Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Opening Doors

He sends his angels.

Confusion and fear can strike at any time.  I remember going shopping one day.  Mom got very antsy while we were in Michaels, craft store.  I got her to the car and she refused to get in.  I tried coaxing, I tried bribing her, begging.  This happened before I had a cell phone, so I could not call for assistance, nor could I leave her by herself to go get help. Our standoff probably lasted 45 minutes when a silver haired gentleman approached and asked: "May I be of assistance?"

I told him my dilemma that Mom wouldn't get in the car.  I remember the angel smiled at Mom.  He spoke gently to her and said "Let me get that door for you".

My Mom's eyes lit up and she grinned.  She was very pleased to have such a gallant man open her door for her.  I was ecstatic.

He turned to me and said, " I understand, sometimes an outsider can do what we can't do ourselves."

I was so grateful for his intervention.  I always worried how are shopping trips would turn out.  I could never predict what would set her off and confuse her.

She loved visiting with people. Most of the time our trips brought her great pleasure.  The other times they brought me great appreciation for the help of strangers.  I also learned to ask other people if they wanted assistance.  Sometimes a simple gesture on our part can make all the difference in the world.
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Monday, July 19, 2010

Critical Choices

I was browsing the current copy of Montana Magazine (July/Aug 2010) in the store.  There was a wonderful article about a casket maker out of Kalispell, MT.  His business is called Sweet Earth Casket and Cradle Shop. He does custom orders.  What intrigued me was his commitment to his customers.  Several of his caskets do double duty they can be other things until they are needed as caskets.  I never thought about pre-ordering my casket.

When we faced Mom's death,  I learned a lot about funeral's and expenses. I wish I had known about his Critical Choices book. We did not have a lot of money and chose to do much of the service and preparations ourselves.  I was shocked at how many mainstream churches refused hosting a funeral because Mom was not a member of their congregation. We designed and printed the funeral program. Hired the musician.

I remember talking with my younger sister and asked what do people do who don't have the resources we do.  Mom's service was very lovely.  The Unitarian Church graciously allowed us to have her service there.  One of the hospice chaplain's officiated.  My 18 year old niece gave the eulogy. My sister and niece sang, and my uncle read a favorite poem.  A friend created a beautiful photo slideshow that was shown during Mom's service.

We were not prepared for all the hoops that needed to be jumped.  It would have been easier if we had known some of the things before hand.  Mom had always told us she wanted to be cremated.  It was not in writing however. According to Montana Law all the siblings must approve cremation if there is no written instructions.  This surprised me because I was the executor of her estate and her guardian.

One of the hardest conversations to have is end of life discussions.  It is so important.  We should be having them with our family regularly, so that people know our wishes. Aging With Dignity has a booklet called the  5 Wishes that lets you write down your wishes for end of life care if you are unable to express your desires.

It is very difficult to make decisions when you are in pain and grieving.  Talking about choices when emotions are not as high is a gift you give yourself and your loved ones.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Locating People Who Wander

What Is Project Lifesaver International?

I first read about this project in the Summer 2010 publication of Care Advantage. This is a program for individuals that wander. Each individual wears a tracking device that allows first responders and volunteers to quickly find them. In 1999 32,000 people with Alzheimer's wandered away. Every year there are numerous cases of people with Alzheimer’s, Autism, Down syndrome and others wandering off and dying from misadventure.

When your loved one is missing it is a terrifying experience and time is critical. As a caregiver I did everything in my power to keep Mom safe and I watched her like a hawk. I wrote about her wandering in a previous post, and some of the things we did to keep her safe. I tried lots of things. I even thought about tracking devices but could not afford what was out there at the time.

When I read about Project Lifesaver International, I was thrilled that someone had come up with a tracking device and a way to include first responders into a program to quickly locate people who wander. They even have some family stipends available.

According to Project Lifesaver:

“The U.S. Department of Justice – Office of Justice Programs – Bureau of Justice Assistance has awarded federal funding to assist in education, awareness, equipment, and public policy efforts to help expand Project Lifesaver’s lifesaving program across the country – directly helping individuals that suffer from Alzheimer’s disease/dementia who wander.

Project Lifesaver is a network of first responders who combine the power of simple, effective tracking technologies with proven search and rescue techniques to find your loved one safely and quickly, should they wander. Now, for a limited time, up to 1,800 families may enroll in the program at no cost, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance. This is our family stipend program.”

Contact Scott Nester for more information about the stipend program – or 1-757-546-5502 Ext 112.

Raising Awareness

45 states and 1,100 agencies are involved with Project Lifesaver. It is important to get your local community involved if it isn’t already. Regardless it is important to get this information out to families who have loved ones who wander. It is one more tool you can use to protect those you love who can’t protect themselves. There are grants available to communities to set up this program if one is not available. The great thing is that it is currently available in the United State, Canada and Australia. Please encourage the agencies you work with to explore this program and help bring it to more communities. For further information contact or call 1-877-580-5433

Friday, July 2, 2010

Resources for living Gluten Free

If you have Celiac disease life is quite a challenge. My friend Carol has shared her worries and concerns about another friend who is gluten intolerant. I had never thought much about it until she shared her concerns. Since then I have discovered make-up, dog food, lotions, and even some medications may all have gluten in them to ambush the unwary.

Celiac disease (gluten intolerant) is an inherited, autoimmune disease in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged from eating gluten and other proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats.

I recently joined a blog hop and found some great blogs Lisa's Gluten-Free Advise . She has a directory of other gluten-free blogs, restaurants that serve gluten-free cuisine. It is a rich source for people living with this challenge.

I looked at the recipe for her gluten-free Hawaiian Pizza it looks very tasty. At Lisa's site I clicked on the blog Gluten Free Taste of Home. I am so very excited at all the resources I found. If you or someone you know is gluten intolerant please pass on these great blogs.