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, September 20, 2015

Thinking About Gregory

Let me move to some changes I have been able to make in my thinking based on my new awareness of who I am.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about Gregory and his situation. While Lieberman does a pretty wonderful job of taking care of the residents on Gregory's unit, there is so much more they could be doing. 

Much of the "strum und drang" of the unit could be alleviated by what to me, seem simple, easy to accomplish measures. In short, my erroneous belief that I could run the place better than the mass of trained professionals that currently do run it, it getting in my way!

"Storm and Stress" is the English translation of Strum und Drang,  a German literary movement that emphasized the volatile emotional life of the individual. And at times life on the Special Memory Care Unit at Lieberman does reflect the volatile emotional life of all of the individuals involved: residents, staff, administration, and family.

So I have been lying awake at night, going over what I think and what I would say to make change at Lieberman. No need to say I have been losing precious hours of sleep and working myself into a tizzy.

Then I think of Gregory in particular. He is content, happy, well taken care of. Besides the excellent parts of life and staff at Lieberman, he has Manny and Halina to care for him from 11:30-5:30. 

He has me to visit almost every day with love overflowing as well as flowers, chocolate, and other treats. 

He has his Midwest Palliative Hospice Care nurse, social worker, Rabbi, music therapist, massage therapist to keep an extra eye on him.

I think that in some ways, my thoughts about making Gregory's life at Lieberman (as well as helping the other residents on the unit) are more about trying to bring back the pre-Dementia/ Alzheimer's Gregory and making all the changes and difficulties of being on that path go away. But that is fantasy, isn't it?

So here comes my growth through Buddhism: Perhaps I should back off from feeling that I can make major changes in the life at Lieberman's Memory Care Unit.

If I feel sad about his situation, it is sad. If I am worried, it is worrisome. If I allow the "down side" to make me unhappy, I am unhappy. If I focus on what is bad, that is all I see and I loose the joy of what is good. If I see it as suffering, I suffer.

But If I am grateful and happy, that is how I feel. If I look closely and realize that for the most part Gregory is doing well in his environment, then I feel good also.

It turns out that my unhappiness is of no use to Gregory. My unhappiness does not make Gregory any happier. In some ways he probably can detect that I am unhappy and that has a negative effect on him. If I am happy he can feel that. 

A lesson here is that Gregory just is ... and in some ways that is more in touch with reality than I am.

Notice your innermost feelings when you think of a very sad situation and then switch to a very happy situation and put a smile on your face. It feels different doesn't it? It is very hard to feel unhappy if you put a smile on your face and feel happy. At least I find it works for me.

I guess you could put a smile on your face and at the same time tell yourself you are feeling sad and unhappy but why cancel out the good effect of a smile when you don't have to!

I guess this is when people talk about choosing to be happy or sad under any conditions, no matter how difficult. I think that if you look hard enough you can find a little ray of sunshine even behind the darkest clouds. Trite saying but true!

So back to 


  1. I believe choosing to be happy and choosing to be a changemaker need not be mutually exclusive :)

    The Dalai Lama is happy. He also works to make positive change. #justsaying

    1. Agreed. But I found myself obsessing instead of being a creative, positive agent for change.


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