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Posts Tagged ‘Questions’

Alzheimer’s — A Part Of The Plot?

Alzheimer’s — A Part Of The Plot?

By: Michelle Remold

One of my hobbies is collecting quotes. I started this hobby in college as a way to pass the time, but now I have a book to write quotes in that I hear or read. There are a few quotes that have stayed with me, however there is a quote by Ashleigh Brilliant that became one of my favorites because I liked the humor related to it, but I have also learned the truth behind it as well. The quote I am referring to is, “My life has a superb cast, but I can’t figure out the plot.”

This was one of the first quotes I wrote in my book. Being in college, a humorous side to this quote stuck out to me, in fact it still makes me smile. I remember thinking about people I met in college and trying to figure out how they might play a role in my life later on. Truthfully, outside of the group that helped me present my Memory Trunk program in nursing facilities and adult day centers and a few other friends, I still don’t have an answer for the roles everyone else has in my life. If nothing else, they helped make me the person I am today.

When I read the quote now though, it seems to have a different maybe deeper meaning. There are some people who have been in my life that have impacted it greatly. As I have written about before, my grandpa had Alzheimer’s when I was growing up and is really the reason I even became interested in the gerontology field. I have had many great-aunts and uncles who have taught me numerous things and a great-grandma who lived to be 97, who helped me realize it’s the small things in life that make it enjoyable, like sausage pizza. My life was also touched by dementia a second time with my dad’s mom, which taught me that though you may know something, you can always learn more.

In a way this quote also makes me think of Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s affects and touches everyone differently, including caregivers. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t wonder why or what was supposed to come as a result of the disease both times it touched my life. The fact is that I did wonder this. My grandpa’s diagnosis led me to what I would eventually choose as a career. I don’t know what direction my grandma’s dementia will take me in yet and I have realized that that is okay.

I have learned that sometimes life isn’t meant to be figured out. Sometimes you just have to let the plot roll out in front of you. It sounds weird to say, but in my life Alzheimer’s has almost ended up being a blessing in disguise. It has taught me many life lessons and has brought me closer to family. It has taught me how to leave my reality and enter a completely different one. It has taught me patience, compassion, when to just not say anything, and the value of just listening.

Honestly, I do think my life has a superb cast of friends, family, cousins, coworkers, grandparents and mentors. I wouldn’t trade any of them. Another part of that cast who isn’t always welcome, is Alzheimer’s. I don’t doubt that my life will be impacted again by Alzheimer’s and that it will happen in a variety of ways. One thing I know though, is that I will learn from it, that somehow it will play a role in the overall plot of my life and that I will have my superb cast right there with me. After all, I just want to enjoy life while I can and help as many people as I can while I am here.

 

??????????????????????????????? Michelle graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with her Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology: Social Sciences and a minor in Family Studies. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Geriatric Social Work from Minnesota State University Mankato.

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Questioning Myths

Questioning Myths

By: Michelle Remold

Recently I wrote about how it is important to really look into new research that is published when it comes to Alzheimer’s and dementia before completely believing it. While this is important, it is also important to look at the already established myths about Alzheimer’s and dementia. A few that stood out to me were the common “memory loss is a part of normal aging,” and “there are treatment options available to stop the progression on the disease.” While there are bits of truth to these myths, they really are not accurate.

When it comes to memory loss, it isn’t a normal part of aging. Some memory loss is normal such as forgetting names or misplacing keys, this happens to me on a daily basis. However, Alzheimer’s and dementia are not normal aspects of aging. I think that when people believe that all memory loss is a normal part of growing older, it prohibits them from receiving a correct diagnosis earlier in the disease.

The other myth that is a little more difficult to swallow is that there is a way to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia. While there are medications out there that may help to slow the progression of the disease, there currently is not a medication or treatment option that will completely stop the progression of the disease.

I think that with all the treatments that are available for countless other diseases and all the information that floats around, especially on the internet, it is important to know when to take a step back and realize that looking a little more into a claim or a perceived myth is okay. It’s good to learn what you can about Alzheimer’s and dementia and to ask questions as they arise. After all, you never know unless you ask questions.

???????????????????????????????Michelle graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with her Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology: Social Sciences and a minor in Family Studies. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Aging Studies and Nursing Home Administration from Minnesota State University Mankato.

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Fact or Fiction

Fact or Fiction

By: Michelle Remold

There are often stories on the news or on-line about things you can do to prevent a wide array of diseases. It often seems that soon after we hear about the things we can do to ward off the different diseases, there is another story discounting the first one.

I used to get really excited when I heard news stories about what was thought to be a new way to prevent Alzheimer’s. After hearing follow-up stories that either discounted the earlier stories or stated that more research would need to be done, I started to become more critical about and really think about what I was reading or hearing.

While preparing to write this blog, I did a little research to see if I could find some commonalities among what is out now on methods to prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia. Eating well and exercising seem to be popular prevention techniques along with coconut oil and fish oil. Exercise and eating well make sense to me, as they can help with preventing many other diseases as well. I am a little more skeptical on how much fish and coconut oils work to prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.

I am not saying that none of the things that are said to prevent Alzheimer’s or dementia don’t prevent it, but that it is important to look more into what research a person is reading or hearing about. There are many stories and articles that are not credible and can give false hope to people fighting diseases. Thinking about the credibility in what one hears or reads is very important. It is important to learn as much as possible when it comes to looking at things to help prevent any disease and to make sure that they are healthy for you to try.

??????????????????????????????? Michelle graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with her Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology: Social Sciences and a minor in Family Studies. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Aging Studies and Nursing Home Administration from Minnesota State University Mankato.

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How Are Your Milk Cows Doing?

By: Michelle Remold

“How are your milk cows doing?” This seems like a normal question, after all farmers are often asked about their crops and animals. The only thing that makes a question this simple stand out is when you have never had cows or lived on a farm. This is also the question that my grandpa asked when I first realized that there was something wrong with my grandpa.

Growing up, my brother and I spent a lot of time with my grandma and grandpa. They would have holiday parties for us, take us to the park, play games with us, take us to feed the ducks, and so much more. The question was the first major sign that something was wrong with my grandpa. My family lives in town and we live within two miles of where my grandparents live, so being asked how our milk cows were doing, was an odd question and one that caught me off guard.

I was around seven at this time and I asked my mom if there was something wrong with grandpa, she thought maybe he was just tired. Looking back, I couldn’t recall anything else that would have made me think that something was wrong with my grandpa. I asked my mom and she said that the only thing that stood out was that he didn’t like talking on the phone any longer, but that wasn’t anything they were really worried about at the time.

“How are your milk cows doing?” It was such a simple question, but one of the most complicated questions at the same time. This is the question that set the wheels in motion, the question that made other oddities stand out, the question that sent my family on a quest for answers, the question that led to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, the question that started me on the path I am on, the question that ignited my passion for wanting to work with those who have Alzheimer’s and dementia.

???????????????????????????????Michelle graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with her Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology: Social Sciences and a minor in Family Studies. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Aging Studies and Nursing Home Administration from Minnesota State University Mankato.

 

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Patience is a Virtue

By: Michelle Remold

    Patience is something I think many people lack. We seem to want everything done when it’s most convenient for us and don’t want to wait. I admit that when it comes to some things, I can be very impatient. Having to wait in a long line when I am in a hurry can really test my patience.  Now imagine you are in a nursing home on a dementia care wing or are caregiving for someone who has Alzheimer’s or dementia and you are being asked the same question over and over. Who are you? Where is my mom? What are you doing? Answering these questions a few times is usually tolerable, but when they are asked every few minutes, it can be taxing.

When being asked the same question multiple times throughout the course of a day or even an hour, it is very easy to become annoyed and raise your voice.  The patient doesn’t know they have just asked you this question, to them they are asking it for the first time. As annoyed as you may be, think about how confusing it is for them. They just asked a question and the response they received was short or they feel as though they were being yelled at. I know I’d be confused if I asked someone a question and the first response I received was being yelled at. I wouldn’t understand why my question was responded to in that way.

I understand how hard it can be to ‘keep your cool’ while being asked these questions. While visiting a nursing home recently a resident kept asking where her mom was. At first my response was that we didn’t know where she was. After a while though she asked again, but added that she had thought her mom went somewhere and that she would be back soon. My response, “I think your right. I remember her saying she needed to go to the store.” The resident happily responded with, “Oh yes, she went to get eggs and will be back in a half hour.”  Within a few minutes this scenario replayed itself and kept replaying itself for two hours. I just kept telling her that her mom had gone to the store and she would be back shortly. When I look back my second response seemed to be the most logical, as it wouldn’t be comforting that no one knew where your mom was when asked. By giving her this answer, we put her anxiety to rest, even if it was just for a few minutes at a time.

This all comes down to patience. Patience is something I learned at a young age. I can remember visiting my grandpa and asking him if he knew who I was. I was seven and didn’t understand the disease. I would introduce myself over and over in hopes that if I said it enough, it would help. I remember figuring out that if I would talk slow enough, I would be able to get a reaction, even if it was just a smile. I remember bringing puzzles for my grandpa to do and as time went on we would take twenty minutes to put together a ten piece puzzle. I quickly learned that we could still do things, they might just take longer and that having to answer repeated questions wasn’t a big deal, at least we were interacting. My increasing patience became clear with other residents. I remember being asked by a resident to button the cuffs on his shirt and everyone was surprised when I stopped to do it. I contribute my chosen career path to these early encounters on a dementia care wing. I think that these individuals taught me patience in a way that is invaluable and that I wouldn’t have learned anywhere else.

My advice is to take a deep breath and repeat the answer for the umpteenth time. Let them teach you patience and just value the interaction. Patience is a good quality to have. Patience is a virtue.

008Michelle graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with her Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology: Social Sciences and a minor in Family Studies. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Aging Studies and Nursing Home Administration from Minnesota State University Mankato.

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