Every Monday I have the song “Monday, Monday” by the Mamas and the Papas playing through my mind. Perhaps because there is an excitement about starting a brand new week. Do you eagerly look forward to Monday’s?
While most of the song is about the sadness of waking up Monday Morning alone, the first two lines are what I often recall and they reflect how I feel most Monday mornings.
Monday, Monday, so good to me
Monday morning, it was all I hoped it would be
So this morning I got up early and went out to feed my animals, and then go for a walk. That’s when I saw these mushrooms. We have had so much rain here that mushrooms are popping up all over. The first two pictures are mushrooms that are growing on an old tree stump. The other picture shows two mushrooms that are growing by the can where I store feed. They are so pretty, like little flowers, I couldn’t resist taking a picture.
Alzheimer’s is a dreaded disease, and according to the National Alzheimer’s Association, it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It is also the only cause of death in the top ten that can’t be prevented, cured or slowed. The sheer numbers of people who are being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, or another form of dementia, is putting a strain on families and communities, but some people are finding ways to make things a little easier for patients and caregivers.
In the Parade Magazine this past Sunday, there was an article, People Power, that showcased some of these grassroots efforts and how they are paying off. I picked a trio of the women from the story to honor as today’s Strong Women.
First is Kathy Broggy, an activity director for a small elder-care company in Knoxville, TN. When she found out that communities in Europe have trained city workers and shopkeepers how to interact with people with dementia when they are out in public and have a crisis, she decided to bring that concept to her hometown. There are ways to respond to an Alzheimer’s patient who might be lost that can help calm their panic and preserve his or her dignity. This is what Broggy wanted to see instead of people adding to the panic by their shouting.
Broggy, with the support of the Pat Summitt Foundation, has turned Knoxville into a dementia friendly city with people from the city government and local hospitals sighed on for training.
Tysha Shay from Missouri lived next door to her grandmother who developed Alzheimer’s. Tysha had always liked to read to her grandmother, so she continued that even as the disease progressed. She noticed that her grandmother seemed to connect to familiar bits of the reading, especially poems, and Tysha thought other folks with dementia could benefit from access to familiar books. With that in mind, she started an outreach program, “Stories for Life,” through her county library system. So far she has reached 1,500 people during sessions held at retirement communities.
A graphic designer Jenny Rozbruch, created a memory app for her grandmother to use on an iPad. She gathered family photos, Yiddish folk songs, and other things from her grandmother’s past and put them into the app. The app is called GreyMatters and is available free to other families. Families can add personalized images and other materials to the app and use it to interact with their loved one who has dementia.
It is estimated that every 67 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimers, and currently approximately 5.3 million people in the United States have the disease. It has touched so many families, including my own, and one thing I learned is to keep a sense of humor and not try to force memories or correct misconceptions. Once when my father was visiting and all of my kids and grandkids gathered to have a Father’s Day celebration with him, my father had a great time and everything went well. After the company all left, he asked me if I knew those folks. “They sure were nice to me,” he said. “But I didn’t know who they were.”
That was a bittersweet moment, but I did not try to explain or force a reality onto his unreality. I just hugged him and told him I was glad he had a good time. It was also the last time we were together for Father’s day. My father died April 1, 2010, and every father’s day since, I treasure the memories from that party.
If you would like to share a story in the comments, please do. While the Internet is vast, the human connection is a source of strength and support. Let’s support each other.
I just read a terrific post at The Blood-Red Pencil about the cowgirls who competed in rodeos in the 1920’s. It is an interesting bit of history showcasing some other Strong Women, and I thought you might enjoy READING IT