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Retirement, Long-Term Care & Dementia

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Posted Jan 18th, 2016

Dismiss me Not: Embracing Meaningful Activities

There are two things it is said that are constant, and unyielding in an unpredictable world; death and taxes.  To this rather short list, I would like to add washing clothes, ironing, and making supper.  At this point you are probably snickering about the addition of “ironing”, in a world inundated with synthetics and permanent press. However, as mom’s dementia advanced, this became the predictable response to every telephone query about her day’s activities.  It wasn’t that she was spinning a tale to allay my concerns, but rather she believed wholeheartedly, that these long abandoned tasks had been completed.

In my travels, other families of individuals living with dementia, shared similar reports of observed apathy, loss of former interests, and an overall sedentary lifestyle. When these concerns arose, my first plan of action was to seek a medical evaluation, to eliminate, and manage any potential physical, emotional, or cognitive changes.

The reality was that mom had lost her ability to initiate an activity. The once familiar appliances and household routines were no longer available to her, because she could not recall the intricacies of their function. She was more lost than apathetic, the desire was there, but the wherewithal was lacking.

Meaningful activities are a wonderful addition to enhance quality of life when someone has experienced memory changes.  Think about former roles, occupations, and other related interests to create modified tasks that foster self-esteem, success, and purpose.  Consider safety, ease, and enjoyment, keeping in mind that supervision may be essential.

  • Provide a basket of unfolded laundry and ask for assistance.  Using the words, "Will you help..." provides choice and does not infer inability (Instead of "Can you help...")
  • If an activity is forgotten, model the task slowly, with repetition, keep directions simple
  • Think about familiar tasks: Attaching buttons, mending seams etc.
  • Complete simple meal prep 
  • Modify leisure activities: A portable putting green for a golfer?
  • Work as a team, delegating manageable tasks
  • Would an adult day program provide additional activities and a social outlet?

There are days I think about my own future, and can't help but wonder how technology advancements are changing the face of how we complete tasks.  What type of meaningful activities will be relatable to my generation, and how we can foster the same type of acceptance and empowerment?     

I hope those around me will...Dismiss me not

Dismiss me not,
For I have been
in places, you have never seen.

I recognize the behemoth technology advances,
Their virtues you extol.
I recall the first television, an invention of equal grandeur,
Delivered and plugged in by one person.

Dismiss me not,
For I have been
In places, you have never seen.

Social media and various modalities provide you limitless networking,
To share minutia details of intimacy.
My true measure of a relationship’s testimony,
Is whether we can be together in the same room; quietly.

Dismiss me not,
For I have been
In places, you have never seen.

Financial portfolios; stocks with short and long term yield,
Manipulation, insider trading, and price fixing.
In spite of my naivety, I recognize the merit of a real dollar,
Because one day’s hard work yielded equal value.

Dismiss me not,
For I have been
In places, you have never seen.

Net worth may be analyzed, subject to markets,
 But Human worth cannot be measured by the value of currency.
Analyze priorities based on true values,
And with certainty, if luck prevails, you will also grow old.



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