Giving Dignity Back To Those With Dementia

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These are a couple of blossoms, from my peach tree, which I photographed yesterday. My brother J.R. loved to walk around my yard and smell the flowers.

Once again I have read the book “Dementia Beyond Drugs,” by Dr. G. Allen Power.  I mentioned Dr. Power in my blog post “Dementia – A Different Approach,” January 19, 2015.  Dr. Power’s concept of little or no drugs is wonderful.

When I cared for my brother J.R., for two years in my home, I chose not to give him any antipsychotic or any other type of drug. I wanted J.R. to be able to function at his best during the time I cared for him.  I admit J.R. was hard to handle and he wandered a lot. When I placed J.R. in a nursing home nine months ago they immediately drugged him into a comatose state.  I talked to them many times about these drugs, but all they did was constantly change doses and drugs according to J.R.’s behavior.  They took J.R.’s dignity away him and gave him an almost non-existent life with these drugs.

When you cannot care for your loved one anymore you have no choice, but to place them somewhere.  I fought a hard, costly battle to obtain Medicaid for J.R.  Finally prayers were answered and we obtained long-term-care funding.  My daughter and I searched long and diligently for the right nursing home in which to place J.R.

I will not infringe on Dr. Power’s copyright by quoting what I have read in his fantastic book.  I will interpret my views, of what I have read, in my own words.

When residents with dementia were placed in situations with children and pets – beautiful friendships and happiness occurred. Why, you wonder, because children and dogs are not judgmental.  The dementia patients had increased meaning in their lives in this type of interaction.

Nursing homes are not viewing those with dementia as productive human beings.  The nursing homes are disrespecting, dehumanizing, and disconnecting dementia patients from what life they have left on this earth.  I do not think nursing homes are doing this deliberately, but because they wish to control their patients.

I know from experience that elderly and dementia people are lonely, helpless, and bored. I have dealt with my mother, who had dementia, until her death and am now dealing with my 3 siblings who are in different stages of dementia.  Those in nursing homes need to be able to live their latter days of life with happiness and dignity.  They are no less important than the rest of the human race on this earth, especially in God’s eyes.

Medications are not important to dementia patients.  Drugs are important to caregivers and nursing homes.  What is important to a dementia patient?  Love and caring.

Dementia patients need a different type of interaction than normal people.  We need to talk to and handle them in a slower, calmer manner; make visiting with them more meaningful; they need a restful, calm, quiet life; give them the dignity you would give any person you interact with; genuinely smile, laugh, touch them softly, make connections; they need a quiet home in which to live, because they do not understand chaos.  Those with dementia function as a child, their life is going backward as opposed to a small child’s life.  I remember my brother J.R. telling me months ago, he liked his nice, big, new home, but it sure was noisy.  He is right, it sure is noisy!

God bless all caregiver out there.  I know just how hard it is to keep your sanity through the stressful process of care giving.  There is still stress and decision-making once you place your loved one in a nursing home.  If you are like me, you never wanted the responsibility of ruling another person’s life.

AH – Spring

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I was sitting on the porch the other day and I knew it was Spring when I saw this blackbird wooing one of the little females of his species.  She was not paying any attention to his antics and was watching me take pictures.  She would move away from him on the wire and he would follow.  I felt lucky to catch this shot of him spreading his wings out to impress the little female.

I told my husband he had to mow the grass soon, not because the grass is growing.  All the weeds are blooming and letting them go to seed just creates more weeds.  I have to admit some of the weeds have some beautiful blooms and my husband’s hive of bees like to collect pollen from them.

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What my husband really wants to do is make this half acre garden dry out enough to take his tractor and till all the weeds under.  He usually wants to start gardening a month before it is time to begin.  Must be the old farmer coming out in him.

So Spring has begun to bloom in our hearts and we are all glad that winter is leaving once again.  Love to watch the birds making their nests and the squirrels running around the tree trunks and enjoying the bright sunshine.  Happy Spring America.

Photographs Around The Yard

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Loved this sunrise I took two days ago from my Arkansas back yard at 7:00 a.m.  Thought the pastel colors, the wispy clouds, the silhouette of the apple tree, and the airplane trails across the sky made the picture that much more intriguing.

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It was 4 or 5 days ago that we had a 3 inch rain that caused this puddle to form in the front yard.  I thought the reflections of the cedar and pine tree trunks in the rain water were quite pretty. The little tree in the foreground is a Chinese persimmon tree.

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On a much nicer day, with clear skies and no rain, I captured a picture of one of the Air Force cargo planes flying over my 35 foot pine tree in the front yard.  Love that blue sky.

Hope you enjoy the photography of an amateur.

Unexpected Anger

My Daughter and I went to the nursing home for a meeting, about my brother J.R. and his dementia treatment, before Christmas 2014.  We met with the nursing staff for 20 minutes and discussed  J.R.  After the meeting we had a nice visit with J.R.

The problem of Unexpected Anger began with another nursing home resident when we were trying to leave the facility.  (All names of those involved in this incident have been changed).  There was a nursing home resident named Janice sitting in front of the exit door in her wheelchair.  Betty saw the patient there and said, “Wait, I will go get Sue.” Betty quickly walked down the hall.  We had no idea why she needed Sue.  It was very cold outside and a visitor needed to enter.  So, I took the handles of the wheelchair, pulled the chair backwards,  to move Janice out of the way.  OH MY, was that a mistake!  Janice could whirl that wheelchair around on a dime.  She whirled; swung her arm at me; let out a string of cuss words that would make a sailor blush; several times she said she was going to kill me; and she took off after me at top speed.  I ran around a couch and tried to keep the couch between us.  When I changed direction, she changed direction, she was ranting and raving the whole time.  I did not want to physically defend myself from a frail lady in a wheelchair. My Daughter could not help me.  Another visitor who was trying to leave, slowly backed into an office.  The visitor who came in was behind me, thanking me for letting her in.  I told the visitor to watch out Janice was Mean, then I changed direction again!  After about 4 minutes Sue arrived.  Sue tried to talk Janice into staying inside because it was cold.  I could tell Sue was afraid of Janice.   Sue finally gave up and took Janice outside.  As we left I was very shaken from this Unexpected Anger

I was called to the nursing home twice after this incident for anger issues with J.R.  They would try to redirect him physically and he would become angry.  They informed me that my brother was either going to have to be sent to a Psych Hospital for evaluation or I would have to place him in another nursing home.  I told them the anger story about Janice and her wheelchair and that I felt she was much more violent than J.R., yet they tolerated her anger.  They laughed at my story of Janice and said, “Oh, she was just angry because she was dying and it made her mad.”  They said she had since passed away.

So, I sent J.R. to the Psych Hospital.  He was back at the nursing home in a week, drugged so much he could not wake up to eat.  They had to reduce the medications and finally decided they needed to learn how to correctly approach and redirect him.  They had also decided he was not really violent.  I tried quite some time ago to tell them you could not physically manhandle someone with dementia and not expect them to react unfavorably.  J.R. is in the latter part of mid-stage dementia.  You never know how fast dementia will progress, each patient is different.  The brain disappears differently in each person with dementia.

Each time I receive a phone call from the nursing home dread and sorrow enters my mind. The sorrow endured by watching a loved one go through dementia is unbearable. J.R. has his medications changed continuously; he sleeps 2 hours in 2 days; he is losing weight. To describe J.R.’s brain would be to say someone has scrambled his brain with an eggbeater. I do not understand him, he does not understand me.  Antipsychotic drugs are not recommend for dementia patients, but doctors still prescribe them.  Side effects of these drugs cause anxiety, hostility, aggressiveness, agitation, insomnia, etc.  I believe these drugs are the reason for the violent behavior in people with dementia.

Dementia is increasing in the world daily.  All we can do is PRAY that someday in the near future a cure for dementia will be found.

Things People Say About Life

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This pond is the view from the North window of my house.  Often I watch the ducks, cranes, and geese land on this pond and enjoy themselves for a while. I spend a lot of my life outdoors, totally enjoying everything nature has to offer.

I ran across a few quotes on what some famous people think about life.  My Mother use to say you get out of life what you put into life.  Mom also told me quite often that Life was Boot Camp for Heaven.  Life does get rough at times, like boot camp.

“The first half of our life is ruined by our parents and the second half by our children.” Clarence Darrow, lawyer and author 1857-1938   (Thought this was funny.)

“May you live all the days of your life.”  Jonathan Swift, satire writer (England) 1667-1745  I think what he meant by this is that often we are just existing, letting time get away from us, and not enjoying the days we live on this earth.

“No man is a failure who is enjoying life.” William Feather, publisher & author 1889-1981

“As soon as a man acquires fairly good sense (in life), it is said that he is an old fogy.”  Ed Howe, journalist 1803-1937

“To make headway (in life), improve your head.”  B.C. Forbes, journalist-Forbes Magazine & author 1880-1954

When you’re sitting there bored, something I often hear from people, get up and do something about the boredom.  Live life to the fullest, fast and furiously, even if occasionally you have to slow down for the speed bumps.

Nature’s Beauty

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I have not written a blog in a few days because I have been outside snapping pictures with my new camera, trying to figure out how it works.

I was looking out the kitchen window at daybreak yesterday and saw this spider web on a weed way down at the end of the garden.  This spider web was covered with morning dew and was like a little beacon shining.  I grabbed my camera, out the door I went, I stood under the apple tree, ran my zoom lens way out into space and snapped this beautiful spider web.

After the sun arose, the dew disappeared and you could not tell the spider web was there.

All these afternoon people who arise late have no idea of the beauty they miss each morning.  I love every sunrise and I see them every day.  I would not miss God’s glory that shines through each morning.  Makes me feel like a little kid in a candy store!

Proud To Be A Veteran

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You might say this post is for my blogging friend j.forreaux (Kwentokoto) who wanted to know about my military time in the Air Force, a few decades ago.  In the colored photo that is me in my dress uniform in San Antonio , at age 18, at Lackland Air Force Base, when I was in basic training.  The black and white photo is my two roommates and me (I am on the right) in our summer uniforms.  I was stationed here for just a couple of months.  They marched us, and marched us, and marched us, oh, sorry.  Sent us through obstacle courses of mud, through the gas chamber just to see what fun that was without our gas masks on, etc.  Up early was the motto of that place as everyone who has been through basic training knows.

Went from San Antonio to Amarillo, Texas for technical school at Amarillo Air Force Base for a few months.  The photo below is me in our administrative tech class, me at age 18 in the center of the back row, spending the daytime hours with all these good-looking men. Wow, such fun.

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Was stationed at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois for permanent party.  Ended up becoming a secretary to a Staff Sergeant.  Spent the rest of my 4 year enlistment at this base.  The Government closed this base about 20 years ago. Nothing real exciting, but this is the place I met my husband who was also in the Air Force.  I was on KP (clean up duty)  in the chow hall and in walked my future husband to fix the large milk machine.  I was in my fatigues with a hair net on, a mop in my hand, slinging chairs out-of-the-way to clean floors.  It was love at first sight!  Ha Ha No, not really, that was the beginning of getting to know each other, dating, and getting married a year later when I was 19.  Got to move off base after I got married and live in a rental house, and go to work on the base in the daytime.

My military service did not involve any dangers or time fighting wars like most of our heroic vets who fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan.   I take my hat off and salute these brave men for their service above and beyond the call of duty.

Each Day Is A Blessing

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Each day that I get up and can take a picture of a sunrise like this one, I call that a blessing. The first thing I do each morning is thank God for giving me another day on this earth, I thank God for his blessings and  for His precious Son Jesus.

God created a beautiful planet for us to live on and enjoy.  It is amazing: if you look at a leaf from a tree and see the designs on that leaf; if you look at the rain water flowing in a ditch and see the ripples of the water; if you watch the antics of squirrels chasing each other in circles around a tree trunk or watch them jumping from tree to tree; watch the honeybees fly from flower to flower with their legs covered in pollen.  The things that God created are endless and beautiful.

I live out in the country and I am often running around in the yard at dawn in my pajamas, when others are still in bed, looking at this glorious world.  Go outside, walk around your yard or neighborhood, and really take those intricate eyes God gave you and look at all the magnificent things God created.  Your eyes can capture things that no camera lens can capture.

I see people who sit in their houses, they never venture out to discover the world.  If I had to live totally indoors I would never enjoy my life.  Mother Nature as everyone calls the outdoors, is waiting for you to venture out and explore her wonders.  Hup 2, 3, 4, get up and march right out there and enjoy.  Sorry, that is from my time in the Air Force.  Hup, Hup, left, right, left.

Helping Others, When They Need Help

I ran across this quote the other day and I thought of my brother, J.R. who has dementia. This quote tells us what we all can do for those who have memory loss, or a disability. Hold their hand and sing a song to them that they love.  I have done this several times when I visit my brother at the nursing home.  He does not know who I am anymore, but out of my love for him, I sing him a song.  Sometimes he remembers a few words of that song and he joins in with me, as I sing.♥

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