When you explore why we humans like to read, you find statements such as,
- Be ok with just being compassionately present. Towards the end of my grandmothers life, my family was all gathered at my aunt's house where my grandmother lived her last days. In those final days, grandmama Mildred was in and out of awareness that we were there. On this day, we had taken her outside to lay in a swing - the sun was shining and there was a wonderful breeze with birds singing. She loved being in nature! My mom was helping her eat ice cream and trying to get grandmama to engage with us. “Is it good, mama?” “Here’s some ice cream” “Is it good?” is what my mama kept saying, over and over. After a bit my grandmother all of the sudden opened her eyes, looked at my mom and said in a snarky tone, “Is it good? Is it good?”. In her always hilarious way, she was telling my mama to shut up and let her enjoy the ice cream! Not that my mom was trying to be annoying - we were all so desperate to make sure grandmama knew we were there. After that moment, we knew she could always feel (and hear!) us!
Lesson learned: sometimes just sitting quietly is enough. The person can feel your presence through touch and a thoughtful environment set-up.
- Look for the signs, they often come at unexpected times. On the day grandmama Mildred took her last breath, my family was gathered around her bed. It was a hospital bed we rented and we had it pushed up to the king size bed in the room. On the king bed was me, my mom, several of my aunts and my 2 sisters. We were playing hymns and music that my grandmama loved. On Eagle's Wings, a familiar Catholic hymn was playing and as we were all singing the chorus - "And he will raise you up on eagle's wings...", my grandmother began to raise up. It was a chaotic few moments until we realized that my aunt was laying on the hospital bed remote! We all burst into hysterics and knew that was grandmama Mildred, playing one last joke on everyone. And bringing laughter into the room as she always did.
Lesson learned: The time will come to say goodbye. Even in that moment, find joyful ways to connect and cope.
Dying and death is often viewed as a scary and sad turn of events. And while losing someone we love is sad, the truth is that we're all going to die at some point. There, I said it! A recent post I ran across on LinkedIn shared the concept of maraṇasati, meaning mindfulness of death. It's a Buddhist meditation practice that often includes incorporating various visualization and contemplation techniques focused on the nature of death. From what I could gather, the intent is to bring more awareness to your present moment and encourage you to live life as if there is no tomorrow. No regrets! And if you practice Christianity, you believe that with death also comes eternal life. There is comfort in knowing the rest of your days will be spent with Jesus and others who have gone before you. For my family, we take comfort in the latter. And that is something that my grandmama Mildred instilled in all of us. And I'm lucky that those roots continue to run deep through my mama. If you're reading this, mama, grandmama would be so proud of how you continue to guide our family in strong faith!
I'm also intrigued by maranasati and look forward to researching that more. How do you cope and find comfort in times of loss? There is no right way, and sharing may help others! Be sure to leave a comment. And, if you'd like more information on death and dying, check out a previous blog or reach out to me.
To view the previous post introducing my grandmother and our family's journey caring for her, check it out here.
I mentioned my grandmother briefly in my last post and I would love to share more about her! Her name was Mildred and this year she would have celebrated her 101st year around the sun. She was was the pillar of our family and barrel of fun! I can see her infectious smile now, dancing in the kitchen singing "If I'd known you were coming, I would've baked you a cake"! Most of my memories of grandmama Mildred involve her journey living with dementia. She taught our family so much in the 8+ years she lived with dementia. Her sense of humor never ceased and was a critical piece in allowing grace to shine bright through it all. And boy did we need grace - we didn't always get it right. That's life.
Topics: dementia care, dementia, caregiving, Caregiver Training, family caregivers, Compassion, Family Education, dementia training, dementia education, Dementia Awareness, communication skills, education and training
It's frightening to care for someone you don't understand. People living with dementia (PLWD) are themselves often filled with fear and anxiety and express themselves in ways that are difficult for others to comprehend. For a family member or professional who is helping persons who are themselves trying to cope with the cognitive changes going on in their brains, it is a domino effect that carries over to care partners. Fear, anxiety, guilt, and feeling very frustrated in not having the tools to better communicate and respond to stress reactions leave caregivers feeling helpless.
It's no surprise that the long term care sector has experienced declining occupancy and census due to COVID-19. The best marketing and sales efforts couldn't compete with a worldwide pandemic. But the tide is turning and if we've learned anything during this time -is that creativity is king, education is powerful and experiences change how people think, feel and act (because we've been missing these!). Dementia education and awareness is critically needed in our communities. Let's talk about how we can bridge dementia staff training with meeting marketing and sales goals by providing a solution to the pent-up demand for impactful dementia education from our local communities.
Topics: AGE-u-cate Training Institute, dementia care, Senior Care Professionals, dementia, compassionate touch, Dementia Live, AGE-u-cate Training Insitute, turnover, dementia training, employee training, AGE-u-cate Training, home health
Pet therapy is well-known for comforting people with dementia. Snuggling a four-legged friend brings on a smile, soothes anxiety and encourages physical activity. People connect to memories of their own beloved pets. Can a robotic pet replace the real thing?
Stress Reaction is a term being used more often to describe communication in persons living with dementia. Behavioral expression, too, is communication. In a growing number of circles, the term behavioral expression is being replaced by stress reaction simply because behaviors sometimes leans toward being a negative descriptive of how persons with dementia express unmet needs.
Topics: dementia care, Senior Care Professionals, Family Caregiver, dementia, Care Partners, compassionate touch, Dementia Live, leadership, Hospital Professionals, Stress, AGE-u-cate Training, Behavioral Expression, communication
Quite simply, the definition of personhood is the quality or condition of being an individual person. At the core of personhood is the self- who we are are, our values and beliefs. It's who makes us who we are. Being able to recognize the "self" of personhood is key to understanding and practicing person-centered care for persons living with dementia.
Topics: dementia care, Senior Care Professionals, Family Caregiver, Elders, compassionate touch, leadership, Hospital Professionals, aging, Anxiety, Healing Touch, End-of-life, older adults, Healing, Skilled Touch