Remembering Footloose

M

Monday, 10/25 I will be on a live podcast on the Alzauthors.com Podcast. https://alzauthors.com/podcast/ It will be available after the live broadcast.

Two podcasts have inspired me to add some ideas to caring for Lynne. The first came from Wendy P Mitchell, the podcast almost at the end of the list of interviews on the podcast website. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2014 at the age of 58. She writes a daily blog to give her facts about the daily world which she always forgets by the next day. She co-wrote a book that has received awards and let to many visits with doctors and speaking engagements. She said her Dementia wants her to sit and not think because she gets more peaceful. She learned she could fight by staying more active.

For example, I learned that when her daughters helped her on with her jacket every time they visited, she forgot how to put it on. She told them to stop and has relearned how. I wanted Lynne to relearn how last night in the first of our weekly Wednesday night movies with dinner.  I have had trouble helping her put on her red coat. Yesterday, I gave it to her to put on and helped her only after I saw one sleeve was inside out.  When we got to my apartment I told her I’d hang up her jacket and she took it off. When we got ready to leave, I gave her the jacket and she put it on.

Another idea Wendy emphasized is she could restore some of her memory if she worked at it. I turned on Footloose with Kevin Bacon which excited Lynne. She got up right away and walked around. I watched it, I liked it. After two trips around the apartment, she sat down and watched it. We watched it though our Indian Mirch Masala dinner, (“This is really good,” she told me). At the end she was singing the lyrics better than I was. She wanted to hug me with a big smile, so we danced a little to the music. She got back and was ready for bed. I was happy because the time from after dinner to bedtime seems to be her most difficult time because there is little for her to do.

Her future weekly schedule should include: Wednesday Movie night (I have a list of 12 dance musical movies from the 1980s-2010); the boys on Thursday night, car rides on Friday nights, friends on Saturday, Movies and dinner on Sunday afternoons.

I have some other experiments to try. I’ll keep you posted.

Monday, 10/25 I will be on a live podcast on the Alzauthors.com Podcast. https://alzauthors.com/podcast/.  It will be available after the live broadcast.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nancy Hilpert

The Secret Sits

Poetry and reflections by Nancy Hilpert, Lynne’s friend. They enjoyed gold in the fall of Lynne’s life as she courageously endures Alzheimer’s. Lynne focused her faded blue eyes on me as she heard every word and smiled.  #alzauthors #alzheimersSpeaks #endalz #Alzwa @ALZAUTHORS

Robert Frost

We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

Nothing Gold Can Stay
Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. 

Hi Friends, 

happy October!  The summer who overstayed her lease has definitely fled and we see and feel this seasonal shifting happening. 

We are getting a nice mix of rainy days and sunny mild days and the coloring leaves on the trees are still lingering between green and wherever they’re headed…yellow, gold, orange, red, maroon, brown…

All of this makes for good walking weather and great visual stimulation as the bright fall colors light up cloudy skies and brighten the more noticeably shortening days

I love living again in a neighborhood where the streets are lined with deciduous trees

it takes me back to my childhood, living in the little farm town of Deer Park in Eastern Washington, walking home from grade school, down the Maple and Oak tree lined Main Street. Those beauties must have been planted long before because they were massive and, –just like the ones I live around now in Seattle, also planted long ago, –bounteous in their delivery of leaves come the Autumnal drop in temperatures. 

I loved to scrape and stomp through the massive piles that filled both sides of the streets.

I was out walking with my friend Lynne the other day and couldn’t resist jumping off the sidewalk into the piles of dry leaves, crunching them under my feet, the sound was exhilarating.

I was doing it to both entertain myself and to also try to lift her spirits. 

It’s so great to finally live near her, finally, to be able to pop by her place and take her out for an iced coffee and savory tart at our fave bakery Macrina.

She’s been dealt a tough hand with a terminal diagnosis, but she’s courageously enduring. 

She says to me she’s waiting.

We know it won’t be forever.  

“Nothing gold can stay.”

Time with her is precious, but who knows how long that will be available to us. 

It’s scary and sad to consider losing her. Saying goodbye sooner rather than later.

This too becomes a practice if I follow the Secret and stay in the Middle.

Being with it, I can touch into that gently, knowing its tender to consider that those we love most, who love us most, will not be with us at some future date.

And I can see how much more is at stake for her than for me.

And when I feel that sadness, I can let it roll down my cheeks freely and feel it heave through my chest, like a wave.

And when she asks me ‘what’s wrong’ I can look her in the eye and say: 

Everything and Nothing. Everything is perfect as it should be in its time.

And I can open my music app and play some Dolly Parton on the speakerphone as we return to her facility, singing loud as we march arm in arm down the sidewalk, stomping on the dry leaves, not caring how we appear to the world around us, except that we are transmitting joy and connection. She giggles at me, and this lifts my spirits.

We know they won’t be crisp and crunchy for long, once the rains soak them

Now is the time to sing loud, to stomp and scrape and crunch.

Now is the time to practice letting go.

Now is the season of sitting in the middle, of soaking up that gold.

Paperboys’ Concert Goers

Patti, a friend and colleague of Lynne’s, invited us to join her at the Paperboys’ Concert at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard last night. Lynne jumped with joy at hearing her name and thinking of a concert. We showed our IDs and Immunization verifications. Patti & Lynne rocked on their feet until late in evening, around 9:30 or so. I even stood up to revive my dancing feet until a little rhythm returned from their early days. What fun!

Vistor Rules After Quarantine

Lynne Wanting Dad to sit down to dinner

Good news. Aegis is allowing visitors for Lynne based on CDC Guidelines and updates to keep our communities safe from the virus. All visitors entering Aegis communities must provide proof they cannot infect residents: Full COVID-19 vaccination and be at least two weeks beyond the second shot, or Negative COVID test administered within 72 hours of the visit, or being fully recovered from COVID-19 within the past 90 days, specifically documented as such by a physician.

Tonight the boys are visiting and tomorrow night Patti, a good friend, has tickets for the three of us to see the Shed Boys on stage. Plan to visit if yoiu can.

#Alzheimers #Alzwa #alzauthors #alzheimersSpeaks #endalz

This is Really Good

“This is really good.”

On September 2 Lynne’s Aegis assisted living reported two vaccinated residents were infected by an asymptomatic caregiver. As a result, they established a lockdown requiring residents to stay in the apartments unless guided by a caregiver to individualized activities. Residents eat meals from cardboard boxes in their apartments. I was sorry to hear about their covid infection especially after all the significant protections they have established and enforced.

During the first covid lockdown conditions, Lynne’s social skills, reasoning and cheerful mood declined rapidly, so this time I requested, and was immediately give, essential caregiving permission. She and I can walk around the empty lobby and outside to Rusell Miller park. We eat lunch and dinner in the lobby, including food delivered through an Uber Eats gift card from one of Lynne’s friends. Every meal she gives me a big smile and says, “This is really good.” 

Aegis tests every caregiver and resident on Friday, and the September 3 results show three residents tested positive, but no new care givers. The lockdown is extended. The last I knew, Lynne was the only resident given an external essential caregiver, so I am placing myself under quarantine and wearing a mask whenever I am out. I have received the third Pfizer vaccination. We will persist. Thanks for all the support you give us.

Customized Caregiving for Lynne

Several weeks ago, our family and Aegis management in a six-floor assisted living facility developed a unique plan dedicated to the belief younger, aggressively active residents with severe dementia deserved customized caregiving outside the confinements in severe dementia memory care units.  We have seen the effects and it is fitting and proper to describe improvements in her attitude and caregivers and I have observed.

She is more helpful to memory care residents and approaches those who are mobile, but respectful. She stepped in front of one quiet, slower walking, pleasant gentleman to say, “I really like you.” He was a little flustered as she walked away. She is participating in more activities for all residents and staying in them longer. Staff in the memory care unit say she is more pleasant and relaxed. She had her haircut and gets lots of compliments. Lynne’s depression medications have been reduced and she sleeps better.

She roams the lobby and other floors more independently, meeting friends and staff. An accompanier sits by the front door to walk with her and several other relentless walkers when they walk out the front door. She and I eat dinner together in the lobby instead of the bibbed dining area in the memory care unit. “I like this better,” she confided to me at one meal. She even abandons me to dine with friends in main dining room where I can’t go because of Covid restrictions.

After I found her walking the halls in her pajamas late last night, she and I settled down in the memory care unit dinning room with a large screen to watch What a Girl Likes with Amanda Brynes and Colin Firth. A review by Rotten Tomatoes gave it an exceptionally low rating for being childish slapstick comedy young girls might like. Lynne and I enjoyed it, laughing all the way though it, even laughing at my jokes. It felt as good as it did when Karen and I watched TV.

Friends Fun and Meatloaf

Meatloaves

Friends are keeping Lynne and me busy. Friends Nancy and Lynn walked and talked with her for an hour-and-a-half last Sunday. They snapped the attached picture. Lynne can still walk for hours.

 I took Lynne to Nancy’s new home in Capitol Hill tonight. It’s a condo on the top floor looking west to the Sound and the Olympics.  Lynne said this is very nice.

Nancy asked if Lynne would like dinner and Lynne said sure, so there we were —  eating home cooked meatloaf. Lynne and Nancy walked to the deck while the men chatted.

Meatloaf is probably my favorite meal from the time I was in high school eating two sandwiches every day for lunch. Nancy made it tasty without spices and perfectly crumbly just like my mother did, making it easy to cut on the plate and stay together in the sandwich. That’s no easy feat. By the time I got home I ended up with loaves for sandwiches in the refrigerator and loaves with potatoes for dinners in the freezer.

We ended up sucking Dick’s vanilla milkshakes waving back at her son briefly looking up as he grilled burgers. All in all, a good couple of days for all of us. Since Nancy and her husband arrived, Lynne’s had more fun and I’ve had more fun.

The Shed Boys Rehearsal

Lynne, the boys and I joined friends Nancy and Lynn to listen to The Shed Boys, a Seattle based eclectic group performing blue grass and country, at their regular Thursday night rehearsal, outside on the lawn at Green Lake, near the theater.  Nancy and Lynn shared chairs and treats to add to the experience. We worried about making this trip successful, and we are pleased to report it was. You can see that from the pictures.