What Happens To The Spouse Of The Alzheimer’s Patient?

What happens to the spouse of an Alzheimer’s patient as they see the person they married slowly taken away from them? I remember first hearing about Barry Petersen and his wife *Jan, and now Dan Gasby and his wife B. Smith.

I’ve even written about the effects that it can have on the spouse, the toll it takes on them both mentally and physically in our April 28, 2018 post Alzheimer’s Caregivers “Til Death Do Us Part”.

These two spouses clearly have made difficult decisions. Are they wrong or right? Is this something that we talk about with our spouses before hand?

What are your thoughts? What are the spouses to do? Remember “thisisyourbestyear”, and sometimes life is hard. We really can’t say what we would do in a difficult situation until we are faced with it.

*Jan Petersen passed away in 2013 after being cared for by her husband.

Leaving Home

My uncle who is 96 recently left his once beautiful home for over 60 years and moved into an assisted living facility where he has his own one bedroom apartment. This move was one that was at times easy, and other times it was gut wrenching. As one of the people in charge of this move, I called on everything in me to get through this. This journey is one that many women (and men) of a certain age will be responsible for as we mature, and our parents, aunts and uncles find they can no longer stay in their home.

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This process took a long time to complete with many different factors coming into consideration. I had not physically seen him for some time, but talked with regularly on the telephone.  He was forever telling me that he was doing just fine. Maybe physically he was, but for some unknown reason the state of his life was spiraling out of control.

When his brother, my uncle called to inform me that he had been taken to the hospital, but would be released in a few days I was a little concerned, but feeling okay since he could go to his home.  My cousin informed me that the house was no longer a home but something that was unsafe and unclean.

My cousins and I were not prepared for what we saw. Our once dapper, sharp dresser was thinner than usual which was not the shock, but he was disheveled, dirty and so unkept. This once proud man was sitting in this once grand house smiling his brilliant smile at my cousins and I.

Our mothers oldest brother could not live like this–we wouldn’t let it happen. The good part about this is that our uncle’s mind was as sharp as a tack.

Mentally there was nothing wrong and physically he was as fit as any 96-year-old could be. We immediately went into action. Since taking the truck keys would be hard and leaving home would be a hard sale, we went with home healthcare workers. The decision was made by everyone concerned, he even told us what time he wanted them to come each day–noon to 6.  While they were coming, we got together to find an assisted living home for him, one that he could make into his home.

This was not an easy chore, we did not need a nursing facility, we needed a place that had space, gave him independence, but still looked out for him.  The supervisor of the home healthcare workers was amazing, she gave us the name of someone and we were off.  We Uncle visiting Brookdale (1)visited three different ones, and all of us decided on the second one.  On the day that he was to make his visit to see if he like it, he was up, sharply dressed and ready.  He passed all of the assessments.  His only needed assistance was to make sure he took his 3 daily medications.  They could not believe he was 96 years of age.  He hadn’t had so many pictures taken in years–he was the man.

Even though the visit went great, there were still many hurdles to jump.  Some were more paperwork, doctor visits and more.  Moving day came, and the rain drops were the tears we all were feeling. To our surprise, he liked his new home!!

We know that there will be other obstacles that will come up, but we are so happy and pleased that our uncle, our mothers oldest brother is safe, clean, making new friends in his new home. He made us all remember “thisisyourbestyear”, and it is a blessing to have a great family that works together for the good of family. I love them all.

Brookdale Cypress Station1

 

Dirk Nowitzki Does Baseball With A Little Help From His Friends

Dirk Baseball 2The Heroes Foundation presents the star-studded, fun-for-the-family celebrity baseball game.  Benefiting the children’s charities of the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation and Heroes Foundation.

GREAT FAMILY FUN FOR A GREAT CAUSE

Who:

People to see include:

Dallas Mavericks

  • Dirk Nowitzki
  • Deron Williams**
  • David Lee
  • Chandler Parsons
  • J. J. Barea
  • Devin Harris**
  • Wesley Matthews
  • JaVale McGee
  • Salah Mejri
  • Justin Anderson
  • Jeremy Evans
  • Dwight Powell
  • Rick Carlisle (head coach)**

Dallas Cowboys

  • Cole Beasley
  • Byron Jones

Texas Rangers (former)

  • David Murphy
  • Michael Young

Actors

  • Geoff Stults
  • Chance Crawford

What:

Dirk Nowitzki’s 2016 Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game and Fireworks Finale

Dirk Baseball 3When:

Friday, June 10, 2016  (7 PM)*

Where:

Dr. Pepper Ballpark, 7300 RoughRiders Trl., Frisco, TX  75034

Why:

The Dirk Nowitzki Foundation  awards grants annually to organizations focusing on children’s wellbeing, health and education. With this he offers all of us an opportunity to help give positive experiences to children around the world.

*5:15 PM–The Heroes Special Olympics All-Star Softball Game

**Will appear, but will not play

Tickets are now on sale for $9, $13, $17 and $20 at Ticketmaster or at the Dr. Pepper Ballpark Box Office during office hours.  Tickets are also available at the door. LAST YEAR WAS SOLD OUT!

For more information, go to Dirks Foundation.  Like the Heroes Foundation on Facebook for the latest updates.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Enjoy some family time or a great girlfriends night out with a little baseball where everyone wins.

Dirk Baseball

VETERANS DAY

For all those who served–“thank you for your service”.  For all those who assisted you in your service, those that parented alone, those that moved from pillar to post to keep the family together, those that welcomed you home and assisted in your reentry into civilian life–thank you for helping them serve our country.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”. 

Veterans_Day

Grandmothers–Memories of Sadie

Each of us has that someone special that makes us smile when we think of them.  I can remember both of my grandmothers with fondness.  My paternal grandmother lived In the same town as I did so I saw her almost every day.

This post was written by Connie Formby who allows us to vividly remember Sadie, her grandmother.

ConnieConnie lives in Fort Worth and spends her time with her husband Grant, a pastor and accomplished chef, and her two dogs, Lady and Sadie. (Yes, named in fond memory of her grandmother.) She loves working in the yard and creative sewing in her spare time.

Grab your favorite beverage, sit back and remember Sadie, She is sure to warm your heart.

The vision of her short stout stature sitting on the chair in front of her sewing machine is as clear today as the figure that sat before me in the small rural neighborhood in which we lived in Pennsylvania. Cattle grazed just on the other side of the fence bordering the backyard we viewed through her bedroom window. She lived with her cousin while we lived in a house just four streets away. As an older child, I could walk to her house to visit my grandmother.  

grandmother sewing 4The room was simply decorated. A glass plaque, hand painted in her favorite color purple, hung on one wall. On another wall hung her heavy round mirror, (a cherished treasure I have ownership of today), bordered with a hand painted quote. A light colored wooden dresser with a lamp sat between her bed and her sewing machine, and a rug lay on the floor. Simple curtains framed the one bedroom window. The hum of the sewing machine, the sun coming in the window; the contented smile on Sadie’s face, something about her stirred a connection I had yet to understand.   

For hours unending as a child, within this environment, I sat silent on her bed. Few words were ever spoken. They did not need to be.  A thread of communication was stitching our hearts together where our spirits had already met.  

She reflected both a deep love for me and a very dark distance from my life because by that time she had already lived through hardship unimaginable to me. No one meant more to me than Sadie. Our quiet hours shared, Sadie at her sewing machine and me on her bed lost in a world of colors, textures, compositions, and the shapes of her buttons poured from a collection of cookie tins onto her white Chenille bedspread. Sometimes she sang from her heart or laughed, more to herself than to me, as her mind followed the threads of memory through the fabric of her life to church and her childhood. The sound of her voice warmed my heart as she sang her beloved songs.  It seemed to me, happiness came to her when she was transported to a happier place or time across the threshold into her world of sewing or music. She was not especially talented as a singer, yet even today I hear her voice as she passionately sang her beloved songs.

Somehow I know she holds a place in the heavenly choirs of angels. It is as if I can see her there. As a seamstress, she was quitesewing with grandmother 9 talented, often making her own patterns. She would lovingly hand craft clothing for herself, my mother, my two sisters and me.

Silently, a transcendent force deep within myself was guiding me to be like her.  It was never a conscious decision. It was a choice made involuntarily and genetically.  I was influenced spiritually by simply spending time with her, being close to her and learning to love her deeply.  

Time spent in grandma’s room wove threads of cherished memories which formed the tapestry of my life. Quiet aloneness became the atmosphere in which I made a spiritual connection with sewing.  Seemingly endless threads of color, texture, shape and composition comprised the myriad of components of sewing. Each one was somehow woven into my heart. I became passionately connected, all the while never losing touch with the intangible force which led me there.   

In these times of aloneness, her spirit tenderly led me to a place which remains a place of sweet quietness and peace. Contentment and inspiration, from a greater being than mankind, flows out of this place as I apply the gift passed down to me through the spirit of my grandmother. The life flowing through her veins was her love and ability to make clothing.

Through my veins flows a passion for artistry through fabric applique or creating pictures out of fabric. As I view each developing “canvas” before me, I easily recall her connection to the different stages of the process each time she made a garment.   

I did not understand her paranoid schizophrenia and it hurt deeply when she would leave and visit that side of her life. She was incredibly sad and troubled in this place that was so unknown by me. She cried often and said many things I could not comprehend. I hurt for her and as the years went by, I longed to reach her to bring her back. I felt as though the scissors used to cut out her wonderful clothing creations was being applied to my heart cutting away someone I felt attached to like the other half of the piece of fabric being cut. As a child I missed her and did not understand when they took her to the hospital. I missed our times together.  I missed her tins full of buttons. I missed my place of escape.  

grandmother sewing 7It is interesting how life turns. After years of spending hours on grandma’s bed with her buttons, grandma had the opportunity to share a bedroom with me. These memories are priceless treasures to me. Yet pulling at my heart strings are the heavy memories of an increasing number of times she would leave and go to her place of deep sadness and darkness. I longed for a better understanding of who she was. I was angry because I could not reach her or reason with her. I did not understand her or the thief who continued to take her away.  

In our room were two sewing machines. Stitched by these cords of memories are the pictures I cherish of both of us sewing at sewing with grandmother 8the same time.  First, I recall the Christmas prior to starting Kindergarten. I received a pink sewing machine in its own small wooden carrying case with decoupage pictures on the outside. When led by her love and guidance, joy and pride surged through my being as I sat beside her sewing small simple clothing articles.  Many years later while sewing my own clothing beside grandma, I experienced the same feelings of pride and joy.

Often during these times, I was able to invite Sadie to revisit her childhood and happier days. Side by side as I led her back to the happier times, she recounted for me what she remembered.  Orchestrated with the patterned hum of the sewing machines was the duet of our laughter. Through the stories she recounted came a clear picture of the creative and colorful person Sadie was.  I loved the happy, creative, mischievous, and witty person she was in the stories. This Sadie was an Ann of Green Gables sort of person.  Sitting by her I watched as the threads of memory spun a web that captured an account. One day, in the one room schoolhouse, while studying Science, her stoic elementary school teacher asked the class if anyone could identify the crusts of the earth. Sadie quickly raised her hand. With a smile on her face, she wittingly responded, “bread crust and pie crust.”  She was promptly reprimanded. It was my pleasure to experience some of this playful side throughout my years with her.  

grandmother sewing 6When Sadie was taken to the nursing home to live, I missed her.  For the years she was there, I visited her whenever I had the opportunity to return to Pennsylvania. When she passed away, I was left without a very dear friend. However the gift of her spirit remains in me and continues to live through me, expressed through each picture this artist paints, using the mediums of a sewing machine, fabric, buttons, and thread.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Remembering those that made an impact on you are wonderful memories.  I smile when I remember “MeMaw” and “Grandma Ruth”.

Honoring Dad–Happy Father’s Day

Their presence was never in doubt; it was as it should be. They were always there in the neighborhood in every single house. You could see them every day. Most of them left early in the morning while others would just be coming home. Dinnertime was always held around their schedule, and everyone’s presence was expected.

Their jobs were as varied as their personalities. The factories employed some; stores were the employers of others. There were those who worked in the carpentry business and others who could repair any and everything. One even worked for the school system.

These individuals took their faith very seriously even though some did not attend church regularly. They were all Protestants with most being Baptist, one Church of Christ and even one Christian Methodist Episcopal member.

The strong sense of education was instilled in all of them even though some had not received a high school diploma. There were those that had gone to trade schools or learned a trade in the military. Inside this small group was one that had graduated college. Yet they were basically the same. In each of their households college graduates would be produced.

There was the love of sports that could be heard and seen on numerous days. I don’t remember any teams they routed for except the Dallas Cowboys, the Womack High School Leopards and later on the Longview Lobos. If any of them ever played organized sports, I don’t remember– except for the one.

Since it was before the age of central air, the outside was important to all of them. They believed in growing things even though none of them were what you would call a gardener. Some were into flowers, others trees and even others vegetables. In essence our neighborhood was abundant with life that was shared with everyone.

In each house the nightly news was seen. Most were Walter Cronkite followers. In one house though, the Huntley Brinkley Report ruled the news hour. All were very knowledgeable of the world. Voting was not something taken lightly; they took it as an earned honor and did so with gusto and pride. There was not a Republican among them.

Their love of family was always there, but their upbringing did not consist of showing affection in public. They had been taught to be strong, to be the protector, and most of all to be the best provider possible.

Strong Black fathers who headed their households with strength and dignity were abundant on Della Lane in Longview, Texas in the 60’s and 70’s. These gentlemen were good husbands and loving fathers. The last one left us this year. To all of them I thank you for teaching the children of Della Lane what “fatherhood” means. I thank you for leading by example, especially the teacher, sports playing, Huntley Brinkley watching, Methodist one–my dad, Quintell Cooper. Happy Father’s Day and God Bless to all strong fathers.

I lived on Della Lane in Longview, Texas for all of my childhood.  For most of that childhood the neighborhood held the same families, so in essence I grew up with the same people around me.  There were fathers in every home on Della Lane, and as far as I can remember on all of Fox Hill–which is what we called our part of town.  The fathers on Della Lane were: Mr. Robert Adams, Mr. R. T. Scott, Mr. Boyd Bradford, Sr., Mr. Emory McLemore, Mr. Tom Garlon, Mr. Roscoe Adams, Sr., and my daddy, Mr. Quintell Cooper.  All of them are gone now, but they live on in their children and grandchildren because they led by example.

If your father or father figure is still with you, don’t forget to give them a call.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

Food For Thought

As a woman of a certain age whose parents are no longer here, I rarely go home.  It seems that when I do go and get together with family it is always for a sad occasion.  Each time we promise each other that we will get together sooner rather than later. I finally made it for a happy occasion.  My Aunt Gladys turned 90 years young, and we came together for this celebration.

As women of a certain age, we should try to get together with family just because. I know my aunt had a wonderful time.  There were five generations of her immediate family–so many that we could not get them all together to take a picture.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Enjoy your family.

Difficult Times

There are no words to express the feelings and emotions that I have had the last few weeks.  They have been all over the place.  What I can tell you though is that “faith” and belief in God can get you through anything.

Last week I was called upon to make the final arrangements for my cousin who died somewhat unexpectedly.  This is not my first time making final arrangements for a relative, but it is my first time doing it solo.

The first thing I did was to pray when I learned that I would be the one handling everything, and pray I did.  As a woman of a certain age, I know that these things are beginning to be more and more frequent.  As I told another cousin “we are our parents now”.  We are now the ones who have to step up and make the decisions.

My heart was and is still heavy with the loss of my cousin, but my faith puts a smile in my heart when I remember that she still called me by my childhood nickname (no I’m not going to tell you). My heart is warm because I know that all of the pain has stopped.

My heart is smiling because I know that God does not make mistakes. My heart smiles because I know that even though this is a sad time I must remember the wonderful times we had together. As women of a certain age, we take on different roles as we mature, but each role is very important. Remember as you are called upon in difficult times that “thisisyourbestyear”. You were able to handle the situation.