First in the Affirmation Series
Here begins a new series on our Blog.
“She knows a lot!”
Toward the end of life, people may become discouraged. Life is more difficult because of physical aches and pains and health dilemmas. One looks ahead and is uncertain how future days will unfold. “Will I be able to endure?” Troubling thoughts stir and may lead to fear and sadness.
The older person recalls youth and high hopes, and having the energy to meet goals through hard work. How different it is to look back and see completions of life’s work or see that we could not meet each goal. The family is grown, the church no longer needs our services, retirement began some time ago. “What should we do?”
For your family in a nursing facility, these feelings may be common. Everyone is different, but for most of us, getting older is an unfamiliar landscape. It feels strange to take steps toward the end of life. People may tell the elderly to think positive, but such advice cannot be understood in the same way as it was in younger days.
In this blog series we will suggest some affirmations that we hope will ring true when you encourage your loved one in the nursing home.
To begin, if your loved one is struggling with discouragement, tell him or her to repeat these words, after you say them: “I love my family and friends.”
This is a true statement and not an unrealistic one like, ‘what the mind can conceive the body will achieve.’
“I love my family and friends.” The person who can say this is a special and good person, and someone whom anyone would like to know. We celebrate and enjoy life when we say that we love our family and friends. A loving heart is like an open flower in the sunlight. Beautiful, fresh, worthy of appreciation and care.
Let’s say it again, “I love my family and friends.”
Photo credit: Ned Horton, FreeImages.com
Good news! Recent information reveals that Dementia risk is declining.
Some encouraging news in the battle against Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia: The rate at which older Americans are getting these conditions is declining. That's according to a study published Monday inJAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers say one reason for the improved outlook is an increase in education. The study used data gathered in two snapshots, one in 2000 and another in 2012, that each looked at more than 10,000 Americans who were at least 65 years old. In the first snapshot, 11.6 percent of them had some form of dementia. In the second snapshot, it was 8.8 percent. Put in more human terms, "that's well over a million people who don't have dementia, who would have had it if the rates had stayed the same as 2000 rates," says John Haaga, who directs the Division of Behavioral and Social Research at the National Institute on Aging, which funded the study.
A person with Huntington's disease usually– but not always– has a genetic disorder, and not everyone with that disorder will be affected in the same way. While some with Huntington's will lose ability to move and speak, not all experience the same symptoms or develop every symptom. By strengthening our immune systems we can often avoid "worst case scenarios."
We live in a time where medical research into what causes a disease is often successful, and sometimes we can learn how to sidestep ravaging diseases.
For example, scientists have learned that pesticides are culprits in memory loss and dementia.
As we all grow older, we can do our best to avoid things that are known causes of dementia, many that we have looked at in this series. And when loved ones develop those symptoms and conditions, we can help them to cope.
Here are some thoughts on "coping":
It's funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools — friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty — and said "do the best you can with these, they will have to do." And mostly, against all odds, they do.
- Anne Lamott
If you are faced with a mountain, you have several options.
You can climb it and cross to the other side.
You can go around it.
You can dig under it.
You can fly over it.
You can blow it up.
You can ignore it and pretend it’s not there.
You can turn around and go back the way you came.
Or you can stay on the mountain and make it your home.”
- Vera Nazarian
If you are helping a loved one with dementia to live well despite the downsides, we salute you.
Let us know if you liked this series on "Getting older and memory."