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Honor A Vet or $15.00? Heck Yeah!

wreathacrossamEvery year, volunteers all across the United States place donated wreaths on the graves of hundreds of thousands of veterans. It brought tears to my eyes when I arrived at my dad’s gravesite and found one already laid in his honor last year.

As of yesterday morning, a Wreaths Across America spokeswoman said approximately 130,000 individual wreath sponsorships had been received for Arlington National Cemetery. A total of 245,000 sponsorships are needed to ensure every service member buried at Arlington is honored with a wreath placement—meaning 115,000 more sponsorships are still needed to meet the goal.

I hope you will consider helping ensure that all of our veterans are recognized by making a $15.00 donation that covers the cost of the wreath here. Every cent is used to purchase wreaths that are placed in Arlington National Cemetery by a gaggle of local volunteers.

If you would like to make a donation at a cemetery near you, use this link. Suggested. 

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VR Allowing Those with Dementia to Escape It’s Grip … If even only temporarily.

Recently friends shared two stories about the use of Virtual Reality (VR) for those diagnosed with dementia. The first video will bring a smile to everyone’s face (sorry about the 5 second ad intro), especially for those of us who cared fovrdementiar or are caring from someone with dementia. There were days when I could see the sadness on my mom’s face. When she started losing the ability to freely walk around safely, she lost one of her favorite coping mechanisms. It would have been fun to see if and what mom might like with this technology that she could have done safely from a comfortable chair.

The Washington Post also shared the story of a doctor using VR with her patients with very positive results. You have to visit the story to watch the video, but it’s interesting to learn how it’s helping some individuals that are exhibiting combative behavoir become more peaceful.

Maybe for the holidays you can try out Google Cardboard to see if someone in your life might find a little escape. If it works you could then invest in some of the more robust solutions that will work with iPhone and Samsung for sure. Intrigued. 

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This will not be “Hanksgiving”

thanksgiving2Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s all about family spending time together around a meal. I was raised with family dinners and am sometimes fighting to maintain them in my own household. Now that we are usually down to three, we usually only set the dinner table on Sunday.

This is the first holiday without a parent for me. My husband and I talked through how this might be our smallest Thanksgiving with just the four of us around the table. Last year his parent’s were visiting. The year before I brought mom over to the house. We counted back through the years. For nearly two decades, we have hosted Thanksgiving at our house and my parent’s joined us.

It was just five years ago that we realized how unsafe it was that my parent’s were still driving. When mom and dad had not shown up when expected, we started to call their home and their mobile. Eventually, we get a call from a gentleman two neighborhoods over who said my parents were on their way. When they don’t show up, we wait another 45 minutes until I get a call from my dad from a pay phone. They are now about 15 miles away and have no idea where they are. I tell him to stay and I drive to them so they can find their way to my house.

Two-hours later than we were planning on eating, we finally sit down to enjoy the meal. However, I was so upset and worried, that I could barely eat. My parent’s are agitated after being so lost and are really unsure about what happened. Not a word about it is mentioned at the table. How I don’t miss those uncomfortable days one bit.

How I do miss having my parents join us for Thanksgiving. A time to relax with loved ones around a great meal to share our appreciation for each other.

Many have shared with me how the holidays the first year are the most difficult. I didn’t notice it as much with dad because I was so worried about mom dealing with those holidays. Now I clearly recognized the void.

I am most thankful that I had such wonderful parents and had the opportunity to help them lead a life with dignity until the end. I will spend my time with a hanky and mourn their loss. But I will work to count all the blessings we have and enjoy the time with my husband and kids. Thankful.


As I look at the room around me, I see my parents are here with us. The room is filled with furniture from their home, pictures my mom framed or painted, or things I bought with them at one of the many auctions we went to together. Blessed. 


 

 

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How Much $$ Could a Flu Shot Save You?

needledollarAs a caregiver, I started to think about how my health (or poor health) would impact my parents. I didn’t want to be the one to bring the flu to them, so made sure I got annual flu shots.
In my role as a Daily Money Manager, I research varied ways to save my clients money—from simple things like reviewing phone and cable plans to bigger issues like refinancing and downsizing options.
At a recent training workshop, I learned that the lack of vaccinations is estimated to cost the American people $15.3 billion. It never really dawned on me how much money NOT getting a flu shot costs me either directly on medication and doctor visits, or indirectly through lost wages and discomfort.
In addition to the flu vaccine, three other vaccinations are recommended for adults over 65 years of age. Not only should you check with your doctor about these vaccines for those you are caring for, but they might also benefit you and I hope you will discuss them with your doctor.They include:
  • Shingles or herpes zoster vaccine — if you know anyone who has developed shingles, you know how debilitating it can be. The healthcare cost of treating shingles is estimated at $1 billion a year.
  • Tdap — while many of us with kids still in the household are familiar with this vaccination, only 16% of adults over 65 have gotten it. My son received the vaccination that includes vaccines for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis but did contract whooping cough. It was awful in a 13-year-old, but apparently, it’s even more devastating for adults. Next time you need a tetanus shot, ask if you can get Tdap instead.
  • Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23 for the prevention of pneumonia, which kills more annually than any of the others mentioned.
I still giggle when I think about my dad’s dedication to getting his flu shot every year. During the last month of his life (which we didn’t know at the time it would be), when he was just diagnosed with a tumor on his tongue and having a hard time managing, we took him to the Emergency Room. I left the room for a moment and while I was gone, apparently they asked him and he agreed to get his flu shot. Remembered. 
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What would my parents say?

KaywParents2013I was surprised to wake up to the news that Donald Trump would be our next President. My husband and kids all agreed we weren’t so happy with our options. This year felt very different because the issues weren’t really around political beliefs, but around personality, behavior and ethics. We found little room to really discuss the political views of the candidates.

I know my mom would have cherished a woman President, but I’m not sure what she would have made of the run up to the election. As career Army, I always guessed Dad was a Republican, but it wasn’t something he was likely to discuss. I’m not sure what my dad would have made of Hillary Clinton as Commander-in-Chief, but I do know he was a quiet leader and Donald Trump’s style would have made him bristle.

On days like this I realize it’s the small moments when I sure do miss them. Recognized.

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Is it Still Safe for Mom to be Driving?

open-roadI remember how excited I was when I got my license and could drive to 7-11 just because I wanted a slurpee.  It wasn’t really about the slurpee but about just being able to go where ever I wanted to go, when I wanted. I didn’t have to plead with a parent to take me somewhere.

Nearly 40 years later, I am still in love with the freedom a car brings. My husband and I always talk about how nice it would be to be within walking distance to the shopping area of our town, but for now, if we want something from a store, it’s a car ride away.

Driving is a precious right most of us take for granted. For those of us who have had to suggest to a spouse or tell a parent we think it’s unsafe for them to drive, we know how devastating and contentious this discussion becomes.

My parents used to help pick up my kids from pre/school and it was wonderful to know we had a safety net. However, I realized when I was riding with my dad how unsafe his driving had become and we quickly managed to make other arrangements. We didn’t actually tell them why, we attributed it to another parent or team practice.  We initiated pizza night so we could spend time together, but not have our kids as passengers in our parent’s car.

We did subtly ask about the growing number of scraps on the car, but we knew my parents would never willingly give up their car keys. Years later we realized they had cognitive issues and if you want to know how bad it got, you can read these stories.

However, I have heard from several adult children who know something is cognitively wrong with  a parent, and they haven’t considered how unsafe driving can be. Our worries grew when my dad, the engineer, and a navigational savant, was getting lost every now and then on the drive drive from their house to my home. It was a drive he made for more than a decade and hundreds of times.

If you are concerned, I hope you will discuss it with your loved ones. We were rebuked and chided when it was mentioned. A doctor submitted the papers to revoke both of their driving licenses’ after they showed up in the ER and weren’t sure why they were there or for whom they came. Every state has a process to report your concerns. Several people have often shared they would call the police on their own parent which resulted in getting a license revoked. It’s not easy and it’s not a light-hearted topic at all.

The real issue becomes processing speed and the ability to make decisions when you are driving. If someone is having trouble recalling information, they will have the same trouble behind the wheel of a car, but the consequences are much bigger and the outcome could be devastating for your family … and someone else’s if you ignore that a loved one might no longer be safe on the road. Recommended. 

You should have similiar options in your state. Here are examples of what Virginia offers:

Reporating an Impaired Driver

What a Doctor Can Submit to Notify the DMV Driving is Unsafe 

 

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Dreaming of Mom

momandkayI was so happy when I woke up from a dream where mom didn’t have dementia. They started after mom died, and I hadn’t realized that for the last few years of mom’s life, she always had dementia in my dreams.

For the first time since mom passed away, I had a dream about her with dementia. Oh, it was awful and when it flooded back into my brain in the shower, I spent a few minutes crying it out. It’s been ten months since she passed. As sad as it was to absorb her death, I was also thankful.

Yes. I tell you that with some guilt. However, I know that my mom had hoped she wouldn’t have to live with dementia as she watched happen to her own mom. The odd thing was as my mom moved deeper and deeper into dementia, how hard she fought to live after each set-back. She never really bounced back and with each issue became more frail and in need of more care.

I’m perplexed by how we will get better at this as a society. The right to life movement doesn’t apply to people with dementia. It’s important to have those individuals who would step in to help you understand your wishes and beliefs completely because they will have to make choices you can never imagine nor can prior guidance cover. Statistically, 9 out of 10 of us will need someone to make choices about our last days on this earth.

I had choices to make and am thankful my siblings agreed with the final choices we needed to make on mom’s behalf. We knew she didn’t want to extend the qualify of life she was living so worked with the medical team to offer her a comfortable ending. I still carry some baggage and know much of it is still part of my grief.

I still miss her and I know that while the pain may subside, the loss will never truly heal. Changed. 

 

 

 

 

 

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