Friday, April 18, 2014

Comparing, Contrasting & Always Remaining Open To Discussion

Most people will agree, expecting a baby is often exhilarating.

When we face challenges with the baby who doesn't want to nurse as we're told they'll naturally latch on, do we deprive the baby of what it needs? Do we conclude the baby doesn't want to live?

NO. In the twenty first century we move heaven and earth to find out what, why, when, where and most of all how WE can work through this challenge.

Seeking medical counsel or counsel from books and You Tube to try to find out what else we can do, how else we can "present" or "offer" or encourage or what else might be affecting this valuable asset to society, this child we've brought into the world, we do not stop until we find a way to work with and for this human being.

That's a key phrase in today's world"  "Asset to Society". A scary phrase, in my opinion. For who defines "value" of a human being of any age or any capacity?

FAST FORWARD.  This baby has survived life and its many challenges, has matured and moved into many decades later and is now faced with the challenge of Dementia. 

Now this disease or medical challenge is taking over the person's thoughts and even the body's daily actions and activities. 

Now society focuses not on growth and gain but on loss of ability and deterioration and most act in ways that emphasize these activities rather than work to minimize or stabilize these actions.

The patience and perseverance with which we faced the challenges of working with new life disappears and the frustration can build.

As a baby and far into adulthood, the focus was on "training" the brain, "expanding abilities" with growth and development. 

Somewhere along the journey of life individuals and society have taken on the belief that this slows down and even stops.

On TV yesterday I saw someone talking about how the age of 24 was the end of abilities to effectively and efficiently grasp, retain and learn at a pace to keep up in our "modern world". Maybe 25 is the new/old 40 that once was seen as "Over The Hill" and downhill all the way?

OR .... maybe we need to rethink our values as a society and our practices that seem to be determining what we say and do and how we act towards one another contains respect and dignity. We write that we do this but few actually practice these values.

A GUARANTEE.  If you shelve people, like books they will collect dust and show their age more than if you open them often, share them with others and find their contents as relevant today as they were yesterday when you "purchased" them -- when they were born into your life.

BRAIN DRAIN.  What have we learned from RETIREMENT?  

We've learned people who stop actively participating in life become bored, begin to lose certain functions and abilities and can become despondent. 

AARP, OASIS and other organizations along with some communities and family members encourage active involvement, provide programs and activities at varying levels of ability offering variety and interest and self satisfaction. (I decided against a link to AARP because the site has too many pop ups and ads).

Here's the link to Oasis (which, by the way, like AARP now starts for people aged 50 and above): 

Inside the walls of many facilities for Long Term Care, however, we revert to amusing, cajoling, entertaining and other very mindless activities and call that "individualized caregiving".


Come along with me sometime to visit Mom's old SNC/LTC facility or drop into one and really look around, listen and learn. 

Mom stayed in her room; sat in one place; busied herself with what she had or found to do; and, waited . . . to be told what to do, when to do it and how to do it. No one really cared. Mom had to initiate and show an interest, we were advised. Or, she was taken to what she considered "mindless" and "childlike" activities that held no interest and she was bored.

NO COMPUTER ACCESS.  The only computer in any type of accessible area was "off limits" and no resident was given permission to use it at any time. It sat waiting for an employee of the facility who had been given the ability to use it yet it sat in a room that was available to residents for "special occassions" by reservation.

I looked long and hard for a facility that Mom qualified for -- we had to have her in Medicaid because she had no resources, no ability to pay, at that time, $5,000 to $8,000 a month for a shared room/bathroom.

Those marketing pieces and glossy pictures and videos don't portray the reality of almost every "average" SNC/LTC facility. Under staffed, run by people who focus on the bottom line (even the Not For Profits) and constantly besieged by more and more paperwork and less and less time to devote to services -- they are as "shelved" as the people they serve.

  • Clocks and watches used to have to be wound to be functional.
  • Auto settings on appliances didn't exist; you had to actively turn them on & off.
  • People repaired or had repaired shoes, clothing, tools, appliances and more, stimulating business and brains to remember, retain and function.
  • Families were units of generations caring about and for one another; often living together or nearby.
DEMENTIA may progress because we fail to actively use our brains as well as from medical causes.

What if we weren't a "throw away and consumer oriented society"?

What happens to parts of your body you exercise or use in specific ways if you don't continue that function? 

Shouldn't our brain be considered the most important "muscle" or "organ" or "part" of our body and in need of the same ongoing attention we give to our heart, kidneys, other organs, eyes, teeth and even our nails and hair?

Dementia may be visible as an accumulation of plaques or other materials but what about our bodies and what they can show when they're not taken care of?

Right now... take a moment and stop, think and consider. WHAT IF ....
  • We valued age as we value youth.
  • Experience and learning wasn't considered obsolete because it was gained at another time in another place.
  • We realized you can continue to learn, to grow and to become even when you're confined to a specific space or place if someone takes an interest in you and if someone cares enough to work with you.
Spread the word:
  • Dementia is a disease to acknowledge for more than the damage it does.
  • Dementia is measureable and it's also workable; it might even be preventable in total or to a significant degree.
There are people who pass through this life every day at very advanced ages and with many of their "capabilities" and "capacities" still intact. That might be a sign of someone who's struggled with, fought the war and won many of the battles even when, as with my Mom, life ends. And, it's also a sign that they and others had the foresight and insight to find ways to live and provide life to the fullest and be valued for who they are as much as for who they were.

ONE SUGGESTION:  Stop reminiscing with people about what they did, who they were & what they no longer have -- that can be negating here & now.

  •    A TODAY to value themselves and continue to grow and learn
  •    A TOMORROW to look forward to great possibilities
  •    A future YESTERDAY filled with more positive memories      

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