I woke up alive and realized I needed to live the moments


I rolled out of bed groaning and stumbled to the bathroom to start the getting ready process. Shortly after, I cheerily woke up the boy from his angelic looking sleep and watched him stumble his way to the bathroom and then get himself dressed.

I was putting on the last of my war paint when the text came through that one of our good caregivers was out sick and I needed to fill the shift. I doubled my speed for getting out of the house, changed into scrubs and we left for the day.

My clients were way across town, out in the country. I somewhat know their routine and knew they would be getting hungry and breakfast is part of their routine.

I arrived only a few minutes later than their normal caregiver, “T”, but they remembered me and were happy to have someone there to “assist” them for the day. Mr. K met me at the door with a smile and Miss P was still in the bed. One glance around told me that they had been pretty much alone all weekend, as “T” and I worked together to help make them a schedule and keep things consistent for them. We have a system for them to follow and have shared it with their children. Their family is involved in their care but they have lives and families to raise too, so we are there to help mom and dad.

It isn’t that mom and dad, or P & K, are all that up in years, they are both 70 with her just having a birthday. Their bodies are healthy for the most part and they love to talk, laugh and enjoy life. They no longer go as much as they use to because they are both in different stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia. They are like thousands of others in the Boomer generation that are still “young at heart” and in need of care due to a terminal diagnosis.

Miss P has middle stage Alzheimer’s and needs help bathing, getting dressed and can no longer cook or clean. She talks some, more in the afternoons, but she is so sweet and a joy to be around. She has no problem with me bathing her and “helping” her get pretty for her husband. As long as she knows where he is, and I gently remind her if she gets anxious, she is fine.

Mr. K has early stage dementia. He “runs” the household and “helps” Miss P. She is his world and he talks of “his beautiful pearl” and “young blushing bride” as though it is now. You can see the love they share. He knows her memory is “bad” and that she needs help. He knows he “forgets” things but he has reminders and that is why I am there to help them.

We do our best to communicate anything that goes on to each other so that their weekdays flow consistently, or at least a semblance of it.

To watch her struggle to remember how to remove her clothes and thank me over and over again for being so “nice” to “help” her get bathed and dressed for the day, it breaks my heart. I think back to earlier that morning, was it really just that morning? When I got the text I would be covering for T and my day with them.

To see people so vulnerable in so many ways because by nature they are kind and trusting, but now we add in the memory loss factor and I worry for them. My problems and irritations seem to shrink in light of what they face on a daily basis. Not that I don’t have my own issues and hardships, but that I can get so irritated over something so small at times, or that I got so caught up in something I missed something beautiful. It makes me rethink what I see as important.

I think of how my mind works and how I ponder which thing was more important and then I will jump to another topic. I also will multitask and continue on with the flow of my day. I just know what needs to be done and I do it. I may miss things, but I know it’s on the list for tomorrow even if there is no actual written list. Then I stop. Their lives are no longer like that. They can’t remember things as clearly or even at all in some instances.

That afternoon I drove straight from their home through craptastic traffic to get the boy. I knew we had things to do, I still had to work and there were chores to finish, but I scooped him up and hugged and kissed him immediately. I savored the little boy sweat smell and the way he holds me so tight. I want those memories to always be there. I don’t ever want to lose that part of me. If I forget everything else, I want to remember he chose me to be his mommy.

I woke up alive but after going through the day I realized how alive I needed to be and I am thankful that I was reminded just when I needed it.

Keep Hope Alive and have a fabulous day!

This really is a day of rest


When I started blogging, I made a promise to myself that I would post daily. So far I am keeping that promise and honestly I am really proud of myself. It’s hard to come up with topics daily and I know that some posts are better than others and some are just personal to me, I am always thrilled when others enjoy my thoughts and opinions.

Today is Sunday and is considered a day of rest. I think for my blog today and I am going to stick to the much needed rest. After a fabulous Walk to End Alzheimer’s yesterday in which I volunteered, I realized my body needs a bit more recovery time than it once did. Like once I could go out on a Friday or Saturday (or both) night and stay out and get up the following day and keep going. Not so much anymore!

I am going to share a few photos from the walk yesterday and wish you all a fabulously graceless Sunday!

alz sign 1

shirt front

me

front view

alz committee

KEEP HOPE ALIVE!!!

 

On this Saturday I join others in The Walk to End Alzheimer’s


The day is here and today is the Walk to End Alzheimer’s for the Central Alabama Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association!

fight alzz

I’m so excited for today for so many reasons.

I worked for the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter for 6 years and volunteered for 2 years prior to working with them.

Alzheimer’s is very personal for me as several of my family members have suffered from and even died from this disease. I have cared for many friends and others with this disease. I have consulted and worked with families to help manage the stages of this fatal disease. My grandfather had Alzheimer’s disease and eventually passed away 5 years ago after suffering with it for at least 10 years. His sister, my great aunt, had died from the disease 11 years prior and both of his parents died from Alzheimer’s. There was no chapter in Alabama, and the Alzheimer’s group that serviced the Birmingham area didn’t cover northern Alabama, and the Alzheimer’s Association of Middle Tennessee didn’t cover the area where he and my grandmother lived. They were in limbo as far as services and most of the local doctors were not as educated on the disease as they are now, though some smaller town doctors sometimes, not all and please I don’t want to get slayed for speaking the truth as I know it, do not know as much as is needed about the disease to help their patients.

This is where the Alzheimer’s Association becomes a guiding light for many. Their 800 # (1-800-272-3900) is a 24/7 hotline to help people any time day or night. You can also find them at www.alz.org. They may not always be to find you a support group or doctor close to you, however they are there to help assist you in time of need and make suggestions of where you go in your region, as well as give you tips and just be a voice on the end of the line when you truly need someone who can understand and talk to you.

I have been talking, calling, emailing since about 2007 to the national office about a chapter in Central Alabama. We have part of the northern section of the state covered by the Middle TN chapter and Lower Alabama covered by the Panhandle chapter but the rest was pretty much hanging out with no assistance.

At the end of 2013, the Alzheimer’s Association of Central Alabama was opened and I have volunteered, and badgered them for employment, since I moved here in 2014! To say I am thrilled is an understatement.

That is why todays walk means so much to me.

From the Alzheimer’s Association, the 2015 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures:

  • Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States
  • It’s the only cause of death in the top 10 in America that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed
  • 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or dementia
  • Almost two thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease are women
  • Only 45% of people with Alzheimer’s disease or their caregivers report being told of their diagnosis versus more than 90% of people with the four most common types of cancer have been told of their diagnosis
  • Alzheimer’s kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined
  • In 2015, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $226 billion
  • By 2050, these costs could rise as high as $1.1 trillion

alz global epidemic

The disease is not pretty, it isn’t sexy or isn’t something a lot of people want to even talk about. Alzheimer’s knows no borders or boundaries, it takes people of all races, classes, socioeconomic background and all genders. It destroys their lives and the lives of those who care for them.

I’ve noticed several ads for Alzheimer’s medications on television recently and it angers me because it makes it seem as if “Oh you get Alzheimer’s you can take a pill and go on with your life.” If it were only that easy. There isn’t a magical pill. We are closer now than 10 years ago but we do not yet have a cure or even a way to stop the progression of the disease. It does “help” but unfortunately it doesn’t help everyone.

I want to walk, volunteer, spread awareness and help funding to prevent, halt and eventually find a cure for this terminal disease. I want my son and any grandchildren I may have to live in a world without Alzheimer’s.

So today I walk in memory of my grandfather, my Papa. Papa’s Posse will be at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Railroad Park volunteering and spreading hope! *Photo below of my beloved Papa & GrandMaMa

PAPA POSSE

Now I just hope the rains end prior to the walk and that we have massive attendance!

For my part, the Fabulously Graceless Lady Maos is all in!

Keep Hope Alive!

It’s a Fabulous Fall Saturday!


Fall is definitely in the air! The temperature and landscape has changed so much in just a week. You notice how everyone is feeling the change. Some are already complaining about it being “cold”! After the scorcher of a summer we had I wonder how could they even say that! It isn’t even cold in Alabama, even in the northern regions. Cold is below 40 in my mind and although it is getting cooler at night, it isn’t really cold. Just much cooler than it was a mere 2 weeks ago!

I love the options of things to do for the fall too! We do as much as possible outside, festivals, parks, zoo, the yard and the neighborhood but if it’s rainy or actually too cold, we find indoor activities like the movies, the science center, skate center or crafts, games and movies at home.

alabama football how i roll

Of course from September through the end of November we have college, more importantly Alabama football & I am a big Steelers fan so I try to catch those games if possible.

steelers

This month is Halloween! It’s one of mine and the boy’s favorite holiday! I tend to get a bit excited. Maybe sometimes a bit extreme. We put out decorations and get at least one pumpkin early. Ok maybe one big a few smaller ones! We carve the big one and draw and decorate the smaller ones.

multi halloween pumpkins color

Dressing up is not an option for us, we have been planning for months! Actually I purchased his costume last year… I may be on the Halloween Express preferred customer mailing list! We have several costumes. Yes both the boy and myself! Last year we were the Power Rangers! Hand to God I NEVER want to wear that much pink again! And the boots looked fabulous, I even got a larger size knowing they would not be high quality, but they killed my feet and I was waddling for a few blocks before I decided the pink power ranger did not need cute white go-go boots but black cowboy boots! Red Ranger approved the wardrobe change and we were back out with his cousin, the mouse in a trap, headed for more sugar that no one but the adults would really eat!

power rangers

So yes, you could say I love the month of October and to me, the real beginning of another fabulous fall!

One of the other things that I now am getting back into during the fall months is Alzheimer’s walks. For 8 years the walks to end Alzheimer’s, previously known as Memory Walk and now “The Walk to End Alzheimer’s”, in Georgia was my life from the end of September through the first of November. I am once again walking, working and volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Association of Central Alabama. It’s a cause very near and dear to my heart as my grandfather had the disease and my aunt and 3 great grandparents had the disease. I posted about my feelings and the walk here and here.  So a week from today I will be in downtown Birmingham at the crack of dawn for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Anyone interested come on down! Volunteer, walk or just take in the Hope of the event!

alz walk

As far as today, weather permitting, we are headed out to a few festivals and to visit with those we love and enjoy their company.

I hope you all have a fabulous Saturday! If you’re into football I hope your team wins… as long as it isn’t against one of my teams! Roll Tide! Goooo Steelers!!

And always Keep Hope Alive!

 

 

 

 

I can’t help but volunteer… Alzheimer’s is deadly


Do you every hear yourself saying “Yes” to an obligation while your mind screams “Are you crazy?! Noooooooo!”? This is my life and I can’t sometimes say no, especially if it is a good cause. Ugh!

Feeling dangerous I answered an unknown number. We all know that this could be Anything but I was feeling dangerous and adventurous so I sang “Hello” into my phone. I wasn’t expecting the cheery voice on the other end or someone who sounded generally happy to hear my voice. It was the new executive director of our local Alzheimer’s Association chapter. I had signed on to help with the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, but due to life, changes in their staff and chaos in my life nothing has gotten done. So the walk is in 3 weeks and nothing is done. She is 8 days into her job and the lady is amazing. Of course I said I would help. Of course I am making the calls I have been putting off for months. Of course I am going in next week to meet with her and don’t want to be empty handed!

Did I mention I am also working part time, being a full time mommy and trying to find more work? All while keeping my head above water and keeping hope alive!

I have lost my mind but at least my heart is in the right place!

Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease. I have had several family members and friends who have had this disease or are caregivers to those with the disease. Everyone is different but we all share the same feeling of this disease robs us of those we love and robs those we love from life.

I worked in an assisted living for 2 years with our primary patient having some form of memory impairment. I ran support groups, was team captain for walks and learned all that I could. I realized I wanted to work directly for the association so for 3 months I pestered the crap out of the person who would later become my boss, mentor and an amazing friend. I worked for the Georgia Alzheimer’s Association for nearly 6 years.

Since then I have helped countless family, friends and strangers through varying stages of this disease. I am in several online support groups and work in an industry where care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients is in high demand. Sadly people are not paid well for taking care of our seniors. That does not stop me because someone has to help these people. These “people” may be me and my family one day. If we don’t help out now, Alzheimer’s will soon be an epidemic if it is not considered so already.

*Over 5 million people have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Only 45% are told of their diagnosis versus 90% of cancer patients being told of their diagnosis. In 2015 it is estimated $226 billion will be spent on care. By 2030 there will be 70 million baby boomers who are at a greater risk for the disease. Alzheimer’s is the only one of the top 10 diseases that can’t be slowed, treated or cured. Alzheimer’s disease kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. There is help with the Alzheimer’s Association 24 hour hotline 1-800-272-3900 and web site www.alz.org.

Seeing those facts, being in the trenches and knowing what the future holds is why I said yes I would help.

I may be crazy and things will probably go a bit haywire but I will know that in some small way I have helped.

I urge you to give in some way to a charity you believe in. whether it’s time or money or passing along their information to someone who needs it, please give a little bit of time.

For me, I will be working with the Alzheimer’s Association of Central Alabama.

I hope you all have a fabulous day!

Keep Hope Alive!

Do you every hear yourself saying “Yes” to an obligation while your mind screams “Are you crazy?! Noooooooo!”? This is my life and I can’t sometimes say no, especially if it is a good cause. Ugh!

Feeling dangerous I answered an unknown number. We all know that this could be Anything but I was feeling dangerous and adventurous so I sang “Hello” into my phone. I wasn’t expecting the cheery voice on the other end or someone who sounded generally happy to hear my voice. It was the new executive director of our local Alzheimer’s Association chapter. I had signed on to help with the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, but due to life, changes in their staff and chaos in my life nothing has gotten done. So the walk is in 3 weeks and nothing is done. She is 8 days into her job and the lady is amazing. Of course I said I would help. Of course I am making the calls I have been putting off for months. Of course I am going in next week to meet with her and don’t want to be empty handed!

Did I mention I am also working part time, being a full time mommy and trying to find more work? All while keeping my head above water and keeping hope alive!

I have lost my mind but at least my heart is in the right place!

Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease. I have had several family members and friends who have had this disease or are caregivers to those with the disease. Everyone is different but we all share the same feeling of this disease robs us of those we love and robs those we love from life.

I worked in an assisted living for 2 years with our primary patient having some form of memory impairment. I ran support groups, was team captain for walks and learned all that I could. I realized I wanted to work directly for the association so for 3 months I pestered the crap out of the person who would later become my boss, mentor and an amazing friend. I worked for the Georgia Alzheimer’s Association for nearly 6 years.

Since then I have helped countless family, friends and strangers through varying stages of this disease. I am in several online support groups and work in an industry where care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients is in high demand. Sadly people are not paid well for taking care of our seniors. That does not stop me because someone has to help these people. These “people” may be me and my family one day. If we don’t help out now, Alzheimer’s will soon be an epidemic if it is not considered so already.

*Over 5 million people have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Only 45% are told of their diagnosis versus 90% of cancer patients being told of their diagnosis. In 2015 it is estimated $226 billion will be spent on care. By 2030 there will be 70 million baby boomers who are at a greater risk for the disease. Alzheimer’s is the only one of the top 10 diseases that can’t be slowed, treated or cured. Alzheimer’s disease kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. There is help with the Alzheimer’s Association 24 hour hotline 1-800-272-3900 and web site www.alz.org.

Seeing those facts, being in the trenches and knowing what the future holds is why I said yes I would help.

I may be crazy and things will probably go a bit haywire but I will know that in some small way I have helped.

I urge you to give in some way to a charity you believe in. whether it’s time or money or passing along their information to someone who needs it, please give a little bit of time.

For me, I will be working with the Alzheimer’s Association of Central Alabama.

I hope you all have a fabulous day!

Keep Hope Alive!