part the routines and normalcies for Gregory are now predictable whereas during the early parts of his disease, it was a baseball game without rules!

As for my living alone, our relationship was always one of parallel growth. We both had the same interests and friends but maintained our individual interests and friends, and of course the two overlapped at points. So while I have to redefine my new life living alone, I do not have to redefine my life or identity entirely. 

I have had to learn to live in the present moment, as Gregory does, and to see life through his eyes. When I am able to do that, I am happy and content. When I begin to see his life through my eyes, I have more difficulties avoiding crying and grief.

Not sure if there will be a price in the future, but for now I have been separating myself into two parts. When I am by myself and at home I try not to think of Gregory and our past 39 years and when I am with him I try not to think about home and my life and our past 39 years. 

Some Buddhist monks spend a lifetime learning how to live in the here and now, without living in the past or the future. Both Gregory and I have been able to do that. He because of the Alzheimer's me because of my great love for him.

At home I'll keep busy with friends, keeping the condo up, writing, etc but when I am with Gregory, sometimes we just sit and hold hands and that is paradise and enough.

In the beginning it was difficult learning how to let go and become the Secondary Care Giver with The Lieberman Center (and their trained, knowledgable staff) being the Primary Care Giver. 

I am still Gregory's advocate but have begun to know how to choose my "battles." The staff at Lieberman actually listen to and hear what I say, try to accommodate my suggestions and Gregory's needs, but also help educate me when I am out of order or unrealistic in my goals for him.

Gregory's CONDITION is much worse and continues to worsen but his SITUATION is so much better ... so my heart is light.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

In her deep, raspy voice she would shout,
"HELP ME." "HELP ME." "HELP ME."
Sounding like her life was in terrible danger
"HELP ME." "HELP ME." "HELP ME."

But she only wanted to have you help her
Take her bib like cloth napkin off her neck
Take her back to her room to the bathroom.
Maybe show her, her sugar free juice drink.

But she yelled and yelled like she was all alone
Alone in her mind, in her self, in her world
And maybe with the Alzheimer's confusion
She was alone in her mind, her self,  her world

One night at dinner she was at it again.
"HELP ME." "HELP ME." "HELP ME."
I shushed and reached over to hold her hand,
She held back and didn't need to yell anymore.

Evelyn. Quite old. Hair thinning. More wrinkles than not,
She yelled, "HELP ME." "HELP ME." "HELP ME."
This morning, Mother's Day, at 6:00 am, she passed.
Given the last blessing which crying for help can bring.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Panchamaya Kosha Session One

I will post this just as a reminder. The writing I will be doing about my Yoga experiences, and the regaining of my Personal Self as distinguished from my Alzheimer's Self will now take place at http://mhorvich.blogspot.com

Here, in case you want to follow is the first session write up. Future ones will be at the new location.

Thanks and Namaste,
Michael

After discussing the model and its levels we began our Yoga session. Corinne demonstrated the various stretching and activities in "floor position" and in "chair position." Most of the ones I did were on a chair as I am so out of shape, recently had a bad case of Vertigo, and my back and hips have been bothering me. (This is not a poor me but information by way of your understanding the session.)

As the stretches and exercises progressed I found myself becoming more and more limber and finally ended up moving to floor style. I do not think that I have been as aware of my body in a long time (if ever) then when we were going through the stretches/exercises in this mindful way.

After the stretches/exercises we did a brief Yoga Nidra meditation mainly doing a "body scan" where Corinne led us through a mindful look at our bod, from the top of our head to the tips of our toes, in relation to breathing, the "inside" of it and the "outside" of it.

When I first started meditation classes I would say that many people think Yoga is physical stretching and exercising when it is really a way to calm and quiet the body so as to be better able to meditate.

While that is still true, I am afraid that I discounted Yoga too much. In this one short session, I became so aware of my body and its relation to the space around and the space inside that I now understand better the relationship between the physical and how it supports the mindful meditation.

I have continued to become more aware of how breathing relates to meditation, my study of Buddhism, and my emotions and sure enough here it shows up again in Yoga. I am excited about these sessions and look forward to the next ones to see what they will bring.

I might mention here that I have known for a while that I am very physically out of shape and needed to do something about it. The message hit home when I took myself to the emergency room with the Vertigo attack. It scared me. I thought my blood pressure had gone sky high (when it really was only registering the distress of my body with the Vertigo.) But the scare was enough for me to decide that thinking about doing something does NOT count as DOING something.

I surprised me with my quick actions: 1) Began discussing weight loss and made goals with my Psychologist, 2) Renewed my membership at LA Fitness, 3) Committed to a year of personal training at LA Fitness, 4) Began my weight loss program by weighing in and beginning a log of everything that I ate, 5) Beginning a six week Yoga Kosha session with Corinne.

I am airing my laundry here because by talking about it and by processing it, I think I will be able to try harder to succeed with this program of regaining my health. I DO NOT WANT TO BE OR FUNCTION LIKE AN OLD MAN, EVEN THOUGH I AM AN OLD MAN!

Also, as a reminder, this is being posted on my writers BLOG because I need to move on and separate my Alzheimer's Life from my Personal Life. No less love for Gregory but he is now safely ensconced and embraced. I need to do the same for myself.


Evening Get Together

When you first get off the elevator at the fifth floor, you enter the main living room area of the memory care unit although it is somewhat more institutional than it is home living room. It is also known as the "Music Area" in which one CD or another is usually playing, classical, Frank Sinatra, etc. A very calming area.

After dinner the other night; Gregory, Manny, and I were joined by Gerrie and her son and son-in-law Howard and Robert as we sat in a circle in the living room. With music playing softly in the background, those of us who could carry on a conversation did and the others enjoyed being part of the group.

I noticed at Ben and Edward were hanging out around the corner listening in on our discussion. I invited them to join us which they silently did. Ben sits in a baby stroller type PVC pipe construction that enables him to walk around the unit. Edward, formerly a doctor, uses a wheel chair and "kick walks" himself around.

So picture this, here is a group of 8 people sitting around in the "living room" after dinner having a friendly conversation. If you can stay in the moment and see through their eyes, a good time was had by all. What a strong sense of community!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Panchamaya Model

The Panchamaya Model is an ancient model of Yoga and Mindful Meditation that is the focus of a six week session that I am taking. The instructor, teacher, guide, guru, new friend is Corinne Peterson. 

You may remember a number of postings in the past when I was taking her Yoga Nidra classes. Yoga Nidra has helped so much, especially is dealing with Gregory and my journey with Alzheimer's, and I am grateful to Corinne for the great gift she has given to me.

Now that Gregory is lovingly ensconced and embraced by The Lieberman Center, it is time for me to focus on me. Slowly I have been regaining my sense of independence, relationships, emotions, life activities, and life purpose. What I know, however, is that I have let my physical body go to wreck due to lack of sleep, emotional disturbances, stress, lack of exercise, and comfort eating.

While most has calmed down since Gregory moved into Lieberman in January, the "body" is still out of control. Overweight. Huge belly (comparatively.) Achy joints especially knees and hips. Back pain. Little exercise. Little stamina. Loss of muscular strength. Shortness of breath. (How is that for being honest as I wash my laundry in front of the world?) 

I decided that it was time to take these "warning signals" to heart (literally) and do something about it. This is where I have started: 1) Focus on weight loss with my therapist, 2) Renewed LA Fitness gym membership, 3) Committed to a year with a personal trainer, 4) Am taking Corinne's Yoga session, 5) Have begun eating better.

My guess is that you will begin to see these themes show up in my writing. P.S. I have also decided to try to revitalize my writer's BLOG so I will be posting this type of personal grown at michael a horvich writes. I will repost this there and then continue it only on that site. So if you are interested in following:


• • • • •

The following provides a brief overview of the Yoga model which I will be working with over the next six weeks. Tomorrow I will write about my experiences with the first session.

Pancha Maya Kosha Model: Yoga Therapy and the Five Koshas
(http://yogauonline.com)
Yoga offers such a broad range of healing benefits, because it works holistically on the level of our whole being, not just the physical body. According to yoga philosophy, we are not just our physical body or mind, we are holistic, multi-dimensional beings made up by many different, interactive levels.
In the yoga framework, these levels are referred to as the five sheaths of our being, or the Five Koshas. To understand the Five Koshas and the role they play in yoga therapy, it's easiest to think of the Koshas as a series of Russian dolls, each embedded within the others. Starting from the outermost layer and moving towards the core, the Five Koshas proceed from outer to inner in greater and greater levels of subtlety:
Annamayakosha-The Physical body. This sheath represents the physical body, the 'regular' gross expression of our body that we can see, touch and feel. The Sanskrit word Anna means food, and the word mayameans appearance. This is the sheath of food, nourished by and created by our daily intake of food. TheAnnamayakosha is our physical body, the most familiar aspect of our being. As we practice yoga asanas, the physical body is the starting point of our experience.
Pranamayakosha-The Energy body. According to yoga therapy traditions, this is the second layer of our being.Prana means energy, but not energy in the usual Western meaning of the word. Rather, prana is the life-force, the vital energy which flows through and enlivens all our physical systems. The breath is the most physical expression of prana, and prana is closely related to the breath. Breath awareness and breathing practices, calledpranayama, increase and facilitate the flow of prana in the body and balance the flow of the life force to all the physical systems.
Manamayakosha-The Mental-Emotional body. Manasmeans mind, and the Manamayakosha is the layer of our being expressed as mind, emotions, and feelings. These are the mental faculties with which we absorb, process, and interpret input from our life (presented through the senses of the physical body). It is like a supervisor in a factory, which unfortunately often mistakenly takes on the role as manager.
Vijnanamayakosha-The Wisdom body. The fourth Kosha is considered part of the subtle body. Vijnana means knowing, and this sheath represents the higher mind, the faculty of wisdom, which lies underneath the processing, thinking, reactive mind. This is the level of our being, that has the higher wisdom to guide us through life and lead us to higher and higher levels of truth and integration. It represents the reflective aspects of our consciousness, which allow us to experience a deeper insight into ourselves and the world around us.
Anandamayakosha-The Bliss body. This is the fifth and final sheath of our being. Ananda means bliss, not bliss in the sense of emotions, such as happiness or pleasure, but an expanded, unbounded experience of reality. The ancients viewed the experience of the Bliss body as an experience of the deepest level of our being, an unbounded, blissful state of peace, joy, and love.
The Koshas are viewed as different, beautiful manifestations of our essential universal nature. According to yoga philosophy, this is known as Atman-the unbounded, universal Oneness of all that exists.
In practice, how do the different levels of our being interact? Take the example of depression. When we are depressed, we cannot help but slouch, rounding our shoulders and dropping our head forward Our breath becomes shallow and more restrained. In this way, our psychological mood, associated with our mental-emotional body (manamayakosha), affects our physical body (annamayakosha), as well as our breath and energy body (pranamayakosha).
In a yoga therapy practice, we begin to bring greater integration to the physical body with yoga asanas and to the breath body with yogic breathing or pranayamaAs the flow of vital energy is freed up in the physical body and breath body, this in turn creates greater vitality and integration in our mental-emotional body. This is why many people find that practicing yoga for depression often improves their mood and well-being considerably over time.
Of course, such deep-level changes don't happen overnight. Over the long term, however, yoga therapy can create permanent healing, because it helps bring greater integration to the deeper levels of our being, leading to increased balance, wisdom, and spiritual enrichment in all areas of life.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

EGO Trips

Here is Pema with this week's quote. What it says to me is that even with our deepest suffering, we can deal with it lightly. We need not struggle with difficult emotions. The EGO is always trying to stir up trouble so it can keep its job. If we were calm, happy, trouble free ... the EGO would be out of work so it must stir things up. Taking oneself so seriously when struggling with life's path as Pema says is yet another EGO Trip. Lighten up! You will solve your problems and you will enjoy the path.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Haunting (Part 2 of 2)

No, not "Haunting" like Freddie Kruger in "Nightmare on Elm Street" or some scary movie like "Psycho" or "Silence of the Lambs." But rather an experience I had the other evening at Lieberman that left a strong image in my mind.

What I want to share "haunts" me because like with so many of my interactions with Gregory, I will never really know the true meaning or many of the significant details. But I can close my eyes and clearly see and feel the experience.

Usually I visit Gregory during the day before - during, or after lunch or the same for dinner. Most often Manny is attending to Gregory as Private Care Helper and he will take a break while Gregory and I visit.

Often our visits have an activity associated with it like me giving Gregory a manicure, or talking about the pictures in one of his books, watching TV, having a piece of fruit of a bite of chocolate, working with a beach ball for exercise, me giving Gregory a massage, or all of us joining in one of the floor's activities or going down to the community room for an all building event.

The other day I arrived at Lieberman at 7:00. Manny had left by 5:30 and Gregory was "parked" in Wing A watching TV with the other residents. He was at the far end of the wing and as I approached I realized his arm and hand was up in the air over his head signaling he saw me, or here I am, not sure which. I waved back and he kept his arm in the air until I reached him.

I had crossed the head of the wing a few minutes earlier on my way to drop some stuff off in Gregory's room and I wonder if he saw me come and go then. I guess I am amazed that he was so aware that he saw me approaching. Usually he is distracted or has a fixed focus on something or another.

Either way, it was a nice welcome and reception for me and was a first. I wonder what was going on in his mind. I wonder at what point he noticed me in Wing A. I wonder if he thought I was not going to come find him. I wonder if he misses me when I am not there or if he even knows that I am not there and brightens up when I am. I wonder if he remembers that I was there after I leave.

Sometimes it is important to me to have a "heart to heart" with Gregory and share what I am feeling or thinking. For example,  I say, "I really miss you so much and wish we could be together more often. I know that neither of us would have wanted it this way but I know that we both also know that you are being well taken care of and are safe. It seems to me that you are happy and content and that makes me feel good. I love you so so much."

I think Gregory hears and understands me and sometimes we cry together, other times we laugh together. Maybe he just senses my sadness or happiness and that is to what he reacts.

"Dayanu," It would have been enough! Lieberman, being a Jewish organization, makes me end this piece saying, "Dayanu, It would have been enough." I do not really need to know what Gregory is thinking, only to see him smile or laugh or cry with me.





Dinner and Conversation

Manny and Greg and Michael had dinner at Lieberman cooked by Alaksh: Butter Chicken and Paneer Korma over rice. Yummmmy.

Manny, Gregory, and Alaksh

Butter Chicken

Paneer Korma

We had dinner on the second floor in a small classroom. It was fun sitting around the table eating together. Gregory enjoyed it very much. His room is too small for such a party and the dining room only allows Kosher food. The only thing were were lacking was a table cloth and a few flowers in a vase. 

Alaksh is planning on cooking again next week. I'll provide the table cloth and flowers and a picture of Gregory's and my moms. Happy Mother's Day it will be.

After dinner we sat in the main space of the fifth floor, the music center, and visited with the four of us, Gerrie and her son and son-in-law and a friend of their's visiting from Florida. Later two male residents (there are not many males) joined the conversation. They didn't add much but had been sitting on the periphery listening so we invited them to join us. 

Dorothy walked by and "blew" us her greetings as she plowed down the hallway, walker to the wind.

Sad part was greeting Marvin (husband) who told us his wife (resident) Betty wasn't doing too well. She was having trouble breathing and couldn't eat any more so they've started Hospice.

Funny (and sad) how the Lieberman Fifth Floor community continues to grow on us.

Haunting (Part 1 of 2)

First let me explain how residents of Lieberman's Fifth Floor spend their waking time.

After meals, and during the day, all residents are moved from wing to wing for the various on unit activities like exercise, music, movies, etc. Moving is in itself an activity which allows for a brief "ride" providing a different environment in which to spend the next few hours.

The moving is called "Transport." This example will describe moving to Wing A for a movie after lunch. All residents are in dining room at various stages of having finished their noon meal.

Some residents are able to walk, walker, or wheel chair kick themselves around the place safely. These residents are able to do so freely. They are encouraged to join the group at some activities, required to participate in others, but for the most part can be on their own if they choose.

Those who are a "fall risk" or are not mobil get their wheel chair pushed to the next destination. One RCA (Resident Care Aide) starts the transport by pushing a resident to Wing A and then stays there as "Guard." The other RCAs push the residents to Wing A and return to the dining room to get another resident.

Meanwhile yet another RCA has remained in the dining room until the last resident is finished eating and either is out on their own or pushed to Wing A. Should add here that often the nurses, social worker, activities director, and volunteers help as needed with the process of "Transport."

Once everyone is in Wing A watching the movie (or sleeping or staring or mumbling or whatever) another RCA becomes "Guard" for the next 30 minutes while the others are freed up either to change those residents who need it, attend to other needs like helping a resident shower, or they are able to get lunch for themselves and take care of other duties around the unit.

Sometimes, like during music or Oneg Shabbas, all of the RCAs join in and the activity is quite fun, active and reflects the "Community" that the unit is to residents, visitors, and workers as well.

Let me add one variation, if a resident has a private care helper or a visitor, that person can transport and/or decide where to go or what to do. Sometimes when I am there, instead of going to "music," Gregory and I will go to his room to visit or watch his TV. Often visitors take the resident out into the garden or to an all building activity like a concert.

With this picture of "Transport" in your mind, and with your wondering why the title of this post is "Haunting," I will keep you hanging until the next post.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Blankie

When Greg gets tired and needs to nap. I always cover him with a blanket. I think it feels more comfortable and nap like, whether in bed or a wheel chair, to be under a blanket.


A Telephone Call

I was a little leery of having a friend visit Gregory for the first time without me helping to guide the experience but I was proven wrong. LB assured me she had lots of experience with nursing homes and dementia and as long as she was in the area she really wanted to pay Gregory a visit. I was home ill and couldn't join her but "gave her permission" to go ahead if she was willing to take the risk.

I called to check on how the visit went and told Gregory's day helper  that I would not be coming in because I was not feeling well. The report back from Manny was that Gregory was so happy to see LB, was more alert and responsive and that they had a long animated conversation (all be it truncated and alzheimered) more so then he has ever seen.

I was very pleased to hear this. Manny then asked if I wanted to talk to Gregory on the cell phone. Usually I hesitate to have people talk about me when I am not visiting Gregory assuming he is unaware of my not being there until he sees me next. But I said, "Sure."

It took Gregory just a few seconds to get the hang of talking on the phone with me. I told him I wasn't coming to visit. "Oh, OK." I do not feel well. "Oh no." But I am OK and I will see you tomorrow. "Wonderful. " I love you. "I love you." Bye. "Bye."

It was a short and simple conversation but wonderful for me to have had that experience over the phone. Many lessons learned as well.